Daily Life


Getting old is not much fun, nor, as the late, great thespian Bette Davis once famously said, it’s not for sissies. But I’ve becoming increasingly conscious of age over the past few weeks.

My eyesight is going: quickly and rapidly. I’m seeing less in the dark and rain, vision is cloudy and peripheral vision untrustworthy.

Arthritis in my hands is making even the most minor of tasks a tough one.

And my professional life, such as it is, is slipping from disaster to disaster.

All these things are adding up to fill me with fear and trepidation, which has become paralyzing, and even worse, kept me away from one of the sources of dealing with such feelings: cycling.

Riding a bike has proven to be a physical, mental and spiritual cog in my well-being since I regularly got onto the bike about a decade ago.

Without cycling, I eat more to run away from confronting issues, get fatter, hate myself more and then eat more to cope with the self-loathing. It’s a vicious circle and one I have never really broken, only redirected by getting onto a bike.

Experience has showed me that times like these will eventually pass and that these struggles turn out to be decent periods of growth in the long run.

I’m sure that will happen, but equally convinced that my own actions will be crucial in bringing about such an outcome.

And now I am too dominated by fear to take the action I need to. So I am doing what I can and plugging away until that drive I need to make things happen appears.

In the meantime, I’m really throwing myself into Kangaeroo Corner, our garden.

May wasn’t as warm and sunny this year as it is for most years, so the floral extravaganza I’d expected in the second year of having a garden hasn’t panned out.

That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been without its pleasures.

Most pleasing of all has been the resurgence of the kangaroo paw, which I had given up for dead.

The flower came back bigger than it was last year. It was totally unexpected and brought great delight.

The jacaranda feared dead has also made something of a comeback, though it still has many bare branches where leaves did not re-sprout, so I am giving her a bit more time.

Our tree fern, which I desperately wanted to thrive because of its symbolic value for someone who grew up in the Dandenong Ranges, has died, though I am loathe to say so and still cling on to hope for a miracle considering that a stick we put in a pot a couple of years ago has resumed its life as a grevillea and may even flower this year.

But we have been presented with an amazing offer of a more mature tree fern that we’re going to take up.

First, though, we need to rip out a nandina heavenly bamboo (nanten in Japanese) that had always been in the garden. It’s kinda lovely, but it’s fate was decided when I removed the tree fern from the ground a couple of months ago and found that the nandina’s roots had extended several meters and literally choked the Australian native’s life support system.

The nandina is scheduled for removal this week and the new tree fern can be planted at a later date.

Also bringing good news is the Snow-in-the-Summer, which is the name used in Japan for the melaleuca decora, commonly known as the white feather honeymyrtle.

A couple of blossoms appeared on this tree last year, but this year, the entire top tier of the plant is turning a fluffy white.

It looks great, particularly at a distance.

The rainy season appears to have started, with wet weather forecast for every day this week. It’s a bleak, gloomy time and matches my current mood.

Still, at these times, perhaps it couldn’t be better to remember that it’s an ill wind indeed that brings no good.