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observations

Thought spirals

I want to move the fence, make our yard bigger for our fat dog. Re does not want me to start without a landscaping consultation of some kind. Despite this I have mostly formed plans involving retaining walls and wire mesh fencing. The first step is the hardest, mine requires hirng a post hole digger and buying some posts and sleepers. Nothing from the aforementioned is achievable on a weekend. I suppose I could hire a post hole digger but working early on Monday precludes returning it. Re was working so I was unable to consult on the landscaping. The mesh wire has to be ordered from the metal supplies. The usual solution? I should work more. Take on more debt and pay someone to do build the fence. They would suggest the most cost effective fence for their business not the one I want. Unless I pay extra. Does the fat dog even care?

The above is just a fraction of the mundane moron thoughts that spiral through my brain in the background on the weekends. I have similar closed circuit thoughts revolving around other house maintenance tasks; around intending to improve my health; around travel... esacpe and so on. These spiraling thoughts are like crows over an empty vista looking for food and finding nothing.

As I observed these thoughts spiral in my head I was home with Davis. Davis who is now 10 had just spent his first night away. He attended another newly 10 year olds birthday party. I picked him up in the morning, he was tired and wanted to spend the day building a Lego spaceship. I sharpened the chainsaw and noticed the things in the house that needed doing. I did not do many of them for various well thought out reasons. I took fat dog and Davis out at lunchtime to meet Nan and Pop. We let the dog run on the beach, she whined for food scraps until I could not bear it and we went home. I left Davis at home watching a Star Wars film with the dog. I bought some pork chops home for dinner. Back at home Star Wars was on full volume. Davis had his headphones on and was watching youtube vids on his tablet. The dog whined.

security

Melbourne Graffiti - overstated security?

I forgot I had my old Opinel penknife in my bag. The airport security were delighted. What had started as a normal boring morning suddenly had a frisson of excitement. My counter-culture terroristic leanings were only confirmed when I foolishly told them I'd forgotten about my dangerous weapon and had gotten away with flying with it once already this week. What kind of crazy madman forgets he has a murder stick in his carry on. Guilt as charged. Wearing black rubber gloves the security guard dropped my rusty old penknife in the bin. But it wasn't over... the explosives wiper wanted a go of me too. Young H, who was 10 yesterday, helpfully attempted to cheer up all these mad serious adults with a joke, "He's probably got a bomb in his bag". Holy fucking shit, you have never seen such hilarity. Poor H is then also checked for bombs and told he would be fined $14k for scaring the bejesus out of the uniforms. Let's see what happens when I post this. Listen out for the helicopter gunships.

original

eejat

I am such an eejat. I locked my keys in my ute yesterday. Re picked me up on her way home from work. She rolled her eyes at my incompetence. Early this morning Davis and I hitched a ride back with the spare key. Before driving home we watched the blazing skyline as the sun approached and had a hot chocolate at Split.

My stuff ups are gifts to prevent life from getting boring.

Maintain

Another life, in the past

Last night I woke up and finally understood the existential answers to the questions posed by my life. The nature of restlessness and desire to travel. How to avoid hurting those I loved if I selfishly left. I finally figured out what I needed to do to move forward and grow as a person. Time travels slower before dawn. Happy knowing I had attained the knowledge we all seek I dozed off. My alarm woke me at six thirty and my hazy recollections of enlightenment evaporated with the morning mists.

Last week I met with some old colleagues from the fire brigade. A few of them had been pushed into retirement due to health problems. Good men dropped like hot coals as soon as a risk averse government agency gets a whiff of compensation claims. Which is a shame as I suspect they'd unanimously waive the right to compensation in return to being able to continue contributing to their community. Or maybe not, I cannot see inside their heads. What would I know.

'We only get one life' has been a mantra inside my head for a good many years now. Turning fifty just turned the volume up. I am heartily sick of it. I for one refuse to abide by this foolish notion. Obviously, I am aware of mine and your mortality, pft... I'm not religious. However, this one life thing is patent nonsense. Some might say, 'the details of my life are quite inconsequential' which may be true when you decide to be boring about it. I could sit under a tree with a flagon of wine and bang on about all the interesting and stupid things I've lived through or done. If I did I'd no doubt die from cirrhossis of the liver and early cognitive decline and that'd be boring too. If I was a long playing record you would have just flipped me onto side B. In reality I feel more like an overstretched and much spliced TDK C90 cassette tape.

This life thing is one giant hack. What to do with my chewed up mix-tape life? The damage induced by friends who selfishly and selflessly die; the overstretched 'tyranny of distance'; old and distant friendships waning and not least my professional life which constantly highlights my increasing proximity to death. Up until recently I was working hard on my fitness, out-running the Reaper. I should have remembered he has a fricking horse and it's called Binky. Not worrying overly about these external things and continuing with my usual stravages would seem to be the answer. If only I hadn't dozed off.

Ride 1

'Have you got your mojo back?'
I answered, 'No'.

I used to occaisonally run along the grassy lane after school. I ran to create warmth against the winter sleet and rain. I ran to avoid the drudgery of walking. I was in a hurry to get home to be warm, to eat and to watch television. As soon as I learned to ride a bicycle I would always choose to ride over running.

My very first bike when I was a baby in Kent

I hope I will never forget when I first rode a bicycle by myself. I was left on my own as my Mum and my brothers walked across the fields to visit our neighbours Reg and Val. On the rocky lane outside one of Carthveans rambling sheds the dirt was a bit smoother. The bicycle was much too big for me. Hopping on my right foot, my left leg hooked up and over the crossbar. I jumped on and pushed on the pedal with my toes. I had been trying for quite some time, my balls hurt and my knees were grazed. It was a large iron bicycle which rolled with increasing deliberation. The rusty handlebars were heavy to steer and each time I made a start it ended with a veering unbalancing and some awkward hopping and falling. Each time the bike rolled a little more I felt a surge of exhilaration. My legs and elbows bleeding and burning with the grazes. I was ready to give up but just could not. Just about bursting with frustration I finally began to roll along. The bike began to be carried down the gentle slope. I clenched onto the handlebars trying to control the veering and the balancing. Unsure if I should stop pedalling at first. The front wheel bucked through a dry rocky puddle almost shaking the handlebars from my hands. I stopped pedalling and realised my hands where too small to reach the brakes. My heart was pounding in my chest, eyes wide and mouth dry. Jolting over rocks and through the potholes the bicycle and I picked up speed. All my concentration and strength was on not-falling-off. Brief snatches of smooth ground would give me time to panic as the speed increased and I had no way of stopping. Ahead of me was a slight bend in the road, a puddle and the bottom of the small hill. I remember thinking that I had to either make it around that corner or somehow reach the brake handles and slow down. I looked ahead at the ground picking the smoothest pathway, I was working it out. I managed to sort of grab the brakes and slow down. I managed to get around the corner. I veered, unbalanced performed some awkward hops and fell onto the rocks. It was magnificent. I had not died. Victory blood oozed from my grazed knees. I rode on to Reg and Vals. I lost control of the bicycle as it bounced down their lane, unable to hold the brakes. I would have made it had Reg not parked his tractor outside the kitchen window. My sensational first ride ended up with me smashing into the grill of his red rusty Massey Ferguson and sliding under the front wheels. I twisted my thumb as I fell and apart from the grazes to my knees, my raw elbows and the thumb I was hooked.

My Brother Dan and my Dad, John repairing Dans bike

Tree

On Friday I finished an essay for Uni. It was a routine piece of rigmarole. I submitted the file to the University system without a reread. I have no pride. My weekend was free. That was a joke. My weekend is never free. There is a cost for everything.

We have a vast mongrel tree directly outside our house. It spews sticky mucous onto anything that pauses beneath its diseased branches. I've been ignoring it for a year but the fucker keeps growing. If cancer could be a tree this would be the very definition. I almost destroyed a cheap Bunnings chainsaw and risked my time on this mortal coil hacking through the bastard. I lopped off only two of its massive gnarled branches and stacked the ute with over half a ton of slimy wood. The next morning I'd intended to take Davis to pick up Agrippa. A ute full of young muscle could help me dispatch the twisted tree parts into Coffs Municipal Dump. Agrippa predictably did not answer his phone so it was left to Davis and I to dispose of the fucker. We took Winnie with us because she was heartbroken to be left at home alone with the cancer tree. The Dump charged us forty-five bucks to take it. I don't blame them it is a horrible tree.

Afterwards Davis and I visited an old haunt, Mullaway Beach. The waves were glassy, large and lazy. Perfect for washing off the satanic tree. We bobbed over the curling breakers fending off Winnies claws. She is an enthusiastic dog. We swam and dived in the fragmented light. I have sunburn and a dirty claw scratch on my arm. As I write the tree continues to crouch over the house.

Sport

Ask me any sport related question. I could not give a toss about it. Invite me to hit, kick or throw a ball and you'll regret it. Despite my tragic failure to care about any sports I do love people who do.

I discovered a Gabriel Garcia Marquez article on football in an early issue of the long defunct Idler Magazine. Not one page of his books had the magical reality of that one article. Then there was Zia Mahmood who had me hooked on his weekly Bridge column in the tissue thin airmail edition of the International Weekly Guardian. I still have no understanding of Bridge but my imaginarium is all I need. Today I have been reminded of these masterful streams of consciousness by @AndyC who seems to be enjoying the footy

Sounds

A picture of Winnie taken by my Dad

Back home in suburbia, it is a Tuesday morning. Pre dawn I was awoken by three metallic taps. In conversation with Re we realise the same three taps disturb our sleep at the same hour every morning. Comforting in their regularity, like all the other sounds which accompany us out here in the 'burbs. There is the 'Bing Bong Bing' which sounds like the beginning of a PA announcement in a train station. If we are home we hear it every morning between 9 and 10. The train station is surely too far away for the sound to carry this far, what could it be? The bird calls which become a cacophony in the mornings. Our neighbour #1's motorbike chundering down the hill at 5:30am. Neighbour #2's son revving his car up the clanking metal ramp on their driveway late at night. Our dog at bedtime huffs and puffs, her claws tip tapping on the deck. Any rustles from the trees, fences or gates elevate the huffs to barks. Our neighbours dog 'Mad Stare' Trevor groans and moans in ecstasy as he writhes on his back, apparently he has a 'skin condition'. His little Jack Russel sidekick, Daisy, normally runs up into the bushes during the small hours and lets out a shrill scream which sound like a nightmarish child being brutalised. Then of course we have Neighbour K who screams at her husband. Sometimes weeks go by and they are quiet but then she starts with the swearing and screaming. It normally ends with her husband scuttling out to his car with Neighbour K smashing whatever she has at hand across the bonnet as he starts the engine to leave in a rumble of gravel.

Most of the time, like now, I hear magpies call; the clock ticking; the Kookaburras cackling down the hill; distant truck brakes down at the traffic lights and the turtle plopping and splashing. Did I mention we have a turtle?

Long-haul night flight

Kabul? Singapore? I can't remember.

Our flight from London has been a bit special. We flew north over Copenhagen. The sun dropped low and the clouds cleared revealing the Baltic islands rimmed in golden sunlight.

On we flew over the snow covered fields of Estonia and night fell. I dozed with my forehead against the glass. I wondered at my own sanity and sense when I cried at the in-flight movie, Crazy Rich Asians. The moon glinted on the tiny Aral sea below. The scattered ground lights coalesced into arcing constellations of Kabul and what I took to be a huge military base. It seemed everytime I looked out into the darkness we were flying over another storybook city Lahore, Delhi and Lucknow all drifted beneath us.

City lights out the windowMore citys belowKabul?

The world appears so small and so full of human life from economy class.

Extreme strolling in London

We are on the train to Newcastle. We overslept and had to run like maniacs to get here. I managed to misplace my oyster card and my subsequent tube ticket to kings cross. The ticket gate staff were probably too startled by my sweaty panicked luggage humping madness to stop me. Nonetheless we made it with minutes to spare.

London has been spectacular. The casual tourist is well catered to. Seeing the city as I do in brief visits every one, two or three years the most obvious change is the rise of retail. Although I have to say I don't always visit at the same time of year. I think I should just drop my faux sciencey approach.

The new buildings and city infrastructure I saw were impressive. For example Westminster tube station could be described as a neogothic space dungeon built by titanic forces. The escalators spiralled deeper and deeper underground beneath vast black pipes. Above, below and all around were empty gaping concrete galleries illuminated and netted. It felt like an expession of power by the architect or their contractor.

Cutty Sark

An older expression of power we visited was Greenwich. We visited the Observatory and the Cutty Sark, not for the first time.