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Dropping the Ball

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Running with the Magpies

I’m not much of a runner. I’m heavier these days. I start with 200 steps, counting as I run. Breathing in and out with the numbers, taking it slowly over the rocky, wet path. Stones, tree roots, furrows and puddles, 77-78-79-80. Keep going.

I pass 200, and feel lighter. I’m thinking of magpies and lifting my feet to float and I keep going and it’s 500, then 800 and I’ve made 1000 and I’m still going and I feel like I’m flying. I’m doing it for the Magpies I tell myself. At 1500 I stop for breath and to take in the view as the rain keeps falling.

Stay on the Path the sign says and it seems like it’s telling those Pies 'Stay true. Keep going boys'. I take off again around the cliff path and I reckon I can make it to 2000. I count myself onto the headland, and look across–there are the magpies! And adult and a youngster, just picking at the grass. Hopping. Poking their beaks into the soft soil. Burdle-durdle-dup I say.

Hip hop onto the path at Hell’s Gates and off the adult flies. I…

'More than one more day': a reflection on Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking–by Anna Sublet

There are rust-coloured stains on page six of my library copy of Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. It is here that Didion is describing cleaning up the blood, the spilt blood from her husband’s moments of death. It is unnerving, the mark of ink and blood on the soiled page. I can see the carpet, the discarded syringes, and I can already feel the force of Didion’s eye on this page, this moment, this ordinary instant, this instant.

Didion’s book is an attempt to navigate grief and life itself, through the analysis of text and images, of words and markings on a page. She writes ‘even as a child...I developed a sense that meaning itself was resident in the rhythms of words and sentences and paragraphs…’ We traverse a year which transports her from her literal, fixed, understood world, across the shifting plates of a new landscape. ‘Was it only by dreaming or writing that I could find out what I thought?’ she asks. She takes us from the domestic scenes, detailed with chairs, books…

Sound the Siren! Junior Footy's Back.

As the desolation of the Collingwood Grand final loss washed over us at the MCG last year, along with the river of beers and tears, my daughter said to me, ‘Mum, I can’t WAIT til next footy season. I mean MY footy season. I can’t wait to play footy again!’

'Footy’s back!' A few weeks ago, this phrase caused some consternation, with AFLW supporters pointing out that footy had been back for quite a while, actually. But I’m throwing it back out there: it’s the start of the junior footy season for many young players this month. Across town, parents are signing up for orange duty and players are cleaning off, buying or finding their boots, whether it’s for practice matches or round one of the season.

Last year, our daughter began playing footy with the local Under 14s team. After her first game, in which she marked in front of goals and kicked truly, she came off the field, saying, ‘That was the best fun ever! I can’t wait for next week!’ 

I loved playing footy as I grew up. As the on…

Tied Together

A Meditation

I’m reading in a rush, scrawling notes in the margins. A man, dressed all in black, with black lace-up boots, holds his small dog while he sits with a morning mug in the autumn sun. We are beachside, at a kiosk on the foreshore, stopped for a moment, while the cars race past on Beach Road.

The horizon stretches pencil-thin and long across the water, flat today. A single kayaker strokes across the bay. The big ships are further out, indistinct in the morning light. 

I'm reading Martin Luther King, Jr’s ‘The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life’, a sermon originally delivered on April 9, 1967. On the day of final judgment, he writes, the question asked of us will be ‘What did you do for others?’  He goes on to note, 'we are tied together in life and in the world.'

The pup looks a little grey around the muzzle. The bloke looks like a muso. So calm, together. When he takes off with his little dog, it’s almost as if the dog, in its small, slow way, is walking its owner.…

If and When It's Necessary

In the last two-way conversation we had, I said to my father: ‘Mum says you wanted to tell me something dad?’ He paused. I stood holding the phone in a Manhattan hotel. My hair was wet. It was 8am in New York City and 10 pm in Melbourne.

‘Not now. If and when it’s necessary, Annie. If and when it’s necessary,’ he said.

What did this mean? What did he need to tell me? When would it be necessary? Why could he not tell me then? I panicked. There were people in the hospital room; he had visitors. It is hard to reconcile sometimes that they were there when I was not. I can believe now that he needed to say ‘I’m dying.’ I’m hoping that he wanted to say ‘I love you’.

Flying to New York City for my milestone birthday was a big deal for myself and my partner. We had planned for months, booked and re-booked tickets, researched hotels and created a complex spreadsheet to manage our children, who were to be left behind. Dad had been sick for a number of years at this stage, having had multiple hosp…

Unleash the Hounds

If there’s one thing to get the local community Facebook site worked up, it’s a discussion about dogs. Dogs off lead, dogs on beaches, dogs at parks, dogs on lead, dog poo, dogs on sportsgrounds, dog owners, dogs barking. In fact, one of the reasons I left the local Facebook  page was the passion, and indeed, the nastiness that spewed from people once the topic of our four-legged friends came up. Talk about unleashing the hounds!

Poo on the pavement? Poo on footy fields? Irresponsible owners? Lack of beaches for dogs? Lack of off-lead parks for dogs? Dogs running through playgrounds or sportsgrounds when they are supposed to be on lead? Dogs in the wildlife reserve, rushing birdlife? By-laws officers enforcing fines? Dead birds, yapping puppies and dog attacks all had a run. All of these topics often drew the most virulent of responses, in some cases leading to insults about peoples’ children and campaigns akin to bullying.

Lucy Battersby’s recent piece suggests that when people visit a…