Family Stuff

Journal: 089

My last Journal post had me doing a lap of the country. Well here it is a month later and I’m back in Mt Isa, been sitting here for a week, in a cabin in a caravan park (‘trailer park’, Melanie), waiting for a promised load home which keeps getting put back. When this is posted in two or three days time, I hope I’m on my way.

Keeping me company is a blacky-green frog, about the size of my hand when his legs are spread out, living under the lip of my toilet bowl. In the rush of flushing water he’ll wave his legs frantically fighting to hold his position at the top of the slope; when the water is slow to run it seems he is part way up the pipe to the cistern, blocking the flow; a few days ago he voluntarily or otherwise slid down the slope for a swim, but he doesn’t seem to regard the u-bend as a viable way out.

All this free time is dangerous. I’ve come to the conclusion I should sell two of my (three) trailers, buy a new, specialist trailer, and concentrate on wide loads, mostly in WA. The new trailer will be another drop-deck with ramps but the lower deck widens, like a dining room table, from the standard 2.5m out to 3.5 m, and will be better set up for road train work than my current, old drop-deck.

And why would I spend $100,000 on new gear rather than retire. Well, a) because it’s fun; and b) because it seems old truckies generally prefer to keep on truckin’: “the average age of truck drivers is 57, … 20% of truck drivers have already reached retirement age, and less than one in five are under 30 … women make up 7%.” Victorian Transport Association 28/07/2022.

After my last Mt Isa trip, I sat home for a week or so then did a load down to (daughter & son in law) Gee and Oak’s bush block on the south coast (between Albany and Denmark), with boxes and furniture on one trailer, a 4wd and (unroadworthy) caravan on the other, and grandson Mr 12 in the passenger seat. We listened to an Ian Rankin (non-Rebus) book about an art heist. Mr 12 was very involved and would pause it occasionally to discuss the villain, Mr Hate.

I managed to catch up with Milly for one meal and then she flew up to Darwin to be with our daughter Psyche while she has chemo for what was feared might be rapid-onset MS. (Yes, they’ve said I could blog this.)

So, first of all, the first chemo went well – the second of two treatments is today (Thurs) as I write, and the prognosis for the future seems good. At least, Psyche felt well enough last weekend to have a night on the town. Walking is now a hassle but we’ve been discussing on the family Messenger site whether her cane might be a sword stick. Ms 18 found them on the internet: “You can whip it out if someone takes your parking,” she suggested. “Or if someone takes your seat at the pub,” wrote Ms 18’s mother, getting the family priorities sorted.

On the day of the first chemo, Psyche was high on steroids; Milly tripped over a line and ripped out a cannula, spraying Psyche with blood; and the girl babysitting Milly’s little dog, Jute, rang to say she – the dog – had a broken leg. The Messenger stream for that day is full of concern. For Jute mainly.

We still don’t know if Jute attacked a monitor lizard; a dog got in; Jute got stuck under the couch; or, as the vet suggested, she was running and stepped in a hole. In any case, she has a compound fracture and has since seen an orthopaedic surgeon and had a plate inserted. Milly may be stuck in Darwin for weeks until Jute is fit to fly. Luckily she just sold her old house because most of the proceeds have gone on vet fees.

Just to fit all the kids in. I stopped at Tennant Creek and had breakfast again with Lou, at a cafe in the main street. Very civilized.

Despite all the time off work I take I am not blogging very well, either writing or keeping up with you lot. The AWWC gig takes a lot of time, reading and writing for my own once a month piece and chasing/editing for the one or two guest posts. But I find it immensely rewarding. So I guess this site will have to remain erratic for the forseeable future. A case in point is the North American post due last week. I’ve now listened to the book, Life among the Qallunaat, and I’ll write it up this weekend.

Photos 1 & 3 (Psyche & Jute) by Milly

And yes,I finally got away from Mt Isa on Saturday, came around the top through Katherine, Kununurra, Port Hedland and am on my way down to Kalgoorlie.


Recent audiobooks 

Faye Weldon (F, Eng), Mantrapped (2004) – SFF?
Tea Obreht (F, Serbia/USA), The Tiger’s Wife (2011)
Yrsa Sigurdardottir (F, Ice), My Soul to Take (2009)
Marge Piercy (F, USA), Woman on the Edge of Time (1976) – SF

Currently Reading 

Aaron Fa’Aoso with Michelle Scott Tucker (Aus), So Far, So Good (2022) – Memoir
Claire G Coleman (F, Aus/WA), Enclave (2022) – SF
Yoko Ogawa (F, Jap), The Memory Police (1994) – SF
Ada Cambridge (F, Aus/Vic), A Mere Chance (1880)
Ada Cambridge (F, Aus/Vic), Thirty Years in Australia (1903) – Memoir
Alan Wearne (M, Aus/Vic), Out Here (1986) – Verse Novel
KS Prichard (F, Aus/WA), The Roaring Nineties (1946)
WW Ammon (M, Aus/WA), Wheel Tracks (1966) – Memoir
Jane Rawson (F, Aus/Tas), A History of Dreams (2022) – SFF

AWWC July 2022

Fri 01Stories FTAM.G.B., Her Little Lad
Wed 06Elizabeth LhuedeGender female: “E C Morrice”
Fri 08Stories FTAE Charles, True Till Death
Wed 13Marcie McCauleyKatharine Susannah Prichard, Goldfields Trilogy
Fri 15Stories FTA“Sharp-eyed hussies”, John Dalley
Wed 20Bill HollowayAda Cambridge, A Mere Chance
Fri 22Stories FTAAda Cambridge, A Sweet Day
Wed 27Whispering GumsEleanor Dark’s juvenilia
Fri 29Stories FTA“G.M.M.”, “A Novelist at Home”

42 thoughts on “Family Stuff

  1. A stick is also really handy for crossing a busy road. Even the nastiest of hoons will slow down to let you cross, presumably because they fear getting blood on their headlights…


      • I looked up ‘hoons’ at Wikipedia for you, but hereby offer some complementary info.
        Hoons are young men who drive big noisy cars (a.k.a. hoonmobiles) at speeds well above the limit. Their cars have two speeds: too fast, and stop. They spend more money and time on their cars than anything else in their lives (including women), and their reading material consists of car magazines and speeding fines. They come out of their garages after motor sport races, attempting to emulate the behaviour of the racers, sometimes in the middle of the night in places well away from interfering police, but sometimes, as I know from experience, in peak hour traffic or on long straight sections of urban highways.
        Alas, they are rarely skilled, though they think they are. Occasionally en route to work I would amuse myself with these tailgaters (another identifying feature) by leaving them for dead on corners… they couldn’t hold even a graceful corner at the speed limit of 60kph. It probably surprised them that a middle-aged woman could accelerate away into the distance while they were still back in the corner struggling to regain control of their vehicle. They were not to know that at the age of 18 I was taught to drive at Albert Park Lake (where the Melbourne Grand Prix is now held) by the racer who held the lap record at the Phillip Racing Circuit, and I learned to hold a corner at 100 m.p.h. Yes, miles. This is before we decimalised, and before there was any speed limit at Albert Park Lake.
        This skill did not make me eligible to be a hoon. I was the wrong gender, and my car was a very zippy Renault Gordini with the engine in the back. Hoons in those days did not drive European cars. Worse than that, I observed the speed limit, and have only one speed violation on my crime file, when over 40 years ago I mistook the speed limit in an unfamiliar road notorious for its poor signage.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Lisa, your answer is much better than anything I ever could have found with Google. We definitely have American hoons, then, based on what you describe. The fact that that same personality exists around the globe makes me sad, but there you have it. And it was an extra treat to know they you can be a speedster!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you Lisa, I think that’s as comprehensive an answer as we’ll ever get (and I was sure Neill was going to answer from his own experience. Me? I was 26 before I owned a car).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Snap! I also was 26 before I owned a car. Before then, if I required one, I’d unashamedly approach friends or acquaintances who did, and borrow them (the cars, not the friends). One time I borrowed a Mini, and had to head back to the owner to find out how to start it (by pressing a button). I suspect the term “hoon” could also be applied to some motor bike riders. Much the same idea, going too fast in a showy fashion.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Melanie, I walked a lot, as my my 40 something non-driving son does still; I lived and worked in inner Melbourne so walking and trams were all I needed. Later, I owned a van, which soon died; hitch hiked for about a year, till I could afford a ute ( a small pickup) – an Austin 1800 Mk II. My first car I bought after the Young Bride left me and I needed some consolation – a two door Holden Monaro HK186 (by which time I had owned 3 trucks)


      • I love that there are ways to get around without owning a vehicle. In the U.S. we often talk about how we don’t invest in mass transit (and I’ve read jokes about how in the U.S. if you ride the bus you are seen as a loser, but everywhere else if you ride the bus you are just like everyone else). However, we also don’t invest in safety for bicycles or walking. Oftentimes, there are no side walks or bike paths, and the number of people who have died in South Bend since I moved here in 2008 on a bicycle or walking is a pretty significant number.


      • Your long distance buses seem better organized than ours which really are only used by poor people. But our bicycle paths are pretty good, though in both Melbourne and Perth I live(d) near the river along which there are always paths. Now that Milly lives just along and across the river from me, I can ride down either side and cross on dedicated paths under or alongside the roadways on the 3 bridges plus one footbridge.


      • I think you either sent me pictures of the trip to Milly’s or I looked at it on Google maps, because I remember it being close and easy to travel to without a car.


      • Not that I don’t still drive when attacked by laziness. We had intended to buy an electric car by now, but with both of us living in apartments we don’t have access to power points.


  2. Oh this would be funny if the things that are happening to you all weren’t so sad. Fingers crossed for Psyche. It’s an awful condition but I know some “versions” can be well managed. (I wrote ‘managed’ and autocorrect somehow put in ‘mismanaged’. However I caught that in time)

    Love the pub idea use for a walking stick and love your family’s priorities.

    This, though, made me laugh or grimace more: “Luckily she just sold her old house because most of the proceeds have gone on vet fees.” Anyhow at least she’s stuck up in Darwin at the right time of year.

    As for your truck plans, all I can say is, you are incorrigible. I truly don’t know how you can stay awake for that long on the road. My eyes will often droop after an hour or so.


  3. A stick is useful if you’re being harangued by bicycle riders. Thrust it through a wheel! But make sure it’s a sturdy stick, otherwise it might end up bent.


    • I get annoyed by bike riders – except of course when I’m the one on the bike – but hopefully they’ll give her a wide berth on shared paths. The modern problem seems to be escooters, according to the news anyway.


  4. Oh Bill, that’s a lot happening… a lot of worry. I hope that worry eases over coming weeks, as chemo does its thing and bones mend (and frogs find a place they can live comfortably). Take care. K


  5. I have been away Bill and am just catching up with things – so sorry to hear some things are less than great and I hope Psyche and the dog are improving – and Lisa is right, drivers slow right down for anyone with a cane, for precisely the reason she mentioned! We have a retirement village near here on a diabolical intersection, but the dear old folk amble across the road with impunity (no pedestrian crossing either!) – the drivers are all terrified!

    I owe my vet so much money I will be paying him off forever, so I know the pain! My small dog just had several teeth out – about a thousand dollars gone for that little lot & it’s ruined his smile (and mine).


    • I’m glad the drivers pay attention. When my farmer grandfather was developing dementia I asked another local farmer I knew how they coped with his driving. He said they all knew to give him a wide berth. I don’t know how the tourists knew, but anyway they missed him – and poor old grandma in the passenger seat.

      All you people love your dogs. But the money!


  6. My first thought was to ask if you enjoy writing for the other website, and you’ve answered that. But, I confess that I miss you terribly. I’m a weepy goofball, though, so keep that in mind. I enjoy your personal updates a great deal, but I also want to know what you think about Woman on the Edge of Time. I used to talk to Jackie about how she couldn’t keep up with blogging despite wanting to, and I kept trying to get her to just copy and paste the synopsis and then give a general impression of what she enjoyed and didn’t without doing so much digging and research, etc. I haven’t heard from Jackie in a long time, but the last message I got was about how her blog got corrupted and now is not only a giant spam site, but may also pass spam on to anyone who visits it. Also, she is having another baby.

    I can’t believe what a circus things have been for your family lately, and I’m interested in your family group chat. We have no such thing that I know of, though I think I heard something about my dad’s mom texting everyone on Facebook together. She throws in the most random, worrisome details like “I may have cancer, but I’m leaving on a cruise tomorrow, don’t wait up” or something like that. That dog must be something special if it stole the show over your daughter’s treatment and the blood spray (very spooky horror). I know there are folks who spend a lot on pets, and in the U.S. everyone is encouraged to get pet insurance (yes, it’s a real thing). But I’m just not attached to any pet that much. Either it’s a small thing or we’re having an end-of-life conversation about cost/is the pet suffering. Biscuit’s dog is so very old and looks like a pile of sticks with fur, but at his check up the doctor pointed out the dog has a bad heart but is not suffering. She pays a bit for pills and away the dog goes. Now he’s killing baby birds that fall on the ground (which terrorizes the grandkids next door).


    • Milly’s talking about getting pet insurance, thinks it might be better value than private health insurance. (She’s close enough to retired that free government medical care should be enough). As for Biscuit’s dog and baby birds, well, I’m not a dog person.

      I hope Jackie’s doing ok and that her farm is going well. It’s a shame we don’t hear from her these days but, realistically, it was always ambitious to hope to continue blogging with small babies (I think my daughter’s PhD has disappeared down the same gurgler).

      What we have on Fb is group messaging. Lot’s of silly stuff is said that hopefully wouldn’t be said out in the open.

      I hope I review Woman on the Edge of Time. I want to find a hard copy first so I can study Piercy’s Introduction which seemed to tie in with a lot of things I have written in the past about women’s SF.


      • It does seem like the bloggers with babies and a full-time job disappear. I know Anne Logan at I’ve Read This and Karissa at Realizing Grace both kept blogging, but I believe at the time she was a stay-at-home mom. Jackie works full-time, and I believe she was working more than 40 hours during the pandemic/work from home, which was common. Basically, it became too easy to work from home, and lots of folks realized they were passing that “normal” 40 hour mark for the U.S.

        I hope your daughter bounces back on her PhD if that is something she still wants. In recent years I’ve read about a number of folks quitting their PhD part-way through because they study the same topic so much that they kill all the joy in it. Plus, at least here, there is also little guarantee of getting a tenure-track professor job. Colleges are really leaning hard into adjunct (almost-free) labor.


      • I think that by moving down south Gee has finally given up on her PhD, though she hasn’t said so. All through her studies (in geology) she’s had some terrific job offers from major mining companies but she’s a greenie and a mother, and only ever wanted university work which the corporatisation of universities has made increasingly insecure.
        Now she has parlayed her research skills into a management job in fire mitigation in the forests down south, so she’s probably too busy to study anyway.
        So close to our first Dr Holloway and yet so far!


  7. I’m coming to this late as keeping up with the reading and my own reviews and then the Commonwealth Games has got me behind on reading blogs! Today I had a dilemma – India vs Australia in the table tennis. “Well, I know some Indian bloggers and read a lot of books set there but I have my Australian book blogger friends and little pile of Indigenous reading – I’ll support both” – and I did. Glad Psyche and Jute are coming along well, good that Psyche has got urgent treatment as such things are so often downplayed and ignored by medical folk. I love the idea of a sword stick!


    • You’re not very late, and no where near as late as I am with your posts. Sorry!
      I wasn’t clear from Facebook whether you had done any marshalling for the Commonwealth Games. I hope all the activities around the Games have been lots of fun.
      Psyche has had a very frustrating few years getting this sorted. Had to knock back a high-powered executive position last year due to what seemed to be ongoing chronic fatigue. I think she is relieved to finally have a diagnosis and treatment. Not so happy about the possibility of a wheelchair!
      Milly is stuck in Darwin a couple more weeks till she can get a flight for Jute. I’d better find some work to do to fill in the time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No, unlike most of my local friends, I haven’t been volunteering at the Games. I’m sad not to be, but basically I’m qualified in track, field and endurance officiating though at a lowish level, you might remember I used to do that work, but I had to stop. But I knew if I applied to volunteer I’d end up in that area again to use my skills, and didn’t want that, so I didn’t (I have carried on volunteering at my running club and being part of my parkrun core team). So just attending multiple events – one today and one tomorrow still to come!

        And yes, having a diagnosis is a relief, but that’s a hard road to travel.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. As I said on my blog to your comment, you have all been in my thoughts, but finding time to read and comment on blogs atm is not as easy as it once was. I thought when the kids finished school and have basically left home, that I would have more time, but I seem to have lost it. Although maybe it’s fair to say I’ve lost the need to go super-dooper fast at everything, multitasking like there was no tomorrow. So maybe I do have more time, I’m just going slower and not being as efficient as I used to be!!

    So, hoons. In the country town I finished highschool in, the hoons used to do ‘laps of the main’ (as well as all the other things Lisa mentioned). Mr Books said this was also the case in his country town, and that he may have done a lap or two himself at one point. And of course, the windows were down, so everyone in the street could here their duff duff music! The serious hoon though had a suped up engine, noisy muffler and extra big wheels.

    I hope that Psyche and Jute are doing better this week and that you got a safe, paying trip home.


    • Bron, please don’t worry, we are all struggling to read all that we think we should. And like you, I often read a post and think that it needs time/thought before I can make a serious comment (also explains why some of my comments are less than serious).

      I can’t imagine what US country towns are like with 16 year old drivers, though I think my grandchildren might be starting younger than that, she put up a photo of Mr Two in an old truck and when I said I expected he would be driving soon, she replied she has set aside an old 4wd for the kids (aged 0-12).

      I might have forgotten to ask after Jute last time I phoned, but Psyche’s doing ok, thanks, though is a bit nervous about Milly coming home next week.


  9. I don’t think I’d welcome sharing a toilet with a frog, no matter how friendly he might be 🙂

    Gosh your family has had some tumultuous times lately. Hope all goes well with the chemo treatment and there are not too many side effects. Steroids play havoc with sleep patterns unfortunately


    • As far as I could tell the frog was trapped, unable to climb over the lip of the bowl (even if I might have sometimes left the seat up).

      I probably play up the tumult. The chemo seems to have gone well. Psyche has had trouble sleeping, due to pain, and I think the steroids help with that.


  10. Well, I’d been wondering about all of this and now see that I could have simply stayed more uptodate here and had all the answers. By now, I’m sure the whole situation looks rather different and, hopefully, rosier for all (frog included).


    • Marcie, I’ve never been sure why you prefer batch reading to timely reading, but there you are and it’s fun when a batch needs to be addressed, as now obviously. I thought I’d phone Psyche and get an update four months (!) on. But she didn’t pick up (Friday night is party night) so all I can say is things are going along smoothly for the time being and last I heard she was getting a full-time flat-mate/carer – and a new flat, without stairs.


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