Tuesday, 21 February 2017

A trip to the city

This morning I got up late and made some coffee, then checked the emails. There was one from my Japanese lawyer about the property purchase in Japan, and it described documents I had to secure to enable the purchase to go ahead. These included notarised certificates for the power of attorney for my ex-wife, as well as notarised identification documents needed to establish that I am an Australian resident.

I telephoned the public notary in the city whose details appeared in my lawyer's email and made an appointment to go to see him to get the certificates described. Then I finished off what I was doing and headed outside. I went down Harris Street to Union Square then headed out over the Pyrmont Bridge to the CBD. The notary's office is in the Dymocks building, and I headed there and got into the rather rickety lift. In the notary's office I got a phone call from my ISP, and I asked them to call me back tomorrow. I went into the notary's office and showed him the originals of the documents I had emailed in the morning. He signed the certificates and handed them to me, then I paid. He made some smalltalk. I left the office and headed back to Pyrmont.

I went to the Japanese restaurant and ordered some ramen and had some sushi and a beer. Then I paid and went to my psychiatrist's office and we talked about my weight problem. He had some suggestions. I concurred with his advice. After the appointment I went back home and had some wine and used social media for a couple of hours until I felt sleepy. Then I had a nap until the girl called me and told me she was on her way to her dance class. I got up and went back to social media - relieved to have something interesting to do; we had had a blackout the night before and I had been cut off from my usual retreats - and then the girl called me again and said she had lost her Opal card and was in Ashfield instead of Newtown - where the dance studio is. I told her she was a fuzzlebuggy and she asked me what that was and I said she wasn't very organised.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

A guest to lunch

I got up late and had a cup of coffee then went to the pharmacy to order some drugs - I always have to order these ones, which is a pest but they are necessary - then I went up to Union Square to wait for my lunch guest. I had met Taka when he was small and he had come to Australia to play soccer from Japan, so I had decided to do his mother a favour and help him by having lunch with him. He had only been in the country for two weeks. I had organised to meet him at Union Square, at the corner of Miller Street, but he ended up on another Miller Street, and I told him to get in a cab to get to the Pyrmont Miller Street.

He eventually arrived and we walked down to the Fish Market, which was full to the gills on a busy Sunday. We bought some fish and went back to my place. I had a glass of wine and gave Taka a glass of water to drink. We talked through lunch about his situation playing soccer in Australia, and why Australian players don't normally go to Japan to play. Apparently the trend for Japanese players to come to Australia is a recent one, and Taka told me he is making most of his money working in a Japanese restaurant, with that income supplemented by playing soccer in a secondary league - not the A-League.

After lunch we went for a walk around the headland and back to my place, then I said goodbye and Taka headed off - to play soccer this afternoon in a field near the Harbour Bridge, apparently - and I went to bed and had a nap. Later I got up and put on the washing, and talked to my ex-wife - who is a friend of Taka's mother - on Messenger, about Taka. We decided that he was living a dream, which is something that is beautiful and belongs to young people.

I sat down to enjoy the evening storm. It decided to rain today after dark, although I'm not sure how it affected Taka and his soccer buddies. We can only hope that they had already sought out shelter by the time the rain came on.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Buying a costume

I got up quite late this morning and saw a message from the girl - we had organised to go out this morning - and I had some coffee and left the apartment to go to her house in the car. When I got there I found a parking spot and went upstairs. She was ready to go and soon we were on our way up the Princes Highway then onto Euston Road, where we quickly parked. We walked up to an eatery named Grandma's and ordered some lunch - I had some chicken stew and a flat white and the girl had a baguette and some apple juice - which we ate soon enough and paid for before walking to the costume shop on the corner.

She looked through some genie costumes that the sales clerk pointed out. The bags of costumes in the store are all sealed and you cannot open them; you have to rely on the picture on the packet and what you can see through the plastic bag they come in. She eventually settled on a purple genie's costume - we are going to see Aladdin on Wednesday, and she wanted to wear something appropriate - and a hat in the style they wear in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang.

She wore the hat all day. After we got back to my place we hap a lie down then got up and went into town to buy some shorts for me. I haven't worn any shorts during the summer and she thought I should have some. I eventually found two pairs in suitable sizes, but sizes vary so much you cannot just rely on asking for a "size 40, thanks". You're likely to get something two sizes too small. I also bought a belt. After I had paid for the items I found that the alarm went off at the exit, so I had to take them back to get reneutered at the checkout. Then we went upstairs to level 6 where Myer has something called 'Wonderland', a shopping floor for children. It includes an interactive display that captures an image of the person taking part, where you can hit snowflakes and airships and that sort of thing.

We walked back home across the Pyrmont Bridge and went to Coles to buy some groceries. We bought some seafood, figs, tofu, coriander, carrot and snow peas. At home I went to the bedroom to have a short nap while the girl did things with her phone on the couch. When I got up I came out and she started to cook. She cooked snow peas, pasta with carrot, and a seafood soup with tofu, as well as the rest of the dumplings from a few weeks before. After dinner I drove her home because she was feeling tired, and we stopped off at Woollies to do some shopping for her, before driving to her place, where I dropped her off and headed home up Marsh Street and O'Riordan Street. Once home I did the dishes then sat down in front of social media and turned on the TV.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Heavy rain in the afternoon

This morning I got up fairly early because the intercom buzzed when the postie came to deliver my coffee, but I didn't make it to the intercom on time to let him in. I went back to bed and slept for another hour or so, then got up to make some coffee. After drinking a cup I went back to bed and then got up later to iron the shirts. While I was ironing them the girl called for a chat.

I went out to have some lunch at a Japanese restaurant and then after lunch went to the post office to pick up the coffee.

When I got home I went back to bed for a nap and slept for a couple of hours but there were too many messages coming through from the girl and other people, so I didn't sleep much. When I got up I had some wine and sat down at the computer. I bought a ticket to Aladdin for the girl and me to celebrate her birthday, and then an email came through about the property purchase in Japan, which I attended to.

In the mail in the morning there had been the letter which I had sent to my ex-wife's friend's son. He had moved to Sydney to play soccer and she was worried about him and he was living in my suburb so I said I would contact him. Unfortunately, they gave me the wrong address so the letter came back to sender. I confirmed the address with my ex-wife later, and it turned out to have been wrong. The young man contacted me on Facebook and so I can use Messenger to talk with him from now on.

It rained heavily later in the afternoon and I started to write a poem but it didn't feel right, with the alcohol and everything, so I deleted the two lines I had written and closed the file. At least we have seen the last of the worst of the summer heat for this year. It's pretty certain that we'll have nothing to equal what we had last weekend again,at least this year. Which is a blessing. I feel immensely grateful that we have seen the worst of the heat over for the immediate future. What next year will bring, is still to be seen.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Noodles in Marrickville

This morning I got up early to let in the cleaners but they sent me a message saying they would be late due to traffic on Parramatta Road. I went back to bed to wait for them and eventually their buzz arrived and I let them into the building. They started doing their thing and I lay down on the couch to wait, with the TV on. When they had finished I paid and went back to bed and had a sleep for a few hours. Then after I got up and had some more coffee, I went back to bed again.

At about 3.30pm I got up because I had an appointment at an open house in the afternoon, and I left home at around 4pm in the car. It only took me about 30 minutes to arrive at the location, and I walked down the street, nursing my sore ankle from the day before. I got some way down the street - to the station - before turning back and going into a Vietnamese restaurant and having a bowl of chicken and bamboo shoots noodles.

When I had finished I went back and waited in my car for about 15 minutes then went to the open house and looked around. It is an interesting place where the owner has done a lot of work on the place - including a koi pool, partridge aviary, ducted cooling, centralised hifi, second-level bedroom up some seriously steep stairs - and there's a garage out the back big enough to be a granny flat.

I met my friend there and we looked around then he needed to go to Woollies, so we walked down the street talking and did some shopping, then walked back to my car. I drove him home then headed back to my place down Paramatta Road and Pyrmont Bridge Road. When I got back the girl called me, she had been at a talk in Surry Hills and wanted to go to a Thai restaurant to have some dinner before going home. She called me again later, after she had got off the train, to complain about a rude woman on the train who had complained about her coughing. I went back to social media to do some more sharing online before going to bed.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Dinner at home

I got up earlyish today and made some coffee then tried to order coffee online from Campos Coffee. Their store in Newtown usually supplies my coffee needs but I wasn't sure about the weather, which in recent times has been a bit erratic, so I didn't want to count on a long walk to get coffee. The website has been upgraded and I discovered that my login details didn't work, so I called Campos's NSW office but the call was ignored. I sent a message using the online form but that didn't get any attention either. So I took the initiative in the afternoon and decided to change my password, which I hadn't wanted to do in the first instance. This step worked, and I was able to clear my shopping basket and order the coffee I need in the mornings.

The girl called me after I had called Campos and wanted to know if I wanted to go to lunch in the city, and I agreed. So I put on my shoes and headed out into Darling Harbour and up Bathurst Street to the restaurant. She hadn't arrived so I asked for a table for two and sat down, and ordered a beer. I was seated next to a elderly couple, and I watched them out of the corner of my eye while I was on Facebook on the mobile. The man was seated opposite me at an angle and he had a long-sleeve shirt on and was drinking a Sapporo out of a glass - my beer came with no glass and they didn't ask me if I wanted one, so I decided to drink out of the bottle - and he was examining the beer offerings on the touch-panel menu they have in the restaurant. It's the kind of menu where you order the food and drinks electronically, and it's remarkably easy to use.

When the girl arrived I ordered another beer, and she ordered some water. We both went for the hokke 'te shoku ryouri'; hokke is a type of fish they regularly eat in Japan and served this way it is of the common type you find normally in Japan, with the fish grilled, and with rice and miso soup. It took a while to arrive but it was worth it. I ordered another beer later on, while eating the meal. I tend to eat quite fast, and today was no different. The elderly couple had moved on by this time and a young Chinese couple were seated next to us instead by now. When we had finished the meal, I used the loo then we left the building and walked down to Dymocks. We walked around the Dymocks stationary shop for a while then headed to Eckersley's, the art shop, which is on York Street. We bought some watercolours, brushes, and watercolour paper because she wanted to do some paintings of her dreams.

We headed back to my place and I lay down and had a nap while she painted. When I came out of the bedroom she had almost finished the head page of the series, showing a woman in bed asleep, with the bedspread and window - with blinds - prominent. There is also a side table and a lamp. Later, we walked to Coles and did some shopping, buying food for dinner, which the girl had offered kindly to cook at my place. We prepared three dishes: a beef dish with chilli, ginger, and garlic; a zucchini dish; and a lettuce dish. I was famished by the time it was ready - we ate at about 8pm - and woofed it down. Halfway through I was lying on the sofa groaning with pleasure because I had been having sardines on toast for the past while for dinner.

She left after a while and I didn't walk with her to the bridge because my ankle was playing up a bit. I came back to the flat and got a drink of water, and lay down to watch the news, then got up and sat down at the computer to use social media instead.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Wrote two poems today

I got up this morning a bit early and made some coffee, then went back to bed and slept for a couple more hours. It was raining fairly hard this morning, and when I got up the second time it was still raining. I sat down at the computer and checked poems done the day before. I saw that one of them needed some more work, and I worked a bit more on another poem from last week as well.

Then I started work on a poem about the rain and it came out quite easily. I was happy with it except for the last two lines. I then went out to the sandwich shop to buy a roll - schnitzel, tomato, lettuce and onion - and came back with that and a two-litre bottle of milk, because I had been running low on milk. When I had finished eating the roll I took a look at this morning's poem again and decided to change the final couplet based on the fact that the sun had started to shine again. I had actually worked out some of the two lines - including the essential rhyme - on the way back from the shops. Walking has this effect on you, that it makes things flow.

After finishing the poem I published it on social media then started work on another poem based on some thoughts that I had had on my walk to the sandwich shop - that period of my life when I had quit smoking. Again, this time the poem came out quite quickly, and I tried putting the discarded final couplet from the poem about rain written this morning in it but then decided to do something different. I just had trouble finding a word to rhyme with "lungs" and decided that the half-rhyme "feeling" would be enough, and went with that.

Today was a very productive day, during which not only did I write two original works from scratch, but I also finished two other poems, improving them materially. I feel blessed because although it is summer the temperature is reasonable, and there was no sitting in the chair covered in sweat like there had been before, during the heatwave.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Two trips to Watsons Bay

I was woken a bit earlier than usual this morning by my remembering it was the day I had promised my brother that I would take the iPad out to the Columbarium at St Peter's Church at Watson's Bay and run a FaceTime convo at mum's final resting place. Not long after I woke up the intercom buzzed and it turned out to be the guy delivering my recently-ordered box of wine. I let him in then went back to bed then a little later got up and made some coffee.

Once the PC was booted up I was able to send my brother a message on Messenger about the preliminary date we had made to do the convo and he replied that he was driving but would be home soon, so I should go to Watson's Bay when free. I quickly drank down the coffee I had poured for myself and headed out in the car, taking the ramp up to the Western Distributor then getting into the Cross City Tunnel. At Rushcutter's Bay there was a fair bit of traffic but I made my way patiently along New South Head Road until I arrived and parked in the church grounds. I took the iPad out of the car and dialled up my brother. He answered before it rang out and then I started my brief tour of the Columbarium by going through the gate into the enclosure. I took him right down to the bottom - even though I knew mum's niche, and granny's niche, were up near the top - where there is a stagnant pond. Then I made my way back up to near the gate and took the photo that accompanies this blogpost. I took a photo of granny's plaque as well.

Once back in the car I took the route along Old South Head Road to Surry Hills, then through Chinatown and across to Harris Street, and home. After arriving home I had another cup of coffee, and while I was drinking it the girl rang and said she had been watching a sci-fi TV series yesterday on her computer, and wanted to go out to where there were trees. I asked her if she wanted to go to Watson's Bay, and she demurred, saying that I had just returned from there. I said it was ok, and got in the car and drove down to her place. She came down to the street and we set off up Marsh Street and around beside the airport terminals, then up General Holmes Drive to Kensington, where we turned right across the traffic and I headed up Anzac Parade to Paddington, then along the motorway and down Old South Head Road.

We parked the car on Old South Head Road and headed down to Gibson's Beach - where I grew up - and down the path to Doyle's, where I bought a pack of fish and other fried things, and a bottle of water. The girl had brought her own water. We sat at first near the restaurant but some foolish Chinese were feeding the seagulls, making it a bit of a disaster area, so we headed down to a bench on the esplanade where we finished the fish.

After it was all gone, we headed back to Gibson's Beach - where crowds of secondary school students from the Western Suburbs were walking down the path toward Watson's Bay - and up to Hopetoun Avenue, then into The Crescent and down the path at Parsley Bay, where we sat down at a picnic table and ate some food that she had prepared for a picnic. When that was finished she went for a bit of a walk around the park a couple of times, then we headed up through the park's hinterland to Hopetoun Avenue again. We walked back down to the car and drove off, taking the route of New South Head Road and the Cross City Tunnel, to save time.

When we got back to my apartment I lay down for a nap but then my son called with some news, and I got up to answer his call. I made the girl a pot of tea and she said she wanted to catch the train home because it meant more walking - which she does for her health - but it was still too early to go so we played a game of chess. I won, but more narrowly than on previous occasions. Then I put on my backpack for shopping and we headed out to Pyrmont Bridge, cutting down into the shopping centre to have some wonton soup, before I said goodbye to her. I headed up to Coles and did the shopping, then paid and walked home and unpacked the groceries in the kitchen.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

A very warm day

I managed to sleep last night in segments of time but it's all a bit of a blur. I know I was asleep from some of the time at least. I kept on waking up because of the extreme heat. I turned over my pillow twice. It wasn't as bad as it had been at some times up in Queensland when I lived there. At those times I would have a completely sodden pillow where the sweat from my head had accumulated in the night.

This morning I got up late and got out of bed and made some coffee. Then I got the dirty laundry and put it in the washing machine, putting out the recycling garbage as well, with the bottles, in the garbage room on my floor. I turned on the washing and closed the door to the laundry compartment in the kitchen.

After the coffee was finished I tried to drink some wine but it was too acidic - I had finished up with this bottle the previous night, and remembered it had made my stomach churn - so I threw out what was in the glass, then poured the rest of the bottle down the sink. I went back to bed, stripping off my sodden clothes, then immediately got up again as it was too hot in bed. I had tried to read a bit but it was no good, it was just too hot, and I calculated that it would be better to be up and at the computer than in bed in this heat. I got up and got a bottle of rose from the sideboard in the bedroom, and put it in the fridge.

I went out to the computer without a shirt on, just my pants, but when I decided to do a blogpost I realised I would need a shirt because it would look too unseemly to take a photo of myself with no shirt. I thought about messaging the girl but decided against it because she had told me yesterday by message that she wanted to go for three days without messaging me. I had already written a poem for her this morning - it is a poem about being alone - and I went back to reread the poem, as well as some others I have written this year.

While writing this blogpost I got up to make some cheese-on-toast. I also put away the dishes from yesterday, which included some dishes from breakfast, which she had cooked here with me in attendance. Strangely to think, but I heard at some point this morning on the TV that it would rain this afternoon, and that the temperature would be lower. It's hard to credit it, but actually when I look out the window I can see the grey clouds coming across the city, so it might in fact be true. Thank goodness, we've had three days of this heat now and it's not a novelty any more, it's just a trial.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

At the costume shop

Last night the girl really wanted to go out so I arranged to meet her at Mr Wong in Bridge Street in the city. I caught a cab there; the cab was dropping someone off outside my apartment building when I got downstairs and I got straight in and went off. We drove across the Western Distributor to King Street, then up to Elizabeth Street, and into Bridge Street. I waited outside for about 10 minutes before she arrived, and in that time I made a booking with the front staff for a table for two.

When she arrived we stood around waiting for most of an hour and when we finally got to the table she was convinced that other people had got seats before us. I wasn't convinced they hadn't either, but said nothing. She, on the other hand, told off one of the wait staff. We ordered fried rice, wonton soup, and some steamed fish fillet with a delicious sesame sauce. I ate mine rapidly because it was so delicious, which is why when she said that she wouldn't go to Mr Wong any more I was disappointed.

When the meal was finished and I had paid we went outside and proceeded to the taxi rank on Bridge Street, and got in a cab, then went home. It was quite late when we got home so we went straight to bed. We got up this morning quite late and made some breakfast, including fried eggs, tomato salad, and fried mushrooms with some fried cashew nuts. Then we got in the car and I started driving to her place but when we got to Euston Road in Alexandria she saw a sign for a shop selling costumes, and went "Ah!" It was hard to find a parking space so I didn't stop but she kept on talking about the shop so just before arriving at her place I turned around and went back to the costume shop.

It was hot inside the shop - which is situated in an old warehouse, with poor ventilation - but we made our way around inside, looking at hats - policeman's cap, soldier's berets, a Turkish fez, a ghost hat - and costumes - a British Bobbie's costumes, a sci-fi princess costume, a 19th century Dandy's costume and others - before she decided on a burgundy velvet top hat, which I bought for her. When we had almost decided on buying the green Turkish fez - and then decided against it - we left the shop and went next door to the cafe where she ordered a vanilla slushie and I ordered a flat white. We sat down at the tables in the cafe to drink our drinks.

When we had finished the drinks we went to her place and since there was no available parking space I let her out and drove back to my place. I noticed that the car lights were set on a different setting - because I had taken the car into the garage to be serviced last week - and switched them back to the normal 'Auto' setting. I came upstairs and opened a beer then opened one of the bottles of wine I had bought yesterday afternoon at the bottle shop up the street.

Friday, 10 February 2017

A sweltering day

The girl came over last night bringing a container full of dumplings for herself, and I had a couple of them, then this morning after we got up - it wasn't too late, about 9.30am by this time - she cooked some more dumplings that I still had in the freezer from an earlier occasion. It was hot in the apartment because of the outside temperature, but she also made some egg pancake with flour and eggs and seasoning - she used harissa seasoning and chilli - which we ate with some baby tomatoes, and a cup of coffee each.

Later she asked me if she could have some sugar for her coffee because without it she said it was too bitter.

Once we had finished and she had had a shower we headed out in the car. She didn't have any contact lenses or her glasses, and because she is so short-sighted, she needed me to take her home. I drove through the heavy traffic and the heat in Alexandria and down to the Princes Highway. After finding a parking spot and dropping her off at her place I got back in the car and drove back to my place, handling the heavy traffic at Fig Street deftly - I'm used to these streets around my place now - and putting the car away in the cool garage without mishap.

After I got inside I poured myself a glass of wine and drank it while attending to social media. I only put up one tweet - to mention that I was having some wine - before I got up and headed to the bedroom and lay down to have a nap. A couple of hours later she sent me two messages, which woke me up, and I decided to get out of bed and get back to the computer. I had been feeling especially optimistic about being on social media this afternoon because of the heatwave we are having in the southeast of the continent, and felt that I could add some value to Twitter especially by tweeting some messages of encouragement to people out there in the community.

I had another glass of wine then sat down at the console. Someone on Facebook was posting about the weather, saying is was a "shite" day. My heart went out to them. I commented on their post. I think I am especially fortunate because I have built up some extra resistance to the heat because of living in southeast Queensland for so long - it was five-and-a-half years up there for me looking after mum. In fact my psychiatrist told me that living in hot climes can have this effect on you, that you develop more sweat glands than usual, and are therefore able to handle higher temperatures when they arise. Today is an exceptionally hot day, to be sure, but it's not especially difficult compared to how it used to get up in Maroochydore, where I lived from June 2009 until February 2015.

So I will keep an eye out for those who are struggling and try to give them some comfort on this day of high heat. Sydney will be the hardest hit metropolitan centre this time, with very high temperatures expected here over the next three days, and with temperatures finally coming down on Monday. If you want to talk about your situation, don't hesitate to get in touch; I'm available on Facebook Messenger as well as Twitter DM. Take care and be good. See you later on.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Grateful to live in a stable society

I got up late this morning and made some coffee, as usual, of which I drank two cups before going back to bed for about 25 minutes. But it was no good. I couldn't go back to sleep, and if you can't go to sleep what's the point of being alone in bed? So I got up and dressed, then went into the bathroom to get two prescriptions that my psychiatrist had filled out. I took a walk down to the pharmacy near Coles and enjoyed seeing people on the street.

There was the young woman walking her dog just up the street, and the crowds of people at the cafe in John Street Square having their lunch break sitting around tables and laughing and talking. There was the man in the hi-vis shirt going into the building that is still - after all these long months - being renovated. There was a workman threading cable down into a manhole cut into the pavement. There were three young women walking abreast up the street next to the cafe set into the casino, one of whom made way for me as we passed. I saw them all and reflected how lucky I am to live in a society where just going to the pharmacy - to buy subsidised medications that are completely affordable - is a routine part of life.

Here there is no scuttling from doorway to doorway to evade snipers perched on rooftops. There is nowhere the sound of bombs going off just down the street, turning neighbourhoods into piles of indistinguishable rubble. There are no tanks roving through the street machine-gunning people who must run out of the way. We might see from time to time a police car cruising at low speed down the street on the watch for trouble, but that is all. We are truly blessed to live in a country as devoted to peaceful pursuits as this one.

When I got back home I poured myself a glass of wine and sat down to write a blogpost. I thought about Fernando Pessoa writing his curious entries in his journal under the name Bernardo Soares, a "heteronym" he invented to express this aspect of his personality. Pessoa loved his city of Lisbon and was a great flaneur, walking around watching the people go past and cultivating an organic sense of the city in his fecund mind. I have been reading Pessoa since finishing the Karl Ove Knausgard series of autobiographical novels - I still miss lying down in the evening before going to sleep and reading his stories - because a dear friend of mine sent me his 'The Book of Disquiet'. And I have been enjoying it immensely. Knausgard is a hard act to follow, but Pessoa is up to the challenge, and keeps me entertained for the 30 minutes or so that I spend reading each evening in bed.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

A walk to Barangaroo

I got up late this morning and made some coffee before going back into the bedroom and putting water in the iron. I plugged it in and got eight clothes hangers from the closet, then set up the ironing board and adjusted it. I ironed eight shirts in about half an hour, then went back out to the living room and sat down at the computer. I engaged in social media for a while then got up and took a bag and went out. I went to the sandwich shop and put in an order for a chicken schnitzel roll with tomato, lettuce and onion. I paid then went next door to the convenience store to buy two litres of milk.

When I got back home I ate the roll and felt a bit more whole; I had had little food last night and was hungry. I then wrote a poem and republished one of the other ones I had written over the previous few days, with an edited title. Today's poem was about going to the psychiatrist's office every two weeks. I went to bed and had a nap then got up and poured a glass of win a little before the girl sent me a message on the mobile. I could sense that she wanted me to do something, and I turned out to be right. She wanted me to come out for a walk to Barangaroo, so I put on my shoes and got my umbrella - just in case it started raining again; we have had such a lot of rain over the past two days - and set out up the street. I went across the Pyrmont Bridge and then went downstairs using the escalators of an adjacent shopping complex.

I waited downstairs for about 20 minutes before she arrived, and then we set off north. We got to the end of the developed area and I thought she wanted to go to the park, but it turned out she just wanted to see the buildings with all their employees. It was by this time just on 5pm and everyone was coming out of the buildings on their way home. The streets were crowded with commuters heading across the bridge over Hickson Road to Wynyard Station. We headed back down to the south end of Darling Harbour and stopped at a restaurant where we shared a plate of lamb shanks with potato. I also had a Stella Artois beer. Then we headed further down, into Chinatown, and went to a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant where we shared a bowl of noodles and a plate of dumplings.

When we had finished eating we headed across to the Paddy's Markets side of the light rail tracks. I could see a train coming down the line, and headed off, but when I got into the train she called me on my mobile to ask if I wanted to go to a movie at Event Cinemas. I said no - because I was already on the train - and went home, where I poured some more wine into my glass and sat down at the computer, turning on the TV.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Got the car rego done

This morning I was up early to get the car to the garage at 8am for a registration inspection. When I arrived the floor manager said that it had been a year almost since my last car service, and he asked me if I wanted them to do another one. I said yes. When I had handed over the keys I walked out of the garage along Ross Street and luckily an empty cab was on the street, so I got in and came home.

I went back to bed and slept for a few more hours, then got up and went to the computer, logging onto social media. I put together the last pieces of the paperwork needed by my accountant to do the end-of-financial-year accounts. At about 11.30am the garage rang me to tell me the car was ready to pick up, and I left home, heading up the street to where the cabs congregate. I caught a cab to the garage and paid for the service and the rego inspection, then left and drove down Parramatta Road and Broadway to Quay Street, then I turned onto Harris Street and made my way home through the heavy traffic. The rains had made the traffic worse, with some streets flooded and cut off.

At 1pm I left home to take a package of papers to the post office to send off to the accountants. After paying, I went to a restaurant and ordered some noodles, had some sushi and a beer, and ate my lunch. Then I went to the psychiatrist's office and we talked for an hour. At the end of the appointment I left and went home, and went to bed for a nap. At about 5pm I got up and started on the white wine. Later, I had some food for dinner - just a little bit, including some mackerel on toast - and settled down to watching the TV in the evening. I thought about how lucky I am to have a warm, dry home to go to in the evenings, and how I can come and go when I please. It is a great blessing for me.

I have been writing poetry for the past two days, which explains why I haven't been blogging as much here over that period of time. The poetry came back to me because I have replaced my totems from the Queensland days - the magpies and the paperbark - with new ones. I wonder if anyone out there can tell me what my new totems in Sydney are? I have anyway been trying to be positive and helpful to others on social media. I hope that people find my participation to be of use. My aim is to be reliable and encouraging.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Writing poetry again

This morning I had an inkling about the first line of a poem and instead of ignoring the inkling as I would normally do I sat down to the computer and opened up the last Word file from 2015 and copied it with a new name: '2017 sonnets'. I had a nervous feeling tinged with excitement in my stomach as I wrote the first words of the poem I had started in my head. The next line followed and as I put it down I planned the rhyme for line three.

Thus it was that I started to write poetry again. It has been two years since I last wrote poetry. Exactly two years, it transpires (because I date all my poems in the Word file; the date comes directly under the title of the poem). The previous poem was written on 5 February 2015. After that: nothing for two years. Until this morning.

I went back to read the other poems from other years, including the prodigious year of 2013 and the next year of some output: 2014. There are only three poems in 2015. All my finished poems have been saved as PDF files, so that I can quickly go back and read them in isolation. Removed from the company of what precedes them and what follows them in the flow of writing they are more like themselves, and of course inside the folder on the hard drive they sort themselves in alphabetical (not date) order. Rereading the old items I felt something like that same nervous feeling in my stomach. It's as though when I read the old poems I am revisiting a mood, seeing again an image that I had first seen on that day so many years before when I wrote them.

But the interesting thing is that most of the poems in those years were conceived in the summer. It seems that I am most fecund when the weather is warm and the breath slips in and out of the hot body unencumbered by any chill or other temperature-based abeyance. Up in Queensland in 2013 and 2014 I was accompanied, as always in those days, when I wrote poetry, by the twin presences of the park with its enormous paperbark, and the cries in the morning of the magpie. The birds used to settle in ones or twos on my balcony up there in southeast Queensland. And the paperbark was like a sentinel for me - in fact I think on one occasion I likened it to exactly this type of thing in one of my poems.

Down here those things - those totems of my spirit - disappeared replaced by the sounds of the city. The helicopters that fly by over the CBD on their endless quests, and the cars that roar up the street nearby in the night and during the daytime too. These are the new totems for my productive soul.

The sensation of movement in the pit of my stomach is the thing that characterises the experience of poetry for me. I feel vulnerable, exposed. Perhaps that is why it has taken me so long to revisit the experience of writing poetry, now that I am down here in Sydney. I needed to build the ties that bind me to the new totems of my life here. Perhaps that is why it has taken me so long to go back to writing poetry.

Movie review: Paterson, dir Jim Jarmusch (2016)

Nothing much happens in the lives of Paterson (Adam Driver) a bus driver in Paterson, New Jersey, and his girlfriend Laura (Golshifteh Farahani). While he gets up every morning without an alarm clock at almost exactly the same time - he says there is something special about his watch - she stays at home and paints everything black and white (her favourite colour combination). They have a routine life but they support each other and love each other, and therefore also have a rich and full life. A night out at the black-and-white movies is something to celebrate.

Paterson's poetry - which he captures in a notebook with an elastic catch on the cover - is also something to celebrate for Laura, and she takes every opportunity to tell him what a great poet he is. Paterson is content. Even when Laura's bulldog Marvin eats his notebook he doesn't get angry. But after that happens we know he will continue to write because a stranger in the park who Paterson meets one day gives him a new notebook as a gift. (The stranger, a Japanese man, had come to Paterson because of his love of the poetry of William Carlos Williams, who had lived in Paterson while alive. Williams is Paterson's favourite poet.)

While nothing much happens, the things that do happen seem to have a meaning beyond their immediate significance. When Paterson meets a child who is sitting outside - he thinks he should wait with her until her mother returns to take her home - it turns out she is also a poet, and she reads a piece of her poetry to him. He takes home the first few lines and recites them for Laura.

Laura is busy with her own things, too. She bakes cupcakes for the local farmer's market, and makes a big stack of money. She also gets Paterson to buy her a guitar so that she can become a country-and-Western singer. She has dreams. Meanwhile, Paterson finds that having a mobile phone would sometimes be an asset when his bus inexplicably breaks down while he is out on his route, and he has to borrow someone else's phone to call back to base for help. He might have a stack of poetry books on his bookshelf in the basement, but he doesn't have a mobile. Paterson is a bit odd that way.

He's also odd in the way, each evening when he takes Marvin for a walk, he stops at the bar for a beer. At the bar we meet other people in Paterson's life, such as Everett (William Jackson Harper), who is in love with Marie (Chasten Harmon) although she doesn't reciprocate his affections. He also meets Everett one day when he is taking a walk in the afternoon, when he doesn't have anything on his plate. Everett is something of a philosopher, unlike Donny (Rizwan Manji), who checks off Paterson every morning before he starts his rounds. Donny always has problems at home that he complains about to people. Paterson has Laura at home and he never complains.

What the movie does so well however is to slow things down to a snail's rate of progress. We notice each smile and display of intimacy or dislike. We are drawn into this shadow-play of tiny gestures and our hearts almost start to beat at a more sedate pace. This is a film out of the ordinary. Most films these days hep us up to a high state of excitement with their special effects and explosions. This movie does the complete opposite, so when the Japanese stranger appears at the end we are primed for the explosion of emotion we feel as Paterson denies he is a poet. This doesn't put the stranger off his quest for meaning, however, as he works to experience what it signifies to be a poet in New Jersey.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Had a massage

Up early, I made a pot of coffee and had a cup before heading out down Harris Street to the Powerhouse Museum, where I had agreed to meet the girl to see the Mummies exhibition. I saw it for the first time last Friday but I thought she would get a lot out of it because she likes antiquity in general, and Ancient Egypt specifically, so I booked tickets again. We had agreed to meet at 9.45am but she rocked up - out of breath from hurrying - at 10am. We went to the entrance and she asked if we could go in a bit later; normally tickets for the Powerhouse are sold on the basis that you either go to the early session - from 10am to 1pm - or the late session - from 1pm to 3pm.

The woman at the entrance said it was fine to come along a bit later, so we headed to the cafe and I ordered some eggs with a bagel and avocado. The girl ordered a breakfast wrap, which turned out to contain sausage and bacon and egg. She also got an orange juice, and I got a small flat white. We had our meals then headed into the exhibition. There were a lot fewer people than there had been at the 10am session the previous Friday (which was the day after Australia Day, and a day people were likely to take off work).

She spent a lot of time reading all the information provided in the textual signs affixed to the walls and display cases. When a guided tour came along about five minutes after we entered, we joined it, and it turned out to add a lot of value to the exhibition; I had not had this opportunity on the previous Friday, probably they had not run it due to the crowds. This time, we had the benefit of the learning of a PhD in Egyptology, who was the host on this occasion. He took us round all the displays in the main part of the exhibition, but departed before we entered the enclosure for the Roman mummy.

Later, the girl took my phone and got me to unlock it - she had left hers at home this morning - and went around taking photos of a lot of the displays, and movies of some of the interactive displays and videos in the exhibition. I was tired by this time and went to sit down near the exit, but got back up when she didn't materialise after about 15 minutes; she was still inside photographing things. We went outside after 1pm and got in a taxi on Harris Street and headed home, on the way buying some frozen dumplings and soft buns.

At home we set about making a meal out of the things we had bought. She also made a kind of crepe with eggs, flour and chilli using a plain frying pan and a bit of oil. I opened up the second window - one of the windows to the balcony is always open, the one with the fly screen - to offset the smoke she made. She also sliced up a mango for eating with fingers for dessert. After lunch we had a bit of a nap then later I had a glass of wine. I did the dishes. She went to the website of a file transfer platform in order to get the photos from my phone to her email; they were too big to send using the phone itself due to memory constraints.

Later, she decided she wanted me to have a massage so we left after 7pm and headed down toward the Pyrmont Bridge where there is a Thai massage place. It was fascinating for me, as I have never had a massage before. The masseuse had very strong hands and we had booked a 90-minute session each, each in a separate room. The masseuse put me on my stomach and started on my feet and legs, then did the torso, then the arms. Then she turned me over onto my back and set to working again on the legs and arms. Last of all she did the neck and head. I felt extremely wobbly at first and had a bit of trouble standing to put my clothes back on, but I managed in the end. I paid and we left; I took the girl down to the bridge and saw her off as she had decided to go home on the train.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Went to the city

This morning I got up early because the cleaners were coming to do their thing but they were quite late arriving, which upset my plans because I had told a friend I would come to his office in the city in the morning. Before they arrived I lay down in bed and finally they buzzed at the intercom. They came upstairs and unpacked and started on the bathrooms. I went to the living room and lay down on the couch to wait until they had finished. When they had completed the work I gave the head cleaner the envelope with the money in it and let them out the door. Then I went back to bed, asking my friend if I should come later.

Unfortunately, he didn't reply until the early afternoon, by which time I had had a further nap. I got up then and went across the Pyrmont Bridge into the city. The girl phoned me while I was still on the bridge and asked me if I wanted to have lunch; she had just done an interview for a job and wanted to debrief. I went to my friend's office and signed the papers he wanted me to sign, then I left his office and headed south toward the QVB, where she was waiting for me on the street.

We went to the Westfield complex and sat down at a table at an Italian restaurant. I ordered lasagne and she ordered ravioli. I also ordered a beer. While we ate we talked about her interview, with her asking a dozen questions in the time it took me to answer one. After I had paid for the lunch we went down to the street and I headed off home, and so did she to hers. When I got home I checked the mail and found a letter from my compulsory third party insurance company and the renewal notice for my car registration. I took everything upstairs and then went to bed to have a nap. When I got up I had a glass of wine and opened the mail. I went online and paid the CTP insurance cover for the car - mandatory in New South Wales - and had a look at another insurance letter I had received recently. This letter turned out to be insurance for the car itself; I had thought it was CTP as well. I had filed this letter and having read it again, put it back in the folder. There was nothing I had to do with it.

Later, I made some cheese-and-tomato-on-toast and ate it in front of the computer. I had a conversation on Messenger with a friend overseas about a dog I had seen in the street today (she has a dog of the same breed), then I went down to the convenience store to get more cash so that I could put money in another white envelope for the cleaners for when they come in two weeks' time. I then took a call from the girl, and went back to social media. It has been a slow day for me online with the main news being the US president's combative phone call with out prime minister over the matter of refugees currently in tropical detention centres. There's not much to say about this phone call, partly because the outcome - will the US take the refugees or not - is still to be decided in the future as there has to be an extended vetting process first. So we don't know how many - if any - refugees the US will take from Manus Island and Nauru, or when. It's still all up in the air.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

In the swimming pool

We got up a bit late this morning and started on breakfast. The girl cooked it: eggs, peas-in-the-pod, steamed sweet potato and cherry tomatoes. After eating we went down to the pool where she had a swim. I sat and watched. I haven't got around to thinking it's inevitable that I'll get back in the pool. I associate swimming with illness, because the last time - in 2008 - that I was swimming it was because I was struggling with a terrible mental illness. So I'm sticking with the dieting at present.

We came back upstairs and got ready for me to take her back to her place. I carried her Georgia O'Keeffe print down to the car with two bags of new clothes. She carried the jackets we had bought and the Renaissance art book. We got in the car and hit the traffic, stopping in Glebe to pick up some tuna sushi (cooked tuna) sprinkled with chilli. When we got to her place, I found a parking spot and took the stuff up to her room, then I gave her a peck on the cheek and headed back to the car. The traffic was quite bad on the Princes Highway on the way back. There seemed to be a build-up of trucks at one of the right-hand turns off the highway that was spilling out of the transit lane into the right-hand lane of the main thoroughfare. I made it back and opened the wine and poured a glass.

I sat down at the computer and attended to social media, making a few tweets. Then I got up and had some cheese. A little later I had a can of tuna and some sliced pawpaw. Then I went back to bed and had a nap for a couple of hours. I got up when she contacted me on Messenger with news from the interview panel for tomorrow. She will be going into town to have an interview for a producer's job.

After I got up I sat down at the computer again and focused my attention on making a positive contribution to the world by helping to affirm people's personalities. I have a simple credo when it comes to using social media: be positive. It helps me to spend time online productively even though for some it's not enough. I know there are many people on social media who need to air their personal grievances, especially when they're expressed in a political fashion. But for me it's about making people feel important, needed and wanted. I try to affirm, not attack.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Shopping most of the day

When I got up this morning it was about midday and I made some coffee to drink. After coffee, I set the alarm and headed back to bed, planning to sleep for another 45 minutes before having to leave for a lunch appointment but the girl messaged me saying she was going into the city. I told her I was going out to lunch with a friend and she asked if she could come too. I got up after a while and dressed, then headed out in the heat across the Pyrmont Bridge to the city, entering the CBD at King Street on the expressway pedestrian path.

At my friend's office I left my name and sat down to wait until he was ready to see me. After a while he came out into the reception area and we went back to his office, where I signed some more papers to do with the settlement of the estate following mum's death in July. Then we left to go to a Greek restaurant in Barrack Street. We ordered a beer each and then the girl called saying she was on the street looking for me. I went outside and waited until I saw her walking down the street toward me. I ushered her into the restaurant and we sat down to order. I had a lamb shoulder and grilled eggplant and the girl had some vine leaves as a main. We ordered some bread and a salad as well as mains. I also ordered some wine.

The lunch was successful and we ended up talking a lot about history. The girl, being of Chinese ancestry, is fascinated by antiquity. Chinese people rightly feel that they have some legitimate claim on antiquity per se, and we talked about the Persian empire as well as the Mongols, the Egyptians, the Hungarians and the Greeks and Romans. Partly the discussion was sparked because I had seen the exhibition at the Powerhouse on the Egyptian mummies, and I suggested to my friend that he might want to go along and see it. We also talked about working in Australia because the girl had attained a job interview for a job she had applied for.

After lunch the girl and I said goodbye to my friend and the two of us went off to Myer's first floor where they sell ladies' wear. She was looking for a jacket for the job interview and tried on a few things. I sat in the fitting room area and waited while she tried some items of clothes on. Eventually she bought a black jacket, a pair of black pants, and a white shirt. Then we went out into Pitt Street Mall and entered a shoe shop, where she bought a pair of black-and-white sneakers. We then went up Pitt Street and through an ANZ building to Castlereagh Street where there is a women's wear shop. In the shop I bought her a navy jacket and another shirt, this one in a peach colour.

We went back to my place in a cab then made some food and went shopping afterward at the supermarket. I bought fruit, bread, eggs and some vegetables, as well as canned tuna. We got back home and I unpacked the backpack, then sat down at the computer and listened to her while she read through some websites looking for information that might help her in her job interview.

Monday, 30 January 2017

We need more courage to be compassionate in social media

Today someone posted, quite plaintively, "Someone post something kind, please?" And I immediately understood her feelings; I replied:
I know what you mean. I think people need to be more considerate on social media, they think it's ok just to prosecute their own biases there. But it's not. We need to share things. Social media is a community. We create it when we share.
The thing is that I have had conversations with a friend lately about social media and the way she had been using it to complain about her life, when things had not gone well for her. I had remonstrated and told her that social media is not just a place to unload your grievances. You had to find things that others could also share, because it was about creating community. So the judgemental and divisive would not serve the ultimate ends of the platforms - mainly, in my case, Twitter and Facebook - as well as other kinds of post, posts where participation was more positive, guarded and compassionate.

Strangely, when I made that post in the comments area I was having a similar conversation with someone else at the same time on Messenger. I said there:
I try to feel good when I am doing social media, I seek out the good feelings in the air and in the atmosphere, and channel them to others.
She countered that while I was a nice person, she was not. "I don't like being here much lately," she said. Here's what she was replying to of mine when she said that:
But it's a conscious effort. I have to work hard at it. It's just as easy to be dismissive and uncaring.
And it's true. When we are divisive and judgemental we tear and rip at the fabric of social media, we shred the air with our cries and our complaints, whether they be on the personal level or even on the political level. We ruin any opportunity to find common ground, and merely celebrate our feelings of isolation - feelings, like the constant thoughts that we experience even in moments of downtime in our diurnal rounds - that form part of the suffering of contemporary life. This isolation is ruinous for the soul, it brands us as outcasts and leaves us feeling exhausted and alone.

Sharing, on the other hand, with an eye to creating community, soothes the soul-destroying wounds that we bear on our skin at every moment of the day and night. Wounds that open and bleed incessantly, making us feel pain. We need the soothing salve of empathy to counter this effect of modern life, in fact we crave it, but in our timidity we brush it aside as a dream and then again tear and rend the social fabric some more. It is just fear that we express in this way. We need more courage to be compassionate.

Dumplings in the evening

Yesterday I got up late, as I usually do, and got to the computer to do some social media. I noticed that with my participation the way it was I had actually not lost any followers on Twitter for three days, and in fact had gained one. I congratulated myself on this development, as it is rare over such a long period of time not to lose any followers. I had my coffee and I had my computer all fired up and I was content.

The girl rang me and said she was in Newtown and could I come to meet her she had a picture she had bought and a heavy book and she was walking down the street. By this time I was cooking some mushrooms and tomato in a fry pan and so I explained that now wasn't a good time but if she got in a cab I would pay for it. I finished frying the eggs and everything and had eaten most of the food when the doorbell rang and I let her into the building. She came upstairs with a big, framed print of a Georgie O'Keeffe cow's skull and a book on Renaissance art. She plonked it all down on the floor and I made her a pot of tea.

We talked about Heironymous Bosch whose art she had found in the book and she said she should draw some of her dreams they were just as astonishing as anything Bosch would have dreamt up.

Later, we went for a walk. I had said I would take her home in the car but she wanted to go to Darling Harbour because someone had told here there were lanterns there for the lunar New Year. She would go home by train, she said, and I capitulated. I put on my shoes to take a walk with her and we headed out, taking the headland route which goes around in front of the casino, and then into Darling Harbour. The crowds were tremendous as we walked down toward the Western Distributor. We turned left and exited the precinct at Bathurst Street, crossing Harbour Street at the lights, then headed up to a small Chinese restaurant set into the buildings on the right hand side.

We sat at a small table for two and a waiter brought a pot of tea for us with the menu. The girl ordered some cut noodles and some dumplings and I waited expectantly to see what was coming as the conversation between her and the staff had all been in Chinese. The big bowl of noodles and vegetables arrived and we doled out the spoils into the little bowls they had provided at the beginning. It was delicious. Then the dumplings arrived, and I had a couple with chilli and vinegar. They were superb. The whole meal only came to just over $21, which I thought was a coup, but she was at least happy to have had some traditional New Year's food at this moment in time. It was important in her culture, she said.

We walked up the street to the train station, where I said goodbye to her, and she went down the steps into the station zone. I turned back and caught a cab and went home. I was feeling a bit fragile because I hadn't planned on eating dinner tonight, as I was on a diet. I sat down at home in the heat as the tweets about the Australian Open and Trump's immigration bans swirled around me, and thought about life. Later, I had a shower and went to bed to read more of Knausgaard's book. I had reached the point where he falls in love with Tonje while he is living in Bergen.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

A couple of busy days

Yesterday morning I got up early - for me - and made my way on foot down to the Powerhouse Museum to meet my cousin and his family - his wife and two daughters - because we had organised to visit the Mummies exhibition. The statue shown here is one of the exhibits, which include mummified bodies as well as videos of medical imaging taken to examine the contents without disturbing the wrappings, as well as a collection of secondary items. This is one of those secondary items: a minor deity who has the task of scaring off evil spirits - he is carrying and beating a tambourine. I thought it was such a human-scale piece, something out-of-the-ordinary for the classical Egyptian period, where we usually see taught, dog-faced statues standing literally like statues.

After the exhibition we went to a Taiwanese restaurant in Chinatown for lunch, and then I said goodbye to my family and caught the light rail - which has just recently begun running from Central again after construction works interrupted service for about three weeks - back home. When I got home I had a nap. Later, the girl called me and I went out in the car to pick her up. We ended up eating some food in a Taiwanese restaurant in Newtown where they only serve vegan food. Two Taiwanese restaurants in one day! We went home and had a walk around the headland then played chess and went to bed.

This morning we got up a bit late and had some fruit for breakfast, then made our way into town to an exhibition at a little gallery in Albion Place - a pedestrian-only street next to Event Cinema, off George Street - called 'What's in A Surname'. It is an exhibition by a young Chinese-Australian photographer named Ken Leanfore showing a collection of people of Chinese ancestry who grew up in Australia and whose names had been decided by bureaucratic fiat mostly back in the 19th century. The way that Chinese surnames were authorised by immigration functionaries back in the early days of the country is of interest to many people, including my friend, and we were lucky to have the chance to talk at length with the photographer. We arrived at the gallery before lunch then looked around and made our way out to a Korean restaurant down the street, then came back to the gallery for the official opening party - with wine and snacks and crowds of people - later on.

We got home after stopping by a Fairfax-sponsored China food market event in Pyrmont Park and lay down for a little while, then I took the girl home in the car, and drove back home to my place. There was a nasty snarl of traffic at the intersection of Pyrmont Bridge Road and Harris Street that I managed to negotiate without too much difficulty, even though it slowed me down a bit. When I got home I ate the remains of the food we had bought at the food market and sat down to social media.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Out to lunch on Australia Day

In the morning I woke up late and then got out of bed and made some coffee. I drank a cup in front of the computer then put on my backpack and went shopping for food at the supermarket. I bought fruit and cheese and canned fish, then returned home and started to iron my shirts, having done the laundry a few days before.

While I was in the middle of this task the girl rang and asked if I wanted to go out for lunch. It was around 2pm by this time and I had had nothing too eat all day. I finished the ironing and told her by short message that I would get the train, then changed my mind and messaged that I was going to drive down to her place. I got downstairs to the garage and started the car and headed out into the traffic, which wasn't too heavy because it is a holiday today.

When I arrived at her place I parked the car and walked through the park but she called me on the phone and told me she was right there waiting in the park. "I needed to get out," she said. We walked to the train station and caught a train to Redfern, then got off and walked up to Abercrombie Street and made our way to King Street in Newtown. We stopped at a Thai place on the corner and ordered some beef with rice each. I also ordered a beer and the girl ordered a plate of noodles, as well, that we could share. It was nice sitting in the restaurant eating fresh food and having a beer, and I ordered a second beer before we had finished eating our lunch.

After I paid, we walked down King Street looking at the shops, and stopped at a wholefoods place where I bought her some muesli and nuts and apricot sticks. We went further down King Street toward St Peters and stopped at a graffiti-covered cafe where I ordered a flat white and the girl got some English Breakfast tea and a gluten- and sugar-free brownie, which we both ate with the spoons they provided. It was delicious, with a nutty, sweetish taste, but not too sweet; she is always complaining that cakes in Australia are too sweet.

We went further down King Street after leaving the cafe and crossed the road at Alice Street, where we caught a cab, and the driver ended up driving very fast - at least 70kmph - down the Princes Highway. When we got to her place we went upstairs and talked for a little bit then she decided to go to her dancing class, and called ahead to make sure it was still going to be held on a holiday. It was. We went downstairs and got in the car and I dropped her off at Redfern Station before driving back down Abercrombie Street to Wattle Street and home. The rest of the evening has been quiet and I have eaten a few things to soften the hunger pangs, but I am still dieting so can't eat everything I want.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

A very quiet day at home

I woke up with the phone message that the girl had sent this morning asking me to send her a document we had worked on yesterday. I got up and sent her a document but it wasn't the right one, so later I got up again after she messaged me again and sent her the one she was looking for.

After this I made some coffee and had a cup, then went back to bed and slept again. I eventually emerged from bed in the early afternoon and went to the computer, where I engaged with social media in an effort to raise my mood. I was relatively successful and talked to some people who are in my feed on a regular basis. Others let my comments go by. One person shared a picture showing people at one of the anti-Trump marches from the weekend that I had taken from Twitter as a screenshot in her Facebook feed, and showed me an amusing video about Donald Trump ostensibly from the people of Holland. I laughed.

I had some wine at about 4.30pm - just one glass, as is my habit these days - and then I ate some sardines on toast. Later, I ate some cheese - pieces of two types of cheese, a cheddar and one other that I had bought at Woollies recently - and a can of tuna. I had some strawberries a bit later on and then a handful of almonds to top it all off.

It has been such a slow day but at least I am gradually losing weight. I can see my waist slimming. My trousers are now size 40 where two months ago I was wearing 44s. I intend to buy 38s next time I have to go to the store for clothes.

In the late afternoon I put out the recycling garbage and later the regular trash, and I also went down to my car in the garage with a plastic bag to collect the rubbish that had accumulated in the back seat, where I am in the habit of putting it as I drive around. I took the bag back upstairs with me and put it in the garbage bin before throwing everything down the rubbish chute. I noticed that most of the recycling garbage this time is not empty wine bottles but empty fruit packets.

In the evening I watched the Australian of the Year ceremony on the ABC, mainly because I usually watch ABC News 24 all through the evening, and this program was part of their feed for today. I reflected as I was watching TV that I have changed the way I use my evenings since cutting back on the amount of alcohol that I drink. When I was drinking most of a bottle of wine each evening I would be stumping off to bed by 7pm in a blotto haze, but now I am free to experience things that come up - in the social media feed, for example - and enjoy them for many more hours until I go to sleep. My psychiatrist congratulated me for cutting back on the booze and I think that it is an achievement that needs to be recognised, so I am writing about it now.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

A cool southerly

This morning I awoke early to the alarm, set the previous night, because the girl had asked me to do her laundry as soon as possible today. She had a hairdresser's appointment this morning but wanted her sweaty dance clothes from the night before to be cleaned beforehand. So I got up and put the laundry on - including both my own clothes and hers - then went back to bed to sleep a bit more. I got up again about 90 minutes later to put her clothes into the tumble dryer, then later still - watching the clock, as it happened - I went to her room and woke her up.

We didn't have time for breakfast but instead soon enough got in the car for the short drive to Newtown - where her preferred salon is located - and so made our way through Glebe and onto City Road before we made it to the address on King Street. After dropping her off, I drove down to St Peters and turned left into Sydney Park Road, then up Mitchell Road and home.

Back at the apartment, I made a couple of phone calls in order to try to get someone to come out to have a look at the air conditioner in the bedroom - there is only one air conditioner in the apartment - because it had not worked on the really hot night we had had in January, when it was needed. I also called Medibank to inform them of mum's death - although it turned out that I had already done this in October - and emailed The Department of Human Services to let them know too. The girl came home bearing a container full of vegetarian Thai food, which I started eating as soon as she had sat down to a cup of tea. I didn't finish the container but instead stopped eating when I felt full.

The air conditioner repairman arrived not long after and I showed him into the bedroom where the wall unit is mounted. He told me that it had cut out on that hot night because of the cooling load imposed on the compressor. It seems the ambient temperature had just been too much for the machine to cope with, because today it ran quite happily, cooling the room efficiently as it is designed to do. There is a problem with it however and when the business owner called me back later to take my payment over the phone by credit card for the service visit he told me it wasn't worth fixing. I would need a new machine, and he would send me a quote by phone.

I helped the girl with a translation she was working on for a client, because the original translation from Chinese was quite hard to understand, being literal rather than logical for English speakers. She had to go into town later on and I was about to go with her when my psychiatrist's receptionist called me to remind me of an appointment made for today. I made my way down to his office and paid, before going into his room and sitting down. We talked for the usual 45 minutes and covered a lot of ground, but mainly dealt with my wish to lose weight and the dietary regime I had started. He though that my plan - to reduce calories and do light exercise with walking - was a good one and that I should stick to it. He was also pleased I had cut down most of my alcohol intake.

I got back home and the girl returned not long afterward, just before the southerly appeared and changed the outside temperature. I paid a couple of bills having checked the mailbox. I made more tea for her and we ate the Turkish takeaway food she had brought with her, talking between ourselves until it was time to take her home. I drove her home and came back to eat some cheese and crackers. Later, I had an avocado and an orange.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Some fresh coffee

Last night I got home late after driving back from the girl's house. I had dropped her off for the evening. I was back home and I sat down in front of the computer for a while until I got tired and decided to go to sleep. We had had an argument and I was feeling vulnerable. We had argued about what we should be doing on weekends; she wanted to go out, I told her I had seen her on Saturday and wanted a quiet Sunday for myself. But we had reconciled our differences by now and apologies had been exchanged. Everything was back to normal, and it was late. I went to sleep.

This morning I woke up and got out of bed late, planning to go to Newtown to buy coffee, as my supply had been getting low in the coffee can. I had my usual cup of coffee after getting out of bed and getting dressed, and then headed out the door with the green satchel over my shoulder. The bag was to carry the bag of Campos coffee home in.

At Broadway Shopping Centre I headed up to the first floor to the hair stylist and sat down to wait where I was shown, expecting a free chair at any time. When the chair was free I sat down in it and took off my glasses, and put them in my shirt pocket. The guy I had today had also cut my hair last time and he remembered me. "Still living in Pyrmont?" he asked. "Yes," I answered. I asked him if he was busy and he said it was always busy in the shop. "It's good," he said. He has an Arabic tattoo on the inside of his right forearm, but I didn't ask him about it. He has a beard and is muscular and big-bodied.

I paid when I got to the register and left the store, making my way down the escalator to the street, then crossed Parramatta Road to Victoria Park. I walked up through the park past the swimming pool. Up near the children's playground men were setting up canvas kiosks for an outdoor event. A man in a forklift was manoeuvring his vehicle around a tray filled with ground coverings, which he was taking off the pile with the forks. I went further up, past St Paul's College and Moore College. At the coffee shop I ordered my usual bag of filter-ground Superior blend and paid with a card.

On the way back home I bought a beef kebab at the old Lebanese kebab shop on King Street - Ya Habibi's - and ate it with relish as I walked down the pavement toward home. A workman was doing something in one of the canvas kiosks when I got to Victoria Park, and he raised his eyebrows at me in a friendly manner as I passed, and took a swig from a resealable bottle that sat on the counter. Down near the shopping centre a gaunt man with tattoos was nursing a stubby of beer sitting on one of the park benches. I went past to the pedestrian crossing. It was hot. I got home and had a cold cup of coffee then had a nap.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Some new clothes

Yesterday I was feeling quite vulnerable because the girl and I had had an argument - about my stomach again, no less - and so when she contacted me in the evening and asked if I wanted to buy a set of chess pieces, of course I immediately said yes. I put on my shoes and left the apartment and caught a cab into the city, getting off at King Street, then walked up to Dymocks where she was looking at stationery alone.

We went downstairs after she had bought a few things, to the games section, and I chose a set of chess pieces. She was feeling adventurous and also selected a set of Monopoly (World edition), and I took both boxes to the register and paid. Then we left the store and turned up George Street heading south.

As we were passing Myer I asked her if it was ok if we went inside so I could buy some clothes. We went up the escalators to the third floor - which is where most of the menswear is sold - and I headed to the back of the store and found some size 40 and 42 pairs of trousers in navy and black. I then went to the Gazman section and got some short-sleeve shirts. I took everything to the register and asked if I could leave the trousers there while I tried on the shirts for size. I left the bundle of clothes there and headed to the fitting rooms with the two shirts, which turned out to fit well. I headed back out to the retail area and met my girl at the Sportscraft area, where she handed me a white linen shirt to buy. I took the three shirts back to the register where I bought all of the clothes, then we headed downstairs in the elevator.

We walked home to my place and got progressively more wet as the rain picked up. By the time we got home I was well saturated in the shirt area, and I had put my phone into one of the plastic bags for safety. I took off the shirt once we were inside and put on a fresh one, then we made some food. Later we would go out to a restaurant for more food.

Before going to bed we played chess. I had had more experience with the game than the girl, so it was not exactly an even match but she improved with time. We played three games and I won all of them, with her conceding twice and losing once. The next day - today - I took her home in the afternoon and we went shopping for groceries from her place. I bought some more fruit and olives and cheese.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

A quiet day at home

This morning I got up before 8am because the cleaners came to clean the apartment, and I let them in and waited until they had finished. When they left the girl and I had breakfast, which included some leftovers from dinner last night - we had gone to have dinner at Golden Century and ordered four dishes, which was a lot, too much for two people at one meal - as well as some added tomato and mushroom. I had coffee and she had tea. We tidied up the apartment and then I took her home in the early afternoon.

I came home feeling very forlorn and put on the washing. Then I went up the road to the bank to deposit a cheque that came from Telstra for the unused part of the data allowance under mum's plan with them for the iPad. The guy at the bank said that it was not something they would normally do since the cheque was made out to 'Estate of Mrs da Silva' (plus my address). Normally they would ask for the cheque to be reissued to be in my name. But since it was such a small amount of money - just over $25 - he allowed it to be deposited in the account I specified, even though the estate had already been wound up in the bank's estimation.

Then I made my way further down Harris Street to the post office and bought a packet of plain envelopes. I don't normally send letters but I use the envelopes to put the cash for the cleaners inside, and since they come to do their thing every two weeks, I need a regular supply of envelopes for their money. I only had one envelope left before buying the new packet. I also went to the convenience store to take out money from the ATM because I had just put most of my remaining banknotes in the cleaner's envelope for the next payment.

When I got home I lay down for an hour then got up and put another load of laundry on, shifting the wet clothes from the washing machine to the tumble dryer. Then I had a glass of wine and nursed my lacrimose mood through the rest of the afternoon. The time was taken up with washing the dishes from breakfast and sitting with social media. For dinner I ate the rest of the mabo dofu we had ordered the night before and a piece of toast with cheese, tomato and pepper on it. As I write the final load of clothes is spinning in the tumble dryer, and the TV is on.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

On hospitals

It's so hot and even though it's getting late there's no point in going to bed because I've been dozing on and off all day and the night-time temperature will be excessive tonight, so I decided to sit a while and write about something that I talked to a friend about not long ago. We were talking about hospitals and I said to her that I always felt compelled to stand up for these institutions, places which we normally only enter with trepidation, and of which we only speak in critical tones.

I had a lot to do with hospitals last year when mum was getting sick all the time prior to her death. I could refer back and get the exact dates but it was roughly from November 2015 until she finally died in July 2016 that I had most to do with hospitals. It's only fair to say that I have the utmost respect for the people who work in hospitals, even though they are obviously overworked by their bosses, and spend most of their time running around in a frazzled state trying to bring succour to all the places where it is needed.

But it's more than that. People are more like themselves in hospitals. You can have the most lovely conversations with people - whether staff or patients or the families or friends of patients - in hospitals. The presence of mortality brings people closer to their real selves. They are genuinely friendly and when they ask after you - just saying "How are you?" - they really want to know. People are more empathetic, compassionate and real in the presence of mortality. I remember sitting in the waiting room at the Emergency Ward watching the people go in and come out. The TV was tuned to one of the awful commercial stations that we have but I was unlikely to watch it when the procession of characters - and the series of events they performed in, for my exclusive benefit - was so rich and varied.

One family would come in and go to the administration desk, where they would talk with a clerk. The daughter who was limping when they arrived would be called to the triage desk, and ushered into the doctor's area. An orderly would use his access card to buzz himself into the actual ward - where my mother lay, waiting to be processed - and disappear from view. I freely admit that I enjoyed these small events, and this endless succession of new people. I am a flaneur after all - as my friend reminded me - so taking notice of the small details of existence in public spaces is my specialty.

So here's to hospitals, those busy hives of restless humanity where doctors - young and old, male and female - tend to the needs of people when they are at their most vulnerable. And the nurses - young and old, male and female - and orderlies and other support staff - young and old, male and female - all going about their tasks with dedication and commitment. If we listen to them they can teach us something essential about being human.