Infected In Bull Creek

The overnight sequel to the toenail was shivering fits and a spectacular episode of cellulitis on the leg – half-way up. I am now off duties and taking the biggest antibiotic tablet I have ever seen.

And yet, the toe is healing up well…

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Nailless In Willetton

And I suspect I will be Sleepless In Bull Creek as well.

Those who have never visited a podiatrist may be wondering what they do there. What they do there is carry on the fine traditions of the Spanish Inquisition or the Red Indians. Physical torture has gotten a bad name in the last century ( Though that has not stopped it from being popular…) but there is still one place where it is going strong – the foot doctor’s office.

I do not mean to suggest that the professional there is a sadist – far from it. Nor do I impugn their morals or kindly character. But very little of what they do is fun; at least not on the working end of the instruments.

Many people have 10 toenails. I have 9 – now. This morning saw one disappear due to an infection that was not resolving of itself. One of those minor reminders that we are not unbreakable. The doctor made the right diagnosis and took the correct action – now we hope that the toe does its job and regrows a nail. I am not that fussy – I would be satisfied for it to just heal over and be no trouble. I rarely exhibit my toes in public anyway, and as long as they do not hurt, I am satisfied.

Like the finger episode of a few months ago, the toe combines pain with fear and shock, but doesn’t entitle anyone to feel brave or garner any public sympathy. There is something comic about it all – evident to others – that escapes me.

The basic process – inject some lignocaine into the toe then grasp the half-off nail and pull smartly, followed by mopping up and washing the wound  – is perfectly good professional practice. It is not painful once the anaesthetic is working, but getting to that point is awkward. I used to pride myself on painless anaesthetic injections but then the oral mucosa has more fluid room than a toe.

Well, the clown bandage is on and I’ll be able to exchange it for a Betadine sandwich tomorrow, but just in case of snakebite I have called at the brandy shop on the way home.

If I am going to be undignified, I might as well get to the point of laughing at myself.

Clasting Icons For Fun And Profit

I have just finished a book by Bertrand Russell and have been surprised by three things; that it would ever end, that I would stick to reading it until the last page, and that I would thoroughly enjoy it.

It was written in 1930, and treats of happiness – in this case by seeking the conquest of it. It is apparently well within Russell’s style of clear composition presenting muddled thought. The stream of consciousness is not that muddy, however, and most of what BR has to say is pretty sensible. As he does not jolt upright and thrust his politics into the face of the reader more than 3 or 4 times, the main part of the essay is actually useful.

It’s certainly drawn an echo from some of the circumstances of my life, and I think the experiences over the years have opened me to be able to read him – where I threw his books in the figurative fire as a youth.

It’s rather fun to be able to read an English philosopher who writes in comparatively modern times and who can be seen to be wrong about as many times as he is right by his public pronouncements…and private secrets. One need not reverence him but can just pick the kernels of wisdom out of the unpopped thoughts.

I wonder if it is safe to read any of the rest of his stuff? If I do, I shall want the real thing and not a history teacher’s précis.

Life Hack Tip: Get injured

The coolest way to improve your life is to get injured. It will totally reset your mental machinery and help you to discover more about yourself and others around you.

I recently fell off a ladder and cut the skin off the end of a finger in the process of flailing to the floor. And the sequence of events after that has been very beneficial:

a. I did not hit anything vital, valuable, or non-repairable. Win.

b. I bled like a pig. The long-term low dose aspirin is working well. It’s all liquid in there, folks. You poke a hole and out it comes.

c. I did manage to get to the sink and wash it off before I blacked out and hit the floor. The family was there to see me do this and put something soft under my head when they called the ambulance.

d. Again I did not hit anything expensive. Win. Plus I didn’t even remember falling.

e. The finger is a mess, but will heal. I shower with a plastic bag over it. We’re a week on and it has not become infected.

f. Nearly everyone was kind and sympathetic about it. The two people who weren’t are now the subject of my particular interest. When they have their next injury I will rush to their side and smother them with concern. Or point at them and laugh. After all, it’s their preferred form of social interaction…

g. The ambulance was unnecessary as I did not break my head, but it was expensive, even with a discount applied. If you are clumsy or prone to emergency rides, take out insurance cover with St. Johns especially for this. Or go to the emergency waiting room and fall over there.

 

How Good Are Leftovers?

As a child I hated leftovers…I accused my mother of buying them fresh frozen so that she could serve them every night. There I was…complaining about being fed so well that there was enough food for the next night as well…Yes, you can snort in derision.

Now I treasure them – as much for the time-saving of having a good meal that is 5 minutes away from hot on the table – as for the taste. The taste that in most cases gets better for a night in the fridge. I am talking spaghetti Bolognese, Texican beans, home-made Eternity soup*, casseroles, etc. I’ve even evolved a means for heating and serving day-old fish and chips that makes them good.

And I appreciate the savings of the thing. Part of my brain knows that I have paid for it all, but part of me pretends that the second night is free food. It is certainly better economics than if it were scraped into the recycling bin after the first meal.

I’m a bin. Scrape it into me.

I do not appreciate this approach when out for a commercial dinner or at some resort or conference. I’ve seen the recycling caterers at work at a big Eastern States do and learned not to approach the canapé tray after the first night – indeed not to approach the scrambled eggs on the breakfast buffet. If you want an egg, get it poached fresh.

But here at home, we do not let our food go over the ” Best By ” date by over 6 months. I regularly scrape and wash the cheese to get the green off. Also the bread. The old trick of calling it ” Dad’s fairy bread ” stopped working after the kids started vomiting.

I have been accused in turn by my daughter of overcatering in some things…oh, the irony. But I notice the L/O lasagna, spaghetti, beans, and Chinese food seems to disappear on a regular basis. So I am still going to play the kitchen by my own rules.

*  No soup ever really finishes or starts – there are elements of the things that have carried over several years – in and out of the freezer. No-one has died from soup yet.

 

The Ghosts Of The Mall

It is not very often that we can say we like ghosts. The traditional ones – rattling chains, screaming in the night, passing through walls, etc. are somewhat of a strain on the nerves. They leave slime. When they infest a house the resale value plummets. Few people want them.

In my case I do have a reason to be grateful to them – they have enabled me to start my retirement in a good note.

When I was working in my last career I was sent out on many occasions to help people with photographic training. Specifically, with the Polaroid passport cameras that were common at the time. These were the four-lens jobs that put nearly identical pictures onto a sheet of Polaroid or Fujifilm instant film. The requirements of the Australian passport department were stringent and the geometry and illumination needed to achieve them operated within a fairly narrow band of possibility – hence I was sent to train chemist’s assistants and post office employees on how to do it.

Fine. Motor out from the shop, conduct a hour’s training and motor back in, picking up a cup of coffee on the return journey. Easy stuff. But it was the sights in the shopping malls riveted my attention – I saw ghosts.

They were both sad and frightening, and I paid close attention to them. They were the men of a similar age to myself that had no occupation – either public or private – and who passed the day sitting in the centre of the mall. Some of them drifted silently about. Grey men in shapeless garments – they may have been wearing their grave clothes – with grey faces devoid of expression. Whenever I encountered them they hurried me on my way, as I did not want whatever had infected them to touch me.

Well, now I am a retired person, and having seen what mall ghosts look like I have determined on a few things:

a. When I get up, I dress up. The outfit may be a plaid shirt, braces, and high-water britches, but it is the clothing of a person who is determined to keep moving. No grey winding cloths.

b. When I am in a mall, I keep moving briskly to whatever store I need to go to. And then equally briskly back home. Malls are fine for concentrating shops in one area, but they make lousy graveyards.

c. I do not eat or drink in a mall. I have food at home that costs me 1/4 the price of the mall. I do not need to overspend to undereat.

d. I have hobbies – so does my wife. They are the life-rings of retirement. I do not begrudge them to myself or to her , and I realise how much good they do us.

Every hobby cannot be done all the time, but they can be rotated so that there is something all the time that can be done on one or the other of them. It might not need to be done, but that is not the point.

Fortunately I am a loner in many respects and always have been. Thus I do not need to be cossetted in a group doing things to find things to do. But I do not deny the utility of pensioner groups and other forms of entertainment. That is what some people need.

Result? I am up early and doing, and the feeling of being a ghost comes rarely to me. I would urge it upon others for as long as they can manage at whatever level they can achieve. Leave the malls to the teenagers.

 

Home Five – Bath

I live at home.

And part of living for Australians is getting clean. I do not propose to offend the British readers by making coal-in-the-bath  and soap jokes, but take it from me – Australians like to get clean.

Some of them do it in the ocean or the pool. Some of them do it in the sauna. I do it in the shower. Every blessed morning, and sometimes twice a day – if I have been making a mess of myself in the Little Workshop.

Don’t be confused by the title of this piece – we do, indeed, have a bath in the house, but it is not frequently used. We keep a cover over it and put other things on top of the cover. It is there if we ever have to soak off crusted-on scabs or make cheap gin. Mostly we use the showers.

Australian showers are a little different from the ones in English hotels. For one thing, they are not often made of plastic. For another, they are big enough to put the entire body in. We often have hot water and many of us use soap and shampoo. My shampoo days are drawing to an end as I get balder, but it is a nice memory and there are always the armpits and the other squidgy bits. I do not use conditioner, as I have no idea what condition it would leave me in and I am not about to experiment. My soap is the cheapest one on the market.

Note 1: I save the soap slivers for use in a shaving mug. It is not necessary for economy as I have five sticks of shaving soap, but there is something primeval about it that appeals. I have offered to shave the rest of the family but they give me funny looks.

Note 2: Being clean need not be a moral thing, if you play your cards right.