Sunday Contemplations along Melbourne’s Kororoit Creek

Kororoit Creek

So as I was walking along the creek beside Ballarat road on the way to a coffee all sorts of thoughts flashed through my sleepy head. About Sundays, beliefs, nuns and mothers. Specifically the sayings or truisms that were told when Sunday was such a special day a long long time ago in my youth:

Mum : ‘It’ll all come back to you, just you wait.’

The all encompasses exposing my then pudgy but quite shapely body in bathers, too short shorts, or tight skirts .

All equals being rude to my mother, refusal to clean my room or dress as she wants, bad table manners, answering back at school or at home .

All also means sitting on concrete steps with shorts and thin gear on or perching on anything that is not a chair.

Not too clear how or when it would come back to me . Suffice to say that my turn came around when I had children growing up . Perhaps the cold concrete bit is responsible for stiff limbs, and the African sun definitely a cause of horrible scaly skin .

Nuns/ School.

If you sit like that you’ll end up with hunch back / frown like that and you’ll have a deep line between your eyes / scowl and … . All come true .

  • Frown lines
  • A stoop in shoulders
  • Left eye is smaller than right

But you know what, I’m still stubborn enough to say I don’t regret the sun, shorts, squinting, refusing to do as told . ( Even if I do secretly wish I had better skin)

The big one though, from mum and from the convent school I went to in my teens, is around belief . Briefly the Belief/ God/Love one was always a bit sus. I met those concepts with varying degrees of resistance, depending on what I needed at the time . I could easily dismiss the ‘God sees everything; your body is a Sacred temple; you’ll need him someday and he won’t be there; say your prayers at night so that angels is watch over you as you sleep ‘

Lots more but if you were brought up Catholic you’ll know them . I wasn’t even particularly worried about the maleness of God as I think I just thought the naming and the gender were an easy reference point. Adults just didn’t have the words and took an easy way out.

I just knew that the hellfire and damnation bit was theatre, that God who loved could not be so petty , Most of the threats and bribes I rejected .

However from my older perspective there is something precious amongst the words we were surrounded with . Hard to pin down . But it’s a belief in the value of life, and the priority of existence . Also it’s comforting to feel , however imperfectly and tentatively, that there is something beyond this visible life .A something that we cannot grasp , just know.

I like God ( for want of a better name) being around .And I like walking .

Walking along Kororoit Creek this morning I remember those statements , threats and persuasions quite fondly. They gave order to my life. Something to resist. As I get older it is harder to find that resistance.

Hey life was like this then , just keep on the path !

And Sunday is a day like any other now that my mother is no longer here .When the kids were little we reluctantly went along to the Sunday roast after Church complaining about the routine. I was unwilling or unable to sustain that ritual. We gather now as a family in a scatty way, because Sunday is no longer a special day for all of us , and we have so many things to do. A transition from the Sunday Mass/ Sunday best/ scowling drive to Church followed by the lunch.

Sundays are free. I sort of miss the old Sundays.

I ❤️ Love Sydney.Reasons to Love .

On bus no 333 back to Bondi after a day out .

Behind me is a conversation in German, in front a group of young women conversing merrily in Spanish, hands moving and laughter.This bus is filled with a variety of languages, accents and looks: the girl in the beret sprinkled with chunky pearls, thick black plaits poking out from underneath, the man further down the aisle, tattooed and hooded, the very English older couple sitting opposite. All sorts of looks. Spanish/ Iranian //Chinese ? Australian ? It’s late afternoon so plenty of business suits and office wear as well .

Love the multiculturalism

Cosmopolitan, multicultural, call it what you will. A vibrant, young peopled city. At least in the areas we’ve been in these few days- Bondi, Paddington and, today, Manly. So, especially after a QE cruise it’s uplifting to be around younger people. Also to be able to just walk .

Bar and cafe staff are young and smiley, restaurants, hotel receptionists , shop people. Smiley.

Apart from youth and multiculturalism, I like the architecture. There is variety in style, different levels and shapes, colour and texture. Here in Bondi anyway the newer buildings are fronted by older ones, facing the sea with large windows and balconies. The streets are wide and the tall trees and green slopes create a surreal landscape.

Older buildings have been renovated or used as they are, especially to show art. And there is so much art here, accessible. All along the Bondi seafront are some of the Heads On photos. An international festival based in Sydney, there are more than 500 different photographers showing their work in outdoor exhibitions, major takeovers and large scale installations.

The photos stretched along the entire seafront . This is a photo from brochure though – chilly morning when we were here, and not so many people .

We went to see others in the Reservoir Paddington. There are thousands of photographic works from all over the world displayed in venues throughout Sydney. Themes of homelessness, refugees and war; also feminism, motherhood, culture and the environment.

So this morning we’re at Central train station about to depart from this bold, brash, clever city. On the way here early in the morning I did glimpse the other, not so bright, side of life here. A part of any city: people dressed in shabby black or worn work boots, women going home after a cleaning job, an old man plastic bag in hand carrying bottled water and his lunch,the humdrum movement of our days.

You might think as you read the earlier praise of Sydney paragraphs ‘ all very well for the wealthy and beautiful.’ ( I can hear you think that ) Maybe I am a romantic. Maybe.

But I don’t live here. Soon enough to be back in a different life.

Looking out of hotel window at Bondi beach this morning . Bye.

My exciting life : Bondi Pub Altercation

Now, if I were a Helen Garner I would ask the guy over from me what happened? Then I would have a whole, interesting and insightful story. But as it stands, or writes, all I have is a few glimpses of the start, a climax and the cleaning up. Not really a denouement. Oh, I did make an ‘ aside’ comment as I walked to the bar to buy another happy hour wine : ‘ well that was dramatic’, to which the quite ordinary, rather stunned looking guy replied ’ Yes’ and looked stunned still.

From where I sat in this Bondi pub I watched a blonde, fit looking 40 ish man find his stool, lay out the cutlery carefully next to his red wine , and look around. I did think , well he’s waiting for someone. I was distracted then by the T V behind him showing bits about some woman convicted of some murder ( no sound). Next time I looked a woman in jeans and shirt , ordinary, nice looking, was alongside him and they were talking quietly. Distracted again – ploughing into my pizza- a very loud crash. I glanced up to see the woman locking eyes with the man for an instant, then turning slowly and striding out to the lift. Leaving a mess of broken glass, food and red wine on the floor.

He stood just looking at the mess. Hiatus. Bar staff rushed out and began sweeping and mopping. Like 2 staff, quite a mess.

Half an hour later and the quiet guy is sitting in front of his replaced ? meal and sipping his replaced ? wine. Looking thoughtful. .I really want to know what the altercation was about .

Why did she throw all their food and wine 🍷 onto the floor.It was all so silent before and after. Is she his partner ? Had he just met her ? What did he say? Or not say .

I’ll just have to conjecture. And you know what,?Whatever I come up with will be wrong. There’s always more to a story.

Sleeping Rough

It’s 8.30 am and I’m pushing my grandson down South Terrace in Fremantle, just up from the station. Already I have passed 3 sleepers. Huddled in doorways, in alleys , emerging from the night sleep and blinking in the morning light, or blankets pulled over heads. Some have left their posse to start their day, leaving a bundle tied up on the ground in the shadows. Others are pushing a shopping trolley down the mall. Towards the toilets maybe, or to sit on the benches placed in straight lines under trees .

Left their bundle to get some coffee ?

Small gatherings of people are in the square, coming out of the Civic Centre or simply meeting up and walking through arm in arm, chatting.

I think , what would happen if we just let those ‘ homeless’ to sleep in the corners of our street , with maybe blankets available,opening toilets early , maybe having a place where coffee is available ? Would we have more rough sleepers than we do now ?

Just as I was thinking , well there’s a general quite happy atmosphere around the square, people meeting and greeting, sitting quietly on benches or walking on, there was a loud yell from a guy striding across.Several very loud shouts and a lot of gesturing and swearing. It seemed his noise was not directed at anyone. It was just an angry cry against the universe,

I walked on with my grandson still asleep in his pusher. A few other people gathered around the angry one and the morning peace became just noise and a series of exchanges across the square .

I have just finished Alan Carter’s Heaven Sent, a novel which is set in Fremantle and revolves around homelessness and the problem of dealing with people fairly and responsibly.( Incidentally a good crime novel with his likeable main character, Detective Cato Kwong)

The book did make me think, yet again, about how I would live in the street, how I would survive. I also recognised that the street people contribute to Fremantle some of its character, it’s colour and difference. But. ….

Such a pity that homeless people can’t be just a version of myself , minus the money and possessions I have. Why can’t they be more like me. The yelling and swearing of that guy threw me.

West Australian sat 29 Oct

Yes , it could , I concede. Homelessness could happen to me . But I have to say , because that’s what I think, the possibility is low.

The pervading narrative of homelessness is ‘ it can happen to anyone’, alongside the lumping of all street sleepers into the category of helplessness . Probably some people do belong there. But the other side of the coin is the resourcefulness, the strength of a community, the caring for each other.

Packed up

I sound like I believe ‘ the poor are always with us’. Not so. I just believe that the it can happen to anyone/collective responsibility narrative is better than “ get them away from here”, but ….words make us feel better.

Cruising : QE2 here we come !when I’ve packed

So it’s actually more difficult / stressful/ annoying getting stuff together for a 8 day cruise in local waters than it is to prepare for a 6 week walk, here or overseas.

For the latter the parameters are clear, it’s weight all the way as it’s going to be on your back . Walking trousers. A couple of t shirts, long sleeved shirt, slip ons to change into , undies, gortex jacket and thermal top plus all the paraphernalia of sun cream/ feet cream/ moisturisers . Hat. Maybe some vitamins and a small first aid pack and a book or tablet . Mobile phone.

For the cruise there’s the addition of makeup, more shoes, more undies, more clothes. Shoes to walk in, shoes to dance in, shoes to run in ( to counterbalance the food) , clothes for formal wear – dance evenings, dinner- proper active wear for the gym and strolling around deck looking cool, shorts that don’t show my bum or the fat on the top of my legs, it may be warm enough to wear them. Leggings for the cold, warm jacket for evenings , a warmer jacket for the very cold, tights to wear with skirt or dress, etc etc . Laptop. A couple of books.

In the end a high probability that half those dresses, shoes, skirts and tops will not be worn, I haven’t worn high heels for at least 2 years . I can’t remember when I last wore a dress . So right now I’m wondering :why ? Why am I travelling on a cruise ship and why am I taking all this gear ?

Last pack ! Ready to go

I’ll answer that tomorrow. Today I’m just boarding the QE2 and departing Fremantle for Sydney

QE 2 waiting for me

Gym Resolutions

My favourite ( only ) gym

No it’s not what you think ; resolving to get to the gym regularly.

My resolutions relate to how I conduct myself in the gym.

I will not make ‘ old people noises’ while lifting weights, getting on and off the elliptical, speeding up on machines. In fact I will not make those noises at all.

What noises ? you ask. Sighs, breathing heavily, expelling air with a loud Phewww or huhhhh. Farting, even quietly.

I will not swear as I try for a heavier weight, put one down after a set, nearly miss the step getting off a machine, or trip over the weight I have left on the floor ( things have moved on in twenty years as most gyms now are nice places. Anyway it’s not acceptable for an older woman to use an expletive especially the F word ).

I will not roll my eyes at someone , usually female, creeping along on the stepper at a snails pace while talking at a hundred miles an hour.

I will not feel resentment, gradually rising to anger, towards someone , usually male colonising 2 bits of equipment. They place their towel on one and sit on the other, for ages .

I have to admit that some of these small annoyances are a result of NOT getting to the gym regularly enough. It’s called projection . The noises one is because I’m getting tired of someone alongside me asking “ are you alright”? as I breathe as one is supposed to breathe lifting , or saying encouragingly “ that’s right, you’ve got it”. It’s because I’m older and a woman . Men of any age can groan and yell and sweat and fart , but they are exercising good and hard .

But despite the above, I recommend gym work. For strength, and getting rid of the petty stresses of our lives. Sometimes aggression. Mostly quiet people here, intent on getting on with things. So go along. Just don’t make too many old people noises if you’re an older woman .

Off to Rottnest:Birthday,and Birthdays Remembered

The guys on this ferry just took this late passenger on board 2 minutes before the boat left, with no warnings about leaving it too late, not having a ticket , or getting a move on. Someone carried my bag and someone else wheeled my bike down the runway . I then bought my ticket as the boat left the quay.OK, not many others on board late Saturday afternoon, but every time I have got onto SeaLink there has been the same courteous and cheerful service.

Go SeaLink

As reading anything brings on nausea, blogging it is.

I am going over to join a friend for her birthday tomorrow. Coincidentally today is my father’s birthday;he would have been 97 today. A few days later is my aunt Pauline birthday . She died recently .Both have been important loves and supports in my life. So I guess it’s good to pause and wish them Happy Birthday too. Also to stop stressing on this late summery afternoon. I’m on the way to Rottnest for a Birthday.

Is it birthday weather for you, dear soul

Is it fine your way ?

C.Day Lewis( 1904-1972) Birthday Poem for Thomas Hardy

What did You See Today ?

This morning really early. On my way for a swim at the beach . Weather sunny, 11 deg instead of 5 , so have to brave the elements and swim.

First as I was crossing after the cafe near the beach I was overtaken by two bikes. A little dog was firmly strapped into a baby doggy seat fixed onto the handlebars.First time I’ve seen a dog in a baby seat.

Doggy baby seat spot , but this pic later in the day. It’s warmed up

After my plunge into the still cold water I stood drying myself, balancing precariously on one leg to put shorts back on and checking the effect of the swim movement on my left shoulder ( a long story of injury). I noticed two old people walking towards the sea. I often this last year stare at people who look old, to work out how I might look as age progresses. I noticed them because they moved cautiously, their upper bodies curved in a smooth question mark. Their respective straw baskets, each draped over an arm, contained neatly folded towels and other unidentifiable clothing.

They made their way to the front, carefully placed baskets side by side and started off walking along the beach.

I finished staring at people and silently berating my injuries, past and future, and noticed the couple returning. They’re not swimming ? Surely not? They’re very old.

Yes .They are swimming. They pulled various garments over their heads, unstrapped sandals , folded clothes carefully and moved gingerly to the sea.

I wish I’d had my phone with me to capture that image of the two figures hand in hand wading into the deep. He seemed less sturdy than her and she held his hand as they navigated the uneven sea floor. However, once deep enough to swim he turned on his back and displayed a powerful back stroke, whilst she paddled a hesitant side stroke. He kept on turning to check she was above water.

10 minutes and out they came. Hand in hand . They dressed systematically and moved towards the boardwalk off the beach, hands still linked.

But this isn’t the end of my sightings today. Tonight I went to the Fremantle Art Gallery for the opening of Tania Ferrier’s ‘Popcorn’, an energetic exposition/ rebuttal/celebration of women’s strength and energy,

I cannot go into the complexities of Popcorn, visit and see for yourself. But the vibrant and bold images displayed somehow complement the slow, pale, image of the couple on the beach. And some of them, in their dismembered shape and absurdity, resemble pictorially the little dog sitting straight up, strapped in to his baby seat.

As I read them anyway. All three things somehow relate: life can be lived in a myriad ways. It’s the intention to be and to experience that’s the key.

What did you see today ?