Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Practising for retirement

Melbourne's new shuttle ferry on the Yarra.

Mel has some time off now, and as today is normally my day off anyway, we went into the city and played at being retired, for when that happens (not this year). Took the tram to Federation Square, had an icy cold pilsner, and then boarded the new shuttle ferry which takes a leisurely 40 minutes along the river to go from Fed Square to New Quay, with various stops in between. Lunch at New Quay, a look at the whale-saving ship the Farley Mowat of the Sea Shepherd Organization which was docked there, and then a tram back to Federation Square for an ice cream, ending with a walk through the Fitzroy Gardens before heading home.

It was interesting to be at leisure on a working day in a bustling city, to see people (younger people) dressed in their business suits and corporate get up (high heels with pointy toes, for cryin' out loud!), while we were comfortably dressed for the warm weather, and strolled or rode public transport from place to place. The other thing to notice was that we were only one of many couples of similar age who were enjoying their leisure time, and it was lovely to observe the warmth between them, and the obvious ease they felt being in each others' company. This is something to treasure, and I am lucky to have found my soulmate too. Yep, I can see us spending lots of these days of leisure in retirement, there's still plenty to do to keep busy and to learn, even about the city we've been living in for all these decades.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Our first born is 21 today

21 years ago today, at the age of 39, I gave birth to our gorgeous son. We love you, Toby! Chelsea the cat does too.

Love from Mom, Dad and Ben.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sacred bamboo - hah!

You'd think that something named sacred bamboo would be a bit more restrained and even difficult to grow. Nope, it grows like a weed, and it once filled almost the whole courtyard which you see in the previous post. We now have that area under control, but on the weekend I removed much of it from around the Japanese maple (so we could see the beautiful trunk) and near the footpath (so the water meter can be read, and even found). As a consequence of pulling out shoots and clipping very thick woody stems, I am feeling a bit weary. But getting that done, plus my zen weeding in the mornings is giving me a great sense of satisfaction.

After looking on the internet for suitable images of sacred bamboo, it would seem that we don't have sacred bamboo at all, but some other type. I should have read this article first!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Zen approach to the garden

When I went on that horticultural tour of the Japanese garden at the zoo last week, I optimistically asked the gardener if there was a modern, 21st century invention that would magically help the home gardener tidy up the leaves, twigs etc without having to get on hands and (ageing) knees. No such luck! His answer was that they used one of those most un-zen-like blowers as well as, yes, getting down on hands and knees.

There used to be a self sown tree in our stone courtyard. In its healthy days the tree had a wonderful lollypop shape that gave us privacy and shade in summer, but was extremely messy, even to the point of spreading around purple berries that discolored the path to the front door. When it gave its last hurrah last March and we removed it, it was the start of a tidier courtyard, but I still needed to do the finetuning that a stone courtyard requires.

So yesterday, inspired by the beautifully maintained garden in the zoo, I made a start at tidying up the debris the tree had left behind, including a zillion seedlings that had started poking their heads through the stones. I think that tree knew it was not long for this world and produced a bumper crop of seeds. Rather admirable really, but out they came. I fell into a quiet rhythmn, maybe zen-like, and it didn't seem to take long at all. Then a final rake-over, and I could look at it with pleasure. This morning when I went out for the newspaper, I stopped to pick up a few more twigs and seedlings, and it was a lovely thing to do in the fresh smelling air of early morning. Will I continue that? Only time will tell.

Mel made this bamboo fence in the traditional manner, tying together the bamboo with rope. These photos were all taken of our front garden. (Mel has just confessed that the rope hides the screws he used!)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Back to the zoo!

Two days in a row at the zoo, that's a first! Today I went on a horticultural tour of the zoo. How so? Zoos are no longer a symmetrical arrangement of cramped cages in crowded rows. That is my childhood memory of the Bronx Zoo. Today's good zoos try to imitate nature, providing the animals with as much of their natural environment as possible, and this means that the grounds of good zoos are worth visiting in their own right. In Melbourne we have an excellent zoo, further enhanced by a small Japanese garden. As a member of Friends of the Zoo I can visit the zoo as often as I like, and I still find something new.

Wherever I've travelled to, I've always tried to visit the local zoos. In the 60s and 70s I visited the famous San Diego Zoo, and the Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, both beautiful zoos even then. By the far the worst zoo I ever visited was in Rome. I hope it has been totally renovated by now, or closed!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Phine and Val go to the zoo

What a great combination: a Japanese garden in a zoo. Wonderful weather for it too.

Trail of the Elephants: Mekah Pah is giving Phine the Big A

Lunch time!

In the aviary

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Popes do Mecca Bah

Those Pope girls, Phine and Angela, really know how to have a good time. Today they were my Daughters-for-a-Day, celebrating Phine handing in her thesis and Angela getting her first teaching job. We went to Mecca Bah at New Quay. They are adventurous eaters, to say nothing of being prodigious eaters, and we had all sorts of Middle Eastern dips, savory pastries and a lamb meatball dish. Click to enlarge that first photo to really appreciate Phine's expression! (P.S. Phine wants everyone to know that she was imitating the actresses on The Iron Chef show, saying "It's so-o-o-o go-o-o-d!", and that she REALLY doesn't usually look like that)

Sadly, we had no room left for dessert at the cone-shaped ice cream place, but we'll be back another time. Already planning to go there for dinner after the first game of the season at Telstra Dome (Melbourne vs Carlton).

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Proud member of The Ageless Project

Since I've started blogging I have found so many people with shared interests and other oldies who blog. Through Ronni Bennett's blog Time goes by I found my way to The Ageless Project, a collection of people of age who want to share their thoughts and experiences online. In the Sixties (the era of my youth, lucky me!) it would have been called letting it all hang out. These days that can be done Big Time in cyberspace, although some would say that it's a more anonymous way of sharing than cavorting around as we did in the Sixties.

In her post of 11 November, Ronni talks about getting senior discounts as a rite of passage. Rather than thinking about it as a sign of "getting old", we should gleefully look for the sign "Senior discounts here" - we've earned it! As for advancing on in years, I count each day as a gift to be made the most of, and the feeling that each year flies by faster than the last says to me that 1) I am enjoying life, and 2) I should concentrate even more on enjoying life. People who know me would say that I am good at seeing the positives, and I would add that it does no good to look back and dwell on any lows that inevitably come into one's life. I'm having fun!

Sunday, November 06, 2005


Almost summer here in the southern hemisphere, and I've already been for a swim in our (unheated) pool. I love swimming at night, looking up at the moon and stars. Other than when I was a kid, I have hated pools, but since we bought this place 11 years ago with a pool already there, I've come to appreciate how it's the greatest air conditioner. It really cools down the body core. Swimming at night at first seemed to be a scary kind of thing to do, but now I really look forward to it, and I don't have to wear sunblock either.

Tonight we're having our first bbq at home for the season. A couple of years ago we had rolldown screens made for our veranda, and it makes the greatest outdoor room, it extends the livingroom. We tend to have breakfasts and lunches out there as well. At the end of the season we roll up the three sides which are velcroed into place and out of the way. It's a brilliant design!