Sunday, November 27, 2016

Well That Was Unexpected

A bit over a week ago I was happily going about my business after a routine GP visit. Pisces and I went shopping, getting home at about 1:30 PM when I started to feel very tired so I skipped lunch and went to lie down. Within an hour I was in agony with shoulder pain that quickly accelerated to excruciating with any movement.

Pisces took me back to the GP who thought I might have torn a tendon, gave me strong painkillers and referred me for a MRI. I didn't sleep that night because of the pain but next morning my pain level was still increasing.

Finally I succumbed to Pisces's pleadings and agreed to go to the ED. Turned out this was a good decision because within 5 minutes of getting in the ED doctor had diagnosed an infection in the joint and I was blood tested, x-rayed, CT scanned and seen by the orthopaedic registrar in short order. By now it was midnight and I was to be admitted for observation with further investigations in the morning.

When I got to the ward everything changed. There the orthopaedic consultant examined me and decided I needed emergency surgery as soon as possible, telling me I'd be next on the operating list. The operation went well but I had to stay in hospital for a week.

I'm now home but still in some pain with a physio regime to stop me developing a frozen shoulder and am well aware of how lucky I was that it was picked up when it was or the result could have been very serious.

The whole thing has reminded me - not for the first time this year which has been a series of trials as far health is concerned - to be grateful for the fact that I live in a country where we have an efficient public health system where I received timely and effective treatment and spending a week in hospital has not left me with an enormous bill at the end.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

It's Been Been Hot.

Oh yes, it has.Yesterday it had reached 37 C on our shady veranda by 11:00 AM and we're close to the beach where it's usually cooled down by the sea breeze. This used to be known as the Fremantle Doctor round here, I haven't heard it called that for many years but it's not a bad choice given it is always refreshing and a relief after a scorching day.

Sadly yesterday the Doctor only managed a few pathetic breaths - fortunately enough to keep the smoke from a fire in a piece of bushland only a few kilometres away heading in the opposite direction from us at least until the firies got it under control. Then it dropped which meant the outside temperature was still 34 C the last time I checked at around 8:30 PM. Inside, though, it was still a quite pleasant 29 C thanks to our efficient insulation and the way the architect who designed our house planned for the climate.

Around 9:30 PM I took some rubbish out to the bin and decided it had cooled enough for me to open a few windows and doors. Not the best idea as it turned out because within half an hour smoke came rushing in - the fire had flared up again - and I raced around shutting windows and doors. Still the house was cool and comfortable. We hadn't even had to turn on the ceiling fans.

This morning the temperature raced up outside. By 9:00 AM it was 34 C and it looked like we were in for another scorching day but by midday the temperature had dropped to 30 C as the sea breeze came in. It's now 17 C and the forecast for tomorrow is for rain and a maximum of 21 C. Such a range of temperature in two days is to put it mildly unusual but I suspect it's something we have to get used to. Weather patterns are changing all over the world and we will just have to adjust.

And in one final note which has nothing to do with weather my iPad has been doing some bizarre things while I've been typing this post. Autocorrect has been making some interesting changes. The best/worst was changing 'managed' to 'megadeath'. Really. Well it would have made for a very different post, wouldn't it.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Disaster! Well, Maybe Not.

What happened was that when I went out to check my vegetable seedlings the day before yesterday I found something had shredded a couple of the newspaper tubes I use to raise some of my seedlings. These tubes are simple to make, environmentally friendly and cause less transplant disruption because I can plant them directly into the garden where the paper will help hold water around the roots and eventually disintegrate. As well they let me grow the seedlings on to a stage where the slaters (woodlice or pill bugs to non-Aussies) are less likely to eat through the stems. I say less likely because they have been known to eat through stems of plants they really like that are as much as 1-2 centimetres in diameter. They can reach plague proportions in well mulched gardens - and given our high summer temperatures and water restrictions mulching is essential here if you want to grow vegetables.

I wasn't all that worried by this small amount of damage. I figured a magpie or raven - both regularly visit the garden - had mistaken the curve of an emerging bean seed for a worm, found out their mistake and wouldn't bother me again. Boy, was I wrong.

This is what I found yesterday morning.

And that is just part of it. Newspaper, seedlings and potting mix, some of which had come from the yellow pots in the photo, were spread over most of the paving, the black seedling containers had been emptied and the blue pots - where I have planted some hard to get heritage tomato seeds - were covered in scraps of newspaper.

After several hours I had managed to retrieve and repot or plant out most of the seedlings but obviously this wouldn't to stop something similar happening again to those still in tubes. So they spent last night tucked up under a shade cloth cover and the only damage was to one pot that got partly uncovered during the night. Fingers - and everything else - crossed that I'll be able to keep them alive until I can plant them out. Since we are expecting another unseasonal 38 C in the next few days this may be harder than I'd hoped.


Saturday, November 05, 2016

Ow! Ow! Ow!

While I was out watering the pot plants - and for those who are not Australian I do not mean 'pot' plants as in cannabis, here that means any plants grown in pots - I walked into a huge number of ants all racing frantically around. There was no sense of order at all in what they were doing. They were just rushing about apparently in complete confusion.

I was wandering along focussing on the hanging baskets so didn't notice them until they started climbing all over me - up my legs, inside my jeans, along the hose I was holding, onto my hands, up my arms and inside my t-shirt. Then, when I stamped and shook my hands to try to dislodge them, they decided I was an enemy and started to sting. Now these are coastal brown ants and their sting isn't all that severe but when you have a dozen or so deciding to sting at once it's not pleasant. I hosed my feet and hands and managed to get rid of the majority but they were so stirred up they kept coming.

I reluctantly reached for the insect spray - I rarely use poisons but sometimes you just have to - and sprayed. I've just been out again to see what's happening and things have quietened down although there are still numbers of ants - far more than usual - randomly hurrying around.

Why this happening I don't know but it might be down to the weather. We're having an unseasonal scorcher of a day. I just checked the thermometer and it's already 32.1 C in the shade on the back veranda and it's not even midday - and the forecast is for 37 C. When you realise that yesterday was 26 C  - the usual temperature for this time of year - it's more than possible that the ants are simply severely stressed and this is their response. I certainly hope so. I don't want to be spending my life fending off crazed ants.

The temperature is expected to go back to a more normal 25 C tomorrow and I've got everything crossable crossed that it's right. I got up early and spent a couple of hours rigging up temporary shade cloth shelters in the vegie patch but whether that will be enough to protect things like the lettuce and silverbeet only time will tell.