Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Last Day of the Holiday

My two-plus-week holiday ends tonight. My parents left yesterday after their visit, and everybody in the family was out (work, day-care, all that racket).

So, I ended up with a day to myself.

I'm not a patch on Ferris Bueller; I have a track record of whiling away free days doing nothing much, then going into a funk for being such a useless git and wasting my liberty.

So, what to do today? As my Lovely Wife suggested, something that wouldn't leave me depressed.

The first order of business was a given: Local cafe, big breakfast. Scrambled eggs, Italian sausage, bacon (ours is more like Canadian than American: thick, but less hammy), sauteed mushrooms, hot tomatoes, toast. No baked beans this time, which is good; they only get everything else all soggy.

So, big breakfast and a double macchiato. I'm full and wired. Wonderful. Now what?

Golf? Nah. Shopping? LORD, no. Sit in the car and do crosswords? Ye... NO.

I could feel it happening: a day wasting away. Time to move -- Time to Do Something.

So. Feeling decidedly chunky and unfit, I decided to get out the bike. It was a beautiful day -- hot, sunny, slight breeze. A day to do things with. Something out of character.

But -- where? Then I thought: the one place where I feel more alive, more hopeful, more inspired every time I go: The Domain. It's a massive park (it's Sydney's equivalent of Central Park), and it contains the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Art Gallery of NSW... and the 'Boy' Charlton Pool.

So, I did. Rode from our house in the Inner West (Five Dock, if you must know) to 'Boy' Charlton Pool, in the city, near the Botanical Gardens. It's kind of ridiculous in a Best Of Sydney way. Here it is:

Yes -- that's the Opera House in the background. This place is in an amazing location, and it looks out over another bay.

Afterward, I stopped at the kiosk opposite the Art Gallery of NSW. Couldn't think of a coffee -- I ached everywhere -- but I bought a lemon squash and went looking for a place to sit and drink it.

Then, I found it -- the perfect spot. Just down from the AGNSW: a statue. I love statues. My favorite place in Paris is a sculpture garden (I think it's the courtyard of the Palais de Justice) .

So, here's the statue where I sat, sipped and pondered -- it's Robert Burns.

I love -- LOVE -- a city with statues of poets.

I pedalled home, feeling a little more accomplished, a little inspired, and very well vacationed.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Growth

Well, here it is -- day sixteen of the beard. I'm enjoying it more than I thought; it adds a lot of grey, but I rather enjoy that.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Operation barba rossa (e grigia)

I'm five days into growing a beard -- yesterday is usually the day when I decide that enough's enough, and I hack it off (to the great relief of my wife and my chin). This time, I pushed past the barrier, and I may go further: I'm on vacation, and I have another ten days of liberty.

Also, my parents are visiting; my dad, influenced by the months he and Mom spend each year in Alaska, has grown a beard. I'd never seen him in one before; he grows a good one, but it's still an adjustment. But Dad's presence and unabashed delight in his thick, wise-looking beard has pushed me past the four-day wall.

Why? Several reasons:
  • Growing facial hair is still novel to me at the age of forty-two
  • Because I can
  • It will set me apart: it's not a goatee
  • I still like to emulate my Dad
  • It's handy to stroke pensively, which could be a boon to my fledgling writing career
  • Independence - my wife doesn't like the idea

Why not? Several reasons:
  • Not all men look good in beards; naff appearance is a risk
  • They itch
  • A beard is more practical in the Pacific Northwest than it is in Australia
  • There's an awkward 'tween stage, what I think of as the Carol Brady stage for people trying to grow their hair long
  • It will probably make me look older, which doesn't have the appeal it did when I last grew one, at twenty-two
  • Ridicule - my wife doesn't like the idea

It's coming out with a much greater proportion of grey than I have in the rest of my hair; the five-day spikes are all copper and silver. My hair is either brown or auburn, depending on season and whether I'm in the sun. I've got a few grey hairs, but not a lot yet.

I'm fearful, but curious, that I'll end up with some sort of two-tone deal: Karl Marx or Michael McDonald, without the blowdried look.

Even blogging about it sounds like a commitment. But, either way, I'm guaranteed a new blog topic for at least one more post: there's either a progress report, or a Ship Abandoned message.

Also, there's a Great Beards in History discussion waiting to happen. For example: Greatest goatee in history? I'd have to vote for V.I. Lenin, although Colonel Sanders would be up there too.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Masnavi made me a hero

Well, sort of. I wrote a piece of a Masnavi poem - eight lines in aabbccdd form (see Absolute Write forums, Poetry - Games and Exercises), and I did like it. The thread, started by a friend, is here -- you'll need the Poetry Forum password, which is citrus.

Thank you, Kie, for bringing this form to our attention and engaging us in it.

A dear friend also liked it, and she named me in her Myspace Heroes list for it. She's a glittering soul, and she's introducing me to some fabulous poetry.

Thank you, Tina.

Anyway, here it is:

I lurch and straggle on this path alone,
a crippled beetle on a bloody stone:
the first and second simple steps I take
draw taut the chain from abdomen to stake.
The life I knew was happy ere I woke:
in sleep, a swan; awake, a Kafka joke.
Exhausted now, I pray for grace of death,
or music: strains of Locomotive Breath.