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.


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


A spot of wind last night. Gretel’s skirts brushing Queensland as she heads down past Noumea. It got pretty rough. Several times in the small hours I thought I was going to be awaking not in Kansas. I’m really grateful to Dave for his help with bracing the awning while he was here. Though the caravan rocked, she rocked steady. Nothing buckled or gave way. Usually I’d have folded everything away at the start of a tropical cyclone, but I’m not actually physically up to it at the moment. I just had to trust she’d ride it out, which she did.

Half my windows, my door, and all my vents were open so it was almost as breezy inside as it was out. I was snug and unworried under the duvet. The wind was strong enough to periodically blow open the magnetic closures of the insect screen curtains in the doorway. It sounded and felt as if someone was coming into the caravan as it rocked at the same time.

I’ve always liked sleeping with a breeze across my face, in fact it helps me sleep. It feels like camping out. Even so, I did not get that much sleep last night. I must have slept at some stage, but it felt as if I lay awake all night. I can’t spend the day catching up, because I have to drive to Woodford soon for two more excisions on my shoulder. Mehdi should have the results of the last lot by now.


I filled up both tanks of the Landcruiser on Saturday morning. That’s the first time the old girl has been full since the trip from Halls Creek. It cost me almost $160. That included about $8.50 to top up the fuel tank of the boat, and a bottle of no sugar coke.

I’m going to need the cruiser to be full. I have at least four days of doing the two- hourly commute to the doc’s surgery and back. Even so, I don’t regret sticking with Mehdi. Without him, these melanomas would still be festering away undetected.

Running the outboard is not going to be too costly. Less than $4 an hour.

I had hoped to get the boat out Sunday or Monday, but wind and rain put me off. I’m comfortable out on the water in weather, but launching and retrieving alone in wind and rough water will have to wait a bit. The wind was coming right up the passage from the SE. I’ll get her out as soon as I can. There are fish and crabs out there to catch.

In any case I should rig the navigation lights first. There is a sandbank not far out in the passage where the whiting are said to be good fishing when the moon and tide are right.

If you can’t fish, prepare to fish.


Incessant, ceaseless, constant, continual, continuous, endless, interminable, nonstop, perpetual, relentless, unceasing, unending, unrelenting, unremitting, monotonous, torrential rain.

I awoke to the sound of rain and it has not stopped all day. I drank my morning coffee and ate my brunch of sausage and beans to the sound of falling rain. I swam two hours from 12:15 to 14::15 in the rain. I put in the extra half hour because I thought I might actually complete 100 lengths. I did it. New record. Thanks to finger paddles.

I had the pool to myself when I first arrived. As I swam I was joined by only two other swimmers. Neither of them stayed longer than thirty minutes. I doubt the pool covered its costs today.

It’s a chilly 22C this afternoon. I’m wearing a warm pullover. I think it may be time for Netflix and a nap.

Sunday, Soggy Sunday

Rain. A torrential downpour. You hear it approaching at first, like a hundred noisy hovercraft. The source of the sound is directionless and you are not sure if it is a sudden surge in the surf on the beach or a gale of wind whipping up the trees. Then it is on you, drumming on the roof of the caravan and splashing in rapidly flowing and growing rivulets on the road outside. The white noise of heavy rain drowns out the music I am playing, and the thoughts I was thinking.

Here it comes again.

Where was I?

I was reading, but the sound lulled me to sleep. My watch stopped at 08:43. It is now 13:17.

I haven’t had breakfast. I was going to have a brunch at 11:30. I missed it. But having been inactive, I’m still not hungry. My morning coffee was enough. I’m having another now.

It is my day of rest because my shoulders are still stiff from the extra workout I gave them the last few days at the pool, using my new finger paddles. Muscles grow while resting after effort. Finger paddles increase the surface area of the hand and thus increase the thrust of one’s swimming stroke, and the energy one burns in the process.

Finger Paddles

With them I’ve increased the number of lengths I can swim to a still very unimpressive 48 per hour. I’ve even managed to swim a length in under a minute a few times. That is still a laughable effort when one considers that some of the fit young people in the other lanes can do it in 19 seconds or less. I blame my hull shape. A tug can never outstrip a yacht, no matter how many horsepower it has. One thing I do know. I’m still swimming long after the others are buggered.

I have stamina.

It’s raining again.

I think I’ll take another nap.


My coffee this morning also reminded me of cyclones. I’m not complaining, but cyclone season, which runs here from November to April, has so far been cyclone free. BOM say there is a 65% chance it will remain that way. That’s unusual, but maybe in a good way. I’m certainly pleased. I live in a caravan with a pop top and a canvas awning out the side.

Other parts of this huge country are copping the unusual in other ways. Drought, fire, flood.

The balance of the Force has been disturbed, young padawan.

How Interesting.

Sunspots and Stranded Whales: A Bizarre Correlation

A collaboration between biologists and an astronomer sought to add evidence to the idea that whale migration is affected by solar weather.

I wonder if other migrating species have similar effects?

The Might of Chondroitin

I’ve just dropped David off at Brisbane Airport. Then I drove to the Apple store at Chermside. There my iPhone six, which has been playing up badly, was diagnosed in need of a new battery. I asked for it to be done. An eighty dollar battery is cheaper by far than a new iPhone. I had to wait a couple of hours until they could fix it, so I killed time by having a chicken and rocket wrap for brunch with a good coffee. Opposite the coffee kiosk was a discount pharmacy. 60% off selected stock.

David had told me about Chondroitin and the benefits he had derived from it. He also cited some fairly scientific sounding backup data. It sounded as if it might be beneficial to one in my situation. David is a practical person. A real Taurean, though we Capricorns don’t believe in that rubbish. In any case, I’ve never had bad advice from Dave, and in many cases, including this week, his thoughtful and insightful way of looking at things has given me new inspiration and determination. So I bought some Chondroitin and glucosamine tablets. Enough for a few months. That should be a good trial period.

Aside from the delight and pleasure of Dave’s company, and the practical things that he helped me with – and there was a good deal of that – last week did not go entirely well. We got the Bimini on the boat and sorted out everything to make her shipshape and Bristol shanky. We took her out on a maiden voyage with no disasters. I had some concerns about how I would manage handling her alone, mainly at the launching and retrieving stages. I shall have to work on that. I may have to go out with a companion if I can’t improve my mobility. Some things are just too hard. Fortunately there is no shortage of offers from my fellow inmates. I already have two. I’m not giving up.

Night trips were not even to be considered until I knew my way around the passage better, and in any case, the weather crapped out, all rain storms and wind. Finally, on the last day before Dave had to go home the sea seemed calm enough despite the rain squalls. We took her out from Banksia Beach, and fished off White Patch. Of course it poured with rain. But we didn’t get sunburnt. The Bimini was up.

I threw in a whiting rig. I used squid for bait. Within minutes I caught my first fish. It was a Yellowfin Tripodfish, Tripodichthys angustifrons (Hollard 1854). I’d never seen one before. It was not on my fish identification chart. I had to look it up when I got home.

It did not look very palatable, and it was not so big, so I threw it back.

Then, to my surprise and delight, I caught a snapper (Pagrus auratus). A fish I know well from New Zealand. The first I have caught in over thirty years of trying. It looked perfect for pan frying. However, David, ever practical, pointed out it could be undersized. Not knowing for sure what the size limit is, we concluded that too should be released.

Both Dave and I caught another tripodfish, which we released. After that we thought we’d change location. No more fish. But a good day on the water.

The boat and outboard performed well. The weakest link is me. I need to work on getting in and out of it, and on the logistics of doing some tasks alone. But it is not yet time to despair and sell it.

By yesterday, my knees and legs were burning pain. As I limped and waddled up to the ablution block last night one of my neighbours came out, saw my condition, and told me I needed a walker. He brought one out, one of several he had collected, and gave it to me. It has a seat for when I can’t go on. It really does help. Better than the trolleys I lean so heavily on when I’m shopping. At first I was mortified I had progressed from walking stick to walker so soon in my life, but the advantage is undeniable. Once again a random act of kindness just as I needed it. It almost makes one superstitious.