Friday, July 10, 2020

Melbourne, Migraines and the Meaning of 42

Good evening.

It is a good evening for me for it is post-many things that were not so pleasant in quick succession.  For me.

On the sliding scale of good evenings available in the world, however...

It is a great evening for those who had lockdown imposed upon them who have been released into the relative freedom of Stage Three restrictions.

It is a confronting evening for those the that marvelously followed all restrictions at all point, observed the relaxation of rules in a reserved and sensible manner and were blasted out of the water by the wandering ways of an underpaid casual labour force and cultural divides being fanned through wilful ignorance and educated guesses.

I had something today that was not a contemplation when we first set to shield ourselves from the current scourge that is Covid-19.

I had elective surgery. 

Something that I chose to do on a whim as I have been banned from giving my most wonderful O Negative blood to the Red Cross Blood Bank for being too low too long in iron.

I mean, they weren't as severe as all of that.  They were nice about it.  But my Dr had to sign off on my paperwork before I would be allowed to darken their comfy chairs again.  And the free food after.

So once things were open enough again to see the good lady in person, I took my piece of paper and my anaemic self to see her.

In the good old days, I would have just taken a longer lunch-break and done it on a work day.

The only downside to working from home is that this now requires me to take a 1/2 RDO to fit in appointments.

And therefore it is so much more noticeable when you have an appointment, as it no longer feels like a holiday.

Anyhoo, after much "a lady your aged" and "rule out other possibilities" and something about a large needle of ferrous matter in the fat layer, I had a promise of a phone call for a specialist appointment.

Came the day (managed to make it coincide with a re-scheduled dental cleanse to make the whole 1/2 day RDO worthwhile) and met with the man.

Again, after discussions of the kerfuffle-valve, menopause, medical statistics and one attempt at humour - the man does not do humour but is intelligent enough to recognise it very dryly.

I was sent to talk to Alana.

Alana was very friendly and business-like about the whole deal.

Apparently Endos are done on a Thursday and a Friday.  How about next Thursday - the 2nd?

Did you hear me scream?

I mean, besides the fact that she was talking about a date 8 days ahead, it was also the week most feared and loathed (with a twist of sheer exileration) in the various roles that I have held over the last thirty-mumble years.  End of Financial Year - the 32nd of June is a most exhausting day, generally - and the last thing that I could ever do to a job would be to leave them in the lurch in that week.

So no.

And also, what is this "we can do your non-urgent stuff next week" about anyway?  I live regional.  I expect delays.

I could find no valid excuse to dodge the next week though - I mean, other than it being a really crappy end to a wonderful long weekend with 'Salina for the first time in months, and an enforced extension of my "holiday" for elective surgery.

It meant that the last day of my holiday with 'Salina was one that comprised entirely of food that is not in my general repertoire.  Both 'Salina and Paris were incredibly bemused by my voluntary purchase of white bread. 

I did manage some yummy food from the limited list available to me, surprisingly.  I made a pumpkin soup with just chicken stock and pumpkin with a swirl of cottage cheese - and white bread.  And for dinner, while the others had Chicken Enchiladas I got some poached chicken, mashed pumpkin, white pasta and cottage cheese and inefficiently smooshed them all together (or as is referred to on cooking shows as "rustic") and baked it with the Enchiladas.  A mighty fine concoction.

The drive back from there to here took over 5 hours, courtesy of roadworks.  I was fuelled soully (oops, solely) by 5 hours of sleep, black herbal tea, black coffee, water, chicken stock, fantasy fiction for pre-teens and Radio National.

I had a date at 3

with some convolutedly-hard to get medication at 3 and made it within echoes of it chiming.

I will leave from that time until the knowledge that my day ahead was going to be horrendous roused me to your imagination.

I don't know if you suffer from migraines

, but there is modern medicine out there that can change SUFFERING to suffering and allow you to escape having to live EVERY SINGLE SECOND of a migraine - but as I had this other medication on board, and because there was no bit of literature that I could lay my hands on once in the throes that advised me that I could access that recourse, and because the Endoscopy Unit weren't answering their phones during the period that I could have possibly used it (and as it hit during the wee hours of the morning, I awoke with it in full swing and no chance to catch the bolting horse anyway).

The worst bit is, I had fore-warning.  I am on a message-board where I mentioned it as an aside in a conversation and several members told of migraines.  I was just (as usual) too blithe and (as usual) unprepared for the ferocity.

The best thing about migraines is the emergence at the other end.  It is like no other feeling in life.  It is rebirth after a glimpse at hell.

This one was one circle of hell lower than I had ever met before.

For a start, under medical instruction I was not to imbibe in any more clear fluids after 7am.  So when I got out of bed at 6, already 4 hours into a migraine punctuated with urgent requirements induced by the medication, I proceeded to guzzle 2 bottles of water in the vain hope it would wash away the migraine and stave off too much thirst in the ensuing hours.

Vain hope.

Instead, my head, my entire food-highway and my energy all got into a bit of a bingle, and I was this shattered shell of my former self, constantly dissolving further and further into patheticness.

Paris went to shelter with Queen Jean, and V valiantly drove me in, ice-cream bucket in hand (reminding me of my childhood with a propensity for car-sickness and a family-propensity to long trips on dusty roads).

The first place we went was the wrong place. 

Of course.  I mean, we were relying on the navigation of a woman whose mind was currently not at its usual address, instead being wrestled to below ground by pain and nausea, so it is possible that it was bound to fail.

Luckily, I had managed to get through to the Endoscopy Unit (in time to find that the time that I could have taken medication for the migraine had passed) and so they were ready for me and my complete inability to be a functioning human-being and whisked me through as fast as the machinations of a day surgery unit in a Private Hospital can run.  Yes, I had a headache.  No I didn't have a fever.  No, I haven't been overseas or in Melbourne in the last few weeks.

Now, what is it about Christmas movies and hospitals?

I mean, we got V's knees done in April - which was were we got to see most of a grainy rendition of Arthur Christmas while in a far-away from civilisation family waiting room.

Today it was A Christmas Tree or some such twee.  I think.

Finally the ball got rolling, and I got my lowest reading for well over a decade on the scales, which was a brief blessing among all the misery!

The pain level, I told the aptly named "Joy" was about 9.  They inserted a drip and injected pain-relief.  It barely registered before the put me to sleep.

And then they woke me up.

If you have ever suffered a migaine, you may know the term migraine-shadow.  It is where there is a hollow in your brain where the pain resided and has not yet retaken its shape.

Let me just say that, while you are relieved that the pain is no longer in residence, you are both cautiously happy and terrified at the same time - because you still remember it being there and cannot quite believe that it is gone.

Add to that the layer of post-anaesthesia what-the that occurs.

So, that has been my day.

Oh, that and then getting told that I am to start working back in the office from next Monday.

But Melbourne, I really feel for you right now.

Because while some of us imagine this absolutely unruffled Melbournian, I think that the very least that we can do is give you whatever support that we can because it would be so hard - but if you guys weren't doing it for us right now, and we hope to goodness that you have it right and we aren't too late then this is our own futures.

I lived in Melbourne for one year in 1997.  It was wonderful as the people were wonderful.  It was pathetic because for all of the wonderful people in Melbourne, the city was too small for an ex and I.  Well, that and the weather.

But the people were absolutely wonderful.  And the people that I knew in Melbourne were even more-so.

So 42 days people.  I am pulling for you every step of the way.

(Although, I do hope that not all - or any - of those 42 are going to be migraine level suffering)

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

When you can't find them for looking...

Lost.

My husband has lost a pair of glasses of late.

I often wonder what its like, being able to lose a pair of glasses.

As one whose vision is not only enhanced but made sense of with the occultation of some mighty weird lenses, this blithe disregard of the whereabouts of such an essential piece of equipment is - well, as fuzzy a concept as my eyesight should that misfortune ever come to me.

He thinks it might have happened on the weekend.  No, the one before - it was after that Friday anyway.

Just before "this bloddy thing" hit back in March, my deteriorating ability to read combined with separate pairs of not-quite ideal glasses was upgraded - at a premium - to one pair of multi-faceted light-sensitivity-tinted you-beaut glasses.

My eyesight does not come into that category that fits neatly into any sort of specials that Optometrists and health funds delight in - used to delight in.  It is the sort that requires ADDITIONAL cost to ensure that it doesn't end up so heavy it will fall off your face.

Apparently.

I had a run in with the poor girl who was my first attempt at making a transaction.

I have a type at Optometrist Dispensers.  Well, I would like to have a type.  The type I would like is one that would tell me exactly which one would suit me at the most inexpensive price and this is how the ordering process should occur - as opposed to the type that is actually attracted to me - the boss you about, take you for a fool, employ industry slang and jargon to bamboozle and then jump you with the bill.

I am sure that the poor young thing was just as jangled as I given the circumstances of the almost hushed atmosphere of mid-March pre-covid.

(Ah, remember then?  Hand sanitizers and food shortages and gob-smacked at Italy, France, the UK and Spain,)

She made one move - said one thing, the wrong thing, the wrong way and I was a jangling ball of anxiety about the impending requirement of being grown up enough to navigate Health Funds, Diarising, Budgeting, Fashion and Fast Lunch-Breaks.  Like a young horse I bolted and cowarded out with an "Can I take a Quote Away and Think About It?".

I have parked in a different spot at the shopping centre since then.  I don't like to walk past in case she might pounce.

He thinks that he may have left them in a shop.  Don't know which shop or why.  On a shelf somewhere.  Imagine being able to navigate life without them.

But I don't want the operation.  I have no problem with other people doing what they like with their eyes, but there are moments when I don't mind being unfocused.

That and I don't want someone sticking a knife into my eye.

Every time I see a pair of his glasses lying around the house, I tell him.  I say "oh, honey, I saw a pair of your glasses on the bench/in the bathroom/in Paris' room/downstairs" and he says "which ones?"

He's so funny.  As if I could tell them apart.  They all look like men's glasses to me.  His eyesight is such that Optometrists not only offer him deals, they GIVE HIM glasses with no gap! 

Me, the pair before the last lot, I got hoodwinked by a modern edgy Optical Dispenser who managed to give me a quote for nearly a grand for two pairs because I had been lulled by the possibility of sunglasses (imagine, sunglasses - I have NEVER had a pair of sunglasses that I could see clearly through without contacts, and they are a pain in the butt - well the eyeball, but whatever) before she got to the "oh, we don't do that deal for your prescription, you need to pay an ADDITIONAL cost to ensure that it doesn't end up so heavy it will fall off your face."  Like a very grey mare I shied and cowarded out with an "Can I take it Away and Think About It?".

"Oh, thats the pair that I keep for the garden" he tells me when I find yet another pair in another spot.  Or maybe they are the same pair that he just keeps rehiding on me to send me crazy.

The pair before that, the older, respectable matronly Optical Dispenser not only talked me down from the fact that the glasses were giving me instant migraines whenever I wore them, she made me endure another week of hell because she thought it was because I wasn't wearing them enough and I should just battle through before calling in the learned one.

The next week she allowed me into the inner sanctum.  "Oh" the Optometrist said - giggle - "we've put the prism in upside-down.  These would have been of no help whatsoever - leave them with me for a few days." as he ushered me out the door.

But she was in wait for my leaving, because she bamboozled me with being grown up and navigate Health Funds, Diarising, Budgeting, Fashion and a Lunch-Break to be terminated with a return to the world's worst workplace.

She tricked me by offering the possibility of sunglasses and had led me well down the path and turned with the  "oh, we don't do that deal for your prescription, you need to pay an ADDITIONAL cost to ensure that it doesn't end up so heavy it will fall off your face."  Like a startled foal I started and got the guts to "Cancel what the Witch Suggested" (aided by the dire state of our finances a the time - my embarrassment has made me pay for far more stupid things in the past).

"No," he said, when I held aloft a pair found secreted on a cluttered horizontal space "those ones only have one eye."

I wonder if there are many pairs of one-eyed glasses hidden around the world in the houses of those who only require a half-view?

Anyhoo...  do you get Optometrist Anxiety too?

I always feel like I am going to fail the test that I have been called in to sit for.

They ask such dumb questions.

Monday, June 01, 2020

Queen Jean and lardy larder lures

I learned how to make lard pastry on Sunday.

My lovely next-door neighbour - Queen Jean -  is a dab hand at pastry.

She is an amazing lady.  She is the same age as "the other Queen" and I swear, there is a portrait of her somewhere.

But she has had an interesting few years - her life has been made up of interesting years.  For a lady who had hardly left her neighbourhood for over 40 years, the second half has been a whirlwind.

She had only recently returned from a few years of interesting, and the sudden transition from being constantly in the presence of others to - nothing - with not enough books and not enough dvds - to keep her from rattling, well, she has been rattling the cage and discovered where the rungs are most malleable.

But one thing she had not turned to during this time was cooking.  

Her daughter had arranged for meals to be delivered which meant that she did not technically have to venture forth for too many grocery items and she would be not be nutritionally bereft.

Last week, I asked to write down her pastry recipe.  

She has always done pies due service (and above) - even when we first met, she would sneak over her offerings (and sneak away from her fourth husband (but not her best)).  There was this one sausage and egg pie she once gave V that has folk song status in our house.  

When she admitted she had not cooked a pie "for years" she got in mind to get a few apples and making a pie.  She did - it was fantastic.  I begged that she let me know how she did it.

It is amazing how offhand she can be about her signature dish.

"Take a cup of flour - it doesn't matter what sort - and half a cup of fat" she starts.

"Butter?" I ask.  "If you must", she responds, "put a little butter in to make up the quantity of " and the word gets lost somewhere in the last 94 years.

"And you must have a beaten egg - in a cup - to the side.  Some is to go on, and a little bit in with a bit of liquid - but not too much." 


(You and me both Ed)

"How about I show you" she says.

We wash our hands.

QJ: About a cup of flour.

Me: What sort of flour (she has used self-raising)?


QJ: Any sort, it doesn't matter.

The secret is light fingers.

We wash our hands and  take off any rings.
QJ:  Don't overwork the dough.

Rub the flour through the fat.  Just your fingertips. 


Oh, and you should have the oven on at about 180.

A dash of milk in the egg.  And its the liquid - only a bit - and some of the egg mix.

QJ:  Mix it - I use a fork - until it comes away from the sides.

 
Onto a floured surface, roll out enough for the base.

I am using a wine bottle as my rolling pin now.

Don't push - just roll across until it is the right size.

Use a little of the grease on your pie tin.

Try to get it over the middle.

Fill it with stewed apple that has had just a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar.

Roll out the lid and pinch the edges with your fingers.

Brush it with the egg wash.  (I always just use my hands)

Put a few slits and cut some heart shapes - like this (roll a rough circle, cut into quarters and make hearts - just like that)

Find a jar of Robertsons Fruit Mince (from the secret larder) and make a little Fruit Mince Pastie.

The Pie.

Was.

Divine.

Thank goodness I found that the punnets of pansies that she planted out in the last few weeks (for their glorious burgundy flowers) were actually planted out in the punnets, so I could repay her benificence with some gardening work.

"I like making them, but I am the only one here and I have nobody to give them to" she said.

It is such a pity that being the only people she could give her pies to has such weighty consequences.  But then again, I am sure that I could broker at least one household a week that she could share her talents with, because those pies.

Crack.


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Steam Stream

Good morning.

Good "very early" morning.

Good "very early - in fact it is so early it is still dark for another hour" morning.

But on the other hand, good "starting to warm up already but at least it isn't unbearable" morning, too.

My alarm clock has gone haywire.  Normally, he is regular as - well, clockwork.  5am he lets me know that his food bowl could do with a little attention and dismisses me to make my first cup of tea and contemplate the excuse to not go for a walk this morning.  (The only clothes that fit and are of going for a walk standard are in the wash)

Today, he woke me at 1:30am.   He didn't get a great deal of attention past a scoop in the food bowl and I am going back to bed, Ed.

He woke me again at 4:20am.  He told me (in non-verbal cues) that his wish was not for food but company downstairs to survey the kingdom - so we did.

While I was down there, I pegged a load and put on another.

After a 2019 of very little rain, January gave us enough to turn hope around - and February has been turning up the wet dial.

Unfortunately, as is the wont of this land, some have received just a tad too much of late - and others a tad (or indeed scads) too little.

I am not complaining.  We have had our share and I am willing to pass the baton to those who need it more, but until we have cracked the magical code I think we just have to accept what is given with as good a grace as possible.

Night before last, we had a real concert in the skies - indeed, one of the thunder movements reached such a crescendo it shook the house.

The days are sultry and threatening, and resultantly I am gladly going to work in my inadequately (but better than none-ly) air-conditioned office space.

V sends me texts explaining just how sauna-like life outside the enclave is.

Insects - which were very scant on the ground until New Year - have erupted in their swarms.

The lawn has regained lushness - and then some.  Bamboo and trees that we feared we would have to write off rejuvenated.

And I have discovered the only time to really enjoy pegging washing - without cooking or being eaten alive - is 4:30am.

Thanks cat.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

(The ahead is a fictitious post to a ficticious messageboard. Any person, living or dead, who you may think is being depicted in this post probably isn't. I'm not that clever.)

What do you think?
Dear Messageboard

My husband's family have control issues and I think I am losing my mind from the scuttlebutt of his "old mates".

Long story.  Sorry.  I don't want to drip feed.

I am a somewhat older mum - usual story.  Took some time to deal with my rather perculiar paternal family, married the wrong bloke, work got interesting.

(Honestly, if you want an hour on a therapist's couch - my father is the sort of man that I would NEVER EVER marry, busy marrying every second bimbo who fall into the category of obviously would - what my mother saw in him I will never know - and spawning all of these siblings who - well - I can only say thank god I had Mom.  Shiver)

So I met DH through friends - honestly, he was a prince among all others - he listened, he was quiet and deferential, he seemed to really GET ME.  His brother was okay - a bit stuffy with a wife who was, at the time - friendly but reserved.  I got the feeling I was invading her turf, but then, my then boyfriend had been single a while and sort of an extra setting at their place a bit, so she was probably entitled to feel that way.

We really GOT each other.  And you know, my (and his) body clock was ticking and given the complete noneties on one side of my family tree, his extended family seemed quite interesting - right there for each other, you know?

Anyway, his dad was quite gung-ho for the whole thing - his first wife - the boys' mother - died when they were quite young but he had finally found happiness again when he rekindled with an old flame when the boys reached adulthood.  Step-mom is lovely - apparently she had a few issues fitting in to the family at first but each family has its wrinkles, it seems.  I think he is a bit of a romantic at heart, the old man.

Well, that was then.

Since then - its been horrible.

First, there are all these people who knew him from when he was a little boy pecking at me day in day out - if I didn't know better, I would say its almost what schizophrenia feels like, all these little voices chattering to fill the void, over and over about everything.

Ridiculous stuff, too.

"Her nails are too long - the wrong colour - the wrong shape - held at the wrong angle to the scapular on the vestry"

"What is she wearing?  Designer clothes?  An old ring?  Foundation?  Perfume that her SIL despises?"

"Did she look at him okay?  Was that for reassurance?  Reprimand?  Retribution?  Did her lips move?  Did his?"

It got worse.  Apparently these people speculate about everything.  Who his father is.  How his mother died.  What he wore to a uni party.  (Admittedly that was big time dumb.  He told me about it once and just was gobsmacked - but considering his family).  Whether his SIL felt overshadowed by me.  (Really - we laughed about that at first, but then I got to thinking - huh?  She stopped calling me soon after that, so maybe she is a bit insecure.)

And of course, then my own father added fuel to the flames.

What a cretin.  And that waste of space that is - well, most of my siblings really.  The kept telling these people all of this stuff - most of it made up, you know, the sort of stuff they did when I couldn't be bothered with them when I was a teenager and they were trying to gross out my friends.

Thank god for Mom.  Actually she is pretty gobsmacked at the whole thing too.  She is normally so zen and together, but she can only do very limited contact with these people - my dad's or my husband's.

And of course, we got pregnant.  Absolutely over the moon about it - it was straight away, of course, but you know, what with statistics and that, we had no time to waste.  And oh, the baby is so gorgeous.  A little boy.  Just DH and Mom with me and we all just kept on falling in love.  I just wanted to sit there and adore him.

And all of these people just want want want want want.  You think the vaccination conversation is a hard one with in-laws, try doing it through their rather convoluted method of chinese whispers and implied meaning - and if you ever tried to say anything head-on to any of them, you get "well, DH's grandfather's godfather got blown up by terrorists so this is how we protect ourselves" which really kyboshes whooping cough as a topic.

But all these people - its hard to describe them - if you ask them to back off, they say "well, you knew of our existence when you married him so sucks to be you" and they truly think they are right - so much so, I am starting to think I should have run early.  They are truly sick.

But it shouldn't have to be this way.  I see other family's resolving stuff and allowing people to live their own lives, but I see this one and I just can't deal with it any more.

I just want to take my baby and run away - I want DH to run away with me - go to near my mom.  She will help with the bub while I get my old job - well something like it - back and DH can find out what he wants to be (he worked in the family business - they won't like it if he resigns).

What would you do?

Friday, January 10, 2020

In which the cat, the computer and the cunning of a 10 year old are all discussed

Eddie-cat is beside me, yelling that he has not been fed to the full quota for a gentleman cat of certain years.  

(this photo is obviously from Christmas rather than today.  This is his "nothing to look at here" pose as he dreams of days when that red bauble would be far more enticing)


He was lying, of course, with a half-bowl of food disregarded because it was on the wrong side of the bowl.

I, his slave, turned his bowl around for him.




I watched a video on Facebook recently that really made me think about various conversations that I have had with my mother over the years in regard to technology.

My mum was a pioneer in computers in our region, really.  We had a computer in the early 80s that was the same prices as a small car and you needed to park it to switch in on or off.

I was blessed with her genes, and cursed too - for I get to watch my future at times.

I love my mum to pieces, and sometimes she is akin to her own mother, the lovely Marty, who made us all laugh with her antics.

One Saturday morning she rang me with a curious problem.

Her computer screen display was upside down.


She is a lady "old enough to be my mother" whose cataracts at the time were no longer cateracting as best they ought, whose growing distrust of the industry spawning the inbuilt longevity-issues with her technology choices (with good, and well-delivered tales of plausibility) - and NOW with a very visual "take that" from the Universe - so she rang me over the landline to discuss solutions.

This was an interesting problem from my point of view, mainly because (a) I could only advise based on the information that she was able to give me, and (b) knowing that technology EXISTS - BASIC technology exists whereby she could have SHOWN me the problem and I could have possibly offset the frustration of having to describe to her what she had to do IN REVERSE and MIRROR TEXT - but of course, hindsight is 2020.

(And yes, welcome to the first, and only, 2020 joke of the year.  We will now resume normal transmission)

and (c) then you have to convert it to Windows 7.

Anyhow, Mum, Ronny Chieng's mum isn't as awesome as you.  I am sure that I would hold state secrets.

(Oh, and he probably - okay, he does, he swears.  I agree, there is too much gratuitous swearing these days - yes, those days too but not the same and not as much.)

(But he is funny.)

 





I don't know how it got to this, but Paris is now 10 years old and part of her wants to be a You Tuber.  

We who must be obeyed are not so enamoured of that idea as she is...

She is also getting to an age where the more not enamoured her parents are to an idea, 
the more she wants to argue about clinging to that idea 

and so to offset that we pretend not to be even noticing or flinching when she brings up the concept 

desparately hoping that any slight cessation of hounding either means 

  • she is over this particular phase 
  • OR she too is foxing her disdain to offset our disdain to counteract - well, you get the picture (or maybe you need a diagram)

The worst bit is, there are moments in the marvellous clamours and defense strategies of this child that are sharp well-defined memories of myself at that age.

I had a bit of a reputation for being always up for an argument.

But it took me years to perfect the art-form and how to make it work in real life.

And I want to impart the knowledge that I have gained so she can shortcut all the fruitless arguments in her future...

and all she wants to do is to argue with me.

And I will give her this.

She is gooo-ood.

Its not all arguing, though.  She also negotiates.


Last night, she discovered that Mummy had accessed the leftover Christmas goodies, and put aside two small chocolates to reward herself with post the "sitting outside the bedroom door and avoid coversations raised by a 10 year old and hopefully BORE HER to sleep" labour of love.

She DEMANDED that I sign an IOU ON THE SPOT - that she be given a chocolate the next morning from the stash.  She grabbed a tissue and, without even unfolding it, took a pen and WROTE OUT AN IOU - with space for me to sign and for her to witness my signature.

I signed, of course.  It saved an argument.

What was the FIRST THING that she did on waking this morning?

Presented me with my IOU.

The worst thing is, those two bits of chocolate?


Disappointing. 

(Mmm - but the one I had just then was pretty good actually.  Note to self.  Brown wrapper.)




Happy new year all.  Its been a big one so far.  How about you?