Archive for July, 2010

146. Sunday 25th July 2010. On a roller coaster ride…

27/07/2010

In fact since deciding to retire the world has sped up with some ups and some downs but each day I seem to have less time to get things done and in fact forget to do some things. I forgot my daughter Shelly’s birthday at the beginning of the week.

We would really like to get on the road by the first week of September but the days are rushing at us so quickly and now it seems there is more to do than I first thought and suddenly spending money on new equipment seems to be a risk that has to be reconsidered.

We had some interesting and exciting phone and skype calls this week.

We have spoken with a French couple, Guy & Dominique who live on 5 acres at a place called Traveston in the hills behind the Sunshine Coast. About 30 minutes from Noosa! As a result of those conversations we have accepted to house sit their property from mid December until mid March.

That will work out well for us a many reasons.

My sister Sue lives at Noosaville so we should be able to have Christmas together.

Donnis siter Linda has a house swap on the Gold Coast for three weeks in January. That is about 200klms away. We will have to get a couple of e-Tags for the car and the MH.

Donnis is also considering returning to Canada with her sister for a month. With me parked at Traveston in the summer I can visit sister Sue and maybe spend some time at the beach, photographing surfers, maybe even borrowing a surfboard from Ken. Donnis and I will be able to keep in touch by Skype or VOIP. It will be interesting to chill out, veg out and catch up on a bit of writing and perhaps planning the next three months.

This weekend we started cleaning out the garage. We started on on the roof, cleaning off all the accumulated debris of leaves and gum nuts. We cleaned out the gutters and replaced the gutter guard.

Next we pulled all the heavier items out of the garage and swept the floor. Then we selected stuff we no longer want, is not worth selling but we are prepared to give away. We took some to the re-cycling centre and will take another load tomorrow.

While cleaning out some items I picked up the original flat screen TV which came with the MH. It has never worked. For the sake of the exercise I plugged it in to power. It turned on and reacted to the remote. Hmmm! I brought it inside and connected the Wii console. It works! Hmmm. We were wondering how to take the Wii with us. This could be the solution but where would it be stored and used?

I measured up in the basement which is accessed by a large hatch type door. Yes! It will fit. On a swivel  TV stand it can be turned outwards and can be viewed from outside the MH. I think we have solved the Wii problem and saved a TV as well!

A few comments gave me pause for thought. She found a 2009 calandar issued by the nursing home where she works. There were photos of all the residents at the time the calandar was created in the last quarter of 2008. Donnis mentioned that she had wiped the bums or showered all of them. She also mentioned which of them had died, which of them were in a vegetative state and which needed constant high level care. Frankly I found it depressing. Where the food for thought comes in was that it must also be depressing for the nurses and in my case I was thinking about how this effects Donnis. I discussed it with her. It seems she is comfortable with the work and that is her role in life.  She is a carer.

So here we are two weeks from the end of my working life and on the precipice of the great unknown adventure.

Hmmm! If some work comes my way, casual of course, I will take it.

Other than that I am more concerned with practical day to day solutions such as a garage sale, buying a container, finding somewhere to store it and our furniture and finding a mail redirection solution.

Maybe we will have solved some of that by next weekend.

Hope so!

145. Sunday 18th July 2010. Countdown begins, Family, Outer Reef and Bush camping

20/07/2010

What a week this has been.
On Monday, I handed in my notice of intention to retire. At Maria’s suggestion I withheld telling the other staff until we had a staff lunch on Tuesday when a visiting Underwriter arrived to tell us about a new product. At first I was disappointed with the reaction I got from the other staff.

Stunned silence.

Then eventually they all started asking questions at once.
What?
I don’t believe it!
Who will replace you?
What are we going to do when you go?
How will we cope?
I will miss you.
We will all miss you.
Some were clearly disappointed and thought something had happened.
The visiting Underwriter kept shaking her head and repeating, “the girls (her staff) will be so disappointed and will miss you”.
The next day she offered to get her staff to travel from Townsville (300 klms away) and take me to lunch.
I have only told a few clients and one other Underwriter. This coming week will be BIG as the news gets out.

On Thursday my sister Bev, husband Peter, son Mitch and his girlfriend Sam, arrived for the night and the following day. They had been on Brampton Island for four days and on arrival in Mackay borrowed a car from our other sister Sandra and drove to Airlie Beach.
(Sandra by the way flew out on Saturday for a holiday in Vietnam)
They asked us if we would go to the reef with them the next day. At $199 each I could not justify the cost this close to retirement. They announced it was their shout and locals got a huge discount. A little bit of gentle arm twisting followed and we agreed to go to the reef. So after an early late night or is that a late early night it was off to bed as we had to be at the caravan park at 7am the next morning when we would be collected by their bus. The passenger ferry would leave at 8am and not return until about 6.15 that evening so it was a full on day. As we were cruising out the marina entrance the skipper told us conditions were 15 to 20 knots and would be a bit bumpy “in the shipping channel” and for those prone to seasickness to take their tablets now.
Peter and Sam both took tablets and as the boat picked up more passengers at Daydream and Hayman Islands, the tablets had time to work. In fact Sam slept most of the trip. So did Mitch. As expected it was quite “bumpy” but not uncomfortably so. We arrived at a moored pontoon at Knuckle Reef, about 100 klms from Airlie Beach at 11.30 am and

Bev n Pete on board the Cruise Whitsunday Catamaran "REEF FLIGHT" at Knuckle Reef.

within 10 minutes of arrival passengers were getting stuck into the activities. Somehow we got separated and as I thought we all wanted to do the semi submersible sub, I got into the queue. Once on board and underway I could not find Donnis. She in the meantime had got fitted in a wetsuit ready to go snorkelling. So she went snorkelling but sharing and caring person that she is, sat in the shelter of a below deck observation chamber entrance. She waited while I got kitted up in a wet form fitting wetsuit. It certainly lived up to its name. It was a wet suit. It was cold as well and with a chilly wind blowing in off the sea (you cannot see any land from the pontoon) I was shivering in the process. Eventually I was in the wetsuit and my body heat was keeping me reasonably warm. I then needed fins and a mask n snorkel and then we were off to the snorkelling start point. So they do not lose anybody they have lookouts but more importantly they have the reef roped off and you must stay within the roped area. We enjoyed our snorkel of about half an hour but after awhile I began to feel the cold so we headed back to the pontoon where we shed our black skin, had a cold shower while standing in the wind and were soon towelled off and dressed ready for lunch. Which was good timing as lunch was ready for us.
After lunch I was content to sit around on the sun deck or walk around the observation

The Underwater photographer photographing me as I photograph him.

area below the pontoon. There was no way I was going to shiver myself into a wet wetsuit again to go on the waterslide as much as I would have liked to do so. It was fun to watch those people, obviously from the south or overseas, romp around on the slide which ended in the sea, impervious to the fact it is Winter and a cool wind was blowing. I guess because we live in the tropics and the water temp was 22 degrees those visitors had fun anyway.
All too soon it was time to leave and on the way home the “shipping channel” was much rougher than the outward voyage. Peter and Sam took their tablets before we left and were relaxed enough to get through the confused sea conditions without needing a sick bag.
A lovely day out and Bev we thank you very much for insisting on paying for us. It was great to have that family time.

Interesting facts about the pontoon. Not sure why so many references to Elephants. I have no idea what an average size Elephant weighs. I feel a bit uninformed actually!

Saturday morning Bev and family left by 10am on their way to Mackay Airport. We left a half hour later and went to Boulder Creek. We arrived at lunchtime to find, a. the main camp area was full. Motorhomes, tents, caravans, campervans (whizz bangs) some were just retired folk travelling and find a freedom campsite and a group of them were strawberry picking at a farm back up the road. Luckily a grassed and near level overflow area was available around the corner.

Our camp site at Boulder Creek.

We also found b. Brian, a workmate and his friend Barry already waiting for us. It turns out that I knew Barry from near enough to 40 years ago. He is in his caravan at Flametree Caravan Park owned by Joe Browne. He knew Joe from 40 years ago. I worked with Joe 40 years ago. Wow! What a coincidence he shows up at Boulder Creek, a somewhat obscure location, with a my workmate.

We talked about the old days.

Brian brought a slab of bacon, a dozen eggs, a couple of tomatoes, a slab of hash browns

Frank n Nevin n Barry n Brian making short work of a slab of bacon a dozen eggs a kilo of hash browns a couple of tomatoes and a beer.

and so we cooked a lunch time storm. While we were eating lunch a monster Winnebago Longreach pulled in behind us. This was an impressive rig which includes a hydraulic levelling jacks.  The couple were travelling home to Traralgan in Victoria. They have been away for 4 months, having seen all of Australia. I asked if they were in a race. Geez, how can you see Oz in 4 months???

After lunch B & B left to return to Airlie Beach.

The couple in the caravan behind us were running around with a camera trying to photograph a Ulysses Butterfly. I mentioned there would be more opportunity down by the creek and as they were heading to Finch Hatton Gorge the next day they were sure to find more there. They are also from Victoria and have been away for 4 months and slowly working their way home. They travel to Qld every year.

Late in the afternoon 2 caravans arrived and squeezed into an already crowded campsite.

Donnis and I mixed in with the Sugarloafers until darkness fell. It was good to catch up with Sandra & Phil who have been travelling for most of this year.

The Traralgan couple fired up their home fireplace made from a beer keg and we sat around cooking sausages and yarning until late into the night.

At 8.30 we retired to our own rig.

Sunday morning while sitting at the monthly meeting a bird arrived and settled into eating the fruit from a palm tree on the other side of the creek. It was a Wompoo Fruit

This is the rather colourful Wompoo Fruit Dove who broke up our meeting and sent grey nomads searching for cameras. Thanks for the photo Sheena.

Dove which is a life bird for me and I suspect for everybody else at the meeting as well Sheena, a visitor from NZ happened to have her camera handy and got a couple of photo’s. The colours on this bird are amazing.

After the meeting I organised a presentation of our new Wireless Modem but for some reason nobody could log on. On of the participants was a lady called Deanne, a late arrival in one of the two caravans on Saturday. I recognised her as being on the boat to the reef on Friday. Coincidentally they were staying in the Flametree Caravan Park. It seems her husband was badly injured in a motorcycle accident 22 years years ago he still is in constant pain and they are travelling to Brisbane to put him on a plane back to Victoria while she and her parents in their caravan slowly head home.

Later in the morning, while talking with Sheena and Bob from NZ we all saw a life bird. This time it was a Red Backed Fairy Wren.

Donnis at the creek.

Sheena is working as a nurse at the Mackay Mater hospital for another month. Bob is retired. They return to NZ for our summer and return for 5 months for their Winter. They live full time in their converted Nissan Civilian bus and store it a her cousins proprty near Bundaberg.

While sitting and enjoying the morning sun we were visited by Norman, another Victorian on his annual pilgrimage to visit his daughter in Cairns.

Frank at the creek.

Another week closer to retirement.

Cheers

144. Sunday 11th July 2010. When the Moon is in the Seventh House…

15/07/2010

And so go the words of The Age of Aquarius from the sixties musical, HAIR!

When the moon is in the Seventh House

And Jupiter aligns with Mars

Then peace will guide the planets

And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius

Age of Aquarius

Aquarius! Aquarius!

etc etc etc etc and so it goes on with hippy quasi religious peace and happiness messages.

The composers of this song obviously didn’t mean us to take their lyrics too literally however because, as all astrologers know, Jupiter and Mars align so frequently,and the Moon travels through the 7th house once every day, that we would have been through innumerable ‘dawning’s’ since the 1960’s if we were to follow them to the letter.
What has this got to do with Frankeeg’s Blog???

Over the last few years, many people have asked me when I am going to retire.

Sometimes I have not been sure what their intentions were in asking.

Just curiosity perhaps? Perhaps a more sinister sub plot?

Often I would answer with, “When the Moon is in the Seventh House” etc.

Or the other answer was. “how long is a piece of string?”

Depending on the person, their age group, family members or close personal friends

and if they were prepared to listen to a pre prepared speech, – just kidding –

I would give a fuller explanation and a rough timeframe because quite honestly that

was all I had.

A rough time frame.

This was dependant on that and when something else occurs and so on.

Well, let me tell you, the major deciding factor has been bouncing around for some years

while I waited for one particular event to take place. When that event occurred I would announce a date for my retirement. At that time I would also share the date with my employers, giving one months notice. I have not given them or my work mates any hints or thoughts on the subject.

Until now.

The Moon is in the Seventh House”…

and this is the dawning of the age of frankeeg.

(Oh… an explanation of frankeeg. No it is not an Indian name. At work, one of the staff started calling me franky g, including franky g is in da house from some sort of kids cartoon. The nickname stuck. This blog site only accepted frankeeg as all the other variations were already in use. Can you believe that?)

Today I typed out my retirement notice. I will hand it to my employers tomorrow. That in itself was not an easy thing to do.

Firstly because I have been there 13 years and it is hard to give up a weekly wage and replace it with a weekly uncertainty.

Next, I will be late for work tomorrow as I am going to the dentist to have a crown put on a tooth. By the time I get to the office I will not be able to talk properly so will have to wait until the novacaine wears off.

Then, the managing director will also be late tomorrow so I have to wait for her as well. On Tuesday she will fly to Brisbane for the rest of the week and tomorrow will be the last opportunity when both directors will be together for at least a week.

Let me tell you I have been a bit nervous about this all weekend. It has finally happened. I will be 65 in a couple of months so will be elligible for retirement anyway. Regretably I will only be entitled to some medical and travel benefits along with a small pension. That is why when we go on the road we will have to rent our house as well as contuinuing the rental house in Mackay.

“What’s that?”  “I must be elated?”

I am sort of numb. I acknowledge I do not show my emotions well. I might smile on the outside but on the inside the stomach is jumping in all directions. Maybe by age 65 I will be able to let loose and allow my emotions, particularly joy, happiness, excitement, free reign so others can see my joy, happiness and excitement as well.

Yesterday I was a playing Wii Tennis. When I won a game against the computer I threw my arms in the air, danced a jig and shouted yes, yes, yes. Of course there was nobody to see me do that.

It is a pity I am, at the moment, unable to throw my arms in the air, dance a jig and say yes, yes, yes, when talking about retirement.

Sigh.

No photos this week.

Oh by the way (or BTW for all those who write in abbreviations) friends Geoff & Margaret left on Tuesday. On the way to Prossie (Proserpine) they heard a clunk noise in the front of the vehicle. Turns out it was the front wheel, held in place with only one wheel nut and that, held on by about three threads. The other nuts were missing.

Hmmm!

After getting it fixed they continued on and turned off at Calen when the GPS low battery light flicked on. Investigating Geoff found smoke coming from under the dash behind the cigarette lighter socket where the GPS unit was plugged in. By now the plug had melted.

Hmmm!

After solving that problem – by pulling out the wires to the socket – they continued on looking for Boulder Creek. When they arrived it was on fire. The local farmer had decided to burn off a hill of long grass at one side of the campsite.

Final Hmmm!

They decided to stay one night only as the smell of smoke and ash still falling from the sky was too unpleasant to stay longer.

They continued on to Lake Elphinstone and were still there when I spoke with them earlier today.

BTW…Geoff has started his own blog Cliftons Travels. I will sort out a link over the next week and put it on this site.

So that, my friends, endeth the week.

143. Sunday 4th July 2010. Friends visit and a Telestra rant…

07/07/2010

Friends from Bomaderry New South Wales, Geoff & Margaret arrived on Tuesday after they spent almost a week camped at Notch Point. It seems the road into the freedom campsite is a bit rough. They are towing a large caravan and on the drive out Geoff managed to get into an altercation with a large rock. After the initial disagreeable meeting, the rock finally relented and moved out of the way making more room for future visitors. Geoff regrets the damage to his alloy bull bar. They both regret the number of sandflies (biting midges) they meet on every trip to the Queensland coast. After they leave here they will head inland and avoid the coast altogether.

On arrival at our house, Geoff decided to set up camp in our backyard. It was a bit of a tight fit but he managed to reverse in where he wanted but had a great deal of trouble getting unhitched. With a lot of pushing pulling grunting and lifting he managed to unhitch but not before hurting his back. That was on Tuesday. He still has trouble sitting for any period of time, and until his back warms up has to walk slowly and gingerly.

On Saturday we took them for a Cooks Tour around our neck of the woods including Shute Harbour, Mt. Whitsunday, Airlie, the old marina, Cannonvale Beach where we had fish n chips from paper

Geoff Margaret n Frank at a picnic shelter on Cannonvale Beach.

 then on to Cape Gloucester Eco Resort near Hideaway Bay. Geoff was disappointed as the resort seems run down compared to his last visit. In my reply I mentioned that any place with Eco in the name means they leave the dirt and spiderwebs in full view. I had to agree with him that it was a poor relation to its former glory. After one drink we drove over to Dingo Beach and after a brief stop we headed home.

Donnis Geoff n Margaret at Cape Gloucester Eco Resort. Only had one drink here before heading to Dingo Beach then home.

On the way home we stopped at the Telestra shop and bought a Big Pond 7.2 Gateway Network wireless modem and router. It came with an installation CD and the staff at the shop claimed it was a simple matter of inserting the CD, follow the prompts and installation would be complete in a few minutes. Now even with Geoff the guru sitting in the co-pilots chair we could not get past the installation mode. We were directed to contact a telephone number to complete an “activation” process. Two and a half hours later, after speaking with two people in the Philippines we still could not get the activation completed and to make matters worse, the “activation” office had closed at 8pm and would not re-open until 8am Monday. So much for the simple steps in a CD.

Telestra really needs to get its act together to make the process simpler. After talking with the local shop today – who by the way cannot help us because the “activation” office is closed – it seems this happens frequently with New Big Pond customers. Existing customers switching to the new wireless modem do not have such problems.

With Geoffs help we pulled the Dometic hatch out of the roof, removed the blockout blind, washed and cleaned it of most of the stains and re-installed it into the roof.

I also installed a metal plate on the roof just beside the hatch frame. I can reach through the hatch to put an external aerial with a magnetic base on the plate. We will need the aerial for mobile coverage in fringe area’s and also with a modification will give the mobile wireless an external aerial as well.

Geoff used his technical knowledge to trace a resistance fault in the wiring of our external courtesy light. I wrote about it in a post during June. Regretably this time we had to break the seal of silicon I had so judicisously applied, so we could trace the fault. It turned out to be two faults, one of which was my joining of two wires which were not making  full and constant contact. The light now works. WooHoo!

Hmmm! I should make a list of jobs which need a second pair of hands and a guru knowledge.