Once again it seems I have used up my monthly quota already on Netflix, Spotify and watching movies on Google Play. I can’t log in to Facebook, or to Duolingo to practice my Irish on-line.
Yet for some inexplicable reason I can open my WordPress page, and blog. Life.
It is Sunday and would usually be one of my busier days. But the youngsters are not interested in doing anything with me in this weather unless it entails a trip out bush to collect bush tucker or go for a swim in the lake, but that I cannot do since the instruction was issued that no one is to travel in the back of the troopies.
I usually have my weekend on Monday and Tuesday, so I can spend time with them on Saturday and Sunday when they are not at school. Yesterday I had a few to talk to but today there seems to be no one around. Suits me. I guess I’ll get on with my Cert IV.
My blog entries have slowed to meanderings and I have fallen by the wayside. Re-reading my old posts, especially some of those on my first blog, made me realise that sometimes in my writing I was almost achieving what I once aspired to, but I am not any more. An old friend’s Facebook posts recently have driven home that she is a better writer than I and indeed a better person with a more interesting and worthwhile story to tell. She should be writing a blog.
I feel I am at a dead end. My life has been one of neophilia and hodophilia, the love of new things and of travelling to new places. I believed, or told myself, each new adventure in a new location was also a way to do something good. Maybe it was. Maybe it was actually just running away from old places. Most of the major moves I have made have been after events I would rather forget.
That raises another disturbing thought. I spend a lot of time remembering things I would rather not, and trying to remember things I cannot. Odd. Mnemophobia is a word that means both the fearof memories of past events and fearing memory loss caused by mental illness such as Alzheimer’s. The irony of the duality in that word, and in my current frame of mind, is not lost on me. I have already written that one of my greatest fears is Alzheimer’s. I have also written, sometimes obliquely, of the memories I wish I did not have. Then I remind myself that I am writing this blog principally for some future me so I might remember.
I watched Hunt for the Wilderpeopleon Google Play last night. I really liked the movie. I never read the Barry Crump novel on which it was based, but Taika Waititi made a gun movie from it. Not flawless, but so very very kiwi and so very entertaining. One of few films that can make me laugh out loud, and one of many that can make me weep. What was interesting was that it was not the poignant heart-rending scenes that caused the latter reaction, but two simple things – or perhaps three; Kiwi humour in a kiwi accent, and the New Zealand bush. This made me realise something. I think I may be homesick.
I pondered this for a while and this morning I think I have pretty much come to the conclusion that as soon as I have a few more grand stashed away, I am going home to retire. Maybe next year.
These are four of my favourite New Zealand photos. Each a pleasant memory.
Back on the Pregabalin. After a couple of days the woozy lightheaded feeling passed and I regained my faculties. I also lost much of the chronic pain I was feeling before. Clearly the doc was right and it was originating in my back, not my legs. Science is a wonderful thing. I still feel the grating pain in my knees, but it seems less debilitating and I can walk further now. With the use of my beautiful crocodile and snake carved walking stick from Solomon Islands I am venturing around the community more. The uneven ground is why I need the stick. A misstep causes me to stagger and nearly fall when my knee gives way. There are no paved surfaces here.
I have set up a gym kitset on the deck outside, and in the evening when it is a little cooler (and when there is no one around to watch) I do a few upper body exercises for half an hour or so.
The problem with walking and exercise in general here is that the temperatures are now already reaching 40 degrees C during the day and will soon be going higher. Neither Zeus the dog nor I are overly keen to venture out in the blazing heat. Neither are the children after school, so I am having a fairly quiet time. I see some of them for a while in the evening and we talk about the things they want to do, and what we shall do soon but they are not very interested in my company once they learn I can no longer take them out bush or anywhere else in the troopy.
We had an edict from on high a week or two back advising us that we were no longer to transport anyone in the back of the troopies and only one passenger was to be in the front passenger seat using the lap and diagonal seat-belt. It seems that liability issues are catching up. I know Northern Territory has already outlawed the troopy with sideways seats in the rear. Lap only seat-belts are not acceptable either. It has always been a concern with me, and I have always driven most carefully whenever I have youngsters with me anyway. The consequences of harming someone are unthinkable.
I have always known my main value to most of the youngsters was that I was a means of transport for them to get to the bush for bush tucker or to the lake for a swim and to football games. I hope I can re-engage with them once I have all the new toys and kit I am expecting. Meantime I guess I have a little time on hand to get on with my study for Cert IV in training and assessment. I have now completed successfully six of the papers. Four to go.
As a diversion I am spending half an hour a day learning Irish. For no other reason than it is the greatest challenge I can think of at present. And because it is a beautiful sounding language. And because otherwise I would probably go spare alone every evening here. Doubling the dose of my fluoxetine has certainly helped me to cope better with that.
On the wildlife front, the King Brown snakes are out and about. There are quite a few young ones recently hatched too. There are bush turkeys gathering in expectation of the plague of locusts that will likely hatch as soon as the rains set in and the vegetation starts growing again.
No snakes came out of the walls, no bats flew around my room.
But I had some really weird dreams and I was pretty much incapable of doing normal things without being clumsy. I walked into walls and felt disoriented. On the up side, I felt none of the usual leg pain. That was remarkable. It was actually a pleasant buzz and I sort of liked it. But I was fully aware that I was not in operational mode and should not, for instance, be driving a vehicle. The GP did not mention any side effects like this when she prescribed this medication. I learned about it on the web.
Maybe the GP did not anticipate my reaction at the dose prescribed. Perhaps I am sensitive to this drug, or the other medications I am on interacted in some way.
Whatever, this morning I still felt a bit wonky so after tending to the laundry, feeding and playing with Zeus, I spent much of the day in bed enjoying some more weird dreams. All a bit surreal, if not psychedelic.
Before I did I spoke to the neighbours who were up early raking up leaves in their yard. They asked how I was and I told them I was still a bit stoned and told them why. My natural honesty and frankness coming out.
It may be coincidence, but shortly after I spoke to the neighbours, the boss called on the phone. I told her about the state I was in and why. She was very supportive. I promised to get back to normal before I drive up to town.
I shall not be taking any more of these pills until I have spoken again with the doc.
When I was 16 I had a similar experience taking some medication prescribed by one Dr. Ogg at the Bexley clinic in Remuera. He was supposed to be curing my stammer. I know he started me on Mogadon, then switched me to something else. I don’t know what it was; the pills were stamped with the letters OCPA. I was stoned out of my head for months until Peter Gruebner, my form teacher and subsequent friend and role model, contacted my mother to say the school thought I might be a drug addict. She flushed the pills down the loo. I went through a difficult withdrawal period.
Mind you, I never stammered while I was taking those pills.
I was riding a 250cc Triumph Tigress at the time. FSM only knows how I stayed alive.
I did not like giving them up though. The withdrawal was difficult. I don’t remember much about that time, except while coming down I had a fight with my brother for some reason I do not remember and smashed my guitar over his head. That ended my future as a rock star and set me on a different path. I never did learn to play. A tragic loss to the world of music.
This photo of the Fitzroy river in flood under the Willare Bridge, on the road between Fitzroy Crossing and Broome, was published on FaceBook a while back.
It reminded me of when I drove that way, going to a meeting in Broome in the Holden Colorado. The river was not so high then. It was in the dry season.
As I approached the bridge I saw a rental campervan parked on the verge at the end.
A young man was climbing on the parapet in the middle of the bridge and was clearly about to jump in. I pulled up beside him and wound down my window. He looked nervously at the Shire logo on my Colorado, then returned my friendly smile as I said “G’day mate. Having fun?”
“Yes” he answered in a German accent.
I knew it. Tourist.
“You know that’s pretty dangerous”. I said.
“Oh no! The water is very deep. We checked first before we started to jump”.
“Good”, I answered. “How long have you been swimming here?”
“About twenty minutes. It is not illegal, yes?”
“Oh it is not illegal. But I am thinking you should stop. Twenty minutes should be just about enough time for the crocodiles to realise you are here. They will have heard you jumping in, with all the big splashes you must be making.”
“Yes. Big man-eating salties live in this river. If it was only freshies I’d say go on and have fun. Freshies are harmless. But salties… They eat people”.
He called out urgently to his companions below, in German. I recognised only the word “Krokodil”.
He looked very pale as he waited for his companions to scramble up the bank..
“it is not a joke, yes?”
“No joke mate. This area is full of crocodiles. Be very careful where you swim”.
We talked a little more. They had driven up from Perth. They were heading for Darwin. It seemed no one had told them about the crocs in this part of the country.
I’m the outback spaceman, baby; I’ve got speed
I’ve got everything I need
I’m the outback spaceman, baby; I can fly
I’m a supersonic guy
I don’t need pleasure
I don’t feel pain
If you were to knock me down I’d just get up again
I’m the outback spaceman, baby; I’m makin’ out
I’m all about
I wake up every morning with a smile upon my face
My natural exuberance spills out all over the place
I’m the outback spaceman, I’m intelligent and clean
Know what I mean?
with apologies to Neil Innes
Back to Billiluna yesterday and finally started on cleaning up the donga. Committed genocide on a billion spiders that festooned the walls and ceiling. Some looked as if they might be redbacks who had moved in during my absence. I spent a lot of time cleaning up the deliberately spilt food and herbs and spices, scrubbing and bleaching and sorting out the stuff thrown on the floor, at least where I needed to walk. Bedding all washed and sanitised with Domestos. Unpleasant little gifts uncovered and removed as I went.
I got a better idea of what was gone, and what was not. I hate to add up the cost of what I have lost. Sentimental value aside, I think it possibly amounts to around 15 to 20 grand. It is ironic, isn’t it, that a few blogs ago after the first burglary, I wrote that I had too much stuff and I needed to figure out what to do with it. I guess that problem is solved.
Finally, having made a good start on the mess, and finding myself psychologically stable in the face of this shit heap, I decided to sleep and start again in the morning. I set up my CPAP and settled down on my mattress with a sleeping bag. Within minutes my skin was crawling and I was being bitten by something tiny I could not see or catch. Cooties?
Sod this. I can cope with the smell of pee and the other adversities, but this was too much. I pack up my kit and drive back to Halls Creek, itching all the way, arriving at the SPQ around midnight. Hot shower, clothes into the washing machine to soak with hot water and bleach, then to bed in what seems to have become my second home. I shall try again next week after giving the place a good permethrin spray and airing out.
For those newcomers who have not been following, the story so far:
I live in a remote community in the outback in a small portable home called a donga.
I was burgled twice in a month while I was away from the place, the second in particular being very devastatingly thorough in removal of my property and destruction of what was not taken.
CPAP: Constant Positive Air Pressure machine. A device for those who suffer sleep apnoeia. I am one.
SPQ: The Shire of Halls Creek Single Persons Quarters, A sad lonely place for people who have no one to love them. Elvis called it “Heartbreak Hotel”.