Sunday, June 16, 2013

Nuclear waste.... dump on Muckaty

Meanwhile back in Darwin the gang were getting down at the Music for Muckety protest rally. Here's a couple of the banners Sam whipped up.

muckaty post

Muckaty poster

Here's a little Japanese Reggae from Rankin Taxi to help you ponder life in a nuclear waste dump....

...meanwhile the stinging irony bites me in the ass as I consider how many x-rays and radiology scans I've had in the past three weeks! 

Bikeless in Melbourne

Tomorrow I will attempt to leave Melbourne... (I've been told it may be difficult without medical clearance to fly... but I'm hoping I won't be asked.)

Although my mobility has been fairly restricted I have actually enjoyed walking. Today I visited some Darwin Friends who live down here half the time. They live in Montmorency, not far from the Plenty river... I was offered a ride home but passed it up preferring to walk back along the river.

Here's a few snap shots from my walk... Along the way I passed two footy matches which might have made my photo journal more interesting... but I don't care much about football so all I've got to show is green trees and brown river shots.

Plent River in flow
River frontage
These days Plenty River is often dry... but when it flows the old charm returns

Old Greensborough pool
This section of the river, once the public swimming pool is not so attractive as it was

2013-06-15 15.45.43
Swing bridge to Partington Flat. Football game in progress
Bless this River... She has been abused and neglected but she still carries life.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Transport Safety message with Zing

While in Melbourne I'd been noticing these strange posters on billboards and walls around train stations.
The posters had a variety of cartoon figures in various states of ill health, from decapitation to being bitten on the face by a snake... All of the posters have the same slogan...  "Dumb Ways to Die..."
I didn't get it... What are they selling? Every time I saw one of those posters my curiosity bugged the hell out of me!

Teach yourself to fly - (pretty much how I landed my bike!)

Conditional use of railways- With some safety advice thrown in

Wipe away the spew? (sorry about the reflection)

Completely bored stiff one day last week I decided to open some old youtube notifications. Up pops Emily Lubitz (Tinpan Orange) singing a song..."Dumb Ways to Die"...(with an impromptu ref to a beverage at the end). I listen... Its cool so off I go and finally search the title and discover another 'official' video with over 45 million hits! Emily has hit the big time!

According to Wikipedia:
" Dumb Ways to Die is a public service announcement campaign by Metro Trains in Melbourne, Australia to promote rail safety. The campaign went viral through sharing and social media starting in November 2012."

Not being from Melbourne or connected by any regular media to the cultural Mecca, I'd never heard of this campaign. It's a weird way to promote safety on the railways but with over 45 million hits on youtube. (Not counting hits on the Official site, They must be reaching their audience.)

For me this campaign is just a little too close to home! After crashing my bike badly in a stupid accident which could well have been avoided I am now condemned to use public transport where I am constantly reminded that my accident would have qualified me for inclusion in that stupid bloody song!!

My current status...? Can't drive, can't ride, can't fly... Condemned to trudging around Melbourne in the cold twilight, waiting at deserted windy railway stations surrounded by public safety adds reminding me of what a looser I am... And to top it off I have the voice of my favorite female singer confirming this perpetually like a broken record in my head! Emily if we ever happen to meet on a lonely railway station on a cold and windy night... Please forgive me if I slink quietly away nursing my fractured hand and hiding my wounded pride.....

Oh yeh... Nice performance on Rockwiz by the way.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Post-Op Euphoria

Surgery complete!
(A one handed journal entry)

Many an undaunted Valkyrie has held my fate this past week. God bless em all! 

5:45am  - Wake to the sound of my mobile phone alarm. Get dressed sit quietly on the end of my bed... Thank the almighty for the taste of air.

6:30am - My friend and all-round good guy Graham pulls up outside in the dark... He's my ride to the hospital. He cracks a few jokes, reminds me I'm gonna be sore when I wake and drops me at the door of the hospital with a good luck handshake and a smile. "Call me when you're ready to go home!"

7:00am - Admission processing with a bunch of other day surgery  patients... Stand on the scale, answer the questions, wait... How long? Who knows how long we'll be waiting? I'm told it could be all day.
I look around at the other patients. No one screaming or crying... everyone is fairly comfortable. I settle in for a long day. How did I feel this morning? ...A little bit shit actually! It's two weeks since the accident and my hand is beginning to resemble a bruised limp claw of a freshly killed chicken! Twisted, shrunken and useless! The pain had radiated from the wrist up my arm to my elbow and shoulder... "Errrrgh" 

7:30am - Called into the surgery ward for pre-op processing. Filled out paperwork, answered questions, gowned up... I don't mind the open backed hospital gowns even if the do leave the ass exposed but I felt a bit like Mardi Gras queen wearing those see through knickers! Nurse came back to inform me of the procedure once I managed to get the full kit on... (Of course with a bung hand I couldn't get the back done up but who the hell really cares about nudity in a hospital...right?) So the deal is, she says:
"You're on the emergency list for day surgery. There's a bunch of other patients on the list, you're about 6th. Some of them are serious and could take a long time, you might not be seen until tonight. Oh and if there's an emergency liver transplant day surgery will be canceled." 
"Errr.... OK." Say I, hoping that I can be treated without costing some poor beggar a liver...

8:30am -  Anesthesiologist drops by to double check my health, allergies etc... she explains the process and tells me I am now first on the list... five minutes later I'm being wheeled into theatre. Smoothly and gently the nurse slides another hollow metallic shaft through the skin and into a tributary to my heart... a mask over my mouth and nose she let the fluid flow... "Breathe deeply..." Said the nurse. My eyes wide oped I play at resisting sleep... I smell the rich chemical sleeping potion. Breathing fully, extending the abdomen holding for a second, fully exhaling, then repeating... fully conscious... I feel a queer ridiculous smile stretch across my face breaking the seal on the gas mask....

11:15am - Levitating over coral reefs in a sailing boat on a crystal sea, The Mainsail is full (actually sail looked more like a hot air balloon...Red and Yellow), we're on a close reach, gliding narrowly between the deep water and the shore...  (Colours! I thought dreams were black and white?!). First mate reclining luxuriously on the deck with a sparkling mineralwater and fruit juice pressed to her lips...(It's my wife of course!)
"Daaaavid......Daaaavid....CaN yooou hEar"  The Island starts to fade.... waves turn to foam... palm trees evaporate... girl... disapears like a genie back into her bottle.....
"David WAKE UP...." Something's not right!
"What the F#*!" Someone is calling me! I clutch at the remains of paradise as the last grains of sand slip through my fingers... sea wisps into a vapor and then gone... I hear my name again... I think I'm somewhere else.....
"David can you hear me?" Oh... I realize I am being woken up.... I'm in hospital... 'Did I miss the operation?' **Pain throbs through my left hand**  'Nope... I must have slept right through it!'
I respond to the voice.... "Yes... I can hear you, I'm wake..."

11:30am - They bring me a glass of water, then a coffee and sandwich... I sit quietly on the edge of my bed... The dream gone but the warm happy feeling remains... I feel a strange sense of compassion and affection for everyone... I want to hug my surgeons, nurses and everyone... Of course I don't see any of them after the operation and Hospital staff rarely have time for human interactions with patients. Probably not a good idea anyway, since my gown has been removed and all I'm wearing is my see through paper panties! Soon I am given permission to get dressed, I do so clumsily and sit quietly on the edge of my bed until I am released.

12:00pm - My poor mum turns up on the ward to spring me from hospital. I'm out! It's only midday and it's all over!

Came home to blue flowers... maybe this is the unreality?
Dad drove us home where I have spent the rest of the day in some kind of drug induced euphoria! I have a fair bit of pain in my hand now but no anxiety, no restlessness. It's now 9pm and I haven't looked longingly out the window once in the whole day... I've made a few phone calls to close friends I'd forgotten to appreciate due to my various distracted longings... What has happened to me? I feel content! What a strange feeling this is! How long it's been since I was here...

A parcel arrived today... mail order hamper from my darlings in Darwin... Byron Bay coffee, Siena Panforte cake from Trentham Tucker and a bunch of other treats to share! Instinct tells me this is dangerous territory. Just a couple of days ago I was massively depressed now I am elated... Who knows what tomorrow will bring.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Walking in Melbourne

A rough outline of city walk 10/06/13

Being stuck in Melbourne, unable to drive and worse still forbidden from riding a bike I have been desperate for some kind of physical activity. It's taken me nearly two weeks to feel OK about doing anything at all but rest will only get you so far! At some point the body must have movement in order to recover!

A long time friend of the family likes walking so I asked if he'd bring me next time he goes... I thought we'd be bush walking so when he called he told me to meet him at Jolimont station at 10:30am...  for a city walk I was a little surprised.

Well beggars can't be choosers! I rode the train to Jolimont Station, hopped off facing the gates of the MCG.
We walked Fitzroy Gardens and up to the Queen Victoria Markets, which are very much the same as they have always been... crowded and full of tourists. My favorite spot at the market is the Deli. Back in the good old days the Queen Vic Market was about the only place you could find European style food... (Very exotic back in the 1970s and even the 80s) a lot has changed in Australia since I was a kid, I remember when spagetti was considered foreign food.

My friend is German, he does this walk fairly regularly, the first part of the walk includes stopping at the Vic Market for a Weisswurst sausage with sauerkraut. We arrived at the vendor and 'D' walks through a throng of Chinese tourists straight to the serving area, as he orders I realize the throng was actually a queue and he had jumped it! Funny thing was that the 20 odd Chinese were all so preoccupied texting, tweeting and god knows what else they didn't even notice. I was in no mood to queue half an hour for a sausage so I kept quiet. (It was delicious by the way)

We wandered around the market for a little while but it was all so predictable and crowded! We wanted jam donuts but gave up on this idea when we saw the line of people waiting! Hot jam donuts are a real Melbourne treat but who the hell wants to stand an hour in the cold waiting for one! This is something I just don't get. There were enough customers to keep at least 3 maybe even four donut vans busy all day but there seemed to be only one donut vendor in the whole market! Someone's got this market thing all stitched up!

Leaving the market we walked down to South Bank where 100s of Yuppies enjoyed their Sunday Lunch, then crossing St Kilda Rd we walked up past the Shrine of Remembrance and through the Botanical Gardens. The gardens made news recently when a bunch of vandals got into the succulent garden and chopped up all the tall cactus trees with a machete or something. Some of the plants were 30 years old! We didn't bother gawking at the damaged plants but wandered around the various paths and checked out the ponds where I was glad to see eels had returned after the drought.

From the Gardens we crossed the Yarra and wandered back through the sporting grounds, Enormous new stadiums for soccer and tennis, then back down to the river walk where the rail-yards have been converted into parkland. I couldn't believe how Melbourne has changed since I was I kid. These were the seediest, grittiest corners of the city. Places I used to wander around, amongst the true drunken underbelly of Melbourne. The parks and gardens were once the domain of gutter drunks and hobos. I used to wag school and bring my stash down here to drink... now it's all cleaned up. Families ride bikes and have picnics, there's a children's art centre in one of the old red brick track switching houses where drunks used to sleep. Trees have been planted, grass, sculptures everything has changed... It was fascinating and very pleasant to see.

Strong Men performing at Federation Square opposite Flinders St Station

By now my back was aching... I'd slowed down a lot but was still enjoying the walk. We climbed the steps from the Yarra trail and entered federation square. An undulating cobbled surface spread out like a natural landscape on the site which was once a bland concrete rooftop! There were thousands of people in the city all eating drinking and having fun. The dark and dreary miserably empty city has gone, now the city is full of life on the weekends.

Finally we made it to a coffee shop in China town, enjoyed a reasonable brew and a Danish before heading back to Flinder's St station for the train home. Total distance walked would have been about 15 km. Finally a day out for me. Mum and Dad are completely over having me pacing the house like a caged animal.

Tomorrow I go back to the Hospital for surgery on my gimpy hand. I have two fractured bones in my wrist that are not knitting properly and have to be re-set! Damn! Still no idea about the status of my back but at least my bowel is starting to work again... nothing like a long walk to sort that out.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

On The Road...hit it hard!

I came back to Melbourne again last week to see mum before she started Chemo.
Walked most of the way from Airport to Greensborough... lost the path too many times did too many extra miles and was saved the embarrassment of quitting when my sister called and offered me a lift just before the trail ran out... ;)

Crossing Western Ring Rd

Creek reserve near Broadmeadows

A rare signposted section of track

I wish they'd painted these at intersections.... This was a fair way down the path

Locals turn roadside reserve land into orchards and veggie gardens

The path was blocked from Edgars Rd, there was nowhere to walk after this section...
Walking the Western Ring Path took me several hours I had to jump a few fences and double back a lot but the bicycle trail has some very nice sections for walking and cycling. A lot of disused land, old horse paddocks and creekside paths to explore. My legs weren't up to such a long walk after having no sleep the night before and a 2am flight but next time I'll be do better (or I'll ride. ;)


I would have posted more about this trip and earlier but while down here I had a mishap on my bike and have been unable to do much at all for the past week.

What happened? Well; determined to make the most of my time in Melbourne I decided to cycle to Ceres down on the Merry Creek. It started as a lovely ride through Greswel Forest, Bundoora, I noticed the axle nuts on my front wheel had come loose, I had no spanner so tightened as best I could by hand... (Stupid!)
Of course hand tightening is not enough for axle nuts... They loosened and as I was riding down the hill on Plenty Rd, just past the cemetery, I came over a bump and something went wrong... Cognitively I knew what went wrong but it all happened so fast I don't remember much more than thinking... "Oh shit somethings wrong..." ..........***DUSH***THUD***

I got up... spitting blood and bits of tooth from my mouth... with a heavy feeling all over. My bicycle helmet was hanging in pieces from the strap around my neck... sunglasses smashed all over the road... my bike somewhere between the curb and the middle of the road... fronth wheel somewhere else... I hit the road hard.

Thought I'd got a ticket to the Bear Mountain Picnic!

People appeared from somewhere or other and helped me to the side of the road. Somebody called an ambulance, I remember hearing them reporting that there was "blood... lots of blood..." "...err no it doesn't appear to be squirting out but it's hard to tell..."
"OK" I thought, "Stay calm. There doesn't appear to be anything sticking out of where it shouldn't... Blood is not squirting out of anywhere at a rate that can't be handled with the sleeve of a shirt... I managed to stand and walk... I think I'll be OK."

Ambulence came and took me to the Hospital where I was x-rayed and spent the next 2 days flat on my back with no food, an IV drip in my arm and a catheter carefully inserted where I'd rather it wasn't. That was a week ago today. They finally sent me home, to my parents place on Saturday where I am expected to convalesce until they deem me fit to fly home!

How do I feel? Sometimes OK. Mostly not so good. Although there was no internal bleeding in my head I am still foggy and get muddled. My back is aching, I get tired quickly and I still can't shit properly. (apparently a combination of trauma to spine and use of certain pain killers can mess up bowel function) But, it could have been much worse! If I hadn't been wearing that helmet there would have been no need for that ambulance! My injuries were minor compared to what they could have been!

2013-05-31 cycle crash
"...They unsnapped his skull cap and between his ears they saw a gap..."

I have no idea who the people were that helped me on the side of the road but I am very grateful that they did! The Paramedics in the Ambulance were first rate! Im grateful also to all the hospital staff who patched me up and provided pain relief... Thanks to Pete the orderly who took me for my x-rays and provided me with some real human interaction! A big thanks to the Nurses who rolled me onto my side, gave me a back rub and a flannel bath... that was strangely pleasant.

Thanks also to the great spirit who fucks with me from time to time and stops me in my tracks, when I think I'm calling the shots! I'm sure I must have missed your subtler messages... ;)
I guess I must be needed here for a while. I can spend some time with my folks while mum commences her chemotherapy.