Adventure awaits and nervous waits

In a few days time I will be jumping on a bus for a long distance trip, the first time in more than 20 years. I am excited, but trepidacious, it has been a long time, I am older, and with the little quirks of getting older I feel a little nervous, hoping that my body behaves itself. Mainly the ablutions side, because it isn’t much fun on a moving bus.

I also feel a bit nervous as this will be the first time since acquiring diabetes that I will travel like this, and not just being able to stop for something to eat when I need to. It’s only 1 day, a long day, 16 hours to be precise, I should get through. Then, I will be seeing my brother for the first time for 12 months, the longest stretch we have gone for nearly a decade. That’s Covid and 2020……

The bus arrives at Rockhampton around midnight, fortunately my brother will already be there, he is driving in that day, and we are actually staying in a hotel just across from the bus stop. then, we have 2 days of driving in his car (the whole point of me going there to meet him is to help with the driving, by that point he will have done about 3 days and 2000km driving on his own, so I am going to help with the last 1300 to 1400km). 5 days of driving is a long time by yourself, so at least the last 2 days, he won’t be.

The first night, we plan on stopping at my Aunts place in The Whitsundays, then it will be about another 8 hours driving the second day and we will arrive back here.

Apparently, at this stage, I should be treated to a pretty good lightning show once it gets dark on the bus trip down, basically the last 1/3rd of the trip is through areas that are expecting storms that night. I have got my portable music player ready and noise cancelling headphones, so I can zone out on the trip, hopefully the bus trip goes quickly.

We finalised the preparation of my brothers room here today, it looks really great, a good base for however long he needs.


The second part of this whole post is the nervous waits. Yesterday I had 2 chunks cut out of my skin, one on my chest, the other on my left arm. Both because of suspicious sun spots. The one on my chest is precautionary, it looks like it may be something so it’s getting checked out. The second, the one on my arm, my doctor believes is a melanoma. A shallow one, the beginning stages, so she has removed a reasonable section and deepish around it. I should have the results in a few days once the lab has had a look at them. The one on my arm was a surprise to me, I hadn’t even really ever noticed it, it was, quite literally, about the size of a dot you can make with a ballpoint pen on a piece of paper by just pressing the pen down on the paper without moving it. This should show everyone the importance of skin cancer checks.

The chemo I am having on my face is working well, the treatment is now down to 1 application a day, from twice daily before. It is showing, fortunately, that the sun damage on my face isn’t actually all that bad, just a couple of small spots, and they are nearly gone now. I may have worked outside a lot over a long period of years, but I always wore a wide brim hat, and other protection. It seems to have helped a lot, especially on my face, the sun damage on my face is more in locations that would have been caused by reflected light. Like light reflected off car windscreens and water.

Hopefully my doctor has got the whole thing with both the spots she removed yesterday, and we can move forward without too much hassle.

Andy.

Being bounced around.

So much has been happening, and as such I have found myself neglecting this blog again. I want to write every few days, but life happens. Most of the time, life happens, and leaves me in a heap by the time I have time to write, relegating me to the bed, rather than sitting here writing.

So, since last writing, what HAS happened. Well, big news of the day, week and month is that my brother is moving here and arriving in less than 2 weeks. The restrictions because of covid have been eased, so now he is allowed to enter Queensland, finally, without having to quarantine for 2 weeks at an expense of thousands of dollars. He can drive into the state now. As such, in about 10 days time, I am jumping on a bus to meet him about halfway, and help him drive the rest of the way. It’s over 3000kms driving, a lot to do on your own. He is moving here permanently, leaving Victoria for good. He’s even buying a house here.

I have also had a running battle with an Ebay seller, I bought some items for car repairs at the end of August, it was an Australian seller, so you would expect about a 6 day delivery timeline. after 1 month, I asked what was going on. “Oh, we sold you something we didn’t have, it will be here at the end of October”. End of October, and after reminding them that selling goods you don’t have is a big no,no under Australian consumer law, as well as Ebay rules, still nothing, asked again. They ignored me for a week, then mysteriously in the middle of November, I get a parcel, 1 day after they finally replied. NOT ALL THE ORDER WAS IN THE BOX !!!!! Again, back at them, threatened them with legal action, they very quickly responded, and finally today, over 2 months after it should have been here, it arrived. Now I have the parts to fix the car, but now I am unwell again………so not up to taking the front suspension out of the car and replacing it just now !!! I was okay 2 months ago !!!!!!

I have also been doing a lot of medical stuff, doctors, medical imaging, biopsies, neurologists and ……….currently undergoing some chemotherapy………… It isn’t the full on, pump your insides full of poison to kill it, it is a cream, it’s for skin cancer. It still makes you feel a little ill though, today was a bad one for it. I have some cancers on my face, below my eye, so being sensitive skin, it seems to be absorbed into my system a bit more than it would on tougher skin, hence the nausea in particular. I have 2 more to be cut out in a weeks time, one on my arm, one on my chest. I have always been super sun-smart, hats, cover up or sunscreen up, so it just proves, it can still happen regardless. I don’t even have skin that would be overly susceptible, I have quite an olive complexion and not many freckles at all.

The other medical stuff has been in regards to an ongoing issue with my right foot/ankle, which has been painful for about 14 months. Still waiting on those results. Also, I have started to get to the verge of possible fits, due to the Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), the neurologist checked to see if it was epilepsy, as there is a family history, but that is ruled out. The cause is FND. It is part of the slow degeneration. Shit happens, pardon my French !!!!

Anyhow, life is still marching on, and I must now retire to bed, as the fatigue is going to make me fall asleep right here if I don’t do it soon.

Andy.

Home Schooling: an initial evaluation of the decision…..

I used to be one of those people who was highly sceptical about the benefits of home schooling. How could a home education be superior to an education provided by people who have spent years learning and honing their profession ? Didn’t only whacko’s home school, those anti-vaxxer types, the hippies, and radical religious types? Honestly, all the people I had previously known who had home schooled their children were a bit whacko, not actually real bright, and had some weird ideas about things. Not to say they weren’t nice people, heck, they were people I was friends with, but it seemed their decisions to home school weren’t exactly wise ones.

Then, along came Covid, and I was suddenly thrust into effectively home schooling, albeit with work provided by the school. Then, I realised, that this wasn’t exactly a difficult thing, and I actually thought what was coming home was actually a little lacking. It was actually made far more complex and perplexing than need be. And, they didn’t seem to have it together, constantly changing the delivery, it started with one App, then they decided to do it through another, as well as a thick wad of pre-printed work sheets, which forced a lot of parents to have to go and purchase things like tablets (because some of the Apps didn’t work on a desk top computer), and it was just constantly changing. Then you were expected to sign in on certain days to do a virtual classroom thing, with video conferencing programs, which required the exact right set up (which many just didn’t have) and thus meant that either you had no sound, no picture or……….well, it was just a shambles and didn’t achieve anything much at all. The teachers didn’t even understand the programs being used, which created half the problem.

Anyhow, I will say, the whole shambolic mess did make me aware of useful resources, and as time progressed, it became obvious what I would need to do. We couldn’t risk my son contracting Covid at school then bringing it home, it was too dangerous for the others in the house. So, once they decided to return to school based learning, rather than home learning, I opted to get fully registered to home school. It wasn’t actually that big a deal. Yes, you had to submit a list of curriculum aligned plans as to what you would teach for the 12 months, and it took me about 12 hours over 1 weekend to get that all typed out, and then I submitted it. it was obvious that it was Okay, because once the teaching outline was reviewed, we got the okay, and were now registered.

I went ahead and found a supplier of work books that were aligned to the Australian Curriculum, (Pascal Press is who I found to have the best resources, and no, they aren’t paying me to advertise for them), and then I decided to back this up with Studyladder, (again, they are not paying me) who provide more curriculum aligned work, and this effectively means that the paper based work he does is then reinforced and his knowledge tested, as he works on this independently on his tablet. He has to achieve 80% or greater in each activity to pass it, and so far, out of the more than 400 activities across all subject areas, he has completed over 300, since the beginning of June. Those 400 activities were the total of the activities he was required to do in 12 months, and he is on track to completing those in just 6 months.

His grandma does a lot of the literacy work with him, I do all the maths, science and social studies (geography, history, that sort of thing) work with him. Today, because grandma was feeling too tired, after about 4 months of not doing any reading with him, I did it, and I am astonished by his progress. We have gone from a child who struggled even with the basic words 6 months ago, to a child who is approaching the reading level he should be for his age. He was really fluent, and barely struggled at all, ‘carnivore’ just slipped out as though he had been reading for years, and even other fairly complex words just flowed. For 3 years at school, reading had been a big issue. Now, in just six months of home schooling, we are well on our way to a proficient reader. I believe, that a big part of this, is the individual attention he has had, and being able to have that has meant that we have adapted our strategies when we have worked out what was causing the difficulties. I am really proud of my son, and super proud of my mum, who has managed to get him so far in such a short time.

With all his other subjects, which he has always excelled in academically, he is now working at a higher level than his grade level. He is constrained by the slowest kid in the class, he can step ahead with work, if he understands the concepts, and wants to learn at a higher level, he can. Just yesterday, we were watching a science lesson designed for junior secondary students, and he totally understood what was going on. I mean, he is year 4 level, and junior secondary is still 3 years away !!!!

Anyhow, there have been multiple benefits to the whole thing. I am running around in the car less. It is actually cheaper, believe it or not ( all the workbooks and the subscription for the Studyladder App work out at around $200 per annum, school books and uniforms were well over $300 per annum) and we can work on our own time frame, like this morning, he worked on Studyladder from 6am to 8am, of his own accord, well before school would have started if he was going to a traditional school, and by 11 am, he will have finished everything for the day that he is required for a days work.

So, I am a sceptic, who is sceptical no more, when it comes to home schooling. It works, and it works well.

Andy.

I am going to have a break by myself.

After my visit to the doctor on Wednesday, I have decided I need to have a break away, by myself. I discussed it with Mum yesterday afternoon, and she thought it would be a good idea, she will look after my son while I am away. Normally, I wouldn’t do that, like, not take him, but I need a proper break, albeit just 2 nights away, but for my mental health, I NEED to do it. Basically, in the 10 years and 5 months since my son was born, I have spent a total of 5 nights away from him. Yep, 5 nights, in over 10 years.

I am heading to what I consider to be Australia’s best beach (and trust me, I have been all around Australia, so can speak with some level of knowledge), Etty Bay, which is located just south of the iconic Banana and Sugarcane town of Innisfail. Innisfail is full of Art Deco buildings (which just so happens to be my favourite building style), and I lived in Innisfail about 11 years ago, it was actually where my son was conceived !!!!!!

So, the plan is, that after my son’s doctors appointment on Monday morning, I will bring him home, and leave, stopping in Innisfail on the way down to grab some supplies (ie, food), before checking in at 2pm. Then it will be get set up, have a swim in the beautiful waters of the Coral Sea, and then see what happens next. Basically, my only plans are to have a few swims in the sea, walk the beach, and do a bit of photography. It is a place I have wanted to do some specific photography for a while, but to do so means I have to actually stay there, so why not do it ? I will come home on Wednesday, staying 2 nights. I booked it all first thing this morning, so it is definitely happening.

So apart from the photography bit, I need to do this, because I have been struggling immensely with my Functional Neurological Disorder, and I think a large reason is that I am a bit overloaded, constantly having to be thinking about other people, never having much of a moment all to myself. This way, the only person I will have to worry about is me.

Anyhow, between now and then, I hope to get some cracker shots of lightning to share with you, the plans for the weekend storm chase are still set to happen.

Andy.

Very close to the first major storm outbreak of the 2020/2021 season.

For the past week, I have been scouring the storm forecast models, as about 7 days ago, a major outbreak was starting to show up in modelling. Then, about 3 days ago, they started aligning, 3 different ones, all saying the same thing. Now, it looks like an outbreak near to my home base will kick off possibly as early as Thursday, but the peak days are Sunday and Monday, before a 1 day respite and then more action again after that. It may be a busy week.

So, current planning, is that I will head initially about 50km inland from here, up on the Atherton Tableland, around 10 am on Sunday. Both myself and my son will go, taking both lunch and dinner with us. I will cook something nice, like a bit of steak or something with some veges, wherever we are at the time !!!! There is no set time of return, basically when it stops giving the goods, it will be home time.

The area I am focusing on stretches about 150km from north to south, so will probably be on the move a fair bit, watching what is happening and moving as it is needed. I have scouted out a number of locations, and been looking up some more on Google, the outlook needs to be pretty clear out to the southwest, west and northwest, where ever I am, with no obstructions, and especially my dreaded thing, powerlines. I hate a perfect landscape shot ruined by powerlines in the frame. The movement of storms up there generally tends to be in an easterly to north easterly direction.

I have prepared the car now, mostly, for the upcoming storm chase season, I have 2 new tyres, so now the car has a full set of brilliant BF Goodrich tyres all around, it’s fully serviced with everything that needed doing done, spark plugs, the works. I do all my own work on the car (benefits of a past life doing it as a job), except for the tyre fitting, and this shows, as the one job (the mostly bit I referred to) I have to do is replace a broken wheel stud, which was snapped by the turkeys at the tyre shop doing it up with a rattle gun at too high torque. I have it ordered, and hopefully it arrives in the next day or so.

This is one of the reasons I usually do my own mechanical work on my vehicles. I have had several incidents over the years, where you take it to someone to do a job, and they stuff something up. Frankly, I would rather do it myself (even though it is pretty difficult for me these days with my health issues, not very useful when your hands don’t co-operate when trying to play with bolts in tight spaces), because I know I take the time to make sure it gets done right. I had one instance, where something wasn’t sealed properly after some work, and only 10km down the road after picking it up, I was being smoked out by burning oil, oil was squirting out all over the hot manifold where they hadn’t replaced the gasket for the tappet cover, even though they charged me for it. Another was when it was over filled with oil, and again, 10km down the road, the car started coughing and spluttering, because too much pressure had built up in the crankcase. Luckily I realised, checked the oil level, and, something that I am not so proud of, I had to let out some oil on the roadside, I always have tools in the car, so I was able to loosen the sump plug. That could well have caused a catastrophic engine failure. Also, just to be clear, these were at apparently reputable(expensive), highly regarded mechanics……..not cheap backyard blokes………

I am so itching to get out for my first storm chase of this new season, in the northern hemisphere, you get a storm season in the middle of the year, where as here, it overlaps the end and beginning of the years. I am so looking forward to bettering this shot from last season, I have better shots of lightning from a composition point of view, but this is my favourite, with all those leaders ……………..

Andy.

Jigglydip

Another night where my fibromyalgia is wreaking havoc with my ability to go to sleep, I have just popped a Tramadol to try and get it to a level where I can sleep. As such, I got some of the photo’s I took yesterday on an outing to scope out some places I might go to for storm photography in the coming Wet Season onto the computer.

I took a trip to Mt Carbine, a town north west of Cairns. I had looked at some satellite photos of the area beforehand, and it looked like there might be some decent flat open ground around the area with decent views to the horizon, just what I like for my storm shots. You could call it town, I guess, if a pub, a caravan park, roadhouse, 2 or 3 houses and an open cut mine are considered a town.

I might not say much more, nothing much is making sense to me right now, but here are some shots.

As you can see, I did find a few open ground places, and now have them stored in the memory bank (or more specifically, the Sat Nav in the car !!) These should prove to be very useful spots for storms, as long as they come from the right direction !!! Next week I will be heading out to another spot to check it out, Mt Garnet.

As I said, brain is befuddled, so I will just leave it for now, enjoy the photo’s.

Andy.

Anticipation and Preparation

I am starting to plan out my storm chasing season. This year, I have an aim to get some stunning shots, but to do so, I need to be prepared.

The Wet Season is just around the corner, and by all indications, it should be early, and a really decent one to boot. Darwin has already had some decent storms, very early for them. usually we are about a month after them. This will mean, that if that pans out, we should start late October, a couple of months earlier than last year.

Over the next week or so, during the school holidays (it is the official ones, so we try and follow that with the home-schooling as well), I plan on scouting out some locations. I am looking for particular landscapes, so basically want to check out some spots that are within a couple of hours drive from here, that I haven’t been to before, and revisit a couple of places that I have been before, to see if there have been any changes that may affect my compositions.

One of the plans I have in my book right now is to also possibly spend a couple of days away in a location, when an outbreak occurs, basically so I don’t have to drive all the way home late at night. Where I live, and where my prime location for the sort of shots I want, involve going up the Great Dividing Range, to the Atherton Tablelands and beyond, and getting up the range here means either going up the Gillies Range, over 20km of extremely winding roads, so winding that they even cause me to have car sickness, and I am not one to be prone to that, or going up the Kuranda Range, which is on the other side of the city, so 40 minutes to just get to the foot of the range from here. Both are also prone to landslides, so not exactly the sort of road you want to be heading down, a bit tired, in the dark.

There is a third option, which I have used before, which is to come down the range behind Port Douglas, it is safer in the dark and wet, but it is 100km north of home, so after driving down at 11pm or later at night, you still have over an hour to drive to get home. Considering some of the areas I want to scope out in the coming weeks are actually up the top of the range up that way, that would be the way I would come home, but as you can see, if there was a decent storm outbreak, staying up on the Tablelands would be a better option.

An isolated storm, pretty small, and short lived, popped up about 200km west of here this afternoon, it sent out a few bolts according to the lightning detector network, not much, but a start. They need to be a bit bigger and closer for me to bother with.

There are locations closer to home I want to look at as well, there is a great place where the storms were great last year, called Rex Lookout, on the road north of Palm Cove, although, being right next to the mountains, it is a little hard to see the movement of the storms and sometimes, they can come straight over the mountain behind you, ending up right on top of you in minutes, and then being too difficult to actually do any proper photography of. Not to mention, not exactly safe to be photographing a storm when it is could drop a bolt on the top of you.

Over the next few weeks, I will also do a little work on the car, it needs a service, plus I will replace a couple of tyres, not that they need replacing as such, but I have 2 brands on the car, BF Goodrich on the front, and some cheapies on the back, the BF Goodrich ones are much better tyres, and I’d rather have them all the way around the car. They handle a tonne better in the wet and on muddy roads.

So for now, I wait in anticipation of the coming storms, and prepare.

Andy

Sleepless in Cairns…..

I went to bed at 9pm, and now find myself back wide awake at midnight. I have spent the past 20 minutes trying to get back to sleep, I awoke feeling a bit hot, my feet on fire. Then, I had wave after wave of pain strike. Fibromyalgia pain, and it is everywhere. I have just taken a fast acting Tramadol, so hopefully it kicks in, and I can go back to sleep.

The pain I had last time I wrote, the one that was excruciating and making it difficult to walk, was due to me injuring the joint between the pelvis and my spine. I had an appointment with my doctor, and instead of the continuing work towards some of my health goals, which has been the ongoing thing for a few months now, we got side tracked by this. Anyhow, she said it was one of the worst pains you could experience (she said, even as a woman who has given birth twice, that it is worse than that, as she has had this injury as well), so my description of excruciating is well on the money. She felt really sorry for me, because, as she said, I have to deal with enough pain as it is, and to have this on top is just not fair !!! Plus, to add insult to injury (pardon the pun, but it wasn’t intended) it will be an ongoing issue for about 6 weeks. Yay ! It is starting to get better, rest is important, but, I have to keep moving as well, one of those weird paradoxes that always seem to occur in the medical world !!

So, in amongst all of this fun, I have managed to finish the painting of the living room/kitchen/dining room space, when the pain started I had a small bit to do to finish it, about 2 metres of wall, and for the first 5 days I was sitting there seeing it burn into my brain. 1 small bit of wall, and I was unable to finish it. Mind you, it was all the climbing of ladders and contorting myself into weird positions to paint the wall that had caused the problem !!!

So, what else has happened? I have managed to clean up the whole back verandah, so now, all the stuff that needed sorting out before the cyclone season is done. All that’s left outside on the verandahs are the things that will need to be put away if we have one heading towards us, but we use every day, more or less, so putting away now would be hugely inconvenient. I also got to cleaning away all the gunge from the underside of the verandah roof, we have tried cleaning it all before, and I had managed to get the 2 side verandahs sorted, it took straight bleach and the pressure washer to do it, as it had mould growing on the underside, and now all the verandahs are sorted. They look so much better, and the 2 side verandahs were done 7 months ago, and so far, the mould has not returned. When you move into a place that hasn’t had proper maintenance for at least 10 years, it takes time to get on top of everything, but we are nearly there. Well, when you have to do it yourself because you can’t afford to get someone else in to do it, and you are dealing with long term chronic illness anyhow !!!

As per my last post, the weather has certainly shifted towards the Wet Season. For the past week, we have had some precipitation most days, mostly at night. All up, we’ve had about 30mm of rain this week, and tomorrow (well, today now….) we are expecting a solid bit of rain, about 20 to 30mm of it in the one day, apparently. The garden is loving it, I’m loving it.

Talking about the garden, we now have oranges about the size of plums on the orange tree, and the lemons are nearly the same size. I have also, today, bought a new lawn mower, as the old one has been experiencing ongoing electrical issues (it is electric start), and it has got to the point that those issues have become somewhat terminal, and too much for even my skills to try and get around. The engine is still good, but you cannot start it. The new one is designed to sort that out once and for all. It doesn’t need oil, petrol, spark plugs, none of that. It is fully electric, and runs on a rechargeable lithium battery. It also has a 5 year full replacement warranty if it stops working. I did the lawns today, it is so quiet compared to the petrol one, and it is also so much lighter as well, like, it is about 4 times lighter than the petrol one, so a lot less taxing physically when mowing, especially when having to push it up the steep front yard. The battery lasts the entire yard as well, so that was a bonus.

When I get up in the morning, I plan to revisit my car detailing days. I bought myself a new polishing machine (a real one, not one of those fake, why bother ones from the automotive store) and plan to attack the bonnet and boot of the car. The bonnet and boot were replaced, they came off a wreck, and as such, even though they were the same colour as my car and in good condition, the paint was a bit sun faded compared to mine. At first, when I replaced them about 3 or 4 years ago (my original boot was damaged when an idiot rear ended me, and the original bonnet was damaged when I hit a very large kangaroo on a foggy morning, the kangaroo survived, but the bonnet and one headlight didn’t), the sunfade wasn’t as noticeable, but now the difference between the rest of the car and those 2 pieces is quite noticeable. With a proper buff job, and rewaxing, they should look just like the rest of the car. My car isn’t exactly showroom, but is pretty close, I look after it, it is so good that for a 12 year old car, I often get the comment, from mechanics and other automotive workers, that it is the best one they have seen in years, it looks almost new still. Not bad, considering it just ticked over the 12 years last month, and just ticked over 180,000 km this week.

Anyhow, the Tramadol seems to have taken effect now, so I will attempt to get back to sleep while the pain is down.

Goodnight.

Andy.

Changing Seasons.

As I sit here typing away, I can hear the gentle sound of steady light rain hitting the roof of the verandah out my window. I am all alone, everyone else is asleep, and it is quiet, apart from the rain sounds. Not often do I find myself with the peace and quiet of a house asleep, no interruptions. None of the every 5 minutes of my son coming in wanting to ask something, show me something or get me to do something for him. No sitting trying to do something to be called out to 30 seconds after I sit down “Andy, can you come help me with….” or ” Andy, come see this thing I found on the internet” from Mum. This sort of peace and quiet just doesn’t happen. But I could sure get used to it !!

So, in places closer to the Poles, you are either getting Autumn, or Spring, here, in the tropical parts of Australia, we are going from cool and dry, to warmer and humid. The Wet Season is finally on it’s approach. This change is about 6 weeks earlier this year than last. We are moving into what is called a La Nina event, where the east to west Tradewinds blowing over the Pacific get stronger, the Eastern Pacific cools, and more moisture is driven onto the North Queensland Coast. The previous few years have been drier than normal, so this is closer to normal, however we are expected to swing to the other side of normal before the beginning of the Wet Season proper. That’s what La Nina does here, makes it wetter than normal.

It is nice not to be having to be pouring water onto the garden to keep it alive as much as it was last year. By July last year, it stopped raining, and then didn’t really start until well after the beginning of November, I think it was almost December, and even then, it wasn’t a really great Wet Season. This year, the rain has been a bit more reliable, although only light, but it has meant the garden hasn’t needed to be watered as much.

The garden is going mad, the citrus trees, Valencia Orange, Lemon, Tahitian Lime, mandarin and Fingerlime, have all now got flowers, and the lemon and orange actually have wee little fruit, about the size of a marble right now. Not bad for trees that were only planted in the last 18 months, and they were just regular small potted ones when they went in, not more established ones. The Orange, mandarin and Tahitian lime are all about 7 to 8 ft tall now.

I planted a Poinciana, as a small, around 1 ft tall plant, about 3 months ago, it is now a 5 foot tall tree. The frangipani, which is apparently called a Harlequin according to the lady that sold it to dad (I haven’t seen a flower yet, so don’t know) has gone fro a 8 inch tall stump to about a 3 ft tall plant in the space of about 4 months. Things grow quick here, plus I think all the manure I put into the garden helps a lot as well, sometimes it’s chicken poo, sometimes Moo Poo, and sometimes just Horse manure. Oh, I forgot the Umbrella Tree a native to this area, it has gone from about a foot tall, to 3 ft tall, in about 6 weeks !!!

I have managed to complete a few of the annoying projects that never seemed to end in the past week. I have now built the custom bookshelves for the lounge room, they are 3ft wide, about 1 ft deep, and are 7.5ft tall. There are 2, cost about $500 for all the timber to build them, and they are natural timber colour on the shelves, and white sides. As well as that, I finally replaced the black shelf on the TV stand with a natural timber one, and repainted the frame white. It doesn’t look the same, it looks tonnes better !! We have a dark purple feature wall (think the colour of the Cadbury Chocolate wrapper), with light aqua coloured walls the rest of the way around the lounge room. With the light timber and white accents on the furniture, it has a really soothing and beachy feel. It also feels bigger, as the old bookshelves, which were actually smaller, but dark, made the room feel smaller, and the dark TV stand did as well. It almost feels like we’ve added 50% more space to the room, when in essence, the furniture still takes up just as much floor space !!

So, what else………we have nearly screened in the entire side verandah on the eastern side of the house, it was partially done when we moved in, but poorly, so we rebuilt it all. It is now aligned better as well, with it finishing off past the last window on that side, instead of half way across it which looked as stupid as it sounds. It meant adding in another post to swing the gate from, as it extended the length of the area by about 2ft. We have to just add a header beam from the verandah outer edge header to the wall of the house, and build the last screen to go between the gate and the house, and it will be all done. We are just waiting on the header, which, because of Covid, is about 3 weeks away.

There is a tonne of small things I have managed to get done as well, like some power point and switch face plates that needed replacing (the old ones were really yellowed because the previous occupants must have been inside smokers), they are now done. I also replaced the aerial socket, the old one stuck out from the wall about 2 inches, it was put there by a pay tv company and was really ugly and not well installed, now we have a single socket one that connect to our tv aerial, and sits about a 1/4 of an inch off the wall. Oh, and this one is straight as well !!

There are a few other things, right now the brain is having trouble compiling them all, just small, niggling things, but they are now done. I am astonished how much I have got done, considering I have had some very severe pain this week, barely able to stand for a fair bit of it !! When I say severe, it has been on the verge of passing out type pain. Yep, intense.

I just finished off the last of my 70% cocoa Rum and Raisin dark chocolate. I had 4 squares left. I think I deserved it !! I might leave it here for now, and will catch up again with you all in a day or two, hopefully.

Andy.

Brain Fuzz and Projects

For about 2 weeks, I was travelling pretty well, I was sleeping nearly all night, an absolute anomaly for me,  after about 1 week my Functional Neurological Disorder symptoms were settling down (fatigue is my enemy when it comes to FND), and I was feeling somewhat normal, whatever that really is.  Then, 3 nights ago, the crappy sleep started up once more. I had not had a decent run, of decent sleep, until the 2 week episode, for about 4 months. I might get a random night here or there, but 2 nights in a row, or even 2 nights in a fortnight, just didn’t happen. I really hope this isn’t the beginning of another big run of bad sleep.

Needless to say, after the second night of bad sleep, my FND got going again, and it’s bad. It is hard to not let it get you down. I end up in a situation where things just don’t work, words don’t come out properly, or words just get substituted for others. Something leopard this……. see what I mean?? Instead of saying, “something like this”, a totally random, unassociated word comes out. It honestly makes you feel stupid.

Also, hands don’t cooperate. Well, for me, more specifically, my fingers. I was doing something today, assembling a raised garden bed, and it was such a mission to do up the small nuts and bolts, not actually really that small, but my fingers were just completely uncoordinated. My Dad, who just seems to hover around making a nuisance of himself, was there, and because his mere presence had already put me in a bad mood, when he offered (only after I complained about my fingers not cooperating) to do them up, I snapped that I needed to do it, “because I don’t want to feel completely useless.” He has zero understanding what it is like, he actually doesn’t care (you can explain it, he can see all the instances of it happening, but he still just does not get that it is a real thing, and would prefer to treat you like a fucking imbecile, which, as you can tell from that language, doesn’t help !!). Having been a completely independent, and much more competent person most of my life than he has ever been, and then have him treat me like that, and not seem to care, is galling.

Today, miraculously (seeing that when I woke up I was ready to go to sleep), I managed to get a few of the projects I have had underway for some time closer to completion. I built the first of the raised garden beds for veges (this is so we don’t have to basically be on our hands and knees do plant out and pick the produce), I planted all the carrot seedlings I had grown in the greenhouse, planted out all the lettuce and rocket seedlings as well, planted out a Cordyline, and built the first of the new screens for the verandah area, which we are closing in with screens to create an area for us and the dog to be outside, sort of. The dog is a bolter, being a rescue dog, I think it is because of where he was before he came to live with us. So, leaving him off leash in the yard just cannot happen, unless we want to spend the next 4 hours trying to catch him and bring him home. Closing in the verandah will mean he has some outdoor space he can spend time with us outside, without being on the lead.

I also got a bit of small stuff done, like sorting through stuff to be thrown out, tidying up a few things outside that needed to go away, and that sort of thing. I am trying to get things sorted out outside before the Wet Season, and with it the Cyclone Season, arrives. They say it’s going to be earlier this year, and seeing it is about to turn September, and cyclones can happened any time from late September onwards, I need to get things done well in advance, as there is nothing worse than having to get things sorted and put away when a cyclone is knocking on the door. Hopefully, in about 2 weeks time, we should be ready.

I have a couple of projects in the pipeline for the next few weeks as well. I need to finish sorting out my shed, it is a shambles because of all the renovation work recently. I have some plants to transplant to another part of the garden. I need to renovate the TV stand (needs a paint job and a shelf replaced, it’s currently a particle board shelf painted black, it will be replaced with a hardwood shelf, and the frame painted white). And, I also have to help Dad put in a new verandah post and hang a gate (the closing in the verandah project), which I am not looking forward to, as Dad is so disorganised that a 2 hour job takes 8, unless I argue with him and do it myself, which I do try and avoid, because he becomes so morose and chucks a tantrum, like a toddler who has been told off. Oh, the joys……..

Andy.