Wednesday, 30 January 2013

It's a dull old day

The rain has stopped for now, the temperature is comfortable and there is not much to do today. Apart from forgetting to put the rubbish bin out last night, things are ticking over. These days there is not a lot of rubbish produced in my home. Men are working in the street outside, and my turn is evidently coming along soon, according the the sign posted last week to the parking signpost. Circular saws cutting into concrete are being used.

 I recovered sufficiently to spend one whole day going through all my clothes and things in my bedroom, discarding those which do not fit, which look awful, or are just too surplus to requirements.  

Today there is nothing else to do but to amuse myself. A little idleness feels as though it is in order.  

Now that the lurgy has gone, I have resumed my walks. The graffiti has not yet been removed, but instead more has been added. Everyone is still much faster than I am. They all have earplugs in use. I tried my iPod, but my earphones won't stay in the ear, nor do I get sound in both ears. This is irritating and unsatisfactory, and makes me feel perturbed and dissatisfied with my physiology. How does it happen that my ears won't accept earphones? What sort of fundamental injustice is at work here? Evidently I must go out and find a shop, choose and buy something, try it out, and hope that the damn things will work.

I looked up the word lurgy. It was not in any of my dictionaries. So I resorted to looking it up on line.

The ABC's Word Watch lists it:

Presented by Kel Richards
As my colleagues are coming down with colds and sniffles, someone said to me that they had “the dreaded lurgy” – so I thought it was time I looked up this expression.“On this week’s Goon Show poor Arnold Fringe is suddenly stricken with the dreaded lurgy”The “dreaded lurgy” (so say the dictionaries) refers to a fictitious and highly infectious disease, apparently invented and made into a byword by that radio classic: the Goon Show. The earliest citation in The Oxford English Dictionary is from 1954. It’s a quote from Radio Times to the effect that: “On this week’s Goon Show poor Arnold Fringe is suddenly stricken with the dreaded lurgy”. However, there’s a possibility that this word was not coined by Spike Milligan (and his associates in lunacy). It appears that there was an expression “fever-lurgy” which was a British dialectical variation on a more common expression “fever-lurden” (recorded from the 16th century and meaning “the disease of laziness”). And with “lurgy” as a dialect word research reaches a dead end.

It is a word in very common parlance here.  But I hope not to have to apply it to myself for quite a while.

Monday, 28 January 2013

It's raining, it's pouring and the revolution might be coming

It has been quite a week. The lurgy was rather nasty, but although I still feel rather nauseated, basically I am better. It's a pity about my walking being interrupted. But I am eating again, albeit somewhat cautiously and delicately. The lurgy was probably not caused by the tennis, which is now all finished.

Watching tennis is a good way of spending time when afflicted by such enervating and unpleasant conditions. Some of us have been grumbling about the incessant blathering of the commentators, who obviously love the sound of their own voices and who do not know when to shut up. Protesting Letters to the Editor have been abounding, and if my lurgy had been less severe, I might well have joined in.

Our National Day, Australia Day, was on Saturday, and was duly celebrated in myriad ways, but today was the actual public holiday. I don't know what the weather was like when Captain Cook landed, but very frequently we are beset by violent weather and storms, and thus it is this year. After  many very serious bushfires, many of which continue to burn, there have been many downpours and consequent floods. Queensland, which only two years ago, had dreadful floods, is again afflicted and the rain and winds are heading south, with heavy rain and storms predicted overnight. Generally my small area seems to miss out on much of the bad weather, for which I am thankful, but it could well be a wild night, and the rain is pouring down now. I have torches all prepared just in case of power failure.

Never let it be thought that I sit idly around (watching tennis) all day. A kind friend organised tickets to a dress rehearsal of Il Trovatore at the Sydney Opera House for Saturday. This was a great treat. Generally I sit quietly at home on such public holidays, but not on this Saturday. Everyone, it seemed, was out and about that day, mostly at Circular Quay. There are various events such as a ferry race. Ferries do not go very fast, but apparently it is all most exciting. Then there are lots of boats - what verb to use? - Flitting? No. Dashing? No. Sailing, speeding, skipping, bouncing and manoeuvring will have to suffice. Heaps of people had flags painted on to their faces. And there was probably a large alcohol consumption happening.

My friend and I enjoyed the dress rehearsal. Wonderful singing and glorious music, with the principals mostly from New York's Metropolitan Opera. Although I do wonder about opera and theatrical producers and why, in many cases, they Cannot Let Well Alone. This production of Il Trovatore was updated to the period of the Spanish Civil War, and although it made the point of civil turmoil, many of the other factors, such as the belief in witchcraft, to me did  not seem to be successfully transposed.  I am a stickler for historical factual accuracy of the period, and for understanding the culture and mores of the times. It seems to me that many producers are too young, too historically ignorant and somewhat too obsessed by trying to draw parallels with the present, and thus often the power of the original is greatly reduced or lost. It ought not to be like having a pie shoved in the face.

Recently I went to see the Metropolitan Opera's film of Un Ballo in Maschera,  a production which was also rather mucked around with. I had somewhat more sympathy for fiddling around with this opera, because of all the changes that Verdi had to make to get it through the censors, which meant he was unable to present the historical reality, because it (shock, horror) dealt with the assassination of a king. And you could not at that politically turbulent times have theatrical events presenting this as a possibility, lest it inflame the plebs. And thereby cause yet another popular uprising and revolution.

But I don't think I want to go the the production here, as it seems that the whole cast will be wearing face masks and blond wigs for the whole performance, rather than masks at the actual ball scene in the last act.  It is probably not a good idea to go along to something if you are going to sigh and grumble and disapprove. Instead I will sit at home and play the CD and continue to be a purist.

This has all reminded me that I have a DVD of Don Giovanni with Peter Sellars, set, I think, in Chicago, with a black cast. I tried to watch it, but found I could not tolerate it. For me it did not work. Dramatic licence should only go so far. This DVD will have to join the pile of things which will be free to good home.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Having been laid low by a nasty lurgy, or something or other, since Monday, I have eased myself out of bed, dressed cautiously, and ventured out, as there was no food in the house. Not that food has passed my lips recently.

It is horrid being ill, and very seldom happens. I get the occasional migraine, but gastric wogs have seldom afflicted me. I don't know what brought it on. Resisting the temptation to broadcast into the ether how great and prolonged were my sufferings, and to vividly describe them in exhaustive detail, I merely and pathetically say that today I might try to nibble on a piece of fruit, and will drink a lot of mineral water. Last night I cautiously had a small slice of toast.

Last night I could not even stay up until the end of the match between Federer and Tsonga. It is not as though I am a mad sporting fan, in fact mostly I turn it off and bury my head in a book with glorious music (not rock, pop or jazz, resounding throughout the house. But tennis is worth watching. Once all the yobbos went away, the crowds were pretty well-mannered, and so they should be.

During the daytime, while watching the tennis, I have been joining squares for the latest blanket. Its completion has been impeded by my running out of white wool. The shop had also run out. I needed enough to complete one square. The other squares have all been spread over the carpet, with this solitary gap. I went to the shop this morning and found one ball. I hope it will do.

Life is pretty boring when you are ill. I ventured quietly out for a short walk and discovered that the graffiti has not yet been removed, but has instead been augmented. Bastards. I'd like to whip their naked parts with blackberry canes. I loathe such anti-social behaviour and that it evidently springs from a belief that the mindless and anti-social desires of the perpetrators are far more important than the public good, and outweigh any other considerations of respect, good behaviour and public welfare.

The papers are reporting on the death of a graffitist, who, with his partners in crime, was spraying a newly painted wall alongside a rail track. These young men saw that the wall had been freshly painted, and decided to go out at night and spray it. None of them heard the approaching train, and this man was killed. In fact, sliced in two. There is a part of me that thinks 'Serves him right'. I am ashamed to even contemplate such a reaction. How must his family feel, I wonder, about this pointless and foolish loss?

It is not art, it is vandalism. And it can lead to tragedy.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Sport is really very bad for you

Although this morning I dragged myself up and went out for my morning walk (have not missed a day - so far!) my sparkling best is not up and running. Exhaustion,  lethargy and some nausea beset me. The reason is lack of sleep. All self-inflicted.

I have been watching quite a lot of tennis recently, and the Australian Open is being played in Melbourne. Despite the irritating verbiage often spouted by the commentators, a lot of the viewing is engrossing. But I do think the commentators ought not babble on non-stop, and someone (me?) should give them lessons in how not to say the bleeding obvious very often, and how not to sound fatuous and sententious all the time. They seem to really enjoy the sound of their own voices. As a blogger, I can sympathise, but there should be limits.

Last night's match, which kept me up until 2 am, was between Novak Djokovic and Stanislaus Wawrinka. It went for five sets, and the tennis was wonderful. I am no expert, mind, not having excelled at the game myself, and with my dodgy focus I miss things. All my sisters played far better. Were an eagle to have had eyesight like mine, it would long since have starved to death.

Anyway, there I sat, glued to the TV for hours. Five, I think. Finally Djokovic won, and his winning shots were superlative, and all viewers must have gasped with admiration.

All this compulsive viewing was very exhausting, but I rose up this morning and went for the walk. Not such a long one today. Often I follow the foreshore, walking under a very large bridge, which some years ago was widened by the construction of another span. Once into the park, there are a number of  different routes to be tried.

This morning when I walked underneath the bridge, there was an extremely large and ugly graffiti on it - a nasty big face, all in black paint. It was not there yesterday, and must have been done at low tide, as otherwise you cannot get across to the pylon.  It is interesting to look at the water and see the sand at low tide, and all the rocks, covered with oysters, which would very probably be too polluted to eat.

In the park there is an area which has some exercise equipment, and a noticeboard. One notice advertised the telephone number of the graffiti removal people. Accordingly I rang them up and notified them of this latest defacement of the environment. It took a while to get through. Then the young man had never heard the word pylon, so I had to spell it for him, and tell him what it meant. And provide him with all my particulars, including my date of birth.

Being a good, albeit sometimes grumpy, citizen is hard work. I shall await the results of my telephone call with  interest.

Why not getting to sleep until well after 2 am should make one feel sick all day long is a mystery. Instead of going back to bed I have tidied up the  bookshelves near the kitchen, which may perhaps make some things easier to find - the sticky tape, the tape measures, pens and pencils, the various tools and other things which excel in generating chaos. Perhaps all this paraphernalia breeds overnight. Perhaps there are elves.

My sister seemed tempted to tidy me up. She is a tidy soul. But no thanks!  I am the way I am.

This morning I rang Fernando. Christmas and New Year are over, and so it is time he came back, as promised, to prop up the joists, so as to stop the floor bouncing as you walk through. He promised to come soon: let's hope he means it.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Records, events and remembrances

What a busy time. Yesterday I went to see the Metropolitan Opera film of Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera. Sitting at the breakfast table, sipping my tea, after my reasonably energetic morning walk, I read the newspaper, and noticed that  this film was showing at 10.30 am. So I leapt into the shower, moved with more than usual celerity, raced off to the bus stop, and arrived in time. Hindered somewhat by the rather disorganised system of selling tickets (you would never think that they sell ticket all day long every day) I managed to buy a ticket, sat myself down and watched this film for the whole 221 minutes. And I enjoyed it thoroughly.

One of my sisters and a friend of hers are visiting me for a couple of days. They arrived yesterday evening and I picked them up from the airport. Naturally the traffic was horrid, in both directions. I deserve a medal, or some other more useful reward, for sheer bravery and dedication.

This visit has provoked me into more activity than usual. More cooking was necessary, and thoughts about entertainment arose.

Today was the hottest day on record in the city - 45.9 degrees. This was higher than our other fiendishly hot day about a week ago. Fortunately there has been a mild cool change, but the tiles in my bathroom are still unusually warm underfoot.

We have had a busy day. I took them shopping this morning. I came home with perfume and some Venetian beads, and my sister managed after much research and consultation to buy a new frying pan. We learned much about the myriad designs and composition. That shop is a real trap, with immensely enticing and irresistible sales.

Then we went to a lovely local shop where I bought a couple of light and easy summer dresses the other day. We had a very agreeable time there. My sister is thinking about buying a dress, and her friend came away with a couple of things. The dress my sister likes is one I like too, so if she decides not to buy it, I will. But she saw it first, and so she has first refusal.

Then they wanted to go to the beach, so to the beach we went. Now I am a big sook when it comes to driving around this city to anywhere other than the usual close-by and well-known destinations, and I exert great imagination and wit to prevent my having to drive anywhere I don't know a very simple, direct and easy route.

Fortunately there are buses. One such bus goes from near here to a  nice ocean beach. We packed up, in mid-afternoon, and arrived at the beach. Naturally it was packed with swimmers, children building sandcastles, gorgeous young things in quite revealing attire (or parts thereof). So we plunged in and had a good swim. There were no nasty currents or dangerous waves, and the water temperature was blissful. After a perfectly delightful swim we came out of the water and it started to rain - heavily. There was a mass exodus from the water, and those on the sand hastily grabbed all their gear and rushed for shelter. This shelter turned out to be the sort which gave relatively little protection. It was all very funny. There we all had been, getting thoroughly wet, and when the rain came down we all rushed out of the water to get dry, and headed for shelter.

We took the bus home, and returned to my unpleasantly overheated house. The house faces east- west - not a good orientation and I often think bad thoughts about the idiot who designed the house to take advantage of the view, rather than the best orientation for warming and cooling.  It has taken ages to cool the house, and shortly after out arrival back home, The News announced that this was the hottest day here on record. I believe it.

So it has been a lazily busy day, and they have gone to bed and I too am on my way. We had fish and salad for dinner, so what with my morning walk and the swimming, I should be in better shape. However I must report that everyone out walking whenever I go walks much faster. Am I too old to be able to speed up a bit?

I fear so.

It seems likely that we will be taking ferry rides and visiting another beach tomorrow.

Today would have been Dr P's 89th birthday, so I have been thinking about him, and feeling very sad, despite all the distractions.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

They say that virtue is its own reward, but this is not necessarily so. However, so far I am slightly suffused with virtue, because I have walked every day. That is only three times, mind.  When the heat wave comes back, this might not continue.

Yesterday's was a long walk. Down to the foreshore, under the bridge to the park, past the grandchildren's favourite playground, and further into untrodden (by me) paths. Finally I found the way back to civilisation as we know it, ie the familiar territory.  It was quite early when I set out, and it was a very different experience from my first walk. Every person, and often their dogs, was out walking. Much faster than me, but they were all considerably younger. With their dogs and their iPods. (I forgot all about mine: I must become trendier!) And they all looked so fit and the overweight were not frequently to be seen.

Today I walked a  bit later, and took a different route. Down to the adjoining suburb. Firstly I had to go the market, which I do every Saturday morning, to buy my flowers (one of the stepdaughters included in her affidavit my regular purchase of flowers as evidence of what a bad wife I was), my whole grain sour dough, and my vegetable. That all having been done, and breakfast eaten, I set out down the main street, ignoring any tempting buses that happened to pass my way.

This route goes past lots of shops, most of which I use for a mild dose of window-shopping. However I did go into a shop, half way along the route, and tried on lots of things, and managed to find a nice cool cotton dress. At half price - how gratifying. It is quite fetching. With all the hot weather, clothing needs to provide some ventilation.

I continued on to the other market, which is much trendier, and not at all foodie. However, this market was very scant on stalls - too early in the summer, evidently, and I set off for home. A few bus stops on, a bus arrived and I cravenly took advantage of it.

Not much else is going on. I seem to spend too much time looking for things which I had only a minute ago. This certainly uses up the time available, more's the pity, because as a rule I have other plans for said time. This evening I have been trying to remember in which year I visited Urbino. The photo albums might reveal this but this takes time. I open albums and wonder where all these photos were taken. Note to self: get better organised. What I should have been doing all those years ago was to make notes of what I did, and  when - in other words a trip diary, such as I saw other people doing, all the time. Sometimes it seems that there is no end to the things with which I can reproach myself, useless endeavour though this be.

Never mind. I shall cease to vex myself with all this and go back to one of the books I am presently reading. It is Planet Word, by J P Davidson, which accompanied a BBC programme, which I never saw, on the story of language.

I have always been fascinated by language, and its varied history, grammar, usage, idioms, cliches, and so on and so forth.

How babies and young children learn language is particularly fascinating. There are some people, men, generally, who sneer at baby talk, mother to baby, and the babbling and gradual acquisition of the ability to make sounds. What such sneering people have failed to understand is that is that from the time of a baby's birth, the parents, mostly the mother, talk to the baby, teach it, explain things to it. Oh, what's the matter? There, there, Let's get you up. Ooh, you're hungry! Let's get you fed. There, that's better, isn't it! You play Boo with babies, teach them to clap hands, etcetera. It is reciprocal learning and development.

And so on and so forth. The baby makes a sound, and has the sound repeated to it. Parent and baby learn from each other. Bub, bub, bub, mum, mum, mum, dad, dad, dad. Etcetera.
And babies absorb the structure of language. Not merely the elementary words but the patterns, the verb tenses, the grammatical structure, the pronouns.

My second child was an early talker. At the age of 13 months, she suddenly came out with sentences, She said, I'm standing up, and then 'I dropped it, Pick it up! (Bossy child!) She always used correct grammar. Her older sister and younger brother followed the usual pattern of learning to talk, with single words, and referring to themselves by their names.

We talk to ourselves, true, but talking to each other is much better.

Thursday, 10 January 2013


The festive season is not good for one's shape. Nor is Christmas cake. There seems to have been some increase in weight and dimensions. This is not good news, as tight clothes are uncomfortable, particularly if they are somewhat high-waisted.

As the cool change is lingering hereabouts for another day or so, it seemed a good idea to go for a walk, and accordingly I did so, and made the intention to make this a regular practice. Perhaps returning to regular swimming would be a good idea - something I have not done since Dr P's decline, when such frivolous activities outside the house became  impossible.

The walk was very pleasant. The council workers were out and about with the leaf blowers, cleaning the streets. The blowers are nasty, noisy smelly beasts, but there was a large amount of leaf matter on the streets, and it seems meet and fitting that it should be collected and taken away to be composted somewhere. Although I did wonder about whether leaf blowers are more effective and efficient than the simple, humble and relatively quiet rake?

As I walked along, I admired the gardens. In this area, gardens are somewhat microscopic, and there does seems to be relatively little variety in the plants grown. The frangipannis are flowering and they are delightful. Lots of geraniums are around. I passed one particularly floriferous garden, full of brilliant red geraniums and commented to the man at work there how pretty it was. I had to speak loudly because of the noise of all the leaf blowers. He was delighted to have his garden admired and promptly cut me off a lovely red rose.

My next stop was the hardware shop, to buy some painter's tape. I know I have a roll somewhere, but do you think I could find it?  It will undoubtedly turn up shortly, now that I have bought some more. The tape might enable me to put up some block out fabric to help keep the house cooler. I have taken some measurements already. Be prepared.

Justin, the nice air conditioner man came along and inspected the air conditioner. He checked the fuse box - something that had not occurred to me when I rang to get him to come and fix it all. Sure enough, the fuse had flipped.  Justin went onto the roof, where the machine lives, and found it had rusted, and probably won't have a very long future. He said the temperature on the roof - corrugated iron, would have been heading for 50 degrees and no wonder the machine had a fainting fit.  He gave me an estimate of getting a new unit, but said not to do it yet - wait and see how it goes.

Well, I must dash off now, for lunch with friends. I may have to go out for another walk this evening.

Obviously my New Year's resolution must focus on moderation and sobriety.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

A bitsy post, desultory and pedestrian

We have been in the throes of an horrific heatwave. There are numerous fires in many states, with awful devastation. So much suffering for so many people, and so much heroism by the firefighters, the police, the rescuers, and many others.

Last night a cool change came through, so today is quite blissful, and cool air is coming into the house. This respite will be brief: more intense heat is forecast. And the fires keep burning. Some are deliberately  lit, an appallingly dreadful and anti-social act.

My house actually did not get very hot, due to closing all windows and curtains. The house faces east/west, and internal climate control is not very easy. It is a three level house, and demonstrates very clearly that hot air rises. My bedroom, on the top level, gets dreadfully hot. However I managed not to use the air conditioners for most of the time. I am contemplating having some blockout fabric gathered onto a piece of dowelling on the doors and windows of the kitchen, so as to moderate both heat and cold. Perhaps it is time that I learned how to use my sewing machine, which sits sadly unattended and unused upstairs. Using a sewing machine is one of my lost skills. Sad but true.

One of the air conditioners went on the blink yesterday afternoon. It is quite old, so possibly it is not surprising. A serviceman will visit later today, and either fix it, or give me the bad news if a replacement is necessary.

It is surprising how little attention is given to internal climate control. So many houses and apartments are built with no thought for climate control.  They have not been sited to make maximum use of climate control.  In many areas of Canberra, for example, the desirable views were to the mountains, in the west. So houses were sited to take advantage of the views, rather than to avoid the heat, or to get the winter sun.

A very common practice now is to build houses without eaves, and thus to rely on air conditioners. Apparently the eaves are counted as part of the building, and thus without eaves you can build closer to the boundary of the land. I would change this regulation forthwith. Relying on air conditioners adds heaps to the usage and costs of power.

Canberra suffered hugely from bush fires in 2003, with about 500 houses being destroyed, but thankfully, only four people lost their lives. There has been extensive rebuilding, with large houses, very often without eaves. This should never have been permitted. What do town planners think they are doing?

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Art and life

As yet no heat wave has arrived to enervate the general populace, although countless thousands were apparently driven from the beach of Bondi the other day when it seemed that a shark had been spotted. This did not worry me, as I stay away from such beaches, as being too far away, too geographically challenging, and there is nowhere to park, except at truly hideous expense. I may, if the weather heats up unduly, take a bus and plunge into the waves. But at present it is cool and pleasant, and in general I am sitting around doing Nothing Much. It is not all bad. This can't last: there is sure to be a heatwave, and at such times it would be good to be able to hibernate in a nicely cooled and comfortable chamber, without running up cooling costs too much.

However, when I watch the foreign news, there does seem to be a far more unpleasant superabundance of snow, ice, rain, cloud, and tempest, so I must not complain. Far from it: it is pretty OK here. So far.

This morning when I got up and dressed, the question of what to wear vexed me for some little time.  I take some time to such matters, and choose with care. Now that I am thinner, many of my old clothes fit me again, so it is just as well that my tendencies and commitment to conservation discouraged me from from too much chucking out of clothes, on the mere basis that they don't fit me. As it is, there were some clothes discarded which I deeply regret.

These deep philosophical musings having been put aside, more urgent questions arose. Should I wear a T-shirt? A short-sleeved blouse? A sleeveless dress, or what? Eventually I made the usual rest of the year choice of my black stretchy pants. But what should go on top? Long sleeves, short sleeves, cotton or what? I chose a short-sleeved blouse.When I got downstairs and checked the ambient air a little further, it seemed a jacket might be a good idea. Thus, armed against (almost) all eventualities, I caught the bus to the Art Gallery, to meet a friend, to view together an exhibition of the art of Francis Bacon and then to lunch.

This took several hours of careful viewing. It was a good exhibition, well-curated, and I knew little of Bacon's work, but his art is not to my taste. I had realised that I tend to dash around exhibitions rather too quickly and carelessly, so took my time and looked carefully. It was impressive, but I still do not like it. However, one of my New Year's resolutions is to take more time and trouble over art and books, and to play and listen more carefully to my numerous CDs. This should help to keep me off the streets, eh?

The gallery was very cold, and so the jacket stayed on. I called in at the local library on my way home and came away with yet more reading matter. And a copy of the local rag, which featured a story and photo of the knitting and crochet group. The librarian had kept copies for us all. God bless librarians, say I.

Which reminds me that one of my purchases from the market this Sunday was a slender volume called It's my party and I'll knit if I want to. Such thoughts must be applauded.

Enough of such babbling. I must go back downstairs and read a bit more.

Actually, one question that occurred to me as I looked at Bacon's pictures was whether he bad eyesight?  And if so, did he use such a defect creatively? Does anyone know?

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Languidly wishing all good wishes for 2013

Such a quiet day. Nothing much is going on here.

Last night was quite different. It was the night of big bangs, and explosions of coloured lights. and not much sleep.

In this city one cannot avoid noticing New Year's Eve. For we have celebratory FIREWORKS. So, it seems, does the rest of the world, but ours is one of the first to happen, due to the inexorable time zones. OK, New Zealand was ahead of us, but that is a small (though lovely) country far away from most other places.

And we have a very famous harbour and Harbour Bridge. Just the place from which to launch fireworks. There are associated places around the harbour from which fireworks can be set off, and there are many, many places and waterfronts places from which all the spectacle can be viewed.

People troop in to this small suburb from quite early in the day. Parking is limited, and entry blocked off to everyone except residents. The council workers come around and put barriers up at all the entry points, and fill them all up with water, so that they cannot be moved aside. People come in by bus, by bicycles and by foot, carrying chairs, rugs, refreshments and other New Year necessities such as alcohol. Residents get together with family and friends. Mostly people are friendly and cheerful.

I walked further into my suburb, to a street with a view across the harbour, from which one of the many fireworks-carrying pontoons scattered around the harbour could be seen, and watched the 9 pm fireworks display. This is for the little children. I parked myself on the grass, waiting for it all to start. Another family invited me to join them, and not to sit there alone. So kind of them.

Then it was a matter of staying up until the main display at mdnight. To watch this, I walk up to the intersection a block away, from which the Harbour bridge is visble. There is a pub on one of the corners, and it does a lot of business on New Year's Eve. There was a lot of shouting, squealing, and cheering, cameras flashing, children being carried on their parents' shoulders.

After the big event I walked back home, but it was after 2 am before I could sleep, as cars were driving back past my house, and there was also a constant stream of people on foot. At one stage, having seen a bottle thrown to the ground outside my house, and being driven over by cars, I went outside with a broom and swept it into the gutter. With so many people, there are not enough rubbish bins, and workers today had a very hectic and busy day clearing up all the garbage.

It is interesting - fascinating, really to see the way we all react to the beginning of the year. We are in the holiday season now, with many people taking time off, with lots going to the beach. Traffic is quiet during January - rather nice, actually. shops have big sales. I shopped the other day, buying a new doona for my grandson, and a couple of pillows, to replace the very tired ones currently in use.

Today was a very quiet day for me. It is not a particularly good time to be alone, but that is the way of it now, and perhaps I can recharge my batteries. Though it is a quiet time of year, with people away, and the usual activities in recess, I hope to use the time to reflect on my life, to plan for good things to do in the year ahead,  to discard some of the rubbish and dross in my mind, and to become more cheerful and positive. Although it is off to a shaky start, I hope to keep to the way ahead. To paraphrase advice in one of Jean Stubbs' books, I hope not to mistake the shadow for the substance, to look neither to the left or the right, and to stay on course.

So may we all, and a happy and contented New Year to all.