Chris and Bill’s Blog The Reboot – Chapter 2
A wintery Thursday night in August, in the heart of the temporary Cape Paterson doggie kennels and menagerie (see below for details)
You get the picture. If it’s Thursday, it must be raining. The wind is positively roaring outside and there’s an indefinable thumping sound on the side of the house that may or may not warrant some investigation – tree branch? possum? burglar? tall wombat? The neighbour’s dog hoping to score a spot in the Cape Paterson doggie kennels and menagerie (see below for details)? Thanks for staying with me through all those speculations – I think it’s a tree branch…
It was thrilling for me to hear from so many of you after Chapter 1 of the blog reboot. Apparently waiting is a familiar experience for lots of people and empathizing with the waiting that others do helps to pass the time it seems. Well that was certainly the case for me. And it hasn’t escaped my notice that I’ve now contributed a certain ironic twist to this theme, by keeping you waiting an inordinate amount of time for Chapter 2 of the blog reboot. Yes, the irony is a little bit delicious but not really intended – I’m just very slow to get to put words on a page – always have been. And yes, in case you’ve formed this question in your minds as you begin to read, we are still waiting on the trial to begin.
However, there has been the slightest of movement in the direction of action on the trial front. Today. The mail comes early in Cape Paterson, so I frequently pad out to the mailbox in my oversize slippers and my slightly too light weight for the time of year PJs before my first cup of tea – as I did this morning. And today, in the box there was a large white envelope containing the largest, most complicated Plain Language Statement and Consent form I’ve ever seen. Apologies to those of you who don’t work in universities and have escaped the joys of post grad study, but this is an in-joke. Ethics forms are the bane of every academic’s and every post grad student’s (and their family’s) existence at least once or twice in their lifetime. So here I am, waiting for the kettle to boil for my first cup of tea and I’m skimming through this monumental document. All I could think of was – how many times did this have to go back to the Ethic’s committee? And, how long did it take them to translate all that medical jargon into an almost recognizable version of the English language? Eventually, I stopped empathizing with Oliver and his team for having to run this tortuous ethics gauntlet and started thinking about me and what the document was actually communicating.
Well, it did tell me quite a lot about the drugs to be used, the stages of the trial, the possible side effects, the right to withdraw from the trial at any time, and yes, even where it was going to take place.
What I didn’t learn, however, and this is the salient point for Chapter 2 of the blog reboot, was – what happens next? What do I do with the form, when and where do I go for the screening (the next big hurdle), and when… does it all start? Not so much as a hint of a cover letter, or any such practical information that would have circumscribed this current experience of waiting. Still waiting. So you will have to wait too.
In the meantime, I’ve been contemplating what I could possibly share with you about this rather uneventful rather ordinary life I’m leading down here at Cape Paterson. One of the things I’ve learned in the past twelve months or so is that the ordinariness of life is vastly underrated, and that within even a small, ordinary moment, an encounter or an event can be rich, maybe even significant. So, here are a couple of snapshots – little sketches that perhaps I would have drawn if I had the facility to do so.
#1 Round the corner and up the hill
When the weather is balmy, and I’m persuaded to take the dog (note his elevation from ‘the puppy’ status of earlier posts) out on a late morning walk there are a number of different paths that Bernie and I can take. They all lead to one beach or other, but the variety is part of the pleasure – for me anyway, Bernie couldn’t give a stuff.
We walk down Spear Street, making sure to cross the road to avoid the annoying beagles that we haven’t bonded with, despite being practically neighbours. Right into Reel Street, a short unremarkable street. Bernie checks out the hidden treasures beneath tufts of grass, then blesses them as only a boy dog with a Napoleon complex can do. Then it’s left into Sea Breeze, a more ambitious thoroughfare. It takes us just a little closer to the ocean then hooks around dramatically to the right and up an incline which I think of always as a bloody great hill. I don’t mention this to anyone I might be walking with along Sea Breeze, including Bernie, because it really is just an incline. However, the halcyon days of fitness and striding up any kind of road that has an angle associated with it, slipped away about June last year. So I always prepare for the Sea Breeze hill.
Two days running Bernie and I took the Sea Breeze challenge. It must have been April or May. On the first day we passed a woman out for a walk, or perhaps returning from one. She smiled as we passed, and possibly made a friendly remark. Possibly I grunted a reply – I might have been concentrating more on the incline that the foot traffic going in the opposite direction. I can’t exactly recall, but Bernie probably barked – he has form in that regard.
On the second day, our process through the streets was uneventful – Spear, Reel, Sea Breeze, Zephyr Court, Stuart Street, sit/wait/cross – Surf Beach Rd, Stuart St continued – BEACH!!! Bark, bark, bark, dig, dig, dig, chase, splash, chase, splash, ignore commands, respond to commands, treat, dig, dig, dig. Time to go home.
We are struggling just a little bit on the return journey. The Sea Breeze incline has turned into an even bigger hill on the way home. Bernie sees the stranger approaching us as I set the snail pace. It’s the friendly face from yesterday. She and Bernie strike up a conversation – he’s good like that. I catch my breath in subtle gasps – it’s barely a slope for god’s sake. I join in the conversation.
Lorna tells me about her archeologist husband and the book he is writing and their recent trip to New Zealand and their two sons, and the grandchildren who bring joy to their lives. We swap our Cape Paterson origin stories and I find myself sharing, with this stranger, a little of my health travails. She is warm and kind and a good listener. Maybe 15 minutes pass. We are at the crest of the little hill, in the middle of the road. The conversation undulates like the landscape, and pokes into surprising crevices and crannies, swept along by the ocean breeze on a glorious Cape Paterson day. Bernie re-enters the conversation – it feels like it’s time to head home.
Our paths haven’t crossed again since then. I know where Lorna and her husband live now – on a corner of the unremarkable Reel Street – and sometimes, when I’m passing, I cut through her front yard. I don’t think she’d mind. Friends can do that.
#2 Glorious chaos in real time
The house is a mess! Not unusual I guess, but it’s hard to get past it; the couch, is covered with several protective layers, the floor, punctuated with doggie beds and toys, has been swept several times today but is still caked with a resilient layer of backyard mud. We are the Cape Paterson (temporary) kennels and menagerie this week: start with two cats, add an energetic puppy, and then invite a canine friend for a week-long sleepover. Welcome Kenya, the gorgeous six year old blonde labradoodle. In Bernie Sanders land, she is a giant. She is Brienne of Tarth to Bernie’s Tyrion Lannister (for the Game of Throne’s aficionados
–for those who aren’t familiar with Game of Thrones, let’s put it this way. Kenya is well, Kenya, and Bernie is Swaziland.)
Doggie walking with Kenya and Bernie is a triumph in slapstick. On the second walk, in a stroke of inspiration, I bring two tennis balls to the beach – these are two dogs that don’t care to share. It’s high tide on Undertow Bay – a beautiful winter afternoon of crashing waves and thunderous, threatening clouds of steel grey set against the deep, deep blue of almost dusk. Here Kenya, a ball for you – she bounds down the beach, snatches the ball from the shallow waters, Bernie chases – an exercise in futility. Drop the ball Kenya, here Bernie have the blue ball, drop the yellow ball Kenya, treat… here Kenya, fetch, Bernie go get the ball out of the water…oh, ok good Kenya, but where’s the blue ball – it’s out there, on the way to Tasmania. Go get the blue ball Kenya, look Bernie here’s the yellow ball. Yellow ball, blue ball, watch out for the waves, run, come back, where’s the blue ball? Who’s on first? I don’t know. There’s bounding and barking and rolling and digging, yellow ball, blue ball, treats, waves, splashes of rain, time to go. I’m hiding the ball – who thought that would be a good idea – back in the car. Kenya in the back, Bernie in the passenger seat, I’m in the driver’s seat – really? I don’t think so.
Back in real time, the house is still messy, but quiet. Kenya has been reunited with her loving owner. Bernie is sprawled on the couch, knackered from ‘entertaining’ his guest, the kennels are closed for now. The cats breathe a sigh of relief.
#3 Bill sends his love
Bill is out of action this week. He is battling the flu that’s been doing the rounds this winter. I’ve told him, hang in there Bill, it’s a journey…
He’ll be back on deck next time.
Lots of love from us both