Sunday, June 22, 2008

Wet socks

Last Sunday I rode the 65k Eastlink opening celebration ride - lots of fun, great road - hopeless crowd control. Never mind, it's good to have a big cycling event in the middle of Winter. So now I'm starting to think about getting started on the spring cycling fitness and this morning, decided I was going to combine my walking with some cycling.....
This morning was a classic situation of "ugh do I realy have to get out of bed so early?" My new cat keeps waking me up at 5am, so by the time I throw him out of the room (no he is NOT allowed to sleep on the bed), and snuggle back down, I am just drifting off when the alarm goes. Today I had it set for 6.30 because I thought it was a good opportunity to try a combined train/bike trip across town and see how the timing worked out and how many k's it would be for the bike section. Anyway, Charlie did his usual thing and began yowling at around 4.50 am and I hissed at him then got out of bed and stomped my foot and him, then shut the door behind him when he bolted down the corridoor (I know, I'm just a mean so & so). Of course I was just dsrifting off again at 6ish when he started howling at the door, so I waited until he was quiet, then switched on the radio as if the clock alarm had come on. I don't want him getting the idea that I will get up for him! At least I was able to have a relaxed breakfast instead of rushing. I got all my bike gear on & pumped the tyres etc and went out the door at 7.10am. I noted it had been raining, but didn't think anything of it. In Melbourne we've learned to ignore the weather forecasts when they say there'll be rain. It stayed dry as I rode up to the local train station and waited for the train to Newport, it was still dry when I got off at Newport, but by the time I got down to Hyde st. and the route under the Westgate, it set in. It wasn't too bad at first & I kept thinking "Oh, it'll clear." But by the time my bum was wet from the road splash (no mudguards on the road bike) and the water was leaking through the seams on my shoulders, I realised it wasn't going to let up, and to make matters worse, I'd taken a wrong turn and had to ride about an extra 5 k to get to Port Melb. I stood on the corner under Lexies building, water puddling inside my shoes, my hair plastered to my head under my helmet and thought about Lexie's nice warm flat. Should I call her? Would she have a spare tracksuit? I knew she wanted a bit of time out this weekend. Would she be enjoying some time with Jeff? Would I be intruding? The water trickled down my legs and into my shoes...when I lifted my arm the water ran out of my glove and down to my elbow, and a cold little drip ran off the end of my hair and down my neck. All I can say is it's great to have a friend in need. Lexie and Jeff took me in like a drowned rat - even Toya, initially excited to see me was a bit dubious when I started leaving puddles on the floor. Jeff got me a hot coffee, Lexie found clothes to fit, we put the bike gear in the clothes dryer so that it would be dry when I'd finished our walk, and by the time Sal & Joan got there, I was dry, warm and ready to walk.So I reckon Lexie gets the friend of the year award, and I get the big drip award for the year! And yes I rode home again in my freshly dried gear and Lexies socks :-)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The joys of motherhood

Yes that's me sitting at Altona Railway station at 9:20 pm with my trakkie daks and pink fluffy slippers on. How did I come to be there? I invited Kristin over for dinner. Because Kristin is usually working in the city, I rang and offered to pick her up. She said that actually she was at home that day and would catch public transport in to where I work. Now remember that the first time she came over to my new house, she got off the train a station too early, and I had to go and rescue her, then the second time she came over she forgot to check the timetable and ended up on a train that went express straight through our station, so I had to go and rescue her.... This time she got on a tram without checking the timetable and instead of taking her in a direct line to where she should be, it did a right hand turn, it was dark, she was reading her book and the next thing I know I get a phone call. "I don't know where I am...."

Eventually we got to our local shops and stop to buy fish & chips. I had to go and get some cash from the ATM and a young fellow kept following me and I felt very uneasy. I made the mistake of telling Kristin when I got back to the car. After dinner I offered to take her back to the station to catch her train home. It was 9pm, dark and cold. As we pulled up in the car, she said "Will you wait with me, I feel nervous after that kid followed you." So out of the car in my pink fluffy slippers and onto the station. The train schedule said the next train would be at 9.18pm. We waited and waited and waited. Eventually the train from the city came and all the students and late shoppers got out and looked at me as they went past (or rather they looked at my pink fluffy slippers), and then there was only Kristin & I left on the station. 9.18, no train, 9.20 no train, 9.25 a voice booms from no-where. Passengers waiting for the 9.18 to the city are advised that owing to switching problems at Flinders st the 9.18 will not run (don't know how that works, because the 9.18 was coming from Werribee, not Flinders St.), the next train to the city will be at 9.48pm. I look at Kristin, "Right, into the car!" I drive her to Melbourne Central. As I drop her off at 10pm, we have the following conversation.... Ok Kristin, is there something wrong with your car? No. So how come you didn't drive it over? It needs new tyres. How bald are they. Oh not bad, I'm just trying to save them.......

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Charlie the Cat stories

Well, I never thought that I'd end up an old lady with a cat - but there you are, and here I am with Charlie. This week Charlie has new toys to keep him occupied while I am at work .... The toys are pretty good value because Charlie invents all sorts of ways of maintaining interest in them, such as burying them under the beautiful rug in my lounge room. This requires much clawing at the rug to get it to lift so that he can access the toy underneath it .... and hiding it under the curtains so that he can attack the curtains with true tabby cat ferocity and regain his rightful possessions.
This weekend Charlie discovered how to jump onto the table which is parked at the end of the sideway and to go from there, up onto the fence and out into the front garden (read ROAD). This caused a re-think in my `Living with a CAT Strategic Plan'. First Action item was to catch Charlie in the middle of tearing up the sideway passage, before he gets to the table and BLAST him with a jet stream of water from the hose. Worked beautifully twice, but an absolute failure the third time when he got a head start on me and made it to the table before I turned the hose on. The jetstream of water only caused him to jump higher & faster off the table and over the fence. The first time he escaped, he startled himself - he found that he was in unfamiliar territory and went to ground. I called and made smooching noises, but couldn't hear his bell anywhere. I decided the best plan of action was to stay out in the garden, pottering in and out from back yard to front and making little noises that a scared cat might be listening for. Sure enough, after half an hour, on my second trip out through the driveway gate - here's Charlie - trying to look as though nothing unusual was occurring, standing in the middle of the carport drive and VERY happy to follow me back through the gates to the safety of the back yard. When he got over the fence the second time, in the evening, I just went straight through the house to the front door, and there he was in the carport drive - very happy to come straight back in the house.
Next step in the `Living with a CAT Strategic Plan', now came into play. LEAD TRAINING.
I've got a new job and now I'm out of the house from 6.50 am until 6.30 pm. Poor Charlie - no outdoor playtime. So Charlie is learning to walk on a lead with me. and on Monday and Tuesday evenings has come out for a walk down the street. On Monday night he was the biggest Scaredy Cat you've ever seen. I ended up carrying him most of the way. Tonight he was much braver, and at the end of the walk, threw a tantrum about having to come inside again becase he's just found THE tree that all the birds live in. Until all three of the neighbours kids rushed up wanting to see him and pat him - then he went under the car so fast he nearly dragged my arm off.
It is nice to come home to someone who is desperately waiting for me to turn up! I wonder if I can con him into riding on the bike with me?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Charlie the tiger cat

You wouldn't think that something as cute as this could create havoc, but I was finally glad that the man with the chainsaw had thinned the foliage of the Callistemon, when Charlie discovered trees. I have to say, he hadn't even given this tree so much as a sideways glance, when suddenly he was up in it.
Well that was all well and good, but as they say, "What goes up, must come down." and that was a little difficult. He tried a number of different routes, including performing some extraordinary acrobatics, and one manouver which made him look like a koala.

Have you ever watched a koala back down a tree trunk? With a little encouragement from me, he found his way back to ground level and with his heart beating wildly decided to take me up on my offer of a bit of food and relaxation back inside the house. Later in the afternoon, I decided to let him out again for a run before nightfall. This time he managed to attack my pot of Carex grass, which trails beautifully, pluming from within the pot and weeping down the sides, so that I have to place it on top of another (upside down) pot to allow the plumes of grass to cascade gracefully to the ground. Crack! down it came, breaking the glazed clay pot and snapping Charlie into action. Straight up the ironbark he went to the point about 3m above ground, where the side limb had been removed, leaving a nice little ledge for him to perch on. Well, this was good, he had a perfect view into the neighbours yard. He could see all those birdies in the bushes next door, he could see over the back fence to the creek and all the little duckies and moor hens settling for the night. He could see ... Whats that? Great big hairy bounding horrible noisy monsters leaping at the fence next door, red tongues lolling. spittles of drool flying as they howled and yapped and tongued at poor Charlie. Up went Charlies back and up the iron bark he advanced, with me watching helplessly 6 m below. Fortunately he recognised my voice and halted, then slid backwards down to his perch on the stump of the cut limb. The boys next door clambered up on the fence, little Tyler all excited and Lee ordering the dogs to calm down. Tyler thought Charlie was wonderful, perched up on the ironbark trunk and I took the opportunity to talk calmly and happily to the boys, while Charlie watched and assessed the situation, until he felt that it was safe to leave his perch. As dusk closed in he took a flying leap to ground and I coerced him into letting me scoop him up, his wild heart thumping against my forearm, eyes still startled and claws ready. Tyler did get a pat or two before we went inside.

Out walking

I still find it hard to believe how lucky I am. One of my favourite walks from my new home, takes me alongside a creek and down towards the rivermouth and coastline. A couple of days ago I walked in brilliant early sunlight, through scrub and grasslands, watching the mist rise off the creek and enjoying the morning. The flight of a pelican setting off for the ocean caught my attention. He rose above the creek grasses, like an old fashioned barge, his wings were oars carving the air, neck and head bent back and strong beak horizontal to the river. Slowly lifting his cumbersome weight and trimming his strokes to perform a silent turn towards his feeding grounds, he went forward, regardless of my admiration. The shags and cormorants were still standing with wings outstretched to catch the morning sun, while he rose above them all setting about his daily business, a proficient and efficient, tradesman amongst the townsfolk down below.

There are so many things to catch your eye when out walking. Sunlight on grasses, twigs on trees, dogs running, water levels in the wetlands. I can walk the same route every day, and every day it's different. The local kids have a fishing hole down by the creek and they also fish from the bridge that goes across to the next suburb on the other side. I feel proud when I cycle across the bridge and can say "Hi Lee" to the next door neighbours boy as he pulls his fishing pole aside to let me pass. They show me their catch, mostly Murray cod, flapping around in the plastic lunchbox, they let it go back into the creek at the end of their morning.