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”.

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.

The President’s Brain is Missing.

I doubt there is a sane person left who believes Trump has any sense, or any credibility, whatsoever. Following the news as it unfolds in the US is like watching some surreal black comedy.

It’s something Peter Sellars might have made with Stanley Kubrick – Dr Kidglove, or How I Learned to Stop Thinking and Follow the Trump.

COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS / DEATH TOLL 

Last updated: April 25, 2020, 09:17 GMT
Coronavirus Death Toll

197,694 people have died so far from the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak as of April 25, 2020, 09:17 GMT.
There are currently 2,836,338 confirmed cases in 210 countries and territories . The fatality rate is still being assessed.

Follow the world-wide statistics, or country by country, here.

At the risk of being considered crepidarian: There is no doubt this COVID19 pandemic is just as scary as WHO said it could be. We are seeing now that the countries with the lowest infection and mortality curves are the ones with the best, and quickest lockdown response. Go New Zealand.

Now that testing is becoming more prevalent, and more reliable, many countries are finding evidence there is a significant proportion of asymptomatic infectious carriers among the apparently healthy population. These are not all being numbered among confirmed cases.

In our current world, this is about as apocalyptic as it gets.

I’m sure they said the same thing during the great flu pandemic of 1918 when about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected and the number of deaths worldwide was estimated to be at least 50 million.

The population of the world is exponentially greater now. So is the risk.

Stay safe out there. Good Luck.

Dear Diary

I am not Samuel Pepys. My blog is nowhere near as interesting as his was. I am not John Aubrey. I have dropped a few names, and could drop a few more, but I’ve never really got into it as he did.

There are days, when I wonder if my blog will survive somewhere to be electronically excavated at some far distant future time and be considered as a vivid picture of the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries. The Pepys or Aubrey of my generation.

Then I realise, no. It won’t. Even if I print it all out, it will be tossed out by my executor.

In any case, millions of people are blogging. So many are they, there aren’t enough readers to go round. Certainly not enough who like my posts. That is hardly surprising. All the adventure is gone from my life. This lock down has accentuated just how different my life has become.

These days I cannot leave home except for the purpose of obtaining food and supplies (but not toilet paper, ‘cos there isn’t any) or for medical reasons. This is because of the COVID19 pandemic. Whereas before it was because I’m a lazy bugger.

I wonder if taking the boat out is essential for exercise, or perhaps for gathering food.

But seriously, I miss my swimming. As soon as these cuts heal I shall swim in the sea, as long as the pool is not open. As walking becomes more of a strain, I’m exercising less and must watch my diet even more than ever.

These are the thoughts that flit through my mind as I lay on my bunk, listening to my Celtic playlist on Spotify, bored with Netflix.

I’m due for another slice on my shoulder next Tuesday. It will be bigger than the last one, and I can’t believe how big that was. I can’t see it, but I can feel it. It is wider than my hand with my fingers splayed. I did catch a glimpse of it in the mirror when I had a shower. It’s pretty awesome. I’m half hoping to get another on my chest so I can tell people I was run through with a cutlass.

Another ten days to heal and I should be able to swim and go fishing. And catch some of those mangrove crabs. It’s a solitary pursuit and won’t infringe any social distancing laws.

My morning coffee omens have not been good lately. I see a dragon devouring everything I hold dear in one cup, and in another, an asteroid spiralling in to destroy the world . Consistent coffee. Literal and metaphorical Armageddon. In the midst of a pandemic.

It’s rather fortunate that we Capricorn’s don’t really believe in that sort of thing, though this optimism is counteracted by the guilt that makes us ex-Catholics secretly believe we deserve every bad thing that happens to us.

Optimistic bald person expecting disaster.

Lockdown

From The Guardian

Queensland has announced a state of emergency, and along with enforcing the two-person limit, residents are now only allowed to leave their home for one of eight essential reasons. These are:

  • Obtaining food or other essential goods or services
  • Obtaining medical treatment or other healthcare services
  • Engaging in physical exercise, either alone or in the company of no more than one other person; or in the company of a family group who ordinarily live in the same household
  • Performing work on behalf of an employer that is engaged in essential business, activity or undertaking, and the work to be performed is of a nature that cannot reasonably be performed from the person’s principal place of residence
  • Visiting a terminally ill relative or to attend a funeral
  • Providing assistance, care or support to an immediate member of the person’s family
  • Attending any court of Australia or to comply with or give effect to orders of the court
  • Attending a childcare facility, school, university or other educational institution, to the extent care or instruction cannot reasonably be obtained in the person’s principal place of residence

A full list can be found here.

Queensland now restricts gatherings of more than two people. This applies in public areas but exempts members of the same household.

This means if someone leaves their house for an essential reason, such as exercise, they can be joined by only one other person or the members of their household.

On Thursday the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said that inside a person’s home they were allowed to have all the members of the household and two guests.Advertisement

Palaszczuk said this amendment is intended to help families who may not all live in the same home to stay connected. She also clarified that those who live alone are allowed to have one or two social guests.

Queensland police officers will be able to issue on-the-spot fines of $1,334.50 for individuals and $6,672.50 for corporations, who breach these laws. The maximum penalties available through the courts will be 10 times those amounts.

From 3 April, Queensland borders will be closed to everyone except residents and essential workers, including freight carriers and emergency workers. This includes erecting barriers in the Gold Coast suburb of Coolangatta, which straddles both Queensland and NSW.

There are some exemptions for those who regularly cross the Queensland-NSW border for work.

Sheep May Safely Graze (Azithromycin Version)

Old men may safely fart and pass wind.

In Azithromycin’s sight

And Imodium’s

Peristalsis soothed and sphincter held

Brings to hearts a peace abiding,

And sleep throughout the night

Smooth and easy may my offerings flow

Neither rudely swift

Nor obstinately slow.

With apologies to Salomon Franck

And thanks to an unknown graffitist wit of Pompeii, whose epigram in Latin is poetically translated by an archaeological graffitologist whose name I forget.

© 2020 ARF

The Irony of the Long Distance Consultation

After a week of the trots, I was pretty run down. I thought I had it beaten on Monday, but on Tuesday it returned. That same morning my medical app relayed to me an invitation to make an appointment with my GP to discuss the pathology results of the specimens submitted on Friday. All appointments not requiring face to face contact, are now to be telephone consultations. This suited me fine. The earliest I could get was midday yesterday. Fair enough.

Over the phone, Mehdi told me I had a dose of Campylobacter. It hadn’t been a reaction to the Cephalexin prophylaxis. I had concluded that if it was not that, I probably had a dose of Bacillus cereus so this was a bit of a surprise. It had not after all been caused by the antibiotic nor by me leaving my fried rice unrefrigerated too long, but by direct faecal contamination. This got me off the hook and pretty surely put the blame on whoever assembled the ham and egg burger I had for.breakfast after picking up Lyn at the airport the previous week. The incubation time fit perfectly. Exonerated. Though I may have miscalculated the lag time on cooling rice, I am pretty fastidious in my personal hygiene and food handling.

The diagnosis was a relief for another reason. When the symptoms had persisted beyond the usual two or three days, I had begun to fear my kidneys had failed at last.

Treatment is not usually required, but since I’d had the runs over a week Mehdi prescribed three doses of Azithromycin. I had assumed he would be able to fax/email the script through to my pharmacy here in Woorim, but it seems such is not permissible under Queensland law.

So I had to drive all the way to Woodford to collect the prescription. Time and travel saved by a phone consultation: nil.

Campylobacter