Life after work and the trips of a lifetime

"We are judged by what we finish, not by what we start." - Anonymous

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, your body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, "Woo hoo! What a ride!..attributed in this form to either Maxine Cartoon or anon

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hold the front page!

What a year..first Alex thinks he's #'d his left wrist while in Portugal, then Phil #'s his left hip and had to be helicoptered out of the bush, and now (hopefully finally) in a truly dramatic effort to up-stage all, Ben has #'d  his left scapula. Me?..... I'm staying wrapped in cottonwool for the next 2 weeks...especially my left side!

I was diligently working away on the indoor trainer late Saturday afternoon when a pathetic pain wracked   voice said in my ear...I think you need to take me to hospital...and there was an  ill looking Ben  holding onto his arm in a way that all cyclists recognise there is a fracture somewhere, although usually its the clavicle not the scapula. 

Despite Ben not having private health insurance l  opted to go to that route rather than wait for hours and hours in a public hosp emergency dept and so 2 hours later, after an xray which was a bit unclear and a CT which was not, we got the whole story in graphic detail.

Usually scapula #'s  are just left to heal themselves as they are stable due to location and the underlying rib cage and despite my initial fears on seeing the scan, that's the case for Ben too..if you take a good look at middle  pix on the right of the bottom scan..the one that is 100% side on, you'll see that nothing is sticking out either into his ribs or out into his skin.  

He's up for 4 weeks total immobility in a sling with no exercises at all to allow it a good chance to heal itself as best it can, followed by Physio.  

I'd never seen anything remotely as bad as this before, but the surgeon said he'd seen similar on motor bike accident victims.

Poor Ben..appalling timing  as he wont be able to work and he was on the verge of getting an adult  apprenticeship in the building trade.....
I'm now going to have what might be a rather robust discussion with the Private Hospital..they wanted to keep Ben in overnight to see the surgeon when he came in the next day .  I was told that since he was uninsured their protocol is to ask for 5 nights accommodation and if he didn't stay the 5 there would be a refund.  On discharge I was told a different story which was that if the Health fund allocated 5 days funding for the particular problem then that is what I would have to pay, or the hospital would lose money on that admission!!!

I'm not very good arguing my case on the spot but forewarned is forearmed and I've been busy marshalling my arguments just in case...I might even suggest that I would consider  contacting "Today Tonight" or some other equally appalling "exposure" TV program..

Friday, December 10, 2010

helmet standard change - yet again and again and again

How to govern by feel, hope and a prayer(click the title for the link).  

This time the standard was updated and brought in so quickly wholesalers and retailers were caught on the hop but  after protest the change is  to be delayed by 6 months.

Our helmet standards are already so stringent they surpass any other standard on the globe and now they are being tightened even further.  In my mind they reflect the "nanny state" persona of our laws, after all we ARE the most governed people in the world with federal, state and local governments alive and well and living off our taxes.

I'm just hoping that the aero helmet I bought for road TT's will not have to be replaced too soon ..first i want to make it earn what I paid for it!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


This, like the scene on my weekend ride into the country of green grass and full dams, is sooo bizarre for this part of the world, it needs to be recorded for posterity:

from the bureau of meteorology site

Monday, December 6, 2010

Biblical Victoria

Moses, Aaron, Pharaoh, Joseph
where are you?
We had the  drought, 
we had the terrible bush fires, 
we've had/are having the floods 
and now we're getting the locusts.

This map (from indicates where the swarms are currently..and they'd bloody better keep away from my veggie garden .

Noooo..not again!

Just when I thought it was safe to enter the cats sleeping area  first thing in the morning without first checking for rats dead, half dead or (shudder) alive:
    "A Present from a loving admirer"

it's been a while but here we go again, only this time Flea has been  very, very politically incorrect.....juvenile possums are "barley" and what's more are hardly fair game for our rat catcher extraordinaire.

Phoenix veggies

well bugger me!..planted one day, swamped and buried the next and 3 days later  when I get round to looking properly at the damage..what do I find?  yay! 

Maybe now  I can stop sulking and get on with looking after my babies again.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

2 torrential rain days in a week is 2 too many

Guess it's just as well I have a veggie garden for lifestyle rather than economic reasons!

this time it was alot worse and this time I'm not bothering to replant..well at least not til the current weather pattern has passed by.   I've lost all my potatoes, newly planted winter veggies capsicums and lettuce...also my patience!

There must have been a huge amount of rain as it pushed this fence over a bit
and  this large potted plant parked itself half way down our garden.  It can only have come under the fence  from that neighbour.

We also had floods into the garage and into the front verandah, but thankfully not actually into  the house. One of Alex's mates is coming in with a digger to gouge out trenches for additional drainage pipes, although this might well be a case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I love a sunburnt country

the lines from the poem  My Country by Dorothy Mackellar "of droughts and flooding rains." ring somewhat true this weekend

We've had the drought and this winter  have happily seen our water storage dams rise from being only 30% full to now being over 50% full, so weather can be kind and it can be  nasty. Yesterday I was not happy to find that it had been just downright mean.  It probably only took about 30 minutes of torrential rain to undo a fair amount of the work Alex, the cat and I had done in the veggie patch.

 the top left  wooden border has been under cut and the gravel and river stones swept across the  veggie bed beyond.  
 The edging helped save the veggies although in doing so all the water was channeled down the 2 pathways we'd created around the separate veggie beds and which have now been stripped down to subsoil.  Some of the river stones from this path have actually been swept into next doors garden about 30 metres downhill!
I've only lost some lettuce and 2 potato plants,  so it could have been alot worse.
Got a bit of work to do ....again!  but  this weekend is s'posed to be a wet one, so I'll just see if anything is still alive under there...the potato on the edge at least might be ok..

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Back at work, worm farms, pets with loooong fur and track racing

In no special order:

Pippi's "passport" says she's a domestic short hair variety, but she begs to differ over the word "short"..and so do we.  She's the only cat I've had to take regularly to the vet to be groomed as her fur gets really matted and she's none too keen on me dealing with the problem.  Each visit costs about $75 and she has to be sedated to accomplish the task.  Not happy..either of us.

Then..tra daaaah!   Enter this grooming tool which I bought yesterday....

Fantastic.  Pippi is now half her previous size, I have enough fur in the bin to stuff a pillow and there were absolutely no complaints from a cat who is really VERY happy to complain.

Worm farms.
There are about 1000 worms who will be very sad they belong to me...well actually there are probably only about 500 now. I dunno what it is, but they don't seem to be getting through their original food lot although I was told they should have by the end of a week or so.

Then there were the ants that decided to  use the base of the farm as their new home...little buggers! I think I'd allowed it to get a bit dry, which I've now sorted.  Anyway I've got a temporary solution of using putting the farm's legs in 4 bowls filled with water!  Eat up little wormies!

no biggie really except by the end of the first day I was legs and feet were sooooo tired and I pretty well slept the clock around.  It's nice seeing friends and colleagues again, although in this campus there are also many people I dont know.  And as expected, being a different campus to where I used to work, it's sort of the same but different.

Track racing
Saturdays TT was soooo slow, although a good enough time to qualify for gold .  I lost it all in the start which  must have been like watching grass grow during winter.  Plenty of work to be done there.

Darryl had asked me to us a 92 (52/15) and drop bars.....I was ok with the gearing but hated starting on the current set up using drop bars...too low and too stretched out and  I just couldn't get up to speed enough for the first bend and I thought I was going to fall off!

I'm keeping my fingers crossed the guys at Brescia's Montichiari velodrome will be able to get enough sponsorship $$ to get the European Masters Track  Champs up and running some time in July.  I'm planning on being in Italy that month  attending an Italian Language school to beef up my slowing improving Italian language skills and having the champs at Brescia would help me decide which school to go to.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Track and Road Championships for Masters

  • World Masters Track Championships 2011..Manchester October 9th -15th 
  • European Masters Track Championships Brescia, Italy ???dates (you can enter if you hold  a European passport or were born in a European Country.
The roads are a little more complicated and up in the air...more on this topic when its a bit clearer.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The future of Masters World Road Champs

check this out...

Fitness Testing graphs for the past 28 days

These are the latest results from a 20 min test I do up the 1 in 20..currently they are quite a bit behind what I did last year, but are slowly  improving.  The ride in October was full gas and I had to stop to recover after the 20 minutes, the November ride was more tempo, so although the distance and consequently speed are less, there is a definite improvement.

Some stats below are, of course, averages and some not

                        October                                                                        November
Time                   19.59                                                                             19.55 min
Power                160.9                                                                             161.4 watt
Heart Rate          154.6                                                                             149.4 bpm
Speed                   16.2                                                                             16.14 kph
Cadence               64.5                                                                              68.3 rpm (sigh)
Altitude               220                                                                                 208 m
Temperature         25.1                                                                                30.4 C
Distance                 5.4                                                                                  5.36 km
Energy                192.9                                                                               192.9 kJ

This is the distribution of power I've been exerting over the past 28 days ....usually it doesn't have such a big top end shoulder...but twice weekly track training sessions with Darryl will do that to a graph!

 and this is an indication of how my fitness is improving. Put simply, the red line is the acute stress, the blue line my general fitness and the yellow my recovery or lack thereof

Friday, November 12, 2010

Worm farms, work and training

Early this week after a long weeding session, I decided to restart using  the compost bin with garden waste only and have a worm farm for kitchen scraps (no citrus, onions, dairy or meat though).  

We've not been recycling ever since the rat episode earlier this year.  For those not up with the tale, one of the cats kept giving me presents of rats either dead, almost dead or in 1 case very much alive.  The presents were mainly left in the kitchen but also were found under the computer desk, in the bathroom and behind a bookcase(the live one).  The Pied Piper of Hamlin told me to get rid of the compost heap which we used for both garden and kitchen waste as it was attracting the rats from...who knew where.  

Emptying the bin  plus all the rat bait he put all along their run seemed to have worked so, with just over a week before I get back to the salt mine, I spent most of  yesterday researching and finally buying  a worm farm for the kitchen waste

fibrous stuff soaking in a bucket..a bit like trying to quickly defrost the mince beef for Spag Blog

then it was put onto of the cardboard in the top layer for the worms to munch through as their first meal

 add 1000 worms
cover with a wet blanket or newspapers or hessian bag and put on the lid.  Apparently for the amount of kitchen waste 3 people generate, eventually  I'll need an extra 2000 worms.  First I have to see if I can manage not to kill 1000 of them!

Yesterday I went into work to farewell a colleague who was retiring  and took the time to tell anyone who asked just how boring retirement was!  Over and over I said..there's only so much gardening, learning Italian and training I can do before I go stir crazy!  and strangely enough no-one seemed too surprised....

There are many reasons for this of course..the transition from the excitement of travelling OS to ...nothing, the transition from being around and dealing with people to not and the transition from being crazily busy busy busy to ...well...not very busy... 

Soooo..a clinical locum from 22/11 to 7/1 and then a 13 week Project Officer job will keep me out of mischief (and boredom) until April and then it'll almost  be time to go OS again (June 30th). 

With the weather getting better, I'm back on the road.  Today's ride had to be early in the day to escape the windy and >30 C forecast.  A small branch falling onto the road about 10metres ahead of me gave me a hurry up and a clear incentive to get out of the forested area of the  Dandenongs ASAP.  No track training this weekend or next with the Country and Metro champs taking up both weekends.  I'm racing in the Metros next week, but only the 500m TT and hopefully during the Tuesday training session with help  I will go part way to solving the vexed question of which gear to use..  My all time PB about 2 years ago was in the high 42s, lately its been high 43s...I'd love it to be low 43s, but ........

oh change coming through as I type!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

My recent training..sprinter or enduro?!

Looking at this graph it is evident that rather a large proportion (3/4 actually) of my recent training has been at recovery level (grey) so now my coach tells me its  is time to get some more wattage happening.

However to analyse the days in this graph:
  • I had been on holiday in the US for the first few days then travelled back and spent time recovering from jet lag and commenced being a nurse(har! har!) to Phil post hip fracture 
  • so when I  finally did get back onto my bike it was in  genuine recovery mode.
  • but  the weather here was very, very wet and so  I started doing 2 track sessions a week and of course with track training there's a fair amount of   lapping with not much wattage happening (recovery, light and moderate type) followed by vomit-worthy max short efforts..
 So while there's a lot of grey on the graph I can proudly point to other colours higher up the pix  such as  >23 mins at max, >27 minutes at supra and >52 minutes at threshold levels.  I don't think I've *ever* had that much top end stuff before!

The training I'm doing on the track is totally different from anything I've done previously and has given my ageing body a huge jolt.  Under the banner "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" I can positively report I'm alive I stronger???well, in 14 days time I'll be doing a 500m TT in the metro champs and I guess we'll find out.

How this type of training will help my no1 interest...road TT's will also be of interest.

After many rumours, we've now been told that the World Masters Track Championships 2011 ,12 and 13 are  to be held in Manchester and already I am poised to book accommodation...just waiting for the dates.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

foil the rhubarb leaf eating ferals remedy no 2 and work plans

lets see how this goes: stakes and bird net and secured at ground level by bricks

and with regard to work prospects it looks like I'd better enjoy the next 2 weeks or so...I'm now signed up for work until about the end of April

we are STILL not amused

organic spray remedy no.1 clearly failed!  the little @#$%^& ate 1 leaf and stalk clear off last night..given the poisonous aspect of the leaves I hope it's feeling VERY unwell. 

Gunna hafta go with creating a barrier of some sort.  If this works its a possum, if it fails its a rat since after the rat sagas of earlier this year I know rats can get in through the minutest of cracks.

So off to Bunnings I go to see what there is to create a frame for netting

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

We are not amused


 possums, mice or rats??? I think there's  far too much danmage done too quickly to be caterpillers, as there'd have to be an army of them and they'd have to be VERY VERY good at hiding too.

 this plant (dill) was thriving and bushy yesterday

me thinks somebody's been sleeping on the job!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Yup....retirement sucks! plus 2011 plans

there's only so much gardening and learning Italian I can do every day before I become stir crazy and recovery from a day's hard training is only marginally better for not being at work.

So the answer is...I've accepted a long locum job from Nov 22nd to the end of January..6 hours a day max and hours flexible and negotiable.  Same place of work although at a sister campus and same type of job..but just the clinical work..nothing extra....yay!
The veggie garden, which is flourishing despite hail, single figure temps and my black fingers (the tendency to weed the seedlings and leave the weeds is a skill I'm trying to lose)....anyhow these first 2 pix are what the site used to look like

then with the help of cat and son it started to take shape

and more recently
first edible crop..Cos lettuce  aka by some... rabbit food:

Italian...progressing but frustratingly slow..the brain just isn't  the sponge it used to be.

Training..actually going well although mostly track based at the moment with 2 sufferfest sessions on a Tuesday and Saturday..puke-worthy fast stuff that is giving my aged body a real jolt.  Haven't thrown up yet but am getting closer.

June out
July...........Italy and UK..European road and track champs if they are on in July..
August......Masters week in Deutschlandsberg and Road worlds in St Johann then the Dolomites
Sept home 

and for those of you who have read right to the end yet another word for the day/blogpost....

Polynesia (n) Loss of memory in parrots 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's official!

Yup! it's official that:
  1. I have black fingers...nothing seems to be growing in my veggie patch except for weeds.  For example what I had thought was a potato seedling and which was lavished with special attention is looking more and more like a dandelion and of the bits of green that have emerged where  I planted ~100 carrot seeds 3 weeks ago, only 1 looks like a carrot..I think the others are all grass or oxalis .
  2. Retirement is  not for me...well not yet I'm going back to work for 6 weeks starting on November 22nd.
  3. I'm not osteoporotic..a fall on the track yesterday proved that, although I'm just a bit stiff and sore today.
Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a refund from the Taxation Office, which lasts until you realise it was your money to start with

Friday, October 15, 2010

Wow! a blogless month!

Seen and giggled over from the Alternative dictionary, Washington Post style:

Abdicate:  To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach!

So what have I been doing this past month?   in no special order

  • riding my bike-back training
  • creating a vegetable garden
  • trying to learn to use my smart phone and once I learn how to get pix from there to here you'll be bombarded with proof of the veggie patch
  • planting and weeding...all that squatting has to be good for my hip flexibility
  • killing slugs and snails
  • learning Italian..gotta keep the brain healthy
  • Master road nats..2 gold, 1 abandon (road race)
  • watching the World  Road champs in Geelong
  • watching the Commonwealth games
  • weight training
  • catching up with friends
  • getting bored
  • buying a new computer, a dishwasher and a digital TV - retail therapy for the above
  • sort of looking after Phil following his fractured hip ..."sort of" 'cos despite being retired I retain the characteristics of a Physio...what pain?? I feel no pain, and he for his part totally ignores all my  professional advice.
Recent signs of rapidly approaching dementia:
  • I got new SRM speed sensors for track and road bikes and took ages to work out why they wouldn't work...I'd put them on wrong way round.
  • I changed the cranks on my training bike from compact crank 50/34 set up I'd used in Italy back to the SRM 53/39 set up and hopped on the bike to ride to Fed Square to watch the start of the men's world road race.  It wasn't until I tried to move into big chain ring that I realised that to complete the task, I also had to shift the front derailleur up......
  • I've lost my keys so many times in the past week I'm thinking of getting a homing device on them
 Plans are afoot for next year...I'm looking at a few weeks in Italy..Cinque Terra, Tuscany and Veneto interspersed with competitions on road and track as and when I can find them.  I have to make some plans fairly soon as early bird offers are finalising.

Pix to follow..not only am I still learning the phone, this new computer lacks my photo library....

Finally..and I hope this link will's a utube type 15 second laugh out loud vid. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

What this recently retired "lady" has been doing these past few days


this is an example of "before" and was over a fairly large area of our 1 acre garden. It was here that I found  and killed the tallest dandelion and the largest thistle ...EVER!

and a few days later..a work in progress..and yes, I'm stiff and sore.....

yup, you're right a veggie garden in the making and there's enough room for 3 more like this one..but...start I'm not biting off too much quite yet.

Learning a language
As well as being Farmer Jane, I'm also learning Italian.  One to one and was told that what I got through in my first 2 hour  lesson was the equivalent of what a group would do in half a term.  It helps that I know a bit of French, German and Swedish and that I spent 7 weeks in the country unknowingly absorbing words, emphasis and pronunciation.  My next class is later this week, then there'll be a bit of a gap which will allow me to consolidate my learnings.....

Hospital visiting
This I could quite do without, but at least Phil is coming home in 2 days time and I can finish this particular chore.

Road national this coming up weekend...something I'm totally unprepared for and will have to hope for long standing fitness to come to the fore.....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Yet more road signs

  Working out EXACTLY what these 2 were  advertising occupied me for quite a few kms

(shot through the windscreen and a great speed and no I wasn't driving!)

which?....a sex shop or a  sexy souvenir shop

I was sad to discover  a bimbo is a baby boy

and finally we've all seen them...directional signs that clearly give you wrong/contrary distances, but these 2 push the boundaries more than somewhat.  Found at a T junction they are about 10m apart. 

Aaaah!  Italy, I just gotta return next year.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The trip home


the "last AND final" (this quoting a PA announcement in San Fransisco) part of my holiday has been and gone, all I have left are jet lag, great memories and a tiny bank balance.

After Austria I drove to Geneva, parted company with my car and flew to Manchester as part of the requirement of my Round the World ticket..I loathe Heathrow and so opted for Manchester since it was was the next best option. In the 60's I trained and worked in close neighbour and equally grimey Liverpool and so wanted to get back to that "dirty old town" to see how it had changed.  It had and it hadn't...the general lay out was the same although some streets were pedestrianized  but sadly the place was filthy..the pavement was so disgusting that  nothing would persuade me to use the 5/6/10 second rule for dropped food.  The museums at Albert Dock on Slavery and the work of customs were fantastic.

The Liver birds (pronounced to rhyme with "I've") are still sitting very,very statically where they always have..on top of the Liver building...legend has it they flap their wings when a virgin passes by.

Here's a closer pix of  this fabled and smart bird  just to see what it  looks like...

 I had hoped that the 88 euros the Swiss charged me for my bike, cos it was an oversized article of luggage was a one off...but no...UK charged me 135 pounds to get across the pond to the US and then THEY charged me $US 200 to get it home.  The weight was not an issue..just the size..and the need to make money. Am freighting them next's bad enough travelling with them, but having to pay extra for the privilege....forget it.

My stay in San Diego had  to be shortened from 7 days to 36 hour to allow me to  get home to ensure Phil's recovery from his # neck of femur was managed in the best possible way.  He arrived in the rehab hospital the day before I got home and was about to be assessed by his Physio when I went and saw him on my way home from the airport.

So for 36 hours I met up with track

and road buddies

and had a great time..the weather was very kind although here is proof that  California isn't always sunny

one of the trips was to the Wild Life park section of the famous  San Diego Zoo where one of the many great sights was this deer taking it's courage in both hooves  challenging a rhino for first go at the feeding trough ...brave or just stupid?
I'm not sure what the highlight of the 36 hours was: meeting with friends, the hike, the zoo but honourable mention just has to given to the following....
  • an "extreme" rated ride in a Kawasaki buggy to see a horse..beautiful horse as you can see from the pix... but the ride...well that was something else!
  • actually getting to see a road runner. (heard the coyotes..just HAD to see a road runner).

The flight  home was fine and I even scored an upgrade between Auckland and Melbourne.

So that's it folks...I now have to settle into the life of a retiree:
? book club?
? gardening?
? flower arranging?

One thing's certain, I'll be spending many hours  planning for next year's adventures.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Random signs

USA.....San Diego to be precise where  bunnies are literate and avocados do not sprint

Switzerland..where apparently poverty has resulted in a campaign to encourage people to eat  twigs and logs

UK..where this sign outside Liverpool Lime Street Railway station tells it as it is

and finally Italy..La Bella Italia where street traders of  all types of luxury goods such as  "Gucci" are allowed to carry on their trade unmolested by officialdom and yet.......

guess it's lucky my skill level in detecting fake goods is so high

 just checking, 'cos my eyesight's not very good.... can you see any??..maybe they're just around the corner, over the brow of the hill perhaps??