waiting #2

This was tacked onto that last post, but it looked stupid. It’s not really all that interesting a post, actually, so you might want to skip over it.
I was watching this clip about a roundabout in the Netherlands and it reminded me of some of the things I’ve written about above. I guess it has more to do with ideas about sharing space on a dance floor rather than intra-partnership communication.

When I watch this clip I compare it to the way motorists and cyclists interact on the road at traffic lights. We live on a busy intersection with a complicated set of lights. At peak hour in particular, motorists tend to approach the lights in these ways:
1. green light: go!
2. orange light: go faster!
3. red light: go really fast! Or stop >:(
When the light turns green again: GO! GO!
They tend not to think actively or critically of the space and people on the road around them. They respond to the traffic lights. When I cross the road there, I wait for the lights to go green, then I look to see what the traffic is doing. I wait before I step out, because cars regularly run these lights – it’s a dangerous spot.
But I’m interested in the way motorists do as the lights say, or respond to the lights, rather than to the people on the crossing itself (whether they’re in cars, on bikes or on foot). Rather than thinking ‘ok, I need to slow down here – it’s an intersection with complicated things happening’, they think ‘the light is green – I must go!’
As a cyclist, I’m out there in the elements. I feel the wind, am very very conscious of the cars physical presence, and I’m ultra-aware of people around me. Cyclists tend to actually make eye contact and smile/talk to each other (or, in The Squeeze’s case, challenge them to a race. Yes, really). Riding a bike reminds me that I’m not actually alone. When you drive a car, you tend to forget about the outside world. Things go past you too quickly to really appreciate. You can’t smell the bakery doing the morning bread at 2am as you ride home after a night out. You can’t stop to help a nanna rearrange her shopping. You can’t stop to pat a friendly cat or steal a handful of rosemary from a park. You can’t ride through parks – you have to stick to the bitumen. You can’t just suddenly hop out of your car and carry it down some steps if you want to take a shortcut. Riding a bike not only makes you feel physically better (and stronger and more independent), it also reminds you that your neighbourhood is sounds and smells and small details, not just blurs or lines of traffic.
This sort of stuff reminds me of some people’s general thinking about cycling rather than driving a car. People who drive cars tend to respond to my encouraging them to ride a bike to work or for errands instead with these arguments:
1 it’ll take longer – I have to get to work, I spend too much time traveling as it is
2 I’m too tired after work to ride home
3 I don’t want to get wet/sweaty/cold/hot
4 I don’t want to shower at work
5 it’s dangerous
6 I live a long way from my work
7 I have to carry a lot of stuff to work.
They tend to assume that their quality of life will be degraded by riding a bike. Whereas I think – I know that my quality of life is improved by riding a bike:
1 I know exactly how long it will take me to get anywhere. I don’t begrudge this amount of time, because I enjoy it – it is pleasurable and good exercise
2 Riding gives me energy and makes me feel, generally, more energetic. It might kick my arse and leave me panting, but overall, I feel more energy. This is especially important if I’m going through a bit of depression or ill health. I’ve found that dealing with the constant pain in my foot, the exercise of cycling helps me deal with pain and depression; I just feel better.
3 I don’t mind getting sweaty/wet/cold/hot. The more you ride a bike, the more accustomed you become to getting wet or hot or cold. You simply accept the fact that riding in the rain makes you wet. Or exercise makes you sweaty. If you’re going to work, you shower there. I don’t mind getting a bit wet. Or even very wet; I won’t melt. I wear practical clothes and I really don’t mind the weather – it doesn’t kill me, and once you get over the ‘oh no! I’m wet!’ you can actually enjoy it. Really, getting wet or hot or sweaty isn’t so bad. Sometimes it’s nice.
4 Showering at work isn’t so bad. If you’re like me, you need to cool down a bit before you shower or you just re-sweat immediately. If you’re like The Squeeze, you get out of bed, step into your knicks, then out the door. You arrive at work, shower, then eat breakfast in the kitchen/tea room/at the cafe on the corner with your co-workers or on your own. He likes doing that. He doesn’t have to make sure he looks pretty before he leaves, he knows he’ll eat breakfast and have decent coffee. Once you’ve gotten into the routine, you keep the right things at the office so you don’t find it annoying to shower.
5 It’s actually not dangerous. Driving a car is dangerous – you’re moving at great speeds in a large, dangerous object. Driving your car endangers other people; you make the world more dangerous. It’s perfectly possible to take a safe, quiet route to work on your bike where the most dangerous part of your day is passing Sweet Belam without stopping for a cake. Adding a little exercise into your day is very, very good for you. Not exercising every day is dangerous.
6 Living a long way from your work is tricky if you’re looking to cycle to work every day. But it is possible. You can take bikes on the train or ferry (or bus in some lucky cities). I’m always surprised by people’s sense of distance. I am happy to ride up to and including 10 kilometers as part of a basic commute or errand ride. The Squeeze rides 20km a day, five days a week, up and down hills and at great speed (you can imagine how fit and strong and lean he’s becoming).
If your drive is 10km or less, you really should be riding a bike. 10 kilometres is about 30 minutes (or 45 minutes if you’re me) by bike. If you’re living in a very flat town (like Melbourne), then it’s less. If you’re a super fit lycra person, then it’s less again. but 10km by car in a big city through peak hour is a long journey. It’s usually quicker to ride a bike, if you include parking time.
7 Carrying stuff on a bike is far easier than you’d think. Panniers rock – I have transported a week’s worth of groceries, four pot plants, giant bags of potting mix and lots of other things by pannier. I carry my laptop, headphones, power cord, water bottle and towel to dancing on my bike in a backpack/back rack combination. And I should mention: I am the sort of person who hates carrying heavy crap. I’ve noticed that cycling often makes carrying extra stuff in a large handbag unnecessary. If you’re showering at work, you leave a set of bathroom things at work (towel, deoderant, soap, etc), so you’re not carrying that every day.
It has to be said, though: the only cake that will transport safely on a bike is a fruit cake. But I’m working on that.
There are exceptions, of course. If you have mobility issues, cycling might not be for you. But if you’re able bodied and traveling to work by car every day, cycling is often a far nicer option. And you don’t have to ride to work every day. Starting with one day a week is often enough to help you find a nice, safe route, and to get you used to the routine. Even just every second day is enough. Commuting by bike regularly (rather than just doing it once and then giving up) is a very good idea – it can take a while to figure out the most efficient, and safest way of doing things. It can take a while to figure out exactly what stuff you can and should leave at work to make your post-ride shower easier. And practicing your route on the weekend is also a good idea. Traveling with friends is another great idea.

i see good things #2

when I ride home at night.
I just saw a man walking a pony up Morris street in Summer Hill. It was about 9pm. So of course, I stopped to find out more. Because I have lived in Brunswick, and that’s what wickians do – we investigate and communicate and congregate. He did give a very good reason for having a pony in the city, but he knew what he was doing. It was a small, slim shetland pony (which is almost an oxymoron – shetlands are never slim, unless they’re actually working in a mine).
Then I rode home.

another round-up post

Today I have a heavy cold and feel a bit rough. The Squeeze blames a trip on the train. I blame post-allergy secondary infection. Means I spend some time on the couch with Dr Who, so it’s not all bad.
The other night we went to see Hot Club of Cowtown.
It was great. I’m not sure I’m struck on the venue, though. The Basement is kind of a sit-down supper club type situation. The sort of venue that I associate with jazz – a jazz club. Which means it’s full of people with money who like to sit down and Be Entertained. Which is, of course, inimical to good, hot jazz. Hot jazz should be played to a crowded room full of partyers looking for a good time. Not straights sitting and eating overpriced, uninspired food.
But Cowtown did a fairly good job overcoming the venue. They’re friendly sorts, who like a little audience participation. And it was a little tricky at first; they needed the crowd relaxed and engaged. Guess this is when a support act comes in handy. But eventually they had the audience engaged. Took about five songs, but then they had them. They were, musically, as amazing as I remember. And there’s something really pleasing about western swing, the western swing they play. It’s friendly and cheery and makes you want to dance about like a fool. And sing along.
Before the “likkermission” they invited us to come up and chat and give song requests. Then they wandered down into the main room and mingled. I was excited and also too afraid to go up and gibber like a fan. Though I really, really wanted to. They seemed really nice and friendly, and talked with all sorts of crazy fans. They were happy to sign CDs as well. I made three trips to the souvenir table, trying to work up the guts to say hello. But I’m shy (sometimes). After the show, one of them (the one I love) stood near the door saying goodbye to people. And I managed to squeeze out a little smile and a ‘thank you’.
I’m such an idiot. I’d have loved to request Pray for the Lights to go out, but I couldn’t get it out.
I did find myself cheering and clapping along mid-set, just as I would for a dance performance. And people looked at me. But it slipped out accidentally. They were giving the ‘engage now!’ vibe, and jazz has taught me nothing if not how to respond when someone calls.
Overall, it was ace. I bought myself a tshirt (which I’m going to cut up to be my size and just my style) and a sticker (which I think I’ll put on my laptop). I had a great time.
On other, slightly related fronts, I have a pair of orthotics in my shoes now, care of the podiatrist. The podiatrist is a friendly, chatty bloke, who takes up most of our sessions yapping. He loves to talk. Which is ok, because I do too. If I didn’t know that he sat in there interacting with people all day, I’d suspect he too spent his time making up crap to fill his unemployed days. But I’m happy to chat.
The orthotics, though. They freaking ROCK! We had to walk a bit to get to the HCCT gig the other night, and I didn’t get any pain! Well, I got a bit of abrasion from the new shape of my shoe sole – blisters a-coming. But there was no pain inside my foot. And none later that night after we’d gotten home. It was wonderful.
Basically, they change the way I walk. The bit under my arch, just in front of my heel is a bit raised, and this means I put the weight on the outside of my foot more. And this means that I don’t put so much pressure on my big toe – I don’t put so much weight on my toe, I don’t stretch the plantar fascia so much (yay! – less pain!) and I don’t then have to roll the weight over to the outside of my foot when my bung ankle can’t bend any more. This means I’m just putting the weight down straight onto the main part of my foot, and I don’t roll my foot. This will be great when I get dancing – it’ll make my weight transfers clearer and easier to follow/lead. It also means that I’m not in pain.
It’s all a bit exciting. I haven’t been able to walk without pain in four months. And now I can. Of course, part of me wants to run out and go dancing NOW. But the podiatrist headed me off at the pass on that one: no dancing. No experimenting with movement. No! I have to give it six weeks to test it out. Then we talk.
Part of me wonders what effect this new way of walking will have on the rest of my body. I hope it eases the bit of ache I get in my right knee (which is largely a result of the rolling-foot problem). And I hope it eases my right hip a bit (which is similarly affected by my foot). But I hope it doesn’t do other things to me which cause problems. But that’s what the check up is for. I have noticed that the orthotic changes the way I pedal when I’m riding my bike. All of a sudden, I’m much more efficient.
Because my ankle doesn’t bend as much as it should, I have to roll my foot to get enough bend in my leg to pedal properly. But the orthotic starts me off in the right position, so I don’t have to roll my foot (or my knee). This means that instead of all the energy I put into pedaling sort of flying off or being wasted in my knee/foot rolling, it goes straight down into the pedaling, moving the wheels around. So riding my bike is suddenly a heap easier and more efficient. It’s wonderful.
I’m not sure whether I’ll have to use orthotics forever or not. I think it’s more that these will teach my muscles how they should be working, and in combination with my exercises, I’ll eventually be able to do away with the orthotics. My legs will eventually be working properly and I’ll be able to use my muscles and tendons and bones and joints more effectively.
I think one of the most important lessons from all this plantar fascia stuff, is that it’s important to pay attention to the aches and pains in your feet and body. If I’d realised I was in pain from the plantar fascia earlier, I could have done something about it. But you get so used to aches and pains when you dance, it’s difficult to tell when something important is going on. I guess that’s why it’s also a good idea to keep in contact with a decent physiotherapist when you do a lot of sport. Even if you’re not an elite athlete. :D

potential bike routes

…right through the centre of the city…

View Larger Map
Well, Redfern, anyway. Looks pretty good, huh? We are preparing for tomorrow’s bike ride and exploring routes from the train station to the actual route. We will ride thousands of kilometers and get really sore bums. But we will also be FREAKIN ORSUM!
(If you’re in the area, you’re welcome; we usually start about 11am and stop for lunches/sticky beaking. Be prepared for stunts.)

i see good things

I like riding my bike around the neighbourhood because you see all sorts of awesome things.
1. There’s fat, raggedy grey and white cat who hangs around outside the primary school up the road at lunch time. The kids aren’t allowed outside to pat it. It’s clever enough not to jump the fence. But it sits pressed up against the fence so it can be patted and enjoy the children’s company. It’s there every time I ride past at lunch time.
2. Today I saw the ladies in the fish shop scooping live fish out of the tank for a customer. It was awesome to see their mad fish-scooping skills in action. Then they drop them on the floor. I’m not sure what happens after that.
3. Once I saw the fish delivery truck delivering live fish to the fish shop. The truck has a flat bed and is loaded with large blue plastic barrels. The fish delivery doods scoop the fish out of the barrels and into smaller buckets, which the ladies take inside and tip into their tank. It’s fascinating stuff, and gathered a significant crowd. I wish I’d taken a photo.
4. Today I saw an old poppa walk across the road against the lights. The traffic had to stop to let him cross. He was crossing, no matter what. It was actually at a busy pedestrian crossing, so there was a crowd to watch (and cheer) him across. Lunch time Ashfield appreciates a little shutzpah from the elderly.

i like pie

Here’s a little round up:
Western Swing is ME.
I am currently in love with Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. This is in preparation for the Hot Club of Cowtown tour next month. I saw them in the UK (at the Marlborough Jazz Fest) in 2004, and they were freakin’ GREAT. The next week I saw Casey McGill’s band at a dance camp and they told me that their bass player had absconded for the HCCT. I’m not sure whether that’s a tragedy or an awesomey.
Bad foot is still ME.
My foot is still bung. I have been to see a podiatrist to strapped me up. That helped the first time, but not the second time. I am also doing exercises to strengthen the muscles in my calves/shin to help out my plantar fascia (ie so it’s not overloaded). I am down to get orthotics next week, but they mightn’t work. Basically, these fibroids in my foot are never going to go away and they can’t be cut out. So I’m looking at pain management and impact reduction. I danced two half dances on the last weekend and it HURT. The problem is not so much the impact (which hurts and hurts normally), but the fact that there’s pivoting and my foot actually twists when we do lots of turns and things. That’s where the pain is at. It sucked to find out how much it still hurt, but at least I know where I’m at. Though I think I’d have preferred to continue in blissful (and hopeful) ignorance. If I can’t dance again, I’m really not sure what I’m going to do. If it’s not lindy hop, it could have been something else – I come from a long line of dancing, lumbering folk, and I can’t fight my DNA. Perhaps I’ll learn an instrument. Any suggestions? Maybe the drums? Bass? I did a lot of singing at school, but that was a long time ago.
Allergies are GO.
I am having trouble breathing and my ear is all glued up. Again. Still, I’ve had much less trouble with my health since I moved to Sydney, so I’m certainly not complaining. It is melaluca flowering season, and there goddamn paper barks all over every street in every inner city suburb in Australia, so I need to deal. Won’t be long now, though, and I can come off the antihistamines.
Library is MINE.
I have been back to the Con’s library this week. It is a joyful place. Though it is full of students, now, and that sucks. They’re almost uniformly middle or upper class, supernerds and 70% male. Guess that’s what a career in hardcore arty music requires. The jazz section was all dusty when I first got in there. Now it has at least some use. The refec near the library is SHITHOUSE. The actual room is quite nice – it has a lovely little stage (with nice piano), and would be perfect for a dance gig. The acoustics are magical. But the food is inedible. I was reduced to pre-made sandwiches. Most of the students in this (actually quite nice) mini-refec were eating packed lunches. There you go.
emusic is not all mine. Yet.
I am blowing through my emusic downloads ridiculously quickly. Even when I ration them. There’re simply not enough.
Quickflix is suspended.
Since we moved to Sydney the DVDs have been slower to arrive, have almost always been terribly scratched, and we never get anything in the top 50 of our list. I have suspended our account until we’ve decided what to do. We’re still on one of their unlimited DVD accounts, but I’m not sure it’s worth it, as we only get about 3 a week, which isn’t much better than getting 12 a month max, is it? The video shop here is pretty good, so we might just go old school. Though using a video shop means I have no natural limit on my DVD viewing.
Dr Who and Farscape rule my world.
Screw BSG with its upsetting gender politics and ridiculously FAILED science. I am all about rebooted Dr Who and Farscape. I didn’t dig either the first time I saw them, and never really got past the first couple of episodes. Now I love them. Farscape passes the Bechdel Test. Dr Who does not. Rose + her mum. Talking about the Doctor. Though every now and then Rose gets to discuss a drama with another female character, there’s not much woman-to-woman action. I think it’s partly to do with the newer format – story arcs only last an episode, rather than a week’s worth of episodes. There’s not as much character development. And a bit too much kissing. I like Eccleston, but I’m not struck on Tennant. His bottom jaw sticks out too far. I liked Eccleston’s big nose and ears a whole lot. And was the Doctor always this manic? I’ll have to rewatch some old ones (I liked brown, curly haired, long-scarf, jelly baby Doctor best).
I am a crocheting demon.
I should post some pictures to prove it. But I love complicated afghan patterns, and have been compulsively crocheting as I watch my way through the Commonwealth’s greatest contributions to popular culture. We went to Spotlight in Bondi Junction the other weekend so I could stock up on yarn. That joint was totally trashed on Saturday afternoon. I need another supplier; perhaps I could order online in bulk? The poor Squeeze is buried in gorgeously three dimensional flowers, in various combinations, so perhaps it’s time to stop.

I am bike YAY!
Yesterday we rode down the Cook’s River after work for a quick ride. It was overcast, humid and coming up a storm. It was great. The sun set over the river, we saw wildlife, we dodged nonnas out walking and talking and planned a longer down-stream walk for a future date. This river goes to Botany Bay, you know.
I am still dealing with the fact that we live in Sydney.
I’m surprised by the historical weight I’m carrying in Sydney. It’s like all these suburbs and places are full of all the post-Invasion history of this country. Every bit of history I remember has something to do with Sydney. And most of it is narrated by songs from the Peter Coomb’s song book which delighted so many good little Australians in the 1980s.
Singing too-ra-li-oo-ra-li-attidy,
Singing too-ra-li-oo-ra-li-ay,
Singing too-ra-li-oo-ra-li-attidy,
And we’re bound for Botany Bay.
I’m sure that that song has celtic roots as well. One of the strangest moments of my post-MA European travel was being shut in at a Cornish pub where a heap of drunken … Corns? Cornishpeople? sang one of those sorts of ‘traditional Australian songs’. But with celtic names. My Irish grandfather used to sing The Wild Colonial Boy. So even though I’m caught up in all this Australian music, it’s just as Irish as the American folk music I dig.
I did arrive in Australia in 1982, straight into rural Wagga Wagga, so moving to New South Wales is far more familiar than moving to Melbourne did in 2001. The humidity is lovely. It’s not as heinous as Brisbane’s, but it’s nicer and wetter than Melbourne. And my skin loves it. The Squeeze declared last night, as we rode up the hill towards the lightning and iron-grey sky: “Moving here was the best thing we’ve done!” He’s delighted by the tropical storms. So am I – I’ve missed them. There’s something wonderful about a good, heavy-like-a-hot-shower rainstorm, complete with lighting and crashing thunder. Far, far better than drizzly, wingey bastard Melbourne weather. Even if it didn’t rain, it’d be cloudy and overcast forever. I don’t miss that shit. Though I’m thinking the Victorians are.
Dollhouse sucks arse, Pushing Daisies is delightful.
That’s it in a nutshell, really. I’m not impressed by DH.
1. The FBI/BSG guy is a crap actor. He’s so crap I can hardly watch him on screen. That scene in the last episode where he and the ‘dead wife’ DH client chatted in the kitchen? It was so, so, so bad. I groaned. I gnashed my teeth.
2. The opening credits are incredibly, crappily bullshit.
3. I’m still not entirely sure about the gender stuff. There’s an awful lot of talk about the women ‘dolls’ as sexualised bodies. And though there’re references to their missions which don’t involve sex, we spend a lot of time looking at them having sex or wearing very high heels or tight, booby shirts, or generally packing a whole lot of very conventional, bullshit femininity. It’s a bit too Alias for me, but with less self-determination on their part. I had hoped there’d be a clever twist to undo some of this, but I’m beginning to lose hope. Joss Whedon is hyped, but, really, Buffy was his pinacle. I didn’t mind Serenity (look, I’m losing the italics, ok?), but it wasn’t great. The film wasn’t great cinema. The series wasn’t that good – a little too heavy on the patriarchal family structure for my liking. Yes, I get the whole male captain/father parallel, and that Mal might perhaps have been overcompensating for his wartime mistakes with other people’s lives, but still… Actually, it takes Buffy an awful long time to lose her patriarch. I’ve rewatched a bit of season 5 lately, and she’s STILL got Giles there, Watchering. So perhaps Buffy isn’t so great either… God, if this is the best we can do, this string of compromises.
Anyways, I’m not impressed by DH
4. Did I mention the terrible acting by FBI guy?
Pushing Daisies, though, is wonderful.
It’s charming. It’s clever. It’s lovely to look at. Its visual style has a lot in common with Tim Burton’s brighter, more colourful stuff. It’s a bit surreal and hyper-colour, but not dark like Burton. Well, except for the premise of the series: the pie maker protagonist can bring dead things back to life. For a minute. If he touches them within that minute, they go back to being dead. If he doesn’t, they stay alive and something has to replace them in the deadness. The point of the series: Emerson Cod (finally, a show with a not-white central character!), a private detective, works with the Pie Maker to solve murders. For profit. Pie Maker brings his childhood sweetheart, Chuck, back to life in one of the earliest eps, so they can’t touch. They love each other. The other main character is Olive, who, by the end of season two, is the very best character.
Why do I like this program?
1. The hyper-colour, phantastical mise en scene.
2. Passes Bechdel Test.
3. Olive. With her pet pig Pigby.
4. The male protagonist is a pie maker. There’s a lot of talk about food and baking pies and comfort food. It’s very lush. Here, have a look.
5. The singing scenes. Olive sings a couple of songs. One of which is ‘Eternal Flame’. Yes, a Bangles singing scene. The other is ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’. It’s wonderful.
Also, there’s singing.
6. Chuck’s spinster aunts (who raised her) are cheese fans and also used to be synchronised swimming super stars: Darling Mermaid Darlings. One has an eye patch.
7. Most of all, I love the dialogue. It’s very, very wordy. Lots of fast talking. But it’s all puns and onomatapeia (sp?) and all those other lovely wordnerd things. It looks good, it sounds good, and it’s funny. It makes me giggle.
8. It’s not horrid. There are some pretty gross deaths, but it’s not upsetting. Most of the programs I like these days are horribly dark. But Pushing Daisies is not. It’s lovely. The Pie Maker and Chuck love each other. Olive is tiny and super tough and awesome. She can bake pies or solve crimes. She’s great.
9. I watch it before bed, when I’m tired, and it helps me get to sleep. It’s nice.
The only thing I don’t like about it is that it was cancelled before the end of its second season. Apparently they’re screening the finale in the US in their summer, so at least we’ll get that degree of closure. But still. It’s really great telly. Here’s the first bit to prove it:

today i:

Got up earlier than usual so as to begin preparing for my (fuckful) early teaching starts in a couple of weeks. Not too early (only 8.30), but I find it very difficult to change my sleeping pattern, and it’s a long road from 9.30am to 6.30am when you’re going at half hour intervals. I’m considering just moving all at once, but I don’t like the way I’m going to feel that one day of craptitude. I also find my body just ignores that sort of massive all-at-once change. I am a creature of habit. This will, of course, make late night DJing tricky. The early start is a Monday, with a day of lectures and tutes, then a day of tutes on Tuesdays. So Saturday late night DJing will be a bit of a pain. Last semester I found the traffic noise on our busy road very difficult to deal with and had to resort to ear plugs. I hope – and don’t think – that’ll happen again as I’ve adjusted to the noise.
Rode my bike to Petersham for lunch (why Petersham? Well, two words: Sweet Bellam the ‘cake boutique’). Had bunny and a nice broad bean salad at a Portugese joint. Watched a bunch of middle aged blokes from the train station eating whole chickens and chips. Then realised that they were actually only young men, just carrying the bodies of middle aged, beer-belly-wearing, overweight, unfit men. It was a bit scary. I’d seen the same lot having lunch there the day before. Bunny and salad was kind of a special meal for me (it was quite nice, actually, though I hurt my tooth on a bunny bone), but to eat chicken and chips every single day? I was just thankful they had to walk up the hill to the restaurant. Though they probably drove. I wanted to yell out “Don’t! Don’t eat that again! Have a salad! Have a sandwich!” but I figured it wasn’t such a good idea. I did plan on a cake, but decided to push on to my next destination first.
Printed out a road map from our place to Newtown. Petersham, I discovered yesterday, is only 10 minutes (if that) from our place. Which is such a tiny distance. On the map, that’s only about a third of the way to Newtown. But the main roads to Newtown are scary: narrow, busy, fast-moving traffic on a single lane, poorly surfaced road. All bad news for a baby bike rider like me. Then I noticed this:

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Street view showed me this:

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Which is pretty exciting. You can’t look at them using street view, but Sydney has a whole system of these sorts of alleys. They’re not cobble stones like Melbourne’s, though – they’re sealed. Now, alleys are notoriously dangerous ways of getting around by bike. Things come out of blind corners, cars drive down them at speed, weird blokes grab you off your bike (that’s my nightmare).
So I was kind of careful. But I chose to ride along this one anyway, all the way to Newtown. I’m really glad that I did. I saw lots and lots of good scrumping opportunities. Lemons, Grapes (ripe! accessible!), longans (you know I have no clue what to do with them), plums… all sorts of neat stuff. I also came across a few doozers and their mini digger. I couldn’t get past on-bike, so I had to carry my bike over the ripped up concrete, and then up and over the edge of the digger. The doozer bloke (young, mediterranean, well-trained) offered to carry my bike. I smiled and said “no thank you” and hefted it over. I’m glad I’m not one of those steel-is-real nuts. I’m also glad I didn’t bring a big bottle of water this time. But dang, I felt tough. It was all very interesting. And riding there from Petersham was ridiculously easy and quick.
Dropped in on a friend’s shop to say hi, then went up the road to the bike shop.
Bought stuff at the bike shop. I bought a new helmet (because mine was old and skanky and really kind of crapped up through mistreatment), new lights (because we’ve lost our lights and I needed new ones for getting home from yoga) and new grips for my handlebars. It cost me far too much money.
I also looked at cleats/click shoes (I am mad keen on these ones, but not too hopeful). I’m not sure of their names, though I did ask the bike guy. Wikipedia tells me cleats are just specialist sports shoes with spikes. So who knows what you call the cycling ones. Basically, they’re special shoes that have a little locky thing on the sole that clicks into a locky thing in your pedal. Why bother with that rubbish? It makes pedaling more efficient – you make better use of your muscles and your foot moves around less on the pedal, stopping you wasting energy with wiggling. So to get this set up happening, you need special pedals and special shoes. The shoes are quite stiff and can be super-daggy or fairly ok. I think I only want them because The Squeeze has them. New click-wearers tend to stack it a few times at first until they learn how to work the quick release.
I’m not sure whether these things will make me cooler/a better cyclist/a consumption stooge. But for a girl who’s been browsing far too many (make sure you check out the little movie on that one) bike sites, it’s actually pretty impressive that I haven’t suddenly decided to dump my perfectly serviceable Apollo road bike for something ridiculously expensive and terribly sexy. ..

.. it is sexy, though.
Anyway, after a little wander through the bike shop and a quiet (private) mock of the fashionista bloke buying his first fixy (enjoy that no-gears, no-break thing, dood – especially with your perfectly white dunlop volleys, immaculately shaved and tanned legs and perfectly perfect designer shorts), I left Newtown.
And went to Petersham for a cake. The flourless chocolate cake at Sweet Bellam is fabulous. Their coffee is ordinary, but it’s a very nice place to have a sit and a read and a cake. Petersham was rocking with groups of senoras on the lookout for spunky older gentlemen and “coffee! coffee!” so I had to be very careful making my way down to the other back-roads path home.
There is a system of back-road designated bike routes which I don’t really understand. The one I used a lot is the ‘L5’, though I’m also into the ‘L10’. I thought they were prepaid only bus route numbers. But there’re also pretty well-signed bike routes. Roads are usually shitfully bumpy and crap, but they’re quieter, wider, safer roads. Don’t seem to join up properly, but that could be because I’m not following them properly. Anyways, they’re worth the look.
Looked at lots of bike pron. I’ve just waded through a heap of sites, including:
this RTA bike route map collection which I can’t seem to understand.
the city of Sydney’s new Cycle Way, which ties into the Jan Gehl assessment of Sydney (as discussed here on City Of Sound. I don’t really understand the new cycle way yet because I don’t know the city roads or areas well enough to understand the practicalities and issues involved.
– a lecture on the Powerhouse’s bike collection via their their weekly lecture series
bike bus project website, where I felt a little bit frustrated. I’m not interested in getting into the freakin’ hardcore yahr! masculinity of the real-steele/fixy scene (mostly because I’m packing a uterus, and they’re not really appropriate in that scene – apparently you’re harder hardcore if you risk your gonads wearing them on the outside while you cycle), but I’m not really into these semi-lame government/council initiatives, either. I’m just not sure where I stand, really. With my friends or The Squeeze or on my own, probably.
– and, finally wished I’d seen this rider spoke thing earlier.
Had a little think about my ‘goals’, as a badass cycling feministah. I’m very attracted to the steel is real/fixy thing. If only because it is so tattooed, no-cleats, RAHR! badassin’ hadcore. And male-dominated. I like to think of myself as all those things (sans tatts, though), and I do like to push myself into male-dominated scenes. I also like it as an alternative to the happy-clappy, hand-holding hippy cycling world. Or to the shave-your-legs, wear-lycra, ride-down-highways-really-quickly crowd. But I don’t think I could really be bothered.
I want equipment that’s tough and hard-wearing, so I don’t have to replace it.
I’m not really interested in brands, but I’m not like those fixy-fashionistas who peel all the stickers off their bikes to be cool in a sort of faux-op-shop Revival sort of way.
I want to get maximum efficiency from my body by using the right equipment, but I don’t want to buy stuff ‘just because’. My old bike is perfectly adequate. My flouro yellow rain jacket is daggy but safe (and kind of stinky atm). My new helmet isn’t skatin’ rad, but it is safe and good quality. Do I need clicks? Do I need lycra pants? In the latter case, I definitely need some sort of new shorts situation – I’ve lost so much weight none of the shorts in our house fit me any more.
All of this is, of course, some sort of desperate attempt to distract myself from not dancing. It’s classic transferral. I need to resolve my feelings about not being able to dance. Or I could just throw myself into another activity obsessively. I’m sure as shit not doing any sewing these days. But gardening… that’s another story (remind me to blog our seedies’ progress).
So it’s been kind of a big day. I’m so glad I’m back on my bike, and back exploring Sydney. Next I’m going to find some way to explore the beaches. Possibly a train/bike combo.
Yes, please.

bike on!

We’ve been doing quite a bit of bike riding round here since I’ve been injured. That means lots of hills for me, and lots of riding really slowly behind Boss Ham for The Squeeze. I am getting tougher and fitter, but I’m no hardcore commuter or something-to-prove Steel is real type. I ride for pleasure, to buy my groceries, to get places and to sticky beak as much as humanly possible. I ride a $500 bike of ordinary brand. The Squeeze rides something fancy he made himself from parts he bought on the internet. I am not afraid to leave mine locked up on the street. He worries about his the entire time we’re in the cafe/shop/pub.
We’ve been surprised by how few people ride bikes in Sydney. Well, not so much surprised. It is hilly. The roads are narrow and do not have safe, well-signed bike paths. Motorists are aggressive and don’t know how to drive safely near cyclists. There aren’t many bike shops about and there are very, very few loops for locking up your bike. We didn’t really expect the same number of cyclists as in Melbourne. Melbourne is, after all, jammed with them at the moment. But we have been surprised by our Sydney friends’ thinking about bike riding.
1. Not many of them have been on a bike in the last ten years. This isn’t too surprising – nor had I when I moved to Melbourne.
2. Very few of them have any desire to ride a bike. This, again, isn’t too suprising; a desire to bike ride is built into you after a number of pleasurable rides. School-time memories aren’t exactly conducive to cycling enthusiasm.
3. Most of them are very suprised to hear that a) The Squeeze commutes to work, and b) that I do my grocery shopping on the bike. It is this incidental cycling that I think is essential to making serious life style changes, for both our own fitness and for environmental goodwomanship. I’m always surprised that they’re surprised by the thought of riding their bike (rather than driving their car) fifteen minutes to the next suburb to buy a whole heap of groceries.
They’re always very surprised to hear that many veggie shops home deliver, and that people who aren’t nannas use this home delivery service. I think that quite a few of them hear the delivery fee (which can range from $3 to $7, depending) and blanche a little. But then most of them find it difficult to believe that many places deliver things for free. Home delivery was once common place. It’s certainly a feature in neighbourhoods with many older residents. But it’s simply not something most car drivers would imagine using. For me, it’s an essential (and entirely wonderful) part of life.
I like riding my bike for groceries. Because I work from home, I can go during the week, as many times as necessary (another thought that stumps people – shopping a few times a week? For pleasure?). Riding to the shops is not only convenient, it’s also fun. It’s nice to get out of the house and wizz off to do something useful. But I have also been a weekend grocery shopper. The Squeeze and I used to shop for our groceries together on the weekend when I was working out of the house, and we’ve been doing it a bit lately recently as my out-of-house commitments have increased.
We hop on our bikes, ride fifteen minutes to a cafe for a nice brunch, then off to the shops. We select and purchase our F&V, we leave empty-handed (the best part of home delivery!) Then off to the butcher or the deli or the supermarket. Because we do this sort of shopping-for-pleasure grocery shopping, we tend not to use the supermarkets. We use smaller businesses for our meat, fruit, vege and fish, and for specialist items (tofu, spices, etc). This means that we’re not only buying better quality products, we’re also avoiding huge chain shops. And we’re also zooming in on businesses which are more likely to home deliver. Businesses which are right on the street with lots of spots just outside for us to use for bike parking.
Then we ride home.
We certainly don’t need a car for all this. Riding a bike is more convenient than public transport. And it simply makes you feel good to get a little endorphine action on a nice weekend day.
I’m also surprised by non-cyclists’ surprise at The Squeeze’s commuting by bike. They immediately assume he’s some hard core badass cycling machine (he is, but that’s not the point). They don’t tend to think of ways to ride a bike to work that don’t involve masses of lyrca or really expensive bikes. In Melbourne, many people ride to work with their friends, at a very sensible medium pace. You see all sorts of bikes (and all sorts of cyclists) in peak hour – it’s not all lycra. But that doesn’t seem to happen here in Sydney. And I think it’s a sad thing.
4. While they’re interested in coming riding with us, they think of it as ‘going for a ride’ rather than ‘let’s ride to lunch on Saturday’. I love hopping on my bike to ride to the pub or to see a band or to explore an interesting area. The riding is fun in itself, but it’s not the sum of my enjoyment. I like it that cycling lets you talk to your companions and stop easily to have a good stare at something interesting. But I think that for many non-bike riders, the ride itself is so unusual and strange it becomes the focus of the event. I think, also, that when you ride infrequently you don’t really know how to dress for cycling or how to plan ahead. So the ride is often a little uncomfortable or awkward the first time. Or requires a little more preparation than just popping out to the car. For us, this is second nature. We have said goodbye to delicately fashionable haircuts and wide-legged trousers. But we have also said hello to three-quartered trousers, comfortable shorts and a wide range of funky Tshirts. I think of my helmet as a mark of coolness these days: “Look, here is my helmet on my arm. That means I rode here. That means I’m wicked cool.” I know that that is the best ten year old thinking, but, frankly, ten year olds have it right: riding a bike does make you feel wicked cool.
5. They feel a bit sorry for me when I ‘have’ to ride (or catch PT) home. This is one of the stranger responses. For me, riding home is a pleasure. Catching PT isn’t horrible. Getting stranded at the bus stop is, but the actual bus ride isn’t. And I really, really like the combination of bike and train or light rail. You don’t have to muck about with bike racks or parking or any of that rubbish. You just get on. And that, my friends, is where bikes piss all over cars.
So, I’m generally quite surprised by Sydney people’s responses to bike riding. I think they think it’s difficult and challenging and frightening. Like climbing mountains (this of course makes The Squeeze my Tenzing Norgay). I’d like to imagine that I’m a little like a mountain climber, but mostly I know that I’m more like a badass feministah who likes riding down hill more than uphill, and is more than happy to stop for a look or a cup of tea or chat mid-ride. Cycling in Sydney is not dangerous. Motorists in Sydney are. But there are far more safe, lovely rides away from the main streams than you might expect. Cycling in Sydney is fun, and it is safe and it is, really, a lovely thing to do with friends.
In the spirit of my (recent and ongoing) attempts to get more of my Sydney friends onto bikes, here are some interesting links I’ve found:
Budget Bike: riding a cheap (<$100) bike (Australian male author) Dulwich Hill Bike Club: a local club with a ‘Saturday Slowies’ group:

I’ve noticed that most cyclists in Sydney (that I’ve seen) are male. Most of the hardcore cyclists I’ve know have been male as well. Hardcore cycling can (I suspect) be faily blokey with lots of dick-in-hand posturing. I really don’t have any time for that. A cycling nut once dismissed my yellow safety jacket as a clear indication that I was ‘a commuter’. The implication being that this was the worst possible insult for a hardcore cyclist. In my world, ‘a commuter’ is badass, and something I’d like to grow up to be. I think, though, that I’m far more likely to remin ‘a mosier’, someone who mosies along on their bike thinking a lot and staring in people’s gardens and windows even more. Speed is not my goal; stamina is.
So I guess a woman-friendly, un-competitive casual cycling group would be useful. I know many of my female friends (who aren’t dancers) aren’t comfortable with physical activity and physical risk. Dancers are better – they’re used to looking like idiots and taking the odd spill. I think, for many women, it’s this risk-taking and knowing that you’re actually capable of doing things on your own (even if it is just riding your bike to the shops) that’s very important. For me, cycling is about being independent, about being physically capable, about being strong. I’m not as strong or fit as The Squeeze, for example, but that doesn’t matter when I’m riding off on my own to Marrickville for fabric or to meet a friend for afternoon tea.
Last weekend we rode to the Marrickville community markets. It pissed down rain (luckily before and after we rode), but we saw some really great stuff (and we think we might actually be Marrickville People or Dulwich Hill People rather than Summer Hill People) and the markets are great. Plus it’s a pretty safe ride without too many nasty hills. Though my sense of ‘hill’ is changing as we ride more – I can’t believe how pathetic I was about hills in Melbourne. There were no hills in Brunswick.
I’m going to make more people ride with us on the weekend. It will rock.

yay yoga

Well, things are kind of boring over here in boring town. If only boring people are bored, I guess I must be pretty damn dull. I like it that the weather’s cooler, and it makes me want to get outside and ride my bike. But it’s also raining, and that’s not much fun in a hilly town when you ride a bike with skinny, slick tires. It’s weird to be wearing trousers again. It’s been months and months.
bksi.jpgOn Monday I went to yoga for the first time since I’ve been here. It was so nice to be yogaring again, I smiled involuntarily all through the class. That could have been the endorphines speaking. The studio is very close to our place – only 10 minutes door to door (including time spent wrestling with the garage door and my bike on our steep drive way). I do have to ride down a very steep hill, then up another very steep hill, but I’m hardcore now, so that’s ok. In fact, I can’t believe what a baby I was about hills in Melbourne – there’s no way I could ride _anywhere_ here if I couldn’t handle hills. But I can, now, because I am badASS.
So yoga rocked. It’s Iyengar, and it’s a baby class, but I need that babyness. I am so out of condition. My poor foot got a bit of a workout, though, which is ok. Lots of standing poses which I usually love, but which were a bit intense for my poor plantar fascia. They did give my ankle a good stretch and flex, though, which is really important. Now I understand why back bends (where you sit on your feet, knees bent, bum on your heels) hurt so much – my ankle doesn’t bend enough. So some of those sort of poses freakin’ hurt, but my ankle needs to be worked a bit so I can get greater movement and – consequently – ask less of my plantar fascia.
The studio was small, which is ok. The cost was only $15 per class, which is good. The class itself was nice, but we didn’t do any partner work (waaah!) and we moved through poses a bit quickly for my liking. I like taking a long time to get into a pose, holding the pose for ages, then getting out of it slowly. I like the slow, careful movement because it makes me really _think_ about the way I’m using my body. It’s also a lot harder and makes my muscles really work. It was strange having a female teacher. You know, men and women have different bodies? And their muscles are differently proportioned? That’s some wacky shit.
Basically, I feel freaking GOOD in my body today, even with the second-day-after soreness. It’s a good soreness.
At any rate, I’d like to go back tonight, but I should probably give my foot a bit more of a break between classes. Though I think it’d probably be ok. Heck, I could justify my way into going back. So long as it isn’t raining when I want to leave.
What do I like about Iyengar?
I like the precision and emphasis on alignment. I am a big old biomechanics nerd, particularly in regard to dancing, and I’m fascinated by the way Iyengar develops your awareness of your muscles and tendons and fascia and bones and bits. I like the way it micro-focusses on poses, and the way you learn to do them perfectly. Because I have a bunch of knee and hip problems usually, I like the way Iyengar’s emphasis on having everything properly aligned (foot under knee under hip under…) teaches my body to hold itself properly and get over bad habits.
I like the props. I like using all the blankets and bolsters and belts and things. Partly because I like making cubbies, but also because props actually make poses easier. A belt holds you in place so that you can get used to how a pose feels. But you can adjust the belt to a hold that’s comfortable, so it’s not freaky. Bolsters and blankets can help you with a pose that might otherwise be too strong – they give you an easier version of a pose.
I like being adjusted by the teacher. I like having that one-on-one attention because it helps me learn. It’s also nice to get that attention in class and to have someone put their hands on you. I like working in pairs for that same reason. I like the physical contact because it’s helpful to have someone actually put your body in the right position, and because it’s just nice to work skin-on-skin with someone like that. I like working in pairs because it helps me learn – you see how someone does the pose, then you work together to make the pose work properly. I also like assisting the person doing the pose and seeing from the outside how it’s working. I like having a partner when I’m in the pose because it makes it easier. It’s also nice to work with other people on this stuff – you can talk through a pose and experiment. It’s less scary as well, and it’s reassuring to have someone else to work with. And it reminds you that everyone has completely different issues, so it’s ridiculous to compare yourself to anyone else. And that reminds you that yoga is about developing your own awareness so that you can be on better terms with your own body.
I like the slowness and the emphasis on holding poses rather than rushing through them. I like the challenge of holding a pose for a long time – it’s like resistance training and lifting weights, but without props (ironically). It’s challenging. But it’s also really satisfying. I like it that my own body is enough to provide a really challenging work out. And that I can learn to use my body in a way that lets me lift my own body weight.
I like it that yoga thinks about muscles (and bones and so on) as a complex system of parts. Unlike doing weights at the gym, where you tend to think of muscles individually. When we lift our arms out to the side in yoga, we think not only of our arms, but of how our feet are placed on the ground, how our legs are positioned, how our pelvis is sitting, how the muscles in our sides, back, neck and so on are working. All this to hold our arms out straight to the side. And of course, because you’re holding all these muscles in place, you’re really working, so your heart pumps and you’re generally giving good ‘resistance training’ style effort. I really like the way yoga makes you use the right muscles for the right job. Just as with dancing, you use big muscles for big jobs and small muscles for small jobs. And you always start from the ground up. I think this is why my foot injury upsets me so much – it makes it so very clear that you can’t dance properly without proper weight commitment. Your feet are so very important.
I like it that Iyengar is good for injured people. Injuries at dancing mean sitting out for a few months. Injuries mean going to yoga to help heal. I like it that everyone can go to iyengar yoga and participate, no matter how old or infirm or injured they are. It can be as gentle or as strong as you need or can bare. I think this is the most important thing for me at the moment. I’ve been spending the last few months thinking of my body as fucked up and an impediment to my independence. But yoga reminds me that it’s not actually fucked up, that I can still get on and do things and be in it and enjoy it. I just have to respect its limitations. So with yoga I can still go and spend an hour sweating and working really hard, and not be told that I’m ‘broken’ by those same limitations. I think it’s this sense of confidence and respect for my body (rather than resentment) that is most important for me at the moment.
I like yoga very much.
It makes me feel so good. It stops me thinking for a couple of hours.
It’s gentle and non-competitive, which is nice after dancing.
It’s intellectually stimulating and I learn a lot. But it’s learning about myself.

bikes, cockatoos, plants and the freakin’ humidity

I can’t figure out what I’ve done with the comments. They’re busted. I think this blog needs an overhaul, anyway – it’s been ages since I did the templates. Probably also need to update to new MT. Or new blogging tool.
– We are biking tourista grande! We are riding our bikes everywhere. I am trying to find a nice way of putting them on a map. Bikely isn’t very helpful (it has a craptastic site). Am considering special cycling blog. Nerdy enough? NO! But we have discovered some lovely river-side bike paths (Cooks River) and some sneaky off-road shady tree lined bike paths (somewhere in… Petersham? Parallel to… Hewson Canal ?). We have also decided we don’t like riding through stupid Darling Harbour (well, across that bridge – the Piermont? – it sucks) because not only are pedestrians dumb, but tourist pedestrians are stupidly dumb. I am also having brought home to me just how un-bike-aware Sydney drivers are. It’s like they freak out when they see a cyclist – they swing out really wiiiiide to get around us. Or they crawl along behind us. Melbourne motorists have mad cyclist-aware-skills. Also, Sydney drivers pull up at traffic lights at the very last minute. This is terrifying if you’re just in front of them, pulled up with one leg down, waiting for the lights to change (but also makes the point: do NOT hug the curb at lights – TAKE THE ENTIRE LANE).
If you’d like to come bike riding with us, drop me a line. I am very unfit atm, so we go slow. Especially on hills. We have taken many friends for their first-in-10-years bike rides. They’ve liked it. We’re kind and are quite happy just to poodle along, chatting and sticky beaking.
We also avoid busy roads and we like to explore and ‘just have a look’. We like a combination of urban streets (lots of windows to look in) and leafy bits. We’ve been surprised by how leafy Sydney is, and how many nice, quiet streets there are right here in the inner suburbs. There are also some really great bike paths. Even the city (on a Sunday) isn’t so scary. Though I don’t ride on the actual road.
We also like to stop regularly for cake.
– It was recently very hot here in Sydney. But now it is only quite warm and incredibly humid. It’s been drizzling all afternoon. That’s good, because we rode to Bunnings in Ashfield today (via Harbourfield) and bought plants. When we got to Bunnings we were (once again) shitted off by its shitfulness: no bike loops (well, duh – it’s like _the_ most car-centric place ever… after Ikea), inept staff, etc etc. But we bought plants. A grevillea and some sort of native climber (whose name I can’t remember). I wanted Telopea and Protea, but they are fuck-off expensive (as in $50 for small pots). So we said “fuck off!” and got the common-as-muck moonlight grevillea and cheapy native climber. Then we rode home. It was so hot. It was overcast, but I got burnt badly. Because I am a dickwit.
When we got home we rested. Then we cleaned our house. Then we planted the plants. I actually supervised (because I am still injured – and will be for at least another couple of months, if not forever (the future isn’t looking too good for my poor foot injury, but I don’t want to talk about that because it makes me cry. A future without dancing will do that.) The Squeeze dug. In the light rain. He was sweating more than it was raining because it’s so warm. The holes are great, though. And the dirt drains nicely. Anyways, we planted those suckers.
Now we need another grevillea. I did see something I liked: some sort of grevillea (or was it a narrow-leafed banksia?) which had dark purpley/marooney leaves. It was neat. I was thinking a couple of those with a bunch of knee-high purple grasses (which were just near by) would be wonderful. But I can never go past the grevillea. And I wasn’t sure the purple one flowered – it didn’t have a very useful tag. I did want to get something indigenous to this area, but, frankly, we’re a bit short of accessible nurseries here. You have to have a car to really get sweet lowdown. I am going to check out the Marrickville markets some weekend soon – I need a cheaper source of plants. And I also want to stay away from the Bunnings type plants. I want something that’s not force-grown in big green houses or big plantings. I want tough plants grown in some poppa’s back yard in cheap pots. Something street-wise and rough.
Anyways, I’m going to get those natives happening down the front, in front of the main bedroom windows. The climber will climb up the railing on the front steps (but I’ll clip it to stop it getting onto the top rail). I’d really like to plant up the grass down there with some taller native grasses, but I don’t think our land lord would like that. I’m also thinking about veggies and herbs again. I just can’t live without my herb garden any longer. And this weather is so plant-perfect. We’ll see.
ct.jpg– Today we saw something awesome. As we were digging in the garden (well, The Squeeze was the one actually digging – I was standing under an umbrella in his crocs supervising and carrying the watering can) a bunch of rowdy cockatoos landed on the facade of the olden days flats on the opposite corner. There were about six or eight of them and they were obviously feeling their oats. Feeling all charged up by the cool and wet (after a little research, I’ve discovered they like to flap about in the rain to bathe themselves). They clambered about on the front of the building shouting for a while. Then they flew over to the olden days garage on the other corner. That’s when things got good. They’re such big, flamboyant birds. All yellow combs and huge white wings. They were very loud and social and clambered about all over the place, using their beaks and claws to get about. They were also digging about in the cracks of the buildings and the power pole. They spent some time pulling the power pole to bits (literally – they pulled great chunks off the top and threw them on the road) and shouting. Then they started pulling bits off the garage’s facade.
They started just digging in the cracks and pulling off bits of plaster. Then they started pulling bricks out of the facade. Real bricks. The big chunks of masonry and plaster and brick fell down with big crashes and the cockatoos shouted and laughed and called across to each other. They were spread out all over the facade and the power lines and power poles, upside down, ride side up, combs up, wings out. It was awesome. Eventually the guy in the flat above the garage stuck his head out the window to see what was going on. The cockatoos kind of sneered and shouted at him and carried on. Until one pulled a massive brick out of the wall and nearly dropped it on another who was trying to pull the window awning off. Then they got a scare and had a shout at each other, then flapped up to the power pole. And then down the street. It was like a rowdy bunch of… large, rowdy birds… were moving their way down the street, shouting and talking and pulling shit to bits. It was fully sick. I didn’t think to take a photo til far too late. So just take my word for it, ok?
It’s nice to live in a city with lots of native trees and plants, and, consequently, lots of native birds. Unlike noxious-weed-Melbourne, which is chock full of stupid introduced plants.
– Today we rode up the bike route to a little cafe in Dulwich Hill. It was full of skanky yuppies. The food was ok. Then we decided to ride on to the Bunnings in Ashfield via Harbourfield. I got burnt. We both got freakin’ hot. We rode back from Ashfied. We are badarse.
Yesterday we went in on the train to Town Hall station to collect The Squeeze’s bike from his office. Then we rode across Piermont Bridge, down the side of Darling Harbour. We spent some time looking at a ship. That was neat, but not as neat as the books in Piratica. They’re the best because they’re pirate ships. Captained by women.
Then we rode along the beach, looking at yuppy warehouses flats. They were boring. We rode past the park where they were having Jazz On The River. The grass was all brown, crackly sticks.
Then we rode on to the Fish Market. The market was hot and crowded and The Squeeze didn’t like it. So I foraged some sushimi, prawns and octopus. Then we rode on.
We were pretty freakin’ hot by then, and I was feeling weak, so we caught the light rail (which is just like a kind of piss-weak tram, but with REAL conductors (so you have to buy tickets) and which you can TAKE YOUR BIKES ON !!1!). That was a nice, short trip to Lillyfield.
From Lilyfield station we rode up the hill across Paramatta Road, then up a little hill and taking a right turn at a little cafe (which was called something like Lily and Somebody or something. It had its name written in white in ‘American Typewriter’ font on the window and was closed). Then we rode along the bike lanes to an old building which looked a bit like an old train station or some sort of feed station (a sort of Victorian loading or despatch dock).
Then we kept on riding along the ridge til we got to… um… a park.
Then we turned left on a road which had no cars at all.
Then we… rode a bit. Then we went down the Hewson Canal bike path, which is very nice and shady, but made me think ‘don’t ride here by yourself ever, ladies.’ We saw no one on that very nice bike path but three tiny little girls with bright white hair and one giant, bald dad.
Then we rode on and up til we got to the road that goes under a bridge – the end of Marion Street (which I think of as the road near the corner where I nearly stacked it on our first Big Ride).
Then we continued on and got onto another bike path past a giant dog park with about a squillion dogs roaming about.
Then we rode on to the bike path that runs along the canal that goes into the ocean.
Then we rode on. I can’t remember what happened there, but we ended up coming out on Old Canterbury Road at that weird stop sign. Then up Old Canterbury Road to Dulwich Hill. I was especially badarse on that last bit.
Basically, I am badarse because I’m not scared of hills any more. The Squeeze is badarse because he rides his one-gear bike very slowly, just behind me (but not too close or he gets yelled at). Going slow is harder than going fast.