Kiwi As.

In Woolworths Bellara store, in the Asian Foods aisle, there is a small section devoted to New Zealand produce. Why they put it there I have no idea, but amongst the Byriani and Mirin one can find cans of Lemon and Paeroa, Whittaker’s chocolate, Watties tomato sauce and Watties canned beans and spaghetti.

On my latest visit I was overjoyed to find a stock of my two favourite (non-chocolate) biscuits; the Griffins Malt biscuit, and Griffins Crispies.

Two Crispies? Too right!

I was as happy as an English friend of mine was when he discovered Jammy Dodgers in a shop in Perth. But when he gave me one to try, I couldn’t see what the fuss was about. The Jammy Dodger is just like a Griffins Shrewsbury, but not as nice. And without a hole in the middle of one of the halves.

A wee bit of nostalgia. Buttering a couple of Malt biscuits and dunking them in my Earl Grey. Some things just naturally go together; apple and cinnamon, bacon and eggs, toast and marmalade, malt biscuits and butter, with tea.

There is nothing as Kiwi as buttered Malt biscuits.

Health Update, May 19

Dear Diary,

I have a new kidney specialist. The North Lakes clinic have transferred my file to Caboolture. Last week I peed and bled for the pathology lab, and this morning I discussed the lab results with the specialist at Caboolture Hospital in a telephone consultation.

He tells me he is pleased with the lab report. I have maintained my 37% kidney function in the face of adversity and adiposity. My results were good despite that I have regained a little of the weight I lost. This is since the pool was closed for the COVID crisis. Exercise has been rather problematic as walking for any worthwhile time is not a feasible option.

I was heartened to learn the pool should be reopening in about three weeks. It is not only the best place for me to get active, but also my most important social activity, because I don’t frequent pubs and clubs. Lately my depression has become noticeable again. Too much time alone. Perhaps a little too much introspection.

Life has been quiet since lockdown. I watch a lot of Netflix, and read, though I am finding that my eyes get tired if I read a lot. My marathon book days are done. it is frustrating. Now the weather has deteriorated, and deters me from taking out the boat.

On the plus side, I have had time to tidy up and organise my caravan and get rid of more stuff I don’t need. I have completely killed the collector bug and the sentimental attachments I once had to material things, even the valuable collectibles. I’m not sure if that is due to depression or a late development of sense.

Another Busy Lockdown Day.

Today was pretty busy. I decided it was time to get off my chuff and get active. I did not have pain as an excuse. The leg pain is minimal. I still waddle,. My knees have not miraculously healed. But I’m getting around without too much distress -as long as it is not too far.

I really had to get active. I’m not getting enough exercise. With no swimming and limited waddling, plus all that extra time on my hands to think about food, I am regaining some of the weight I lost.

On top of all that, all this sitting around being idly locked down causes haemorrhoids. And let me tell you. That stuff they give you for piles tastes awful.

First I checked over my faithful cruiser. Tyres, water, oil, windscreen washer. Lights. Then I checked over the boat and trailer. I was going to mount the navigation light brackets but the sun decided to make an appearance. So I gave that up and did three loads of laundry instead.

I like Laundry Day. Having a shower in the evening and climbing between clean fresh scented sheets is the best part of the week.

I’ll get back to the boat in the next few days. Hopefully when it’s overcast. I want to be ready for when the restrictions ease.

And yes, the whole point of this post was that bad joke.

Red, Red Wine pt 2

I bought some more red wine. Fresher stuff this time. Still in the year of manufacture.

Mind you. It cost me four dollars a litre.

I know. Four dollars a litre. Right?

But it’s worth it to get the good stuff.

You have to buy four litres, but.

That’s a lot of Bolognese sauce. Or lamb shank gravy.

Lockdown Diary

Time.

As the Lockdown continues and as the seriousness of the pandemic begins to filter through to all but the thickest, I’ve had time to reflect. This is not the apocalyptic pandemic predicted in popular fiction by any means. No hordes of brain-sucking zombies, no piles of dead in the city streets, no flesh melting from bones of living corpses. Just a sniffle, Fever, a cough and respiratory distress – slow death gasping for air – and health systems struggling for resources and infrastructure. Plus a lot of people apparently unaffected except by the social restrictions being imposed. Especially the closing of the pubs and clubs. The social hubs of this part of Australia. It rankles with many. After all, it is only…..

I’ve heard the word “only” too many times. It’s only the old, the weak and sick. It’s only two percent of the population. It’s not. It’s the old, the weak and sick. It’s two percent of the population. Or more. It is sickness and death. That’s never only. I believe we haven’t yet seen the worst. It’s only a matter of time.

Rant over. Had to get that off my chest.

What I intended this post to be about was how I’m not spending my time. As I had thought, being under lockdown is little different from my ordinary days of retirement: a week or so spent not doing the laundry until a lack of clean underwear made it unavoidable; a week spent not tidying up in the caravan until I can’t even prepare a sandwich without knocking down a pile of containers and utensils that should have been put away in cupboards and drawers. At least I keep surfaces clean and dishes done. I have to. Apart from my public health training reasons, there are ants here.

But there is a difference. Now I can’t go to the pool, or even to the the beach, I’m not getting enough exercise. I walk about thirty minutes or so twice a day, I can’t go far. As far as the pharmacy or the butcher is about all I can manage. I’ve taken to strolling around the camp at around two thirty or so in the morning. It’s cool and quiet then. I nap more during the day. I eat at odd hours. I drink more.

My daily schedule is completely awry. I may have breakfast at three in the morning after a stroll and a shower, because I was sleepless and restless. I’d then return to bed at five and sleep until eleven. Read, watch Netflix, nap again. Eat at three pm and perhaps again at eight. I’m still trying to keep to under 7,000 kJ a day, but without getting enough exercise, I’m not winning the waistline war. A slight increase in the consumption of alcoholic beverages doesn’t help.

On the plus side, the leg pain from the spondylosis is virtually a zero out of ten. Nothing more than a twinge now and then. My knees are still grating and wobbly but I’m actually getting round again without support. I can climb in and out of the Landcruiser with ease. If only it had been like this when Dave was here. This would be a great time to get out in the boat. If he could pull the starter cord for me.

I’ve pulled the stitches in my back. It was inevitable. I live alone. I found that lifting even a mug of coffee hurts. I still have to lift and carry. Shopping, laundry, rubbish bags. My left arm can’t lift more than a kilo or so above my waist, even if I could be ambidextrous, so the right arm still has to do all the work.

The newest cut got a slight infection after a stitch pulled, but I’m keeping it clean and using antiseptic cream. Clearly Mehdi was right when he quoted the stats; the scar gets only 30% of the skin’s original strength back in three weeks, and 80% after three months.

I’m not wearing a watch these days. The reason is embarrassing. Both my watches are powered by movement. The old Certina dive watch from 1977 still runs well, but stores kinetic energy in a spring to make it run. My thirteen year old Seiko Arctura stores it in a capacitor battery.

Both stop at random times because I’m not moving enough to keep them running.

As a result I lose track of the time. It doesn’t matter, because my time is completely mine anyway. I just have to remember when my next medical appointment is. My phone does that for me. Because I rely on that, I even lose track of days. Or rather dates. My pillbox tells me what day of the week it is.

So I missed my Dad’s 89th birthday. It’s in my calendar, but not with a reminder. Mea culpa. I apologised over the phone the other day, but again; Sorry Dad! Congratulations on being such a venerable age and still having a driver’s licence.

A Matter of Time

Missing Chocolate

The Australian CSIRO estimates the average Aussie eats 32 kg of chocolate a year. I estimate I eat little more than one kg a year. Despite the fact I really like chocolate. It has become a rare treat for me. So someone out there is eating more than their fair share. In fact considering the average is 32 kg, and considering that some folk don’t eat it at all, there must be one or two people out there eating a kilo or more a week. This week I indulged. I bought myself a Lindt 70% cocoa egg for Easter. It came with four dark chocolate Lindor balls. 143g of not overly sweet heaven. I know this because I’ve eaten it already. So much for Easter. When one is in lockdown any day is what one wants it to be.

Exactly what I needed.

Apart from a kitkat a week or so ago, the last chocolate I recall eating was some Whittaker’s bars I surprisingly found in Halls Creek, years ago. I usually only buy Whittaker’s or Lindt because I had the idea they were the most ethical manufacturers. The article I link to above confirms they are, though it seems the others are catching up at last. Even the cocoa I drink is Lindt, despite the increased cost. I like it dark.

My sweet tooth seems to be returning. I found myself yearning for lime marmalade on my toast the other morning. Aldi doesn’t sell it, and I forgot to look when I was in Woolworths the other day. I did buy some raspberry conserve at Aldi. I like it on toast with cream cheese. An irresistible combination of flavour and texture. It takes a bit of willpower to limit myself to two slices of toast when that is my breakfast.

I suspect it is the reduced intake of salt that has stimulated this increased appetite for sweet. I still have to remember that sugar in excess is not good for my kidneys either. Some things are still too sweet for my taste. Ice cream for example, I bought some ice creams a while ago and found it was far too sweet. The rest are still in the freezer. And liqueur. No longer palatable. The Dubliner I bought had to be diluted in unsweetened dark cocoa to be drinkable.

I’m not doing too badly, all the same. My energy intake seems to match my output. My weight hasn’t changed since January. This does show I’m not exercising enough despite sticking close to my goal of eating a maximum of 7,000 kJ a day.

I can’t walk far. My bike was nicked. I can’t swim for a while yet, and with my arm and shoulder in stitches I can’t use my rubber band gym gear. I can’t even go out in the boat and throw a fishing line out. On the other hand, I can’t eat much less. I’ve already reduced my food intake to accommodate a little alcohol every day. A can of lager or a glass of wine after dinner, a tot of whiskey before bed. I put it in a cup of Lindt cocoa sometimes if it’s not a very good whisky, like when my limited budget lowered me to buying Johnny Walker red last week. The horror, the horror…

But $39 a bottle…

Stir-Fry Crazy

I did sort of go shopping mad in Woolworths. I only went in for coffee and coffee whitener, plus some low sugar lime cordial for my lager. But I suddenly thought of making a stir fry. So I bought some capsicum, chillies, celery, carrots, a quarter of a cabbage – a quarter! They’re selling them in quarters now! You don’t want to know the price but it was a quarter of the price of half a cauliflower. Several old pensioners were phoning their bank for permission to buy a whole one on credit. I was able to buy enough groceries for a couple of meals and plenty of coffees for just less than eighty dollars. I’m glad my Engel freezer is well stocked. For the next two weeks I shall leave home for nothing until it’s time for the stitches to come out on the 21st.

I might pop across to the off-licence sometimes though. Needs must…

It’s sad to see the old folks. I mean those older than I by ten years or more. The competitive light has gone from their eyes. There is no toilet paper left for them to fight for. It is hard to tell how they feel, their facial expressions are masked. By masks. I wonder if they are allowed into banks and service stations like that. The Muslims must find this all rather ironic.

The slice and dice went well as usual. Four deep self-dissolving stitches and six more of catgut on top. This was a bigger cut, but bigger deep rather than bigger wide. The last shoulder slice has not healed well, and Mehdi mildly reprimanded me for lifting or pushing or whatever it was I did to strain the wound. He reminded me that the scars would develop only thirty percent of the skin’s original strength in three weeks and a mere eighty percent in three months.

So it was foolish of me to ask if I could take the boat out. Apart from all the trailer pushing and shoving, lifting, nautical line tugging and anchor yo ho heaving, there is also the issue of the pull starter on the outboard. Not to mention the problems associated with pulling in a twenty kilo fish all by myself.

Not surprisingly, Mehdi’s response was a firm “no. For now”.

Then he did a great impression of my Mum. “We’ll see”.

Warning! Graphic Images Follow.

Latest (shoulder2)
Arm 1

Arm2

Shoulder 1 omitted. Too gooey. Also the photo did not come out well. You can see the edge of it at the top of the new cut.

Non Credo

I bought almond milk to put on my cereal instead of real milk. I decided I don’t really like it, and prefer to use the milk I make up from milk powder. New Zealand milk powder of course.

One use for almond milk I do like, is my low fat I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Chicken. I’m going to make some today. I enjoy it all the more because every time I make it I am reminded of one of the funniest word play sketches ever, from The Vicar of Dibley.

The Irony of the Long Distance Consultation

After a week of the trots, I was pretty run down. I thought I had it beaten on Monday, but on Tuesday it returned. That same morning my medical app relayed to me an invitation to make an appointment with my GP to discuss the pathology results of the specimens submitted on Friday. All appointments not requiring face to face contact, are now to be telephone consultations. This suited me fine. The earliest I could get was midday yesterday. Fair enough.

Over the phone, Mehdi told me I had a dose of Campylobacter. It hadn’t been a reaction to the Cephalexin prophylaxis. I had concluded that if it was not that, I probably had a dose of Bacillus cereus so this was a bit of a surprise. It had not after all been caused by the antibiotic nor by me leaving my fried rice unrefrigerated too long, but by direct faecal contamination. This got me off the hook and pretty surely put the blame on whoever assembled the ham and egg burger I had for.breakfast after picking up Lyn at the airport the previous week. The incubation time fit perfectly. Exonerated. Though I may have miscalculated the lag time on cooling rice, I am pretty fastidious in my personal hygiene and food handling.

The diagnosis was a relief for another reason. When the symptoms had persisted beyond the usual two or three days, I had begun to fear my kidneys had failed at last.

Treatment is not usually required, but since I’d had the runs over a week Mehdi prescribed three doses of Azithromycin. I had assumed he would be able to fax/email the script through to my pharmacy here in Woorim, but it seems such is not permissible under Queensland law.

So I had to drive all the way to Woodford to collect the prescription. Time and travel saved by a phone consultation: nil.

Campylobacter