Sea Song

Sea Song

There’s water in the scuppers and the sea is cutting rough
The bilge pumps are not working and if that’s not bad enough
There’s salt water in the rum lads, there will be no getting drunk
We’ll all drown stone cold sober when the fucking ship has sunk

The skipper’s drinking brandy, for he has a private store
He says he’ll go down with his ship and what can he do more?
He ordered the abandon ship, we cut the lifeboats free
Not one of them would stay afloat. They sank into the sea

The life jackets are useless. They are soggy wet kapok
We tossed them in the ocean and they went down like a rock
The first mate said to swim for it, we’ve minutes to get clear
Before the old girl founders, and drags us down with her

The bosun said there was no point for where then would we go?
Unless there is an island near and that, he did not know
So even if we swam and swam, and then we swam some more
The bloody sharks would take us all before we reached a shore

I’ll take me chances here said he, and go down quick and clean
Just then a huge wave swamped us. The biggest we had seen
The old ship groaned and foundered, then settled on a reef
The water’s really shallow here, to everyone’s relief.
.

© 2020 ARF

Fun at the Pool

Every lane of the pool was fully booked today for each time slot. Which meant that for the first time while I’ve been there after reopening staff had to sound the musical bing-bong over the PA to nudge everyone to leave in time for the next 10 people to come in.

One woman had arrived about 20 minutes after the hour and despite being late, spent another 15 minutes walking round the pool talking to anyone who’d listen. She berated me for lying about how warm the water was before she had even got in. Apparently she is “very observant”. With barely ten minutes to go she finally took the plunge (literally) and started swimming. When the chimes sounded, she stayed in and would not get out. Staff spoke to her, explaining her time was up and a new batch of people were awaiting their turn. Protests followed. Eventually she left. Still complaining. Some People.

I watched as I drank my cappuccino. I buy one after every swim because I’m trying to stop the pool going bankrupt. I’m pretty sure that without those extra $18 a week the pool would have to close again and all my good friends working there would be on the dole. Today I received my ninth stamp on my loyalty card. So the next is free. I hope that free cappuccino is not the final straw.

I was swapping anecdotes with the staff as I drank my coffee when we saw a beautiful young Eastern Brown, sleek and healthy, obviously well fed, slithering across the concrete towards the children’s pool.

As you will all know by now, I get excited and protective when I see a serpent. I was delighted to find the two staff members on duty, Sue-Ellyn and Jacob, were of similar mind. Jacob and I herded the young fellow into a corner. We caught him or her in a box and I carried him or her out to the bush on the far side of the parking lot.

I was surprised to see a snake out and about at this time of year. I thought they would all be hibernating. But a quick search on Google produced some interesting information. No hibernation round here.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo, but here is a picture of one, just as pretty, from the Internet.

This morning I had decided today would be a walking stick and ambulatory support mechanism-free day. I walk more like a zombie than a person these days, I need to strengthen my leg muscles and not rely on support all the time. I also exercised my calf and thigh muscles in the pool with my fins.

Then I had a bit of a workout with a snake so on all counts today was a Good Day.

Back in the Swim

With the reopening of the Bribie Aquatic Centre I’m at last able to swim again. I was going to use the ocean when the pool closed, but by the time my excisions had healed and the beaches were open, the water was too cold, even for me.

The post-COVID rules at the pool are very different. The changing rooms and showers are no longer available. I arrive wearing my swimming togs and go home wet below the waist. As the number to be admitted to the pool at any time is now limited there is an appointment system. I can swim for 45 minutes four days a week. Better than nothing.

I’m pretty sure the time allocation will be increased soon. It seems not too many are coming back yet. Though the morning spots are filled with the really keen swimmers, by noon the pool is empty. My noon spot is often shared with no one. I’m frequently the only person in the pool during my session.

The water is crystal clear. Fewer people are peeing in it. School groups are still not permitted. The staff have boosted the water temperature to 29C for the winter season. It seems cooler. And getting out is a chilly experience, even on a sunny day the air is comparatively cool. I miss the hot shower immediately after my swim.

I gained weight and lost condition in the hiatus. I’m unfit. Forty five minutes swimming is enough for now. The muscles in my arm are sore and slow to adjust to the new regime. Even so, I’m putting in the maximum effort in the time available. The finger paddles give me a good workout. I’m looking forward to getting back to longer sessions for five or six days a week.

FINGER PADDLE, OXIDE GREY/LIME PUNCH, hi-res

Orpheus in the Undergrowth

There is a bird in the bushes behind my home – I think it may be a currawong- whose cheerful call sounds incredibly similar to the “cancan” riff from Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld.

Chirp, chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp, chirp
Chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp,
Chirp,chirp,chirp, chirp,chirp,.
Chirp,chirp,chirp.
chirp,chirp,
chirp,chirp,
chirp,chirp,
chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp,
chirp chirpchirp
Chirp chirp,chirp chirp chirp
Chirp chirp
Chirp chirp.

It is the early bird that causes the earworm, because I find myself mentally playing that tune as I go about my routine. The rhythm infiltrates almost all of my tasks. I clean my teeth, and realise I am doing it in time to the beat. The same happens when I wash the dishes, shave, or sweep the concrete.

Brush, brush,brush,brush,brush,brush, brush
Brush,brush,brush,brush,brush,brush,
Brush,brush,brush, brush,brush,.
Brush,brush,brush.
brush,brush,
brush,brush,
brush,brush,
brush,brush,brush,brush,brush,brush,brush,brush,brush,
brush brushbrush
Brush brush,brush brush brush
Brush brush
Brush brush.

And now I find that having written ‘brush’ that many times, it looks wrong. And. I’ve forgotten what I was going to write next.

So. To other matters. On my way back from Woolworths this afternoon, I saw one of my lady friends was working at the pool. I called in to say hi and ask how soon the pool would be open again. Next Saturday! Yay!

But it will be restricted, and swimmers must book ahead. The announcement goes out to all members by email tonight. Guess who is the first to book in for 07:00 Saturday morning.

Time to get wet again. Despite Winter’s chill.

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.

Lockdown Diary, Continued.

I’ve just returned from another late night walk around the camp. Over on the other side there is a permanent site surrounded by pot plants, gnomes and ceramic frogs. I was so tempted to move the gnomes and other figurines around, and maybe kidnap one, leaving a ransom note for a pack of M&Ms – or the gnome gets it.

But I don’t know where the CCTV cameras are.

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.