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.

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

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

Uncomfortably Numb

For some time I’ve had a strange condition that even my doctor has not been able to explain. Nor has he suggested any tests that might put light on the matter.

Is it neurological or circulation? Or something else.

The tip of the ring finger on my right hand is numb. Sometimes it is itchy, as if bitten by a mosquito. I feel pressure if I touch it but it seems to have no operational pain receptors, as I can poke it with a pin without sensation other than a hint of pressure.

I have no explanation. But it seems ironic that the Romans and other old societies believed this finger is connected directly to the heart, which explains why it is the ring finger

It is difficult to photograph ones right hand with a cellphone, using ones left hand.

Mate

Within minutes of publishing my last post the phone rang. It was my mate David in New Zealand. Concerned about my mental wellbeing. A call I really appreciated.

Not that I’m any more depressed than usual. I have developed a philosophy of off-handed acceptance in the vein of “shit happens”. I’m not going to worry about anything over which I have no control. I’m certainly not going to worry about unconfirmed possibilities.

When shit happens I remind myself that it doesn’t matter. In fact, “it doesn’t matter” has pretty much become my mantra whenever something happens that I cannot do anything about. Quite a lot falls into that category. It’s part of growing old.

Dave’s call reminds me I have a mate. That matters.

Something More Sinister Pt. 2

This morning Mehdi revealed what he was concerned about. He is still not happy with the latest blood test results. They may point towards myeloma. I’d never heard of it. I had to look it up.

The good news is that it is treatable.

So. Not diagnosed yet, but hypothesised. Referral to a specialist pending. Watch this space for developments.

Myeloma

A cancer of plasma cells.The plasma cells are a type of white blood cell in the bone marrow. With this condition, a group of plasma cells becomes cancerous and multiplies. The disease can damage the bones, immune system, kidneys and red blood cell count.


Treatable by a medical professional. Requires a medical diagnosis. Lab tests or imaging always required. For informational purposes only. Consult your local medical authority for advice.

Sources: Mayo Clinic and others. Learn more

Something More Sinister

Dear Diary, Discussing my blood test with Mehdi yesterday, by phone, I learned that the tests which coincided with those ordered by the kidney clinic delivered the same results.

However, in separate news, my haemoglobin and iron levels continue to be too low. This despite the Ferrograd C tablets and weekly meals of lamb’s fry. So Mehdi ordered another set of tests, to ensure the cause is not “something more sinister”.

“Something more sinister” is not something someone in my demographic wants to hear. A quick Google confirmed there is plenty to be concerned about. But I’ll leave the worrying until I get the results.

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.

Writing

Even if it seems unrealistic, or self-important, or just delusional, the act of writing implies that someone in the future will read what we’re currently in the process of writing. That future can only exist if we believe in it now.

Emily Gould

I don’t think so.

Alan R Freshwater