The Black Dog

I watched a program on television recently that dealt with the issue of suicide and mental illness and how prevalent it is amongst our younger generation.

Don’t get me wrong.  Suicide and mental illness are not limited to the younger generation but it is especially heartbreaking to lose a young and troubled soul without feeling sorrow for a life not well-lived and the unimaginable anguish of the parents, grandparents, siblings, friends and school friends left behind.

Suicide has touched us all to some degree, whether it be somebody we know, somebody close, a friend of a friend or even our own morbid thoughts at times when things have been at their darkest in our lives.  I have not escaped unscathed with my various health difficulties without wondering at times whether it is worth the effort of struggling with the pain and functional difficulties that I have been left with.  I keep on top of it.  I keep busy.  I work and study and develop interests to keep the black dog at bay but others may not have the support that I have had or indeed the will to keep on dog paddling when they would rather sink to the bottom of the abyss.

The reality of the abyss was brought home to me again last year when my son’s best friend decided that he simply did not want keep on paddling for another minute more.  He left behind a beautiful family, many friends and a community of people who he had helped in his short life wondering what had happened.  He didn’t drink, smoke or take drugs.  He went to church and believed in God.  He was kind, generous and loved.  He was planning a trip overseas and had booked the tickets.  He did not appear to fit the profile of a depressed and mentally ill young person and he simply slipped through the cracks.  He had sought help a few months before his death and unfortunately was not followed up.

The abyss will always be there.  It does not discriminate.  It can affect anybody.  There is no clear answer but it is clear that we need to become more aware of our fellow man and be a little more compassionate.  ‘There but for the grace of God go I’.

Travel bug bites

It’s been a while.  Between illness, travelling and new hiPad pics 195obbies I haven’t given much thought to writing this blog.  Although I should.  I have been asked more than once to keep this blog going and so I shall endeavour to do my bit for the literary world.

I have had a few highlights in the last few months, one of which was that overseas holiday that I was so busy procrastinating about in one of my last blogs.  It turned out alright in the end and laid my travel paranoia to rest until the next time.

We started the trip on a high with a hired limo to get us to the airport.  I was a bit reluctant to leave the plush leather surrounds and the free sodas to get into the confines of Qantas cattle class but as I got to watch the latest movies on the flight over with a set of headphones that drowned out the screaming baby a few rows in front of me I was reasonably content.

The concerns I had about my pharmaceuticals and my portable fridge were unfounded and with my specialist’s letter in hand and we breezed our way through the Phuket airport terminal into a wall of humidity that would have put the Queensland tropical weather to shame on its worst day.

After ‘OMG, the heat’ and ‘why did I bring a jacket?’ we settled into our air conditioned taxi and hung on for a nail-biting  30-minute breakneck ride through Phuket to our resort in Rawai.  I was really not sure what roundabouts, red lights or pedestrian crossings were for anymore as they were completely ignored by everybody as drivers went for gold to get to their destinations in the shortest amount of time with complete disregard of impact statistics and safety regulations.  I saw five people on one scooter, four on another and one old scooter with three adults, two chickens and one dog on board.  There were also people in Tuk-Tuks, in the back of utes, in cars and pushbikes topped off by a multitude of massive tourist buses dodging the lot of them.

After three days my husband was zipping around in the traffic like a pro with me on the back silently screaming and mentally telling him to hit the brake.  We zoomed through red lights with the rest of them, dodging anything and everything that came our way.  I wasn’t quite sure whether it was my husband’s skill that got us through it or the skill of everybody else getting out of our way.

We moved from Rawai to Patong and discovered ten different ways to say no to the spruikers and stall holders at the various markets wanting us to buy everything from T-shirts to tattoos.  I also discovered paraflying and spent a nail-biting few minutes sailing high above Patong beach taking in the view and not worrying too much about travel and accident insurance.

For my first time overseas I think I did okay.  Apart from one bout of food poisoning I came out virtually unscathed with a new appreciation of just how lucky I have it here in my own country with services that I take for granted.  True, I could have more in life but I could always have a lot less like some of the people I saw in Thailand…and for that I am grateful.

Dogs and me

I’ve been lucky enough to have had the company of a few dogs over the years.  Each and every one of them has enriched my life in some way and taught me a thing or two about loyalty and love.  Whoever said that dogs have neither feelings nor  souls has never owned a dog and therefore does not matter, in my opinion.

My first foray into dog companionship kicked off when my grandmother came to live with us when I was seven.  She brought along her little terrier and I got to pretend that I finally had a dog for the next eight years.  That little dog put up with dress ups, my questionable dog grooming skills, posing for ‘portraits’, sharing her mat and was my first port of call when life sucked and I needed a unbiased ear.  I was hooked on the dog-bug for the rest of my life.

After I left home I decided on a larger ‘real-dog’ travelling companion.  I purchased a beautiful black German Shepherd pup and she became my copilot for my many adventures as I navigated up and down the coast working and generally having a good time.   Company aside, as she grew she was a marvellous deterrent for any would-be lotharios that were inclined to think that I was up for it.  I have one spectacular memory of her sitting on top of some unlucky sod after she ran him down because he swiped my ice cream cone.  To this day I am still not sure if she was after the ice cream or the thief.

I was companion to a beautiful silky terrier a few years later.  She became the perfect match to my grandmother when I had to move and I couldn’t take her with me.  She was as silly as a wheel but she suited my grandmother perfectly and I got to see her on weekends.  So began my love for the smaller lap dog when I met my future husband and talked him into purchasing my next dog.

Jackson came into my life just before serious illness struck me down.  He was a white ball of fluff that my husband took one look at and asked where the batteries went.  He was the perfect foil of patience, loyalty and love that would get me through the tough times ahead.  He was a gentlemanly dog, preferring to mind his manners at dinner time and always ask for permission before he did something.  Aside from his one grand adventure when he disappeared for hours only to be found curled up under the recliner chair bay sleeping and oblivious to the mayhem that surrounded him – he never put a paw wrong.  He was the light in my life when I needed it most and a joy to be around.  The day I lost him I lost a part of myself that I still haven’t found.

Jackson’s offspring, Dylan, was a completely different fluff ball.  He was brash at mealtimes and would barge in to get his share before somebody else got it.  He thought he was a giant but was scared of the budgie.  He loved to sleep on anything soft that was higher than the floor.  He loved attention and would sulk when anybody else got it.  He would show off to get an extra treat.  We lost him to cancer a few years ago after many operations and no hope.  I still grieve for my funny little soul who snored in his sleep.

These days I am entertained by my two Bichons, Angus and Ruby.  I love them dearly and I laugh often at their funny little ways and different personalities.  Angus is fearless and will bark at anything that moves until he gets outside his home turf.  He owns the world and has a strut to prove it.  His retrieval skills are unmatched and he can play until my arm has gone numb.  He is king of his domain, a bright little button in my life that simply must have his head elevated when he sleeps.  He has taken to carrying his own mini-pillow around with him for portable comfort whenever the mood suits.  Ruby is my lovely little fluffy girlie girl.  She knows her place in the household which is mostly wherever the food is at.  She will hear the fridge open from out in the front yard.  She will be at my side in moments when she hears the crackle of paper – just in case.  She is affectionate and soulful.  She loves nothing more than to lie on her back in my lap for a belly rub and will drop to the floor flat on her back at the hint of a possible spare hand doing nothing.

There is no question that my dogs have been spoilt.  I am probably over the top and am considered a little eccentric by some when it comes to my furry companions.  I would much rather be this way and experience all that a dog has to give and lose them one day than never to have had the opportunity to experience it at all.  Dogs enrich my life, they lighten my heart and they offer solace when I am feeling sad.  They are my constant companions, loyal to a fault and dependent on me to live their lives in the best way they can.  I can offer them a good home and a good life.  At the end of the day and of my life if this has been my only purpose then it will have been a magnificent calling.

 

Fly me

I’ve finally bitten the bullet and gotten myself a passport after 15 years of  subtle pleading and a bit less-subtle harassment from my other half.

I’m still not sure that I want to physically get in a plane and fly off to some foreign destination with customs I know nothing about but it doesn’t matter.  My husband has taken the liberty of booking the flights and the accommodation at lightning speed.  For somebody that knows little about the Internet he did a pretty good job of keeping one step ahead of me and out of my way.  I can only hope that the impeccable record of the flying kangaroo holds in good stead until after we get home and the destination he has chosen meets all my minimal standards – clean, safe, soft toilet paper and vermin free.

It’s now four weeks until we take off and I’m starting to get myself into travel mode.  I find that I am not as excited about the prospect of travelling as much as I am about the fact that my husband has booked a stretch limo to take us to the airport.  That man will do anything to get me on the plane.

My first port of call was the baggage shop in my local shopping mall.  I decided that the aqua blue case with yellow stripes was an easy-to-see combination on the carousel with the added bonus of almost certainly negating the possibility of theft.  I would have gone for the red and black spotted one in the corner but I can only push my husband so far and I will need somebody to help me with my case at some stage.  He barely negotiates with me on dressing the dogs in sedate woollen yet fashionable  jumpers in the winter time.

My paranoia extended itself to bright yellow locks to match the stripes, credit card protection wallets and a fashionable body money belt.  If they managed to steal my easy-to-see case they weren’t getting away with my money, my credit cards or my passport.

I’m also developing a rapport with the Qantas call centre staff, although they might call it something else.  I’ve called them six times this week to determine what is classed as carry-on-luggage, as their printout and rules are ambiguous at best.  I’ve had three entirely different conversations on the rules for flying with medications, injections and keeping my meds cool.  I’ve finally come up with a plan that involves the purchase of a portable battery-powered mini fridge designed for epipens – after much negotiation about the safety of battery powered devices versus the safety of a couple of ice bricks that may or may not contain dangerous chemicals.

I’m going for casual-and-comfortable fashion that requires little maintenance.  I’ve been told that I can purchase cheap clothing over there but I’m going on the premise that you can never have enough underwear in any situation and I’m loading up appropriately.

So wish me luck as I embark on my first-ever overseas holiday.  As long as I have my seasoned-traveller husband at my side and wifi in my pocket to keep in touch with my dogs on the Internet I should be okay.

 

The week from hell…

I’m recovering slowly from the week-that-shat-itself with a minor migraine and a stiff drink of diet coke.

I managed to sail a little too close to the metaphorical mind snap this week and it is a testament to my resilience and chocolate that the week-that-was is now at an end and the dust has almost settled.

I say almost because I’m still waiting for the wicked witch from the back blocks to send me another defamatory email telling me that I’m a lewd, disgusting watcher of pornography of which  she managed to view on my 21-inch bedroom television screen a few weeks ago.  The fact that her house is about 40 metres away from my bedroom window and it would be impossible to see unless she had a pair of binoculars or is right up against the back fence is not lost on me – and a little creepy.  The fact that the closest I have come to watching pornography would be Chris Hemsworth’s bare chest in ‘Thor’ recently is even more disturbing if she considers that pornography.

In between my viewing of so-called pornography I’ve managed to steal all the lemons off her lemon tree in her backyard.  She apparently is going to install security cameras to catch me in the act – of what I couldn’t say – but good luck to her.  I would like to know who is stealing lemons and watching pornography, too.

The crux of the problem is that we sent this evil toad a letter a few weeks ago asking her if she would do something about her trees, as they were causing us a few problems.  Discussion of the problem and a solution nutted out would have been a nice option and one I would have expected.  There are obviously a few roos loose in her top paddock and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I fired off a rebuttal-type email to let her know I wasn’t a viewer of pornography, wasn’t a lemon thief and wasn’t a pushover.  I wasn’t the captain of the debating team in university for nothing but  I’m pretty sure she is  throwing an eye of a newt into her cauldron and damning me to hell as I type.

Two hours after that unfortunate email I found myself stranded on the island because of high winds with an impending all-important specialist appointment to pick up my all-important medications and my travel letter for my impending all-important overseas trip.  I managed a phone consultation and then I managed to receive the wrong prescriptions in the mail two days later.  I have a 15-year medical relationship with this rather lovely endocrinologist but he has the organisational skills of a mud skipper.  I’m living in hope that when and if I receive my growth hormone prescription in the mail next week it will be the correct company and the correct dosage.

My shat-o-meter was in fourth gear by the time I had spent the fourth day this week trying to work out what I could do to keep my meds cool on my all-important pending flight with various airline representatives and I’m still none the wiser.  Can I buy a special battery-powered container to carry on board to keep my meds cool?  ‘No you can’t’  or  ‘You might be able to if the battery size has less than 100 WH but you will have to switch it off for lift off and landing but we aren’t sure’  or  ‘No, you can’t but we can give you an ice bucket on board to keep your meds cold’  or  ‘No, we can’t give you an ice bucket.  That is not our policy’  or  ‘No, you can’t use our fridges’.   WHAT THE?  I will have another go next week but I can’t guarantee I won’t insult somebody’s intelligence.

A couple of other random events at the end of the week like my father going into hospital and my son flying under my trouble radar – which in itself means trouble  and my shit-o-metre flies into overdrive.

And of course it’s raining.  Not the pleasant pattering-on-the-roof, walking or singing-in-the-rain type.  No.  The hammering, torrential, cyclone-velocity-howling-wind type of rain.  I can’t get my dogs out to pee.  They will get their delicate paws wet and that’s not on, oh no.  I’m on pee watch right now.  My dogs don’t discriminate.  A shag pile rug is as good as dry grass and the wetter it gets the more hiding places they find.

Just as well I’m a nice person.

My new eyebrows

I went out and got myself a pair of new eyebrows the other day.

Sounds a bit weird when I say it like that but nevertheless, that’s how it happened.

I’d been thinking about it for a while, as I was sick of ‘looking’ sick and having no eyebrows made me look like I had some kind of medical condition.   While, yes, I did have a medical condition – I didn’t really want it to involve my eyebrows.

I found the perfect solution to my dilemma online with cosmetic tattooing.  I wasn’t sure about the authenticity of the ‘look’ but I found the perfect cosmetic tattooist who used a gentle ‘feather’ approach that could be almost mistaken for real hair in the brows.  I’m not sure what I was worried about really – I’m covered with tattoos – but while my body is my artistic temple I didn’t want my face looking like a painted Barbie doll.

It all went pretty well – or so I thought until I spotted my husband’s face when I breezed into the lounge room later that day.  He didn’t say anything but right now  they are a little dark until they settle and I have my second session to add lighter ‘hairs’ is finished.  As my face is quite pale by comparison I guess they will take some getting used to.  I’m not quite Morticia Addams but I’m sailing pretty close to the wind as far as he is concerned.

I’m not really bothered.  For a long time I’ve had either very little hair or a penciled line to frame my eyes, so anything more than that is going to look a little odd for a while.   Besides, I’m not the one who has to look at them all the time.

So far it’s been plain sailing but then again I’m not much of a social butterfly.  I will be testing them out at the local diner on Friday night for our usual island gathering.  I think it will be safe to assume that if nobody stares at me for more than five seconds straight unless they are speaking to me, I will be flying under the radar.

I’ve lived with the weirdness of no hair, some hair, bandanas, no eyebrows, lots of tattoos and very pale skin for some years now.  If I can find a way to enhance one thing about myself – kudos to me.

What I’m grateful for…

I was invited to do one of those ‘three things per day that I am grateful for’ in a five-day challenge recently.

I don’t normally go for requests but it seemed feasible enough to me to pay homage to the origins of my gratefulness, so I gave it a whirl.

I covered the usual suspects in the first two days, like my husband, my family, my home and my friends and then I really had to think about it a bit.

Just what are the other ‘things’ that I am grateful for?  The things that escape my notice while I’m negotiating this often precarious, interesting, volatile and sometimes mildly mundane life of mine.

I am grateful for my husband’s cooking.  That’s what I am grateful for.  I can’t cook for nuts.  While my husband is away at sea it’s Lean Cuisine all the way.  Microwave ready in four minutes.  Easy-peasy.  I don’t know what my son and I survived on all those years but I must have cooked a passable dinner or two at some stage in my life while my husband was away, as we are all still here.

I’m grateful for my hair.  I have finally hit the volume-and-shine jackpot after years of illness and very few brushworthy hairs of note.  I have finally turned a corner on the right medications and my hair is making it’s way down to my waist.  I plan to get it there and flaunt it for all its worth.

I’m grateful for flat shoes.  Anything over two inches high is a vertigo no-go zone for me.  I like comfortable, flat, dependable shoes.  I have a better grip on this earth and on my faculties, as I am not living in fear of falling on my face in the latest must-have fashion essentials.  Kudos to those who try and do well at it.  My sympathies in 20 years time for the irreparable damage that has been done.

I’m grateful to the woman down the road who saved my dog from being mauled to death by a much larger mutant dog from around the corner.  My dog is grateful.  My vet is even more grateful.

I’m grateful for deodorant.  Yes indeed.  There are people out there who could benefit a little more in the way of personal hygiene with the use of a good-quality personal deodorant.  I like to keep an extra spray can in my bag for when I’m out and about.  You just never know.

I’m grateful for chocolate.  Who isn’t?  It’s a happy snack, a sad snack and an anytime snack.  Enough said.

And I’m always grateful for Johnny Depp.  The man is brilliant.

…and the list goes on.  It isn’t complete and it probably never will be.  Being aware at times of all the ‘things’ in life that we could be grateful for is an eye opener in itself.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 78 other followers