Another adventure.

Today, at 8.30am, Jack, Mum and I loaded ourselves into the car for a well deserved day out. We headed on down to Innisfail, a town about 80km south of Cairns. It’s where Jack was conceived, so I showed him where he was made !!!

We had come through in November, when we moved here, but it was at the end of a 3500km journey, and we were all worn out by that stage, so we didn’t hang around there then. It’s taken until now to actually have the time to head down there again.

Innisfail is a town of Banana’s and Sugar Cane, and has one of the most amazing collection of authentic Art Deco buildings in the world. This was a result of a destructive cyclone in the same period that Art Deco style was all the rage. So, when the town was rebuilt, it was done in the style of the day, and also because it is a place that doesn’t tear old buildings down in the blink of an eye, it has this amazing range of Art Deco architecture for all the world to see. If you ever get the chance, and love Art Deco, as I do, go there and see it for yourself.

We had a bit of a lap around the town to the Op Shops when we were there, and I managed to pick up a chocolate mould to make Easter Eggs at home, as well as a set of car seat covers for my car, which, cost the princely sum of……$4. Considering the last set of brand new ones, which I bought in October, cost over $50, and they fell apart within a month, this was a complete bargain. I have washed them, and seeing they survived that, I think they will be good for a few years.

After our little trip, well, my little trip down memory lane, we headed down to my favourite beach in Australia, Etty Bay. The rainforest goes right to the sand on the beach, it is amazing. I sort of had an ulterior motive to go, as Jack hadn’t seen a Southern Cassowary in the wild, he’d seen one in a zoo last year, but not in the wild. He got the chance to see 2 today. Etty Bay’s little secret is that there are Cassowaries that wander right down to the beach. The 2 we saw today, were a male and a chick. Male Cassowaries, like me, are the ones that actually look after the chicks, the mother just lays the eggs and that’s that, wanders off and leaves the male to do the rest and raise the kids. They are truly amazing to see in the wild. Jack couldn’t contain his excitement.

On the return home, we took a drive out to South Johnstone, and had a look at the big sugar mill there, then headed towards Bramston Beach and had our home made lunch of salad rolls, which I made up before we left this morning, and put in the esky.

We got back home around 3pm, it was a great day out, nice to have a break from all the stuff we have been doing for weeks now. Mum made Tacos for dinner, I have done a crap load of washing, and now, I am just about ready to hit the hay. It’s been a good day.

Andy.

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Having wins when losing

The fatigue and pain have driven me into being very absent minded at times recently. I had a spell late 2017/early 2018 when I thought I was losing my mind, so forgetful and just felt like I was going crazy. This isn’t quite as bad, yet, but it is certainly disconcerting to be going through it all again. I also have moments during the bad patches of fatigue where I start slurring, the result of a slight stroke a few years back, when the hospital put it down as a “migraine”, and then a week later they discovered, after I went back with another excruciating “migraine” that my blood pressure was through the roof and I should have been having either a heart attack or a stroke.  They never actually tested me to see if I was, but gave me pills to bring my blood pressure down quickly. The slurring is just one thing, I also tend to let go of things unexpectedly with my left hand and my left foot drags when the fatigue gets bad as well. Oh, what a barrel of laughs my life is !! At least I can say it’s not dull !!!

Today I had a pretty major win, I still had to get school shirts for Jack, like, the ones with the school logo on them, as that is the requirement. I went on a whim to town (well, I needed smokes, so that was the real reason), and decided to take Jack along and go look at the Op Shops, as Jack loves Op Shopping. I have scoured them for school shirts for weeks, to no avail, and then today, I walk in to the Lifeline Op Shop and there they are, 4 school shirts. I was going to buy 3 brand new at the school, as I had failed to find any, they are $30 a pop, so just to keep him clothed for school for 3 days, it would have cost me $90, a lot of money when you don’t have much to go around. Today’s stroke of luck cost me $16 for all four. So, I saved big. It’s nice to have a win.

Apart from that little adventure, I have been completely wrecked by fibromyalgia, we’ve had the vinyl floor removed ready for tiling, I’ve named all of Jack’s school stuff, and, well, I can’t think, mind block. It’s been a crazy day. Right now, I need to go to bed, hopefully, hopefully, I will sleep all night and sleep in tomorrow, I should be so lucky. We shall see. (I apologise now if any of this sounds disjointed, it’s just my head).

Andy.

Doing my best

With everything that life has thrown at me, the second most worst thing is Fibromyalgia, it is certainly the most debilitating, but my ex, and everything she threw at me (figuratively and literally) was the worst. But this is about the fibromyalgia, it’s in the present, the other in the past.

I have been wrecked for days. Not sleeping well, until last night when I had a can of Wild Turkey and cola before bed although I rarely drink, at least it kept me asleep all night, although I did wake up early again, who knows why, but my body, as exhausted as it is, still wants me to be awake at 6.30am. I have had at times excruciating pain as well, so a full blown flare up is under way.

As crap as I am, I have been promising Jack that I would go out on my pushbike for a ride with him, a decent one, so he could show me how well he is doing with the bike riding thing. Well, half awake this afternoon at around 4pm, we went for a ride, first it was to the park just around the corner, I wasn’t sure how far I could push him to go, but we got there in a breeze ( I haven’t ridden a bike for waaaayyyy to long). So we rode through the park, and down to the highway. Still, he was going great guns, doing it all easy, and even I was doing pretty good, all things considered.

We got the the highway, and I bit the bullet. The tyres on my bike were a bit soft, not flat, but nearly there, so I decided that we would ride into town. The highway is about a third of the way to town, so we went across when there was a break in the traffic, and kept going. Down past his school (which was a good test, as we may be doing the bike to school thing together every day when school starts), and on to the service station to use their tyre inflator. Once I did that, my bike was even easier to ride.

Last year, I bought myself a ladies cruiser style bike, very retro, it’s powder blue and white with some tropical themed trim, and a bit of tan on the seat, pedals and handlebar grips. It was my very first new bike in my entire life, every single one I had had in the past was secondhand. Yes, you did read correctly, even though I am a man, I bought a ladies bike. It is easier for me to get on and off, as it doesn’t have the cross bar so high, and with the fibromyalgia, coupled with all the problems I have with my back from breaking it in 2005, I need something that is easy to use. It has a wide seat, I do have a more than ample backside, and those swept out and angled back type handle bars, so I don’t have to lean forward to ride, I can keep my back nice and straight and upright. I have to say, it is so much more stylish than any men’s bike, men’s bikes usually come in a range of black or grey, and usually are mountain bikes, which, unless you are a mountain biker, suck.

I was really stoked at how well Jack did with the ride, we ended up going right into town, which is 4 kilometres, and then back again, which is a slight uphill ride all the way. I think he was thrilled to do it, and especially seeing me out riding a bike, I think he didn’t think I could do it !!! To be honest, I am really stoked that I managed to do it too !!! And, considering this was the first time I had gone for a decent ride on the new bike, it blew me away as to how easy it was to ride, it is such an awesome bike.

Before our little outing this afternoon, we went into the city, as Mum wanted to buy a new TV.  She ended up buying a 50 inch screen one, and after watching an action movie on it this afternoon, all I can say is, wow ! Its Ultra High Definition 4K, and with the new Blu-ray player she got, it is just amazing sound and clarity of picture. I now have my TV back, it’s only 32 inch, but that is perfect for my bedroom, and it’s nice to have my TV back in my room so if I want to watch something on my own, I can.

Anyhow, I am completely wrecked, my evening painkillers are beginning to kick in, so I should attempt to get some sleep I guess. 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.

Merry Christmas

My brother arrived yesterday from Melbourne. We are all together for Christmas.

I love Christmas, well now I do, before, when I was with my ex, it was a time of misery, every special day was. She made it that way. Now, I guess I am one of those people that goes the extra mile, maybe even over the top, for Christmas. Of all the special days of the year, this is the most special to me.

Christmas is about family. You can believe all the superstitious stuff if you like, but trust me, you aren’t a virgin if you are pregnant. But the story of the beginning of a family, the celebration of a family, is really what it’s all about. I have said before I am not religious, and I don’t celebrate Christmas as a religious thing, and honestly, I don’t celebrate it for the commercial event it has become either. It is all about family. It is about family being together, spending time together, laughing, eating and enjoying each others company.

I guess with age comes the realisation of how important family is. Sure, there are always family members that really don’t give two hoots about anyone else, take my father for example, but all of us have someone in our families that care about us.

When I was younger, my brother and I weren’t the best of buddies. I guess it was because I would protect him from my father, but he didn’t seem to realise it, so I resented that. As time has gone by, and the older we have got, my brother realised just what I did, and now we are very close. I would still do everything in my power to protect him, no matter what.

It’s like that with Mum too. Many years ago, we were in a situation where Mum had had enough, but due to financial dis-empowerment, she didn’t leave my father at that time, but even though I was only 16, we stood side by side and tried to work it out, tried to see if we could, but mum was so brow beaten at that stage she didn’t have the confidence that she could do it. This time around, she has, she became empowered, and although still nervous about getting out of the bad marriage with my father, I reassured her that I wouldn’t leave her on her own. I have stuck by my word, it’s what I do, if I say I will do something, I will. She has always stood by me, and I will always stand by her.

I am not sure of how this Christmas day will go. My father will be with us, I mean, he has a separate life, he lives in the granny flat, Jack, mum and I in the house, we do see each other, but we don’t do a lot together, because even now, even though he is no longer under the same roof, every opportunity he gets, he is a nasty shit. I really don’t remember the last time I actually saw him do anything genuinely nice for anyone else, or be genuinely nice to anyone else. I know both I and Mum are holding our breaths to see if we can get through the day without one of his tantrums, it could happen, who knows. We include him because we try, we are nice people, it’s to our detriment the majority of the time though.

Anyhow, I really hope every one of you have a fantastic day on Christmas Day. I appreciate every one of you that bothers to read my ramblings.

Merry Christmas to all !!

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.

Chewy lollies are nice.

I am sitting here after a busy day yet again, chewing on a fruit flavoured soft chewy lolly, thinking I am in heaven. Why does a small square of essentially just sugar make me feel so happy ? It’s strawberry flavoured, if you must know.

Maybe, it’s giving me such enjoyment because this is the first time I have had a moment to myself, except for when I collapsed into bed mid afternoon as the body, and the fibromyalgia fatigue got the better of me. It sucks having a chronic health condition like this, but still need to do everything that a single parent needs to do, like, everything.

Normally, I do have a little help these days, Mum will cook dinner or make lunch, which is a godsend, but for the past few days she has been laid up in bed with a virus that has knocked her for a six. So I have had to do it all again, and make sure she is okay as well.

I did 3 loads of washing before 8am, then went out and got some things from Bunnings, which included a gas bottle refill, and now I know my new secondhand BBQ, which was free, but cost over $1700 just 2 years ago, works like a new one still. I just don’t know how people can be so wasteful, spend $1700 and 2 years later throw it away. Anyhow, their loss is my gain.

Jack has been doing more painting today, his art is amazing. I know, I know, all parents think that, but he has actually won awards for his. And his photography as well. I will have to get some photo’s up of his work, so you can see it for yourself. I guess he was bound to inherit something from me, and being a good artist and photographer isn’t too shabby a thing to inherit from my genes.

Apart from the things I have already listed from today’s effort, I pruned all the plants around the garden as well, and now our garden is coming along quite nicely. We have planted about 60 plants in the garden since we arrived here a month ago. It was an established garden when we moved in, but very neglected and a lot of plants were just about dead. Apart from one tree, I have managed to resurrect them all. It’s amazing.

I love gardening. It is just so relaxing. That might sound crazy in some ways, because it is hard work too, but it relaxes my mind. I have too much going on in my head most of the time, I appear pretty chilled to most people, but inwardly I am wound up, nervous, anxious, pretty much a mess. So gardening is medicine. It makes everything go away.

Talking about the whole anxious/nervous thing, last Friday, we went to the local Carols by Candlelight, and it was the first time I have been out in a social environment like that since moving here. It was a strange sensation, I am always on the look out for my ex, but now, she is over 3500km away. Because of her schizophrenia, it was always a worry living in the old place, because you just didn’t know when you would run into her, and because she is a schizophrenic who is prone to act violently, I just didn’t want to have Jack witness that, or me have to experience that again. So every time we went out, I couldn’t relax. Now I have to learn how to.

Anyhow, enough of my ramblings tonight, I must try and get some sleep before it’s back into the daily grind again tomorrow.

Andy.