Toward the final curtain G

It was suggested that since the disruption – whatever it was – at the hotel,  did not really affect me, it seems a little excessive to be changing hotels because of that.  Well, yes, up to a point that’s true, but I stay there because it is conveniently  close to the road leading directly to the South Eastern Freeway.  Mount Gambier is five hours

and that’s what matters
I miss my dog when I am away.

away. A long drive on a country road after the freeway exit. Not the sort of roads you travel when you are sleepy. (no road is!!)  Not getting enough sleep before setting out and getting tired along the way puts me and other road users at risk. I need the rest, so if my Little Park Bench is not providing that, I need to be somewhere that will. As for Mount Gambier itself, I have already decided on a new hotel. I have had a few problems with the present set-up, so It needs to be changed.

The weather since I came home, has been cold, wet and windy. All the work that I did, before I left for Mount Gambier, clearing up the leaves and a general tidy up, has all gone for nothing and the place look just as untidy as it was before I started. The next few days, with a combination of high temperatures and north winds is not looking too great.  I have the feeling that the lady’s coffee morning on Wednesday may well be called off. Annabell is talking about not going to the hospital tomorrow afternoon, which is fair enough. It is for physiotherapy and not really a medical necessity.  I also believe that I was right and the  Coffee Morning on Wednesday  is  cancelled – oh well, so much for my quiet time :o)

The morning began well and Benji and I went for our morning walk without any concern. The temperature was fine and we completed the walk  and back home for a treat and coffee ( the coffee for me!) . It is supposed to be 37c today (Tuesday)  but I expect that will happen sometime during the day. But at the moment (11am) I really don’t see it happening, but you never know with this weather. It was not bad enough for Annabell to not go to the hospital, but we didn’t linger and came directly home.

Wednesday and the temperature is forecast to reach 44+c today.   The temperature didn’t reach the forecast 37c  yesterday and peaked at 32c. Today over 100 schools have been closed in South Australia  today due to

temperature of 44+c and high winds leading to a “catastrophic” fire danger.  We are not included in the school closure list, so none of our schools will be closed for the day.  I took Benji out for our walk this morning. I re-set the alarm from 5:45  to 5:30, and 15 minutes can make a great difference –  and it did today. We were on the road for 5:45 and, although it was light, the sun didn’t show his face until we were less than 100 yards from home.  It is now 10;30 am and I have stopped working outside. Not that I am too concerned about the sun and the heat but I am concerned about Benji. I go outside – he comes outside and, really, it is far too hot for him to sit in the sun, and it’s too risky with the wind to put the shade umbrella up. So here we are.  And before you suggest it, yes I could close the doors and not let him come out, but given he is my dog and he likes to be with me, it is not really a solution. Better I stay inside and let him keep me company  :o) . At the moment it is about 36C and the wind is starting to build up somewhat.  Given that it is a hot wind I expect the temperature to exceed the forecast 44c  ( it did!)

Thursday:  Good walk this morning. I have gotten into the habit of feeding the Magpies. I  bought a box of oat biscuits (cookies) and when I pass the Magpies I crumble a couple in my hand and drop the bits for them. I look back further on and see them eating. We also saw two kangaroos – a big one ( and I mean BIG) and a smaller one further

Dust storm further north (not my photograph)

on. First time I have seen kangaroos in the area for a while since the rain has produced sufficient feed and water for them out bush although it is starting to dry up now. I get  comments when I suggest the temperature “crashed” to 23c, but I  suppose I could just say “dropped” but that really does not convey the massive change in temperature that occurs. Wednesday 46c  – Thursday 21c and 21 is cool –  less is cold and the wind changes to the south – which is a cool to cold wind.  It all be verra confusing…  LOL

Beach, Wetlands and Dougal is Back

Benji at the Beach

On Friday I set out to Port Augusta -80 klms away. Annabell had been sent a cheque from the UK and  it was in  Pounds Stg.  – no one here would even look at it because it was a foreign currency cheque. Added to the fact that it was a crossed cheque, meant that the trip to our branch in Port Augusta and back  was necessary.  We set off around 9:30 – oh “We” that’s me and Benji not me and Annabell – but I did the medication in her eyes before we left. Benji really likes road trips. He gets his car harness on, is clipped into the seat and he settles down. He watches me just to make sure I am concentrating on driving and not being distracted. We have this all worked out, I drive, he supervises – it’s a good arrangement.

The bank was a great help even if it did take up more than an hour of our time. The cheque had to be  confirmed by Adelaide which required  a confirmation email, paperwork to sign and wait. Left said bank,  got Benji out

The Feral Geese at the Wetlands.

of the car and took him for a short walk. Back to the car, seat belt on and I went back to the bank. The email had arrived from Adelaide  and I had to sign an agreement that meant I paid the fee of $15 for the clearing of the cheque and the depositing of same in Annabell’s account.   That done, I drove round to Big W and did some shopping, then went for some lunch. I had  fresh cooked chips (French Fries- sort of) and a bottle of water. The Benji had   cooked Chicken and share of my water. I have a collapsible silicone bowl that I keep in the car for just such times   We sat on a bench at the jetty and watched the world.  That done, another short walk then headed for home. I would liked to have stopped in at the Arid Lands Botanic Garden, but no dogs are allowed, so that was out.

Nice Day – Empty Beach

This afternoon- Sunday – we took a walk down to the beach. I didn’t stay there long because I only had a single waste bag with me and the Council have not seen fit to replace the bag dispensers. The area was almost empty. There was a few children in the new  play area with parents  close beside on benches, but otherwise, not busy at all. As you can see from the photograph that the beach is all but deserted I used the bag I had and decided to drive back to the wetlands. The wetlands has become very popular and the Kiosk was  crowded again. I managed to get a place in the car park, got some bags from the dispenser and set off.  Like Friday, it was another warm and sunny day – bit cool at times but generally a good day for walking. We did find the  birds. I have asked some people who know these things and I am informed that the birds are “Feral Geese, Domestic, Non-Native” No one seems very sure where they came from, but they are there and settled in by the looks of things. Apart from the geese there are Muscovy Ducks and  an interesting little bird – black and white with long pink legs – which I discovered are called Black Neck Stilts – apparently native to much of the USA but we do have them here in Australia..

Annabell is improving, just in nice time for the grocery shopping tomorrow. She goes to the supermarket, I do all the other jobs, post office; newsagent,: chemist then meet up with her

Dougal at the beach

to help her  finish off and then checkout.  After that – generally a coffee before we head home.  Ina has has to be taken to Adelaide for  check-up and more tests. She is not a well lady. Sam is taking her down tomorrow (Wednesday) and later on this afternoon he will bring Dougla round here. Annabell and I will look after him until they get home – they hope Friday but probably Saturday. I don’t mind, Dougal is no trouble and he and Benji get on well together.

Dougal came to visit not long after I brought Annabell back from her Coffee Morning, and after a little while I got  both Benji and Dougal  ready and took them down to the Wetlands. We had a good wander around the wetlands and although it had been my intention to stop off at the Kiosk, the fact that there were people with dogs there already deterred me from doing that. However, we did go down to the foreshore and had a wander and a play on the beach.  I understand that Yogi is not a well dog at the moment. I hope he gets better soon. Still, he has a good Vet. – not the same Vet as Benji, but a good Vet.

The Sands of Time and a Crazy (Confused) Dog

Our Local Hospital

Tomorrow (Saturday)  my son and I along with another person will be running an RFDS fundraising event at a local hardware store:      We did this and I tell you it was the coldest I have ever been all winter – thus far. It was freezing cold down there with practically no shelter from a cold, biting  wind. I did have a jacket on but it was a light jacket and not a lot of help. Still we got through the day. Otherwise it has been a pretty quiet week.  Last week one of the coffee days was cancelled because of the lack of numbers and the evening group has also dropped in numbers – not quite as bad as the Wednesday morning group, but still down from when I set up this place for them coming here. I set out the room for seventeen ladies now there are only about 11 of them. This week  Annabell will be part of the missing number as she drops out for the two meetings. On Monday (tomorrow) I have to take her to hospital for 7am and she will undergo an eye operation.  It’s day surgery and she should be out in about three hours and I’ll take her

It’s all go around here today

home and watch over her for the rest of the day.  I was told  for at least 24 hours after the  surgery. I am also responsible for getting the drops into her eye three times a day. I was given instructions about washing hands before administrating the eye drops, use A bottle first – wait ten minutes, wash hands (in case I may have touched something)  and use the B bottle. I have to administer the first bottle for a week only and the second until finished. So, for the next week or so I am Chief Cook – and bottle washer, as well as being chauffeur, although  my driving duties are somewhat curtailed until such time as she can go out without dark glasses.

You gotta love the timing –  as I am in the process of re-decorating  and painting. I did stop painting for a few days whilst she recovered but I am back into it again and hope to have everything finished by this evening. True,  I get almost as much paint on me as I do on the walls, but  still, I find it enjoyable and therapeutic  with the added joy of pulling one end of the

At the Wetlands a few days ago

blue masking tape and watch it all fall off.    I know, I know – small things and all that  :o)  I did finish the painting this evening. cleared up and tidied up put things back together for the moment until everything has to be moved for the new floor covering to be laid.  Presently I am sitting in front of the computer with a coffee which I will sip quietly whilst contemplating Annabell”s  words to me – “You know the bathroom is looking a little jaded. Could do with a lick of paint”.

Nice Day.

I had come to the end but something happened this morning that I want to mention. Because of the painting I had taken Benji’s bed into my room and that’s where he slept these last few nights. Generally he  sleeps at my back so I felt a little bit abandoned. Anyway, I got up this morning and made ready to take him out. He didn’t want to go. Fair enough, it was a tad cold. Sat at the computer and after a few minutes he started pawing at me. I asked him if he wanted to go out – the ears came up and the tail wagged, so I took that as a yes and off we went. We walk some 1.75 miles in the early morning, come home and he has his after walk treat, then he heads to bed. He wandered over to the area where his bed generally is – no bed.. So I  took him through to my room  and he went into his bed. I left the room, he followed and went back to sniffing the area where his bed should be. I think there might have been some message in this so I went to the room (he followed) picked up his bed, brought it back to where  is should have been.  He had a sniff, jumped into his bed and promptly went to sleep. Perhaps it’s me! Perhaps I’m just a slow learner and should have realised that the bed should have been available right after he had taken his human for a walk.  It’s a worry.

An interesting week and a Survivor.

Part of the Wetlands today (Monday)

After  our shopping trip this morning, (Monday) I helped Annabell get things sorted out them took Benji off to the Wetlands. It has been very cold here these last two days and this morning Benji  didn’t want to get out of bed and go for a walk in the cold at 6am. With the temperature at -2,  I can’t say I blame him, so we didn’t go and stayed in the room with the heater on. By the time I took him to the Wetlands

Benji at the Wetlands

it was a bit warmer and he was quite happy to  go out. We had a good walk  around the wetlands – bit of a breeze and cool, but not too bad. The Kiosk is closed down for alterations but it should be up and running again shortly. The rain the other week has helped to make the wetlands look a bit more visually pleasing – as you can see – but we do need a lot more rain. In our walks recently there have been a lot of Kangaroos wandering about looking for water again. They have even been seen in Nicolson Avenue, which is a fairly busy road. At the moment it is a fairly mild day in that the last few days have been mornings of  – degrees while today (Tuesday)  was 4c,  still a bit on the cold side but ok for a morning walk. Benji and I will be out and about most of this week as we endeavor to keep out of Annabell’s way. This weekend in the Ladies Brunch, so she will be busy baking in the kitchen. Apart from keeping out of the way,  Benji and I will be ‘gofers’ and drive to the various shops to get anything she needs, if and when she needs it.

Went for a walk to the Wetlands this afternoon and  had coffee in the Kiosk with Jennifer, Milan and Max.   The usual sniffs but at least  Benji didn’t snarl at Max and we had a peaceful time with coffee and scones. The day was warm and sunny and 21c but I can see that already the water  is starting to evaporate. There is supposed to be some rain on Saturday – in nice time for the cuttlefish and the Cake Stall – will not interfere with what Annabell and the ladies at the Ladies brunch but it could interfere with both the RFDS events.

Rejoice with me!  Today is Friday – the end of the week – an entire week without a single hospital visit nor a doctor visit. Is that something  to rejoice about or what! Next week is different, and will include an ECG for her,  but we’ll deal with that when it’s next week. In the meantime, it’s been a good week.  Saturday and it’s all happening. It’s 6:30am today is the Cuttlefish diving, the RFDS Catering out there, the RFDS Cake Stall at the Hardware store and the Ladies Brunch — and —- it’s chucking it down. Isn’t that fun. It will be ok for the Cuttlefish Divers, they are going to get wet anyway, the ladies Brunch will be indoors, but the Cake Stall and the Cuttlefish Catering are currently at risk. Right at the moment I am being hassled  but I am not taking him walking in the heavy rain, so he can just go

The last surviving Mandevilla.

back to his bed for a bit;.

The rain faded away by about 7:30 and it turned out a fine day – almost. Everything went well, the Cuttlefish Catering, The  Cake Stall and the Ladies Brunch. The cuttlefish catering we wont know until  the  end of today and we get the two days  and the cake stall calculated. The Ladies Brunch was good but not as good as it has been. We think there was just too much on this weekend – something the ladies are going to have consider if they decide to continue next year. I did say almost a fine day since the rain came back about 3pm but only in the form of a few quick showers. Not enough to cause much concern. The Cake Stall had sold everything by 11:30 and they had nearly three full tables of home baking – and it all went.

Taken at 10am as the heavy, wet mist was  slowly clearing.

Tomorrow (Monday 1st July) is the AGM of the RFDS here and my last  time as Secretary. There is some doubt as to whether or not  the  Secretary Elect will  go forward to election but either way, I will not. The Secretary elect was elected as Secretary but not without some controversial maneuvering. Members of the “In Group” wanted their man to be Secretary but the  Coordinator from Central Operations in Adelaide who was chairing the meeting, ruled this as Out Of Order, since the person concerned was not at the meeting and therefore unable to agree or not to his election.   Oh, yes, and we were told at the meeting that the RFDS Jet, which was to make a visit to each of the areas, will not be coming. Central Operations decided to  send the Jet to the properties of each of the major corporate sponsors instead and since it is now in operation, there is not time for any regional visits.

The May Travels

I miss my dog when I am away.

Sunday: Annabell is much better today. The antibiotic kicked in and she is a lot better than she was last night. She has to take the second antibiotic this evening and we will go see the doctor tomorrow. I am feeling much more relaxed than I was  yesterday. When we returned from the hospital I called the boys and asked them not to come over on Sunday as normal. They were concerned but agreed. Sadly this means that we didn’t get to see the Grandson this week Annabell has been having a  difficult time of late but hopefully this infection has been the underlying cause and, with a treatment of antibiotics,  we should be able to get on top of that fairly  quickly – or so I am told.

Thursday: I headed off to Naracoorte to the quarterly  conference. The boys kept an eye on Annabell whilst I was away. I was very late in leaving mainly because I had appointment with my cardiologist at 10am and I  could not afford to miss that. This was a long  appointment in that it lasted a whole 15 minutes when it normally lasts 10 minutes. I am well and everything is as it should be so really it was just an ECG and then a quick chat about how things were and the fact that he continues to be pleased. I don’t see him again for a year. By the time I reached Adelaide it was late in the afternoon and it took me some time to get clear of bank business before I got into town. I did get some shopping done for Annabell but by and large I  booked into my hotel and stayed there. It was a cold, wet and miserable trip down – rained most of the way, and it was Thursday – no late night shopping in the city. I slept well enough and after booking out set off to the South-Eastern Freeway towards Murray Bridge and then Tailem Bend. Cold, and miserable and the weather was not great either!!  I bought the car in the summer and was more concerned with the A/C – never thought much about the heating — well, you don’t when the outside temperature is 41c.  I practically  froze  on the drive from Adelaide to Tailem Bend. I did have some hot food there before continuing on to my next overnight stay. Here I really had problems in that I was not, for reasons unknown, booked in. Every cabin was taken and I was offered the bunkhouse which consisted of a

I often wonder how she is.

room with two bunk beds, one on top of the other) a fridge and a small tv (that didn’t work) It was a broom cupboard with bunks.  The kitchen was about 200 yards in one direction and the facilities 150 in another direction. I discovered what a great thrill it was to walk two hundred yards, rugged up against the cold and the rain, plus the same distance back, to make a mug of coffee. The discussion of the facilities is not for gentlefolk, so we just wont go there I did not have a shower in the morning. I did have a rubdown with a cold, damp facecloth and when I drove the last distance to the conference I stopped off in town, bought myself a pair of gloves and  deodorant. I have to be truthful and say that yes it was a broom cupboard, but the bunkbed was comfortably and I slept well. Both meetings were poorly attended and only half of the commissioners were present. Still more than enough to hold the meetings. I got my books attested and signed fairly early on and I did the books of two other places. I had hoped to be clear by 3:30 but if not I would simply stay there in town and head for Adelaide in the morning. As it happened, the lack of numbers meant that we concluded business by 2:45 and I hit the road. I wanted to reach Tailem Bend before dark, and I did. I pulled into the River Edge Caravan Park and  I was allocated a lovely cabin overlooking the River Murray. On a really nice day it would be very pleasant to sit outside in one of the chairs  and watch the river and the birds – all very relaxing.

Promotion, Fund-raising and Aeromedical Jet

Part of the Team at  OTR / with Ambulance Service.

It’s been a very busy end to the week. Thursday  we were involved in a promotion with the opening of the new  On The Run (OTR) Service Station. OTR are one of the sponsors of the Royal Flying Doctor Service so we help them out but we also have the opportunity to promote the RFDS. The OTR is the “home”of the Krispy Kreme Donuts, which we gave away for free on opening day. Personally I don’t like them. They are great in most people’s eyes and I know people in Adelaide that go for them in a big way, but I find them just a tad too sweet for my taste. But we had a good day – talked to a lot of people and gave out flyers . On Friday the Prime Minister visited the Governor-General and  a General Election was called for the 18th May, so we can expect the letterboxes to be crammed with election material for the next weeks. Friday I  took Annabell to the doctor for a check-up, called John (my son) and reminded  of the RFDS Fundraiser on Saturday. Spent the afternoon working in the garage. Saturday morning I decided to have some time off so, I did not set the alarm and slept until almost 6:30. The dogs slept too and we didn’t go for our walk until almost 7am.

The dogs are well and enjoyed the walk this morning. It was interesting in that everything was quiet. Generally it’s still dark when we go out but it was light today and perhaps the other dogs were asleep which means that Dougal didn’t go ballistic like he general does if he hears a bark – or, indeed, any undetermined noise.  The Kangaroos  were few and far between this morning but  because it was light I saw for the first time some of the damage the Kangaroos had caused. I have walked the same area for a long time and watched it change over the years. I have watched a man  lay in concrete slabs and  edging to mark out his lawn area, cover the area in new topsoil, plant seed and water the area ( got wet a couple of times) and watched the grass take root and  finally become a nice lawn, which,  thanks to the Kangaroos, is in the process of being destroyed.  I can understand the frustration that must be involved here, but I still think leaving out water for them is the right things to do.

The New RFDS ICU Jet.

We did fairly well at the fundraiser  today. Started at 9am and finished at 1pm. It was interesting in that a number of people wanted to ask about the new RFDS  aircraft – the world’s first – and at the moment, only – aeromedical Jet – a Flying Intensive Care Unit. We wont see this here and it will be used for the long haul runs to the far north of the State.  At the meeting last week were were  told of the Whyalla Child Care Center.  This Center, like  a number of places, is on the flight path to the airport and every day the children see the RFDS Aircraft fly overhead. They sort of adopted the RFDS and some of the children said they wanted to be nurses and  go on the aircraft, some wanted to be pilots and one wanted to be a

Friends together.

doctor for the RFDS. Knowing the children like to play with boxes, one of the mothers brought in some empty boxes. The children made their very own RFDS aircraft and since they see it every day, they new which colours to use.  We thought this was fantastic and contacted Central Operations, who were very impressed. They sent me up a box of balloons, wrist bands, colour-in pages and a heap of put together  aircraft.

Annabell had a telephone call from Ina in Adelaide. I was out with the dogs at the time but Annabell says she was sounding really good and she hopes

to be back home in  about ten days. This means that Dougal might not be with us for more that another week or so – if Ina is correct. Not that I want to see him go, really, but Benji has been a bit odd this time – have no idea why. They have not been fighting or causing concern. apart from two spats, but that happens. Perhaps Benji doesn’t want to share anymore, whatever the reason, it feels different this time.

Lighthouse, Wetlands and Spencer Gulf

Benji at the lighthouse.

Friday 22nd. Just after lunch I  put a blanket over the front seat in the car, strapped Benji in and off we went to the Lighthouse. It was a lovely day, warm but not hot, so it was a comfortable ride for the 24 miles. Of course, with the air conditioner on it would have been a comfortable ride anyway, but he did what he usually does, curl up facing me and  have a nap. We spent some time wandering about and it was good for us to be out and about again after all the hot weather we have had recently.

We came back home by way of the town center and I  went into the lolly shop and bought 250gms of sugared almonds, because I knew she had them in for the first time in a long time. I know, but it’s my indulgence and they remind me of my childhood in Scotland – every lovely crunch of them. In the evening, after the news, I took Benji down to the wetlands. It’s been a while since we were there. To say I was shocked is an understatement. The amount of water loss is incredible. With the continued drought and the fact that there is no

The loss of water at the wetlands

water going into the system, this, plus the water going out to water the trees, lawns and plants has really taken its toll. Having said that, it did rain for a bit last night and although it rained for several hours, it was fairly light rain and didn’t make a lot of difference to anything.

Today both Annabell and I are  exhausted.  The family at the back of us were having an 18th Birthday Party. The father came around and told his neighbours  what was going to happen and said he would try and keep the music to a reasonable level. Well, that was a lie right there! He did  indicate that they were going to play music, but they didn’t. I don’t know what the heck it was they played but music it was not – it was just a thump, thump, thump. My son follows Iron Maiden, and some other sort of heavy metal and though I  don’t like to admit it, it is music – of a sort – but this last night, until 2am was just a continual thump, thump, thump. I almost took a serious dislike when the alarm went off at 6am. I did not have

The Spencer Gulf at the Lighthouse.

a good night, but Benji and I went out for our walk in the calm,  early, cloud covered morning. Today was the Congregation Annual General Meeting, so  church was well over two hours long. I think Annabell is resting – good for her. We go back to the doctor this week and we expect he will increase the  amount of her insulin again. At the moment she is not too bad, but  the readings are still higher than he would like.  ( He did increase the  level to 17ml.)

The drought continues to bite in the north of South Australia and over in Victoria. There has also been high and strong winds that have  turned the bare paddocks into dust bowls and animals are starting to perish for lack of food and water and the dust that gets everywhere – into the animal eyes and mouth. There’s not a lot of help being handed out. Must have looked away for a moment and when I looked back, March is just about finished and we are rushing towards April. Today – Thursday 28th –  Dougal is coming to stay for a little while. I have no idea how long this time as Ina is still in a Respite Center outside of Adelaide.

Under our system, you can qualify for traveling assistance if you have to travel for treatment.  The hospital at the Port does not have Nuclear Medicine facilities – our hospital does. So  this lady had to travel from Port Augusta to Whyalla for treatment –  a distance of 80 klms. ( 160kms round trip) She does not quality for assistance because the cut off point is 100 klms.  This lady is traveling 160 klms twice a week for treatment but does not  receive assistance. This was highlighted with the  Minister for Health and he  agrees that many of the  rules were made to  apply to Adelaide not the country areas. He has promised to have a look and overhaul where necessary.