Friday, 12 December 2014

Life lately

Hi everyone,

Sorry I've been away for a bit.  I've had to be on the road a bit - to Flinders and Albury chiefly - and there've been a couple of SES callouts too.

Anyway, summer is surely setting in here. The paddocks are drying off and every now and again I see the steers in one of the paddocks looking at a hay ring in a hopeful manner.  It'll be a long summer.

The hunt for work is presently a case of "hurry up and wait". Still waiting on a call back from one law firm, and a decision is pending from a commercial entity on an offer.  Another application for work is promising and likely to succeed.

Reading a lot of Camus lately - recently read The Plague and The First Man.  I dunno... The absurdism born in Algeria does seem to have meaning here in this dusty, superheated place.  I know this seems like the best place to be to a lot of people.  I've made some good friends here who love it, and once upon a time I'd happily have settled here.  I just seem to touch the ground here lightly now, like a foreigner or a sojourner.  My heart isn't here.

Will need to scurry to Melbourne for Christmas shopping next week.  I'll try and catch up with some of the old crew for lunch maybe. Or not. I do feel like an A-Grade loser a lot of the time. 

Well, nil desperandum. As long as I keep getting out of bed, I'm in control!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Tuesday post

Another warm day, but not as hot as it'll become.  Personal business to attend to in morning. Farm stuff in the afternoon.

Legal volunteering in the evening - there's a sniff of a possible job there which is encouraging.  Early start tomorrow - off to Albury at 5:30am re a possible job.  Hopefully will get to squeeze in a run along the Murray while I'm there.

Monday, 1 December 2014

A long, hot day

Hi everyone,

Quick post before sleep. Alone at the farm this morning as a brief storm rolled through. Some rain (salvaged 4 buckets of water) before the day warmed up properly and burned off the clouds.

Job interview by phone at midday. Reasonably optimistic.

Farm work in afternoon, plotting out how to get water from wells in one paddock up to sheds.  Dusty and sweaty work.  Summer is not encouraging me, although having just finished Camus' The First Man gives me a good perspective on it. We'll see.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Back from Wangaratta

Hi everyone,

I'm back at the farm after spending most of the weekend at the SES's work health and safety course at Wangaratta.

It's been a good weekend.  Left here about 6:30am Saturday and caught up with Maddie and Tom, two of the other volunteers from Tatura, who were also going.  We had one of the unit's vehicles and (perhaps a little flatteringly?) they asked me to drive.

As per regulations, we were all in uniform -

It's been about 30C/90F both days. I can tell you that SES overalls, while great in winter, are like a portable sauna in hot weather.  By afternoon Maddie, Tom and I had all peeled our overalls down to our waists and were in our shirts.

The course itself was kept as interesting as a fairly dry, regulation oriented topic can be. Felt good to be with other volunteers though. Most of the others were from further up, from Beechworth and Talangatta, with a couple from Cobram, Benalla and Alexandra.

Class finished at 5:30 and the three of us, plus the volunteer from Alexandra called Shannon, went to the accomodation at the Ryley Motor Inn (  This was kind of special to me: when I was a kid (and when the Hume Highway still passed through Wangaratta), we'd pass this motel in the way to New South Wales, and I was kind of fascinated by what I thought of as its 'Southwestern' style architecture. Anyway, this made it kind of a thrill to stay there.

Maddie and Shannon took one room and Tom and I took the other. The motel is small and not luxurious, but very clean and welcoming. This was the room I was in -

After getting settled Maddie, Tom and I had a couple of drinks at the Albion Hotel - 

We then met Shannon at the Pinsent Hotel, where SES had made $30 each available for dinner.

The Pinsent ( feels pretty luxurious inside: service is quick and the food very good, if  a little short of healthy options. I recommend the meat-heavy "Stockman's Grill".  After eating we sat there and talked for a couple more drinks and then walked back up to the Motel.

Breakfast at the motel was kindly paid for by SES too, and we drive back to the venue for the course.  This morning's material felt a little perfunctory and I had the feeling the teacher was keen to wrap up and get the use of part of his weekend.

Maddie, Tom and I drove back to Shepparton, where Tom lives and I'd left my car.  Maddie was to drive the vehicle back to Tatura.  I came back to the farm.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel a bit flat at this point. It seems a bit pathetic, but when I'm in uniform and doing SES stuff, I guess I feel different - like I'm doing something that matters and that makes the world a fraction better. Then when I come back and take off the overalls and the helmet, I go back to being just another shitheel farm labourer who's just scraping by in life.

I dunno: I know I'm not one of the world's natural born losers. I'll be back on track soon enough.  And yet... The sense of purpose and value I get from being an emergency services volunteer makes me feel better than anything else I know.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Still here

Hi everyone,

Quick little post to say I'm still here.  I keep planning to write a long update, but a short one will need to do for the moment.

In a nutshell, I'm looking for work again - my contract ran out I'm afraid. Still optimistic about life: feel like I'm on the right track even though I dunno where it'll end quite.  I've become an operational SES volunteer. And I'm still writing and publishing as much as I can.

Still running. Feel fitter and leaner than ever. Would love to make a career with a health element.  Gotta make it pay but!

Nil desperandum!

Friday, 25 April 2014

Someone remind me what a huge success I've made of my life.

I keep forgetting.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

A snowman in Las Piedras

Hi everyone,

This will be a whiny venting post.  I'm sitting here at my desk at work trying to hold my shit together.  I just saw somewhere on the web a picture from Frozen - the one that says something about "do you want to build a snowman?".

This, of course, makes me think of Grace and Rachel and how they saw the movie lately and were so excited by it, and how I wasn't there to share it with them and sing with them and be a father to them.

And how I've wound up here, divorced and alone and as trapped as the characters in The Wages of Fear.  Living a bazillion miles from my darling kids, applying my skills for the benefit of clients who mostly distrust me and some of whom actively despise me.

I know I'll bounce back, and find a way out of these issues, but right now I feel like I've reached into my bag of tricks and found it empty.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Woodsmoke and Football

Cool autumn day here.  Slept late, but woke up feeling well-rested for the first time in ages.

Nice long morning Skype with the girls.  Love them so much!  Poor Grace has a stomach bug and was cuddling up to Joni, although there was an upside inasmuch as Rachel and I got to have some daddy-daughter time.  I love Gracie-Lou, but she does make it hard for Rachel-Bear to get a word in edgeways!

Working with the old boy on the house plumbing in the afternoon. Woodsmoke was coming through the chimney from the fire inside and hanging in the cool afternoon air.  I remember that smell well from Flinders, in the before-time. It always smelt like home, and yet...  The other thing I heard a few times through the day was talk of local football on the radio.  I always thought having a local team would mean something to me - that supporting a team (Shepparton Swans) and being able to go to their games (the firm is a sponsor) would be a part of feeling at home.  But still ... It's as if I want somewhere that feels like home, but as soon as it heaves into view, I feel trapped.

Way to be eternally unsatisfied!

More tomorrow I guess.

Friday, 18 April 2014

So it's been a while

Hi everyone,

Sorry I've been AWOL so long.

No real excuse: life has been a little same-y of late.  Work, run, shower, sleep, repeat.  It's not bad, I have to say, but it doesn't give me a huge amount to say.

Errr, so what do I have?  Well, I've started my training with the State Emergency Service.

Too old and cowardly to take the Queen's shilling, so I guess this is something my girls might be able to be proud of me for.  Guilt much?!?

What else?  The "prestige vehicle case" is underway.  I think this one has real legs.

I should add that the other reason I've been AWOL a lot is that I tend to blog from my phone before sleeping, and I've been crashing to sleep pretty readily at night.

Failed to go to the Good Friday service today. I've also rather sucked at Lent this year #CatholicFail. Losing my faith?  I can't remember when I last prayed.

Well, be it all as it may, one presses on. As long as the sun rises there are new things to do!

Monday, 17 March 2014

Donating again

Hi everyone,

Typing this a little awkwardly on my phone at the blood bank.  It's my first donation in nearly a year.  That's too long to be stuck on 77 donations!

Things are generally good.  The weather is cooling and rain is falling sometimes although the long range forecast is bleak: below average rainfall for the next twelve months.  Not good.

I've started putting out feelers in case I suddenly need people to pull strings for me.  This has included calling the SES yesterday to offer myself as a volunteer.

Still missing the girls.  It just gets worse, you know?  Looking forward to a Skype date at the end of the week! :)

The weekend after next is one I'm looking forward to - the Roller Coaster Run at Mount Dandenong. Twenty-one kilometres of up and down.  Bring it.

Still jotting down random ideas but nothing that rises to writing.  It all feels rather hackneyed. :|. I dunno... Maybe a quick stint in Melbourne would spark me up again.  I have this faint feeling of being a head-in-a-jar that even running and exercise can't fix!

Well, enough for now.  Developments as they arise.

Sunday, 23 February 2014


Hi everyone,

Sorry I've been AWOL a few days.  In one of my matters the defendant made a lightning adjournment application and that kind of hogged my attention the last few days.

Thursday evening I drove down to Melbourne so to be at the County Court for the 9:30am application.  I stayed at Jennie and JP's place, and that had me driving down Kings Way and Dandenong Road at about 9:00pm.  Seeing the city lights, for a moment I caught the feeling of possibility I had as a teenager - say 15 or 16 - seeing the city from the country.  Interesting little flashback!

It was great to see Jennie and JP.  They always make you feel so welcome!

Friday was the day of the application.  Our barrister was coming up with a scrolling list of reasons why we should consent to the application and nearly had a fit when I said I was  willing to subpoena a doctor - and prevent him going overseas - in order to keep the date.  I'm a little proud to say I was completely able to hold the line and said, in essence, "yes, it's a risky decision, but it's mine and I've made it".

All of which was still a little academic as the application succeeded.  The client was a trifle displeased and I needed a few good stiff drinks on Friday evening!

I was still licking my wounds a bit on Saturday, so I kept it peaceful - read a few of backlogged issues of Perspectives on History and did a couple of sudoku puzzles.  And a run... I was planning on about 12 kms but got to 16 kms/10 miles.  Speed not so great but steady and strong which I'm pleased by.

The highlight of today - Sunday - was skyping with the girls.  Or specifically, with Grace.  They'd had a huge day and Rachel's nap had turned into her night's sleep!  Anyway, so Gracie-Lou and I played - she set out Mickey Mouse cards in front of the iPad so we could play a card game, and she played with some dolls too, and we talked :).  The only thing that troubles me a little was that towards the end she said "nothing can cheer me up dad". And no matter what I did - talking to her, trying to encourage her to sing with me, asking if we could play cards again - she did look sad.  I'm sure it's just her being 4 years old and a very tired little pumpkin, but it worries me a little that feeling sad just seemed to drop out if the sky and land on her.  Worry about them both a lot.  Hate being a long distance dad - like hate it to the nth degree.  I must be there when they need me.

Not much else to note. Dad and Michael came back this afternoon but will probably head south tomorrow with a load of steers for Pakenham.  Weather warming up again.  Lordy let if rain. 

More tomorrow

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

In Rerun

Hi everyone,

Typing this while a Family Guy rerun plays with mute on.  Not one of their more successful ones - Stewie meeting his future self.

A good day in lawyerland: working highly productively to the clock - not quite as well as I'd have liked, but better than I've been for ages.  Is it stupid that I still kind of love the days when I get it right?  Maybe.  Still, I seem to recall the story of a nonagenarian who, asked why he kept practising the cello, said "because I think I'm making progress".  Ancora imparo, indeed.

Law association drinks after work in honour of a judge and magistrate who are up here on circuit.  Predictably disappointing: everyone knew everyone else, so I lurked for about 45 minutes, had a couple of unsatisfying conversations, and then slipped away and went for a run.  Christ knows what I'm going to do if I'm out of work at mid-year: attempts to network up here have not been encouraging. Still, at least that patronising f*er from a rival firm didn't bail me up to ask me if I was looking to find a new wife, so that kind of counts as a win for the evening.

No other news save that more rain is expected in the next few days.  Thank God!

More tomorrow.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Monday and moonlight

Hi everyone,

Typing this on a Monday night as the light of a just-past-full moon pours in the window.

It's been a fair day.  Developments in one case that will likely take up a big chunk of  the week (including all of this morning and probably most of tomorrow, which will be spent drawing a long affidavit.  Also spent today on the fiddly job of a crimes compensation statement of claim (it's been a few years since I'd done one) and also rattling off a quasi-media release for the firm.

Errands at lunch - pharmacy for meds, post office to send a package to the girls, and Harris Scarfe to get the old boy some more jeans.

Left work lateish because of the statement of claim I mentioned.  This meant I couldn't go for a run which was disappointing.  Will try and replace it with a weights workout before work tomorrow.

Two unrelated things are on my mind a little tonight.  One was the news in the paper that one Stephanie Ryan has been preselected as the National Party candidate for the new seat of Euroa.  Even though this is the next seat over, I found I barely seemed to care, or was even perhaps actively negative.  The other thing is I have a local Law Association thing on tomorrow night.  Regular readers may remember that the last time I went to one of these, it was epically unsuccessful.  I dunno... I guess putting these two things together makes me feel that I'm still just a sojourner here, and have no real roots. And that if I did lay down roots, and started feeling about this place as if it were a home, I'd stop being who I am, and I'd have to become someone I don't know that I want to become..  Hmm.

Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage.

Enough for now.

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Wednesday and a dying wind...

 Hi everyone,

Typing this while an episode of The Simpsons rots the shine off my IQ.  

Sorry I've been offline a few days.  Things are generally good aside from the weather heating up again.  My performance at work is more like I'd expect from myself and I'm pleased with that.

Skyped with the girls twice last week.  Missing them lots and wondering when the hell I'll get to see them for real next.

I don't know what's wrong with me.  Just feeling somehow ... trapped.  I once wrote a poem about Joni that ended with the image of the wind dying away as a boat neared Ithaca.  Looking at where I'm at with my life now it feels like I found Ithaca, but it somehow wasn't there.

Well, probably nothing a good nights sleep won't help.  More tomorrow.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

1:00am post

Hi everyone,

Quick post before my battery dies.

Good productive day here.  A little annoyed because I know I could have worked better, but not bad for all that.  As I said yesterday: feeling like myself again.

Went for a run of about 6.5 kms in the evening at Victoria Park Lake.  Nice cool evening.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014


Hi everyone,

Sorry I've been away a little - it's been a busy few days.

Saturday was, I can say, the highlight.  It was the first of February, which is the girls' birthday.  Joni and I arranged a Skype time, and when I fired it up, she'd made a cake like a big muffin with a "4" shaped candle on it.  We sang 'happy birthday' with the girls and they blew the candle out together.  The girls then opened the presents they were sent by Mum and Kate, which they loved.  Rachel was transfixed by the sliding picture puzzle from Mum, and Grace just loved the photo book from Kate.  Just a perfect Skype, and it meant a lot to me that Joni took the time to set it up like that.

Yesterday was mostly memorable for a cool change finally arriving - a strong, cool breeze blowing all night was positively heavenly after about 8 days of temperatures bouncing around 40C.

Yesterday and today were both good days at work.  The tempo is ramping up but I'm pretty happy about that - feeling better than ever and feeling like a good lawyer again.

I have a new publication, by the way - a piece in the commercial transportation committee newsletter.  And already I see a few ways to leverage it.

So, all in all, feeling pretty good just now!

Friday, 31 January 2014

What a week...

Hi everyone,

Terribly glad we're at the weekend.  Four day weeks are fun but tend to throw me off my rhythm.  And yesterday's gallivanting about the countryside didn't really help I have to say.

On the plus side, I'm getting my handle on work again.  A good week next week and I should be right back on top.

Weather still unpleasantly hot.  Thought about going for a run after work but went for office drinks in air conditioned comfort.

Tomorrow is the birthday of Grace and Rachel.  Missing them terribly again.  I keep thinking how I was able to soothe away Grace's little worry last week and wish I could do that for them all the time. It just sucks not being there with them :(. Thank God for the Skype date tomorrow.

Very tired tonight.

More later.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

A great use of my time...

Hi everyone,

Can I have a moment to gripe?

I'm sitting here in the Yarrawonga office on a hot afternoon.  How hot?  This hot

It's an hour's drive here from Shepparton, and now I've got an hour and a half drive back to Karramomus.  Or rather, longer as I need to stop and do a site inspection at Yarroweyah on the way back.  What makes it annoying is that only one of my three appointments up here actually turned up and I skipped lunch to get here on time #waaahmbulance.

Not that I'm in a hurry to go back to the farm.  I have the problem of being a free trader in a protectionist household, so im likely to attract some blame in connection with the decision today not to subsidise SPC Ardmona.

The thing is, yesterday I sent an email supporting funding for SPC Ardmona to certain members of parliament, and this morning preparing a news report for the firm detailing its support for a subsidy for SPC.  So yeah: I sold out my principles because to match the inclinations of the higher-ups at work.

It's been a marked couple of days then.

I guess I should bite the bullet and get on the road.  Roll on cooler temps next week!

Evening post

Hi everyone,

Typing this just after midnight as the house cools down.

Day went well after I got back to the office from the dentist.  Not quite as good as I'd hoped, but close: I'm still not working quite at a satisfactory level, but I'm getting close.

Missing the girls like hell right now.  One of the presents I got them for their birthday is a game called "Sturdy Birdy" - as best I can tell its kind of like twister except for balance.  All the reviews on Amazon talk about how much fun it is, and how children love it. And I know I'll never get to play it with them: because after all, I'm only a "special events Dad", and, you know, a dangerous maniac.

Life, even with the best of resources, still truly sucks sometimes.

Well, nothing is improved by moping.  Continuons.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

At the dentist...

Hi everyone,

Typing this in the waiting room at the dentists.

I've slipped put of work - legitimately - for this.  I still feel a bit guilty despite having told my employer.  Truth is, my performance hasn't been so hot of late and I'm beginning to feel that sense of being a stupid fraud I had at H&W.  I guess what amplifies it for me is that they're so good to work for.  It's a great firm and I still love turning up to work.

Anyway, I'm sure I can bounce back.  I know what diabolically bad performance at work looks like and this ain't it.  All I need is a good day and a half and I'll be back on top no problems!

The day after Australia Day.

Hi everyone,

It's the Monday after Australia Day and, therefore, a public holiday.  Typing this just before lunch.

Yesterday was a beautiful day - lots of sunlight and warmth, and we spent it separating weaner steers from their mothers.

Good way to spend the morning, although I did something to my foot that left it sore and so I put the planned run off to to today (will get to it after).  Oh, and while I was closing a gate, I brushed my backside against the hotwire.  I can guarantee the electric fence is at full power!  I substituted the run for a short but intents weights session.

This morning was spent rejuvenating a stretch of fence line.  It's another beautiful day, although the blues are kind of niggling at me.  Annoying, although it'll fade in a few hours I know.

Probably head into Shepparton this afternoon for groceries.

More later

Tuesday back at work

Hi everyone.

Typing this on a hot night:

I've got the door and window open in the hope of catching any stray breeze.  Nothing yet.

Today was a bit patchy.  A fair degree of client work.  In the afternoon I had an uncomfortable blast from the past, inasmuch as a conversation with my boss gave me the same feeling of grinding imbecility I had constantly with a couple of past jobs.  Not fun.

Really needed a run after work, so despite the heat I banged out a stiff 6kms around the lake in town.

Home by 8:30.  Dad and Fran to head to Flinders tomorrow to see how Michael is faring post leg surgery.  Hope recovers well.

Monday, 6 January 2014


Hi everyone,

Quick post before I close my eyes.  Good day at work today.  Finally finished reviewing files for the directors - tomorrow I can get back to doing paying work.

Home by 7pm.  Took bins down to the corner.  Good strong workout of planking and weights in evening.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

The new year

Short post to start the new year.

Started the day with an 11km run in Flinders, to the war memorial, pier and golf course.  Beautiful conditions: warm, overcast and just enough spots of rain to cool you down.

More work on baler through morning.  A decent belt of rain went past in afternoon.  Dad and I returned to Goulburn Valley in evening.  Back to work tomorrow.