Thursday, 26 November 2009

What on Earth is going on?

Every morning I scan the ABC Online news, and what I’m seeing just lately makes me wonder whether we are teetering on the brink of collapse. Is the end, as Armageddonists like to tell us, nigh? Is the downfall of our civilisation at hand?

I often ignore the grim ‘big’ news about wars, pirates, suicide bombers, political wrangles, terrorist trials, climate change and the global financial crisis. That’s the stuff of despair – or so I thought. All that is big stuff on the global stage – but closer to home I’m seeing individual horrors and tragedies that are unrelated to international relations; acts of evil perpetrated by ordinary people in small towns and suburbs, and ‘little’ people flouting the law because they feel the fulfilment of their desires is greater than the safety or security of society as a whole. Like those dickheads who smash bottles just for fun (see last Friday's rant).

It’s the little manifestations of evil that seem to point more and more to a breakdown of society. Like these: - Former bank boss jailed for hanging dog. (What kind of creep would do such a thing?) - Children shot while playing in park. (By a grown-up. The news didn’t say whether he knew the kids – but in any case, who uses little kids for target practice?) – Teen girls spit, steal and punch in rampage. (16 and 17 years old…. Nice girls…)

The breakdown of society’s fabric – the crack in the veneer of civilisation – is it increasing, or just increasingly being reported? Criminals of both genders are getting younger, random acts of senseless violence seem to be multiplying, and humanity seems to be getting crazier at every level.

Stop the world, I want to get off!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Music Means Stuff

I've never been a 'background noise' person. I don't understand people who have to have music/tv/radio in the background 24/7. There's enough going on in my head already, without cluttering it with more noise - and after spending years in noisy classrooms I'm more than happy to live in a quiet world, free of background chatter, or noise for the sake of noise.

When I ride I don't listen to music. I prefer the sounds of the road. Not crazy about how noisy the Helmet from Hell is, but I love the sound of the bike.

When I put on music at home, my choices mean something – they're never just random background filler. They are carefully selected to fit my mood. In the past I've made a goose of myself by assuming other people do the same, when really, sometimes a song is just a song, and not some sort of 'message'.

Tonight I had the peculiar urge to listen to Patsy Cline. Erk. All those sad wailing songs about lost love. Bugger. Didn't do much for my melancholy mindset...

So anyway, I've progressed to a bit of kd lang now – a nice combination of country/torch stuff – what a voice! I'm listening to Shadowlands, (shades of Patsy Cline) rather than Reintarnation or All You Can Eat, and I already know that I'll go for Ingenue next.

I think this is a sign that my mood is backsliding. It's been a week since my last big ride, and must be time for another one, to take my brain away from other things!

Phew – just as well there's one in the pipeline! My next big ride is to Brissie in December, and I alternate between excitement and terror at the prospect. The terrain between here and Brisbane is dotted with some fairly scary bushfires at the moment, so a lot will depend on the fire scenario. My leave has been approved, so I will have a week off work, no matter what – but I want to use that time off productively, doing what I like to do best - riding my bike! The Brissie trip should be a good 'un, with the good company of family (my little bro and his lady), and friends (Clem & family) at the other end, via a stop in Armidale to pay homage to a certain new arrival. Watch this space...

Friday, 20 November 2009

Glassy-eyed on Friday

It’s not just that a week at work makes me glassy-eyed (although it does) – or that the unseasonally hot November weather (expecting 37C again today – noooo!) puts me in a daze.

I want to know WTF is behind an apparent fascination for breaking glass out there in Canberra.

I don’t get it.

I live in a not-so-salubrious part of town, with a high population of delinquent kids – and I work in the middle of the city, not far from several pubs. Both places are littered with shattered glass. These broken bottles tend to be grog bottles. I’m trying to imagine what’s behind this antisocial glass-breaking behaviour, coz I counted 6 smashed on the walkway/bike path between my place and the local shops yesterday – a distance of less than a kilometre.

Every Friday morning I find them in the car-park near work as well. I think there are late-night car park parties when Mooseheads closes, and then, rather than leaving the bottles behind, or god forbid, putting them in bins, some bright drunken spark gets the bright drunken urge to shatter the bottles in the motorcycle parking area. It's really pissing me off.

So - what’s so satisfying or entertaining about breaking a glass bottle? Is it the noise? The klunk-tinkle? The way the glass flies everywhere on impact with the concrete? Or is it perhaps the thought of the potential injuries to fellow travellers unfortunate enough to step on their leavings?

Hey, how cool would it be if someone was walking barefoot here? If the used syringes don't get 'em, the broken glass will, tee hee!

Maybe it's just exciting to ruminate on the magnifying-glass effect that any shards might have if they fall on grass in this hot, dry, fire-prone place? A whole neighbourhood up in smoke…..oh well, it's not a particularly nice neighbourhood anyway. But that's not the point!

I don’t think the antisocial Neanderthals who are into smashing bottles would actually have the brainpower for such complex thought, so I’m going with the ‘Duh, it makes a nice noise’ option.

Given the kind of bottles that they generally are – i.e., empty beer/alcopop bottles, I suppose the alcohol, once consumed, makes the owner of the bottle clumsier and/or stupider than usual, and puts them in the fame of mind where shattering the bottle sounds like a highly original and brilliant idea.


Wednesday, 18 November 2009

On the Road Again - Healesville and Back

2 x 725km ride days, with a rest day in between.

Friday morning dawned gloomy and cool, and I had a sneaky feeling I might be underdressed for the trip through the Snowies to Healesville, for a weekend at Katt’s place. The forecast was for cloud, clearing – so I donned the leathers and hit the road at 6am.

I’d forgotten how boring the road from Canberra to Cooma is. And how dangerous. Two morons who tried to kill me got my heart rate up - actually, one of them made me cry, the bastard, he was so close! He suddenly popped out from between two enormous trucks, gunned his engine to overtake, then realised he was heading right for me and ducked back between the trucks just before I had to run myself off the road to try and avoid certain head-on death.

That’s the sort of thing that does wonders for my froot-loopness. Under-dressed and over-anxious, I very nearly turned around and went home at that point.

The lady who was energetically mopping the floor at Maccas in Cooma reckoned the cloud would lift, and looked at me as if I came from another planet when I said I was feeling the cold. (What she said, in fact, was “Suck it up, Princess!” and then looked a bit worried to see how the big tough bikie chick would respond. The big tough bikie chick laughed and felt herself strangely renewed by this comment.)

By Adaminaby there was a glimmer of sunshine, and flying through the high country around Kiandra I realised I felt so much better. The twisties through to Cabramurra and down to Tumut Ponds Dam were fantastic. The ‘new’ lowered seat on the SV is just brilliant. Hard to believe that with so much of the foam scalloped out it’s actually more comfortable than it was (not to mention the fact that I ‘fit’ into the bike better and can get more foot on the ground when I stop).

Morning tea in Corryong, Victoria, then it was across country on the fab sweepers of the Murray Valley Highway to Tallangatta. By that time my leathers had started sticking to me.

It didn’t get better as the day wore on. On the twisty bit of the Euroa-Merton Road I was held up by a 4WD pulling a horse float, followed by another 4WD – all of them doing 15kmh, while I sweltered inside my leathers. I felt a bit like one of those boil-in-the-bag dinners.

I unloaded the better part of a gallon of water inside my jacket at Alexandra and pressed on for the final 60-70kms to Healesville. The Black Spur, as usual, was fantastic, but I was sooo relieved to arrive at Katt’s and get those wretched leathers off! 10 hours on the road, and on the new seat I didn’t even have a numb bum!

Katt and I are planning a road-trip (more about that another time!) and on Saturday went into Melbourne (in the car!) to try on some BMW G 650 GS’s for size. Noice. Comfy ride position, but felt about as tall as the SV was before I got the seat hacked down. Hmmm, will have to think about that one.

I am so unaccustomed to sitting in a car for any length of time – my back and legs were soooo sore by the time we got back, and I had to get out for a walk and a much-needed stretch with Tash, Katt’s daughter, while Katt had a nanna nap.

Sunday 15 November was the 43rd anniversary of our arrival in Australia – and what a lovely way to spend it! I headed off at 7 o’clock into cool, moist, early-morning air. Lovely! I had the Black Spur all to myself. Tootling along through the tall trees and twisty corners I realised I absolutely don’t want to hoon through twisties at all – I’m far happier going at a sensible speed and enjoying the scenery. That was a bit of a revelation, coz I don’t mind a bit of speed, usually!

Had a nervous moment as I neared Alexandra, seeing as the last two times I’ve been heading home through there I’ve had an enforced extended stay because of bike mishaps! This time, though, I managed to ride through town without any disasters, and I just waved as I rode past.

I came home a different way – (see the map) but it ended up being pretty much the same distance, although it was an hour less. Just as well, because by 9.30am the air was unequivocally hot– and it just got hotter and hotter as the day went on. Snake season is well underway – I spotted a squashed brown snake, a black, and what I think was a dead copperhead on the road as well.

The bitumen had that hot dusty smell, and by Tumut it was starting to feel a bit unbearable. The hot air was so dry that it made my contact lenses stick to my eyeballs – very uncomfortable, and disconcerting as well. The gallons of water I’d poured inside my jacket had evaporated long ago, so I resoaked myself at the servo and put the AirHawk seat on, coz by that stage my bum had had enough as well. I plodded on to home sweet home, where all I wanted was an icy cold cider and a cool shower, and arrived around 4pm.

And look what I came home to!

My clematis - doing so much better than it did last year!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Watering the garden

It was hard to keep my garden alive last summer. Water restrictions, a dreadful heat wave and a broken foot made a bad combination. The weeds seemed to thrive though, sans attention, sans water, sans just about everything.

Somehow my precious plants survived – stunted, to be sure, and probably miserable. Then the wettest winter/spring I’ve ever known since moving to Canberra brought everything to life again.

Water is an amazing thing… Especially when it’s free and comes out of the sky, rather than out of a garden hose.

Now I have to mow the lawn – regularly! This is not a chore that bothers me. At the moment it’s a novelty, as the ‘lawn’ has been dead for 5 years – I think I mowed it twice in 5 years, and I’ve had to mow it 5 times in the last couple of months!

Sticky weed (cleavers) needs bugger-all encouragement, water or food to grow, thrive, take over the universe. Horrible stuff – it comes out easily, but puts up one helluva fight against your skin…

Wandering out there, tweaking out the odd weed and surveying the good things that are growing got me to thinking that a lot of other things in life are like my garden. If they’re not tended they get overgrown. Noxious weeds take over and strangle the struggling flowers.

And if you don’t water the garden, the good stuff won’t grow.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Running on Empty

So... remember the Adventure I Could've Done Without? The trip to Accident and Emergency? The chest pains that turned out to be an anxiety attack?

Seems it was the beginning of an anxiety 'cycle'. I'm not familiar enough with Anxiety Disorder to know about this stuff – but apparently it's something that, if nipped in the bud, will go away fairly quickly. There was no nippage in this case. I semi-merrily trundled along, wondering why my lung capacity seemed to be shrinking.

After a few stressful moments on the Phillip Island pilgrimage and the ride home, I couldn't switch it off. I desperately needed to talk to my bloke, but he had issues of his own, and it was a bit like those cool domino set-ups where one single domino causes about a million other intricately-arranged dominoes to topple in a pattern resembling the annexation of Europe, or traces the outline of the Mona Lisa or something.

And then I just couldn't breathe. Well, obviously I could breathe enough to stay alive, but my lungs would only partially fill. After four days of fighting for breath, and getting increasingly frightened, I gave up and saw the doc.

Guess what? I got some short-term, heavy-duty froot-loop drugs to get me over the hump – a sort of low-dose Valium lookalike. Erk, do you know how scary that is? We've all grown up with stories of Benzo's being known as “Mother's Little Helper', and all the Stepford Wife types being whacked out on Benzodiazapenes (is that how you spell them?). The last thing I want to do is swap a head problem for a drug problem..... Sheeeee-it!

I am assured, though, that within 2 weeks I'll be back to whatever passes for normal, apparently, and can wean myself off Mother's Little Helper. Phew. This anxiety is serious shit.

But then what?

Here's the sad bit....the fall-out...

Me and my bloke are no more. He's too laid-back and I'm too uptight – a recipe for disaster. We both recognise that, I guess, and both want to maintain the great friendship that existed long before he became 'my bloke'. But I still can't help feeling sad about the 'might've beens', and I still care about him well beyond the limits of 'friendship'.... Not sure how to get past that, but if there's a way, I'll find it, because I am Resourceful Betty.

So.... nil desperandum! The best fix for a sad-attack is a kickarse ride, so I have two in the pipeline before Christmas. Watch this space...