Posted in Uncategorized

Word Thief

“Poems don’t have to rhyme!” she said, shoving an adjective hurriedly into her pocket. But as she left the shop, I heard her add “If they don’t, it’s a minor crime.” I locked the door in case she s…

Source: Word Thief

It’s odd, but it seems to me, standing on the outside as I am, that the closer you get to the real, the stranger and more wonderful it becomes.

Adventure Blong Yumi

Technically, we’ve just had a week’s worth of holidays. That is, the students have been on a week’s worth of holidays, and Anke and I (and all the other Don Bosco staff) have had a week of student-free curriculum development and departmental administration.

On Friday we were given a day off from that to participate in a special ‘retreat’, a chance to get away from the rigours of our regular work and do some introspection, some reflection, and to engage in a little personal growth.

Getting away from it all involved all of us piling into a truck and heading out to the other Don Bosco campus at Tetere.

100Entrance to Don Bosco Rural Training Centre Tetere

Tetere is slightly further from Henderson than Henderson is from Honiara. Here’s a map:

And here’s a link if you can’t see the embeded map:

We got to work straight away with…

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A Fruitful Retreat

Posted in Travels

The Bus That Waited

Yesterday I wrote about my experience as a recently disabled person catching the bus for the first time since moving to Toowoomba. I remember thinking as I wrote it that I had probably exhausted the last of my good karma that morning. Life couldn’t possibly have anything else in store for me on this topic. I was wrong.

This morning’s adventure involved a different destination and therefore a different bus stop. After yesterday’s almost experience of almost missing the bus, I wanted to make sure that this time I had left nothing to chance or circumstance, so I left home a good ten minutes earlier than Googlemaps had estimated that I would need to reach my bus stop with time to spare. What I hadn’t anticipated was the hill.

You might remember that yesterday I found that the slight upward slope leading to my bus stop for USQ presented me with a bit of a challenge. Luckily, I can still use a walker to support myself for doing things around the house, so my wheelchair became my walker for that part of the journey and I made it to the bus on time without (much) further ado. I had enough oomph in my unsteady legs to make it up that small geographical bump, but I think it made me a tad unrealistic as to the altitudes I should attempt to tackle on future adventures. Enter – the hill on Stenner St.

Did I say hill? I meant monolith.

OK, slight exaggeration but that’s what it felt like. Past Ballin Park I set the brakes and steadied myself for the walk up the hill, a distance of less than 100 metres on the map. But in reality this insignificant little slope took me more than ten minutes to ascend, pushing my wheelchair in front of me as I went so that it served at the same time as both necessary balance and unanticipated ballast. And at the close of the ten minutes, I suddenly realised that I was once again at risk of being late for the bus.

At the top of the little hill where Stenner St meets Ramsay St, the landscape flattens out to the point that I could quite easily wheel myself the remaining hundred metres or so without enduring too much arm torture. The bus stop I was heading to can be clearly seen from the roundabout where you stand at the corner. So I started to make my way there.

That’s when I saw the bus. It appeared over the rise and trundled past the bus stop I was almost at in less than a few short but not terribly sweet seconds. But all was not lost. I realised that there was another bus stop just around the corner and if I could move fast enough, I could get there before the bus arrived. All I had to do was beat the bus.

I had continued to wobble along behind my chair, pushing it as I went as best I could, and I had reached the final corner just as the bus was turning across it. It was already on its way down the street, and there was no way I could make the 150 metres that remained to be travelled in that direction, even if it was downhill. I wasn’t going to make it.

In hopeful (or possibly delusional) desperation, I waved to the driver as he encountered me at the corner, pointing down towards the nearby bus stop, indulging in a bout of impromptu street charades to signal the bus driver of my sincere intention to board the bus at the next available stop. We made eye contact as he steered the vehicle the necessary ninety degrees through the intersection and then he looked around before continuing on his way. I watched the bus get smaller, resigned to my fate, as it headed off towards the centre of town, not taking me with it.

Except it didn’t. A moment later the driver pulled to the side of the road as soon as it was safe, waited a good minute and a half before I could make it past the sudden gauntlet of corner-turning cars, (where did they come from?) and helped me on board the bus when I finally, eventually reached him on the other side of the street. And he smiled as he did it.

As I wheeled myself, exhausted but relieved, over the extendable ramp and onto the Bus That Waited, I caught a glimpse of the bus stop located further down the street that I had been trying to make it to. It was at least another 50 metres ahead of us.

In Tennessee Williams classic tragedy, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, the embattled and eventually broken Blanche DuBois confesses to the doctor who has come to take her to the mental asylum, “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

I must admit, I haven’t done that very much before now. But perhaps I might have to start.

Also, I will leave home  at least ten minutes earlier next time.





Posted in Travels

The Bus to Freedom

This morning I caught the bus.

Big deal, I hear you say. Woopdeedoo, a 45 year old woman caught the bus. Stop the presses and other various expressions of sarcasm. It’s OK. I can’t blame you for that. You  don’t know me. Yet.

You don’t know that I was a teacher for almost 20 years in Queensland, Australia. You don’t know that I have a husband and two sons. You don’t know that I write plays and stories that sometimes other people actually want to perform or read. And you don’t know that I used to be able to walk.

Not just walk. I also used to be able to run and jump and dance and indulge in many other varied forms of independent physical cavortations as my life required or my heart desired. Now I can’t.

Don’t worry. It wasn’t an accident I was in that was somebody else’s fault. It wasn’t even an accident that was my own fault. It was just there. Some sort of motor disorder that I must have been born with and walked around with and never knew was there until it started to show itself in my late teens and gradually get worse and better and worse again over the next 30-odd years. And then, after that, it decided to stop getting better any more.

I won’t lie to you. It’s been tough. Between the uncertain diagnoses and the expert-head shaking and resignations, trial medications and vitamins and the endless waves of questioning and self doubt, I have had some pretty tough times over my adult life.

At various stages of my life, bit by bit, kicking and screaming, I have had to watch my ability to do things slowly, painfully, unstoppably, diminish and die. I can no longer walk. That means I can no longer teach drama, or dance, or run or drive, or walk unassisted or supported for much more than twenty metres at a time. It has been hard.

But today I caught the bus. I took my wheelchair out of my house, down the street, around a few corners and across the road to the bus stop, found that the half-way hill was too steep to push up with my arms (my kingdom for decent set of biceps) so I used my chair as a walker and supported my own unsteady steps to push my chair up the shallow slope until the road levelled and I could sit again. As I was approaching the street I watched a bus rocket past the place I was heading for and was very much afraid that the bus had come early and I had missed it. But the watch on my wrist, which I always keep set to two minutes fast, told me that it was not yet time for my bus to arrive. So I reached the bus stop and waited. And the bus arrived.

So now I am sitting at the university that is ten minutes drive from my home. I am waiting for a friend and typing my thoughts and wondering how it is that so few people realise how wonderful it is to catch the bus. Plus, I didn’t have to pay full price for a taxi so I actually have money left over for once. I could even buy myself a cup of tea if I chose. I’m considering it.