I didn’t intend to have such a long break between writing but then I never do. I am,  as my Grandmother always told me, full of good intentions.

I can safely say I am glad to see the back of 2016, it wasn’t a great year but there was a lot to be learnt from it so it wasn’t all bad either. That said I am pleased that we seem to be moving forward.

So what’s been happening?

Issues around Neu’s health continue to take up a great deal of my attention; he still has three open wounds on his stomach from the abdominal surgery that he had in January 2016. These holes cannot close because the screen that is holding his innards in place, has sort of crumpled up on itself and the folds are pushing out of the holes, preventing the skin from healing over. Obviously there is a risk of infection, especially  as we have to change his dressings at home every couple of days. Importantly, Neu cannot go back onto the transplant list until the holes are closed over, as taking immune suppressants for a new kidney would greatly increase his risk of infection but it is recognised that his need for a transplant is now urgent.

Neu was booked to have minor surgery back in October of last year to fix the problem but on arriving at the hospital we were told the surgeon no longer worked there. We had to wait until December to see his specialist Doctor, who then refered him to another surgeon. The new surgeon’s secretary said his lists were closed, that we should leave a telephone number and she would call when an appointment became available but she had no idea when that would be. Finally in desperation, after a month of not hearing anything and knowing that the lists can remain closed for 6 months or more, I emailed one of the medical team who I had become friendly with during our stay in the hospital, I don’t know if it was her intervention or purely coincidence but Neu has been given an appointment for the beginning of March, light at the end of the tunnel.

Other than that Neu is doing well, he gets tired quickly but considering his kidney failure and everything he went through over the last nearly two years, he’s made a fantastic recovery and is a bit of a miracle man. He is determined to get well enough to return to sea, not sure when it will happen but I’m behind him all the way.

Back at the ranch, as my dad used to say, I have finally got my self a tank though not the army type.

One of the household things I missed most after moving here from London, was the washing machine. While it is common for people to hand wash here, hang on, let’s be honest, I mean women people …… when I first asked Neu to help wash the clothes, he looked like I was asking him to cut his balls off. Having reluctantly agreed to help, he actually asked that we do it at night because, as the washing area is outside, he didn’t want our neighbour to see him doing “woman’s work”. While I am sensitive to his macho male ideas I gave a flat no to washing in the dark, he’s over it now.

As I was saying, it is normal to hand wash here and, as it is virtually summer all year round the clothes are mainly light and therefore easy to wash, drip drying in no time. However it would still take up a lot of time and hand washing a double hammock in a sink is a killer.

I resisted getting a machine on the grounds that a) they use a lot of water, something in increasingly short supply here. b) they are very expensive and owing to our climate and being so close to the sea, anything made of metal rusts in seconds. c) a machine would add to our electricity bill which I am constantly trying to reduce.

Then I saw the tank and realised that it, basic as it is, it could make a world of difference. The tank is mostly made from plastic so not too much to rust, it’s really only a big tub which you fill and drain as you wish, so I dictate how much water goes in and then re-use that for the fruit trees. The tank has a churner at the bottom which sloshes things about but it doesn’t spin so doesn’t consume much electricity. As an added bonus I can use it with the plant dyes I am experimenting with, making it possible to dye larger pieces of fabric.

Amazing how such a simple thing can make me so happy.

As having a photo pf a washing tank would be a bit lame, here is a lovely little sayaca tanager having a wash in the drips from the overflow. 🙂

sanhaço-azul / Thraupis sayaca / The sayaca tanager

sanhaço-azul / Thraupis sayaca / The sayaca tanager

sanhaço-azul / Thraupis sayaca / The sayaca tanager

sanhaço-azul / Thraupis sayaca / The sayaca tanager