312 days to Antarctica...“I'll Sleep When I’m Dead” Bon Jovi

“You gotta make decisions. You gotta keep making decisions, even if they're wrong decisions, you know. If you don't make decisions, you're stuffed.” Joe Simpson, “Touching The Void” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0379557/characters/nm1440698

It’s funny how life works. The weeks are rolling by so quickly. I have so much to do every day.

Habitat For Humanity were at my property on Wednesday and Thursday. They were fantastic. Three ladies and a man clearing my yard on Wednesday and salvaging stones, pavers, rocks to re-use in the garden beds and whatever else was left. I couldn’t stop crying. All the blood, sweat and tears that I had invested just destroyed and my yard looked like a tip.

Managed to save some of my late Mother’s pots, all I have left of her. Most importantly, they dug up some of my precious and heritage variety fruit trees that were still ok, remarkably. The rest didn't need to be moved as they were not in the way of the new septic tank. This continued over Thursday, four fabulous ladies, three of whom returned after their grueling efforts on Wednesday. They potted most of the plants, covering the unpotted, larger trees soil and shade cloth. There were at least eighteen, possibly twenty four fruit trees of various sizes, perhaps almost a dozen Nandina domestica plants, the sacred or heavenly bamboo and a few other miscellaneous plants, including native trees and shrubs. My five cherry trees, three fig trees and seven pear trees were part of the carnage created by clearing the jungle that had grown, covering my block over the last year. On Thursday I smiled as my property no longer looked like a tip. On Saturday two of my favourite people and most wonderful friends, who are also tree-changers that I met down here, went and collected all my plants to look after them and keep them safe on their farm until we can return home. We have no running water at home, absolutely nothing.

This was in readiness for some more land clearing to be carried out over the next few days. My new, over twenty thousand dollar septic system is to be installed on the 7th April. Very exciting and incredibly daunting. There is still much preparation of my land, especially removal of invasive, overhanging trees and other plants belonging to my neighbours, that will affect my ability to meet Environmental Protection Agency requirements relating to my new locally made and efficient Septic system.

Saturday was a road trip for Schrodie and myself, with friends. We travelled to Cooma, in the High Country for lunch. This is always a thrill for me as it is the country of ‘The Man From Snowy River’. Also because I love rod trips. We travelled for over eight hours. The day was fun, the weather glorious being a rather hot twenty eight degrees Celsius. Lunch was a delicious pumpkin, goats cheese, bean sprout and hazelnut, toasted sesame seed bagel. I love a good bagel but there not easy to get in the country. I was spoiled for choice in Bondi because of the large Jewish population. Bagels and I became firm friends in New York. I also love a good Rueben (Sandwich) and thinking about the ones I enjoyed in New York makes me both smile and salivate. Surprisingly, I have found places both in Sydney and the country where I can get a good Rueben that makes me smile and satiated. It’s enough for now, until I can return to New York.

The crappy thing that happened on Saturday, there is always something, was that I dropped my phone into a small bowl of water that I had in my handbag for Schrodie. People always quote Murphy’s Law; whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. For me, as ever this was a case of the lesser known O’Toole’s Law; Murphy was an optimist. My life was on that phone, what could I do? Nothing but hope that my phone could be salvaged enough for me to recover my photos and everything else.

Easter Sunday, tomorrow, we are walking with friends. We celebrate Orthodox Easter on 2nd May. For our friends it’s Easter Sunday and for others it is just Sunday. We hope that it is a great day for all and the long weekend is safe, relaxing and fun.

I’ve been throwing up every day and not feeling great. My blood and urine results have been fine, for which I am  grateful. A small part of me worries about more illness. I hope not. I don’t think I will survive anymore. I’m exhausted. I’m battle weary.

I have had so many decisions to make about my life and my new home. Getting all the preliminary decision making done in readiness for the build to start and my life to proceed as I want is hard work. It is mentally and emotionally exhausting, particularly as I am not in control of the processes. Thankfully I am able to manage the process and still manage to smile and laugh every day. No mean feat.

For the last couple of months I have been unwell and unable to continue with my exercises as previously. The Methotrexate, steroids and Benralizumab have been causing side-effects. Old injuries have flared up and causing me immeasurable pain. My strength has been compromised and I have been exhausted. Despite this I am improving and as happy as can be expected. Having spent almost a year in bed has taken a toll on me physically, emotionally and psychologically.

To counter this and the added horror of being locked away in Covid-19 isolation, I am enjoying being back in the world. I am always careful. A couple of nights a week I play trivia, which I love and makes me very happy. I play in different venues with different people and have met loads of new people. I have loads of fun. Often we win, sometimes with major point handicaps for having won in previous weeks, which is always a bonus. I love facts. I am good at riddles but not puzzles or anagrams. It’s how I learned as a child and how my brain works. I know very little about sports but still manage to win sports questions and a free drink at times. Good fun. Eye candy and flirtation is an added bonus. I am surprised and flattered that men don’t notice or simply don’t care that I am recovering from illness and everything else.

When I lived in Sydney I played loads of trivia, with lots of different people in different venues and locations. I love facts. I am very competitive. People often say that facts are useless. I always say that nothing is useless just not relevant at any point in time. Probably the craziest and most fun trivia I have ever played was years ago at the North Bondi RSL. At times, people would start stripping, it was hilarious and across the road from home. I’m sure it’s very different now. The bonus of trivia is that I am starting to use my brain again., after a year spent in almost a comatose state. My function, memory and confidence is being restored and improving every week. I surprise myself at some of the information I am able to recall on the spot. Not recalling when I know the answer is incredibly frustrating. My music trivia is nowhere near as good as it used to be but it is still okay. I often have to stand my ground with my male team-mates who are often adamant, even when they are wrong. Now they trust me when I say I know the answer. Often they’re facts that they don’t know and they are all interesting, smart and very knowledgeable people.

Johnny (my guitar) and I learned to play “A Horse With No Name” by America this week. I find this pretty cool. I have lots of practice  ahead of me. My hands are improving. The atrophied muscles seemed to be a bit better. My strength is improving, slowly.

I completed my writing course. The courses are to give me back some structure in my life. Help me focus my brain after a year of practically being comatose. It is also a creative outlet. I am learning some new skills and brushing up on existing ones. It will extend my employment options, if required. I have always worked very hard over the years to make sure I always have various employment options. This is more important now than ever. I have enjoyed my course. I am ready for the next one.

At times I find myself being overwhelmed with how much I must do and the varied, quick and important decisions I must make every day. The PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) I acquired, not surprisingly doesn’t help. Whenever I get stuck, in my head, I hear Joe Simpson’s words and see him saying them. When “Touching the Void” was released I was lucky enough to get free tickets as a guest of National Geographic, to the Australian Premier. At the time no one I knew was interested in coming to the Premier with me. I went anyway. I had no interest in Mountaineering or Mountain climbing and never understood why people did this crazy thing of climbing these mountains.

My decision to go to the Premier that night and watch “Touching the Void” changed my life. Joe Simpson was at the Premier but I had no interest in meeting him then, now he is one of my heroes. Joe’s story, courage, strength has inspired me from the first. Joe's words helped me when I was at the lowest and worst point in my life, then, I was lost, overwhelmed and struggling to go on when my life had been destroyed by circumstances. I walked away from toxicity and the price was devastating. I was at my weakest physically, mentally, emotionally. I was almost alone. I was poverty stricken. I was homeless. I needed to start over. My faith had all but left me and I did not know what to do or how to proceed. I did not know how to do what I needed. It was terrifying, heartbreaking and soul destroying. I had the innate ability and foundation to survive but my will to do so was almost gone. My light was all but extinguished. Over the years I have learned that the fight is ALWAYS in your head!

Joe Simpson’s words helped me and kept me going. I was grateful that I knew and was comfortable with making decisions and that they are never permanent, keeping me stuck or trapped. I kept making decisions. I keep making decisions. I know that if and when I make a poor decision that I can make a new and better decision to change a situation. Without Joe Simpson’s story, words and inspiration I may not have survived. It was the crutch I needed to keep going and made my world less dark. My light got brighter and I made some incredibly hard but fantastic decisions that changed my life for the better, once again. I fought with more than I had in me to get out of that Hell. This is a story for another time. I hope that I, like Joe, may help others as he has helped me.

I share “Touching the Void” whenever I feel it might help another. A few years ago, I watched the film with my nephews and niece who were ranging in ages from three years to twelve years. The two older boys tried to hate it but could not deny the quality, inspiration and impact of the story. My sister was horrified when she saw images of a frostbitten Joe on the screen and chided me for scaring the children. I asked them, individually if they were scared. The unanimous answer was no. I do not believe in hiding reality from children. I do not believe in sanitizing life. I do believe in relaying messages appropriately and effectively. I believe that children, in fact all of us, need to understand the risks and perils of life. They need to understand that every choice and action has a consequence, we all do. They all understood the messages. I felt that I had succeeded in my role as their Auntie. Making decisions, confronting and pushing through fear, having the faith to keep going no matter what horrors you might face are paramount in life and incredibly important skills.

“Touching the Void” also made me realize that Mountaineering is akin to my need for adrenaline to re-balance my equilibrium and feel alive. I get it now after this incredible, unbelievable and amazing story. Joe Simpson managed to inspire five little people as well as me. The surprising gift for me was that my three year old niece and five year old nephew started rock climbing after watching this film.

I keep hearing Joe and see him speaking these words whenever I start to falter. His story is similar to mine insofar as we went from a great position to bad to worse to even worse and the worst was unbelievable and unimaginable, yet we survived against all the odds and thrived. Joe’s story is reassurance for me, in my moments of weakness. Thank you Joe.

May Joe and his story inspire you also….

Every day is still a struggle to eat. I just made on of my favourite go to meals, a Chorizo, spinach, tomato and pea soup. So delicious, warming, hearty, cheap, quick and easy. I’ve been making it for years. I don’t remember where I learned the recipe. I love soups. I love a good sausage. I love pork. I love Chorizo but it’s actually really hard to get good, proper ones. I’ve had some over the years that made me vomit, even the ones they use on MasterChef. 

I’ll add recipes and photos later, probably in pages. I’m off to enjoy my soup.

“Sleep When I’m Dead” Bon Jovi, I love this song. It's pretty much been my anthem since it was released, so long ago. It pretty much sums up how I live my life, "burning the candle at both ends" as Mummy always used to tell me when warning of it's perils as a lifestyle. Mummy was right of course but it's been worth it as the experiences, joy and fun have been unbelievable. How lucky I am and have been so far...

Hope you have a great week.

Add a comment or ask a question in the below comments section.

See you next time…


 Touching the Void by Joe Simpson (English) Paperback Book ...





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