Monday, 9 January 2017

After Christmas

Christmas was spent away, in my birth city, with family. It is a large family and the two children who live there are very far apart, so it takes more than an hour to get from one to the other. Depending on the traffic, of course. It had been my hope to contact old friends, but I did not manage to do so, what with family commitments and not having a car. I did see my oldest friend and her husband, as they live not all that far from my younger daughter.

We have been friends since we were five. Our parents were close friends, and Mary and I went to the same school, for the entire twelve years. Her mother died when Mary was five, and her father died when she was in her early teens. Her aunts then looked after the orphaned family.Mary is probably the person who has known me for the longest time, and whenever we see each other, conversation and laughter never flag, and nor does the affection and love between us. Even though I have lived in other cities since I was first married, and thus visit rarely, our ties and affection endure and flourish.
Back home now and the weather is doing its January heatwave effort, so being outside is not a good idea. Especially for people with fair skins.

Not much happens this month, so there is time to read all the newly acquired books. I finished another wrap for the refugees, in mauve and purple, edged with turquoise, and it is rather nice. The local market is open at the weekend, and there are lots of secondhand dvds and books to buy. The streets are livening up. It is a very pleasant and friendly area around here, lots of smiles and greetings and casual conversations. It is becoming quite hot, so I float around in loose clothing, contemplate my navel, read, and listen to lots of music. My choir recorded a CD late last year, and I have just played it again, and it is indeed rather good. Say I, modestly.

And as for the murders, violence and intolerance far, far away, I recall sadly the words of the great Tom Lehrer: there are some people in this world who do not love their fellow men, and I hate people like that!

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Avoidance strategies

There has arisen in me a strange reluctance to write Christmas cards, and time is whizzing past, and is being squandered in crocheting, book sorting and rearranging, general tidying up, and trying my best to have long telephone conversations. I cannot think of what to write on the Christmas cards, other than Happy Christmas and New Year (which sentiments I extend to any reader flitting in).

I started writing. A list sneaks out, of how I spend my time - singing, Italian, crocheting, seeing friends, talking to  family, but it all seemed so ordinary and boring. Nothing much new going on.
Which is good. But it all seemed so boring. Not to myself, but to the hapless reader.

But I feel tired, - not so much tired as having lower energy levels - which seems related to getting older. It is easier to crochet, and to read, and to listen to music. To play CDs. There are so many of them that I doubt I could listen to very many of them before the edge of the mortal coil is reached. At least I have plenty to read, or to re-read. I keep buying books, both new and second-hand. The local second hand market usually has books as well as lots of DVDs,  and it is amazing what can be found. And my, how the finds can fritter away the time.

Discarding books (or at least attempting to do so), is a laborious and time-consuming activity. One must be reasonably certain that the decision to weed books is sound, and not merely due to tiredness or aggravation. I need to be pretty sure that I will never want to read this or that ever again. There is now more room on the shelves. That situation will not last...

I started re-watching I Claudius recently, and it was surprising to note how comprehensive and slow paced it is. Perhaps I will not persevere with it.

I will be spending a week with my children, grandchildren, sisters, brothers, grandchildren and our descendants. And if I get my act together, it would be good to see old friends.

A couple of weeks ago I drove to Canberra, to attend the 40th anniversary of the medium density housing complex where my family and I used to live. On my journey from Sydney, I had a flat tyre, which was so scary. The steering was shuddering and I had no idea why. I phoned the NRMA Roadside Help, and had to wait for three hours before help arrived, and then had to spend time getting the new tyre put on.  It put me off highway driving.

At the anniversary celebrations there were lots of old friends and neighbours, many of whom still live there. It was so good to see them all, and to find that despite the years which have elapsed since I left and moved here to live with Dr P, the friendships and linkages were still there.

My son and grandchildren and I walked all around the complex, looking at the communal gardens, the plant growth, the things which have stayed the same and the things that have changed. Flocks of white cockatoos still abound: noisy birds that they are! At the Community Centre, there were quite a few speeches which covered the origins, construction, the communal building of brick paths all throughout, how we managed to get a communal swimming pool, and a communal vegetable garden. I used my iPad to videotape the speeches and to take lots of photos, and the screeching of the cockatoos continued throughout.

I hope to visit again and to keep up at least some of the renewed friendships.



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.