Aberdeen

I’ve been a wanderer all of my life, and many’s the sight I’ve seen…

There is no Aberdeen to which I long to return. My whole life has been spent moving on. There has never been anywhere for me to return to, because it was no longer there after I left.

I can remember two homes in England before I was five. We had five more homes in four towns in New Zealand before I was eleven.

The most stable period of my youth was my teenage years in West Auckland. After that I moved around a lot again, until I acquired a family and had a second, relatively stable, period with them in only three locations. And that didn’t last either. Not nearly as long as I wanted. It was not my choice. Which does not mean it was not my fault. I don’t know.

What I do know is there is nowhere to which I can return. No family seat, no family. Just scattered relatives. A few friends.

In the small hours I wonder “What if?” There is no answer except the soft early call of the magpie who roosts in the trees behind my caravan.

I ponder the events that led me here. Living with anyone is difficult. When does the effort become too much? Is the person wiser who decides “enough” or the one who keeps trying? Who is at fault, when someone calls enough? Perhaps the fault must always be borne by both.

I am trying to be more zen in my introspection and self-appraisal. I accept what is, but still can’t help wondering what if? I am the sum of my memories. I owe it to myself and the world to ensure my memories are honest and clear.

I was not a good son, I was not a good brother, I proved to be a poor husband, Twice. I truly don’t know any more what kind of father I was. I want to write accurately about my memories. Of what made me what I am. That will not always put me in a good light, but it also may not please those who get to see themselves as I saw them. They may see my perception of causality as blame. But one does not blame the sun for sunburn. It is what happens.

Well. Wow. I didn’t know that was where I was going when I started this post.

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Buoyancy

I’m not doing nearly as well as I expected, despite some positive signs. In the pool yesterday, I spotted something someone had dropped in the deep end and dived to retrieve it. Successfully. That may not seem much of an accomplishment but not so long ago I was so buoyant with adiposity that I could not sink no matter how I tried. Though I could float on my back and snooze without fear of drowning, I could not reach the bottom of the pool no matter how hard I tried. Now, I can swim down.

This positive sign perhaps explains why my weight loss graph has plateaued in the last couple of weeks. I’m developing muscle, which is denser than fat. I am still incrementally tightening the drawstring in my waistband, so something positive is happening.

The best time of day is when I am weightless in the pool. I am virtually pain and discomfort free . I feel as fit as I was when I made my marathon swim around Mayor Island over 47 years ago. But climbing out and returning to the gravity of the world leaves me limping and hobbling like the old man I have become. Riding the bicycle is my second pleasure. Seated, so my knees bear no weight, and with my feet positioned properly on the pedals, the discomfort in my knees is minimal, and the ache in the muscles of my calves and thighs is an acceptable sign of effort being rewarded. Climbing off the bike at the end of my journey is a painful return to reality. I have to take care not to fall over. I believe it is time to talk to the doc about new knees, and get onto that waiting list.

My mental buoyancy is better. Despite occasional bouts of loneliness when I am acutely aware that I am far away from my family and closest friends, I am coming to embrace solitude, and the self-awareness that comes with it. I have left so much behind. Lost so much. I am not, and never was, the person I wanted to be. Perhaps I am where I am now because it is where I deserve to be. That is not self-pity, it is self-appraisal.

Part of me wants to return to New Zealand, but why? My family don’t need me. I actually have fewer friends there than I do in Western Australia – and the weather is worse. I’d be financially worse off. Plus there is the inertia that seems to come with old age. I find it difficult to even contemplate moving on from the camp I am in.

One of my neighbours has a sign on his cabin “Der Komandant, Stalag Luft 13”. The old chap has a sense of humour like mine. Despite the title he has given himself, he knows he is a prisoner, like the rest of us.

Alone

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were—I have not seen
As others saw—I could not bring
My passions from a common spring—
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow—I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone—
And all I lov’d—I lov’d alone—
Then—in my childhood—in the dawn
Of a most stormy life—was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still—
From the torrent, or the fountain—
From the red cliff of the mountain—
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold—
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by—
From the thunder, and the storm—
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view—

EDGAR ALLAN POE

Neighbours

Every body needs good neighbours.

I have good neighbours. Some are more disabled than I, yet they are always cheerful. Or at least when they are not, like me they try not to show it. The other day on a whim I made some savoury muffins for breakfast. They turned out so well I shared the recipe here.

At 600 kJ each, even though I only made half a dozen, I could not eat them all before they went stale. I thought I should share them with the neighbours. I went for a walk to share them.

As a direct result, during a conversation about mobility, one of my neighbours kindly offered me his mobility cart when the Veterans Association supplies him with a new one next year. Who knows? If I can’t get these knees working again, I may just need it. I am thinking it is inevitable I shall need new knees after all. All my efforts so far have not helped as much as I thought when I wrote in a moment of optimism a while back.

I know, “no pain, no gain”. I’d settle for no pain.

Having determined that a lack of social interaction may not be conducive to my mental wellbeing, I decided the only answer is to be more sociable. Also, it occurred to me today that although I have been living on Bribie for months I have not yet spent any time on the beach. I’ve visited it, but stayed up on the sealed paths to watch the waves. So I went for a paddle. The water is cold. I was swimming in the sea this time last year, so I probably could now. But not today. The wind was strong and the sea rough. The lifesaver’s flags were not even ten metres apart and only three people were swimming. I struggled through the soft sand back to my bike, which I realised I had not locked, and left with the key turned on. I must pay attention. It was an invitation for someone to ride off on it. You’d think I’d have learned by now. I wheeled it to a park bench and sat down to rest.

A young lad, maybe six or seven years of age, looked at my flag and asked me if I was a pirate. In my best pirate voice I said “Yaarrr, matey. That I be”. His mother looked alarmed and dragged him away.

I probably need a haircut.

Yaaarrr Matey!

The windy conditions reminded me I still had a number of kite kits I could make up and give away. Perhaps though, instead of offering them to random kids as I did in the past, perhaps I’d just tie them to a fence and leave them with a sign saying “free kite”. Probably safer to do that.

While I was pondering this, a chap on a mobility scooter pulled up and asked me about the trailer behind my bike. I told him where he could buy one and we sat for a while, talking about how it might be attached to his scooter and other old codger matters. Ha! My social life just doubled.

When he drove off back to his (probably million dollar) home just one street away from the beach, I was left with a thought that had not occurred to me before. I am in the low socio-economic group of the elderly. Most people with my professional background and education have a home or homes, a boat and/or a caravan, are financially secure and not dependent on the pension and state funded health services.

Somewhere along the line I fucked up.

Arrrr

In the laundry yesterday I met a man with one leg, and a Cornish accent. His prosthetic was a pretty good approximation of the peg leg of yore. He would make an excellent pirate, I thought. In his eighties with white hair and beard, he towered over me, at least 6’4”. I considered offering him my pirate flag to fly from his caravan, but in keeping with my resolution to think before I speak I forebore to do so. He might have taken it amiss.

Besides, I like my flag and may not find another.

We exchanged stories. He is a retired policeman from the UK. He has been a Grey nomad here in Australia for eleven years. He has seen all the places I’ve been and more. I thought he seemed quite interesting, and when I learned he was travelling with his wife I considered inviting them both over for a meal and a drink.

Then he said something racist, and I was glad I hadn’t. Again I thought before I spoke, and by the time I had gathered my wits for an appropriate but non-confrontational response he revealed that he and his good lady would be moving on later this week, heading south.

When the dryer announced it was finished with my washing, I unloaded it, shook his hand and wished him safe travels.

That was my social life for the week.

Tupaia | New Zealand Geographic

No portraits exist of one of the most important people in Pacific history. Tupaia was a man of many talents: high priest, artist, diplomat, politician, orator and celestial navigator. After fleeing conflict on his home island of Ra’iātea for Tahiti, he befriended botanist Joseph Banks, and joined the onward voyage of James Cook’s Endeavour. Arriving in New Zealand in 1769, Tupaia discovered he could converse with Māori. He became an interpreter, cultural advisor and bringer of news from islands that Māori had left long ago.250 years on, we are barely beginning to know who he was.
— Read on www.nzgeo.com/stories/tupaia/

How Science Discredits Itself

www.nytimes.com/2019/10/14/upshot/diet-soda-health-myths.html

Here, in a nutshell, is a short article that explains fully why “They” keep giving us conflicting information on whether a Diet Coke or a barbecued steak or, whatever, is bad for us/not bad for us.

The blame is as much or more with the reporting than the science itself. Especially when the reporter is a journalist, or worse; someone with an axe to grind.