I Do Confess the Vices of my Blood

Dr. Mehdi was not happy with the results of my blood test last week. He frowned as he discussed their significance. He gave me a form, told me to go and drink a litre of water and try again. He was hopeful the poor results were caused by me being dehydrated last time. I have my doubts but dutifully did as bid. I popped around to Woolworths and bought 750 mls of water, and 250 mls of sugar-free lime flavoured sparkling mineral water. I downed them as I sat in the shade outside the mall. I then waited for the path lab nurse to return from lunch.

In the pathology lab the nurse greeted me and said “Back so soon?”

“Yep. Mehdi was not happy with your results last time. He wants you to do it again, and get it right this time”. I could see her umbrage begin for just a tiny fraction of a second before she caught on that I was pulling her leg. This is the sort of humour that gets me into trouble sometimes, when I’ve overestimated the ability of someone to see the joke. This nurse and I have been exchanging banter, and family stories for well over a year now. I knew she would get it. But for just a tic I thought I’d done it again.

She asked if I had tried the food at the Bongaree Bowling Club yet. She had recommended it to me last visit. I said no, I was waiting for my mate to come with me. He arrives tomorrow.

She drew the blood expertly and painlessly. As usual.

Then I went back to the surgery (same building) to see one of the practice nurses for a pneumonia vaccine. Mehdi thought I should have one. Given my age and generally decrepit condition. I’d had to wait for the practice nurse to have lunch also.

She too is one of the ladies I enjoy chatting with. Visiting the doc and all the nurses is the peak of my whirlwind social life. She took my blood pressure. 101/69 she was not happy with that and took it again. I held my breath to raise it a little for her. I told her Mehdi had already noted that my bp was dropping, and was going to review my meds after the next blood tests results come in. I have learned that lower blood pressure is necessary for patients with kidney disease, but my meds were now working too well. Too low is not good either Though lower BP helps the kidneys deal with the proteins, too low disrupts the function of filtering out salt.

She swabbed my shoulder and I felt the gentlest touch of pressure for a second. “Oh God, the pain” I said. She was aghast. “Did that hurt? Oh no I’m s so sorry, are you alright?”

“I didn’t feel a thing. Just kidding. You have a gentle touch.”

“You got me. I’ll get you back next time”.She put a little round plaster on the site. “This might swell a bit and it might be sore for a while. If you have any other reaction, or your arm drops off, call the hospital”. I told her I had worse things to worry about than losing another arm.. I’d adapted to having only two, I could adjust to losing one more. I left her pondering that.

I drove out of Woodford with some new data to think about. My blood chemistry is not good, haemoglobin count down, iron still low, salts out of balance and kidney function has deteriorated another 3%. At this rate dialysis looms and the caravan decision must be reconsidered. To dwell, or not to dwell. On the plus side, lipids, cholesterol and blood sugars are not as badly out of whack as they might be, although they will never be right in the green again.

Next, off to the ships chandlers in search of stainless steel screws and a deck plate for one of the legs of the second hand Bimini I bought for the boat. It’s called a deck plate even though it is fitted to the gunwales. BCF didn’t have any, but I saw the Bimini I bought for sale. .New it is $230 so mine was a bargain at $75, even if I do need to buy bits for it.

The chandler at Sandstone Point marina had what I needed. Only $2.50. I bought two, to have a spare. I also picked up a laminated chart of the area of pumicestone passage from Moreton Bay to Caloundra. That is the area I want to be poking about in. For fishing, yes, but also crabbing and spotting wildlife in the mangroves. I love the mangroves.

Bimini

On the way home it occurred to me I should have bought three deck plates (the Bimini still has one, needs two).Then I could set the Bimini up to be moveable fore and aft, to shade either the bow or stern depending on where I wanted to sit. I wouldn’t need to if the Bimini was bigger but I bought the smallest. Known as a two bow Bimini. Because it was available and I couldn’t afford it a lot less than I couldn’t afford any of the others.

I now have everything I need to be a jolly sailor, except a pirate hat and a cutlass.

Broken

I have lived among the broken people
They sent me there
Repairman for their faults
As if good will
A football and a meal
Might mend many generations of pain.

Massacre and Murder still in memory
Birthright and right denied
Who can soothe such wounds
With just a token?
And though I tried, god knows I tried,
I, too, ended broken.

I truly tried my wage to earn
I could not help them, merely learn.
They cannot help, who once betrayed
And raised a debt that can’t be paid.

© 2020 ARF

No, Really.

True story.

I was in the economy shop to buy a device for picking things up, and a lumbar support, I knew I’d find them there at a fraction of the price at a pharmacy. I was not wrong.

I found the picky uppy thingy, which I usually refer to as a gotcha. As I took it from the shelf, I dropped it. I said aloud to myself. “Great. Now I’ll have to buy two”.

A woman standing behind me broke into a fit of giggles as she bent down to pick it up for me. The giggles redoubled when she saw I had already selected another one, and then I tucked both that, and the one she handed me, under my arm.

I thanked her sincerely for the assistance, and for the amusement, which brightened what was threatening to be a bleak day in more ways than the weather.

I had just come from a visit to, of all people, a podiatrist. My health care planner had thought maybe one could help me with my back/leg problem, seeing that I could no longer wear shoes with heels.

I met with him at 08:45. I apprised him of my current condition, and told him it seems to be getting worse lately, despite the walking, cycling and swimming. He listened. He asked a few pertinent questions, mostly about when the pain was worse, what activities made it flare up. He examined my posture.

At last he told me he did not believe that as a podiatrist, there was much he could do for me except provide a little arch support, which he promptly affixed to the jandals (thongs, flip-flops) I was wearing, after I told him they were what I wore most of the time. It may or may not help. He was not hopeful.

However, speaking not in his professional capacity, but as a person still recovering from a broken back, he felt he should pass on the information he had received from the surgeons and spinal specialists who had treated him.

What it amounted to was that riding a bicycle is not a good thing to be doing. Swimming and exercising in water is. So is losing weight. The first I had already begun to suspect. The latter two I already knew. When I mentioned having recently bought a boat, his look of dismay told me all I needed to know. He advised me to get a seat with suspension fitted. He also told me to get a lumbar support for when I sit, and gotchas for picking things up.

So I headed out into the rainy weather with an outlook bleak indeed. The bike had not been a good idea at all. Maybe the boat also. Though that yet remains to be seen. However, no matter how I looked at it i thought perhaps I had not been making sensible decisions lately. Most of my not-good ideas were costly. Either financially or in other ways. For example, my decision to work in the Kimberley had broken my heart, and my spirit, for a time , and did no good to the rest of me.

I tried to think back to the last time I could say I had chosen to do something that had really worked out well.

By the time I got to the economy shop I had progressively thought all the way back to 2009, and my decision to take that well-paid job in Fiji, without having identified anything positive at all. The black dog was circling me, ready to lunge.

Then I dropped the gotchas, talked to myself, and made someone laugh. That made me smile. I headed for the pool and swam in the rain. Swimming is Good.

I swam an extra half hour to make up for the cycling I’m not doing. I also solved the problem of water infiltrating my earplugs as I swam. The rubber bits that go into my ear canal are left and right handed. Somehow I had transposed them after washing them. Something I could have sworn I had taken great care not to do each time. I should have realised straight away.

Dave. My mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it.

I shall continue to use the bike, for short trips to the local shops and for transporting my washing to and from the laundry, but I’ll not be pedalling so much.

FOOTNOTE

By shear coincidence, just after writing about how I talk to myself, I came upon this article.

Which led me to this one. Until now I thought I was in the minority, on the spectrum of schizophrenia.

Exercisem

On the weekend, I collected my boat, which I have named the OPV Jollyfish. (OPV= Outboard Powered Vessel) . The vendor, a boatbuilder, has replaced some carburettor parts, installed a fixed flat deck (necessary for my stability at sea due to my sea-legs no longer having sea-knees) and sacrificial anodes as per our agreement at purchase. He took his time – but no hurry eh?

In the meantime I had been getting a valid Queensland boat driving licence and registering the vessel. In Queensland, as in all states (but not the territory), one must have a marine licence to operate a boat that has an engine power greater than 4.5kW. That’s about 6 Hp.

And the boat must be registered, unless it is used only as a tender to a registered vessel. Which is why the Jollyfish had not hitherto already been registered. She is now. To the Queensland government she is now ANZ76Q. I thought the ANZ was quite appropriate. Some might say the Q is too. If I think about it, 76 might be the age to which I hope to continue boating.

Yesterday I put the 200mm high letters on the sides as the law requires. I did not paint her name on the bow. Instead I stencilled a picture of a jollyfish. Much cooler.

Before I can sail off into the wild blue yonder to catch flatheads and whiting and crabs, and to take photographs of dugongs and seabirds, I set myself some little practical tests. No one should put to sea even in a sheltered bay unless they are physically up to any task reasonably likely to be required.

In retrospect, perhaps I should have found a way to perform these tests before I paid my money, but I am not always as clever as I should be.

The tests involve satisfying myself that I can undertake some basic but very necessary physical actions unassisted, all alone by myself, without any help from anyone else.

  1. Lift the outboard off the boat
  2. Put it back
  3. Climb into and out of the boat while it is on the trailer.
  4. Pull the boat and trailer across a short distance of sand.
  5. Lift the boat and trailer from the ground to put it on the tow ball without the support of a jockey wheel. (I even did this with the caravan, though in that instance it involved the use of a jack, not my back).
  6. Back the boat and trailer into the narrow gap between my caravan and the next.

All the above… Tick. Yesterday.

Already done while checking her out prepurchase:

  1. Climb in and out from the shore. (Don’t laugh. I was genuinely concerned about this).
  2. Start the motor
  3. Drive the boat
  4. Launch and retrieve on a boat ramp.

The next I shall need to undertake while the boat is anchored and also tied to a tree or jetty pile on shore. That is, climb into the boat from deep water, ie where I can not touch the bottom. Naturally, without capsizing. If I cannot do that, I shall have to swim ashore, pull her in, and sell her. I believe it is important to know I can do this. There are any number of reasons I may have to enter the water from the boat, not to mention the simple matter of falling overboard.

However, any form of cheating , such as a knotted rope to climb up, or even a rope ladder, is fair provided I make it possible at any time to do. Old age cunning is ok. If necessary, I’ll have the end of a rope dangling over the bow at all times I’m in tn the boat. I may even make a rope ladder to roll up and tie with small stuff so I can undo it from the water and pull myself up. Logically, climbing over the bow would be the most stable way to get back on board.

I shall practice. I bought some rope suitable for making a ladder, and I’m learning how.

Today was to be my sea trials, the day to test myself on this. However. This morning the wind came up and my weather app says thunderstorms are coming. It is not a boating day. To be honest, I’m not all that sorry. My land-trials yesterday, though successfully completed, left me very sore.

Lettering half done, stencil applied.
The Jollyfish.

Rain

I’m living on the second largest sand island in the world. As far as I can tell, the only thing stopping it from washing back into the sea is a dense matrix of vegetation roots. I was thinking about this at 04:00 this morning, as I sat and watched the most spectacular show of lightning I’ve seen since I left the Kimberley.

I think that may have been the heaviest rainfall since I moved here. Now that I’m going nautical again I’ve started taking an interest in the weather, so I have subscribed to a few apps that keep me up to date with wind rain and tides. Watching the rain on radar, it was pleasing to see it was heading southwest to where it will no doubt be welcome in the Burning Lands.

The storm reminded me of the rain that fell while I was camped at Inskip Point, which resulted in the flood that damaged the caravan undercarriage. Also causing a huge sinkhole. This time, fortunately it hasn’t lasted as long and did not result in a flood.

I went through the archives to see exactly when that was, and could not find it. For months I did not write in my blog. Everything was posted on Facebook. Now lost.

What kind of journal keeper forgets to keep his journal – and worse – deletes all his notes?

How cool is modern technology? When I gained my navigation certificate, GPS tech was a closely guarded military secret. Now, not just a GPS, but my phone and my iPad can tell me where I am and can carry the tide tables and Marine Charts of all the world. When I had a set of charts for New Zealand alone they filled a cabinet. Now a full set of charts covering Australia and New Zealand occupy an imaginary space in a piece of plastic and rare earth metals smaller than my little fingernail.

White Noise

I am a pluviophile. I love the rain. Especially tropical rain.

Walking in the rain, getting soaking wet…

My weather app tells me there is a thirty percent chance of rain. Considering it has been raining heavily for over ten hours , I consider the app to be 70% wrong.

I went to sleep to the lovely sound of heavy rain on my roof, and woke to it this morning. The kookaburra didn’t seem to mind either. He gave a rousing burst of song at 05:40 on the dot, just as I was pouring my first coffee. The frogs are happy too. I can hear at least three species announcing their sexual availability.

My neighbour’s coughing fit was without a trace of Strauss today, though I might have caught a phrase or two of Coltrane. He was soaked on his morning pilgrimage to the ablution block and back. I cheated, I went to the rear corner of my caravan where I am screened from public view, and peed into the stream flowing past my bicycle and through the fence down into the creek. I still got wet. And I still have to go to the ablution block sooner or later.

Last night I went to the Rangla Punjab Wednesday night buffet. All you can eat for twenty dollars. I tried a little of every curry as well as the raitas and pickles. Everything, from the rice and naan to the samosas and bhaji were excellent. The mango lassi was outstanding. That was extra, but well worth four dollars. I tried very hard not to overdo it, but I blew my calorie budget for the first time since I started counting them. I don’t regret it. I shall do it again, though not regularly. Perhaps only when Wednesday coincides with a special occasion.

Yesterday’s occasion was that I now have a recreational marine drivers licence (RMDL). What the rest of the country calls a skipper’s ticket. That I’ve had a boatmaster and coastal yachtmaster ticket in NZ since 1979 did not matter to Queensland Transport. I still had to pass a local course and get certified before they’d grant me a licence. Done and dusted all in one morning yesterday.

Now I can take out the tinnie I bought on line while drunk at Christmas. Kidding. I arranged to view it on Boxing Day. I agreed to buy it. Perfect for my needs, which is code for all I can afford.

Time to go fishing.

Thesis Proposal

They are strange creatures. I have studied them for some time, and still find their behaviour inexplicable. Despite almost constantly killing each other in various Skirmishes, battles and wars, anywhere, and at any time, around their planet, they rarely eat each other, even after mating. They don’t even eat their own young, although they can catch them easily.

Their genetic code differs greatly from ours. I have been unable to learn anything from those I have eaten. Thus I must learn from studying their behaviour, a task that seems dauntingly difficult.

They have no claws or ovipositors, but have developed an astonishing array of synthetic weapons with which to attack each other.   So far I have not determined the criteria on which they base their decision to attack, nor on their choice of weapon, which ranges from sharpened objects of various types and hand held projectile throwers, to extremely large mobile devices, having cooperative crews of many individuals and capable of throwing  projectiles and explosive devices over a great distance.

This interesting social construct of cooperative communities is a most alien concept, difficult to grasp. It consists of numbers of individuals, from small groups to large area-wide populations, and of any gender working together to construct habitats and also to craft these various devices with which to attack each other. In some areas, these attacks are ritual in nature, and death rarely results. In other areas whole communities attack and slaughter other communities, with devices designed to make holes in vital organs, or to disintegrate them entirely.

How they learn the skills required without eating each other I have yet to discover.

How individuals decide to cooperate with some, yet attack and destroy other groups, I have been unable to determine. It may involve territoriality. There appears to be some form of genetically coded ritual involved. They may not be able to consciously choose, despite the appearance of rational behaviour on occasion.

A difficult ritual to understand, from my perspective, takes place on designated pathways where individuals or small cooperative groups enter various forms of mobile device and ritually pass each other at high speed, apparently seeking suitable prey. These pathways cover most of the land mass where terrain permits and cross territorial boundaries.

At seemingly random intervals, somewhere along these paths one device will crash into another, or into some feature of the environment. This may result in injury or death of some or all participants. For some reason, survivors rarely attempt to finish off and eat any others still alive. In fact they cooperate to ensure any injured or damaged individuals are taken away to places where they can be repaired.

It is this custom of repairing themselves that I find the most inexplicable of all. After doing their best to kill and maim each other, they then go to great lengths to to repair damaged individual survivors, rather than eat them. Without that, how do they learn from each other?

How the individuals who carry out the repairs are able to restrain themselves from eating those damaged ones needs to be studied further. Perhaps they use some form of inhibitor to suppress the natural cannibal instinct. They may be a separate sub-species genetically primed to repair rather than attack. If their genes have somehow combined with those of the general population, it may explain the strange dichotomy of behaviour planetwide. How it helps with the continuation of the species will take considerable further study. I may be witnessing some new evolution of the Survival Directive.

I shall not return to mate and be eaten until I have incorporated a satisfactory explanation of the above phenomena into my matrix.