Sunday, 23 May 2010

The Heroic Postie Bike - a tribute

My new toy - Daisy the Postie Bike - a Honda CT110

I did it! I am now a multiple bike owner. Uh-oh.... it always starts with a postie bike, and before you know it you need a bigger shed.

Meet Daisy, my little CT110. Perfect for short runs to the shops, and perhaps that once-a-year trip out to Funkytown on the dreaded gravel road.

Postie bikes are fabulous little critters. They may be small, but they perform a vital job for the people of this country. Forget the old 1950s adage, back in the golden years of the wool industry, when Australia was said to 'ride on the sheep's back'. These days Australia's future rides a CT110. Let me explain.

Remember a while back I was talking about the joys of turning 50? Remember the National Bowel Screening Program test kit the Government sent me for my birthday? You know, the one I kept ignoring because I couldn't bring myself to
poke around in poo and then send it through the post? The one that had me terribly worried for all the Australia Post employees who would have to trundle bags of poo around the country on their postie bikes?

Can you believe the gov sent me a reminder letter? A "Dear Betty, to date we have not received your poo, please send ASAP" type missive. I couldn't believe it. The government of this country was really desperate for my little ol' poo. I was touched.

I carefully read through the material that came with the poo-kit, and learned that I was one of a select number of old folk invited to poo for Australia. It was, in fact, quite a special thing to receive a defecation invitation from the folk that run the nation. A Very Special Thing Indeed.

Somehow, though, as I carefully laid the special dissolving poo-catcher paper mat in the toilet bowl, then tried to perform under pressure (the poo-catcher dissolves after only 5 minutes of contact with the loo water, so you don't have a lot of time to recompose yourself afterwards), and then poked around in the - oh, it's all too awful - I didn't feel very special. In fact, I couldn't help but get this screamingly funny image of thousands of middle-aged Aussies in their PJs and fluffy slippers, bent bare-arsed over their dunnies and poking about with great seriousness in their business to collect samples for the government before the poo-catcher dissolved.

And (this is the best bit) you have to do it twice! One poo is not enough for the Government of Australia. Participation in the national bowel screening program is a two poo jobbie, so to speak. While you're waiting for your number two Number Two, your carefully labelled number one Number Two goes into THE FRIDGE (yes, you read that right), along with the raspberry jam, the limp bunch of celery that you'd forgotten was there and half a litre of soy milk.

The job(s) finally done, and carefully packaged, I felt horribly conspicuous, hobbling to the letterbox at the local shops with my little post-pack of poo, (with my name written on the OUTSIDE of the post-pack where anybody could see it!) and breathed a great sigh of relief as it plopped through the slot of the post-box. What an ordeal. Over to you, Australia Post. Ride like the wind, little postie bikes, to deliver your precious cargo!

So - any time you feel like sneering at those little wee postie-bikes, just remind yourself that they play a vital part in the screening of the nation's bowels, and be very very thankful that they do.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Post-Unaugural (black and) Blues

A week after my spill on the way to Unaugural 8.0, the cankle has reduced enough for me to get my bike boot on again, but has too many sore spots to make riding feasible right now. Besides, the lovely James has my bike safely stashed where I can do it no more harm for a little while. (You're a star, James!)

What a week it's been. My first thought after crashing was “Fark – my ankle!” The second was “Omigod, the soup!” (5 litres of the stuff in plastic bottles in my saddlebags) and the third was “Oh SHIT – how the hell am I going to get around at school? I've been in the job for only 2 weeks – I can't possibly take time off!”

So... in order of those concerns -

Number One - The ankle – or 'Cankle', as Julian Smee so correctly called it – nothing broken, apparently. Pretty colours though! Have a look at the pics, one week after the event.

The foot...and the Cankle...

Boomerang Boy hired me a set of crutches to get me through the week, and for a couple of days I worked at building biceps and deltoids that would give Arnie Schwarzenegger a run for his money. OUCH! After 2 days on crutches my shoulders were screaming. I was whimpering in a corner, trying to hide from the dreaded crutches and rubbing emu oil into my aching, screaming delts.

Number Two - the soup – those big plastic juice bottles are pretty robust. They did not explode on impact as 200kg of loaded motorbike flung me hard onto the gravel. They also did not prevent the ensuing lever and blinker carnage on the bike, dammit. The soup survived, and some of those ausmoto folk actually got to breakfast upon it – a hearty start to a foggy and hungover Sunday after our wild and raucous Saturday night.

And the biggie - Number Three - getting around at school... OMFG!

The staffroom is at the top of a rather steep flight of stairs. The school (as schools tend to be) is rather spread out. Most of my classes are in the one block, but up and down stairs. As for getting to the library for Year 9 Geography assignment research, or the chapel for, well, God-type things, or my post on the bloody school cross country circuit.... aaaaaaaaaagrh - it was agonising!

However – my lovely staffroom colleagues mothered me and swapped classrooms with me... most of them are half my age, and they figured the Old Girl needed looking after, and got playfully stroppy when I tried my Independent Tough Old Bird routine – thanks folks, you're wonderful. They found it highly amusing, though, when I hopped across the staffroom with a thermal mug full of coffee in the pocket of the Coles supermarket eco-friendly cloth bag that I hung around my neck to carry all my stuff in (so classy!), and didn't spill a drop!

Also – I was so incredibly moved and totally impressed by the lovely manners of the kids at my school. Kids I don't even teach would dash to hold doors open for me as I hopped about the place on my crutches. I heard it so often that the words “Do you need any help, miss?” and “Can I carry anything for you, miss?” are still echoing in my head. What beautiful, beautiful young people.

By about Wednesday I was ready for the moon-boot that the hospital sold me after The Willy-Willy Incident last year – just as well I kept it! The foot was still mega-swollen, but I could put a bit of weight on it. By Friday I could walk on the moon-boot without a crutch.

Today I can abandon the moon-boot. My foot will fit into my joggers. In fact, it fits into my bike boot again, which is great news. It is, however, still multicoloured and still too painful to be relied upon to hold me up, so I've extended my crutch hire for a week. Thank goodness the new job pays well – I've also had to extend the hire of that nice little red car for a week.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Unaugural 8.0 - Hard Luck & HTFU

I wouldn't miss an Unaugural for anything – a freezing night in a tent out in a paddock in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of like-minded crazy people – what's not to like?

Oh yeah, the 6kms of gravel road at the end of the trip to get there, which seemed particularly bad this year – corrugations galore, and guess who came to grief on what will henceforth be known as “Betty's Bend”? (closer to Funkytown are Tara's Folly and Jo's Gate – I'm not the only person to have had, um, difficulty over the years!)

Ouch ouch ouch, and there goes another bloody clutch lever, gear lever and indicator.

Peter from Melbourne appears, picks up the bike for hopping Betty, and goes back to Funkytown to get help, which arrives 10 minutes later. Minx to the rescue! (dramatic music please!)

And James, bless him – I had never met him before, but he rode my broken bike to Funkytown for me. Painkillers were sourced, a custom walking stick was fashioned, and the party began.

Thank goodness Pisshead finally arrived, and let me use his crutches. Yay! I could actually get to the dunny, instead of having to crawl to the Wee Tree!

There was quite a crowd there this year – apart from our fabulous hosts, BTH & Minx, there was Bamfy & James, Nev & Jo, G-S, Peter, Marty, Zippy & Marian, Big Iain and his better half, Moike, Crazy Cam, Fred Murtz, Tim C, J5, VTR250, Pisshead Pete – even Smack came up from Tassie. Andre put in a brief appearance, as did Funkytown's next door neighbours.

There was archery, astronomy, a celebration of the Pumpkin that Ate Tuggeranong (pictured at the top of this post); a big bonfire and a BBQ, all washed down with copious amounts of BTH's home brewed ginger beer, beer and cider, and all manner of other wicked drinks. Fabulous awards were awarded, and hopping Betty actually got one this year (some people will do anything to get their hands on an Unaugural award). Here's mine.

To tell the truth, I can't remember who won the other awards, as the, er, painkillers were being extremely effective by that time of the evening, and things were a little hazy. What a night!

Once again, Pisshead forgot to actually get into his swag, and almost got hypothermia. The day dawned with a pea soup fog, and many hangovers. My real pea and ham soup supplemented BTH's bacon and egg breakfast, to warm people from the inside, and those from far away – Melbourne, Coonabarabran, Sydney – were soon on the road, while Pisshead and I sat like a pair of cripples nursing our sore heads and watching BTH, Bamfy & James do the hard work of pulling down the remaining tents and loading up the truck with all the Unaugural goodies.

The fog burned off, the day turned gorgeous, and we were out of there before midday. Was great catching up with everybody again – thanks everyone, and thanks BTH & Minx for another great Unaugural weekend.

James rode my bike back to Canberra (my Jacket and Gloves actually fitted him!), Boomerang Boy met us at my place with a new set of hired crutches and all is well with the world, except for the hopping around on crutches bit. The good news is that nothing appears to be broken, but omigosh, where did my ankle go?

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Betty Goes to School

Oh! I need a holiday!!

I knew the first week would be tough, and I was right. The fact that I'm still standing somehow is a miracle. I've had five years in which to learn how to slow down, after all – and now I need to start thinking and moving at warp speed again. Tough call.

My first class was surreal. Shakespeare. Macbeth, to be precise. My heart was thumping as the Head of English introduced me to the class. And then Teacher Betty took over. It was so weird! Within minutes I was Shakespearing - Macbething like a pro, as if the intervening five years of public service had never happened.

In the four school days of last week I think I did more work than I had in the previous four weeks – four months, even. It was non-stop – dashing from one class to the next; trying to put names to faces; trying to retrain my bladder to only need to pee at recess or lunchtime if I didn't have a playground duty (I spent a lot of last week wondering when the hell I would get a minute to pee!); trying to jump into the shoes of the bloke who had just left; trying to get used to the routines, the personalities, the huge administrative workload. I had parent teacher interviews on Thursday night, playground duties on Thursday and Friday. I came home exhausted every afternoon, and by Friday was soooooo ready for the weekend! Pass the vitamins (and the Panadol!)

It's good to be back. I think.