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Tag Archives: ageing

Cairns Botanic Gardens Festival

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‘Tis time for another offering in my series on thankfulness.

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As I canter (and occasionally limp and hobble) down this final straight of the Three Score Years and Ten Stakes, I carry in my saddlebag a full measure of thankfulness for my good health, the contentment that I feel with my place in the universe, and also for the privilege and gift of life itself.

Every day is precious, but if I had to choose one extra special day from the year it would be Fathers Day, the first Sunday in September.

At 3 am I drive down the mountain to civilisation with Mrs GOF asleep in the passenger’s seat, and then we set up our little ‘one carpark’ sized market stall on Collins Avenue, a location which must surely have one of the most beautiful backdrops in the world. (photo above by Mrs GOF)

My enjoyment and appreciation of Father’s Day is multi-faceted.

Firstly it ceremonially marks the beginning of Spring, my favourite season which recharges me with all the energy lost trudging around in the driving rain and cold ankle-deep mud of Winter.

We really do derive great satisfaction from growing potted plants in partnership with Mother Nature, despite the bad words I said and wrote about her after recent cyclones Larry and Yasi.

Icing is added to our little cake of productivity by being able to sell our products directly to the end users at local community markets like this one. There are rewards for both parties in this time-honoured trading relationship that transcend the simple commercial transaction which takes place, and many of our customers have, over the years, also become friends.

Fifteen thousand people flock to the carnival every year, including dads enjoying precious time with their children and families.
Musicians perform throughout the day in the street, restaurant and the garden’s natural amphitheatre. This is the one day of the year when I actually tolerate and dare I say it, enjoy, being part of a large crowd of human beings.

Finally, my own kids, chips now dispersed far from the old block, still choose to stay in touch with me regardless of all the parenting experimentation I carried out on them…………all in all it’s enough to blow the cork right out of my bottle of Chateau GOF Life Satisfaction Vintage 2012.

Long live Father’s Day.

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Garden stage, Louarde Thomas performing. (link below)

Louarde Thomas is a local singer/songwriter who possesses a unique musical gift.  Here is her song Superman’s Lullaby.

Girls, four, attractive, striped, puckered.

One of several orchid stalls

Dog, crouching, duck-mustering.

Butterfly, blue, female, apparently.

Sheep, mortified, being shorn with a less than perfect view of the world.

One life. Five watches.

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Anchored securely in No 1 position on Mrs GOF’s “One hundred things GOF does which annoy the crap out of me” list must surely be my obsession with forward planning, timeliness and punctuality.
She was raised in a culture which does not give a rat’s arse about any of these things, which probably explains why she is such a perennially happy soul, while I am condemned to eternal (but nevertheless well planned) Grumpy Old Farthood.

Anyhow, be that as it may, here is my story.

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The older one grows the more difficult it becomes to precisely remember life events in their correct chronological order.

The old faithful milestones are still useful; school graduations, geographical relocations, births, deaths, and marriages.
I also have 44 diaries covering the period 1968-2012, but alas they are seriously lacking in useful personal information.

This year I had to buy a new watch, the 5th which I have owned and the purchase dates of each have divided my life into convenient compartments which aid my memory.

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Watch No. 1. Longines 1958 (Google pic)

1.  This first watch was my tenth birthday present. I remember the day as though it were only yesterday. My parents took me down to the jewellers shop in Barker Street, Castlemaine, where I chose this boys Longines watch.  I never tired of the magic of this timepiece and used to lie in bed at night wondering how it was possible for the hands and numbers to glow in the dark….a new innovation in the 1950’s.

This watch accompanied one boy’s very awkward and inept transition through adolescence into young manhood.

Watch No. 2. Seiko 1968 (Google pic)

2. This was my first major purchase after beginning work in Papua New Guinea at the age of nineteen.  At the time, I thought this Seiko Chronograph was the most beautiful and functional man-made object I had ever seen. (These days I would nominate the Cessna Citation aircraft for that award.)   Even today I remain in awe of Seiko’s precision, durability and self-winding technology.

I stumbled upon it entirely by accident. The manager of the Christian Missions in Many Lands at Anguganak in PNG’s remote West Sepik District occasionally imported Seiko watches from Japan for missionary staff, and he had this duck’s nuts of all watches sitting on his desk when I dropped in on him one day.

As my original ‘kid’s watch’ was not water resistant and died a horrible corrosive death soon after my arrival in PNG I could not resist this beautiful piece of machinery.
It cost $80 at a time when my weekly salary was $60.

This watch accompanied me on all the PNG adventures described previously on this blog,  then returned with me to Australia where we did a little outback flying together and discovered on two separate occasions how time could actually stand still when the only engine in a Cessna 206 aircraft fails in midflight.

Watch No. 3 Seiko 1985

3.  This one got up early with me in the mornings to go and milk cows for other farmers and hump backpack sprayers full of Agent Orange over hills and dales to kill their pasture weeds….all just to keep food on our table.
It also kept watch over establishing a partially self-sufficient lifestyle in the Australian bush by planting and harvesting by hand acres of sweet potato, taro, cassava and yams.

Looking at this battered deceased old watch today reminds me that life was not always easy.

Watch No. 4 Seiko 2001

4. This watch continued farming in the mud and occasionally dust, then built shade houses for tree ferns and bromeliads.
It propagated tree-fern spores, nurturing them until they were 70 kilogram monsters dug out of the ground with a spade, then lifted them by hand for transport to landscapers in town.

It also witnessed much of these good works being demolished twice in 5 years by major cyclones and rebuilt them on both occasions.

Watch No. 5 Seiko 2012

5. Bought online from Hong Kong for less than the cost of having watch #4 professionally cleaned in Australia.
This Seiko has a transparent case back which enables me to peer at all it’s intricate inner workings….all the springs and cogs and spinning wheels which makes me appreciate what a privilege it has been to live my life at this time in history and own these beautifully crafted instruments.

I like the idea of this watch and I growing old together, as it is entirely possible that we’ll both run out of tick at around the same time.

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My truck needs change of oil

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(Some lamentable little lines from GOF’s profane pen)

Now I’m getting older,
An expert I’ve become
In the management of time
And getting plenty done.

Gotta change the oil today,
Lest engine shits itself.
But where’s the friggin’ oil
Disappeared from off the shelf?

At least the ladder’s here, so
I’ll clean roof spout instead
If I don’t fall off the bastard
And end up stone cold dead.

Well bugger me it’s full
Of leaves and other shit.
Wonder where it came from.
Drink tea,…. and think a bit.

Has to be that bloody tree
Grown right up past the roof.
First I’d better chop it down.
I need no further proof.

So where’s the effen chainsaw?
Put somewhere I’ve forgotten.
To fell that mongrel tree.
Memory’s gone, ratshit and rotten.

Well now I see the bastard
Under junk and in the gloom.
The shed needs cleaning up
To give myself some room.

First we’ll start the powerplant
To light up all this shite.
If I begin working now
I’ll be finished by midnight.

But power engine stopped last night
“Low oil” the cutoff warned.
“Well I’ll be stuffed” I muttered
Why was I ever borned.”

So lubricant I’ll fetch
To sate the thirsty bitch.
Then clean the shed, fix the saw,
Chop tree without a hitch.

I wonder where the oil went?
‘Twas here the other day.
The ladder’s gone as well
What fool took that away?

Day is done. Getting dark.
I’m weary. Endless toil.
Must not forget tomorrow
My truck needs change of oil.

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It just got up and went

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‘Tis a funny thing you know,
To look back o’er a shoulder
To where childhood once did grow
Into youth, then slightly older.
For suddenly it vanished,
Lost innocence to lament.
By Father Time ’twas banished.
It just got up and went.

And then there was agility.
Climbing mountains in the rain.
An unlimited ability
To jog without the pain.
A body trim to flex, contort
Was just as nature meant.
Today I’m feeling quite distraught,
‘Cos it just got up and went.

And accuity of vision.
Threading needles in the wink
Of an eye, with precision.
Gone forever one would think.
All the girls I ogled locally,
For ocular entertainment
Now indistinct bifocally,
Since sight got up and went.

Simple life got filled with stuff,
A tractor, house and car.
There never seemed to be enough
For life’s fiscal bazaar.
Reflecting now it’s time to laugh
At inept mismanagement.
When piggy bank got filled to half
It just got up and went.

Seems just last week on Monday,
That Inga was still a teen.
Then university on the Thursday.
Tennis lessons in between.
An Aussie Navratilova,
Alas, gifts not heaven sent.
We’d only started to know her.
She just got up and went.

My hourglass sand’s diminished.
Enough for just a while
Get a couple of projects finished.
And write, edit, compile.
Cherish friends, a sunny day,
But even more impor-tent,
Are memories stored, for they,
Have not got up and went.

.

.
YET!