“Now you have”

It’s 03:30 and I’m walking down the Pacific Highway at North Sydney, on my way to work. It’s a 6 lane road with a small dividing median strip in the middle and I’m walking on the side with the traffic coming towards me, but there is no traffic in either direction. Well, why would there be, at this time of day? I’m listening to my ABC Classic radio with the gorgeous voice of Vanessa Hughes back-announcing the Handel’s Water Music I had been enjoying as I walked.

Suddenly I hear a siren behind me, and I turn around to see a police paddy wagon with lights flashing and siren sounding, headed towards me driving down the wrong side of the road.

[police car lights]

I move over onto the footpath and he stops next to me.

Police Officer: 
Why are you walking down the middle of the road?

Because it’s safer than walking on the dark, wonky footpaths and I don’t normally have police cars come up behind me.

Police Officer:
Well now you have.

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A great way to spend a Sunday morning

I arrived at the SMH Half Marathon course yesterday just about the time the race was starting. I stationed myself at a point about 4.7 km into the race in the hope that by the time daiskmeliadorn reached me the field would be sufficiently spread out that I would be able to pick her out of the crowd as she ran past.

I assembled my sign and set it up where I hoped she would see the sign, and me. She belongs to the Sydney branch of the global FrontRunners running club and there were quite a few club members taking part.

It didn’t take long before the eventual winner arrived. He was already well ahead of his rivals. And it wasn’t many minutes after that when daiskmeliadorn arrived, recognisable in her red and white FrontRunners top. And we saw each other!

The course is a kind of out-and-back loop, such that the runners return along the other side of this road on their way back to the finish. So I moved myself and my sign over to the other side of the road. For the returning runners my location was just after the 13 km point. The loop they had run from the 4.7 km point to the 13 km point had some significant hills in it and I knew daiskmeliadorn’s legs would be feeling some pain. But when she arrived she was still smiling – if only for the camera!

It’s still a long way to go to the finish line – another 8 km – including a very demanding 2 km final uphill from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. But she did it – and completed the course in a personal best half marathon time: 01:43:02. Her previous best time? 01:43:03.

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How much hope does a person need?

Hope for the future. It can emerge from an apparent wasteland like this sweet pea shoot in my garden.

I planted thirteen seeds but only two have germinated. I suspect I am responsible for the low success rate. Maybe I should have put some lime in the soil. Maybe I should have watered the soil better before I planted the seeds. Maybe I planted too late in the season.

I’m not actually that hopeful about the future. I’ll be surprised if I end up with any sweet pea flowers at all.

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Last Monday I was on a white diet. On Tuesday that continued, and then in the afternoon my diet was restricted to just clear fluids. On Tuesday night I drank, with great distaste and difficulty, a litre of Moviprep, then waited for the massive dose of diarrhoea required to completely flush out my bowel for a colonoscopy and endoscopy scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. The diarrhoea didn’t really hit until after consuming the second litre of Moviprep on Wednesday morning.

This preparation was awful, but worse was the possible prospect of having an ‘Anton Enus moment‘ after the procedure. (For Anton, while still drowsy from his colonoscopy anaesthetic, he was informed by his doctor that they  found a large tumour in his colon. ) Or perhaps I would be told that I had Crohn’s disease or colitis, as suffered by two of my three children, with the prospect of undesirable drugs and possible surgery in the future.

My daughter, daiskmeliadorn, knew I was dreading this. She knew I needed something to look forward to, beyond the Moviprep, beyond diarrhoea, and beyond the hospital experience. She offered breakfast together  on Thursday – vegan muffins and coffee at Soma (formerly known as Mecca). And she would bring a loaf of her famous sourdough bread.

And so it came to pass. I survived. We met for breakfast. She gave me a chocolate and walnut sourdough, 50% wholemeal.

And I have, at least for the time being, avoided the Anton Enus moment. Nothing sinister was apparently seen.

The endoscopy report says: “Hiatus hernia“.

The colonoscopy report says: “Retained prep in parts of bowel. No colitis. Routine biopsy. Review in 4 – 6 weeks to discuss repeating with extra prep.

I’m not even thinking about that “...repeating with extra prep“. I’m living for the moment, enjoying daiskmeliadorn‘s bread like never before.

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snowdroppers in the suburbs

Yesterday’s washing used a lot of pegs.

At least two pegs for each sock and three or four for each pair of underpants.

We’re being attacked by snowdropping currawongs. [ More on snowdropping – see this 1930 letter to the Sydney Morning Herald]

The pied currawong is a common bird in my part of Australia. Large-ish, noisy, and smart. They are quite good at getting clothes off the clothes line, presumably to make their nest more comfortable.

Although from the numbers of socks and pairs of underpants that I find in the yard and on the street, it seems they’re not all reaching their destination. Or is it that the currawongs are not nest building but just snowdropping for fun?

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white diet – again

I picked up this freegan loaf of bread this morning.

Normally I’d leave this kind of bread in the dumpster, but today is different. This is old-fashioned white bread. Bleached, refined, with no goodness or interest in it.

Sadly, this will comprise a very large part of my diet next Monday and Tuesday. I’ll be  preparing for a colonoscopy & endoscopy on Wednesday. Apparently my gastroenterologist, Dr N,  has gotten sick of the sights and smells of baby shit and he’s come back to work and wants to look into my large bowel instead….and my oesophagus, stomach, duodenum etc. Now that I’m starting to get ready for this, my anxiety levels are starting to ramp up. I’m anxious about the preparation (not the white diet so much as flushing my bowel out with a litre of Moviprep), the procedure, but more significantly, the possible findings.

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street art and decoration

On my walking (or running when I’m healthy) commuter route to work there have been a few recent additions to the streetscape.

The two sculptures above have been installed by North Sydney Council. Each interesting in its own way. “What do they mean?”, I ask myself. Is that the wrong question? There’s clearly lots of symbolism in the lower one, located in Bradfield Park. The upper one, on the highway roadside near North Sydney Station, looks like a kind of three-dimensional lightning flash. Why?

A little further down the road, Milsons Point Railway Station is being renovated. The railway station is built into the northern abutment of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and in its current form was completed, along with the bridge itself, in the  early 1930s. Chrome plated art deco framings have been added as part of the renovation. I wonder if they were there originally?

And as shown below, there’s a new clock just installed (that’s not the correct time. It’s actually 03:30 but the clock hadn’t been turned on when I took the picture!). Several years ago they put in a fancy digital clock, but in keeping with the heritage emphasis of the current upgrade they have ripped out the digital and gone back to old-fashioned analog, in the traditional railway style.

 As interesting and valuable as these things are, my favourite streetscape decoration in this area is the stand of Gymea Lilies growing just outside the Milsons Point Railway Station entrance. I am always watching to see if any are flowering and to observe the gradual lengthening of the flower spears, wondering whether the flower will bloom before someone snaps off the spike.

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