Thursday, 25 September 2014

Mostly Mozart

A very good time is being had by all, as far as I can tell. The tour group is now in Salzburg, after our several days in Prague, and a couple in Cesky Krumlov. It has been music, music, music, with excellent lectures by our tour leader,.

I loved Prague, apart from the inevitable press of the flesh from the innumerable tourists. It was so crowded. And I failed to get my tongue around a sincle Czech word. I won't do a travelogue, as thousands of others would do it far better. Although I think the food in this part of the world is really stodgy. We are used to a widely varied choice of food styles and cuisines. Cesky Krumlov was pretty, extremely crowded, but the hotel was very very ordinary, with a TV from the 1950s, cupboard doors falling off and associated inconveniences.  And the plumbing is not the best. The people in this part of the world must be very spry, to clamber into baths and use showers of varying degrees of complexity and inconvenience, and as most of us are getting on a bit,  we would rather have a shower you can walk into and out of, without risking your neck, legs or arms.

Tonight we saw of Mozart's The MagicFlute, a marionette performance using an old tecording conucted by Ferenc Fricsay, with Rita Streich songing the Queen of the Night. It was quaint but strange, albeit expertly done. This morning we went to a Mozart museum. When we visited the Mozart family home the other day, it was full of pele and difficult to see and move. This one, on the less touristy side of the river, allowed a leisurely visit and it was not so crowded.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

what tourists do

Travel seems to play havoc with the iPad, as before the group went out tonight, I wrote half a post, saved it, and returned to the hotal to find it was not saved at all. And my back is sore from uncomfortable sleeping on the aircraft. How I suffer!

The trip was long, and long, and long, and aircraft seats do not fold out to being horizontal, as a real bed should be. This makes it difficult to sleep, and helps your body give in the the nasty suspicion that you are, perhaps, somewhat more decrepit than of yore.

While having my jetlaggy moan, let me include in the causes the camera battery becoming exhausted and the inordinate time it takes to recharge. Yesterday, the day of arrival, the group, having met and started to become acquainted, went out on walkabout, suitably armed with cameras. Alas, my battery ran out, and I had failed to take the iPad with me. I did take it out today so now I can start feeling like a genuine tourist, who cannot convince herself of having been anywhere unless there is photographic proof.

Prague is really interesting. Lots of historic buildings, streets, little granite pavers on footpaths, trams, hooked together, offering a very frequent service, casual pedestrians barging across the tram tracks, absolutely hordes of tourists, following their guides, people everywhere, shops full of crystal and really dark garnets, big squares, and quite a number of shops and ubiquitous brands. Tomorrow we go across the Vltava river, walking across the Charles bridge, and looking at the castle and church on the hill, and looking, looking, looking.

The people in the group are pleasant and interesting, and good talkers. And was really our first full day. This evening we went to a performance of Dvorak's first opera, Alfred, set in Sacon times, and never, ever performed.

It is a curious work. More like an oratorio than an opera, and what we saw was a stage version, with a very large choir and the requisite number of soloists. All very good singers, excellent conductor and orchestra, but to me it was a curiosity rather than a neglected and notable work. This being a tour concentrating on music, much of it by Mozart, we are attending a performance of Mahler's Resurrection Symphony. We also had a long guided tour of the Municipal Chambers.It is an arduous thing to be a tourist. 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Would you, could you in the dark?

There will be a lot of time to be whiled away. Here I sit in an airport lounge, waiting for time to elapse. It is getting dark, and I am to be seated in the middle of the plane. Nothing much to be seen in the dark.

My friends have been urging me to pack lightly and not to take too much stuff. When I checked in my suitcase, it weighed less than 14 kg, so I am astounded. My carry on luggage contains quite a lot, though.

My daughter is home from hospital, and her pathology results are good. What a load off our minds. She sounds tired, and speaking is still awkward and tiring. She is glad to be home and that her ordeal is over. My emotional soreness and worry is easing.

Having spent the days away, I did not realise that my telephone (yet again) was not working. So. I spent the last half hour before departure on the phone to get it fixed. Sure enough, there is yet another fault in the exterior line. The situation was probably not helped by the  bubbling potholes nearby, and in the middle of all the traffic chaos from the explosion, fire andcontinuing work to demolish the several buildings affected, the Water people turned up to find and fix the broken pipe. The street is no longer bubbling, so they must have managed to fix the pipe. Quite likely the water  might have seeped through the the genuinely antique pit wherein lies the wire for my telephone.

The demolition of the buildings continues. It is a slow process, with care taken in the removal of rubble and asbestos. People have left flowers to honour and remember those who were killed.  The street is not yet open, so there is a lot of detouring to be done.

Packing is a tedious business. Put it in, think some more, take it out. Make sure the documentation is all in one place. Agonise whether to take something to crochet, to while away the many hours in the air, and to prevent productivity from falling drastically. Actually I did get a lot done while sitting by my daughter's hospital bed, and actually finished a scarf, which is now available to the first claimant.

 It really is dark now, so boarding time must be approaching.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

It has been a busy and anxious week. I was in Melbourne to be with my daughter, in hospital for surgery to remove a carcinoma on her tongue, and to help care for hrr children.

My elder daughter picked me up from the airport, and next day we went to the hospital. Her house, the hospital and my second daughter's house are far apart, so we have all spent a long time on the road. The two girls decided where I would be and when.

When we arrived at the hospital my daughter the patient had not yet been returned to the ward, so my elder daughter and I, and the partner, waited. Their father was also present.

Eventually she was brought to the ward, very woozy, and the surgeon declared himself pleased with the surgery. The pathology results should be through tomorrow. I spent a lot of time by her bedside, and did a lot of crocheting while she recovered from the anaesthetic. The following day she was improving and when I spoke to her yesterday she was doing well. Her partner and I managed the children and the diabetes, and friends and neighbours helped with getting them to and from school.
My return flight was late, so I went straight to a concert.

Tomorrow I leave for my holiday. Packing, and trying to be rational, have taken quite some time, but it is almost done. I hope it will clear my mind from all the worry, and remove some of the unpleasant reminders of the past, and what is evidently continuing hostility and incivility, even in the situation of the health of my daughter. The main thing is my daughter's health and recovery, and the welfare of her children.

In my meantime I struggle with a deplorable tendency to take much too much stuff. And to br indecisive. But I have managed to vacuum the house, and have walked around our neighborhood, which is still afflicted by road closures, and the demolition and removal of the buildings. This neighborhood is devastated by the explosion, fire and deaths of innocent people, and the effects on the community.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Vicissitudes of life

Our little community is stunned and deeply upset by the explosion, fire and deaths from last week's disaster. The main road is blocked off, the shops cannot trade, the traffic is banked up in my street for ages, the children can get to their primary school from the rear entrance. There was a public meeting on Sunday to learn more, and to express concerns.

I was not there, as I went to Canberra to see my son and grandsons. We were very happy to see each other.  I watched the boys at their gymnastics class on Saturday. All the children and teachers were keen and enthusiastic and they all seemed to love it.  My friend, his partner and I went out for a Thai dinner, and my son, his neighbour and I had another Thai meal while the boys went to a film night put on by the gymnastics people. 

On Sunday we went to the arboretum, before I set off on my return trip. 

It was lovely. The area and all the old trees had been destroyed by the fires which swept through the Australian Capital Territory and Canberra in 2003. The government has planted more trees, which are still quite small, landscaped the site, and built a display and public area, making extensive use of timber,  and it really is quite stunning.  

I am in Melbourne now.  My photographer daughter is undergoing surgery this morning to remove a cancer in her tongue.  She asked me to come and be with her. The surgery sounds scary and unpleasant.  Surgery to the head seems more invasive and frightening than for other parts of the body. I keep reflecting on my mother's cancer, my own, and now my daughter's.  Is it genetic, or random misfortune?

I had to miss my physiotherapy appointment, to see whether the lymphoedema is better, the same, or worse, but without the fluid measurement being done, more general caution is necessary. I return home on Friday, and on Monday leave for a month in Europe, planned ages ago.

My elder daughter picked me up from the airport, and we will go to the hospital early this afternoon. I had little sleep last night, worrying about her.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Dreadful things

It has been a day of drama and tragedy. Two blocks away from my home, there was an explosion in a convenience store in the main street, resulting in a massive fire, and a very dangerous situation. The explosion happened about 4 am, but I did not hear it or wake up. When I did wake up, about 7 am , I noticed that there was heavier traffic than usual in my street, and then heard on the news that there had been an explosion and a massive fire. There are apartments above the local shops. The streets are still blocked off, the building collapsed, people jumped to safety, others are missing, including a mother and her year old baby boy, and it seems that several people have probably died. The owner of the convenience store was found, almost completely covered by the rubble, with only his hands showing.  It feels incredible that such a disaster could have happened. I have walked up a couple of times. The street remains closed off, and the adjoining buildings are in danger of collapsing.

We are so used to seeing bombs and explosions in war torn nations, that to have such a disaster - with the cause unknown at this stage - seems incredible. I am wondering how I could have slept through such a huge blast, such a short distance away. And I am wondering how severe the repercussions will be for the local businesses and people.

It is a small suburb, and I walk up and down the main street on most days, either to walk a bit, to shop or to catch the bus into the city.  Most residents do much of their shopping locally and we residents know our shops, business and locality well - and they know us. It is a comfortable and familiar environment. We know each other's faces, we smile and greet each other, we feel at home. And not to be able to traverse our streets, and to go about our daily routine, is a rude shock - and of course most of us are affected and afflicted in minor ways. We have yet to learn the full human tragedies of the explosion and fires.

Friends and relatives from far away have heard this news and have telephoned. We are a fortunate country: we rarely suffer from such disasters, and those that do afflict us are but seldom caused by human evil and action. This local disaster and its repercussions and consequences will undoubtedly give pain and problems to those most nearly affected. Today there has been the human tragedy, and the minor inconvenience of blocked streets and clogged traffic. We wonder about our dead and injured: while we fear the worst, we hope for the best. And we admire the way the emergency services, the police, the firefighters and the medical services have swung into action.

Some time ago our local fire station was closed. There was an outcry from the community. It has since re-opened. The alarm went off in that station early this morning, and within three minutes the fire brigade and fire fighters were there, being absolutely heroic, keeping out society functioning, rescuing and helping people, and doing a good job. I hope the bean counters and the economic rationalists take due notice. People and their lives do matter.