Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Today is the last day before we head off to New Zealand for a week, so I’m going to cram this post full of pictures for you to look at, if you like, while I’m away.

We’re all packed and ready to go, which has been quite a process because one of the big things in such a long triathlon is that you have to make sure that you have all the right equipment, plus backups. You can’t just have one pair of goggles for swimming in the lake, cos what if they break? You should pack at least three (and I think Hayden is taking four). The same goes for running shoes and special socks, tubes for the bike, puncture kits, different kinds of jackets for different kinds of cold weather, and all divided up into different bags: one for the swim leg, one for the bike leg and one for the run, and a couple for the in-betweens. A race can be won or lost on these preparation details, apparently. It’s all very complicated.

Today is bright and fresh and clear, and it’s reminding me of the best kind of winter day. It's probably the kind of day that gave rise to the notion of spring cleaning, just because it goes so well with the smell of fresh laundry and the cheerful flapping of white sheets in the wind. This morning I drove Hayden out to work just to hang out with him an extra hour, and when I was driving back alone, I noticed how clear and sharp the hills looked, and how dramatic. It is really quite a nice drive, for a drive to a refinery. You follow the road to Ingham, north west, straight up between the coast and the ridge of hills called Harvey’s Range, which is the range that keeps the rain out of Townsville for most of the year. The sky this morning seemed high and blue and the hills looked scrubbed clean. It seemed propitious.

Everything in this year, so far, has been building towards this point. I wonder what it’s going to be like when we get past it?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Further Shame

While I have been sitting, bitching and whining in comfy warmth by the Coral Sea, this lady has been ploughing herself off a snow-blown mountain to get to work on time. V impressive.

Friday, February 24, 2006

This is the last time.

I didn’t want to mention it again. It’s so shameful, having a skin condition. Even after the first time I mentioned it, I felt ashamed and I wished that I had kept it a secret. But then I mentioned it again, yesterday. I can’t seem to keep my mouth shut about what ails me. But this is the last time for a while, I promise. And I should say that it actually looking much better these days. To a stranger’s naked eye, you can’t hardly see it at all.

But when it was at its worst, one thing that really drove me nuts was the way my laptop keyboard gets really hot after it's been on for a while. It drove me to itchy distraction, until Hayden very thoughtfully (and romantically, because it was Valentine’s Day) got me a brand new keyboard and found me a separate mouse to attach as well. From that moment, I thought that things would surely improve.

But they didn’t! I become more and more … miserable? Irritable? What is the name for that dull moroseness which is caused by mild but constant discomfort? I cursed Townsville and its latitude. I cursed the many hapless shop assistants around here (the custom here is that when a shop doesn't have the item that you're after, the shop assistant won't apologise and let you get on with your life, rather they will go into a long and detailed explaination of why they don't have it. It drives me nuts.) I cursed February, and unemployment, and then I got a job and cursed that, and when I lost the job I cursed as well. Last night, when I was trying to make Hayden a special surprise dinner of homemade dumplings and salad, I cursed the heat, the stove, the dumpling pastry, the hot oil and myself. It was not a very nice surprise for Hayden after all. And then he still had to make the salad himself.

But don't worry, I've found out what the source of the problem was: the mouse! It was too heavy for my poor tiny hand, and it was causing tension to flow up my arm to my shoulders and my neck and into my brain. So I got a new mouse today, and it has made all the difference.

I revoke all curses forthwith.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Bunnings I love you and I'm sorry we're apart

So my decks are cleared of paid employment and education – I had to drop out of my massage course because I got an icky rash on my fingers – and although I got myself all revved up for gardening, I can’t do that now either. If I plant new baby plants before we go to New Zealand next week, they will surely be dead by the time we get back. It’s already probable that I’ll be coming back to dead plants, so I can’t really justify a spend-up trip to Bunnings.

Nope, I’m just at home today, alone, alerting all my superannuation funds of my new address. Fun-o.

What are you up to?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Update on the Garden

I’m really pleased with how my balcony garden is coming along. I’ve got chives and mint and three aloe veras; I’ve got three baby lemon trees competing for domination in a pot; I’ve got a couple of ferns and a couple of just plants, but I have to say that though I love the ferns, the just-a-plant plants are my least favourite. I love the plants that have a use, and I’m already planning more and more trays to plant with useful, edible things. I want to try shallots, and baby carrots, and more different kinds of asian greens. I’m thinking about balcony compost – too smelly, do you think? - and while I’m typing this I’m realising how much happier I am entertaining myself with no money than working for someone else and wasting the beautiful days just to have some pocket money to spend.

No, the music festival job didn’t work out. But that’s fine, really, and there are no hard feelings at all. Basically, I did a two-day trial for them, and after that they told me that they were grateful for the work I did, but they couldn’t afford to keep me on in a paid position. It was such a relief. Obviously they were hoping that I would offer to work for free, but that offer is just not in me any more. Not for a classical music festival, anyway. I used to feel much more strongly that classical music concerts were a god-given right, and that it was the government’s duty to fund them. Now … it’s not that I think that classical music should be allowed to die out, and I don't think it will die out in Europe or Brittain, where it does actually represent the musical tradition for most of the people. But for Australia, whose culture is built on so many different traditions from so many different countries, it's not so relevant. Australia's population has grown mainly from immigrants who have come into the country poor and looking for a better kind of life (my own ancestors included, quite a few generations ago). Classical music was never the music of poor people, and these days I am much more in favour of the government funding other, more inclusive kinds of music.

I wonder what I do feel passionate enough about, to work at it for free? Maybe planting in a community garden, if Townsville had such a thing?

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Easy and unexpected”. What an idiot. I can’t believe that I even wrote that.

And I can’t believe the blithe and thoughtlessly optimistic mood that I sat down and wrote it in.

Although I would like to, I’m not going to say any more at this stage.

I’m going to wait and see.

In the meantime, please enjoy the following visual hold-music, courtesy of my fledgling balcony garden:

My newly growing mint, both Vietnamese and Normal varieties.

And my Experimental Tray, which contains two things that I always wondered how they grew, and so promptly planted the relevent leftover bits of them after I had finished with the eating of them: garlic and rockmelon.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Let's have a ball and a biscuit

I ate a pie for breakfast this morning, and I have regained my urge to tidy. I’m taking these two things (that aren’t necessarily linked in any other way) as evidence that I’m pulling out of my February funk.

I found myself in the tradies' part of town this morning, when I took our little car to have its airconditioning fixed (it recently gave out due to overuse). I first dropped Hayden at work, and when I arrived at the auto electrician's, I stepped out of the car into the most delicious smell of baking pastry … that’s right, I was in that strange land of light industry where numerous snack bars keep a good supply of pies (pronounced 'poys') on hand throughout the day, starting at breakfast time. Needless to say, I succumbed to the call of the poy. It was worth it.

Anyway, I’m glad I’m feeling better on the whole, cos I’ve gotta go to work tomorrow. That’s right, I seem to have found myself a job, though it was slightly strange how it came about, in a ‘be careful what you wish for’ kind of way. When we left Melbourne last November, I was thoroughly sick of recruitment agencies and their slackness, and boring temp jobs, and I was hoping that in Townsville I would be able to somehow find the perfect kind of low-key yet enjoyable job for, say, a maximum of two days a week, and I was also hoping to somehow just be given this perfect job, without too much rigmarole in the way of applications and interviews and rejections and suchlike. Marny (Hayden’s cousin) mentioned to me that the classical music festival they hold here every winter might need some help, and that I should apply for a job. So I got in touch with them, and they must be the last people in the world to be impressed by my ancient and disused Bachelor of Violin Playing, because I got the job! All very easy, and unexpected, and I’m trying not to dare to hope that everything to do with working there could be so easy and unexpected. I have so many things to do before tomorrow, including finishing the haircut that I started last week.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Slow like a train, sharp like a razor

When things are going wrong because it is too hot to think and the glass is slipping from my grasp because of the sweat on my hands, then I know that it’s time to go and see a movie. After two hours sitting still in the cool and the dark, I can rely on coming out feeling a whole lot better. I was half thinking of going to see Memoirs of a Geisha just to push the point, but I went to see Walk the Line about Johnny Cash instead.

I didn’t know much about Johnny Cash before I went to this film. One thing I knew was that my favourite house athletics coach in primary school, Mrs Kelso, had a Johnny Cash t-shirt that she always wore on sports days. One year, Mrs Kelso got sick and had to go to hospital and she missed sports day, and our whole house pledged to run our fastest and try our best and win that day, just for Mrs Kelso. While she was in hospital, I overheard two of the older girls paying out on her Johnny Cash shirt, I remember thinking that that Wasn’t Very Nice. Fast forward to my undergrad years in the mid 1990s; I was living in The Gap and my nutsest flatmate ever, Adrian, would make a point of requesting Ring of Fire whenever we went out dancing, which was every Tuesday night at Babble On, downstairs on Elizabeth Street. Can anyone remember the name of that club night? Was it Buggered? I think it was something to do with sodomy, anyway. Ah, Tuesday night dancing. Those were the days. Adrian used to love having the dance floor to himself while Ring of Fire was on.

So I didn’t know if Walk the Line was going to be just another musician bio-pic; especially because at the start it looked quite similar to a movie about Elvis that I’d seen on telly at midday recently: Southern guy with no money and his black hair in a pompadour, makes his way into the music business via a recording studio where anyone can make a record (kind of like blogging, no? anyone can have a turn). As I watched Johnny become successful and rich and move his family into a bigger house, then become addicted to alcohol and drugs, I was worried that what I had been enjoying up til that point was going to follow that familiar second act plotline: the star’s painful descent. And I know that this was Johnny Cash’s real life story, so the writers didn’t make up the plot themselves, but I was so glad that they decided to emphasise the religious context, by which I mean all the bits about singing hymns, and sinning, and actually believing in the god you mention in your songs, and spirituals and gospel. I loved the fact that he and his mother used to actually sing in the fields as they picked the cotton by hand. I also loved how bizarre his mother’s hair became after they got rich. I loved how he lost the battle with the tractor, but finally found a peaceful sort of life in that house near the lake surrounded by trees. And I loved how June turned out to be his saviour, in the end.

I thought that Joaquin and Reese did a lovely job of it. I don’t know what a real Johnny Cash fan would think, and I was struck at the end when the credits were rolling, and they were playing a real recording of theirs, by how different the sound was. But I felt so much better when I walked out of the cinema, that I sang Ring of Fire in the car, all the way home.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Silver Coconuts

I find much public art to be spectacularly mediocre, but these ones have been growing on me. They're such a pleasing, friendly shape. And so perfectly relaxed.

When I eventually get my own beachside cocktail bar, it's going to be called The Silver Coconuts for sure.

Now, here are some photos of a mini-race Hayden did on Saturday:

He won, of course.

Well, he won the men's race anyway, and that's the main thing.

PS, the Coconuts scupture is by a French fellow called Thierry Auriac

Friday, February 10, 2006

Itching for March

Is anyone else having trouble with February? I’m finding February really tough. I don’t want to whinge, but … it’s all I’ve got. The whingeing is pouring out of me. I’m crotchety, irritable, clumsy, and itchy. Yes. Itchy. You want me to tell you about my rash, don’t you? I think it’s heat rash. It’s red and itchy, and it’s on the bases of my fingers. Initially I thought it was a burn from the hot steering wheel after the car had been left in the sun for an hour, but now I’m wondering if it’s not some gross fungus or bacteria. Thanks, the tropics.

I really meant it when I said that I was longing for the green hills of New Zealand. But we don’t get to see them until we have finished our February. February is filled with hard training for Hayden and hard hot slow unemployment for me. You’d think that because I’m unemployed it would be easier for me to get to the doctor to see about my rash, but none of the doctors around here are taking any new patients. That’s because there is a health crisis in Queensland. The Premier has offered to resign if he can’t fix it by the end of the year, but frankly, that’s not much use to me in February.

There’s a doctor in our street, but he’s a psychiatrist and his name is Dr Likely. I read that this morning and thought it was funny.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

What we got

As preparations for Hayden’s Ironman go into overdrive, we are starting a new morning routine that begins at 5:00am. There are only three and a half weeks until we go to NZ, which means two weeks of hard training before he tapers off to a week of rest before the race. I have vowed to get him up at 5:15am on every morning the next two weeks, just so that he can fit one more run into the day.

It’s been pretty challenging for him, since we moved to Townsville. Though his swimming has become stronger than ever, it has been hard for him to find enough hours in each day that are cool enough to do all the riding and running required. Though I’m not up to being a fully-fledged training buddy, I thought that the least I could do was get up in the dark with him, and take the camera down to the sea for a few snaps of the sunrise. Tomorrow I will go for a proper pre-sunrise walk, and you never know, by the end of the two weeks I may well be jogging. We’ll see.

Monday, February 06, 2006

What we are longing for ...

We’re going to be in NZ before we know it. Cool, rainy, green, it’s going to be quite a contrast. One thing I’m really looking forward to is a feast of spinach and rocket – the green leafy vegetables do not thrive in Townsville. Eating limes has helped us stave of scurvy, but it can’t hold us forever …

Friday, February 03, 2006


I was sooo bored this hot afternoon, until I put on the Edith Piaf’s greatest hits and whipped up three eggwhites (left over from Hayden’s mayonnaise-making experiment) into a batch of meringues … ooh-la-la, instant Français!

As babel fish taught me to say: J'aime leurs crĂȘtes blanches brillantes!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Sport? I’m a No, really I am

I’m really not that interested in it. Not as a spectator anyway, despite the post I wrote before last, about how excited I was at the tennis finals. It’s not the sport itself that interests me; it’s the drama of it. These days, I have to take my drama where I find it. It’s kind of like the short part of 2002 that I spent working as a farmhand in the dusty and deserted centre of Sicily, where the only entertainment was the weekly football game on satellite TV. We would drive a tiny dented Fiat all the way into town to watch Milan AC play in their Champions League games, not even in a bar, but in a very local set-up, just two rooms filled with chairs and the telly on full volume and twenty to thirty full-blooded Sicilian men (I never saw another girl there) all standing and yelling at the screen whenever Milan AC tried for a goal. That was pretty good drama.

In Townsville it’s pretty much the same story (minus the Sicilian men). Most of the time it’s just a small dull city filled with working class families and their utes and their children. The only thing going on other than sport is Friday and Saturday night drinking, including an absolutely alarming number of very young women we see out on Hen’s nights. Presumably, straight after the Hen’s night comes marriage and children, and then less drinking because they have to get up early on those weekend mornings in order to take their children to play sport.

I’m not trying to make a point, really. I just wanted to give you a bit of background before I mention that I’m all excited about sport again. We’re going to see a basketball game on Friday night: Townsville Crocodiles Vs Cairns Taipans. Hayden won the tickets by narking on his colleagues about some safety issue at work. I’m so proud of him.