Aug 30, 2014

Crapping Bloody Ouching Ouch!

You see, you doubters? I'm not making it up after all. That's my broken clavicle, and God knows how the body can heal something like that. It's going to amazing. It had better be amazing becuase it bloody hurts and I want it to stop.

Feeding Time. Ooh!

Aug 27, 2014

It's Official: She Can Dance, If She Wants To

At the start of the month, amidst a flurry of last-minute private tuition to make up for mandatory workshops missed due to absence in foreign climes, Eloise danced her Royal Academy of Dance Ballet Grade Three examination.

She seemed to think that she and her little coven of dancers had done all right; the hair alone - a four-plaited lepidopterus of some considerable complexity - should have won an award. As each grade has come and gone the exams have become a little easier.

The certificate with the marks came through the other day, and even though it's Eloise's little project and I, in the nicest possible way, don't have any emotional investment in it, is was with some trepidation that I looked at the result as she stood there before me looking inscrutably nervous.

But not-so-little Eloise has outdone herself again and scraped in with a Distinction, which must be outstanding, because no less a luminary that Darcey Bussell (CBE) herself has had her signiture photocopied onto the certificate as a token of the high regard in which she holds Eloise personally.

Aug 24, 2014

A Proud Little Moment

I may or may not have mentioned that for Eloise's birthday I thought it might be nice to get her a little camera that she could learn the ropes on. Most cameras these days don't have ropes though so it turned into a bit of a chore to find her one that would let her, for instance, change aperture without having to delve through twelve menu levels.

My initial thought was to get her a GoPro, a ruggedised camera for extreme activities that can go underwater and survive hard vacuum, in case you find yourself on a spacewalk; you can take it basejumping into the caldera of an active volcano; or mount it upon your helmet if you want to video the ride of a lifetime (though I don't see how it wouldn't get in the way).

Anyway: to cut an excessively long story to just too long, the GoPro, while tempting, ended up being a non-starter because it... well, it has no settings.

I found out this factoid at the camera shop having done my usual amount of pre-shopping research, with Lyra balanced on my shoulders, and was expertly guided toward the low-end portable pseudo-SLR cameras that have no internal mirror or crystal viewfinder but a large screen on the back with the capability to change lenses... and shoot in RAW.

Now this might seem like a camera whose capabilities are a little on the high side for a nine-year old. But don't forget that this is a nine-year-old with a photography geek for a Dad; not that I intended to use this camera myself.

Its charms have impressed themselves upon me though a bit; it's light and portable; the focusing speed leaves a little to be desired, and off-camera flash would be a bit of a bastard; but it takes a nice natural-light picture.

Anyway to cut a too-long story to just a long story, Eloise isn't really interested. I suppose she needs to get into the habit. However I took it out with us the other day when we went to the Botanical Gardens, and she took some photos which were actually OK.

Of cabbages.

But they're nice, the picture is nicely completed, well exposed. It's a good effort!

Aug 22, 2014

The Cavalry

Now I've got to be careful what I say, right, because she's sat not three feet away from me, and obviously she can't overhear what I type - or can she - but you know some random percentage of communication is non-verabl and who knows what she might pick up on as she's sat there ostensibly reading a book...

Dearest Mother rode in on her white charger bright and early on Friday morning. We picked her up, bickering our way around the car park - why can't they call the ground floor the bloody ground floor - with Nicole left trying to find a parking space while I hobbled off to arrivals to find her waiting there after an early landing, a breeze through the newly automated passport control and two cups of coffee, or so she claimed.

We got saddled up pretty quickly and the first order of our day was obviously coffee so we went up the Elixir place around the corner and gots us some Eggs Benedicts and coffees to try and drag body and soul into the same general neighbourhood.

Lyra was making herself known to the clientele as we ate and no damage was done until the last minute when she decided to pick up a little, well medium-sized cafetiere, and with Nicole trying hard to relieve her of it, she thought it best to throw it across the room, discovering another valuable life lesson, to wit: glass rarely bounces.

So after that expensive little breakfast, we repaired back to the homestead a tout vitesse for unpacking.

Now, notwithstanding that Mum is sitting next to me, I am going to riff a little bit about the psychology of all this wounding, incapacity, fatigue, needing help lark, because it isn't easy, and in later times I may wish to remember how I felt about it all.

It probably won't come as news to anybody to learn that I haven't always been the most grateful or gracious of patients, either to Nicole before Mother flew in, or to Mother once she had landed like the, um, shining Angel of Salvation she has proved to be.

Because even though she's flown half way around the world in order to help, and we (I) will always be grateful for that, she is still a symbol of my utter vulnerability, in a complicated way - you know, it's not that I wish she wasn't here, I would just rather that she were here under happier circumstances.

And I recognise also that it is difficult for her to fit in, and being a solo flyer for so long makes it hard to just slot into a role within the team/family when we're all running around like very tired, very annoyed, very sore headless chickens.

So there has been butting of horns and raised voices, and some difficulty in negotiating what help is need and when, but we will get there I am sure, and I am getting better all the time, I hope.

Anyway she is here and I am glad of that. Maybe I can train her to drive without scaring the bejeezus out of me before her work is done.

Aug 16, 2014

In Which It Turns Out That My Family's Bosom Is Extremely Uncomfortable

It's a short trip home and a short walk upstairs which is hitchlessly completed, and without further
adieu it's to bed for me.

Nicole, bless her, has to get used to the Roman Handshake Lever Lift as I am utterly incapable of moving from prone to unprone in any variation. Unprone to prone isn't a problem; downwards is pretty easy. Upwards not so. Sideways is a pain in the arse too. Actually, not true: sideways is a pain in the everywhere and everything, apart from my head.

We arrange the pillows so that I am relatively comfortable, then Nicole goes and does what any self-respecting carer would do under the circumstances: she does shopping.

I'm OK with that, mainly because she's going shopping for me. Laxatives, you know, and clothes that fit and are easy to get on and off. Not that she has any ideas - it's just that I can't put on a T-shirt without something ghastly occurring in my collarbone. And she seems to think for some reason that I am low on tracksuit bottoms.

She hasn't been gone ten minutes before I am forced to attempt to exercise my new-found freedom by going to the toilet. 

I attempt to raise my sad and sorry self to the sitting position but this is agonisingly painful. There is no strength in my stomach muscles that spasms in my chest musculature won't defeat.

Twisting over to get my legs over the edge of the bed is more successful though after a while my left shoulder starts to become heavy and sags onto my poor collarbone which sends nervous signals up to Central Command that say "get up, now, please."

That proves difficult though, since I still have the problem of levering myself upright even if I am on my side, and the rib muscles are still putting paid to that.

I try to use my foot against the skirting board as a fixed point against to lever the fulcrum of my hips but again this is impossible.

And please note that all of this hurts, and feels increasingly hopeless, increasingly frustratingly useless. I begin to realise that I am actually stuck, and need to be rescued; at which point my phone does its little Nicole chirrup and my own little Cavalry detachment rides back to save my bacon.

I do not intend to bore you with a blow by blow account of the next few days except to say that it was extremely depressing and sobering to realise quite how debilitated I had become but, with the support of my family and considerable amounts of pain relief, obstacles were overcome and sheer pigheaded stoicism has seen us through, and we are on the mend.

Eloise in particular has stepped up to the mark; Nicole being a nurse is used to this sort of stuff and I don't wish to detract from the sacrifices that she has had to make in terms of studying and working time and general emotional fatigue from looking after Lyra all the time (which I have to admit is a lot of work), but Eloise has supported her in looking after Lyra when she needs to, getting ready for school herself, and generally trooping on without too much fuss in what has been an upsetting time for everyone.

But the heat will be off soon, because Grandma Mary is flying into town to take over the caring reins, and all our troubles will be over.

Aug 15, 2014

Embedded, I Reflect on Health and Friendship

The blur of one thing after another and the feeling of being a pawn in a game in which I was the focus but ultimately had no claim, although everything was at stake, went on for a time whose length was indeterminate but punctuated by certain events, some of which I'm probably repeating

X-rays, slings being fitted, neck braces removed, information given, information received, information forgotten, the tracking of one ceiling to another, the desire to know everybody's name, to establish human contact with these people who presided over this production line of care, names and faces, Nicole on the phone, Nicole arriving, a doctor here, a doctor there, an orthopaediatrician, if that's the right word, telling me that collarbones don't do well when they're operated on and me responding that I didn't want an operation and that we should let nature take its course, and that ribs can't be influenced, so nature should take its course there as well, so let's take nature and let it take its course.

Arriving at my ultimate destination, received onto the ward by a softly spoken, finely trimmed male nurse, surrendering myself to it, in my little bay of four beds, curtains drawn, the psycho across the way who is supervised 24-7, the lady next to him who keeps herself to herself but is clearly in pain, the empty bed next door.

Teams change, Nicole returns, Eloise is here, the poor thing looks like a rabbit in the headlights, and Lyra is back on her feet with them. They can't stay long - it's late - and they need some normality and so I am left to my own devices: the pain button, the mp3 player, the electric bed.

I am attached to a Christmas Tree with a tube that disappears into my arm. There are machines on it that drip stuff through the tubes. My pain button lets me order on-demand morphine to try to get things under control. The pain when I move or when I am out of position, especially in my chest, is intense.

I learn to get used to asking for help, to reciting the litany of dispensation: full name, date of birth, patient number, pain level out of ten lying normally, pain level out of ten moving. I find at first I want to be stoic about pain and report sixes and sevens and reflect on whether ten really means what I can imagine might be possible or what I can remember as a lay there on my back in the pathway.

The morphine doesn't agree with me and night has fallen when I start to vomit. I vomit three or four times, developing quite the graceful chundering technique that minimises pain and also disturbance for my neighbours. The ward at night is a quiet place. Pressing the button for a nurse. Waiting with a bag full of sick for them to show their faces is a long and lonely stretch of time.

The nurses are attentive though and soon my bag is swapped for another drug and the nausea subsides. I am able to manage a little fitful sleep.

The next day is a routine of drug dispensation, metaphorical and thinking of England.

Nicole returns with shopping, clothes that I'll be able to put on in my new movement reality, again she can't stay for long as little Lyra is kicking up a storm and not going down well with the locals.

I've had to cancel our planned trip to the Ekka this week, but it's a public holiday and my friend Claire visits for an hour, to commiserate and help me with a picture of my purple bruise to match my purple prose. She makes light of my predicament, and I am immensely grateful and feel really quite lucky.

This is the only bruise that I am aware of at this point in time. As the days pass and various garments come on and off many other bruises come to light. They shift and change like wind blowing over a wheatfield.

The visits come and go, some professional: the Trauma Team, the Round, the Physiotherapistas, and as the days pass they, like the time, blur. Patients come and go.

I re-discover Facebook and the pale validation of posting a picture of yourself looking really shitty and sorry for yourself and having people respond with pithy drunken comments that they later regret and apologise for (you know who you are). I discover Facebook Messenger, chat with various people and discover just how high I am on pain killers by expressing in writing my love (platonic) and eternal gratitude, which I would normally never dream of doing. But I was sincere, and here I expand my list: my Family, my brother, my visitors (Claire and Paul especially), you who looked after my children when you were needed (Debra and Tony, Claire again). Those who really helped out. Those who visited, even if just being there on a different end of the internet.

On Day Three I give up my pain button; I'm pushing to get out, to get home. To make progress. When they take the tube out it's a bit scary, like having a crutch taken away, but the reality of it isn't as bad as I thought.

I find myself in the dark as to what is going on with my prognosis. I'm going for walks now my Christmas Tree is gone and I don't have to push the damn thing with its sticky wheel around wherever I go. But moving around gives me the shits - my fractured collarbone keeps grinding - when's it supposed to heal? My ribs - just how broken are they? When will they heal? What's the plan? I know I've probably been told this stuff but I was up to my eyeballs in morphine and probably, I don't know, checking out the Doctor's assets when she was talking to me or inspecting his parting if he was a bloke - and if I can't remember even if it was a man or a woman, then seriously: medical advice is not going to have registered.

And the information level doesn't really improve in any formal way. Oh I complain, and people tell me stuff, but the different teams tell me different stuff and none of it's written down. I mean you'd think they'd have a pre-prepared sheet of A4 on what to expect from broken ribs or a broken collarbone, wouldn't you? But no such luck.

I find that I've ended up in a gastro-intestinal ward by a quirk of fate and bed allocation, and that the consequence of this is that their discharge policy is more concerned with my bowel movements, considering that my pain relief is a constipational hazard, than anything else. I negotiate with the doctors that my bottom needn't be an impediment to my going home, considering I live ten minutes up the road and much prefer the comfort of my own throne room.

The evening before my discharge I have some visitors: Sam and Claire McD and Elise and Julie and Nicole and Eloise come after school time and we chat and play Monopoly. It's all very jolly and I feel good, really good and ready to go. Really ready. So ready some of those people might not have even been there. I suppose I must have wanted them to be.

Day Four: In the morning I really hurt. The mornings are the worst, before the day's dosage starts. It hurts and I am anxious about going home. I still have no formal information about what's going on. A new nurse goes through the "Discharge Checklist" - do I have any follow-up appointments booked - Well I don't know, do you? - Well how would I know - Well why don't you do your job and check? And can I take this taped-together towel the physio Guy gave to me to brace my chest for the breathing exercised? - No, you can't it's hospital property - So I can't take this two-dollar towel home - No you can't.

And by the time Nicole comes and picks me up I am thoroughly pissed off and just want to be out of there and it's a real pity because they've taken pretty good care of me, and we've been friendly and constructive and it's all just gone tits up at the last minute.

But still, it's time to go, and go I must, so go we do.

Aug 12, 2014

Bikeopalypse Now

It's a blur. Gasps and stutters. I'm attempting banter. The paramedics have given me morphine in a nebulizer and I've got morphine running into my blood through a cannula. Morphine is coursing through my veins and I am trussed with a neck brace and every inch of my body is just on the verge of being painful without actually being painful.

I am on a gurney and the world is moving downwards, the crowns of trees migrating towards my feet and out of my field of view.

An ambulance slides down over me as though I am standing and it's been lowered over my head. Things start to jiggle around as we move across the rough ground.

I'm not bothered. I feel good!

It's short trip and my little bubble of bliss is interrupted by the remembrance of reality and I ask after Lyra and a second ambulance has come for her and she's off to the children's hospital. She seems unharmed but is mysteriously - too - quiet. Shocked.

The ambulance slides up again and a hospital slides down over me and before long a ceiling punctuated with metals guides. Machines slide along the guides and people are guiding the machines, they are introducing themselves, and they're very polite, very calm, and I'm very calm right back at them and if I'm honest quite erudite and witty, though I do say so myself. I can't remember a damn thing I said and I don't to my shame remember their names but I'm grateful that they did their jobs efficiently and effectively.

Broken collar is confirmed, plenty of bruising, no other breaks, of for a CAT scan to be sure.

Off for a CAT scan - not had that pleasure before. Metals rings move over me like a scene from Metropolis. I have to hold my breath and it hurts.

Now that the excitement is fading time starts to pass, perhaps I sleep, who knows. The doctor tells me that I have five broken ribs in addition to the broken collarbone, and a punctured lung. I'd just been saying to Eloise how I'd never broken a bone and now I've gone and done six in one fell swoop.

Nicole appears at some point, and I'm glad to see her. Eloise is safe and sound, but upset. Lyra too. Nicole is dealing with her or has dealt with her.

I'm somewhere in the bowels of a hospital, I'm alone and I am broken in many places. How the hell did this come to be.

Sometimes the Moment of Truth Arrives When You Least Expect It

We were running a little late and I'd had to hurry Lyra along a bit with her crisps so she's complained a little when I put her back in the Seat (with a capital S), but we got cracking up the spiral on-ramp to the pedestrian bridge and laboured up its gentle slope as it spans the Riverside Expressway and empties out onto Tank St.

The bike paths were a little inscrutable around there but before long we were making the lond arduous ascent to Roma St Parklands and I thought I could sense Lyra falling asleep in the back, which wouldn't be unusual, but there are cobbles and textures and speed bumps on the road that goes by the side of the parklands, and she murmured and stirred a little as we zipped along there before taking a little exit onto the bike path, and ascending further before the little underpass under Musgrave Road or whatever that road is an the descent down.

I thought I was doing OK on the uphill stretches until some smartarse breezed past me, his Lycra-delineated gluteus maximus waving a cheery farewell to me as it receded contempuously uphill. I waved to his face when I passed him back a couple of minutes later, as he tidied away some plastic temporary fence detritus from the path, and then we were on the downhill stretch, coasting down there at a gentle clip.

As the slope leveled out there was a figure on the path ahead, loose clothing, Stone Roses style hat, ambling or dancing, arms outstretched. I pinged my bell, he was oblivious. I pinged it again, he just danced.

I swerved around him but there was no path to swerve into and I looked at my wheel as it found the groove on the edge of the path and the rest of the bike was going and I had to get back onto the path and I corrected the handlebars and the world congealed around me like cold celluloid and vision went there was only sound the sound of spinning wheels and skidding wheels and silence and then the crash of plastic and metal and spokes and pedals that bikes make when they land and the grunt you make when you're running too fast and fall headlong and the disbelief not even enough time to frame a proper swear word to try to come to terms with what's happening and oh the pain pain like I can't remember ever before

I'm lying on my back, my rucksack beneath me, the trees above me, trying to yell at the sky, incoherently gasping in fact. My chest is crushed. I can't really make sense of it. Behind me, no ahead of me, in the direction we came from, Lyra is screaming; what just happened. Will Mr Stone Roses come back? Here he is.

"Are you like OK mate?"

Gasp. Ambu. Gasp. Lance.

"Do you, like, want a beer?"

Surely, surely this must be a dream.

A blur: a voice that makes sense arrives. Asks me the right questions. I'm reassured to discover that I do know my name and that I do know the day of the week, which makes a nice change. A cyclist stops and tells me he'll take care of my bike. Check. I try to sit up and something cracks. Broken collarbone then. Check. My ribs are agony and I can't really breathe but I hope they are just bruised. Someone has checked Lyra and she has a grazed arm, it looks sore, but she's quiet in the arms of a Rastafarian passerby. I call Nicole to get Eloise arranged for.

The sense of abject panic is starting to receded. Paramedics arrive courtesy of my sensible voice whose name is Tom and who is a medical student, and to whom I am eternally grateful. I look up at the trees, they are swaying in the breeze. I await the legendary effects of the morphine. Things start to happen. I ask Tom to check my camera, take a few pictures. I am told that I will pleased to know that my camera is undamaged, so /I am pleased. I am rolled it hurts and slip it hurts onto a stretcher. My sense of humour begins to return in gasps and stutters.

All is not lost, maybe.

Fate Has Yet to Reveal Her Hand, So Play On

The footpath on our side of the Story Bridge was closed for maintenance so we diverted down to the riverside, riding up the boardwalk until we found that too was undergoing repairs. We had to ascend to Eagle Street and found ourselves in the cut and thrust of the city traffic, where cars impatiently overtake your little bike only for you to catch up with them again at the next traffic lights. All very Urban Jungle and survival of the fittest I'm sure, and I could probably make crude references to the forest of steel and long straight roads and how they might reinforce the self-impotentimportant gentleman's propensities for alpha-male displays of "prowess" and uncompromise, and it's true that when you're among the towers you can feel like you've suddenly arrived in the cut-and-thrust, with a little squirt from just above the kidneys turning into a suffusing flush, a slight widening of the eyes perhaps and maybe this is a race and it is important to get away from the traffic lights first but oh.... here we are at the Botanic Gardens

and... Relax.

A week or so ago we'd been a little river trip with my buddy Claire and her daughter Georgia and ended up at the newly renovated playgrounds here at the Botty Gardens. Unfortunately Lyra had fallen asleep and remained asleep until after time dictated that we leave, so I was glad to have coincidentally turned up here again to stop for a play and a snack.

The playground was good and Lyra enjoyed being awake in it; so much so that she didn't really want to get back onto the bike. But remaining at the playground, even one of unimpeachable quality such as this, was not an option and press on we must. We weaved/wove (you decide and let me know) our way among the pedestrians and the joggers up onto the Goodwill Bridge and onto South Bank where we briefly saw Janelle hosing her spray over the new formal gardens before stopping off at the Gallery of Modern Art to play on the escalators.

Then more snacks outside where I found a very nice Nokia phone, unlocked and open for use, which of course being the honest, morally upright and frankly good person that I am, I handed into the restaurant.

And on, over the Kurilpa Bridge, back to the North Side, each pedal bringing us a little closer to our doom.

A Moment of Perfect Beauty

On Tuesday we went on a little adventure, Lyra, and I - as we sometimes do. Tuesdays are a long day: Eloise has dancing and Nicole pilates.

Bored of our traditional bike ride, the 20km Arana Hills Loop, I decided to ride down unto the city, across the Story Bridge, up South Bank via the Gallery of Modern Art and back across the river on the Kurilpa Bridge.

We made good progress, riding past the Ekka Showground, and taking a good look at all the rides we wouldn't be going on on Friday because they were too scary. Something about the bicycle as you ride past a fairground: you can hear the screams.

We rode on down into the City, taking footpaths and crossing intersections using the pedestrian crossings. As we neared the Story Bridge I decided to take a detour so that we could stop off for a milk break, and peeled off to the right. up Ann Street to Cathedral Square. We parked the bike outside St John's Cathedral and as I got Lyra out of her seat, under cover by the side entrance a small choir of senior school girls were having a little rehearsal - clearly accomplished singers singing a winding, cinematic theme.

We went into the Cathedral with its geometrically hewn stonework, the dark mortar delineating the light sandstone blocks, the stained-glass filtered light playing across the veined textures, ethereal strings echoing from column to column as some more girls practiced on violin, viola, cello: fragments of melody, couplets of harmony.

As we explored the back of the Cathedral an alarm went off, and, fearing another Carisbrooke Incident, we beat a hasty retreat.

We had a drink and snack in a little courtyard outside the side entrance and as Lyra tucked into her Liguht & Tangy crisps, the singing started again from inside and then the strings in counterpoint and as we made our way in to have a look the musical elements achieved a kind of living fusion which was almost perfectly beautiful as one melody played off against another, the voices and strings taking turns with the lead, building and resolving chords and cadences before fading away again into the stonework and carpet.

We finished our crisps and got back onto the bike.

Winter Blossom

days road
It took me a long time to find the time to remember to come up to the roundabout outside the 7-11 to take a photograph of this pretty tree, whose blossoms have lasted for weeks and always brighten up my day when I go past, offering hope that winter might make way for the jacarandas and poincianas and the nights warm up.

Aug 9, 2014

The Desperate Desolation of Doglessness Can Only Be Satisfied by a Dog Show

So I'm going to put it out there that while I miss having a dog and the loss of Matilda at the end of last year was an unexpected tragedy, I am viewing things holistically. I remember back in the day when Eloise was a toddler and we used to take the dogs out every day that - and this wasn't the dogs' fault at all - while it got us out of the house and getting exercise and all that, it was extremely time consuming and often actually not all that enjoyable for Eloise or me, as we would inevitably end up battling with one another because it just isn't possible for a toddler to keep up any sort of pace for any sort of distance without getting distracted and/or tired.

And the Brisbane attitude to dogs - that you walk them round the block if you feel like it, then take them to a fenced-in dog area and throw stuff for them to fetch - has never resonated with any of us. Dogs deserve more, and while it is possible to indulge them - and God knows our dogs were indulged to within an inch of their lives - the occasional rule needs to be broken, and miles need to be traveled in cars in order to get to the appropriate venue.

So all in all it's time consuming, and a lot of hassle to have a dog and to treat it properly. Don't get me wrong, it's enjoyable and rewarding, but it's no bed of roses.

Still Nicole and Eloise miss the dogs, and Lyra just loves dogs, and I'm sure that if and when we get one (or two if they have their way), they intend to do their bit - in theory.

But in practice it'll be Muggins who gets lumbered and I sort of think that that should give me a casting vote.

Notwithstanding all that Grand Bandstanding I'm reasonably sure it's a debate (let's not call it an argument) that I will lose eventually. As far as I'm concerned as long as the concept of dogs remains in the long grass, so to speak, the better.

So it was with some trepidation that I remembered that when we saw our friend Peter at the Kelvin Grove  Markets a couple of weeks back with Roman his Rhodesian Ridgeback (well one of several) he mentioned that he had a Dog Show coming up, and I put it in the diary, knowing that Eloise at least would enjoy it.

As it transpired Nicole was available too and we decided that we would all go down to Durack to see the Australian Championship of the Rhodesian Ridgeback world - serious business!

Peter's a big wheel in the Queensland Ridgeback game and he and his friend Cyndy had played huge parts in organising the event. We didn't pay too much attention to what was going on - just soaking up the atmosphere - but it all seemed to be running very smoothly and any frazzledness was handled in a very ducks-legs fashion with no apparent surface distress at all.

As per Dog Show normality, there were some fine beasts on parade. I think at Dog Shows if you're going to really appreciate what it's actually about then the people-watching should take a back seat to the dog-watching; at the end of the day all the smart dress and prancing around in their best pumps does look a bit ridiculous but it isn't the owners or the breeders that are on show. Thanks God.

Afterwards the Ridgies went off for some Lure Coarsing. Peter gave me Anza to look after, while he kept Roman by his side. Anza is Roman's mother, a big lure-coarsing fan and built like the proverbial brick hit-house. It had been a while since I had tried to restrain a dog that really didn't want to be restrained, and it made me realise just how much our dogs calmed down through their lives, because this dog was seriously passionately interested about getting over that fence and chasing that plastic bag around that field.

Every time a dog went in and the motor spun up and the rope dragged that white plastic bag lure away Anza was straining to leap after it just as the dog in the ring was. And that bitch, that 40-odd kg of bitch was seriously strong, almost pulling me off my feet, trying to get her head through the squares of the fence. I was in a warrior's pose, one leg braced, the other behind, torso forward, lead in both hands, and she was still pulling me along, much to everybody's amusement.

She quietened down after a while and I chatted to a couple of people. I thought that she'd finally got the message. She was just worrying away at the lead now.

I got the fright of my life as the gate was opened for round two and one dog came out and another went in and Anza's lead - which she'd actually been quietly chewing through - broke in two and she belted through the gap in the gate, Peter and two others grabbing her collar but she broke free and was off into the field with not a thing anyone could do about it except laugh at my naive stupidity and Peter's inability to get his dog back as Anza hammered across the field, jumped the lure and ripped the non-existent life from its plastic heart.

I went and got the car.

Aug 7, 2014

Seating Arrangement

Apropros of nothing in particular, here is a bench that has been put beyond easy use by dint of the seats that have been daintily balanced upon it.

Just something I saw one day when we were out on one of our playground explorations.

Aug 3, 2014

The Chill of an Australian Winter as Experienced from the Back Deck

It's a tough life in the depths of winter when you have to get out onto the back deck at 9 in the morning, out into that cold sunshine, dressed in nothing but your sleepsuit and gather around the breakfast table with your family for a bit of cereal and toast and a cup of hot chocolate with the frothy milk that Mum makes.

Actually not that common an experience at this stage in our lives, as Nicole isn't around that often at the weekends, what with her crazily, ridiculously busy life. But this day she has a day off. Eloise however has a dancing rehearsal so after breakfast we bundle her off to that 4-hour extravaganza before going off for a family bike ride up t'Brook, a quick 20-k round trip.

On the way back Nicole suggests we stop off at the Blackwood Street markets where we are mildly surprised to see our Tour de Tea people, and after a cup of coffee, we make an appointment for a guy to come around and look at upholstering the rocking chair on our front deck that we took off a friend's hands when we moved into this house more than a year ago.

It's a lovely little bike ride, the weather is great, not too hot, not too cold, and the riding is easy.