May 2015

So, where were we? Yes, Buddy and Angel were collected at about 11:30, as Ken had been seriously delayed by the weather conditions. I have never before heard of the apparently famous “East Coast Low Pressure System”, which when it forms, behaves like a teenager, and just hangs around and dumps on you. The rainfall here lately has been anywhere between bright blue skies and can’t see much more than 20 feet.

I then departed for Bookham, in conditions that had improved a bit. Going up Cambewarra Mountain in second gear at about 20kph, with the engine revving sweetly down the back, was kinda relaxing actually, despite pulling off the road at every available opportunity (of which there aren’t many) to let the built-up traffic pass. Many of them gave me a beep beep, to which I responded will a blast from the air horns. And then it was the same again, going down the mountain in second gear with the exhaust brake on. And then through Kangaroo Valley and up Barrengarry Mountain. It was actually a joy to hit the freeway after all that.

Darrel was very excited to see the rig again, and it was duly parked in the back yard for a better inspection later. Fortunately, I had taken the time to write a 12-page User Manual, he will find VERY useful. Darrel and Brett then drove me back home. It was strange not to be welcomed by a “Maow” or the pattering of claws.

This morning, after I had rearranged the lounge room to push the stuff that is “sold” to one side, I was sitting here looking out through the open gap under the Venetian blind where Buddy usually gets in to supervise Julie when she smokes out on the front landing. I thought, I really should close that a get a bit of privacy, then Oh Wait, I can do that now, Buddy is not here any more. I missed my little back warmer last night too.

Today, I have worked through the front room where all the stuff “to go” has been accumulated, sorting through my tools, and deciding what I really want to take as luggage and what can wait for a few months. I came across some pictures that I had kept from my round Australia trip way back in 1985. These were from the Wolf Creek Meteorite Crater in the north of Western Australia. When you approach the site, all you see is what looks like a line of low hills. It’s not until you climb up to the rim that you see the true picture of the crater. Remember, these were taken 30 years ago, on whatever camera I had at the time, and processed from film to ordinary picture size. Now, I have the technology to scan them, although the program I usually use to stitch such pictures together couldn’t handle the left to right contrast, and only processed 2 of the 5 originals. So I had to pin them together using Paint. Still the you get the idea, specially if you start at the right, picking up the campervan off in the distance, and pan left up and over the rim to the fertile crater below. Click on the picture for the larger version.

In my spare time (yes, I do have some, I have worked all day), I have moved my eBay account to USA and re-established the Store. I have been surprised at the different approach between the 2 countries. For example, a listing that was apparently quite acceptable in Australia mentioned that “The display screen is gorilla glass so it is very protective and resistant from scratches and other kind of damages.” It seems that in USA, that conflicts with the item condition, which is listed as Brand New, and my upload gets rejected. Just as well I have dozens more where that came from!

Today (Sunday) I have undertaken the painful task of culling my computer stuff. Roughly half of it went in the bin. After that, it was time to tackle the eBay Store “office”, where there was a substantial amount of boxes and packaging. I must admit, I was surprised, that once I had broken down the boxes into flat pieces of cardboard, they all actually fitted into the (now rather full) recycle bin. I have done the washing and helped Angela next door to deal with her issue with the electrical switchboard, showing her how to isolate circuits one by one, until you know which one is tripping the earth leakage circuit breaker. In return, she put my washing in her dryer. It wasn’t quite dry when I picked it up, so I am now “doing a Julie”, with washing sprawled across the floor, with the heavy socks in front of the heater, with my bath towel draped over the back of my chair.

I have done some measuring and have determined that I can get all of the “I may need this soon” (mostly computer) stuff into the same suitcase as my clothes, by putting some of the heavier items, like hard disks from the server, into my additional carry-on item. We did this for Julie at one point, when her carry-on was too heavy, so I simply unzipped it into 2 pieces. Strange people, they were happy with that! Hey, if it means I can carry up to an extra 7Kg onto the plane, at times like this, I’m in! It zips back together for wheeling around the airport anyway.

Monday night. I have made it through the day! The outside tables and chairs went off to the Scout Hall. Daryl came round to cut the grass as planned, and consented to come back later to carry away the rubbish that wouldn’t fit in the bin. The movers came and did their packing and carrying thing. Meanwhile, knowing that everything else had to be boxed up for Joe to take away, I was also busy. And then I got to the kitchen! Every time I turned around or opened a cupboard, there MORE stuff. Joe arrived later in the day and collected a load to go to his shop, and we ferried numerous boxes over the fence to his place. One more load tomorrow morning, but we have pushed it out of Lynn’s way so that can get on with the cleaning.

I am now sitting in my motel room and my BACK HURTS. I asked Danny (the owner) for a sharp knife to cut the cheese and tomatoes, and he specifically asked whether I needed anything else. It was only when he had left that I realised that I would also need a glass for the wine. When I got back to the room, I realised (again) that I would need a plate. Didn’t dare go back again, but I found this lovely glass plate, inside the microwave! I used, washed it, and no-one will ever know.

It’s now Tuesday night (again). For the first one, after a day of running errands, lots of phone calls to cancel various accounts (I had been with the NRMA for 39 years!), shifting more furniture and house cleaning, I took the car to Joe’s cafe and left him the key, and walked the 100m to the motel. That was about 2pm. Dinner consisted of lots of leftover mini cans of lemonade, plus most of the remaining cheese and tomatoes. The exhaustion finally set in and I reckon I was asleep by about 7pm. I was actually pleased to hear the alarm go off at 5.15am, and got moving quickly, with a mug of brewed coffer to start the day, followed by a call to Nowra Taxis to pick me up at 6.. Shower, repack as necessary, get out. I even washed the coffee plunger and left it on the steps of the cafe for Joe to find, which he did and called me later.

Sunrise at the train station.

An easy trip to the train station, the usual train trip along the coast, then up the escarpment and in to Sydney, changing for the airport line. At the airport, there was an issue with my visa, but a phone call by airline staff confirmed that the number scribbled in the opposite page was indeed the forerunner to a real Green Card, and I was good to go.

Breakfast at our favourite cafe, where I found power, while I pulled out the laptop and checked emails. By then Gerry from Just Rentals had already inspected the house, found a few minor issues, one of which (carpet cleaning) was already scheduled and paid for, so I left an email for Joe to please get the keys and go in a fix the smaller issues. I managed to call him later and square it away. Security was a bit of a battle, as I had multiple liquid containers, but at least they were all in the required zip-lock bags. They did find my old needle nose pliers, which I had just thrown into the Tech bag, so they were confiscated, no great loss. Then followed numerous last minute phone calls to my brother Kevin, my son Paul, our good friend Col, and our dear friend Colleen.

So now, here I am, out over the ocean, just past Fiji, I have turned my watch back most of a day, and it’s Tuesday night again! And as much as I have tried, assisted by my usual phalanx of drugs and herbals, I still can’t sleep. And along the way, I’ve a few semi-weepy moments at leaving my home country, possibly forever. Ah, such is life.

EVERYONE I speak to and repeat April’s words of Julie drifting to the left while walking, or favouring her left side, agree with my gut feel diagnosis that she has suffered a minor stroke, probably on the right side of her brain, and needs to get help SOON. April has made an appointment for Friday and this time, there will no holds barred. I think that’s leaving it way too long, but we have to work with the vehicles they have. Or I get a rental on the way there from the airport and try for an earlier one. I guess the saving grace is whatever damage the probable stroke did, is already done, and she doesn’t appear to be getting any worse. For now at least. AND she has voluntarily cut out the alcohol and smoking. Always a good move.

Seattle, one week on. I arrived OK, was collected by April on the way home from work.

A couple of days of settling in and trying to work through the jet lag, and on Saturday Mike went to the car dealership from which they have bought their last 3 vehicles, and we acquired a 2014 Dodge Journey SE in a bright apricot colour. Not top of the line, but it does still have lots of bells and whistles. For example, as long as I have the key in my pocket, I can approach the car, put my hand on the door handle, and the doors unlock. And there’s no key, just a start/stop button.

Julie and I visited the doctor (and spent a small fortune) to start working on her double vision. She is feeling better, and has gained a positive outlook. Now it’s my turn to be depressed. 🙂 I’ve been applying for jobs, but have not had any nibbles yet. And after the doctor visit, we bought our own health insurance! Funny, actually. Earlier, Julie must have put out a call for help finding insurance, and we were being inundated by calls from brokers. We had just got home from the doctor and I had just totalled up what we had spent, and it was very clear that we would need it. A broker called right then, and got the job. As it happens, he did well for us, fortunately.

The more I use the car, the more impressed I am. The unlock works on both front doors, and there’s a little button on each one to lock the car as well. I have a music collection of the top 100 singles from each year of the 70’s and 80’s, which I loaded onto a tiny USB stick, dropped it into the port in the centre console, and I now have a continuous supply of music! Some of it is so old, even I don’t remember it. In the back section, there is a flat floor which lines up with the back seats when they are down. I have even transported a King Single mattress for Duncan in it already! Anyway, under that floor, there is quite a large area where lots of stuff can go – warm jackets, shopping (to keep the sun off the frozen food). The other night, we all went down to Mukilteo beach to watch the sun go down over Whidbey Island. Great community atmosphere down there. Anyway, we stuffed the jackets under the floor and then put the dog in the back. I was cleaning the car earlier, and under each of the rear floor mats, discovered a hatch covering another individual storage space.

Some time out at Mukilteo (pronounced muck-ul-tee-o).

I have signed up to drive for the transport company Uber, and was surprised to find that they have a presence in most Australian capital cities. I’m now just waiting to the background check to come back, not expecting them to find anything anyway. Their whole system works on phones apps, with the rider system talking to the driver system. I’ve been watching the rider app to see how many cars are out there, and where they tend to hang out. Our place seems to be fairly centrally located between the other hangouts, so I could possibly operate from home!

Meanwhile, the IT job search has been painstakingly slow, although I have passed the first post on an IT Manager running a small team at a fairly large aged care facility. On the application, I made a point of mentioning that my age seems to be a negative factor in most jobs, but could actually be an advantage when dealing with their residents. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, Julie’s health has improved. She ended up with new glasses as her vision has changed since the last pair, as well as a prism effect overlay on one lens, to counteract the double vision. She had very badly swollen ankles, until we realised how much the high salt content in the food here was affecting her. We have both had a battery of tests, so that the doctors have a baseline, and we have both established the same doctor as our Primary Care Physician. Julie is up for a colonoscopy today and a mammogram later in the week. I’m still tossing up as to whether I have the Flu and Shingles vaccination.