Part CXLIX – Shaking

Today has nothing much to with fitness or running, except that the Big Race is in New Zealand and New Zealand is earthquake prone.

Anyway, I set down to start work at about 0900. At 0905 there was a rumbling noise and everything started to shake, quite vigourously. It was an earthquake! It kept going for about 20 seconds before it faded away. Immediately my SES WhatsApp group began chattering, and I soon afterwards heard from contacts in Wodonga that it had been felt up there too. It turned out that it was a 6 on the Richter scale.

The epicentre was at Mansfield, which is about 50 miles from my parents. I messaged Mum, who confirmed all was well although apparently Tom the Cat did not like the earthquake at all.

I may or may not have come up with a meme, which in hindsight was a little premature. There was a certain amount of building damage across the city (including a collapsed shop-front) but happily, no casualties.

Today’s exercise was, sadly, limited to a walk at lunch and another walk in the evening. About 5kms. Well, if that’s as good as it gets, there we are!

Part CXLVIII – Weekend Fun

Finally the weekend rolled around again. On Saturday morning I rolled out of bed for a walk and a cup of coffee. One of the perks of living where I do is that people tend to put unused books out on the footpath for people to rifle through. This morning this translated into a copy of Of Mice and Men and a Max Weber, and also Donna Tartt’s Secret History (not pictured).

I had a few hours work to do and got through them. It took a bit longer than I expected and so I took a bit longer than planned to get out for my usual weekend run. It was about 1700 when I set out and so I settled on 15 kilometres, with the rough plan of running north along Merri Creek for half an hour, then west for fifteen minutes, then south for half an hour and then home. This took my as far as Coburg lake and then around the back of the old prison. For the sake of keeping life simple I took the south route along the Upfield bike path and lengthened the run through Princes Park.

Saturday dinner was Greek salad and souvlaki and nine hours sleep.

Sunday brought me a walk up to Milkwood Cafe for coffee followed by a long and very happy Facetime with my darling daughters. The rest of the day was taken up with some work and then some personal paperwork. I finally got out for a walk of about 7 kilometres in the twilight.

And now, it’s midway through Sunday evening. Back to reality tomorrow morning.

Part CXLVII – Farm Weekend

I always sleep well up at the farm. The nights are completely silent. When I wake, I wake feeling peaceful, which is something I value more than you can imagine.

The weekend’s farm work meant clearing tree limbs and picking up things that are too heavy for the old boy. And naturally, I racked up plenty of miles with the dog. Twenty-five kilometres, to be precise.

The dog has the commendable quality of being a good listener. He’s heard me talk all sorts of ideas through over the years!

I was back in Melbourne by 2300 on Sunday night. I really did need the time away.

Part CXLVI – Friday Driving

This is a post I started last Friday. I’m afraid it sat in my “drafts” for a while. I’ll probably explain why in a few posts’ time.

Anyway, Melbourne remains under lockdown. However, you can go outside the lockdown restrictions for the purposes of family caregiving. Last week Dad asked me if I could come up and lend a hand on the farm at the weekend. He’s no spring chicken, so I felt it was genuinely within the rules. Off I went on Friday evening, then.

My favourite kebab shop

As usual, I stopped at my favourite kebab place at Fawkner. My usual order is a large chips and a lamb or chicken kebab. After I collect it I eat the chips as I drive up to the truck stop near Kalkallo and then eat the kebab while listening to Chopper’s Podcast. I was feeling a bit bummed over some personal things, and if I’m honest the main virtue of the podcast was that I didn’t have to listen to the voices inside my head. With perfect timing, however, my friend Ali called me from Detroit as I was on the road. We had a talk on the phone as I drove up to the farm.

The best things about friends is when they call just when you want to talk to someone!

Part CXLV – Beet Ruben

Quick post tonight. I had an email from the organisers of the Games today, with reminders to arrange (inter alia) accommodation. I’ll need to get onto that presto, and probably also organise flights. It suddenly seems real! There’s 1,200 registrations already.

On which point, today’s ‘training’ was walking at lunch and in the evening. The lunch walk took me past a house being demolished in my ‘hood. I’d love to day it game me some deep thoughts about the impermanence of the universe. But it didn’t.

Demolition but no Derby

Lunch was a “beet ruben” and coffee from the uber-kewl “Rusty’s Sandwich Parlour”. I had some doubts about a beet ruben, but I can say firmly that it was delicious!


While I’m giving out recommendations, I should say that my phone finally refused to charge just after lunch. Given what I do for a living my phone is sort of vital. Happily, iFix on Sydney Road was able to make the necessary repairs in 20 minutes flat! Lord but it was a relief.

Evening saw me get in a walk along the Creek followed by a session with the Calm app, which always makes me feel peaceful. I put up a little over 6 kilometres today.

Part CXLIV – Walking and Algeria

Lockdown drags on, and I find myself battling to keep my mileage up. What a nuisance! As a rule, I get two walks in a day. At lunch I go for a walk in the neighbourhood to get coffee and, depending on the mood, lunch. After I finish work, usually about 2000 to 2030, I go for another walk for a half an hour. It’s not great but it’s something.

Now that the weather is a bit more clement I usually walk back to my digs and eat lunch al fresco off the boot of my car. It’s good to be outdoors and feel the sun and breath somewhat fresh air.

Al fresco lunch – pesto toastie and coffee

These kilometres are slowly advancing me up the Route 66 challenge. I’m halfway between Wildorado and Vega in Texas. I always find it interesting to look up the towns that I “pass through” on these runs.

Based on the website of two preachers who live in Wildorado and Vega, I suppose this part of Route 66 tends to be part of America’s Protestant heartland. On the other hand, the same two towns also get a guernsey in The Grapes of Wrath (which one day I’ll finish reading). The passage quoted in the preceding link resembles the start of The Last Man, describing the landscape of Algeria. This leaves me wondering if the Okies described by Steinbeck would have felt a kinship with the Catholic and Jewish pieds-noirs after the independence of Algeria. I suspect they would have felt the same sense of deracination. I suspect that when it comes to identity, shared experience is even more powerful than shared faith.

Part CXLIII – Rain and Typewriters

Sunday started late, but began with a walk and a really good coffee from Milkwood. My daughter’s weren’t available to FaceTime when I got back, so I read for a little while and then settled down for a few hour’s work. I was pleased to get through it and then went for a good long walk on a cloudy afternoon. I got caught in one shower of rain as I headed down Rathdowne Street.

I turned right on Elgin Street, passing a store full of typewriters. Many moons ago I bought The Ex an Underwood typewriter as a present as it was what she wanted most. I do like typewriters. There’s a lot to be said for one-off writing.

I walked back past the University and through the cemetery, then picked up a hot chocolate on Sydney Road on my way home. I put up about 10.5 kilometres today.

Part CXLII – Running without work

Saturday found me battling to get out of bed, but with a bit of effort I hauled myself up to head off and do the laundry and groceries that I failed to do the previous night. As is my usual approach, I set my clothes to wash while I got groceries. This took long enough to for the wash cycle to go through. I transferred them to the drier and then walked up as far as Moreland Road, getting coffee on the way as listening to a podcast.

Silo near Moreland Road, Brunswick

I flipped up on working and decided that the best thing I could do after a rough week was to give myself a day off, so I did. That pointed me to my Saturday long run. I headed off up the Upfield Bike Path, and followed it for what seemed like a good long way into Fawkner. I turned right at what seemed like a suitably large road. It turned out that this put me in suburban streets, although it also dropped me onto the Merri Creek Trail, which was up a fair bit after yesterday’s rain.

I followed the trail to Murray Road and then followed the reverse of last week’s run. I eventually picked up the St George’s Road bike path. Part way through that run my boss rang me. This annoyed me a little (my annoyance may have been connected to the fact that I was fighting both rain and a headwind). I ignored the call and kept going until I struck Miller Road and then home.

In the end I found I’d done half-marathon distance, but at a rather poor pace. I was pleased, but not especially thrilled. I’ve done better. Still, I now have a path that takes me the distance while we remain in lockdown.

Saturday ended with pizza and a bottle of wine.

Part CXLI – Into the weather

Friday saw the end of a challenging week in which work had my stress levels cranked up to “Dr Frankenstein your lab is on the phone; they say it’s urgent”. I could give details but probably shouldn’t. Essentially, work stress while at the sharp end of cases. My internal monologue has basically consisted of voices shouting at me, except with a greater degree of savagery than usual. It’s fairly normal for them to be calling me “fool” and “ape”; this week they upgraded to “pox-rotted bag of dog shit” which was new even for me. There are good reasons for getting out of the law. Nothing should set you off like that.

The day itself moved surprisingly swiftly to lunch. I was out of food and when I went to get my lunch-hour coffee from Lygon Street I picked up a toasted ham, cheese and tomato as well. I was just about to eat it al fresco off the boot of my car when it started to rain, sending me inside. Lunch ended up being had while I read Spectator and listened to Catholic Answers Live.

Lunch al fresco just before it rained

The rain kept going all afternoon and got intermittently heavier. I’d headed out to do my laundry and get groceries when an SES callout came through for a leaking roof. I put my hand up to go and was sent with two other members. We weren’t able to do a great deal to help because of the roof configuration and headed back to LHQ. We just got back when there was another task, to go and check the river gauge at Collingwood and to see if streets were in danger of being flooded by the river. We did so, although to be honest it seemed like an overreaction, at least at that hour: the river was up but not by much. We got back to LHQ and were packing up when there was a third callout for another leaking roof at the edge of our territory. Out we went again. This time, happily, we were at least able to help. In the end I was home a little after midnight

Uniformed, tired and with lockdown hair

In the end I crashed into bed at about 0230. It takes surprisingly long to switch off after callouts. Roll on the weekend

Part CXL – Blue Sunday

I turned in at 2330 on Saturday night. I wanted an early night, although because it was earlier than I would usually sleep it took me until late to doze off. How late? Three of Calm‘s Sleep Stories. I do enjoy these as an aid to sleep. It’s a good way to quiet one’s brain.

Sadly, like yesterday, I woke up and felt no reason to get up and face the day. I was so demoralised that I didn’t even feel like walking up to Milkwood for coffee. I settled for 7/11 coffee and came back to the casa to facetime with the girls. They’ve evacuated from New Orleans for Hurricane Ida (thank God). They’re well and safe.

There’s some other personal stuff floating around that I won’t trouble you with, but I managed to pull myself together to do a couple of hours work. There was some rain but I wanted a good long walk, partly as rehab after yesterday and also to calm my mind down. I put on a podcast and pointed my feet at a couple of ‘calming’ places. The first was the Cemetery. Some people find Cemeteries grim. I really don’t. They can be fascinating historically. I always find them peaceful and quiet.

Melbourne General Cemetery

Next was to go past Queen’s College. I’m persuaded that it’s one of the most timelessly beautiful buildings in Melbourne. Buildings like these are a balm to hearts.

Queen’s College, University of Melbourne

The other part of the walk was to go through the University of Melbourne. The University’s older buildings are beautiful sandstone. Even the newer buildings manage not to overawe them.

Elizabeth Murdoch Building, University of Melbourne

By the time I turned my feet northward again I was feeling at least a bit more calm. I picked up a few odds and ends at the shopping centre and came home. I think I put about 12 kms on the board today.

Hopefully this week will go well.

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