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.

Flashback

I very rarely buy sweets, except perhaps for the occasional bar of dark chocolate, which is not really very sweet. When I do buy sweets, I rarely eat them. I still have a container of lemon sherbets I bought from a ‘British’ shop a couple of years ago. I still eat one now and then, but they have gone soft and sticky.

I bought them because they take me back sixty four years to a time when I pedalled my pedal car down to the sweet shop with a pocketful of farthings, to buy a quarter of jellybabies. Or lemon sherbets, or Rowntree’s fruit pastilles and fruit gums.

Look what I found in Aldi yesterday. We don’t see these often in the antipodes. To my ageing decrepit taste buds they still taste the same as they did when I was four. Such a delight.

For millennials, “a quarter” referred to a quarter ounce. Sweets were sold by weight, and were measured out on a balance scale. One could buy a sizeable bag of sweets (to a four year old) for a few farthings.

I even found a picture of my pedal car.

Mo Cheapaire

I made myself a sandwich for lunch today.

I buttered two thick slices of soft bread and layered between them some lettuce, tomato and beetroot with a dash of pepper and a spoon of mayonnaise.

Just as I was about to bite into it I heard a voice say “Go raib maith agat”.

“What?” I said.

The voice continued “Déarfaidh mé arís é. Go raib maith agat”.

I was sure the voice was coming from the sandwich. I pulled it apart, and examined it carefully.

“Go mbeidh an ghrian ag taitneamh i gcónaí ort”. I heard the sandwich say.

I separated all the lettuce leaves and slices of tomato and checked them. I lifted the beetroot and checked the butter.

Then I realised. It was Gaelic bread.

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.

Under Pressure

Dear Diary,

I started to get worried yesterday. I felt a little light-headed after breakfast. I did my morning routine blood pressure measurement and found it was very low. I did not panic, but drank plenty of water and had a lie down.

I’m on medication to lower my BP and it’s been so effective we’ve had to juggle the dosage a bit to prevent it getting too low. Too high or too low are equally bad for my kidneys and something as simple as being dehydrated can make things worse.

I considered calling the doc for a phone consultation, I knew I should not be driving, and even considered dialling 000 again, but in the end I settled for hydration and rest.

I spent the day happily dozing. My evening measurement was back at the lower end of the acceptable range.

I celebrated by preparing chicken burritos with lots of lettuce, raw onion and tomato, but no cheese. Best meal I’ve had for weeks. And there’s leftovers.

BP back to normal this morning. Crisis averted.

Under Pressure.

Lockdown Diary pt 3

I have finished binge watching the whole of Game of Thrones and Doc Martin from the first to last episodes. I have watched everything that interested me currently available on Netflix, and quite a few things that didn’t. I’ve re-watched Stardust, Blade Runner, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly..

I’ve been reading the complete collection of Earthsea books in one volume. But it is a heavy book. My arms and my eyes are growing tired. I can’t read for as long as I could when I was young.

It is now 16:45. I shall pour the first bevvie of the day and then perhaps take a nap until tea time. My evening meal shall consist of lettuce, tomato and beetroot sandwiches on fresh whole grain bread. I shall open the beetroot tin with my Swiss Army Knife.

The adventure continues.

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.

The Relative Classification of Miscellaneous

The stitches of the last four excisions were removed today. Mehdi himself carried out the procedure. In his dark scrubs and mask he looked like a particularly genial and, dare I say, cuddly, ninja. I said as much. “Have you not seen us in scrubs before?”

No. Everything is changing. Checkpoint Charlie at the door. Screens and shields everywhere, scrubs, sparse seating and yet an air of frantic activity that seemed greater even than before, when the waiting room was crowded.

Taking out the stitches hurt far more than putting them in. Mehdi noticed me grimace, though holding stoically still.

Well, maybe I winced. A bit. “Does this hurt?” he asked, poking a very tender spot that did indeed make me wince. “I thought so. It’s a bit inflamed”.

He found some soothing ointment to rub gently into the scar. He told me it was healing well enough, though I had pulled a couple of stitches. I thought so.

Free, now, of medical appointments now until my next spot check, though the renal team may want to see me soon.

It’s exactly seven days since I last shopped, so I called in to Woodford Woolworths for onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and instant mash. No instant mash. Now this is a bloody crisis.

I noticed at the checkout that other shoppers were successfully buying such things as two cans of beans, two of corn, two of something else, and couldn’t help thinking that this branch of Woollies at least has got its algorithm for identifying miscellaneous items all sorted out. That made me think of beetroot, but I did not go back for some.

Then on the way home I remembered I had gone in there for mash and a replacement can opener. Mine doesn’t work any more. I could have bought the veges at Aldi.

I couldn’t open the beetroot anyway.

Unpaid Product Placement.

Lockdown Diary pt 2

I’ve been visiting the bottle store much more frequently lately, for essential supplies.

So often, in fact, that my farewell comment has become “See you as soon as I sober up”.

A Gordon for me,
A Gordon for me,
If yer nae a Gordon
Yer nae use tae me…

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