Like Bunnings and Spotlight, Red Dot is a go to for all the things you want now you see them on a shelf. You just didn’t realise you wanted them. Of course, they are mostly cheap, Red Dot is much more economical than the other two. ‘Economical sounds better.
Red Dot is the place for containers of all sizes, large multi coloured storage boxes, and kitchen nick nacks.All the kitchen objects one improvises for years, then one sees the real, plastic, ugly thing. Cheap though.
I have been wrapping half eaten avocados in cling wrap, and recently in brown paper. Usually 2 days later I chuck out an expensive section of health giving fruit . Now I have an avocado storer. I felt excited as I put it into my bike pannier and rode home.
I have forgotten that last week in the clearing out exercise I got rid of: a plastic egg chopper, a dozen food containers with no lids, a hanging clothes rack, 4 plastic baskets, a toothbrush holder, a dozen plastic, pretty coloured hangers (lopsided or split), and a silver cake holder( covered in tin foil). All from Red Dot.
I’m still excited about the avocado storer though. Can’t wait to use it. It’s sitting on my cleared kitchen bench waiting for my next veggie shop. I’ve run out of avocados.
Two lots of gold in fact. A story to keep me on the hated treadmill. And gist for a blog. So 20 minutes on the treadmill and the material for this blog.
The inspiration though originates with Lily Brett, a witty, seemingly scatty,commentator who is about my age, relates many of my experiences but is a far far superior writer.
I have just finished reading her last book ,OldSeems to be Other People. The short pieces , snapshots around experiences of aging , relationships, and death, capture the humour and pathos of the integral parts of our lives, older or not. One vignette that particularly resonates follows a conversation Lily hears on one of her regular walks through New York streets, this time to East River. The question she overhears ‘Do you masturbate?’sparks an entertaining, sharp commentary on vaginas and sex, and the reluctance we have to discuss those topics ,
This isn’t about either or both. You can read the piece ‘A Conversation’ for yourself. This is about the conversation I heard at the gym. As an aside, I have resolved to bite another bullet and go for a hearing test because a lot of the time I only heard snatches of an intriguing conversation (up until now it’s been an advantage sometimes to be a bit deaf in my house ).
Well , the theme of the discussion alongside me seemed to be relationships. A generalisation, but in my experience relationships is the governing theme of most women talk. Rightly so, we are caring , loving people. The opening gambit was about the rules and behaviours governing their respective households, in which a daughter, the daughters partner and a baby reside. That is, each woman has two and a half extras in her home. I wasn’t very interested in this, just thinking , how unremarkable : come on , only a couple and one baby living in your house ! You must have lots of space left over.
This winging inevitably led to a monologue about their own marriage and in the case of the woman I could hear most, her first marriage and why she left him. Much more interesting .
I wasn’t even allowed out on my own until….
Looking back my parents had a point
I was taken by surprise . We’d met a few times ( this is the second partner she met, after her first marriage ended)
He just looked away from the emotional baggage
I remember deciding , by the time my daughter goes to kindy. . I didn’t want her coming home to. (…?)
Some women just stay there . (Why ?)
It was most frustrating hearing only segments . I wanted to know how woman A, on my left, was taken by surprise. And what was the child coming home to ?. Woman B , who didn’t get much of a word in, had a lot of emotional baggage . But what exactly ? Woman A did not ask her as she was launching into the account of her own feelings about women who stay in poor relationships and didn’t seem interested in the other’s baggage. I could hardly ask her myself ; already I had looked to my left a few times to hear better and I think they suspected.
After 20 minutes on the treadmill, at a snails pace as they were able to keep up this call and response conversation throughout, they moved off. I slowed my treadmill . I have learnt from bitter experience to dismount slowly. Once only I pressed stop when moving at a faster than crawling pace , caught my right foot in the edge of the tread and fell. Embarrassing as well as a twisted shoulder, again.
Anyway, by the time I tentatively put both feet on the ground and waited for the head spin that always follows, the women had left. Pretty short gym session, talkfest really .
However I do have a blog. Also I was able to focus on my weights for the next half hour AND feel superior : I am faster on the treadmill, I am fitter than those two, despite my age, I have only been married once, I have more family living in my house. Most importantly, I just don’t have any emotional baggage. I reckon I look better than those chattering women. No, no emotional baggage, not me.
Thank you Lily Brett for showing me that eavesdropping in the name of writing is OK . Also that becoming old is grist for the writer’s mill. I love the book cover portrait too.
Lily Brett. Old Seems to be Other People. Australia:Random House,2021.
Maybe it’s the effect of watching the Queen’s casket progress slowly from Balmoral to Edinborough and then the precise, slow, disciplined ritual at Windsor. Yes, I admit to watching bits of it, not teary, but admiring and wondering . Throughout the last few weeks, in the midst of discussions for and against the monarchy and about colonialism and privilege, is a consensus : life is short. A cliche. A life well lived most of us concede . Then we look at our own. Of course, as we’re still alive, we find it wanting .
I am guilty, if it’s guilt and not just being human, of wanting. Not thanking enough.
Much of the shorter commentary in the last few weeks has understandably been around the brevity of all our lives. We question the worth of goals, work, activities, relationships in the context of a little life. We scrutinise our own identity again and ask “Do I really want to ? Should I? How can I be kind? What am I bringing into this life? How will I be remembered?”. In fact that very last self centred question is one of the half dozen or so ‘magic’ questioning tools in counselling. One of the other equally ridiculous questions is around the epitaph one would like on one’s grave.
As we at home put together another clearing effort : op shop/ bin/ Resource Centre, and a trailer on which to pile the larger broken and discarded items, I actually look around outside . Grumpily carrying another discarded item to the trailer, I see the flowers in the garden.Plants are flowering despite my inattention just because summer 🌺 is on its way.
But I’m digressing. The questions and thoughts have a use, and the main point is that funerals and age combine to flag our own imminent death . We know this always but live like we are immortal. Because we need to be in our lives not working our way towards it’s end.
Witnessing such a grand , fully ritualised celebration of a life highlights all the things above. Also for those of us who are older and/ or have a connection with England,with where we were born and family, there are memories of our own parents and family who have died . Maybe the memories surface anyway.
I think especially of my dad and my uncle who both served . I could go further back to a great grandfather who was in the Irish Guards, but it’s not the army or war that Is the key, nor the long chain of military service and tradition. It’s the marking of the end of an era.
My father and his younger brother were much loved. They were special people. But their qualities of self discipline, caring dutifulness, and , most particularly, a reticence, are not as present in my era. My father would never have written a blog, and certainly he would not have written like this. He was an immensely private person, sometimes annoyingly so .
They both loved gardens . A slip there and I wrote lived gardens : But that’s the connection – thankfulness, gardens, the funeral and the end of an era. Keep an eye on colour and beauty that’s here. Stop accumulating dead stuff.
In watching the Queens funeral procession I remember Arthur and Bill and those like them.
It’s a bright nearly -summer morning . Today I don’t feel bright or summery. Feels like one of those days when one needs to go back to bed and get out again , the other side !
Warnings are slight , but unmistakable : I tripped over a leg rope in the corridor first thing returning from beach swim ( which WAS bright and near summery and a joy); I walked into a table; I nearly tripped on our steep stairs while rushing down unthinking and immediately stumbled over the cushion lying randomly on the floor. Really slight warnings . Díaz was woken from his short doze because I had to open the door to a workman, then I couldn’t find the car keys so he could move the car.
Outside to start on a walk with the now winging Díaz, I am expiring in a woolly sweater on a 20 degree day and no breeze . Forgotten sun cream for both of us and he’s going red already. And not nodding off because he’s too hot, so my coffee is not imminent.
After this catalogue of minor mishaps, we reach a small street on the way to the coffee shop. How can I continue in disgruntlement as we slowly make our way down this colourful street with its very individual streetscape .
Right on the corner is a long, striped, wooden bench tied to the back of a vehicle.The colours are like a golden-rainbow sun: medley of yellow, orange and faint darker lines etched into the wood. It is wood, but I can’t make out what kind.
This is just a beginning .Bright totem like structures stand in many front yards or on verges.
But this is not all. There are some quite odd objects alongside. Of course odd/ beautiful depends on your own aesthetic and I thought these art works odd and interesting, juxtaposed alongside spring flowers and budding trees .
How wonderful is this day. In the space of half an hour my spirits have lifted and Díaz has fallen asleep so am right for a quiet coffee. We have reached the end of the street . I peer into someone’s backyard through a wrought iron gate: a nearly magic garden. Díaz dreams on.
I’ve always loved the title GoneGirl , Gillian Flyn’s popular crime thriller of 2012. But this baby hasn’t gone in the same way, he hasn’t disappeared . Just gone home with his dad and his brother, I can get back into my baby gone life until next stay.
Right now off to have a coffee quietly and get my head into gear, away from babies and bottles and squishy food. Just look around at the evidence that
DÍAZ WAS HERE
Bits of food all over the kitchen . On the window the washed bottles which contained the expressed milk he grudgingly swallows, while biting the teat. Still at least there’s that.
His toys are still around . As well as the paraphernalia of babies. Like some daggy version of ancient stones they nevertheless cast a spell over this room, waiting to be held, played with, placed onto a baby body part or tossed into the bin ( yes, disposable nappies, I have just discovered so called “Eco-disposable Nappies”. So maybe red bin to green bin ? )
Aah, he’s gone. The cat can settle back into a chair comfortably, not being chased away from a baby or annoyed by strange sounds.
And I’d better go to the gym before I start clearing up. No more excuses. Baby is gone , and I sort of miss him.
PS This last image is to get your attention and a few “ likes” on my blog Sambasue21.Blog. I know my legs are bandy ,
I sound annoyed, but the annoyance is directed at myself. Despite my intellect, despite my awareness, I am hooked. How attractive still are the racks of clothes. How appealing is the neatly arranged, matching furniture that will just fit a corner in my house. It is still bouncy and unfaded ( unlike the furniture in our house with the cats and wear and tear of being shifted constantly or left out in the rain). Great colour. I have thankfully fallen out of love with trinkets, photo frames, beautiful old glasses. I am falling out of love with scarves and earrings, only because I think my mode of dress is changing as I age/ mature!
Today, despite my banning myself from these places, I found myself back in my favourite Op Shop. I guess that is some progress as I selected the place, rather than walking from one opportunity to the other in a street that is full of opportunity for me , and for many other OSAs ( it’s a new diagnosis on the DSM scale )
I have already written about the Op Shop phenomenon, when shops were reopened post Covid ( see In Praise of Opportunity Shops 17/5/20). However there is always more to write. I have noted the time wasting opportunities, economic and waste reduction benefits of Opportunity Shops. There is more to add two years on.Here is a bit of a winge from me.
Two years after that WA Covid peak, Op Shops are participants in the cost of living rise. Despite the fact that all is donated, prices have risen considerably. Alongside a cleaning up operation. This is rather similar to the addition on plates of burgers and chips of a carefully arranged leaf or two of lettuce with maybe a squeeze of a strange tasting, differently coloured mayonnaise. Worth 50c, but you pay double. As the “ retro”and “ high end” fashion sections grow, the racks and displays have become increasingly full of any clothing that vaguely fits those descriptors. Even Cotton On has joined the high end so that in some shops you pay more for the second hand item . I’m sorry, for the Pre- loved or ‘New’ fashion.
To this cynic it feels as if the good old honest Op Shops have joined the let’s call a rose by another name club. With vegan burgers, green everything, protein bars, healthy sweets, losing weight by some magic expensive formula that does not involve sweat or exercise, pretend meat, numerous vitamins .The list is endless
And here I am today in a new area, in an Op Shop I have not visited for a while. This one is different. Oh well.
Yes walking slowly with a pusher. Having had a cup of coffee, baby asleep and heading home . Maybe he wakes up , maybe he doesn’t . Either way you’ve got time to kill because there’s still 3 hours till his mum arrives, and you might as well enjoy the walk, the sun, and thoughts.
Ooh Coffee, on Stirling Highway, North Fremantle, is now my favourite coffee place . The reason for this is quite clear to pusher- pushing people: lots of space outside, quick service and several newspapers. Oh yes, and clientele I don’t know so they are either fully occupied in keeping pushers moving as they drink coffee while holding on to dogs, or carefully avoiding any interaction with a person clearly engrossed in a baby. For me the additional item is their vegan burgers, tasty chic peas and avocado in toasted bagel. Díaz will eat this ( one of the few food items he’ll eat as he prefers breast ) so, despite the chilli, I can finger feed him the less spicy pieces and eat myself. That’s if he’s awake and I can’t read the newspaper. He eats the newspaper.
This morning he is perfect , eating bits of burger between smiling at everyone. I am even able to check some of the West . Always a disappointing experience but a long term habit. I now only read free Wests, in cafes .
But Díaz is displaying low level annoyance: throwing his rattle to the floor, arching his back a little and making that growling sound.
So I replace him in the pusher, he smiles again and we start back home. We turn left towards the railway line and then into the end of Pearse Street which stretches alongside the railway to the Leighton station .
Such a pretty path I have walked down so many times . The prettiness is framed by the industrial presence; train line and various bits, graffiti,building work, wire fences and signs. Ahead is the entry to the station and the Leighton beach complex . Depending on the vantage point of your phone shot , interesting combinations of shape and colour.
And as I reach Leighton train station, he’s had enough of the pusher. So we hurry home. I’ve had my bit of thinking for now .
So let’s step out and greet those sunny days with a spring in our steps ( ha not a very good pun!). Well I’m getting up early again just as dawn breaks and heading to the beach. But after a plunge a few days ago, am not rushing into very very cold water.
However it’s a date tomorrow at 6.20 am. Me and the sea .
The garden, neglected for a while, is taking off. I have just managed to pull out some nasturtiums before they smother any plant not strong enough to resist their deceptively pretty flowering stems, gradually wrapping themselves around whatever they can reach.
I have been watching the olive tree for weeks and yesterday morning it seemed like the leaves have budded overnight. The morning sun was streaming through its still naked branches and pushing its way through the tree canopies in the front garden.The cactus leaning against a tree trunk has reached the lower branches.