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HAPPY BIRTHDAY DON! SEVENTY TODAY!

We are back in Canberra, my other hometown. We’re here for six weeks house and dog sitting for my oldest-best-friend-from-high-school and her husband. Beautiful big house and garden and two sweet and well-mannered dogs. Blessed again! We walk the dogs every day for an hour or so in the bushland just up the road from the house.

This is what it looks like up there




We saw this on one of our walks – I think it’s a bearded dragon. It’s about 15 inches long




When we first arrived it was wattle blossom season and these bright yellow flowers are seen all over the city.




We are writing every day, somehow trying to capture the story of our journey over the past year since we turned our world upside down and decided to become nomads. It’s a challenging and rewarding endeavor that helps us become clear about why our life is the way it is, and what’s wanted as we move forward.

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The tale of the shrinking luggage:
When we first set out on our big adventure in September 2011 we left for two and a half months and travelled with small backpacks (for laptops, cameras, medications, and all the stuff we want on board for long flights) and 28-inch cases stuffed full. Didn’t take long for us to get sick of lugging all that around. It was too much; too heavy and more than we needed. So after returning to Vancouver in December 2011 we bought ourselves 24-inch cases. We travelled with these for four and a half months until our return to Vancouver in May 2012. Still too much stuff to lug around. Setting off again in Sept 2012 we have our small backpacks and……. 20-inch cases! Carry-on size! I don’t think we can go any smaller than this. We will now be travelling indefinitely and have pretty much gotten things down to the minimum. We have a wonderful collection of cases in our storage locker! Almost enough to open a store :) We recently gave one away.

Apart from clothes, which are obviously at a minimum (and the least of it!) here’s what we’re carry with us for those of you who want the details:
Cameras
Laptops
Pocket hard-drives
Cell phones
Pens and small writing pads
Bathroom kits (all the usual stuff)
Medications for Delhi belly and malaria, plus six months supply of other ongoing medications we both need.
Reading and sun glasses, and a spare of each
Passports, wallets, money belts
A huge tube of sun block
Mosquito repellent
Head-lights (hands free flashlights)
Flexible bicycle locks for locking together, and to something immovable, our cases, on Indian (and other) trains
A set each of bamboo cutlery, two small sharp kitchen knives, two thin flexible plastic cutting “boards”, a plastic sandwich tub each
Sarongs, swimsuits, hand towels
Small first aid kit
Small sewing kit
Mosquito nets
Water bottles
Small day packs for every-day use
Flip-flops for the less salubrious shower stalls, or for walking on rocky beaches. May we never need them for the former :)
Sandals
Walking/hiking shoes
Alison also has a pair of slip-on canvas shoes
A large container each of antibacterial hand wipes
Sun hats
Swiss army knife
Scissors
Grapefruit seed extract for disinfecting fruit and vegetables
Surge-protector power bar
Four different power plugs (to cover all the different countries we’re going to)
PJ’s
Toques (woolly hats), scarves, gloves
A clothesline and a few pegs
A universal sink stopper
A length of cord for whatever need may arise (in India we used it to tie open the shutter to stop it banging in the wind)
And the most bulky items of all – 6 months supply of vitamins and supplements. You could argue that we could do without our daily multi-vitamin and vitamin C tablets, but not so much for the rest. Don takes a greens powder every day and really notices the difference in his energy if he stops taking it. We both take acidophilus which is pretty essential for maintaining a healthy gastro-intestinal system, especially given the hazards of eating in third world countries. We both take fish oil pills for our ageing joints. And finally, I have spinal osteoporosis and will take whatever is needed to try to build bone density, so that includes calcium, magnesium, vitamin K and silica. Ah, the joys of travelling when you’re older. When I travelled in my 20’s and 30’s I never thought about any of this stuff. Couldn’t afford it either. But now in my sixties, and Don now seventy, we’ll do what we need to stay healthy. Long may it be so!

And yes we do manage to get it all in, along with a reasonable amount of clothing.

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We always carry all medications with us on the plane, just in case our luggage doesn’t arrive. Don had atrial fibrillation for a few years so he was put on a blood thinner called Pradax. Each Pradax capsule comes wrapped in its own foil pouch. Well, a five-month supply of Pradax (2 per day) sure filled our backpacks. Light in weight, but huge in volume. We could hardly get anything else in. The Pradax does nothing for the atrial fibrillation; it just lessens the risk of stroke, which can be a side affect of AF.
The other part of this story is that with AF Don had about a 2% chance of having a stroke, but there’s a 16% chance of gastro-intestinal bleeding with Pradax!
The really really good news is that during this past stay in Vancouver Don’s naturopath put him on a homeopathic remedy for AF that works like a charm. So no more Pradax! Yay! Freed up lots of room in our backpacks that we managed to fill up with other stuff right quick :)

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Bird life abounds here in Canberra, and the lake is a haven for water birds.


Swan nesting




Swan preening




Australasian darter sunning itself






A purple marsh hen doing a mating dance




And to finish off – some more digital art just for the fun of it. This time I’ve included the “before” pictures. For those of you not familiar with Photoshop it gives some idea of how incredibly versatile it is. I call it art because all the creative choices are mine, from original photo subject, to the saturation and value of each individual colour, the choice of distorting or texturizing effects, etc. The one thing I can’t control is the placement of the colours. Yet. I suspect as I learn more I’ll be able to do that too. I’ve been a painter of abstract art all my life, and this really feels like painting to me. So much fun. Don doesn’t always get it, and for those of you who don’t relate to abstract art it probably won’t resonate either. But if you simply enjoy the interplay of form and colour for its own sake perhaps you’ll enjoy my new “paintings”.


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After



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Canberra has a wonderful flower show for a month every spring. We’ve been three times. More on that in the next blog.

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