Memento Mori

Laundry day is also the day I do the routine maintenance and hygiene tasks associated with Caer Ibormeith , my CPAP goddess of sleep, who gently breathes nightly into my nostrils. You know you are an eccentric when your appliances and vehicles have names – and you talk to them.

I gently changed her air filter, cleaned out her humidifier tank, and washed her hose and nasal pillows, telling her as I did how very much I appreciate her company and support. Today she spoke back. On her little screen where a smiley face usually assures me all is well, was a dire message.

“Respice post te. Hominem te esse memento. Memento mori!”

I rang my service provider, Andrea, in Albany, WA. I told her of this ominous message. I asked what I should do.

“You now have a piece of string. We don’t know how long it is. Keep using it, but it could fail at any time. Then you’ll need to look for a new one.”

“Can’t I send her somewhere to be serviced?”

“No. They are not built to be serviced. That would cost more than replacing it.”

“Her.”

“When did you get it?” She consulted her computer. “2013. It’s lasted you well. “

“She has. I’ve had marriages that didn’t last that long.”

“I remember you now – You joker”.

“Yeah, that’s me. Thanks for the advice, Andrea. I appreciate it. I hope she lasts me a while longer. I guess I can find a local supplier when the time comes. Bye.” I hung up.

It’s just a thing. It can’t love me. But I feel as if she does. I was in pretty bad shape before we met.

Competition

Entry is free.

What are these objects?

Post your answer in the comments. Only the precisely correct answer wins. The Winner, if there is one, will be announced as soon as the correct answer is posted. Otherwise I’ll let the cat out of the bag in three days or so.

The prize is one of my original works of Art, valued (by me) at a Huge Amount. The Undisclosed Sum we hear so much about. (Terms and Conditions apply*)

Here they are again, from another angle.

*but I’m not telling you what the terms and conditions are.

Scorch

It is just past 6am. The temperature is already 22C. The radio predicts another two days of heatwave with temperatures seven degrees above the December average for southeast Queensland. EDIT: the seven o’clock news now puts the expected temperatures at up to twelve degrees above the December average.

Yesterday was so hot I cooked this piece of chicken without even lighting the barbecue.

I can’t swim for at least a week, and I can’t shower for another two days because of these chunks out of my forearms. I could probably manage a shower if I only had to keep one arm dry, but both would be problematic. Even gladwrap and duct tape didn’t work last time I tried. So it is facecloths and baby wipes.

But there’s no substitute for a shower.

Melanoma Blues

A massive chunk excised from my left arm today. Eleven stitches to close the wound. My new personal best. Hopefully we got the whole thing. The bad news is there is another one to do tomorrow. Another positive biopsy result. The good doctor had to shuffle some appointments for me. I appreciate his sense of urgency.

I thought, having made it to 67, I was probably immune to cancer and it would be something else that took me out. Maybe it will be still, but the odds are changing. One thing I have already decided. After looking after my friend Jeff for his last couple of months, I determined then and there I would not be going quietly and meekly if it happened to me. The man suffered. I suffered with him. There shall have to be a plan B. B prepared.

I got the melanomas
Melanomas in my skin
I got melanomas, yeah
Melanomas in my skin
So I went to the doctor
He started slicing straight in.

Said we gotta cut them out man
Before they get too strong
Said we gotta cut ‘em, yeah,
Before they get too strong
‘Cos iffen we don’t cut ‘em
Man you ain’t got long.’ *

I got the melanoma blues,
From knocking around in Sunshine City
Where the ozone layer’s thinner
And the UV rays are stronger in the air
I had SPF to use – but I didn’t use it, that’s a pity
And those bloody melanomas
Are popping up everywhere.

* Poetic licence. He’s Persian, and does not talk like that.

If you actually listen to the Blues, you’ll know a lot of the songs are considerably worse than this one.

I hold my dent up to the light.

Lessons.

Today was a day in which I learned, or was reminded of, several important things. It was intended to be a quiet day sorting out the van and disposing of things that are no longer needful, or that do not bring me joy. I am decluttering with a ruthlessness that would make David finally proud of me.

Having swum ninety minutes every day this week I thought I’d take a break, but then, in a fit of energy, and procrastination, I rationalised that I may not be able to swim for a while after the surgery tomorrow. So I should definitely go today. The truth is, I am becoming a swim junkie. I need my fix of weightless, fluid, pain-free motion with good music, the cool silky feel of water flowing over my skin.

Also I had spotted in the Target catalogue, a cheap, small microwave oven that looked as if it might fit into the space created for one in the caravan, a space currently filled with sauce bottles and assorted condiments that do not require refrigeration. I decided I need a microwave, now that I am on mains power semi permanently.

I measured the space and recorded the dimensions on my phone. Then went for a swim. I forgot my walking stick. Emerging from the pool and feeling the return of gravity, I regretted my decision not to go back for it. I decided I need three. One always in the car, one in the bike trailer, and one at home. It is getting hard to do without it.

After my swim, I showered, changed and headed for Target. I stopped into the bargain shop first to pick up an extra walking stick.

In Target I found the oven I was interested in, pulled out my tape measure, and checked the dimensions of the front of the oven. It would fit. I picked up a boxed oven from the shelf below the display and headed for the checkout. By the time I got there, I knew I had made a serious mistake. The shooting pains in my legs and the grinding sounds from my knees told me both they and my back were buggered from this weightlifting exercise. It was only a small oven!

I left it by the checkout and went in search of a trolley. I had not limped far at all before I needed a rest. I leaned on my stick in the forward leaning pose that seems to give me relief. A young woman, who had been at the checkout behind me, came up to me, pointed at a bench and told me to sit there while she found me a trolley. She then headed down to Woolworths at the other end of the mall, returning with a trolley.

What a sweetheart. Her name is Tara. I felt so old. Especially when she patted me on the shoulder and told me that like me, her grandma was always trying to do more than she was now capable of. Hey, I’m father material, not grandad. But of course, I was her age when my grandad was my age.

Such people are the treasures of humanity as much as any great Nobel laureate.

Once I had a trolley to lean on, I was fine. I collected the oven and transferred it to the cruiser. Back at the caravan I unboxed it and carefully, if painfully, carried it inside. Of course it did not fit into the space available. Only the face had the right dimensions, and even then, only just. A short existential crisis until I realised I could remove the top of the cupboard, insert the oven and put the top back. A quick gathering of tools and the step-stool I call the standy on-thing.

First, I put insect screen over the ventilation hole through the wall of the caravan. That should keep out the ants and insects that might otherwise colonise the back of the oven.

It did fit though the cupboard top does not quite go back as snugly as before. I then reheated some cold coffee in a mug. No more reheating in a saucepan on the gas stove and forgetting it.

But I now need to find somewhere to put all the sauce bottles and assorted condiments that do not require refrigeration.

I wondered at the marvellous technology before me that cost only $68. I remembered my first microwave and how expensive it was. This thing cost little more than a packet of 40 cigarettes, or an hour of my wages, back when I was earning them.

That made me think of all the man hours and material that went into manufacturing it. If the retail price is so low, how much do those who do the real work get? Then I felt guilty. This is why the world is in crisis.

But coffee. And reheated chicken, turkey and chorizo in mushroom sauce.

Non-Existential Angst

A foray into a new genre. I don’t know what it is.

Sometimes, when you are dead, you just don’t know it. Your mind continues to believe in your life, despite the irrefutable proof lying in a wreck on the roadside. You ignore the clues, carry on in a dazed trance, doing work that does not need doing, and which is never noticed. You raise imaginary dahlias and runner beans and children. You still believe in Love, Family, Friends. Hope. You believe in Truth and Balance and Justice. They are ideal, because they are not real. You take foolish risks for their sake, not realising it matters nought. For you have nothing to lose that is not already lost.

You edge sometimes towards an unwilling awareness of your sad condition, this seemingly human condition. When you do, you seek diversion. You lose yourself in fiction, for deep inside you know that only in the imagination is found the Happy Ending. Every book you think you read, is one you write yourself. Every movie you watch is no more than your own reimagining of all you missed while you were still alive. Your own mind sometimes produces that rare masterpiece, a dream so moving, so sweeping, with such an epic, tragic, sad or bitter-sweet finale, that you weep. You weep. You feel. Because despite being dead, on some unconscious level of your non-existential soul you are aware you have just realised the Truth.

Entropy rules. Decay. That is how you should know you are dead. There is no other condition.

And the only question for you, Zombie, is “When was it that you died?”

There, perversely, paradoxically, is your true immortality.

You were, you are, you shall be – always – nothing more – and nothing less – than a skin cell shed from the Universe as it searches for meaning.

© S.P. Nov, 2019
Another skin cell, shed from the Universe