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 to 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’.


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 who 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.

I’m back…..

Well I’m back.  It’s been a while.  Nearly a year in fact.

I will now use the old cliche that ‘life got in the way’ but illness and time has a way of not playing fair… and so here I am.  I hope to be able to add reasonably regular content this time around.  I will also attempt some half decent stories every now and again.

I have my good friend Jo to thank for bringing me back from the writing dead.  She has started her own blog and I don’t want to be outdone.  So thank you Jo.  I hope to be critiquing your blazing good foray into legendary writing status in the near future.

For the record it has been a nearly interesting 12 months in parts.  I’m still soldiering on with my MT work and making a half-decent attempt at pegging doctors’ and their linguistic idiosyncrasies.  I fear I will never reach the great heights of MT elitism but I’m earning a regular income and that has got to account for something.  I’m not aspiring to great levels, simply because I would like to have a life and health restrictions limit me to part-time MT semi elitism only.

In the meantime I will be finding at least one or two days per week to jot down my thoughts and process the flickerings of literary creative goop bouncing around between my ears.

Stay tuned….

The credit shuffle

My son recently tried to expand his trust horizons and hit me up for my credit card number to make a purchase because he didn’t have a credit card.  The statement that he would pay me back after my adamant refusal to cough up didn’t hold much weight considering the thousands of dollars he had amassed over the years in loans, payments, presents and free lunches.

To be honest it was more than my lack of confidence in my son’s ability to control his expenditure that was holding me back, it was my lack of confidence in the banking system after a past-but-not-forgotten incident of fraud that could have been avoided if the bank’s so called ‘Falcon’ had been a little more diligent on his nest that day.

I’m a reasonably paranoid person.  My husband has another name for it but I won’t go there.  My Internet transactions involve my banking website and a small collection of trusted sites that I use on a regular basis.  I rarely deviate and I don’t like surprises.  My husband, however, is a different beast and I could find myself with two of something that he just had to have on eBay while he was bobbing around in the middle of the ocean with nothing to do one night.  When I saw an exorbitant tag way out of my safe-transacting price range during a general paranoid Internet check, I trained my sights on him and let him have both barrels.

To his credit, he managed to look like a stunned bunny caught in the bright lights momentarily because he wasn’t really sure – until he saw the statement.  He stopped sweating, shook his head and pointed triumphantly to the code next to the transaction – GB.  As he hadn’t been to Great Britain – ever – he was momentarily off the hook and shoved out of the way as I made a beeline for the phone to yell at a hapless banking operator instead.

After a 20-minute wait imagining our money disappearing at a rapid rate, I was finally put through to an operator who then put me through to a special fraud operator.  At this point I asked the special fraud operator if I hadn’t caught the faceless freak’s transaction what would have happened?

The simple and disconcerting answer to that was – nothing.  But they might have picked it up after three more large transactions.  So it was a good thing that I was online when it happened, they said.  Furthermore, they said, it would also have to be proven that we didn’t actually spend that money ourselves and when that was cleared up it  would then take at least eight weeks to get our money back.  It would also take two weeks or more for our new credit cards to be sent out in the mail.

Oh yeh?

I managed to get our new credit cards in less than a week by express post.   I also got our money back into our credit card in less than two weeks after a relentless campaign of twice-daily phone calls until they finally got sick of me and conceded defeat.  I take exception to being told that I might be lying about spending money in a country that I have never been to.  I also take exception to being told I will have to wait eight weeks for money that I haven’t even spent to be given back to me.  I’m pretty sure the bank has me on a special list with a red flashing light going off whenever they see my phone number on the screen – but I don’t care.  To be complacent and apathetic is worse than being vocal and annoying as far as I’m concerned.  At least I get my say and I get my way.

Give my son my credit card number?  I don’t think so.  I don’t even want the bank to have it.