10/21/2014

Vale Egg



Egg was put to sleep on Monday afternoon after a short struggle with effusive FIP. We found out on Thursday after the vet performed an ultrasound and located a large amount of fluid around her lungs and liver. She was 11 months old and her 1st birthday would've been on the 2nd of November.

We will remember her forever as our puppy cat. The first skill she mastered was fetching a paper ball, although most of the time she would get distracted while carrying it back. She was obsessed with our socks, and would steal them and drag them away to her 'nest' in the bathroom (which eventually came to include t-shirts once she got big enough to carry them). Sometimes she was a little jerk - she would attack my hair and feet if she wanted me to wake up - but most of the time she was lovely. My favourite thing about her was her chattiness: if I meowed at her, she would most definitely meow back, and we would have entire conversations which would usually end with her sitting on me purring. I have so many fond memories of her that these examples don't even begin to describe how good she was.

Everyone who met her loved her and I am thankful for that.


The past week has been extremely difficult. I feel angry, dissociated, incredibly depressed and, at times, completely devoid of emotion. Josh is the same, so at least I'm not alone in this, but the emotional toll is huge. Monday gave some sense of closure but I still wish I had somebody to blame. I think my feeling of injustice is amplified because of our recent health issues - it isn't fair.

Being faced with mortality is a strange feeling. In light of death, everything seems stupid and trivial. I hope this feeling goes away soon.


We retrieved her from the vet last night and the vet nurse I spoke with was the first staff member we saw when Egg got her vaccinations as a baby kitten. He cried and then I cried.

Egg was buried in the garden in Melton at sunset. The sky was filled with bushfire smoke which turned the sun a bright orange. We planted jasmine on her grave. Afterwards my parents picked some lavender and rosemary for us and my dad showed us his bees and we ate wild strawberries. It was nice to be surrounded by life (even if it was just insects and plants, and Charles lurking in the background/rolling in dirt) in such a sad time.

There is more I could say but I'm not sure what. I just miss her a lot. Poor Egg.

10/15/2014

Egg is sick



Egg, as in our kitten and not an actual egg, got real fussy about food last week and went off her food entirely a few days ago. We took her to the vet and they said she's 1.2 kg underweight for a cat her age, so clearly something is wrong. She has been acting completely fine/normal apart from not eating, although she is quite lethargic and just sleeps all the time (just like me!). We are awaiting blood test results and she looks very sad with part of her neck shaven and bruised. The vet said her lymph nodes are enlarged and that it could be FIP which I really don't want to think about. I hope it is something relatively benign in comparison i.e. cat diabetes (which would of course be bad, but not fatal/incurable). She seems very sad and is just loafing on the ground although she ate the smallest piece of turkey and some butter before (which got stuck in her fur so she smells like a croissant now). I hope she will be OK

9/30/2014

30 Sept quarry visit

I was planning on observing in the morning but my allergies were terrible. By the time they subsided the rain began so I left after the worst of it - I figured that I probably wouldn't see anyone, and at best, I could argue that informal use is linked to weather (i.e. a nice day will attract more people).

4:15 pm: Nothing is happening and nobody is here. The weather is horrendous, overcast and windy. A barrier has been placed along Halong Drive where it meets the roundabout/dead-end - this is new, since it wasn't there when I last visited. I wonder why they've done this (whoever 'they' are) and what impact this will have on passive surveillance by residents who choose to enter/exit RVE the long way.

4:21 pm: Aside from the barrier, the other difference worth noting is that all the empty blocks and nature strips have been covered in roll-out turf. I knew something looked a bit odd when I drove in, so I checked with my photos from Sunday to confirm.

4:34 pm: Still nothing, still cold (and now rainy), and no cars coming through.

4:46 pm: It is so quiet that a family of magpies has emerged to feed from the newly rolled-out turf. A large group of cockatoos have taken over the dying tree adjacent to the quarry lake.

4:49 pm: A young male in a silver sedan drives past and does a complete loop at the roundabout before returning uphill. He slowed down when passing my car and looked at me. Is his preferred route home now blocked or did he have other plans? I wonder if my presence alarmed him.

4:52 pm: Quiet again.

4:59 pm: Still nothing - boring. I just noticed that the roundabout sign has been vandalised since my last visit.

5:00 pm: Spoke too soon - a tiny silver-blue hatchback has arrived. The car is quite new and there is a couple inside who look somewhat professional. I expected them to be alarmed by the roadblock and drive back uphill but they parked next to the roundabout.

5:02 pm: Hatchback people have not yet exited the vehicle. I don't blame them because the weather is cold.

5:03 pm: The driver of the hatchback exits the vehicle and goes to the boot. I'm thinking he could be here to dump rubbish but instead he grabs one of those silver foil sunshade things and tries to place it in the rear window of the car. He seems really annoyed that it won't stay in place - I assume he/the passenger don't want to be seen inside the car.

5:05 pm: After much fussing, the sun shade is in place and he has returned to the vehicle. I've heard the area is commonly used as a 'lover's lane' (which is probably the strangest facet of car culture and something I think would be interesting to explore in future research) and I guess this is proof of it. I'm kind of amazed that they're willing to do this in relatively 'dangerous' place.

5:10 pm: Quiet again. I'm mostly bird-watching now since nothing else is happening. The magpies accepted a magpie lark into their fold and they're all walking around together, while five cockatoos have congregated on a single dead plant.

5:13 pm: Old man in a silver BMW* drives through, does a full loop of the roundabout, and slowly drives back uphill - again, is this because of the new barrier blocking Halong Drive?

5:15 pm: L-plater in a 4WD drives through and around the roundabout. I learned how to drive here as well, and I've seen a few other learners around here, so it must be a known spot for locals. The couple are still there but I'm not going to stick around and make the situation more awkward so it's time to go home.

*I later saw this car parked outside a house under construction near the entrance to RVE so the driver must have been checking out something (quarry? Progress of construction?)

Took this when leaving, looks pretty useless to me but what do I know about barriers

Bad photo but cool bird tree

Baby magpie and older magpie near my car

9/28/2014

Potentially my second last quarry visit

I was going to visit the quarry this morning but I had terrible allergies last night and took antihistamines which made me sleep for a long time. Anyway excuses don't matter because I still saw interesting things today:

3:00 pm: So windy! Nobody is here and I think that's why. It was windy when I left home but it's really bad here. There is a burgundy-coloured sedan parked just near the roundabout, about half-way up the hill, in the driveway of an empty block. He is smoking and occasionally talking on the phone.

3:20 pm: Nothing has happened. Burgundy car guy is still on the phone.

3:28 pm: A silver ute appears - they've parked on the naturestrip closest to the quarry, next to the roundabout.

3:30 pm: The driver of the silver ute gets out of the car and walks around for a little bit. He's just standing at the fence and looking at the lake.

3:31 pm: Silver ute man somewhat tentatively walks around the Mangled Fence.

3:32 pm: He walks back to his car, smoking a cigarette, and fetches something from inside - I think it's a can of drink? He returns to a small rocky outcrop just meters beyond the mangled fence and sits down with his cigarette and drink, seemingly admiring the view.

3:34 pm: A green sedan with a family inside arrive and park next to the silver ute. A different silver car, this time a 4WD (and also containing a family), follows them but does a complete loop at the roundabout and drives back uphill. A man gets out of the green sedan - I think he's on the phone? He's walking around while his family wait.

3:36 pm: The phone man from the green sedan gets back in the car and drives away.

3:40 pm: Silver ute man is still there.

3:47 pm: A 4WD exits the scrub by the river - they drive up to the mangled fence and the steepness of this exit gives them some trouble. The Silver Ute Man is somewhat perturbed by this. The 4WD is covered in stickers (if you must know, vaguely aggressive patriotic statements) and has a "heritage" numberplate, which is really weird to me, because I wouldn't be inclined to call a 4WD a heritage car but anyway... it was covered in mud and full of young males who where shouting and whatnot. They drove uphill.

3:48 pm: Once the 4WD is out of the quarry area, the burgundy sedan waits for them to drive uphill. As soon as they reach the top, it follows closely, making me wonder whether the occupants of these vehicles know each other. Was the burgundy sedan keeping watch for those who could threaten their afternoon activity (such as the real estate agent sitting in his car at the entrance of the estate, waiting to make a sale)?

3:53 pm: All quiet again, Silver Ute Man is still in his spot drinking and smoking. It is incredibly dusty, so I can't imagine any extended dwelling here would be pleasant.

3:57 pm: Two dirt bike riders appear from the same place the 4WD came from. They pause just beyond the trees before riding uphill towards the railway bridge.

3:58 pm: I can't see the trail bike people anymore.

4:00 pm: (In my notes I described the silver ute driver as) "cigarette drink can man". He is still there. I wonder how long he stayed for.




9/23/2014

Can't stop visiting quarries

On Thursday I met with a local resident to interview them. We ended up going on a walk around the quarry and he pointed out weird little things (4WD tracks, car embedded in a riverbank, NYE party spot set-up by teens) and it was brilliantly informative. I don't know if that walk counts as an observation of the site but if it does, I have notes from which to write up an actual 'report' (key events were seeing the crossbow hunters and more people 4WDing, as well as cars acting as 'lookouts' for those driving in the quarry area).

Today's visit:

6:00 pm: There is a blue car parked at the dead-end. A couple are standing near the quarry together. They look quite young (almost too young to be driving) but someone could easily assume the same thing about me so I won't judge.

6:14 pm: They're still there, standing and hugging - they seem awkward but nothing too weird. They haven't wandered far beyond the mangled fence so I get the feeling they're a bit scared or reluctant to explore the site further. I don't think they're aware of how visible they are from RVE.

6:20 pm: A cyclist on a mountain bike emerges from the filled quarry, and rides out and down the path adjacent to the Maribyrnong River. I can definitely see the appeal in this activity, the landscape is right for it.

6:32 pm: The couple get back in their car and leave.

6:45 pm: A strange car appears - they've dimmed their headlights while descending down the hill before disappearing into RVE. They reappear for a minute and I can see the silhouettes of four (or potentially more) people crammed into the back seat of this dark blue sedan. They slow to a stop near my car and slowly do a three point turn before driving away again.

7:00 pm: I leave. Nothing else has happened. While driving uphill from the dead-end on my way out of RVE, I notice a red sedan (late 90s model, very blocky) with super-tinted windows parked in the driveway of an undeveloped block of land. The passenger side window has been wound down slightly but I can't see the occupants. My 25 year old car struggles uphill right past the red car and almost on cue, I see the brake lights come on before it reverses out and follows me through RVE. 

I got out of RVE without them following me but they sped up to follow me as I turned right into Surrey St. They turned into a side street soon after. Could be a coincidence? I don't know.

At the very least, my observations so far have given me a nice sample of the various things that go on at the quarry, from 4WDs to dirt bikes to bored teens and cyclists. I wonder if it would've been any different had I changed my methodology slightly (i.e. observing on foot rather than from a vehicle [probably unsafe though]) but I'm happy with the results thus far. I'm going to visit once more in the afternoon on Thursday and then stop by on Saturday and Monday morning, and maybe Sunday afternoon if I have the time. I'm actually kind of sad this is coming to an end because visiting the quarry so regularly has become a pretty major part of my routine. 

Spot the stolen car

9/16/2014

Quarry Watch 12/09 and 16/09

Friday:
6:00 pm: Nothing - just crows and cockatoos. Another soccer match is on.

6:23 pm: I can hear a strange alarm sound, like a high-pitched police siren, but I doubt it's from the quarry. I can't tell where it's from because it echoes throughout the valley. It stopped after 30 seconds.

6:28 pm: The alarm has started again, and stopped after 30 seconds. Maybe from a nearby factory?

6:29 pm: The alarm is back, and again, it lasted for 30 seconds. How annoying (for me, for the residents, for the dogs in the area who don't seem to enjoy it).

6:31 pm: Can this alarm stop? Seems to have a pattern to it. A car just drove past me really slowly and the people in it stared at me and then turned right to go downhill and through the dead-end/roundabout, still driving slowly.

6:36 pm: This is the most uneventful visit yet, which I didn't expect because it's a Friday night and the weather is great.

6:43 pm: A car drives along Halong Drive and I get excited thinking maybe they're visiting the quarry but it's probably just someone returning home.

6:46 pm: Another car does the same as the above but in the opposite direction.

6:50 pm: Nothing has happened for a few minutes now. I am still surprised at how dull this evening has been. Maybe I've come here too early in the evening? I would visit later but the warning from the security guard has put me off coming here too late.  

7:00 pm: Home time.

Today:

6:45 pm: I arrive and park my car in the usual spot. There is a single car parked at the dead-end street. No soccer tonight so it's quite dark.

6:58 pm: A silver 4WD ute drives past me and turns left up the hill, before doing a three-point turn and driving back downhill towards the roundabout/dead-end. They slowed down when going around the roundabout and drove away. I wonder if they're disturbed by the presence of the other car there.

7:01 pm: The occupant of the car mentioned at 6:45 pm exits their vehicle. They walk towards the barrier separating the street and the quarry and stand there. Something about their movements makes their presence seem a bit strange.

7:04 pm: Two different cars drive past the roundabout. As soon as they're out of view, the aforementioned individual gets back into their car and drives away. Are they irritated by the amount of vehicular traffic?

7:07 pm: A cyclist appears - at least, I think they're a cyclist. Their bike is making a strange noise (almost crunchy) and they're quite low to the ground. Is it one of those bizarre tiny motorbikes? A car is tailing them quite closely and the whole thing seems really weird.

7:13 pm: The mysterious bike, and the silver 4WD ute from before, are going in circles around the roundabout. Another car has appeared and is following them closely.

7:31 pm: Nothing.

7:36 pm: The bike person has appeared near my car! They just walked up the hill with their bike and rode back down again. It's dark so I can't see their bike very well but it's not a normal-looking bike.

7:45 pm: Nothing else happens for the night. I've heard this weird noise during the past few visits, kind of like a rock hitting rock (or potentially metal-on-metal) but I attributed it to the soccer ground. There's no soccer on tonight but the sound is still happening which makes me wonder what it actually is, as it's coming from the general direction of the big flooded quarry. It could be a gate at a nearby factory but why would it be that loud and repetitive? If it was a gate swinging shut from the wind I would understand but I've heard it on clear, still nights, so I don't know.

At this point, while driving down the hill, I see the aforementioned bike plus the silver ute and the other mystery car that followed them around for a while. It looks like a family have congregated to watch their child ride his bike around (a closer look at the bike reveals it's one of those low-rider stunt things with plastic wheels). I think they've been towing him with a rope because the silver 4WD ute has a really long length of rope attached to the back. A strange choice of activity for a dark Tuesday night but it looks pretty fun and they've chosen a good space for the activity - I'm glad there's an innocent explanation for this.


A boring post about idiopathic condylar resorption

I probably wrote about this very briefly in another post but my original intentions for writing a blog were motivated by my jaw disease. Obviously I haven't written much about this (mainly because 99.9% of the treatment is "wait and see" and I can't get any content out of that) but I intend to now, solely so that anyone else going through the same thing can search "idiopathic condylar resorption" and stumble across this (that's your cue to stop reading if you're not interested). Very altruistic of me (but not really since I'm just writing about myself from this point onwards). Anyway, I had my annual check-up today which involved getting three OPGs done of my face and the general consensus is that my disease is worse than ever, and potentially the most severe case ever encountered by my surgeon. Everyone (surgeon, orthodontist, GP) assumed the disease had stabilised and that any jaw pain was most likely from clenching due to stress but this has been thoroughly dismissed now and we're most likely looking at surgery after my condyles have resorbed completely, which is probably the worst outcome possible. I didn't expect this to be the case after having my open bite/overbite measured last week by my orthodontist as all signs pointed to stable but I guess the measurements were slightly off? At least this provides an explanation for the jaw pain and general weakness and fatigue I've been experiencing lately, and why talking and eating are gradually becoming the most arduous tasks in the world. Oh well. I would probably be less annoyed if there was an explanation for this (i.e. rheumatoid arthritis in the condyle/s) but every relevant test so far indicates perfect health (that being said I have a genetics appointment on November 25 to see if I have Ehlers Danlos syndrome).

How boring and sorry for the above but I hope at least one person attempts to research their condition and comes across this and feels a certain solidarity (in which case I invite any and all comments/questions). I would post a photo of the OPGs but I forgot to ask for a copy. Back to regular programming now...

9/10/2014

Notes from today

6:30 pm - Nothing. I think there's a car down near the roundabout but I can't tell. Soccer match is on tonight.

6:43 pm - A white 4WD appears! It came from the riparian woodland alongside the river. A group of cockatoos took offence to this and made a lot of noise, so naturally, every dog in the neighbourhood started barking. I can hear a loud acceleration noise - the 4WD is out of view, and this is mere speculation, but I wonder if they're trying to drive up a steep rock wall (the one with the mangled fence) to leave via RVE.

6:46 pm - Police helicopter appears in the distance. The accelerating noise has stopped and I can't see the 4WD. I wonder where it went. Maybe the driver was spooked by the helicopter.

6:49 pm - A different white 4WD goes past me but it was a Range Rover and I highly doubt someone will be driving one of those around a quarry.

6:50 pm - The original white 4WD is back! They've turned around and gone back to the trees by the river. The tail lights on their car are out, which makes me wonder whether it's a purposely acquired vehicle for this kind of activity (I can imagine they'd have a 'Mud pig' bumper sticker). There is a huge discrepancy between the 'height' of the one operational light on the back of their car and their headlights - where they're driving seems unpleasantly steep.

6:52 pm - The 4WD has completely disappeared into the trees as I can't see headlights anymore. This strikes me as really odd because it's quite dark right now. 

7:04 pm - Nothing happening. Three planes have flown over since the last update which is a lot, and I can now see why RVE is under an airport overlay. I hope the residents have soundproofed homes.

7:12 pm - Two cars go past the dead-end street but continue along Halong Drive. One drives past me. I'm starting to think this is common practice.

7:14 pm - I can't help but ruminate over where the 4WD could've gone. Were they unable to exit via RVE, for whatever reason? I'm curious as to whether there's an informal road that leads elsewhere (the petrol station near my old house in St. Albans had a little dirt track leading from the truck parking bay to the eastern edge of the Kealba Quarry and then under the E.J. Whitten bridge to the Maribyrnong River. I remember seeing people on dirt bikes there when I was a kid. I think it is also a favoured spot for arsonists in summer because the scrub there burns very easily - wait actually a further search brings up this forum post which supports the existence of the track so yes there is an alternative way out). 

7:20 pm - I can hear someone yelling aggressively in the distance. I think this is probably from the soccer ground.

7:30 pm - I exit RVE via the dead-end street/roundabout configuration. The car I thought I maybe saw in my first note turns out to be real! A dark blue Holden station wagon, relatively new, and exuding a very strong "unmarked cop car" vibe (but if they were police, wouldn't they have noted me? It does provide a good reason for the 4WD acting strangely though).

That's it for now. My next visit will be Friday afternoon. I also just came across this, which was published recently, while looking for more information about 4WD activity in the area. I can see why the security guard warned me about creeps. Reminds me of hiking at Werribee Gorge a few years ago and some rabbit hunters came out of nowhere with gigantic crossbows and blood-stained clothing and it was really unpleasant. 



I have a soft spot for things in supermarkets being put in places they don't belong