Health Update

I don’t have dementia. I don’t have diabetes. My kidney function is actually improving slightly. It had dropped from 47% to 33, and now it’s working its way back to 40%. I am losing weight;

6.8 kg in 70 days. It is working. The MyFitnessPal app is very helpful in monitoring my energy intake. I recommend it. I can work out in advance what I want to have and how much of it fits in my energy budget. So nothing need be off the menu. Portion control.

My mobility is not yet improving and pain constrains the amount of exercise I can do walking or standing. I am building up my upper body strength with my rubber band gym, which is a surprisingly effective way to work out sitting down.

My mental health remains stable thanks, in no small part, to fluoxetine.

I have my hobbies, books, Netflix and Spotify. I’ve done a bit of exploring, but the weather has not been particularly conducive to swimming, fishing, drone flying or bird and reptile photography. I do miss the stimulation of intelligent conversation, and I am acutely aware of how far away I am from family and friends. Much of my support system is now with Facebook friends, many of whom I have never met. .

My finances are, if not precarious, in need of scrutiny. I can’t afford to eat into my nest egg any longer, and must try to manage on the pension. Fortunately I have all the tools, appliances, appurtenances and clothes I need for now, so there is just rent, medications, food, fuel and entertainment, Insurance and registrations – and that bloody albatross of a lockup in NZ that is costing me $1,500 a year. I’ve spent more on it than the contents are worth.

This month marks nine years since I was Dear Johned. It seems like a lifetime.

So that is the story so far.

Advertisements

Home

Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary. A houseboat in Kashmir, a view down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, a gray gothic farmhouse two stories high at the end of a red dog road in the Allegheny Mountains, a cabin on the shore of a blue lake in spruce and fir country, a greasy alley near the Hoboken waterfront, or even, possibly, for those of a less demanding sensibility, the world to be seen from a comfortable apartment high in the tender, velvety smog of Manhattan, Chicago, Paris, Tokyo, Rio or Rome — there’s no limit to the human capacity for the homing sentiment. Theologians, sky pilots, astronauts have even felt the appeal of home calling to them from up above, in the cold black outback of interstellar space.

Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire.

Where I am now does not feel like home. I hoped it would, but it doesn’t. It is the place where I currently live. I live in a caravan, which is an object. The caravan is in a park on Bribie Island, which is a location. Neither the domicile nor the location is home. I’m not even sure these days what, or where, home might be for me. Or even where it was.

Every place I’ve ever considered to be home has been taken from me or I have had to leave it behind. Every place I’ve been happy, I’ve had to abandon. As child I moved with my parents wherever their aspirations led. As a young man I followed employment opportunities and my own romantic hopes. For the last eleven years I’ve gone again where necessity sent me, albeit of my own free will. I have found the occasional Happy Place, where I can enjoy being alive and communing with the natural world in some positive heart-lightening way, but I have had no home in that time. No place where I could look around me and say “This is where I belong. This is where I shall stay”.

Looking back I realise I have been searching for such a place since I was a child exploring the hills and fields and streams of the Manawatu, and as a young man exploring the bush and beaches and under the seas around New Zealand

Also, of course, as I explored the possibilities of a shared life, relationships, offering and seeking love.

Home is more than a house, more than a place. It is people in familial and social relationships. Relationships which are enduring and settled. It turns out I’m not so good at maintaining relationships. Two failed marriages, other failed relationships, and very little constant contact or intercourse with family.

I’m not sure if this is caused by, or is what causes, depression.

Fortunately, or perhaps otherwise, I am comfortable and content in my own company. I don’t get lonely when I am alone. Even so, social interaction comes easily enough to me. I don’t have the difficulties that, for example, an autistic person might. I can be amusing, empathetic, and supportive. Caring. Nonetheless I cannot seem to get right the combination of interaction that will lead me to have constancy of companionship and the stability of location that feeling at home requires. Others move on. Or I must.

So here I am ageing, separated from friends and family, with my social interaction limited to a few short term acquaintances and virtual friends whom I no longer see in person or have never even met in the first place.

All I can do now is seek out a new Happy Place. One where I can stay. I have no idea what, or where it might be, though I have an inkling it must be somewhere on or near the sea. Most of my Happy Places have been. I find peace and contentment by the sea, or by water, more than anywhere else.

Does this introspective essay mean I am, after all, becoming lonely?

I have to think about that.

Brief Update

Such a lot has happened. A brief summary, to be expanded later:

The trip across Oz with Dave was interrupted by news that one of my old Mentors, Mary Stewart had died in New Zealand. She was 91. I had been planning to fly over to visit her from Queensland, but now we had to hasten the journey in order to get to Brisbane in time to attend the funeral. We got to Brisbane just in time to get tickets on China Airline to fly out on the Friday in time for the funeral the next day.

In that time I came to the sudden conclusion that I wanted to pursue my earlier dream of being a grey nomad around Australia. I had considered doing the same in NZ but in the end I decided to return to Oz where my car was still waiting, buy a caravan and stay here a while longer. But this time as a free man (ie. unencumbered by employment).

I found a caravan I could afford and had its solar powered lighting upgraded to accommodate my CPAP machine, and the car rigged to connect to it for power and brakes. I set up at Kate’s place, the Parrots Hilton, for my shakedown cruise. Here I sorted once more through my stuff and either packed it into the caravan, or once more gave it away. Kate is looking after some of my art and artefacts.

Meantime I have sorted out the paperwork for my pension, and for collecting my Super. Just waiting for the money to appear in my bank account.

That’s the story so far.

On My Way

The road trip has begun. We have left HC. Dave is flying in a helicopter over the bungle bungles and I have been talking to motorcyclists. The car is heavily laden with the detritus of my life. She is carrying her burden bravely. Tyre pressures @ 40 & 42. Onward Japanese Juggernaut!

Tomorrow I finally get to see lake Argyle by boat and on Thursday the long drive begins with no firm itinerary.

Taistealaí and Troopy

I am taking some boys on a camping and football trip and my Shire troopy* is not yet repaired.  So Lachy drove down to meet me half way along the Tanami with the Youth Town Troopy so I could use it for the trip. He took my own Taistealaí back to Halls Creek. Taistealaí is not covered by Shire insurance for transporting kids.  Australia does not have an ACC system.  Here we need public liability insurance and face litigation over traffic accidents, sport accidents or even work accidents in some cases.

It is because I did not have private health insurance, and did not injure myself at work, that my left arm is now partly disabled.  Had I lied about how I injured my arm, I might be a nearly whole man today.  I was not covered for prompt treatment or for compensation. It was a year between the injury and the operation, by which time it was too late.  That would not have been a problem in NZ but I did not know this about Australia until too late.

But I digress.

The town troopy is much cleaner and tidier than mine!   Note to self….

It was quite illuminating to drive a 4.2 litre six cylinder diesel up the road for an hour, and immediately switch to a 4.8 litre V8 diesel going back over the same route.  That extra .4 of a litre and two cylinders  of the troopy does make quite a difference  in the feel of the vehicle. Definitely more power there.  I had not noticed it so much before because there had been a longer period between driving one or the other. I am not at all concerned that the six is less powerful, because it is much more economical on fuel, and in any case it still has all the power I am ever likely to need. Even if I end up in the future as a grey nomad towing my home behind me it will not be a huge affair, just a little caravan or camper trailer.

Also on the plus side, I realised that the suspension and ride in Taistealaí is more comfortable.

Both cars handle really well on the rough Tanami.  So nice to have a good vehicle.  I realise now just how inadequate the Holden Colorado was.  Particularly if one drives thse roads regularly.

One thing I have learned in the time I have been up here, is the value of a good 4WD on rough unpaved roads.  When I first got here I wrote somewhere on my blog that some locals were quite proud of the fact they drove down the Tanami and Duncan roads without ever engaging four wheel drive. I even did it myself in the Colorado.  What a dick.  I have since learned, both by training and experience, that this refusal to engage 4WD on unpaved roads is a foolish and wrong attitude. It is dangerous.  The reasoning most people give for staying in 2WD unless they are likely to get bogged, is the dubious claim that there is less wear and tear on the vehicle when running in two wheel drive only, and the probably reasonably valid argument that fuel economy is improved.  However valid these assertions may be, they are strongly counterbalanced by the incontrovertible fact that traction, control and handling, and stability are far greater on rough roads when in four wheel drive.  Therefore it is safer! When conditions can change from shingle to sand to bulldust to rock within a few metres, control is necessary at all times    Safety is paramount on these roads.  It is a bloody long way to hospital, if you’re badly injured it will seem a very long time until help arrives -assuming there is some way to call for assistance, or that someone finds you before you bleed out.  A serious accident will require helicopter evacuation because ambulances do not travel these roads.  Anyone who feels that saving a few dollars on maintenance or fuel is more important than the lives of the occupants of the vehicle, or is more significant than the increased chance the vehicle itself might be wrecked in an accident, is not thinking clearly.

And that is all I have to say about that.

*For my overseas reader(s) – a Troopy is a Toyota Landcruiser “Troop Carrier”  A vehicle that I am told was developed specifically for Australia.  It has a long wheel base and long range fuel tanks.  It seats ten to fourteen on a front bench seat and on two long seats along either side at the back.     Troopies have been the pick for people movers around the outback for years.  Now they are no longer in production many people are wondering what can replace them.  

image
A Troopy
_DSC3200
Not a Troopy

 

Unseasonal Weather

I drove up to Halls Creek on Sunday ready to pick up a few things on Monday and complete some admin stuff at the Shire office.  Sunday and Monday are my weekend days, but I often end up doing work stuff.  No problem because my days and hours are flexible.  I hadn’t planned to, but I ended up staying Monday night as well. I still needed to shop for hardware and a few items for the Youth Centre.

Then the rain started.  Surprisingly heavy and totally unexpected at this time of year in the midst of the dry season.  On Tuesday morning Budgie warned me he was planning to close the Tanami so I should get started for home, which I did.  It was already pretty hairy between Ruby Plain and the Wolfe Creek Crater turnoff.  I was down to 40 or 50 kph and still sliding around.  The trip usually takes me two hours and fifteen minutes. Today it took well over three hours.  By the time I arrived the troopy was red with mud from top to bottom.

When I arrived in Billiluna a convoy of Grey Nomad tourists up from the Alice Springs end were fueling up ready to head north. I had the fun of telling them they could not go, and indeed they should not. I advised them to camp locally.  Fortunately I was able to tell them where the good spots were.

I phoned Budgie to give him a road report and headed for bed very early.  I had eaten one takeaway meal in Halls Creek on Monday and ended up with a nasty dose of what I suspect was Bacillus cereus intoxication.

Wednesday is going to be a day of bed rest.

To Sail Beyond the Sunset

 

 

Ulysses

It little profits that an idle king,

By this still hearth, among these barren crags,

Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole

Unequal laws unto a savage race,

That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink

Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy’d

Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those

That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when

Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades

Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;

For always roaming with a hungry heart

Much have I seen and known; cities of men

And manners, climates, councils, governments,

Myself not least, but honour’d of them all;

And drunk delight of battle with my peers,

Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.

I am a part of all that I have met;

Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’

Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades

For ever and forever when I move.

How dull it is to pause, to make an end,

To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!

As tho’ to breathe were life! Life piled on life

Were all too little, and of one to me

Little remains: but every hour is saved

From that eternal silence, something more,

A bringer of new things; and vile it were

For some three suns to store and hoard myself,

And this gray spirit yearning in desire

To follow knowledge like a sinking star,

Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

 

 

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,

To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,—

Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil

This labour, by slow prudence to make mild

A rugged people, and thro’ soft degrees

Subdue them to the useful and the good.

Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere

Of common duties, decent not to fail

In offices of tenderness, and pay

Meet adoration to my household gods,

When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

 

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:

There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,

Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me—

That ever with a frolic welcome took

The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed

Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;

Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;

Death closes all: but something ere the end,

Some work of noble note, may yet be done,

Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:

The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep

Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,

‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.

Push off, and sitting well in order smite

The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds

To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths

Of all the western stars, until I die.

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:

It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,

And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

 

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

  1. Ulysses Waterhouse.jpg