Saturday, October 01, 2011

Childhood #79

We had Plymouth Bretherans as neighbours when I was a kid. I think I have written about them in the past. We also had Baptists as neighbours. I think I may have written about them too. That is the problem when you have been writing for a long time. You become repetitive. But here is a new take on our Baptist neighbours, because I have found a photo.

This is Kenneth. He was my best mate for a time. We rode bikes together. We drove tractors together. We were at school together. We made billy carts together. We explored the bush together. We paddock bashed in old Morris Minors. We cranked and got going an old stationary steam engine. I was invited to lunch at his house one day. We ate in the dining room, which had a floor with holes in it but much superior to the kitchen that had a compacted dirt floor. I started to hoe into the food before I was abruptly brought to heel while grace was said. That is one of my earliest recollections of embarrassment. In the background the ABC news on 3AR, or was it Radio 1, droned on, with a gong between each news item. Never mind dining at a highly polished table that was about to descend to the earth the china was fine and delicate, as was the cutlery silver and polished. It spoke of better times, when Kenneth's mother Catherine grew up in Sandringham and then married below her station to Frank.

We also found a timber tram trestle bridge in the bush. We briefly dammed the mighty Tanjil River. I had no idea what an uncircumcised male appendage looked like, so Kenneth showed me his. Hmm, looked a bit different and rather odd. I have come to appreciate such a look. Kenneth did not have the gift of the gab, but he was a good mate. He is older in this photo than I remember him. Maybe I had already left home. I don't think I took the photo. I expect he went on to marry a good Baptist girl but oh how our lives have diverged since we were two little boys with our own little toys.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Humour

Among the many items of humour that arrive to the Highrise via the electronic mailing system, sometimes one really appeals to me, as this one did. Could you add a caption? Here is mine.

'Boss, the gravel is all tied down. I didn't need that tarp after all'.

Rumours of my pending demise...

Several weeks ago I had to have an ECG as part of my work medical check up. 'Hmm', said the doctor, conveniently located across the road. Hmm, doesn't sound good. It wasn't. There was an irregularity. Contact your own doctor and arrange to see a cardiologist and in the meantime, enjoy your time off work as off work you will be until this is cleared up. Some time later I showed the Bone Doctor my ECG printout. Hmm, she said.

Oh joy, my doctor was on holidays. Right, I was quite happy with the doctor I saw for the medical so rang for an appointment for the next day. She organised a heart stress test by a cardiologist in The Avenue, Windsor. If you are going to have a heart attack, one thing for sure, a heart stress test will bring it on. Briefly, you use a walking machine while wired up. The machine increases the difficulty of walking and they push you until you can't do any more. I lasted over ten minutes. My heart was given an ultrasound which took a long time. Then dye was injected and more ultrasound. The whole process took at least an hour and a half.

The cardiologist reported to the doctor that all was well, and all reports were sent to my own doctor. I could go back to work after five days off. While the days off were nice, a pending medical problem is not.

Then out of the blue last Monday I received a letter from Monash Heart in Clayton to attend this Friday for a chest CT scan. Who organised this and why Clayton? I am not wanting to travel to Clayton when there is the perfectly good Alfred Hospital nearby. What time? 7.15am! I can't drive home either, not that I wanted to take the car, when there is a train that suits very well. If something went wrong with the train service, I would get stressed. But just driving to an unfamiliar area and parking hassles and charges would be bound to stress me. I'd rather take my chances with the train. Normally R would take time off work and deliver me and collect me, but it was a big day at work for him. Had I have asked him, he would have, but catching a train isn't that hard is it.

R dropped me at South Yarra Station at 6.30. The 6.42 to Cranbourne arrived on time. At 7.03 I exited Clayton Station after a pleasant trip on an old Hitachi train. I haven't been on one for perhaps a decade or more. It was a bit noisy and you did really feel like you were on a train, but it was ok. I decided that if I regularly used trains at that hour, I would need to dress more appropriately. The wind on the platform at South Yarra Station was biting.

Walking along Clayton Road at seven in the morning felt very strange. I passed by houses that were very familiar to me from when I was a kid. The houses were built on land where many relatives were market gardeners. I was feeling a sense of unreality. I was just an observer, watching myself and also noting houses, buildings and people who were part of the dream. While of course I knew why I was walking along Clayton Road at seven in the morning, I was still wondering, what am doing on a strange road, in a strange area at this hour of the morning?

I was at the hospital right on time. Well done Metro Trains. It should always be thus. I thought of Victor as I entered the hospital and two volunteers sitting at a desk. Victor who is visiting Melbourne this weekend performs a similar role. Regardless of knowing Victor, I think these people do a marvellous service to those who might be overwhelmed, lost, confused, stressed or whatever by their hospital visit.

The test took about two hours. One hour is spent waiting for drugs to lower your heart rate to about 60. In the meantime blood is taken and a cannula inserted to inject dye. After three tries, they gave up on the veins in the crooks of my arms and found a nice big fat vein in my forearm. While not really painful, the third attempt took its toll and I suffered mild shock I guess, vision blurry and sweating. I put in the room where the machine did its stuff and then had hang around for twenty minutes to make sure I was ok.

At one point I spied a familiar face. He came up and told me that he was my cardiologist. Oh, I have a cardiologist. I am not sure if that gives me bragging rights or not. I kind of expected to be a good bit older before having a cardiologist. Now, as many old people do, how can I slip 'My cardiologist says...' into conversation? He apologised to me for not informing me about the test. He had been on holidays and neglected to tell anyone to let me know. The nurse told him to go away as my heat rate had risen from 60 to 70. I'll call you later, he said as he departed. I was offered coffee and asked who to call to collect me. No one, I said. You can't drive you know. Yes, I know. I caught the train. Given I recovered ok, they were fine with that. I also declined their coffee and went to the hospital cafe for some sorely needed food and decent coffee as I was not allowed food or coffee that morning.

I walked some back streets to the station. I walked behind a large two storey brick Victorian building, now used for medical services. Must find out what it was.

The train arrived soon after I arrived at the station. I took the last remaining seat. By Oakleigh, the train was very full. By Caulfield, it was crowded. Amazing at ten in the morning. I was going to get off at South Yarra and then catch a train to Prahan to get a few bits, but I decided to stay on the train and go to the city instead. I bought the bits I needed at QV and headed to Swanston Street for a tram home.........but no trams. Damn footballers are parading through the city before the football final tomorrow.

It is more than a kilometre to walk to where the trams are terminating and I could have a heart condition you know. My cardiologist says..... Instead I caught the bus along Lonsdale St to Queen Street and another bus home.

While the results of today's scan are pending, my heart seems perfectly ok in the cardiologist's opinion.

Monash Hospital was excellent. The staff were good, caring and competent. The interior was attractive and the waiting areas and treatment areas comfortable. The cost, nothing to me. Our public system Medicare paid, although I noticed on a form that it was $665. It is not to say that at times there aren't problems with our public health system, but in my experience, I have never received less than first class service.

Now I better do the usual Friday vacuuming. Or should I say to R when he gets home, sorry, can you do it? My cardiologist says...

Recyling at home

Our building's recycling has been in place from when the building went up, but it has been refined and extended over time. Off this room in what we call the dungeon is another where a large bin collects non recyclable rubbish that is sent down a chute from each floor. I expect very posh buildings have chutes for recycling as well.

While nothing has changed about the recycling, except for the addition of a bin for plastic bag recycling, the previous signage was printed on small laminated A4 sheets and a bit of a struggle to read at times. New signs have appeared and I must say they are wonderfully clear. However, they did cost a sum in four figures. I just divided the cost by the number of apartments and it only $14 per apartment, so probably money well spent. The signs will last and be there for a long time. At the same time, the whole area was repainted too.

If you can't quite see, the far blue sign says Batteries.

The far sign says, No plastic bags, food scraps, household items.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Two wrongs still do not make a right

The far apartment building is in Chapel Street on the corner of the street where we lived in Balaclava. We even looked at one with a thought to buy, well I didn't really. It was a singular we. It could not be described as an attractive building and is very much out of scale with single storey, single fronted houses that abut it in the side streets. Eventually I even heard a councillor for the City of Port Phillip admit that it should never have been approved.

So what happens? Another similar block has been built almost next to it.

It Never Caught On #102

I can see issues sweetie, issues.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dose me doctor

As many did in Melbourne this year, R got a dose of persistent coughing, a virus I suppose. His doctor gave him penicillin. He had a bad reaction to it and broke out in a shocking rash. The cure was worse than the disease.

As old fashioned as penicillin is, apparently it is still somewhat of a wonder drug and very effective at treating certain possible life threatening aliments.

I could compile a list of where privatisation of public assets has not worked. This is just one more example.

Back in the good old days we had the Commonwealth Serum Laboratory, a government owned authority set up to produce, investigate and to research drugs. I expect back then the Lab might have even produced penicillin. CSL was privatised and is now answerable to shareholders and not us via our government.

And now we find doctors having to restrict their use of penicillin as there is an insufficient supply for normal use. What sort of third world country are we living in? Why is the supply of penicillin in the hands of CSL when they cannot secure a reliable supply line of the most basic of drugs?

Some things in life are just to important to be left in the hand of the profit makers.

'Nuff said

THE row over the Baillieu government's bungled bid to rezone farmland at Phillip Island has been reignited by the revelation that the company behind the move is a generous contributor to the Liberal Party and headed by a former president of the party's Queensland branch.

Brisbane-based Brown Consulting played an instrumental role in Planning Minister Matthew Guy's surprise decision to rezone 23 hectares of farmland for residential development on the fringe of Ventnor hamlet on Phillip Island.

Read more:

But I am still unsure why you would approve a high rise tower block in a part of St Kilda Road where there are only low rise buildings yet deny permission to build a high rise tower block in another part of St Kilda Road where there are many high rise. Someone put it to me, protecting rich mates views. Of course I do not agree with such an allegation. I am just repeating what was said to me by a probably ill-informed person.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Highriser gets musically edjucated

While it was a general offer, it was a very generous offer. Frisky Librarian offered her readers a cd of music she likes. This must have been quite an undertaking. I wonder if she had more requests than she expected?

Nervous anticipation is not a good description, but an interest in another's musical taste is perhaps the right way to describe why I asked for the cd. I was dreading it being a collection of hard rock or rap or whatever, and then having to find nice things to say in thanks.

But of course anyone who's blog I always follow must have good taste. Goes without saying really. The cd duly arrived, complete with a track list and an artistic and stylish card with a note within. Is that not too nice?

But oh, to the music. I have made no bones about not liking music very much. It irritates me. It wasn't always so. You can conclude it is precursor to being a grumpy old man. I dutifully listened to the cd in my car on the way to and from work. It was rather good. Many of the tracks were recorded live, by people who sang without tech manipulation and played real instruments. It made me imagine that it could be quite good to go and see a live band.

My favourites were

Leeds United - Amanda Palmer

Your Protector - Fleet Foxes

and Snakebite - Gabby Young and Other Animals.

I had only heard of two of the performers on the whole cd, such is my musical knowledge, Imelda May, and The Waifs but I wasn't so keen on their tracks on the cd.

Let me see if the ones I like are on You Chube. As if they wouldn't be.

Amanda Palmer is brill.

Fleet Foxes

Gabby Young

I seriously like young people making clever music, live or with stylish clips.

I haven't been converted to a follower of modern music, but I understand its qualities.

Note to self, do yourself a favour tomorrow. Play these clips loud and dance around like no one is watching, well, no one will be.

Woolworths Bag

This bag came from Mount Gambier when were were there in July. We had forgotten that you don't get free plastic bags in supermarkets in South Australia. I think the bag cost 5 cents and it has been used, reused and reused many times. It is quite strong and folds up neatly. It is also larger than a conventional supermarket plastic bag. I am quite happy to pay 5 cents for such a useful bag.


Oldest niece held a barbecue at her new house on Saturday. We all attended as did some of her mother's side of the family. The house is a bit beyond the swamps of Langwarrin, but in a pleasant enough town. We bought her a house warming gift, a $60 vase, reduced to $14 and then when we paid for it, it was a further 20% off. We should have bought ourselves one too.

Sister arrived by the ferry from Queenscliff and there were many children for Little Jo to play with. Sister came back to our place afterwards, left Little Jo with us for the night, saw an important rugby match, then went to her home. She and Bone Doctor collected Little Jo the next morning on the way to a few days holidays in a work colleagues house near Mansfield.

Little Jo woke at 3am with a nightmare. R comforted her but she only slept fitfully afterwards. A certain indulgent Uncle who should know better allowed her rather too much to drink the preceding night and suffered the consequences of a wet bed in the morning. I went off to work in the morning while R took Little Jo to Prahran Market where she ran riot with all the other kids on play things.

But a disturbing thing happened at the Oldest Niece's barbecue. I must have been talking as I was only slightly aware of what happened. In a line sitting were two older women, R, myself then Mother. A girl aged maybe five came along to each of us and with the saddest expression on her face sincerely said sorry to each of us. I had no idea what was going on. Mother was the last in the line and took her into her arms and gave her a cuddle.

R was a little more aware of what happened and told me later. The girl had done something wrong and none of us knew what. She had been made to sit for five minutes facing a fence and then had to apologise to us all. Whatever she had done wrong was obvious to none of us.

I am one for sprouting that children need more discipline. They need to do what they are told. They need routine, etc etc. I am not much of one for putting these words into practice with Little Jo.

But truly, I think what that five year old had to do to atone for whatever she had done wrong was an extreme and humiliating punishment in front of strangers. Perhaps a whack on the bum immediately might have been more appropriate.

(later note) I have since learnt that the parents were on about their fifth can each of Bundaberg rum and coke.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Seven years, but who is counting

It is my blogiversary I shall self indulgently rant.

I started my blog on this day in 2004. I am astonished that someone like me with a very low boredom threshold has kept it going for seven years. Low boredom threshold is what it is about. My blog never bores me. Writing does not bore me. Comments don't bore me. The associations and people I have met and or come to know via my blog don't bore me. Some blogs bore me. Some I read from a sense of duty, but most blogs I read, I do so with great pleasure and interest. The things I have learnt from reading blogs is truly amazing, and suits me muchly as a person who knows a little about a lot. I know an awful lot more of a little about an awful lot more. What?

Me writing and reading what you have written is a high priority in my life. As half of a gay couple who rarely go out at night, and then usually only for dinner, I don't understand why my life feels so busy. At times I work unsociable hours and I do have a family and even have friends. Yet I can always find the time to read your writings, respond to your comments and have a post ready for tomorrow.

What does bore me is when bloggers who become part of your life and you know quite a bit about them, and then they just disappear. Ok, maybe it is just disappointment, not a bore. As in real life, friends come and go. So to do blogmates. I treasure the long term ones.

What really bores me is those who make one or two comments on my blog so that I will read theirs, and yes, I do, and then you don't hear from them again. Collectors of readers I suppose.

Rumours of the death of blogs seem premature. I don't like or read professional blogs generally. I get that sort of reading from newspapers. Blogs were big before social media got a foot in. In a way it is similar to blogging and I have tried to participate in social media, but I only have so much time in the day. Blog is the priority. Blogs won't die although the numbers may have reduced. Maybe what we have seen is a sorting of the committed from the casual.

This should get a decent editing, but I am over it.

For da pasta

There is a name for this style of china but I forget what it is. We used the dish to serve grated parmesan. The china spoon has long since broken but we use this one as a substitute. It is an apple atop a metal spoon we bought at the shop in Hirosaki Park in the north of Japan. Kitsch perhaps, but the smile is certainly cute.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Oh no, not another balloon photo

'Fraid so. They get ever closer. I could actually see peoples faces. I waved, they waved. While not headed towards me, I was sure they would crash into a tall building nearby, but no, they almost seemed to scrape the side of Lucient and went on their way.