So it is Easter and chocolate abounds, time on the couch is making me round! Crummy poetry not a patch on Paul Kelly whose show I had the pleasure of attending on Monday a week ago. What an interesting man. He talked perhaps more than I expected rather than performed poetry or sang, but I still found him inspiring. I came away with a new perspective on poetry and a desire to read more. It was a fun evening sitting in the forecourt of the Malthouse theatre ( very glad of my warm coat!) with Jane D and some strangers with whom we chatted amiably. Poor Wendy had bought the tickets but due to work pressures could not attend and so we were the lucky recipients of her tickets.
Prior to this event I had a delightful couple of days catching up with my friend Pam at her Strathbogie Farm. She and her husband had bought this property about 10 years ago and slowly planted trees and gardens, built sheds while they lived in a caravan when they visited. Eventually they built a simple but welcoming homestead style home and acquired two alpacas. Despite a mix up in dates we eventually got away together and spent the two days walking and talking nonstop. We had not seen each other for more than two years! There was a lot to cover. She has acquired a new groodle puppy Scout, who I adored and the whole thing was just wonderful. I so miss the quiet of the bush, though really it isn’t quiet because there are so many birds and sounds of nature like swishing tree branches, bleating sheep and wind through the grass. They are such calming sounds and in tune with your body. While Pam took the Scout for a walk I found a huge granite boulder in the sun and just sat watching the butterflies and soaking up the sun in a peaceful meditation.
I admire Pam and her husband Brian having the courage to create a new life in the country. They haven’t fully shifted there yet but will when Brian retires in two years. They will flip their lives to live mainly in Strathbogie and have a small place in Melbourne for visiting friends and family. They are younger than me and share this dream of a tree change. They are realistic about farming and its difficulties and they will not have to make a living from the farm. It is a lifestyle choice for retirement. I see a lot of work ahead but also a sense of achievement for them both and continuous learning which challenges and rewards.
One of the things about retirement is finding a meaningful purpose to your life. Sometimes just pleasing yourself can seem selfish and even pointless. Most of us have responsibilities with grandchildren or volunteering or a desire to learn new skills which give purpose to our lives. Otherwise you can feel you are just filling in time waiting for the end. ( I was quite surprised when an older friend in her mid 70s made this remark about a crowd of people at a concert!) Finding the joy in living is so important in our later life and challenges which are meaningful, like a tree change,certainly offer that opportunity.
I certainly had a lot of fun with Scout and I was intrigued by the Alpacas and thoroughly enjoyed feeding them and allowing them to sniff me from head to foot. When Pam returned from taking Scout for her walk, even though she was leashed and nowhere near the Alpacas, the older alpaca made this strange scary call through her nose as warning. They are great watch animals! Pam and Brian keep them separate from the sheep agisted in the paddocks because they round the sheep up in a protective circle all the time! They also have very clean toilet habits and only defecate in a couple of spots in the paddock which makes collecting their manure for compost very efficient!
When I returned to Melbourne I was quickly into the swing of city life again with a bowls semi-final. The club’s level in the ‘ bowls league’ was depending on our scores. I felt pretty nervous about the whole thing initially. I arrived at the wrong club in Elsternwick at first but had been warned about this possibility so quickly realised and relocated to the correct club. The Elsternwick Club. This was the most serious competition I had attended so far. There was even a check of the bowls labels! It was a tense game and we had supporters cheering when we rolled well. A completely new experience for me. The Elsternwick team were very accomplished players so eventually they got the better of us but it was a battle every end. They were great to compete against and really friendly. In the end the competition between clubs was a draw and we had to go back out and play until there was a clear winner. It was decided on two points! That was the end of our season and I realised how much I have come to enjoy the game and the new people I was meeting. There is a break before the winter pennant comp. begins so I have some time to really focus on improving my consistency.
I decided to get a few friends to go to the Comedy Festival. I have started to go every year to a few gigs, increasing more every year as I get to know the comedians and also try new people. It is so much fun and I get to visit different quirky places in Melbourne that I have never been to before. It is usually very cheap too compared to mainstream theatre so you can go to several without spending a fortune. I have become a little ruthless about group planning now. I send out the suggestion and whoever responds within 48 hours is in and I book. It has meant a mix of companions which is also good. I have learned that if you wait for everyone you end up missing out!
Our first show was ‘ A bookish comedy’, which was held at the Storyville just off Lonsdale street. It was a hoot of a night and the comedians really appreciated our responsiveness! A compliment came from one young comedian who said it was the grey heads in the crowd who actually got the joke! Some of the comedy focused on books that had been read, so Jane, Janine and I from a book club where very vocal. We had a ball and finished the night with noodles in the QV quadrangle.
I have another four shows to attend yet so I am really looking forward to them and feel that I am contributing to helping Melbourne and it’s artists get back to the vibrant city it was before CoVid hit. The next is Aarti Vincent at the Club Voltaire in North Melbourne. Another place to which I have never been. It is an adventure finding these places in your home town!
So with Easter being fairly quiet, as in no trips or hikes, I have been to the movies with my Art buddy Anna to see the Courier. A very good movie set in the 60s about the missile standoff in Cuba. It was very suspenseful. I booked Yum Cha for Sunday with my sons and Ziggy, who was full of excitement about his Easter egg bounty and being caught by Clare in the wee hours of Sunday trying to see the Easter Bunny! The timing wasn’t quite convenient for Clare and Marlo to join us which was disappointing, but with the end of daylight saving they were conscious of not disturbing Marlo’s sleep patterns too much. Jonathan had good news he has got the Design/Production job he applied for and starts on Tuesday after Easter. A great weight has been lifted.
Nick was disappointed to learn the radio therapy had had no effect on his AVM and so he will have monitoring. He is remaining positive and has decided to live life to the fullest and focus on continuing to collaborate with his new art friend to produce some interesting work. I was disturbed because it is a time-bomb in his head but I don’t want to add to his stress by expressing my anxieties. At this stage we can’t do anything else but keep living to the best of our ability until a treatment is found.
Every day is a bonus. Look at Carla Zampatti, she woke up to a normal day, went to the Opera and happened to fall hard coming out. The next thing she was in hospital never regaining consciousness and died a week later. Life is unpredictable so we need to treasure what is here and now and not waste energy on worrying about the future or bemoaning the past.