Sourdough Pete

Way out in the Gibson desert, not far from Lake MacKay, at the end of a long day crossing the desert at an average speed of 20kph, I came upon an old man sitting by a campfire . His back leaned against the tyre of an ancient troopy. He was cooking something that smelled good. It was kangaroo stew and damper.

He introduced himself as Pete, and invited me to join him for a meal, which I accepted cheerfully, bringing out some canned fruit and creamed rice from my stock as a dessert offering.

His stew was really good. His damper was unexpectedly extraordinary. It tasted like the best sourdough bread I’ve ever had. Damper is usually made from self raising flour or using baking powder. I complimented Pete on the bread, and he told me he used raisins to make a starter dough. It seems the yeasts naturally found on the dried fruit were perfect for making bread. The starter fermented all day in the hot car as he travelled and was ready to bake in the camp oven at the end of every day.

He showed me how it was done. He opened an old pack, pulled out a bag of raisins, mixed some with flour and water in an old Tupperware container, and put it on the bonnet of his Troopy ready for the next day. Then he put the raisins beside the container on the bonnet. We sat down to share dessert.

As we ate, there was a whir of wings and a large crow landed on the car. Without hesitation, it grabbed the bag of dried fruit and flew away with it.

Pete watched the bird fly away with the resigned acceptance of one who is used to the vagaries and tragedies of life. “Ah.” he said philosophically. “There goes my raisins for leavening”.

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

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.

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.

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, 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 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.