I have a splitting headache. Itís stress induced, Iím sure. Weíve been wrestling with Ronís death and getting everything sorted out. Actually, Melia and Kristyn have been doing all the work. Iím trying to be supportive and helpful, but this is all new territory for me. Moods are really changeable; one minute weíre laughing at something Ron did or said, the next, somebodyís fighting tears. Weíre pretty much all operating in a state of shock. Tylana, the granddaughter, is really hurting and is on the verge of a meltdown. Iím trying to be a stabilizing influence, but I feel like Daffy Duck has taken over my thought processes. So Iíve picked something to write about that has nothing to do with loss or pain.
When I came to Australia in 2015, I searched for good BBQ Potato Chips and didnít find any that were outstandingly good. There were a few that were OK, but none that really grabbed me. Now, I like the locally grown potatoes. Last week, I had a side order of fries that were so good, I didnít use any ketchup with them. They were outstanding all by themselves. Australian tastes are also different from American tastes. Here, you can get a burger that has all kinds of unusual ingredients. Things like a fried egg and a slice of beetroot (pickled beet). And when I get a Steak sandwich here, I have to instruct the waitress that all I want is steak, BBQ sauce and fried onions. Leave the other stuff off. I really donít care for salad and Mayo on my steak.
So back to potato chips; Iíve fallen for Kettle brand Honey Soy Chicken flavoured chips (Made with Real Australian Honey!). With a bottle of cold Gatorade, eating them is almost a transcendental experience. I discovered them at the pool. I would have a bag with a bottle of Gold Rush Powerade. (the only variety they sell) The Powerade tastes more like Mango, which is OK when itís cold and Iím thirsty, but itís nowhere near as good as Gatorade.
And since Iím speaking about outstanding things that are available here, thereís a lemon soda that is very good called Solo. Itís not like a carbonated lemonade; it has a crisp, cutting flavor thatís very good. It kind of reminds me of Squirt, but Squirt was grapefruit while the Solo is lemon. I think the Solo tastes better, but Iíd have to have a bottle of each, side by side to pick out which I like more.
And now for my deep, dark secret. This is my fourth trip to Australia. My first and second trips were two months long, each and my last trip was for three months. My secret is that I have yet to try Vegemite. People here eat it; I donít think thereís a kitchen in the entire country that doesnít have at least one jar stashed in it. Melia has some here. This morning, Kristyn was eating a slice of Sourdough bread with some for breakfast. She offered me some, but I passed. I donít know why, but I still havenít tasted it. One of these days, I will.
To completely change the subject, Kala took a picture of the little Koala that moves from tree to tree here on the farm with her phone, and is going to send it to me. Kristyn got a great picture of a tree frog with her phone and is also going to send it to me. Unfortunately, both of them let their batteries run down to something like 2 %, so theyíre charging them. Iíll pass them along when I get them.
Today was an extremely bizarre day, and tomorrow will probably be more of the same. Eventually, It will all get sorted out, but for now, Iím just trying to ride the wave.
Iím at Kristyn and Mattís house this morning. With the projected high temp of 42 C (107.6 F) we all packed up and drove down here yesterday. Melia, Kala and I in the Swift and Kristyn, Tylana and Coby in Kristynís car. Melia was a little apprehensive about driving the Swift that far as it just came out of storage, but it ran just fine. The tank was about 2/3 full of old gas, so we filled it with 98 (Premium) and the little tuna can just hummed down the highway. Itís about 215 Km (135 miles) according to google and it took us about 3 hours. The Swift has an Outside air temp indicator, and it said it was 41. I had the window open and the air blowing past felt like an oven. I believe the reading was correct.
Australia along the coast is a whole different world. Everything here is green and lush. It doesnít get as hot during the day and doesnít get as cold at night. Also, the humidity is up around 50%. There are a lot of very different plants, though some are the same. There are Poincianas and Bronze Bromeliads here, but there are a whole lot of other magnificent flowering trees and plants.
Earlier, Melia, Tylana and I walked up to the local coffee shop. Most of the folks here stay up later and wake up later than the three of us, so we went for a walk to get out morning coffees. Iíve gotten used to the low humidity, so just walking a mile or so each way had me sweating heavily. It isnít hot, but I sweat much more when itís humid than when itís dry. Even when the dry temperature is higher. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the walk. The people at the coffee shop were very friendly and the Flat White was excellent. In fact, I had two because the first was so good. I love good coffee.
On the way back, Tylana took us on a different route that was a path along the edge of Protected Land. We got a picture of a Bush Turkey. Theyíre a protected species, and like many animals here are fairly colorful. Theyíre mostly dark bodied with a bright yellow and red neck and head. I asked Tylana if they taste good and she said she wouldnít eat one if she knew what it was. I donít want to eat one, but Turkey is the meal to have at Thanksgiving, back home. I was just curious if they are edible.
In a while, Tylana is going to lead me to the path that goes to the beach. Iím going to swim in the South Pacific again! That will be fun.
So, here are some pictures. I didnít take any of them. Melia and Tylana took them with their phones. Once again, I forgot to bring my camera. I think that when I get back home Iíll investigate that new cheap Google phone service. As much as I prefer my flip phone, it sure would be nice to have a phone that works world wide.
First, here's the Bottle Brush Plant:
Next is this tree that was all buds, but with one flower. I bet it'll be incredible when all the buds flower. The one flower isn't visible in the photo, but it was a wonderful shade of magenta:
Today, I had two cups of Flat White Coffee for breakfast and I swam in the South Pacific Ocean. I also saw a real (?) Flame Tree. There are more colorful plants here than I could ever describe. The same can be said about the birds. Iím hooked on these Honey Soy Chicken flavored Potato Chips. My pants are fitting very loose. I think Iíve lost about 10 pounds. Iíve been walking a lot. Itís over a half mile to the coffee shop and itís something like 800 Meters to the beach. I spent a short while in the ocean; the waves were kicking my butt. I spent over an hour in the pool swimming after we got back from the beach. My chest, stomach and back are getting pretty tanned. I tried Vegemite; itís really salty. Itís a lot cooler here than up at Spring Creek. The time here is an hour later than the time in Queensland. I had my mental and emotional meltdown over Ronís death the other evening. I hope I donít have another. Melia and Kala went out to get Indian food for dinner. I hope I like what they bring back. Tomorrow, we head back up to Spring Creek.
Itís early morning and Iím sitting here eating cold pizza for breakfast. On one forum, I got a comment, ďGlad youíre having a good time, despite losing your friend.Ē That line got me thinking.
Yes; weíre trying to enjoy life. Weíre not really successful, but weíre trying. At first, it was just shock that Ron was gone. Then I started oscillating between periods of grief and memories that made me laugh. Iíd be super pissed off for one minute, then Iíd chuckle about something else. Thereís an overall pall to everything, but itís not a constant state of sorrow. Iím riding an emotional roller coaster.
Iím fairly certain that the family is also riding that same roller coaster. We all have our moments of laughter and our times of depression or anger. And weíre all dealing with it in different ways.
We have decided to have a Memorial Service for Ron after New Years. Roni Ann is not able to come up from Melbourne until then, though she was hit pretty hard by her fatherís death. Melia, Kristyn and I discussed it and we feel that having a celebration of Ronís life would be the kind of send off he would want, and Roni Ann agrees.
We all have stories about Ron that will either bring tears or laughs to us all. Those of us who drink will have their favorite drinks in hand, while Iíll have a can of Pepsi to toast Ron. I think the Service will bring closure to everybody. I hope it does for me.
Right now, I just want to be alone. I can think of the times we had fun and I can think of the times he pissed me off. I can chuckle about the morning I woke him up in Kenya when he wasnít expecting me and I can still feel the burn of anger at the way he was acting when I saw him four years ago. Sometimes he could really piss me off, but sometimes we had great times together. He was my friend.
When I get home in late January, Iím going to grab my copy of Dark Side of the Moon and play Time. I played the beginning of that song countless times to wake Ron up. It was a standing joke. I think Iíll never be able to hear that again without thinking about him.
Just as I will always remember my Mom and Dad and my oldest friend Bill, Iíll never forget Ron. I hope Waif (my Pointer) was waiting for him so he could get Ron as drunk as Ron got him that time in Colorado Springs.
When you think your over it, your not. The larger than life they were, the longer they live on. Find the lesson in the angry memories and the joy in the funny. That's the medicine. I still have sad moments in thoughts of friends that have passed and I don't search for those I've lost track of. That way they are still alive. Deep down I doubt, but it is how I deal with those that lived so close to the edge. I love you John. Do what needs to be done and to thy own self be true. Hug those you can.
Funny how dealing with death makes you more alive. Funny how it's not funny. And it is.
Ride the waves. Up and down, out and back, you'll see the shore and set firm foot down when the time comes. Watch the rip tides, you know how to beat them. You've got your sea legs, John, get ready for a work out.
December 7 was my mom's birthday. Thought about her quite a bit.
Iíve had a few people thank me for the Christmas Cards that they got. Youíre very welcome.
However; nobody was going to get a card from me this year. I usually buy Christmas Cards in September, but this year, they didnít get purchased until October. Then, the Tramp started running my life and I bought a ticket to Brisbane that I couldnít really afford. I had decided to just keep the cards until next year, but there were a couple of rainy days and I was bored, so I started addressing the envelopes. A few hours later, I had a sizeable pile of Christmas Cards that were all made out and just needed stamps. So, I hit the Postal Orifice and bought stamps. However; I donít mail cards out until after Thanksgiving. I hate when commercial interests start pushing the Retail sales thing before one holiday has passed. The Christmas season technically doesnít begin until the first Sunday of Advent. Sending out cards before then is pushing it a bit, but I always start the Season on the weekend after Thanksgiving.
My flight was over a week before Thanksgiving, so I enlisted the assistance of my brother David. He said he would mail the cards out, and he obviously did.
The last time I came to Australia, I sent out cards from here. This year, I canít afford it. Itís almost $3.00 per card to mail one to the USA. While Iíd love to, Iím suffering from a bad case of Italian Disease Ė Myfunzalo.
Oh; not everybody who reads this will be getting a card. I only sent them out to folks whose addresses I have. I hope I didn't miss anyone, but, if I did, I apologize.
I hope everybody has a truly wonderful Christmas with all the Blessings you could want.
39 seconds in, RD, I had to stop. M's in bed, and I'd be compelled to transfer to the main hi-fi. John, you and I have the same first name and a similar sense of humor. I've done that before to friends/victims. With serious hi-fi.
Given that you're riding the waves, good and bad down under, you threw us some Floyd... this is one of my favorite songs.
Posted on Wednesday, December 11, 2019 - 10:50 pm:
Last night, we had a storm come through. We got about three inches of rain in about a half hour. Not only did we get thunder and lightning, the winds had to have been gusting up around 50 MPH (80 KPH), but thatís a purely subjective number. They were very strong and blew a lot of things around. This morning, we saw a plastic water tank (the kind that fits into the back of a pickup) that was over a half kilometer from the farmhouse it came from.
It may not rain much here, but when it does, it makes up for the lack of frequency.
We now have two Koalas here on the farm. The first was the little grey one that I got a photo of. The new one is much bigger and its fur is considerably darker. We could see the bigger of the two about halfway up the tree thatís visible from the back door when the wind started picking up last night. It reacted to the wind by climbing higher up the tree. I think Iíd want to climb down in those conditions. Then again, maybe it gets a kick out of riding the swaying branches; kind of like riding a roller coaster. I donít know. I looked for it this morning, but itís nowhere to be found. I hope itís OK and had fun with the storm.
Speaking of Roller Coasters, David is a real Coaster Enthusiast. Heís been known to travel hundreds of miles on his days off from work just to visit some Amusement Park and ride the Coaster(s) there. On our way to Kristynís house in Ocean Shores, we went by two huge parks. I canít remember the names of them, but one of them has the Green Lantern Coaster. David would be in his glory. He told me that he was jealous of my trip over here as he was driving me to the airport. I bet heíd have an incredible time. And not just at the two parks I saw, but I bet there are more parks near the other big cities; Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, etc. I think he should fly over here when he retires and just travel around. Heíd flat love it.
Melia had to work today. When she gets off at 3:00, sheís going to come by here and pick me up and weíll go to the pool. Swimming in that pool is the most enjoyable way I know to get my heart pumping and my muscles working. Iím getting stronger and losing weight and enjoying the process.
Melia found an old photo of the í79 Sportster when I rode it here in Australia in 1997. She has two copies of the photo, so she gave me one. Itís a picture of the bike at the old beach house. The inside of the muffler isnít even dirty with soot. I have to boast a little; I really did a good job when I built that bike. The picture inspires me. I took a rolling basket case that looked like sh*t and turned it into a beautiful piece of rolling, functional art. If I could do that to a real toilet of a bike, imagine how good my next Roadster is going to look and ride.
I canít do it all alone; I donít have all the necessary skills. But I do know someone with superb paint skills whoís willing to do the paint, just as I knew a really good painter who did the Banzai Blue (a Chrysler color) on the í79. Actually, I know two great painters, but one of them quit painting and now is driving a truck. Derek, who painted the pieces for the '79, did such a beautiful job that I kept the painted pieces in my apartment for weeks; just so I could look at them. They were that beautiful. I hope that I donít do that with the Soul Red pieces when I get them back from Joe. But if I do, itíll be because theyíre so beautiful and he did such a great job. After the paint he did on my front fender and the air cleaner; as well as the magnificent paint he did on his own Roadster, I expect Iíll just want to sit and stare at the parts for a while.
I have a feeling that the Gentlemanís Express (my next Roadster) is going to be my last build and my most detailed work of art. My Mona Lisa, so to speak. Itís not going to be just a show bike; motorcycles are Transportation and they are meant to be ridden; but it will be totally functional. My friend Jimmy has a Brough Superior SS100 that he rides the piss out of. He loves to go looking for Vincents so he can blow by them. Thatís how motorcycles are supposed to be used. Ride the freakiní thing! Donít put it in some gallery where itís only purpose is to have a place that the dust can settle on. Dale Walksler does burn outs in the Wheels Through Time Museum on a Crocker. All the bikes in the museum run and are ridden regularly. My Gentlemanís Express will definitely fall into that category.
Well; Kristyn and Tylana are here. Iíd better end now.
Nice Snippet, O Inverted Crust. I'd sure like to meet your friend Jimmy one day on that SS100. Got a weathered calendar page stapled to my shed door of one of those. Talk him into joining us down in Suches one weekend.
Thanks for the heads-up on the nice moon. Today's my day off, gonna enjoy it. Fish and shrimp tacos coming up for dindin tonite. I bet you're digging some killer shrimp on the barbie and such down there.