Weirdness

I haven’t been bombarding the airwaves for the past couple of days, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind of days. Last week ended as it does, on a Friday, hahahaha, yes I know I’m funny, well dad joke style, and then on Saturday we had a day off. Well, sort of.

I managed to sleep in a bit, although 8 to 8.30 am is about the best I can do these days, even though I still wake like a zombie, and feeling like I need 3 years sleep. It’s just the way it is all the time now. We had breakfast, Jack actually made himself an omelette all by himself, with a little guidance from Mum, and he was really chuffed. I had a bowl of my usual cereal, one of those full of grain things with dried cranberries and tropical fruits. I don’t always eat breakfast now, like I never did before, but because I was trying to set an example for Jack, I started again for a while. I just don’t seem to feel like eating until around 10am, and if I don’t eat until then, I lose weight.

After breakfast, we headed down to Babinda Boulders, a really neat swimming hole, on Babinda Creek, a few kilometres from the little town of Babinda. I had been there before, and funnily enough, so had Jack, although in his mothers womb at the time, it was one of the places we went when she was suffering from the pregnancy. The swimming hole is at the joining of Babinda Creek with a small side branch waterway, and the water is mountain cold, and crystal clear. It is surrounded by rainforest, the bed of the waterhole being course sand and smooth rocks with no silt, so really nice on the feet. Green Birdwing and Ulysses Blue Butterflies float around without a care in the world. Mum came too, and she has fallen in love with the place as much as I have been, since the first time I went there over 9 years ago.

After about an hour of just floating around in the beautioful cool water, we got out and changed, and then went back into Babinda for a little walk around to see what was about, before we headed up to Belenden Ker Cafe, a non-descript little cafe in a 2 storey house next to the highway. We had heard about the amazing pies they make, so after finally finding it (it just has a sandwich board sign out the front advertising coffee and cake, with no other signage to even indicate it is even a business), we stopped in for lunch. All the talk about the pies was spot on. They were the best I have had for years.

After that, we took a drive down a side road, to Behana Gorge, just to see where the road went. It is not far from home, so it will certainly be another adventure soon. Apparently there is a waterfall there, although you need to walk to it. Then, we decided that going home was not an option just yet, so we headed out to Yarrabah, Mum hadn’t been out there yet, and took in the wonderful paradise once again that is this beautiful Aboriginal Community. After that, we were thoroughly tired, so a slap together meal was all we could manage to make and eat, before drifting off to sleep.

Sunday, we were out again, this time earlier, as we had heard about another fruit and vege market that is in Cairns city, Rusty’s Market. We hadn’t been in before, but after our Sunday morning visit, we have unanimously decided it will be where any fruit and veges we need will come from. It is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, which is great as we need to buy fruit and veges weekly. As our vege garden gets into production, we won’t need so much from the shops, but we will not be growing everything, we just don’t have the space, so we will still need to go there.

The rest of Sunday was a blur, even though it was only yesterday, I can’t remember much else we did, I was suffering pretty badly with fibromyalgia, so that is probably why I don’t remember. Getting to sleep was an ordeal last night too.

Today my body has been a rollercoaster ride, Jack has been back to school, and I just pushed on, mulching the vege plants, doing a bit of weeding, some cleaning, fixing some of Mums furniture that got broken by the removalists, and what ever else happened. Yes, today was bit like yesterday as well.

I started this post with the title, weirdness, and this is the part where I explain it. With everything that’s been happening, and the fact that since just after Christmas the main living areas of the house have been some form of construction zone, I have not felt settled.

Right now, we don’t have a functional kitchen, it’s nearly there, but we are having to use the laundry tub as our kitchen sink, and the BBQ, which fortunately has a gas ring burner as well, is our stove and everything else. The great big 8 seater table I made years ago is inside, currently being used as our kitchen bench. It really is too big to use as a kitchen table inside, that is why, up until the kitchen benches were removed last week, it was outside. It will go back out there once the bench tops are ready to pick up and I’ve installed them. Thankfully all the tiling is now finished and we have our house a little more normal. But it’s not quite there yet.

When I came up the street on Saturday after our day out, and saw the house, I had this sudden feeling that I wasn’t coming home just yet. It doesn’t quite feel like home. I am not sure what it is, I put it down to the fact that things haven’t settled down yet because of the renovations, but yeah, I don’t know, it’s just not quite home yet. How long does it take for a new place to feel like home?

I spoke to Mum about it today, and she agreed, she feels the same way. That is just how things go. As we make more of our own mark on the place, as the gardens get fuller, and everything settles down, it will feel more like home. I get these feelings sometimes, at absolutely random moments in time, that I almost have to pinch myself that we are actually living here now. Only last Friday, when I was stopped at the traffic lights on the way to pick up Jack from school, this wave of disbelief that we are really here rolled over me. It’s just so random when it happens, but so unreal. I guess once life returns to normal routine again, it will be alright.

Thursday, I will be seeing a new doctor, for the first time here. I am getting low on medications I need to stay mainly okay, and don’t want to run out. I have been procrastinating over it, but now with only about 8 days worth of Tramadol left, I really need to just get on with it. I really hope the new doctor is as good as my old one. I will find out on Thursday I guess.

Anyhow, I should get myself off to bed, I need sleep as always, and I have to be up early for the usual school day stuff. Goodnight.

Andy.

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Ticking along.

Somehow or another, I have managed to get through another day. Yippee for me !!! I know, I know, wow wee, but when you are battling against your own body, or is that your body is battling against you, every single day, getting to the end of the day, having achieved anything at all other than getting up, and going back to sleep, is a big deal.

Talking about achievements, today I have managed to sort a few more things out, although I haven’t been able to spend much more than 5 minutes on a job before I’ve had to rest again for a bit, but I planted all the tomato seedlings we got on the weekend, finally hung the 2 hanging baskets with the Cucumelons in them, and, I have managed to fix the teeny little rust spots in the roof of my car where stone chips had started to become something else.

I used to be a car detailer for quite a few years, and learnt about fixing paintwork at an automotive refinishers as part of my qualifications (yes, car detailing is technical if you do it right). Even though I have the skills, and have also had the materials to do these little fix it jobs on my own car for at least 12 months, it’s either been my body against me, too many other things going on in life, or the weather hasn’t been conducive to doing car paintwork repairs. Now I live in a better climate, and life is starting to settle down a bit, I decided to push back against my recalcitrant body, and get on with it. The little chips had started to spider out from the original chips with little lines of rust forming under the paintwork, and the recent heavy rain had accelerated it a little bit, so it went from being a get to soon job, to a little more urgent. I also have a set of roof racks coming for my car, I bought them on Ebay, so I wanted to get it sorted before I fit them, otherwise the job would be harder with them in the way.

Right now, I have probably 2 more coats of paint to go on to them, and a little bit of cutting and polishing, and then it will not even look as though I have had to do anything. The paint is so well colour matched that it will not be noticeable in the slightest. I am so happy that I still have the skills, and am able to actually do it. There is a lot of other stone chips to fix, and a few small scratches as well, ( The roads in Victoria, Australia are not good for car paintwork, actually, they aren’t real good for any part of a car !!), but none were as urgent as the roof, and for now, they are only stone chips, they haven’t progressed into the more problematic rust as yet.

Apart from those tasks, I have also managed to do my washing, and changed the bed linen, which I am probably a bit anal about, I have to do it every Wednesday. Luckily, Jack is now old enough to help me strip and make the beds, so it’s not as big a task as it was even 6 months ago.

Well, for now, that is the little update, I am not great, but trying to get on with life, what else can I do ?

Andy.

Going to the markets tomorrow.

Today I gave myself a kick in the backside to try and snap out of the funk I have been in for days. It seems it worked to some extent, I still feel no different on the pain and fatigue front, it is really shitty to be honest still. However, I pushed myself through the day, determined to achieve something other than just surviving another day. I managed to vacuum and mop the whole place, did the washing, and even did a bit of work on one of my headlights, as it had become yellowed, as these plastic headlights tend to these days. It’s not perfect yet, but it is a lot clearer, and not yellow any more.

Tonight I have an arthritis glove on my right hand, as it is helping a little with pain relief, and I also have some ankle braces on both ankles for the same reason. Maybe, as these have been the 3 parts of my body that have been hurting in the middle of the night when I wake up, it will help me sleep better tonight.

Tomorrow, as a glutton for punishment, I am getting up at 6am to get ready to go to the markets at Atherton at 7am. We are hoping to get some bargains on fresh produce to stock up the pantry, and also, well I am anyhow, hoping to get some more food plants for the garden. A lemon, lime, mandarin, and a Pawpaw would be good. Chillies also.

Talking about the food plants, we’ve lost a few that we bought as seedlings, now we only have 2 lettuce and 3 rocket surviving, the rest just haven’t dealt with the recent climate well. The Passionfruit is going crazy, every night it seems to grow another 2 to 3 inches. I have beans that have germinated and are like the ones in the fairy tale. Yes, Jack and the Beanstalk, ironically. This afternoon I also saw that 2 of my corn seeds have germinated, along with quite a few of the spring onion seeds I sewed during the week. I didn’t check the peas, but yesterday they hadn’t surfaced yet. Our carrots seem to be chugging along well, and the only tomato that survived the weather, the cherry one, is doing well also. It seems that we will have to direct plant seeds, instead of seedlings, as they seem to cope better.

I also had a little win, I bought some shirts for Jack at an Op Shop before Christmas, not realising one of them was for one of the School Sports Houses, and I didn’t know which one Jack was going to be in at the time, but by happy fluke, nothing else, the one I got is the Sports House he is in !!! Incredible.

Anyhow, I have a big day tomorrow, it will start too early, and we will be going for a bit of an explore around the southern Tablelands after the market before coming home, so another 150km of driving, and the hard bit, thankfully, is first thing in the morning, going up the steep, narrow and windy Gillies Range. I don’t mind windy mountain roads, but it is a long climb, and you have to look out for twits that drive like loons.

I must retire to my sheets now, and snuggle for a good sleep, hopefully.

Goodnight.

Andy.

 

Adventures in my garden.

I really must think about taking photo’s before I write, oh well, a written description will do for now until I get my scattered brain into gear.

One of my true loves is gardening. I love the smell of the earth, of cut grass, compost (eww, I can hear you say), flowers, and best of all, the fruits of the labour. Fruits are metaphorical and as well as the actual thing. The metaphorical side is seeing the results, and the enjoying of those results, be it sitting back and seeing how nice it all looks after you cut the lawn, or a garden bed free of weeds, to the actual fruit, and I can hardly wait until that happens.

The garden is my way of freeing my mind of troubles. It loves me and I love it. I think a lot of people who have gone through traumatic experiences get solace in a garden. The enjoyment of making, and then being able to sit back and observe, is all part of it. You make the right decisions, and do the right things, and you also have a wonder of wildlife that also appreciate your hard work. Nothing like watching birds, butterflies and other little creatures make the most of what you have done. You even get to notice, if you actually take notice, that some birds become regular visitors, they even get excited when you emerge to work in the garden.

We currently have a little Willy Wag-tail that is very different from others in that he is much more black than others in the local population, and whom we have named Sparky, as well as his mate, a Pee-wee (or mudlark, I prefer Pee-wee), who band together and zip around the garden, full of life and zing, doing pest control duty.

With all the rain we have had over the past 11 days, they have been in hiding, I don’t blame them, who wants to be wet all day?

Today, and since Saturday, I have had a bit of a blitz in the garden. We picked up some lovely variegated Crotons, with yellow, green and red foliage, which were only $6 at the local market, and now reside in a difficult part of the garden. We needed some privacy there, but it is not a very useful spot for food production, so ideal for something that will screen and be pretty. The will be joined by some Aloe Vera plants which were left here by the previous owners, neglected in a big black plastic pot. Hopefully, body, mind and weather permitting, they will be in a nice row in front of the Crotons tomorrow. The difference in foliage and colour should make it look great.

On Saturday, only 3 days ago, I finally got the bean and pea seeds in under the trellis, and lo and behold, I already have 5 bean seedlings poking out of the ground !!! I was astonished when I went out for a look this morning. This then spurred me on into weeding a space in the new vege garden (the rain has made all the weeds spring out of the ground in hours), digging it all over, and then planting a block of Corn in one section, and 2 rows of spring onions in another. I now have actually growing, rocket, lettuce (a first for me), basil, mint, 2 varieties of grape, passion fruit, oranges, cherry tomatoes, beans, carrots (another first), Pineapple, Bananas, and hopefully peas, corn and spring onions. I have a bundle of more seeds, including cucumber, radish and pumpkin, I think it’s too early to plant pumpkin, it will probably just rot in this weather, but I am thinking of getting the radish and cucumber in tomorrow as well.

I have a bunch of ornamental flower seeds as well, well, one is ornamental, but the others are multi-functional. I have marigolds planted from seed now going great guns, they are pest control. I have seeds of some sunflowers, which will be for display and for the seed as well, and then another one that I can’t quite recall the name of right now, but it is a variety of colours and will be great as cut flowers. I may get some of them in tomorrow if my energy doesn’t deplete too quickly, I think it will, I never achieve everything I set out to do in 1 day because of this blasted illness.

Anyhow, all my painkillers are kicking in right now, I am now so drowsy that staying awake is not even looking possible, even remotely.

Goodnight.

Andy.

Monsoon.

The monsoon has really hit us over the last week. Since last Thursday, we have had over 1000mm (3.28ft) of rain. Yep, that’s wet.

To our south, Townsville copped a hammering yesterday, which has continued today, leading to a Natural Disaster being declared. It’s local water supply, the Ross River Dam, went from near 50% capacity a few weeks ago, and is currently overflowing at 140% capacity. The highway between here and Townsville, and south of Townsville is cut due to major flooding.

The weather system, which moved quickly over us that has caused all this is now starting to march back towards us, and today, we have so far got 100mm of rain, and it’s not over yet. At one stage, we got about 40mm in about 20 minutes.

This evening we got an impressive, if only brief thunderstorm, only lasted about 15 minutes, but was nice to watch from the safety, and dry, of the verandah. I love thunderstorms, it’s my thing.

Jack has been going well at school, there is an app where the teacher makes notes during the day, and he is doing good. I can check it from home. The teacher and I can also send each other messages if need be. It’s a great idea.

Our tiler has been making good progress tiling the house, we have been in a state of disorganisation during the process, but it is starting to come together now. Our tiler only has 1 arm, but he is doing a sweet job, much better than any fully able bodied tiler. He has laid about a third of the tiles now, and grouted a huge area today, so now we have half the lounge room back to normal. He’s been laying the tiles in a way that means we can still live in the house and get around. Honestly, he has been awesome. Tomorrow is the kitchen, so take-away dinner is on the cards, seeing we won’t be able to use the kitchen again until Saturday.

Talking about Saturday, the local markets are on on Saturday, and hopefully, by the time we have had a wander around down there, we will have some farm fresh veges, and fingers crossed, some more food producing plants to plant in the garden. Tomorrow, I am thinking, even if it’s raining, that I will get out and plant some seeds for beans and peas, and do a bit around the garden. At least in this climate, working outside in the rain is enjoyable, as it isn’t freezing cold.

Anyhow, I must go now, I need sleep, I need to be up early to get Jack ready for school, and I have to move the refrigerator out of the kitchen before I drop Jack to school so it’s out of the way when the tiler arrives.

Goodnight.

Andy.

Landscaping

For the past few days, I have been working away at a patch of the backyard that we are going to use as our main food production area, as well as an outside seating space where we will have a fire pit. It was a run down, weed and rubbish plagued area. Before Christmas, we took 2 trailer loads of rubbish away from this space, pulled down the already falling down chook run, which we didn’t want anyhow as chooks in suburbia don’t work, and the fact that if you watch the news, this part of Australia gets mega sized pythons, so the chooks wouldn’t last long anyhow.

So, this is a couple of shots beforehand, taken by the realestate agent to sell the house, so good camera angles don’t show how bad it really was. (I forget to do before photos all the time…..)

Patrick Close Backyard 2 beforePatrick Close before backyard

There was a lot of rubbish down behind that shed too.

So, I have removed the chook run, and will be able to re-use most of the materials, I did send the chicken wire off to be recycled, but some heavier mesh, most of the timber, steel posts and roofing iron will all get a second life. That project will be the next one.

I have made a large vege garden along the retaining wall, as bending over to tend veges is so, well, in your 20’s, not fibromyalgia affected 40’s. In between the posts of the verandah in the 3 spaces, I have strung plastic coated wire, and now have 2 varieties of grapes and a passion fruit vine planted, which will be trained up onto the wires, thus creating a screen from the neighbours place, as well as producing a bounty of food.

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It may not look pretty right now, but the big area to the left was where the chook run was, and was very uneven, so required a lot of earth to be moved to level it. The other dirt patch near the vege patch was a huge dip in the ground, now it’s nice and level. The end posts of the chook run will stay, as I am going to attach the previously mentioned heavy wire mesh to them to grow beans and kiwi fruit on.

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These are our first green leafy things, lettuce, spinach and rocket for salads, it’s the real pick and mix salad, we will just pick the leaves as we need them and leave the plants to keep growing.

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This is our passionfruit vine. I have already tip pruned it to encourage some laterals to grow, to train out onto the wire. There are 2 wires, so it will be trained onto both in time

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Below is one of the 2 grape vines, this being a white table grape, it’s been in the ground for about 3 weeks now, and is nearly high enough to start training as well.

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Below is the newest grape to be added, a Red Globe table grape. It’s still very short, so I will stake it up soon once it gets some length, and then hopefully by the end of the month, it too will be ready to train onto the wire.

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This space beside the shed will be producing bananas and Paw Paws. I have seedlings of the Paw Paws growing in seedling trays, once big enough they will be in there too.

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Lastly, this was the gift from my brother for Christmas, a weather station. It measures wind velocity and direction, temperature, rainfall and humidity.  The panel with the data is in my bedroom on the desk, and it will be invaluable with the whole food production thing.

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I don’t really know how I have managed to do so much, I have been very fatigued for weeks, and in pain, but being out there doing this has helped take my mind off it, if only for a while. I haven’t done it all in one hit, just as I have been able, so sometimes I have just spent 20 minutes doing some, then other times an hour.  The feeling of achievement is so worth it. I guess the food will be too, once it grows !!!

Andy.

The Midnight Hour

Here I sit as the clock enters the midnight hour. I have been up since 7.30am, and although tired, am still a bit wired. I have managed to squeeze a little bit of “me” time in each day for the past 3 or 4 days, don’t know how, but it is helping me to become a bit more settled into the new life than I have been so far.

For the past couple of months I pretty much haven’t had “me” time, it’s been go, go, go, packing the old house, cleaning the old house, driving 3,500km, cleaning the new place, fixing the new place, unpacking all our stuff, and now finally, everything is starting to settle, so now, I am finally getting a bit of time to chill.

Up until the past few days, I have been so exhausted by the time I have had dinner, that not long after, I have had to go to bed, because I just couldn’t stay awake any longer. I haven’t slept well either, although that hasn’t really changed, the pain from the fibromyalgia has been really bad, so interrupted sleep has been the order of the day, or more specifically the night, for weeks.

Mum has been unwell, as I said in a recent post, today she wasn’t good first thing this morning still, but has slept almost all day, I checked on her at lunchtime, because I hadn’t seen her, and she was starting to improve, and then after almost the entire afternoon asleep again, she finally was able to eat all her dinner, and actually stayed up and watched Django Unchained with me tonight. She even sounds better and has more energy too. She’s been ill since Saturday, so today was the first sign of improvement in all those days.

Today, I over did it first thing, as soon as I could I mowed the lawns, as they desperately needed doing, trying to get it done before it got too hot, but it was already warm, and very humid at 8.30am. By the time I was finished at 9am, I was feeling very woozy, I felt nauseous, and extremely tired, so I sat in the cool for a while, after having a shower because I was dripping with sweat. Later in the day, I sat and sewed the buttons back onto the new couch cushions, but didn’t do too much else outside, as I also ended up with a thumping headache by lunchtime. It wasn’t until about 6pm, that I realised the cause of my headache. I hadn’t had a single cup of coffee all day, and it was caffeine withdrawal. I immediately had a coffee, and woosh, the headache was gone. I had gone hours with this headache, if only I had realised sooner that coffee was the solution !!!

I also broke in the new BBQ tonight. We had sausages with salad for dinner, so I decided to fire up the BBQ and not heat up the inside of the house, so cooked the sausages outside. I have already come to the conclusion that it is the best BBQ I have ever cooked on.

So after all of today chores, we ended up with a monsoonal downpour late this afternoon, and it was a glorious thing to see. After all the gardening of the past few days, with the hot weather that has come back to us again, the garden needed a drink. I have been watering the new plants enough for them to survive, but now the whole garden has had a good drink, established and new plants, as well as the lawn. I refuse to water lawns, I like lush lawns, but don’t like watering them, the sky has to do that, and the grass has to learn to survive on that.

Jack has been working away at trying to learn to ride his bike today again as well, and he is certainly making progress, not a pro yet, but he is getting the hang of it. It’s nice having a garden where he can actually have the space to safely practice, and now hopefully, learn how to ride.

Anyhow, it’s now halfway through the midnight hour, so I will now attempt to get some sleep. My brother arrives from Melbourne in 2 days time, so still a few things to do before he gets here, but then, hopefully, I will be able to chillout a bit more over the Christmas break.

Andy.