Sunday, August 29, 2010

This Story Explains Me Pretty Well

I'm starting to think I might be a tad impulsive. Ah, who am I kidding, we all know I'm impulsive. I have the natural self-preservation instinct of a chicken. Anyone who's owned chickens knows they'd most probably just sleep as their beloved was being murdered next to them by a fox and then act surprised when they get eaten next - if they actually wake up for it. I'm fairly certain when a chicken is being eaten alive at night, it opens an eye and goes, "Gee, I'm being eaten. Oh well, as long as he doesn't wake me." So yes, my point is, this appears to be the level of self-preservation I have.

So this introduction leads me to my next story; where I somehow ended up in the rainforest with a complete stranger showing me around with a machete. Logically, this would be a very bad situation, right? Like - hello, 24 year old woman by herself with a strange man in a forest - clearly I have no sense of danger - or I have an incredible sense of adventure. My mother prefers the word 'wrecklessness'. Whatever you call it, it's gotten me into some crazy situations. Not all I've loved, but most of them I have.

So let's back up. My fiance has been talking on and on and on about this excavator he's been wanting for ages that's bogged down in some guy's back-alley hidden farm. $1500 and if he can fix it, he can have it. Apparently this is an excellent deal for excavators are expensive. I have no idea. All I know is The Boy asked me if I could go drive 2 hours after what amounted to enough sleep to barely function in normal society. So of course, by the time I get there, my already meager sense of not dying was lowered below it's usual reserves.

So we meet these two swagmen, right. Now, for Americans - swagmen are Outback bush ranger types without the ranger bit. They love the land and wear big boots and cut down trees and sleep under the stars and grow beards and, well, are men. Think Brokeback Mountain, but less gay. Or more gay - I haven't really figured it out. But these are the men that eat out of cans of beans they heated over a fire and since they don't have a fork, they just use their dirt-encrusted hands to scoop the beany goodness into their mouths. Those kind of men. Real men.

So they meet us with our white ute and trailer carrying a boat (this is another story) on their own four-wheelers. As they lead us through this huuuuge pathway between state forests, I start noticing bizarre looking orange trees. Bumpy little oranges dot the pathway. So do bizarre animals, trees, rivers and funny-shaped natural structures. Point being, I wasn't in Kansas anymore, Toto. As we're following these two swagmen on their four-wheelers, they are using a machete to cut down overhanging trees and branches, leading us up this windy dirt road for miles.

So, again, just to be clear - I don't know these men's names. I've never met these men. Neither has my fiance. My fiance's father, who is with us, is probably the only person who has someone at home waiting for him in case he turns up missing - but since my fiance had the address, she probably didn't really know where he went. So as we're bumping through a rainforest path following two men with machetes I came upon the realization that, hey, they could kill us and nobody would even begin to know where to look for us.

We finally get to the destination and, lo and behold, there really IS an excavator for my fiance to look at. Well, I'll be damned. So - not being one for digging things I got a bit bored and started poking at the four-wheelers, which the men had gotten off at this point. I mentioned to one of the bushmen that I saw some really funny orange trees and did he mind if I picked some oranges.

"Ah those be bush lemons mate! Not oranges. I've got a million of 'em. I'll chop down 10 trees and you can take 'em home with ya if ya want!"
I was a bit taken aback, "Uh that's not, er, necessary. I'd rather just pick a few."
He looked at his partner and pointed up to the hills, while still talking to me, "Well there be some juicy juicy lemon trees up in the mountain but you need the fourwheeler to get them. Hey Sammy, take the girl on the four-wheelers to get some lemons from the good trees!"

So, let me elaborate again. Bushman #1 says to Bushman #2, hey.. take this lady on a strange vehicle up a mountain, far away from us, so she can pick lemons. Oh, by the way, she doesn't know your name, my name, or if the machetes we use have ever killed people. Did I mention I'm impulsive?

Instead of the normal human reaction of, "Oh this is probably a bad idea." I went, "Cool!! I can drive a four wheeler and pick lemons!? Awesome!!!" Logically, at the time, this made perfect sense to me. Now, mind you, we're in a fucking rainforest. So there's no paths, no tracks... and a lot of logs, creeks and bumpy things. Oh, and I've never driven a four-wheeler except once and it was on flat land. I have, however, ridden dirt bikes. Once. So logically, I think, "This can't be much different, can it?!"

So after ten minutes trying to figure out why the clutch was actually a brake, I got the girl going at a level that was reasonable. However, my first task appeared to be 'cross this 6' deep gully with a river in the bottom of it'. "Okay!" my lack-of-proper-judgment-brain said to me, "I can do this!"

So. Riding a four-wheeler is pretty much exactly nothing like riding a dirt bike. Except the part where you hit the throttle and pray for the ever loving grace of G-d that you're going to make it over the top of the bend without falling over backwards and ending up underneath a four wheeler, in a ditch, covered in river, on fire. There's a joke in that last sentence.

Before I decided it was a brilliant idea to make my first trip on a four-wheeler to cross a freakin river, my fiance decided to give me advice.

"Now remember, when you're going down, lean back. When you're going up, lean forward."

Yep. That's it. Not, "Hey and if the jolly swagman decides to cut off your neck, be sure to roll your head this way so we know to run." or, "If the river starts to carry you away, hold your breath as long as possible." No, this is not the advice he gives me. "Lean forward on the up and back on the down," was the best he could do.

And me? I thought this was excellent advice. Because, apparently, as compulsive as I am - he is just as equally trusting. Go! Go risk your life crossing dams so you can pick lemons with an unknown swagman carrying a myriad of knives, but just rememeber, lean back on the down and forward on the up. Yep. That seemed good advice to me.

Glynn's father, who is probably a bit more logical than us, handed me a knife 'for the lemons' he said. So I pocketed this tiny little golden utility knife feeling perfectly safe that against a man with a machete, this would be adequate protection. Did I mention I'm impulsive?

I don't know how I managed, but I crossed the gully with the river in it just fine. Maybe it's because I leaned forward on the up. Most likely it's because I just went, "Shit shit shit shit shit," and hit the throttle. And of course LEAPED over the top edge of the gully. Which, if you've ever done it, is exactly what makes you love the damn vehicles. So, with a renewed sense of "Fuck yeah I can totally do this!" I followed the jolly swagman deep into the jungle to pick fucking lemons, man.

You know what's awesome about open-air vehicles that cover raw land? That the thing you want to do, as opposed to the thing you should be doing are two completely different things. So when you want to lean into a corner, you really...really...shouldn't. I wish I could draw you a picture but imagine me, young redheaded female, on a massive 4-wheeler, pretty much sideways on the side of a mountain leaning into the corner before going, "Shit, I think this is how you fall the fuck over." and suddenly trying to counter balance in the opposite direction.

I guess just picture a redheaded praying mantis stuck to a flying rock, sideways. Got that picture in your head? That's what I looked like. Oh, and I wasn't wearing a helmet. Of course. I was in the damn jungle and in the damn jungle YOU DON'T WEAR HELMETS. Got that? Although I don't know why I'm mentioning this. There's fucking machetes in this story - I don't think the helmet was really my biggest problem here.

So we got to the lemon trees. I know, I'm a bit surprised they existed too. Did you know that bush lemons are absolutely covered in spines? Yeah well I didn't.

(Photographic Evidence I am not dead)*

So we come back with our bags filled with delicious bush lemons and my man is still checking out the escavator. I tell Swagman #1 that I really loved his land and it was very pretty and I thanked him for the lemons. This is when he said to me, "You should see the waterfall!"

"Waterfall? There's a waterfall!?"
"Yeah mate, up in the forest on the mountain. She's a beaut. 8 feet deep and just beautiful."
"Do we have time to see the waterfall!?" I look at Glynn with big sooky eyes, just begging him to let me go out with a strange bushman carrying a foot-long blade once more into the forest on a vehicle I've never driven up a mountain over rocks with no helmet. Yeah, read that again. Glynn said, "Yeah sure, you can do that!"
What a good man.

So Swagman #2 takes me back up the mountain, but this time on a different path, a much less travelled path. Okay, it wasn't even a path. It was a bunch of broken twigs leading the way; and every now and then the swagman would stop and break more twigs 'to help guide the way again'. So when I say I'm in the middle of nowhere, I am not kidding.

Once more I am sideways praying mantis. Upside down praying mantis. Downhill praying mantis. Basically, I was slowly climbing a barely-trecked mountainside on this vehicle that couldn't go past 14km (because, yes, at this time I also thought "how fast can this thing go?" - however it might go up to 15 or even 16, considering I was going uphill on wet rocks at the time). This is when the swagman stops and points, "You see these trees lining the path? Yeah they're poison, I'd put on me jacket if I were you. This is why I wear gloves, mate."

Poison. Trees. What. The. Fuck. Australia.

Also, at this point I'm really praying the cut on my head really DID come from the lemon tree. After what seems to me to be about half an hour, we have to get off the vehicles and start walking because the four-wheelers valued at around $17k each couldn't go across this part even though they had just trekked up a fucking mountain. Dude.

Next thing I know I'm jumping down huge gullies, skipping rocks across gushing rivers and at one point I kid you not, I had to cross a beam of wood the men had cut around a rock to serve as a 3" deep platform you could hold onto the rock for balance and cross to get to the other side. Mind you I am wearing little platform shoes made of rubber and a trenchcoat, along with a glittery studded Guess top. Mind you, Swagman #2 was wearing steeltoed boots, utility pants, a Drizabone coat, thick leather gloves and was carrying a fucking machete. I still had my tiny gold utility knife. You know, for the lemons.

Finally the swagman says to me, "Here she is."

In front of me is quite possibly the most beautiful natural thing I have ever seen. A giant slab of water-worn rock rests atop a carefully balanced boulder, a sheet of thick crystal clear water slicing across the air. The rainforest trees, with their thick wet foliage and thick twisted vines encased the entirety of the waterfall in it's roots. Soft green luscious moss splattered the shiny gray wet rocks like something carefully painted by only the finest of French artists.

The best part. The best part was the sounds. If you closed your eyes you felt like you had turned your favourite Sounds of the Rainforest CD on surround and managed to have million-dollar speakers. It was the live version of a natural symphony. The music of the rainforest was incredible. Cicadas wrote lovesongs in the trees. Parrots played among the twisted vines, announcing their adoration for the waterfall in playful clucks. The waterfall pounded on the rocks in front of me, the sounds of rushing water heavy and thick and so incredibly close. The hairs on my arms stood on end.

"Cleanest water you'll find. You should try some." he said as he pointed to the fall with his knife.

I couldn't help it. I had to do it. I climbed down the last couple feet to the base of the fall and skipped the slimy slippery wet rocks across the gushing river and shovelled both hands directly into the gushing water. Three times I drank from the beautiful pure rainforest waterfall, the splashes soaking my coat and hair with beads of crystalline droplets. Feeling as if more than three mouthfuls would render me 'greedy', I pulled away from the moment. I swear I could hear the ripping sound of my brain being snapped back into the real world.

I climbed back up the fall, back across the wooden plank, back through the rivers and gulleys, back onto the ATVs, back sideways down the mountain and back into the real world.

So this is the story of how I followed strangers into the rainforest without knowing a thing about what I was getting into and having one of the most beautiful moments imaginable. I'm fairly certain that when you do something so wreckless, there should be consequences, not rewards. So I'm guessing this will end up being the story of how I got Cholera. Watch.

*Textual evidence I exaggerate greatly.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Getting Healthy Once More

Lizzie's Back, baby! I am feeling rather good, other than the exhaustion. I know that sounds a little funny but other than being tired all the darned time, I'm nearly 100% better! My liver functions were normal at last measure and I managed to go out with friends on Friday for my hen's night, which was amazing! My friends bought me dinner and drinks and just spoiled me!

Even better, I came home to a clean house and my fiance professing his love for my while standing outside in the rain waiting for my arrival. It was quite romantic and lovely. I am happy. I am also happy that even though I was away for four days and I came home to a clean house and a doting fiance, I am not one bit suspicious that he may have strayed in that time. That's a nice feeling.

His doting is nothing out of the normal and not suspicious in the least; in past relationships that kind of action would've had me in a sudden e-mail checking frenzy. Last night had me in a sooky cuddle retelling my glorious trip to him as he laughed and humoured me. Yeah, you can gag now.

So I'm exercising a little, walking a lot, eating a ton and finally feel better - I just need naps. Oh, poor me, I know. I have to NAP. My life is woe.

I go back to work this weekend. I've already got a good schedule for making lots of money and that thrills me. Pre-booked and in succession usually means it's going to be a good night. Last minute jobs notwithstanding, I'll feel good about my contribution to my household this week, especially after my frivolous spending on my trip (which was mostly on food - I am so happy to be eating I think I ate everything in sight. Ask Lisa about the chocolate biscuits!).

So it's time to tan, time to get my nails done and time to get my hair trimmed and my eyebrows waxed. I'm back and I'm gonna take charge and I'm gonna be ME once again.

I can't wait.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ridding the World of Bored Cats - 2000 catnip bushes at a time!

For the longest time, I've been a very inactive member of Guerrilla Gardening, an effort to both beautify and feed the world with the cunning use of 'seed bombs', secret above-ground raking and making the most of tiny patches of forgotten land. I took some steps to Guerrilla Garden with others, but they fell flat.

So when I came upon The Lost Seed and their 2000 catnip seeds for $3.50, I knew I was onto something brilliant. So, armed with a Fae, from Green Grass and Purple Sky, we went on a clay-finding adventure! As it turns out, the local hardware stores don't carry clay. Why? Apparently it's what people don't want in their gardens. I asked the saleslady where these people with the clay they didn't want were. That didn't work. Eventually we found some at a craft store, Spotlight.

And then got out a bottle of cider and proceeded to make 100 catnip seed bombs. With 20 seeds per bomb, one of them is surely to take, right? The mixture was 500g clay, 100g compost from my garden (full of chicken poo!) and 1g of seeds, which is WAY off from the suggested seed amount for such a weight, but honestly, if we had done it the way the website specifies - we'd have little tiny tiny bombs made of nothing. 2000 seeds of catnip weighs 1g... so we just figured we'd overcompensate. They'll break down eventually.

So Lola, my fiance Glynn and I went out on my pushbike (I've been feeling well enough to go on short rides these days!) and started lobbing the bombs all over the neighbourhood. Miss Fae had already done her part and lobbed 50 of the seed bombs out her car window into the bush on her 20km trek home. On this trip, we only lobbed 20.
Glynn really enjoyed the action. I love that he supports even my silliest ideas. Our conversation basically went:

"Hey honey, I ordered 2000 catnip seeds."
"Uh.. why?"
"They were on sale. I'm going to make seed bombs from them!"
"You remember, from Guerilla Gardening? I figured.. forget feeding or prettifying our town, I'm going to make at least 2000 stoned cats in South East Brisbane!"
"Sounds good to me."

And that was it. He was on board and decided to help. Eager as I am, I already had the bombs ready by the time he got home.

So we had a good morning, leisurely riding to the back of the suburbs to the bush, where I felt the most cats could possibly benefit from the catnip I was hoping would grow. Afterall, about 500 houses are just behind me. Surely one of them has to have a bored desperate cat who just desires a little kitty marijuana..

Lola had fun too! The last 30 seeds are for the boy and his super duper pushbike of speed on his 25km trek to work. So from here to just a tad over the North Side, another thirty catnip bombs (or 600 seeds!) will be scattered over the East Side of Brisbane.

Dear Cats and Kittens of South East Brisbane: Enjoy!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wet And Cold

It's a rainy day here on the mini-farm and I made chicken stock to replenish what I have been leeching from the freezer these last few months. I made 5 litres of stock and the girls got all the bones and filling (the oranges were from earlier, I don't put oranges in my stock) all nice and toasty warm to keep them happy during the wet.

I love the soggy little bastards, they're fun to watch. Steamin' pile of food and they're still chasing each other around the backyard for a piece of carrot when there's half a dozen more carrots on the floor.

I've been given a billion (53) eggs by them in the last couple weeks. I'm looking at about 150 eggs a month or so, right now. Geeeeze. I don't need THAT much protein. Luckily I've got some friends in desperate need of eggs and have managed a trade for goods or money with a few of them. My favourite might just be my super Italian friend from a super Italian family giving me some Napolitana sauce in return for some. Oh yeah, no pressure. P:

I plan on making a good 2kg batch of handrolled pasta when I get the chance. That'll use 20 eggs by itself. I can roll out thin lasagne sheets and dry them for future use and then do some fettuccini as well. A nice large batch will keep me in pasta for awhile and only use 3 days worth of eggs!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Just so I don't feel like I'm depressing the ever loving heck out of my readers - here's a photo of my current joy - my blueberries! I had one bush for a rather long time before I discovered I needed two to make berries (my mother never did really explain sex to me).

I got another but then in some unfortunate mishap, it passed away - or dried out - or something. Either way, it looks like a dried up stick in a pot. In some feeble attempt at horticultural necrophilia, I stuck them side by side anyway. Well, maybe that dead berry had some get up and go left in him or maybe his dying wish was to berry-up his friend, but I got berries coming in this year!! I'm hoping to plant some and make another dead stick for it to mate with next year. Maybe 20 or 30, because, damn, I really love blueberries.

I hope this time next year we have some land so I don't have to keep berries in pots and I can let them explore my home and then I can explore their berries with my face.


So I guess I haven't really updated this blog for real since I got my diagnosis from the specialist. I suppose it's because I don't really want to write it down. I don't want to say the specialist thinks my immunity is compromised. I know what diseases there are that are autoimmune and not many of them are simple. The majority are pretty bad.

As it turns out, I was so sick my friends in health (Doctors and Nurses, I know personally) didn't even want to tell me they thought I had HIV. I don't, thank goodness - but they honestly for awhile thought I did. That's a terrifying thought, especially considering my lifestyle. I don't sit there swapping needles or bodily fluids with people. At least I'm not contagious - so whatever it is, nobody else will get, and that's reassuring.

People are being hard on me and it's difficult. I've gone some people asking me if I'm lying about the whole damn thing. Of course, these are just people on the internet and not people visiting me asking where my weight went, or why I've suddenly and uncontrollably started shaking, or why I need a nap so early in the day. So, really, who cares if they think I'm lying? I suppose - I do. It's a stress I don't need, people being cruel and accusing me of lying as I stand between sheer joy I'm alive and utter sadness I don't know what's wrong with me.

Oh I did't actually say that, did I? They diagnosed the liver failure but, apparently, the continuously being sick is the real problem - not the liver. You know it's scary when liver failure is the lesser of the evils going on in my body. The specialist even seem unconcerned about my liver at the moment and was more concerned with my health this last year. I can't even begin to imagine what I have - but rest assured I've already imagined everything.

The bright side is I'm finally reading all those wonderful books I love. I also was super meticulous with the taxes because, well, what was I going to do sitting at home all day? So we got a very nice refund coming in, and that eases my stresses quite a bit. Plus my fiance got his raise and I got paid for a couple things I did in the past - so surprisingly, I'm still managing to 'pull my weight' (I don't think I am most of the time but the fiance tells me to slow down all the time) around here and make some money to help out.

I'm allowed to do simple easy stuff. Doctor said I was allowed to putter and do household chores and even leave the house for short periods of time (to say, like, get 4-5 things from the shops or get videos from the video store but not like a giant grocery trip or eating out). I've been planting a lot of seeds in my garden because that's fairly easy. Just sit there and poke holes in the dirt. The chickens even broke out of the backyard and scratched up all the dirt in the front yard for me to make it a little easier.

It's interesting, I can actually pinpoint the exact time I've used too much energy in one go - when I start shaking. I can start to control it a little or feel it come on and I know to slow down. When I slow down, the shakes stop. I have no idea what the shakes even mean. I'm eating, so it's not from hunger. I've started digesting again, so it's not that. My E/LFTs are still incredibly high, but not as high as they were. Perhaps that's causing the shakes? No idea.

I admit I jump back and forth in my emotions a lot these days. Super extremes too. Not like me. I have highs and lows but they're usually situational. These days I look around me and just burst into tears, wondering if it's all going to go away. Wondering and praying whatever I have is managable or curable or non-existent (Maybe they made a mistake! I cry.).

I am redoing my will, and I'm updating my living will, in case I end up in a coma. Scary thought. I'm also contemplating upping my life insurance, but I worry they will notice I saw a specialist before I upgraded and only a few weeks before I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. I don't want them cancelling on my fiance if he needs it because I felt the desire to raise my limit at a bad time. Does anyone know if the insurance will do this? I'm not diagnosed with anything yet - but I probably will be.

I just... I want to live, damnit. Not live, look my blood is still running in my veins but LIVE, get out there and live. Live life, have fun, enjoy what I've got... I also want to pretend I never got this diagnosis and ignore it completely and pretend I'm healthy and just never go back to the doctor. I was supposed to make an appointment on Friday for this week. I can't bring myself to do it. I have a few blood tests still waiting for me to hear the results to - and I can't do it.

I know there's a few of you shaking your heads at me for being so stupid as to not make that appointment to see those last results. Stupid girl, you think, if it was me, I'd be in that doctor's office this second. Would you? Really? Because I'm stuck in this limbo between "It's really bad not knowing" and "What I don't know can't hurt me"....if I bury my head in the sand long enough, the world will pass by and everything will be okay. What I don't know today could be the worst news I get in my life tomorrow, you know?

People get mad at me because when they see me, I am laughing and joking. Even about the doctor's results and diagnosis... I joke and laugh. How dare I! How dare I? What else am I supposed to do? Break down in tears every time I bring it up like I do when I'm alone? Am I supposed to be sad until I get my autoimmune diagnosis and then be sadder still? Sometimes I begin to wonder if people just want to see me cry.

So I laugh and I joke and I keep my spirits up because, well, because this sucks. I'm NOT happy. I'm NOT in the mood to laugh - but I'm going to do it anyway. Even the simple act of making the joke or pretending to laugh eases the stresses a little. It satisfies me that the world is normal and happy and the pain will, in fact, go away. Laughter, jokes and smiles give me the hope I need to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

If I can laugh, then I haven't lost me. I won't lose myself in this, I refuse to.

So, I'm on bedrest for another 10 or so days. I can handle that, right? In 10 days, I'll join the world again - like nothing bad ever happened. That will be nice.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Has Anybody Seen My Mind?

Everybody wants to be what they want to be
Everybody want to have a good time
I just want to hang out with my peaceful itty bitty family
Playing sweet sweet music with some friends of mine

But I try to fake it, I can't do it all the time
Try hard to break it, but it was just a waste of my time
When I turn on my TV, seems like they're winning all the time.
I pray to God to please show me a sign
Has anybody seen my mind?
Has anybody seen my mind?
Has anybody seen my mind?
Has anybody seen my mind?

I would never ever leave you hanging on the corner with a problem
I would never ever leave you all alone
I always wanted you to know that you could depend on me
When I come out to your place, I will never be without a home

But I try to fake it, I can't do it all the time
Try hard to break it, but it was just a waste of my time
When I turn on my TV, seems like they're winning all the time
I pray to God to please show me a sign
Has anybody seen my mind?

I want you to walk with me now, talk with me now, be with now, and everything is all right
Walk with me now, talk with me now, be with now, and everything is all right

I try to fake it, I can't do it all the time
Try hard to break it, but it was just a waste of my time
When I turn on my TV, seems like they're winning all the time
I pray to God to please show me a sign
Has anybody seen my mind?