137 days to Antarctica... "Moonshadow" Cat Stevens/Yusuf
Approximately 20 minutes reading time
“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world. You impoverish yourself if you forget this errand.” Woodrow Wilson
Hello, I hope that your week has been a good one and that you are well.
Thank you to everyone for your wonderful messages. I am glad that you are finding my blog valuable and helpful. I am humbled that you appreciate my efforts, I am grateful, especially that you have shared this with me. I am stunned and delighted that so many of you find my blog, organically. There are countless pages of my Heroes and inspirations and Medical, Philosophical and other information, so much more that I wish to include and share with you over time. I hope that you find that these too will be of interest and value to you.
Schrodie is home and I am happy. I missed him so. He had a fun holiday filled with adventures, for which I am glad. Without Schrodie I do not walk, dance or feel as happy. We managed a lovely walk today whilst it was sunny and warm. It was simply glorious and we both enjoyed it, meeting lots of people and their dogs. The gardens are in full bloom and the air is filled with the wonderful scents of Spring. Jasmine is in full bloom and it's intoxicating perfume permeates the air, filling me with joy. Jasmine is one of my favourite plants. It reminds me of the Arabian Nights. The weather has been predominately cold and wet over the last couple of weeks. Insects are everywhere. Bees are lovely to see but massive, revolting blowflies abound, already and this will worsen greatly as the weather gets hotter, especially in the Summertime. Every day and night I go out into our garden and enjoy the light, sweet fragrance of the beautiful Ornamental Cherry Tree with its beautiful white blossoms. At night the tree and blooms look like they have been lit by golden light, this is so beautiful to behold. All day and night they make me smile and fill me with joy as the flowers dance in their air, in their little bunches, looking like dancing Fairies. It is such a wonderful sight. I did not even notice last year because I was critically ill and bed ridden. I am glad that we can enjoy the gardens, ours and others now. We love our walks. Today was my first walk and dance in a couple of weeks. The best thing about our walks now are all the Ducklings. All babies are beautiful but to me there is something magical and extra joyful about Ducklings. There are so many new, young families with loads of Ducklings that we see and it is incredibly wonderful and joyful for us both!
My mind is blown that children and animals have relationships with people and animals that their parents and owners do not know. Schrodie went for his monthly groom and farm play date. I know Murphy but not his other three friends and playmates. He has friends he sees when he stays with my friend. These are people, including neighbours, friends, family and others as well as animals that I do not always know. This reminds me of a time I was in a small, historic village in the Hunter Valley with my sister and her dog Aesop. As we were walking down the street a lady called out to Aesop and came over to see him. My sister did not know this woman. My sister asked her how she knew Aesop? The lady said that she worked at the place he was groomed. Crazy how life works and where you meet people. My life has been filled with unbelievable and filled with countless experiences with Synchronicity. I know too many people from too many different lives lived. It’s incredible and wonderful, making sure that life is never dull. These are tales for another time.
It never ceases to amaze me how much can happen in a day let alone over a week. My family doctor, General Practitioner, (G.P.) confirmed that I am burnt out from all the stress that I have been under, particularly relating to my Bushfire rebuild. I can’t say that I was surprised. It has taken the worst toll on me. My exhaustion is constant. My rash improved then exploded again. I asked my G.P. when I could expect this exhaustion and burn out to improve to which he replied when the stress stops. When I go home and these people are out of my life. This is no surprise to me. My bloods were good as expected which is why I did not hear from my Rheumatologist. My C-reactive protein (CRP), an important inflammation marker was fine showing no inflammation. I feel constantly weak and pretty terrible, so tired. I have spent most of the time in bed exhausted, these last two weeks. I have been struggling to function. I have been in unbearable pain as all my joints are painful. The pain in my Ulnar Nerves has increased as a direct result of the stress. My Physiotherapist explained this to me, the stress causes inflammation in the channels where the nerves glide which restricts their ability to move causing pain, which is all due to the stress that I have been put under by the builders. It has been a constant, ongoing nightmare with every problem solved being replaced by countless more problems. I have had enough. The worst stress is the threat of homelessness that looms over me. I completed my course of antibiotics today. My prednisone dose is now reduced again by one milligram each and every day to two milligrams. My weaned dose drops to one milligram next month. At the end of November I will no longer be on Prednisone and I am thrilled. I hate this horrible drug but I am grateful it helped save my life and most especially that I will be off it soon. Then I wish to come off the Methotrexate. Then the Benralizumab. The side-effects from these drugs are terrible. I have needed to take some pain killers as the pain is constant and ever increasing. This adds to my exhaustion as does the prednisone and its weaning dose. The pain also impacts my blood sugar and blood pressure, even though I do not have a blood pressure problem. Ongoing pain also creates stress in my body which aggravates illness and any underlying conditions. Thankfully, I no longer suffer from any underlying conditions, type 1 Diabetes not included but I usually forget about it. As I no longer work in retail and am not constantly dealing with random people on an ongoing basis, my risk of infections is reduced. This makes my need for Benralizumab negligible. These drugs create problems where there were previously none. I will take my chances with any flare-ups of anything as they arise rather than stay on these terrible drugs unnecessarily, as a precaution, for the rest of my life. My aim is to completely restore my health and strength as much as possible, without the need for ongoing medications. Sporadic pain medication is the exception when the pain becomes too great. If the need for medications arises, I will take them as necessary, temporarily. This is my choice.
My thoughts keep moving to Sisyphus from Ancient Greek Mythology. Like him I feel that I am constantly pushing an enormous boulder up the steepest mountain with no respite, ever at this point in time. The boulder keeps rolling back to the bottom once I reach the top and place it firmly down. Sisyphus was punished by the God’s for cheating Hades and death twice. I have cheated him so many more times than two. My near death experiences have been multiple and too many to count. Dramatic as this sounds it is true and not an exaggeration. I have defied Hades so many times and the Fates to survive and function as I am, after all that I have been forced to endure since the Bushfire that stole my home and life on 5th January 2020. I am grateful but I wonder why? I wonder who has helped me, continues to help me and why? I know that my respite is coming, eventually, as soon as we can go home. I stand with ever open arms to greet this peace, quiet, calm and joy with the opportunity to once again be in control of my life and decisions as I wish. In the meantime, I remember my Knot Of Life and that I am exactly where I need to be now. This helps to keep me both present and grounded.
On Wednesday I was due to have my second Covid-19 vaccine. I got confused with the day and missed it, remembering when my sister asked about the shot. I called the Medical Practice as soon as I got my sisters message. The lady was lovely and rescheduled for the next afternoon. On Thursday afternoon I called the Medical Practice to confirm that the vaccine was safe given that I was on antibiotics. I was wary even though I was on other medication. The lady I had spoken with the day before had told me that she would check with the Doctor and get back to me but I had not heard. The Doctor was asked whilst I waited on the phone and said it was best for me not to have the vaccine until after I had completed my course of antibiotics. My antibiotics finished today and tomorrow is the Labour Day Public Holiday, which was my eight year anniversary at my retail job that I quit last week. My second Covid-19 Pfizer Vaccine is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. Then I will be fully vaccinated and able to join the community at large and properly, hopefully safely, re-enter the World. The Governments have made it clear that unvaccinated people will be effectively isolated from the community and the world, like Lepers used to be isolated from everyone else during Biblical times. Employment implications are also on the cards as many employers are calling for mandatory vaccinations for all employees as a new employment condition. This is such a sad reality. This will divide families, friends, loved ones and the community both locally and globally. Such a terrible new reality for us all. I did not wish to have the vaccine. I was scared to have the vaccine. I believe in vaccinations, knowing how incredibly lucky we are to have this choice which keeps us safe against so many terrible diseases which were constant, ongoing rampant pandemics across the world for Millennia. I chose to have the vaccine seeing it as the best of two evils, for me.
I have been watching New Amsterdam, it is a great show which I used to enjoy when it started, before my home burned down and the Bushfire stole my life. Watching Max suffer so many ongoing traumas felt like my life. Watching his love relationship with Helen was hard as it is like what happened to me, in part. It made me feel sad and unsettled, albeit temporarily. It’s a great show. It raised a few challenging dilemmas for me with respect to dealing with information that might help someone and whether to tell them or not. All very unexpected, testing and trying. I hope and pray that my concerns are ill-founded. Ultimately after discussion with different friends, I decided to keep my concerns to myself as it is not my place to say anything despite the fact that I care. It is also strange because so much of the medical jargon, most of it in fact, I understand, after everything that has happened to me over the last two years. I was okay but this was a strange experience, not for the first time that such triggers have arisen.
By far, the hardest things to deal with this week, have been regarding my home build or the fundamental lack of progress. Despite being told last Thursday, that the bricklayer was on site and that the bricklaying for the house would be completed in two weeks, along with the fascia, eaves and cladding and rest of the external work and the first fix of electricity, air-conditioning and the alarm system. The Site Manager told me that he would meet me on-site as he would be there more regularly now that the bricklayer was onsite. I was thrilled and still hopeful that I would be home before the end of the year and not be made homeless by them and their ineffective building process. At about 5pm on Monday I received an email from the Site Supervisor telling me that he had resigned and would finish on Friday the 1st October, two days ago. My heart sank. What did this mean for me? My stress levels skyrocketed. I started to shut down. After carefully considering my response and discussing this situation with a friend, I gave him my best wishes for his future and asked about the hand-over process? I asked about expected finish dates for lock up as the front and laundry doors were still unattached? I asked about expected end date for the build? The slab had been poured in mid-June and it was practically October. I included the Area Manager in the communication. I also asked for all the unused and left over materials as they go to landfill and these exorbitantly expensive materials were already paid for by me and would be helpful in a range of different ways once I was home. I heard nothing from anyone, even though I had asked the Area Manager for this important information.
On Tuesday morning I headed to my home to see the work and check that the correct colour mortar was being used. I have lost all trust in the company and their staff. Nobody was on site. I was horrified and called the Area Manager. He knew it was me when I called. He explained that the bricks were faulty, this was picked up by the bricklayer. I thanked them for the integrity and quality control shown. I asked about the problem resolution and the actions taken? I asked about the return to work for the bricklayer? I asked if they were going to work weekends to make up for lost time? I was told that PGH were checking the bricks individually before they sent more bricks. I was told that the Quality Team and the bricklayer would also check the bricks. I was told that the Area Manager and their Quality Team had inspected the bricks on-site on Sunday. I had not been informed of anything. The information given to me on Monday was dishonest and lacked transparency, once again. This is not okay by any means. I was told that they were trying to find enough bricks so that I didn’t need to change my colours. New bricks would destroy my selected colour scheme. A new colour might impact my Development Application Approval meaning more delays. This is no small matter. I was told that they would take their time not to compromise quality and build a house that would need to later be torn down. I explained that I did not want this either and that quality was one of the reasons that I chose Masterton to build my house. I was told that at least one wall needed to be destroyed and rebuilt. Oh my! I was told to give the bricklayer a couple of days to be back on site. I was then told to give the bricklayer four days to return to work. In the next breath and sentence I was told that the bricklayer would be onsite in a week. Then I was told that he was on another job. I asked if my job was going to be given priority given all the delays, stressing that I need to go home so as not to become Homeless? I was told that nothing could be done about what has previously happened, to which I agreed. I asked about the present and future actions not past. I was told that all the jobs were a priority. I told him that it seemed that my house was being slotted in between other jobs which is not acceptable. I was told to live in a rental or with other people as they would not prioritise my home. I was told that the new Site Manager was in training and an ex-bricklayer. I was told that I would receive weekly Tuesday updates, as before. I corrected him that there had been no weekly updates or regular communication. I was told that the responsibilities of the Site Manager had been reduced. Surprisingly, the original Site Manager had told me that he was struggling with his workload, made worse by Covid. He had told me that is why he had been unable to be present on site and had trusted the sub-contractors as he couldn’t be present. My belief is that this is in part why the Excavation and Concrete errors were made on my property. I asked him for further and regular status updates on my build. I went home. I felt like I was being crushed, struggling to breathe. I felt like I was having a heart attack which is why I pulled over and called a friend who helped me digest the situation and stay optimistic. I went home.
Wednesday morning I sent an email to the Area Manager thanking him for his time and the information yesterday. I told him formally and for the record, once again, that all my money, an exorbitant amount of money, is being paid to Masterton for my bushfire rebuild home and that I have no money to afford more accommodation or the option to stay with others. I asked for regular updates and to meet the new Site Manager on-site at my property next week, as a priority. I asked to be notified of his attendance at my property. Alas, I do not expect this information from them but I hope that I am wrong. They have proven themselves to be untrustworthy people. I explained that there had been no need or no reasonable cause for this situation of Homelessness to arise as my home, as per my contract, had been due for completion on the 18th September 2021. This date had passed and no progress had been made. Within about ten minutes I had a missed call as I was driving. The Area Manager then texted me to say that six palates of new bricks would be delivered on site by PGH, to be checked by the bricklayer. I was told that the bricklayers would return to site on Friday, the next day and that rain was forecast which would further disrupt the build. I was told that they would pay extra to have them stay on site until completion by working every day possible. Hopefully they have employed more bricklayers as this is inferred. It has rained in part every day since this text message was received. A friend told me that the sub-contractors might still be on-site despite intermittent rain as they are paid upon completion of the job and want to finish a job as soon as possible. I hope that this is correct and true. I replied thanking the Area Manager for the update and that I am glad that the Company Quality Team will also be inspecting the quality of the bricks used on my house, as per his previous advice to me.
My Building Contract is the standard Industry Contract which does not penalise the builders for delay. This I had no ability to change. I explained to the Area Manager that their building company will have left me Homeless. They behave as though they are absolved of any and all responsibilities relating to the build and contract, which is not so or accurate or appropriate in any way. I am so exhausted but I must continue to push through and continue to fight as it is my life, my security and my future at stake. They behave as though the build is a charity they are offering. They forget, too easily, that without my build, my money and yours, that they have no job, they have no company. The arrogance is appalling and unbelievable. The building company is advertising on the Radio.
I have been told to write a book about
this and I am planning it now to stop other people falling prey to these
despicable processes, people and their dishonest practices affecting people’s
lives. Unfortunately Builders believe that they have complete power and no accountability, to charge what they want, do what they want, build inferior and unsafe
structures, breach written contracts, all without accountability. They believe
that they are powerful and without reproach. Often they are misogynists as I
have come to realise, in horror. This belief that they hold about being above the law and everyone else is not true, they are accountable like
everyone else but government corruption has given them a privileged position.
Use your choices. Use your voice. This imbalance needs to be redressed so that
once again this balance is restored. All building and trade costs need to be
clawed back to be appropriate and fair for the work done as they were. I have
learned so much about this process, including more about myself. Over the years
I have watched countless people I know struggle to get what they paid for with
Builders. The process for redress is expensive, ineffective, inaccessible and
excludes people from exercising their legal rights. I know a lady who just sold
her dream home because of the stress and problems created by her builder. This
is not in any way excusable or acceptable, anywhere in the world. These issues
and problems are too important to ignore.We must remember that we hold the power not them. We must take back our power, together by fighting them and not agreeing to their ridiculous and offensive charges, Terms and Conditions.
I believe that like my mother taught me and as stated by the King of Siam in the 1956 film “The King and I” “...what is done is done and cannot be undone”. I believe that errors can be fixed. I believe that processes can be improved. I believe that relationships can always be restored. This helps keep me optimistic. The stress of this experience is having a direct and disastrous negative impact on my health. None of these problems or issues needed to happen as they were all preventable. Everything has been caused by their staff making disrespectful choices, breaching my written contract, acting inappropriately and lacking integrity and even decency through their lack of transparency and communication which are supposed to be part of the stipulated building process. I have been made physically sick regularly as well because of the stress which also impacts my ability to eat and my blood sugars. My G.P. has prescribed an anti-emetic to help me.
Speaking with a community bushfire liaison worker this week, I was told that only six bushfire rebuilds in my area have been completed. There is talk about Group Actions against the Builders or perhaps government intervention in some way? This situation was entirely avoidable.
A friend’s house was inspected this week for the Occupation Certificate and passed. The house and yard are gorgeous. I’ve met a few other people who have built new homes, not bushfire rebuilds and been lucky enough to see what they have done with their homes and yards. Unexpectedly I was able to offer helpful design tips which were loved and made me happy. My friend urged me to closely inspect my Development Application Approval to check the specified complying conditions. I have looked again at all the plans closely. The concrete pads for the water tanks are too large as per the contract and plans. The one closest to my water bore is not the specified distance from the bore. Something else which needs to be addressed. The process is a joke. They delay the build start making you choose everything and sign before they start the plans then they ignore everything. They delay the build as they wish with no care or consideration for their customer who is paying their wages and salaries. This is hardly reasonable, appropriate or acceptable in any way.
After talking to my friend and confirming that the clothes line needs to be in place before the Occupation Certificate is approved, I purchased a clothes line, a foldable, portable Rotary Hills Hoist. I wanted to buy Australian owned and made but the Chinese made Hills Hoist was larger and better value. I actually wanted a country style long one like I had before the fire. The retractable, smaller options were far too expensive. I’m not paying a thousand dollars for a clothes line. My sister kindly offered their help installing it as this would cost me in excess of two hundred dollars, if I found someone suitable. I have requested delayed delivery until the house is built and delivery was free.
Another consideration is the Driveway. I wasn’t asked but it was drawn on the plans and when I questioned it, they made arbitrary decisions without my knowledge and/or consent. I was ignored. As with the position of the Clothesline which I need and want close to my laundry. I was worried about the length of the arms and having enough clearance so that the clothes, sheets and towels in particular, do not touch the fence when drying and flapping in the wind. There is enough room. I actually wanted the front to be gravel. It isn’t comfortable for us to walk on gravel. I think I will go for a concrete driveway which will end up needing less maintenance and is a one-stop, cheaper, long term solution. The position drawn by the builder will not do as it is on the plans. I will make it wider, curved and encompassing a path. I might get it coloured in a green to match or complement my front patio tiles. I will also need more concreting completed around the house. I would rather pavers but I think they will be more expensive, I will check before making a final decision. I am unhappy with some decisions that I was forced to make because of their processes and misinformation provided to me. This house is to date my single, largest financial investment and asset of my life. This is no small matter. There is so much more to be done and the list of works is ever increasing as is the cost, which is terrifying. One breath at a time, remember to breathe. One step at a time. I remind and reassure myself that I am getting closer to achieving my goals, even if the pace is glacial.
Today I enjoyed Baked Beans on Toast, which were delicious and more than my two counts of necessary Carbohydrate for each and every meal. Now that there is a low sugar version I buy these and actually prefer them. I usually have a slice of cheese on my toast with the beans, yum! For a late lunch I baked a trout fillet with a sprinkling of olive oil and salt. This I enjoyed with mashed potato and mixed vegetables. I cheated using frozen fish and vegetables which I dressed simply with lemon juice and a splash of olive oil. Also mashed potato, the desiccated, instant mash. Trout is one my favourite fish even though I hate bones. I much prefer Trout to Salmon. The fillet was boneless and delicious as was the rest of my meal. I loved this mash potato when I was a little girl. Normally I make my own delicious mash with boiled potatoes, milk and butter as I did with this instant mashed potato today. I also added the salted water I used to boil the vegetables so as not to waste the vitamins. I always have frozen and dry food in the house in case I am unwell and don’t have the energy to cook or go to the shops. In case I have no money. I have fresh fruit and vegetables but I have not been well and did not have the energy to cook from scratch. It was a good meal and met my two carbohydrate count requirement for my meal. I am still short at least one meal each day. This I am working on and look forward to being able to consistently enjoy three proper, full meals every day which include at least two counts of Carbohydrates to keep my blood sugars in safe levels. With my reduced Insulin at times my blood sugar has not been dropping as low, which is great. I am trying to eat two meals a day and am happy when I manage. The stress is still causing my sugars to run high.
These are this week’s highlights. There is so much going on. It is so hard for me to manage to function at the moment. I push on regardless, as best as possible. No mean feat. I hope that the mental, emotional and physical exhaustion improves and soon. More than anything I hope that it does not get worse.
Every day I am grateful that I can still laugh and have good company, that I can still love and be loved. I grew up loving Cat Stevens’ Music, Lyrics and Songs with Moonshadow being one of my favourites. This is such a beautiful song about Life and it touches my core. Moonshadow covers how I feel at the moment, have felt as well. I hope that you enjoy this wonderful song as much as I do, always.
I remember Woodrow Wilson’s inspiring words which have helped me keep going despite how I feel. Although I needed to look them up for accuracy. Woodrow Wilson inspired me when I learned about him in High School History as the 28th President of the United States of America during the First World War. I hope that his words inspire and help you as well.
It’s bye from me, for another week. I hope, as always, that you leave my blog feeling a little better, more inspired, more motivated than you did when you arrived. I will post next Sunday or as close to as possible, notwithstanding life events that unexpectedly pop up on my crazy journey. I will post my pages on Wednesday and Friday as usual. I hope that you find my posts and pages of interest, helpful, useful, inspiring and motivating in some way. Thank you for your company and sharing my journey. Please feel free to direct anyone who you feel might benefit from my blog here to Schrodie’s Mummy. Please feel free to leave me any comments, questions or requests for specific information that might help you. We look forward to your company again soon. See you Wednesday.
As far as my scheduled trip to Antarctica, I hope that it goes ahead as planned but I have no idea if this is possible or likely. I am not yet physically or emotionally ready. I remain optimistic.
Take care, stay safe, happy and well. Treat yourself to something that makes you happy, each and every day, no matter how small and it needn’t cost you any money as plenty of free options abound such as a walk in Nature. Most of all, have fun, even in lock down, it is hard but certainly possible.
Watch this space...