More from Kennett River

Want to see what the beach looks like on a sunny Sunday? Here's a truncated panorama, from left to right:

It was all mine.

Oh, by the way -- KOOKABURRA!

There's something very Edmund Lear about them. Maybe it's the big heads. They'll eat little bits of raw meat (kangaroo meat, actually) from your hand, and when they shake their heads their bills clack like castanets.


Today I am thankful for a whole raft of circumstances. I'm thankful to Stewart's mum for giving Dan an early Christmas present of International League Pass so that I can watch the San Antonio Spurs enjoy the best season start in franchise history. . . .

And for the birds on the deck at Dan and Stewart's . . .

And for the Kennett River . . .

And for the Southern Ocean . . .

And I'm going to get a bit smurfy here, all right?

So I've said that this has been one of the hardest years I've ever lived through. Not so much because of turns my own life has taken but because I have seen so many of my friends and family members positively battered by injury, loss, illness, stress -- the really bad stuff. The worst you can think of. The only thing worse than your own bad times is watching the people you love go through bad times.

But here's the reason I'm grateful (almost terrifyingly so): Despite their own travails, those friends and family members came together for me this year to help me get through my own rough patches. Not once, not twice, but over and over, they gave me support of the most basic kind. I'm being literal here. I mean they were there, physically right there with me, giving me the chance to get clear of any number of obstacles. They helped me get rid of all my stuff, helped me clean out and sell a house, helped me with a new place to live with a wonderful housemate, helped me with a nonprofit when I was terrified of falling short and failing a good cause, helped me get away not just from the pressure but from the kind of collapse into regret and doubt that can follow the absence of pressure. Even this vacation is thanks to the generosity and kindness of dear friends. And to top it all off, my parents took me to the airport.

Yes, I'd say I'm thankful. Unabashedly, tearfully thankful. I try to make sense of why I should be so fortunate, and I can't. All I know is that I want to be in a position where I can offer the same sort of help and support and love right back. Nothing would make me happier. So that's the plan, deal? Deal.

Have a lovely Thanksgiving Day, everyone.

Quality of Life--It Goes to 11

So when lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd since I last posted, I've seen Stewart's parents (MaureenbuteveryonecallsherMorty and Geoff), been to the Royal Botanic Gardens, gone to Queen Victoria Market, been to see the new Harry Potter movie, and gone to a wee French restaurant where a memorable evening was had.

Many pictures here and here, including one of Dan's sandwich (just for Jennie).

In case you were wondering what the house I'm staying in looks like, here it is from the street:

Most mornings I walk up to Cavallini, where I get a latte and read for a while. I already weep inside at the thought of leaving this place behind.


Time's a rushing stream

So much to catch up on that if I do, I'll never catch up, so I'll just have to skip. But here is a link to my photographs on Flickr--the pictures will be captioned as soon as I find time to do that (so yeah, maybe never, but at least they're in order), so those who are curious can at least get a visual sense of what's been going on. Just look for the albums titled Oz part 1, Oz part 2, etc.

The first full day I was here, I got to see Ian and Dean, both of whom my fellow Austinites may remember as visitors to Dan and Stewart's house on Canyonside Drive. Years and years ago when Ian came to visit Vindaloo Manor (as we called the Canyonside abode), he asked Dan whether I might be amenable to marrying him. At the time I thought it was meant as a joke--a sweet and complimentary joke, but a joke nonetheless. Dan has assured me since that it was not. Tsk. Let this be a lesson to us all. I could have married Ian, who is a right sweetheart, and be living in beautiful Tasmania. But I'm happy to report that Ian has gone on to marry a lovely woman and they've had two children and he seems to have all the good things in life due to good people. When I met him again a couple of days ago I asked "Remember me?" and he said, "The pistol! How could I forget." Oh, let me preen.

No pictures of Ian and Dean, alas--I didn't have a camera yet (other than my phone). But I'm using a little point and shoot Canon kindly lent me by Dan, and here are some pictures from my second full day here. Like I said, everything's in bloom. In the morning, because I tend to get up ridiculously early, I take a solitary walk up McKean street on my way to the cafe. Every single house has a little garden lovingly tended and bursting with flowers. Lots of roses. Viz:

But there are also things that are decidedly not roses:

When I was here two years ago, there was a cat who lived at the architect's office on the corner as you turn to get to Queen's Parade, where the shops are. The cat, whose name is Caffeine, is still there. Depending on the time of day, Caffeine is either sitting quietly at the door to be let in (early in the morning) or sleeping on the hay bale that sits on the front porch (the other 23 hours of the day).

So around the corner and up a block, and then we are at the shops. When I go up with Stewart or Dan, all the shopkeepers wave and greet them by name. It's like a parody of an opening sequence from some gentle bucolic comedy of manners. But it's sincere! I'll post pictures of the shops at some point . . there are a few on Flickr you can see now if you like.

The next day, which I think was Tuesday, Dan and I went over to Jane's place to accompany her on her constitutional around Merri Creek. Jane was working from home but was ready for a break, and the weather was exceptional. I was quite pleased to see that it is snake season (no, really, I was pleased).

I kept walking on the the right (which is to say the wrong) side of the path, and Jane and Dan were constantly having to gently verbally nudge me over for cyclists and joggers and such. Merri Creek itself is in healthy flow.

Lots more pictures of the creek on Flickr, and a nice skyline shot, but I have to run. Want to get to Queen Victoria market to do some Christmas shopping. Pictures from the Royal Botanical Gardens soon (we went yesterday), and news of Morty and Jeff!

Springtime in November

I'm in Australia--in Melbourne to be more precise--and they have had rain this year, which means that everything is blooming with a vengeance (including poor Stewart's allergies). I got here day before yesterday. Jet lag is for pussies. Well, I'm posing a bit. The jet lag will hit me on the return trip. Right now I am bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, other than constantly walking on the wrong (which is to say the right) side of the road, banging into doorways and whatnot. But let's begin at the beginning. . . .

At Austin-Bergstrom Airport:

What is it? You tell me. It's enormous though, hanging overhead from the ceiling, looking for all the world like a steampunk spaceship.

And I was sorely tempted to take advantage of a chair massage, but I'm on a budget. And they looked fairly busy, anyway.

I'd been up until 1 a.m. the night before, then had gone in to work at 4:30 a.m., working until 12:30 p.m. when I went home to finish packing, so by the time I got to SFO I was hurting pretty bad. I found a quiet gate and put my feet up against a pillar and laid there like that, contemplating the ceiling and feeling vaguely suspended, for a good 15 or 20 minutes.

Then it was time to board for the Sydney flight, the dreaded 15-hour leg of the journey. It really wasn't too bad. Maybe that had something to do with the three Vicodin I took. Once in Sydney I transferred for the short hop to Melbourne. Standing in line to board what I think was actually the same 747 I arrived on, I had plenty of time to contemplate this public art installation:

I know, right? It's like, welcome to Australi--HELL-o! Pretty awesome. Especially when you're working on roughly 2 hours of sleep in the last 2 days and a bit compromised on Vicodin to boot. Talk about your indelible impressions.

And then I was in Melbourne, and customs went fast, my bags practically first off the plane, and so my charmed existence continues. Dan and Stewart were waiting for me outside the baggage claim. They didn't see me, so I had the pleasure of walking up to their table (because naturally you put little cafe tables next to the baggage claim where people can sip their coffee and eat their sandwiches while they wait for you to deplane, it's only civilized) and being all "ta-daaa" and they reacted with gratifying surprise and off we went to McKean Street.

More to come. There will be lots of pictures of flowers soon, because I know my mother will enjoy them. If you aren't interested in pictures of flowers, you may want to check back later for more interesting things like wombats and vistas and such. I never got into the whole "here's a picture of my food" thing, so I wouldn't expect much of that. But hey, I'll take requests, and if you ask for pictures of my food, that's what you'll get! I want to be responsive, you see. Am I babbling? I'm babbling. Jet lag is for pussies.
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Happy New Year!

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Much thinkage happening today as regards writing, blogging, doing, being, and how to proceed from here. I believe part of that procession will involve writing more, and specifically writing more here. I'll let you (and by you I mean me) know as soon as I've figured it out.
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Vasily (pictured here in his prime) was euthanized today in my arms. He was a beautiful animal and more than any other I've ever known exuded a natural supreme confidence. I'll always remember the look of disbelief and then the admiring laughter from the owner of a pit bull who had had the temerity to walk his burly dog too close to Vasily's yard. Vasily stalked out into the middle of the street and boxed at the surprised beast, then followed dog and human halfway down the block, tail bottle-brushed and eyes blazing, until he was satisfied that they had learned their lesson. He mellowed in middle age, but still projected such a kingly air that anyone who saw him remarked upon it.

He should have lived twice as long, but cancer, that evil devourer, descended and consumed him. I will miss him very much.