Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Bracing for racing

Today is Melbourne Cup Day, a public holiday in Victoria, but not in my state. However I did watch the race, and listened to a lot of the commentary. Unlike my darling, talented horse-mad daughter, the racing photographer, I have trouble telling one horse from another, and nor do I like to get too close to a horse. They kick, given half a chance.

Some weeks ago I did go to the races, to look after my granddaughter while her mother worked, and I quite enjoyed it, but once was enough. And it did seem that if you wished to be taken at all seriously at the races, you would have to wear a ridiculous thing on your head, and stagger around precariously and dangerously in 5 to 6 inch stiletto heels.

I am not a gambler, being totally convinced that the odds against my ever winning anything, however trifling, are enormous and winning anything, even two bob, is far outside the realms of probability.
Back to the heels, momentarily. It does seem to me that wearing such high heels is both dangerous and very bad for your feet, and so it seems to me that wearing them indicates a certain female foolishness. And your feet will not thank you, as time goes by, for wearing them out far sooner than nature intended.

In the olden days I did wear high heeled shoes, and thought I was very glamorous. However, reality struck, and these days I go about in very sensible shoes indeed. Lace-ups with orthotics. And it did seem to me that if wearing high heels made you look so gorgeous, glamorous and irresistible, more men would wear them, (although I do remember that the men in one of other of the Georgette Heyer romantic novels did mince around in them).

Ah me, the days of reading escapist romantic fiction. I do still re-read Georgette Heyer, mostly because her writing is both excellent and totally captivating. Her books make good reading for  the ten to 15 minutes before you turn off the light and try to sleep. I am also re-reading Jane Austen, and a biography of George Eliot, and reading about how crabb'd and confined were the lives of women, makes me rather depressed.

Perhaps Melbourne Cup Day makes the mind move in mysteriously frothy and romantic ways.

At the weekend the choir gave two performances of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, which is quite wonderful, but an extremely strenuous piece to sing. Doubtless this is why I console myself with romantic fiction.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Election Day

Tomorrow is our federal election. The general expectation is that the government will be re-elected albeit with a reduced majority. It is a double dissolution. Changes were made to the voting system, and full preferential voting is now not compulsory.  It will be interesting to discover the effects of the changes. It is likely that there will be some degree of confusion about the changes to voting for the Senate. I await with interest. Perhaps the donkey vote will be less.

I have always  enjoyed election day. In its own way, it is quite a festive occasion. Lots of volunteers from the various parties offer their how to vote cards, and generally it is a friendly and co-operative day, with lots of chit-chat. Some voters accept all offerings, others pointedly refuse all but one. I expect I will be glued to the television once polling has closed, to watch the progressive count. In my opinion we are fortunate to have compulsory voting (although what that really means is that everyone attends the polling booths and has their name crossed off the roll )- and as  there is, of course, a secret ballot, no one knows how anyone else voted, unless the voters care to divulge their vote.

I have had an excellent MP. The last redistribution has changed the boundaries of my electorate, and so  I will be voting for a different candidate, who, fortunately, is also excellent. The voting system for the Senate has changed, and there will probably be a degree of confusion, but, one hopes that the informal vote will not be very large. The Senate will be interesting, as the preferential voting system has been changed. No one is making too many prediction about the effects.

The domestic front - today- was challenging. I came home after the knitting/crochet group meeting this morning to find a dead rat on the floor of the dining room, and I have no idea how it got in, let along how it died. My handyman, who is doing various repairs and improvements, might be able to work out the how and where. I sure hope so. It would probably be a good idea to call in the pest -exterminating people.

And then there are the human rats. I have had several telephone calls from people purporting to inform me that I have been evading tax for quite some years, and that there are warrants being issued for my arrest, and that I am liable for large fines. I am told by the police, my tax agent, and my local MP's office, that this is a fairly widespread scam, and certainly the foreign accents of the phone-callers seem to indicate that something is fishy. I reported all this to the police, who indicated that there was a lot of this sort of thing about, and that no, there was nothing they could (would?) do. My local MP took it on board, but no one seems to think that anything much can be done. You would think there should be some means of stamping out this kind of preying on people.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Hobbling with intent

It is quite difficult to keep off your feet. It is about a month since I suffered this minor fracture and it seems that bones heal slowly. It is not nearly as painful, but has modified whatever tendency towards friskiness remains in this ageing frame.

Never mind. I have this morning swept up the broken glass left by the garbage collectors and my being is suffused with feelings of civic virtue. And I have phoned Bruce, who from time to time comes and does the accumulated repairs in and outside the house. I finished another wrap for the knitting/crochet group's rather impressive tally of wraps (aka hand-knitted/crocheted blankets).  And the alpaca jumper which has been under construction for - could it be almost a year? approaches completion. Once that is done, I can have a go at another jumper, of which I did the first row, ooh, maybe a year ago? One must always have projects on the go, and the stash of wool in my chest of drawers presents lots of challenges.

Some gorgeous blue mohair yarn - which has been biding its time for perhaps 20 years -  I know I have had the yarn before we moved from Old to New Parliament House - is now a jumper, knitted for me by a relative of one of the knitting group, so it does indeed seem as though, overall, national productivity has risen. And all of us in the knitting /crocheting group intend to keep it rising.

And I am reading a lot. Yesterday at the library I picked up a novel by Lynn Truss, and started reading it, but I don't know - it does not seem to work. So far. Perhaps fiction is not really her forte.

Thus disappointed, I picked up Dorothy L Sayers' Gaudy Night, which I first read years and years ago, and have continued to re-read over the years. But my copy, published by New English Library, Hodder and Staughton  has an editing failure. Harriet Vane, the heroine, is sending a reply to Lord Peter Wimsey's latest marriage proposal, which commences as a single Latin sentence, 'starting off dispiritedly, 'Num...? a particle which notoriously /expects the answer No.  Harriet, rummaging the Grammar book for polite negatives, replied, still more briefly,  'Benigne '-  but  this edition, doubtless produced  by either some idiot sub-editor or by an auto-correct function has substituted 'Benign'. and indeed,  my typed Benigne has just been auto-corrected. Aargh!

I hied me off to my local booksellers. Neither had the book in stock, and the second shop told me that it was in the process of being reissued. I bet the publisher will not pick up this egregious error.

I am restless. All this sitting around is frustrating. More briskness is psychologically necessary. And I want to GO somewhere, not merely hobble slowly somewhere.

Instead I will strive to finish the alpaca jumper. Not much remains to be done, except shape the neck, and this, alas, requires careful stitch counting. Then, of course, it has to be put together, and the edging done. Seize the day! Come the day!

Monday, 30 May 2016

Probably should not be allowed out.

It seems there is ample opportunity for self-reproach. Mine occurs, with a slight sense of indignation.

Simply, I fell over.  Walking along briskly, with a fellow chorister, to our pre-concert rehearsal, I tripped against the protruding edge of one of these service pits which multiply like rabbits in Sydney's footpaths, and hurt myself. My pride, and dignity suffered, and, worse, I damaged my left leg and foot. It was very painful.

Next morning I went to the doctor, who wrapped the foot in a firm bandage, and who gave me a referral for an X-ray, which of course had to wait until Monday.

On Monday I had the foot x-rayed and it showed a small fracture in the left foot. I would hate to have a more major fracture. This one is more painful than is easily tolerable. National consumption of painkillers has skyrocketed. At Vinnie's I bought myself a walking stick - a pity I gave Dr P's sticks away five years ago. The stick helps me to hobble slowly along, and serves as a warning to others in the street. Take Care, the stick shrieks. It is all very tedious, and I feel quite sorry for myself.
However, as things go, my injury is not dreadfully severe. Excessive whinging should be avoided.

As I wend my cautious way around, I pay keen attention to the state of the roads and footpaths, and the condition is generally very bad. There is great unevenness, and the patch-it up type of repairs are not well done. It is a wonder the fall and fracture rate is not higher. It takes me twice the usual time to walk anywhere, and great effort needs to be expended not to get in the way of fully mobile people.

And the declining infrastructure is not confined to my relatively humble area. The footpaths in the city are not too good, and my fall happened in a much richer part of Sydney.

Perhaps, once I have recovered, I could take lots of photographs of danger spots, and publish a glossy and impressive tome, full of colour photographs, and close-ups, to be entitled Pedestrian Hazards of Sydney. Sales points could include outside the Premier's office, Parliament House, and local government offices. As all the local councils have been sacked, and An Administrator has been appointed, the hapless public seems to have little immediate recourse.

In the meantime I have a disabled parking sticker, but have yet to find a handy vacant parking spot.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Long time no write

In the last few months I have occasionally opened this page and contemplated posting, but inspiration always seemed to vanish before the screen. However, if one is not within reach of the screen, inspiration briefly visits. And then it evaporates.

So instead of creative or factual writing, I have let my mind wander around and float. Subjects and themes briefly visit and then just as briefly evaporate.

How much all of this avoidance of writing is due to being alone, I wonder. Solitude is my companion, inside the house. Outside is another condition. There are many things which occupy my mind and time. Singing, walking, housekeeping, Italian and other courses, and plenty of reading. But some degree of sadness is always with me. What more I could do to banish or reduce it?

I do not know. It is not as though I have nothing to do, or lack friends, interests and activities.But I am alone, and this will be my permanent condition. No family is nearby, and other than my children, no one visits. The initiative must be mine, it seems, and this saddens me. My siblings frequently visited my older sister, who died two years ago, after suffering from dementia for some years, but in the five years since Dr P died, I have had only one visit, from one sister,  for less than 24 hours. I am sad.

One becomes invisible. I know solitude and loneliness afflict many, not just me.  At least I have books and music. I do not sit around idly.

Much time has been spent - I use the passive tense here to avoid the incessant use of 'I' this or that - in reorganising the house and its contents. Quite a a lot of furniture went to the Salvos, and a man from the local market happily made off with the old Parker chest of drawers and mirror which had belonged to Dr P. Today a new blind was installed and new blackout curtains are being made for my bedroom. And I have partially pruned the bay tree and can now see the camellias behind it. However all the cleaning up and disposal of surplus items has had its costs, as I foolishly moved a 4 drawer filing cabinet down to the corner, for the council clean up. In so doing, I have damaged my shoulder. I should have swallowed my desire for independence, and asked for help from a neighbour.

 Having had a new bookcase made, I am now busy reorganising the books, and have even managed to give some away. Not very many, though. Going through the contents of old files and old documents inevitably takes much time. My first pregnancy is thus still documented, with the doctors' bills, the rubella contracted early in the pregnancy, and the loss of my twin baby boys. I could not bear those memories to be obliterated.

I feel that getting rid of old documents, and letters, in a way destroys one's identity. There are letters from my first husband, which I keep, although I doubt that he would have kept my letters to him. I think he just wanted the obliterate the records and the memories. And my very old letters and documents from the first few years of my marriage.

I wonder whether we keep more records of sorrows than of joys.

And then there are photographs. Relatively few from my infancy and childhood, more from after the birth of the children, and masses once digital photography replaced film. Physical copies should be made. Electronic storage is all very well, but hard copy is better.

Enough for now.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Evil, wicked, criminal, merciless deeds. Let us remember the innocent who were slaughtered. Surely not in the name of God?

Evil flourishes. Killings abound. The wicked persist in shedding innocent blood. How can we bear such evil?

The innocent suffer,  freedom is imperilled, and our hearts break, for the suffering of so many, who were going about their everyday lives, and have been slaughtered by the wicked.

How can they justify this slaughter?

My day has been spent watching SBS TV, which has been broadcasting the dreadful crimes committed in Paris. Not that much is known, as yet, or if it will be known at all.

Today in the newsagent's I talked to two other customers, strangers, to each other. All of us had been in Paris in the last month. We are sore and sick at heart. How is such evil overcome? How can people think such slaughter of innocent strangers can be justified? I do not know. I have no answers, only a reaction of appalled sorrow and anger, and a wish that this frightful willingness to kill others could somehow be overcome.

Let us remember this latest atrocity, in the long history of wars, slaughter and oppression.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Point of departure

Here I sit in the lounge at Madrid airport, waiting for my flight. The morning was spent walking around Madrid. Being Monday, galleries were closed, so I retraced my steps hither and thither. The loud amd prolonged sexual actity in the room adjoining mine kept me awake, as did the subsequent garbage collection. Etcetera. I feel weary. It will be a long slog before I arrive home on Wednesday.

The hotel proprietor unbent slightly this morning, going so far as to urge me not to leave early for the airport, and even going so far as to walk to the end of the street to find a taxi. If ever I travel again, I will splurge a bit more on hotels. Lesson: read the fine print! However I did leave, even though it has meant a lot of sitting around. I pulled out my crochet and worked away at that. At a sleeve. I have in fact made two sleeves, but the tension is different, so I am trying a third time, with a smaller hook size. I think that in Australia there would be conniptions at the very idea of a crochet hook being wielded on board, but in Spain they seemed relaxed about it. I did check with security before checking in!

The airport here is huge and you have to take a train to get to the appropriate departure gate. It was a very threatening day, with wild and dark storm clouds all around, and a perfect rainbow. The Spanish seem to me to be a kind and positive people, ready to help, and to enjoy life. I hope to learn more more about their politics. The issue of Catalan independence is looming high and I wonder what will happen. My Spanish is not good enough to give me more than a glimmer. When I try to speak, it is at a very basic level, and I cannot remember many verbs or tenses. I have managed some basic exchanges, and it seems people appreciate efforts to use their language. We English speakers tend to be lazy linguistically, and mostly we get away with it.

However for my last two evening meals, I had sushi. And enjoyed it thoroughly. I can be multicultural with the best of them"