Monday, 27 March 2017

Internet is fixed

On Wednesday I posted about the PC crisis which saw me buy both a new PC and a new monitor. The PC crisis, however, was immediately followed by an internet crisis, where the net slowed down to a snail's pace. It reminded me of when I moved back to Sydney in February 2015 and the modem immediately conked out as soon as I moved into this place. That seemed strange by itself, but because it is added to this new event things look doubly strange. How can a new PC cause your internet connection to go slow? It can't, said the Optus technician who came to my house this morning. "It's just a coincidence," he added.

The technician was only in the apartment for about five minutes then he went down to the building's communications room in the garage - he had gotten keys from the security office beforehand - and then he came back, put some things away in his bag and said that telecommunications provider Optus would be in touch with me probably within 24 hours. He said he wasn't sure where the problem was but agreed that the rain we had had so much of recently probably hadn't helped things. "Ït's probably the rain," he said.

So here I am again able to do internet banking. Which is a luxury for some but for us here in Australia it's just a normal part of life. We are surely blessed by such things being almost universally used. It takes so much of the effort out of banking, being able just to log in from your computer at home and transfer money from one account to another, and to pay bills online. I certainly don't take it for granted. People must think there's something strange about me when I go onto Twitter to say 'thank you' for being able to do online banking. Well, there you go. I'll just have to put up with people thinking I'm a little strange. Because I am thankful for this amazing facility. I'm also thankful to finally have a computer and internet that work properly, because life without either of these things these days is quite unthinkable.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

A new computer

I had had some problems with the display of the computer because it was blinking repeatedly, and so I thought I could get it to cooperate by pressing some of the buttons on the right hand side of the screen. This was on Saturday. It worked and my call to the technicians was anyway filled and I got the guy to reset my iPad instead. Then when I booted the computer the next day, I got the same problem, so I called the technicians again. Meanwhile, I made do with the laptop, which is a less-then-optimal solution because the screen is so small and it is so slow.

Another technician came out and he tested this and that and told me that the motherboard in the computer was broken, so I would have to buy a new computer. This was on Tuesday morning, and I had a spare 90 minutes between appointments so I got in the car and went down to the electrical store at Broadway Shopping Centre and bought a new HP. The technicians sent out a new guy to install it and bring across the data files from the old one, but in the process of doing that work he found that the screen was still not working. Therefore the problem of the blinking screen turned out to be either with the video cable or with the monitor.

I got in the car and the technician got on his motorbike this morning and we went down to an electronics store near Ultimo TAFE and I bought a new monitor. We brought it back and installed it and it worked fine - I now had a new PC and a new monitor - and it was also bigger than the previous one, so I have abundant screen room now. It was also cheaper than the previous one - which, admittedly, had been bought in 2009 - so I was marginally happy. The new technician - who had done work on two days for me - called his head office and they discussed my case and decided to waive the fee for the second technician, so I will only pay for the first technician.

This is a good outcome anyway because even though the computer was not broken, most computers only last for about 4 or 5 years, it would have been time to get a new one soon anyway. I gave the second technician the old computer and monitor in case he could get the monitor to work. He took them home to his place in his car.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Went out to get some lunch

This morning I was woken up by the telephone and handled the call then got some coffee from the pot of cold coffee. Then I had some wine, and a bit later I went up the street to get some lunch. I had to go to the ATM in the convenience store first, then I ambled up the street to the kaiten sushi shop and ordered a beer. I sat down opposite two young men who obviously knew each other, and started picking the plates of sushi off the track.

It feels fine being without the girl. I do miss her and that's something real that I can contemplate when things get boring, which they might do on occasion. But I do miss her as well. I miss not being connected to her daily life, being excluded. It's something of an adventure. I won't stop loving her just because I'm away from her, it's just that the feelings are different in quality and quantity. There's no downside - I mean no irritations coming from her, that there might be if we were spending time together - it's all a uniform blank pain gap that needs filling.

I'll be busy all day tomorrow. There are appointments from 9.30am through to 4pm. I have to do lots of things and be in different places. We'll see how the 1.30pm appointment with the dietician goes. I'm frankly not looking forward to that one, as it means being open about my drinking, which is something I don't feel like doing. But I am fairly open about it here, on the blog, if anyone is interested. It's just that there'll be someone who is close to me who will be watching all these things, like what I eat, and that makes me a bit nervous.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Worried most of the day

I was on the way up to get some lunch at the Vietnamese place when the girl called me and said that she had locked herself out of her apartment. I immediately turned back but she told me not to come. She would fix the problem by herself, she said. I demurred. I continued on my way to the restaurant and ordered a chicken pho, which I ate at a table outside on the street. When I had finished I walked back to my place. I noticed that my big umbrella - the one I had bought at the Fish Market one day when me and the girl had been caught there by some heavy rain - had broken; one of the plastic supports had snapped off and it is past repair.

When I got home I had more wine and settled down to social media. I had a long chat with a friend, who concentrated the conversation on birthdays. We went through the star signs and it turns out she's a Taurus on the cusp of Gemini. An interesting combination. I told her that the girl is a Pisces. "Very sensitive," she said. Yes, that was true, I admitted. It turns out her son is a Pisces too. I didn't say that the girl had barred me from contacting her - the girl - but I did tell my friend that the girl had locked herself out of her apartment. She said she would be alright. I tried to believe it too.

We talked for about 30 minutes and then I had a nap, where I stayed for a couple of hours. When I got up I contacted the girl and she answered me eventually on Facebook Messenger, telling me that she had got back into her apartment. I still don't know how she did it, but she got back in. I cried a little bit from relief, I had been so worried all day. Anyway the day turned out to be a good one, I didn't have to worry any more about the girl, and she was safe inside again. I was very grateful.

Monday, 13 March 2017

A day at the beach

Yesterday morning the girl was over at my place and we got in the car and headed out onto the Western Distributor, taking the Cross City Tunnel to Rushcutters Bay. We turned into Ocean Avenue at the top of the hill and went down to Double Bay and parked the car. Then we went looking for an open restaurant.

We found one which has a Brazilian slant and took a seat. We ordered some entrees and a seafood curry main, as well as a coffee for me. The food was good except for the chicken wings, which were not fresh. I ordered some more rice to go with the curry, which we hadn't finished, and the girl ordered a coffee as well. She paid and we left the restaurant then headed east toward Watsons Bay.

There were a lot of cars around, making it hard to find a parking spot, but we managed to get one at the lower Vaucluse shops. We left the car and walked down Palmerston Avenue to Gibson's Beach then along Marine Parade to the baths, but the girl didn't like the look of the water; it was low tide. We kept on going and got to Camp Cove where we headed up on the bush walk to get to Lady Bay Beach. Once there we headed down the stairs - the landing at the top is an iron mesh and is completely transparent, not much fun for me who is afraid of heights - and onto the beach.

We took up a spot near the entrance, just where a waterfall splashes onto the rocks and the sand. The waterfall is not very heavy but you can definitely feel the water splashing down as you lie there on the sand, depending on where you position your towel. We only had one towel, and the girl used her jacket and shorts instead. I put some sunscreen on her back, while she did her front.

The surf beckoned, and we got in. There are a lot of rocks near the shoreline and the water gets quite deep quite quickly, so you have to be careful on both accounts. We bobbed around in the water for about 20 minutes then got out and lay down on our "towels". After lying there for about half an hour we got up and left, heading up the stairs onto the path, and back to the car located about a kilometre away. Then we drove home.

Once back in Pyrmont we went to Coles to get some makings for dinner, which the girl kindly cooked. I was starving hungry, and wolfed down the lamb chops she had given me. This morning we got up and I took her straight home as she had an appointment with her GP. I also drove her on to Broadway and then went home.

Monday, 6 March 2017

A day in the mountains

Yesterday morning the girl and I met at Central Station as we had organised to go to the Blue Mountains for the day. We met in the Main Concourse near the newsagent. Inside the gates we bought sandwiches and water for the journey. On platform 18 there was a huge crowd of people waiting to get on the train. and once we were on-board and had secured seats the rest of the people crowded in, with young people sitting on the steps up to the top level and down to the bottom level.

The journey started, with stops at Strathfield, Parramatta, Westmead and Penrith before the long, slow ride up the mountain.We had eaten our sandwiches by this time and most of the other passengers around us were asleep. Slowly, the stations in the mountains passed one by one. We eventually arrived at Katoomba and got out with the crowds. We walked down the footpath to the Paragon and went in. We ordered pumpkin soup and a vege burger but the girl couldn't eat either of them, she said they weren't fresh. I realised later that the burger wasn't fresh but I ate it anyway. When we got out of the cafe I had to use the toilet. I went back to the cafe but there were too many new people waiting, so I found a public toilet. A man went in just before me. I heard splashing and a tap running and eventually knocked on the door. The man opened the door with a toothbrush in his mouth and said he'd be finished in a minute. He was soon out and I ducked in to use the lavatory.

We walked down the hill and turned off right toward Scenic World. There was a group of young Japanese men ahead of us walking down the road. We trudged along in the mist, eventually arriving at our destination. We went inside and bought tickets, then got onto the Scenic Railway and went out to the outdoor platform to get on. We queued in a line and eventually sat down in the cockpit. The vehicle took off with the music from 'Raider's of the Lost Ark' playing on the stereo. Down into the valley the train shot, like a bullet, and we all leaned forward and went "Ohhhhh" as it descended into the green treetops. We arrived at the bottom, where the rain had started falling lightly but persistently, and got out of the cramped cars. We all walked down the path away from the railway, into the bush.

The Hammond family that runs Scenic World has built a raised pathway through the rainforest. We saw a female lyrebird go down through the bush. Apart from the brief sighting the bush was mute today, except for a fairy wren - a tiny brown bird much smaller than a sparrow - who popped out and said hello while we were sheltering from the rain. We trudged along the path for about an hour and a half and eventually emerged back at the Scenic Railway, which we caught back up to the top. There was one photo stop on the way: a small, variegated waterfall that tumbled down the hillside under the pathway and over the rocks into the Jamieson Valley. There must be hundreds of waterfalls like this in the valley, all feeding the streams that congregate at the bottom in a creek.

When we got to the top the girl bought some icecream and ate it while we sat on some seats in the shop at the top of the hill. We used the toilets, then left, and waithed for the bus. When it came we paid with the Opal cards we carried and went down to Echo Point then back up to the station. After we got off the girl said she was hungry so we stopped at a kebab joint and had half a chicken kebab each.

At the station, I bought the girl a cappuccino before we went onto the platform. We waited for the train, which when it came was almost empty. Lots of people got on. We went down the mountain, onto the plain and across the Nepean River. When we stopped at Blacktown a girl seated near us asked us if we had passed Seven hills. I told her we were at Blacktown and that out next stop was Parramatta. She asked me to tell her when we arrived at Parramatta, We sat there waiting. When we got to Parramatta, I told her where we were and she got off, presumably to catch a train back west.

We got off the train at Central and waled to the Capitol Square shopping centre to buy some Thai takeaway. Then we caught the light rail back to Pyrmont and mooched around in the evening. It was cosy and dry. We were tired and felt lazy, and just hung around watching the Mardi Gras coverage on SBS. Then we went to bed.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

A quiet day inside

Today I only went outside once: to buy lunch. The rest of the day I was inside. I got up to let in the cleaners and when they had left I went back to bed and slept for a few more hours. But the noise from the remediation works was tremendous, so my sleep was broken and shallow.

In the afternoon I wrote two poems, both about drinking. i started drinking this afternoon after about 3pm and kept on going until I went for a nap about 6.30pm. It was an afternoon of naps and writing. In the late afternoon i talked on Messenger with my daughter and ex-wife about the Japanese property purchase. They have been doing things over there for the purchase later this month. I sent some emails to the Japanese lawyer.

Otherwise, it was a quiet day. Nothing much happened. The poems I wrote are ok, but not my best work.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Sushi for lunch

This morning I woke up to a phone call from a business associate who wanted to update my details, and after I hung up I got out of bed and made some coffee. It had rained during the night so it was a little dark this morning when I came out to the living room. The air was still cool and crisp, unlike in midsummer when it streams in through the windows like a blast of pure radiation (which of course it is at those times). I sat down at the computer and turned it on and checked the emails.

There was another email from the Japanese lawyer asking for more notarised documents relating to the Japan property purchase, so I made a call to the notary public in the CBD and made an appointment to go in to pick up the document he was preparing. Then I went back to bed for a nap and set the alarm. I got up about 45 minutes later and headed out over the Pyrmont Bridge. It was hot again and I started to sweat. I arrived at the notary public's office in George Street and went up in the creaky old elevator. I signed the form he showed me and paid for the document then headed back to Pyrmont.

Back at Harris Street I went into one of the Japanese restaurants and ordered a beer, and sat down at the sushi train to have some lunch. When I had eaten five plates of sushi I paid with my debit card and left, heading home. At home I went back to bed for a nap and had a sleep. I woke up some time later and had some cold coffee with milk, then opened a bottle of wine. I turned on the TV and listened to the news while attending to social media.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Sunday dinner at the pub

I got up this morning and spoke to the girl - who had come over last night and stayed after a dinner engagement - and then went back to bed, getting up late. We had some breakfast - including onion soup for me because I had a slight cold, as well as special tasty carrots from the supermarket, and a scrambled egg with carrot and tomato - and then I washed the dishes. I also dried out some clothes the girl needed for the day.

When we were ready I drove her home and came back in the car listening to a program about homelessness in the Shoalhaven. When I got home I went straight up the street to the Vietnamese restaurant and had a bowl of pho, then came back home and started straight away on a poem about homelessness. I put on the washing and went to bed and had a nap, then got up later and opened some wine. I finished the poem with some revisions and then went up to the pub to get some food. At the pub I bought a beer and took out some money from the ATM then sat down at the table and had the pasta I had ordered. I ate it one-handed while scrolling through my Facebook feed, then got up from the table and returned home.

I wrote another poems, this one titled 'Dinner at the pub' and turned the TV on. I put half the washing into the tumble dryer and sat down to edit the poems I had written during the day. When I was happy with them, I published them again on Facebook. I put the other half of the washing into the tumble dryer. I made a tweet.

Friday, 24 February 2017

A quiet night at home

The girl stayed over last night so I got up early and drove her home in the car, so that she could get to some meetings on time. I came home in the rush-hours traffic unscathed and parked the car under the building. When I got inside I went back to bed and slept until late, then got up and put on the washing - the sheets on this occasion - and ironed the shirts.

Later I went back to bed for a nap and then the girl called me from the city and I got up and walked into town. We went to McDonald's first for a drink, then to the cheap noodle restaurant on Bathurst Street to have some food. The noodles with chicken were delicious but too long, making it hard to serve them up in the small dishes we had for the purpose. The dumplings were reliably good and I had mine with chilli and vinegar. Then I said goodbye to the girl and walked home.

At home I opened some wine and had a drink and put half of the laundry in the tumble dryer. I went to the computer and focused on social media, which was something I hadn't done for a few days. Later, I washed the dishes and put the second load of laundry on to dry. When all the laundry was dry I put the dry sheets in the bedroom and went back to social media. It didn't rain this evening, as I had somehow hoped it would, but I had a good evening nonetheless. The wine got a bit acid later but I opened a new bottle and kept drinking. It was a quiet night, a good night.

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.