The Zeitgeist and I

I’m afraid to say that the zeitgeist and I have irreconcilable differences. This, of course, is a sure sign of my getting old.

This is not a problem. I’m quite happy to look on what is known as “popular culture” with a mixture of amusement and disdain. Although I must admit that the large number of TV shows which glorify bullying and greed is disturbing. The good thing is I do not need to watch such shows.

We will be going to the polls sometime in the next 3 months. What looked like being a rout of the government is now a much closer contest following the replacement of Julia Gillard with Kevin Rudd as leader of the Labor Party. The Labor Party has accepted what the so-called Liberal Party has known for years – appealing to Australians’ inherent sexism and racism will gain you votes. I vote for the Greens because they are the only party which is serious about addressing the problem of Climate Change. At heart I believe I am a liberal and although I support the welfare state and access for all to quality education and health care, I have strong libertarian leanings. I detest the Nanny State and I am strong believer in personal responsibility and choice. I don’t know why anyone would start a small business with so much government red-tape to be addressed throughout the life of a business. But enough of this “sound and fury”.

I am enjoying our winter. I have been reading some poetry, watching baseball (MLB), catching up with family and friends and being quite content with my life.

Things have been happening on the Law Reform front. The ACT government has responded (largely positively) to the Law Reform Advisory Council’s report “Beyond the Binary – legal Recognition of Sex and Gender diversity in the ACT”.  The federal government has also issued Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender.   The federal government has also included sexuality and gender identity to its anti discrimination legislation.  Small steps but in the right direction.  In 1995, Democrats Senator Sid Spindler introduced anti discrimination legislation to protect the LGBTI community.  It is a pity that he died before seeing his vision finally implemented.

The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on….til next time.

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Another year

“Oh wud some power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us” – Robert Burns

I need to lose a couple of kilograms.  They just attached themselves to my belly sometime over the Christmas period (ie early December to early January).  I have managed to get rid of all the chocolates and shortbread I was given for Christmas (by eating them, of course).

I love Christmas!  Christmas Eve was shared with my three daughters and their husbands, seven grandchildren, one (an only) beloved ex and her husband.

Christmas Day lunch (turkey with the works) was at beloved ex’s home with family and Canberra relatives.  After lunch, I drove to Sydney to share dinner with my brothers and sisters and their families.

I spent a few days down at Jervis Bay with my sister and her husband and managed to get in a number of swims in the beautiful waters of the Bay.  It is a beautiful part of the world and one day I just might move there.  On Sunday we visited Bundanon, Arthur Boyd’s home and studio on the Shoalhaven River.  Just wonderful!

Bushfires have been raging across Australia since the weekend.  So far there have been no human deaths but quite a few homes have been lost, particularly in Tasmania.  The extreme weather events will continue and we still dig up coal to sell to other countries to slowly make our planet uninhabitable due to extreme weather events.  I despise the coal industry!

Before Christmas I won one of 20 double passes to see a preview of the Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition at the National Gallery followed by a delicious breakfast. I’ll be going to the exhibition again when my sister visits in a month or so.

I have no great plans for the year ahead.  Life is good and I’m quite happy just going with the flow.

Rambling

It  is now just over 12 months since my doctor leaned over and poked me in the belly, made me stand on her scales and gave me a lecture on being overweight.  It took a day or so for my resentment and indignation to abate.  I knew she was right.  I had no excuse for not exercising.  And thus began my habit of walking regularly and eating well.

Last Sunday was a particularly fine Winter’s day here in Canberra so I decided to do some walking in a nearby Nature Reserve and this time I took my camera.

A 10 minute walk from my home finds me on a track alongside farmland.  Half and hour later I’m in the Nature Reserve.  Just before entering the reserve, there is an old bush cemetery where the remains of BFF’s great-great-great grandparents were buried.

The Brindabella Mountains form the western border of the ACT.  Just over the mountains is the valley where Australian writer Miles Franklin grew up.

The Pinnacle is a grandiose name for a hill in the Nature reserve which offers sweeping views of the ACT.   The beauty is that you can hardly see any man-made structures.  We are so lucky to live in Australia’s “Bush capital”

Just before reaching the Pinnacle, there is an outcrop of rocks from which some lovely views can be seen.

Here is Black Mountain From the top of one of these rocks.

I came across a kangaroo on my walk. It was standing about 30 metres in front of me on the track.  We stared at each other for about 30 seconds and when I made a move to get my camera from my backpack, it bounded away.

The walk took me just under 3 hours but included several stops for taking photos, having a drink of water and snacking on an apple.  I’ve lived where I live for over 30 years now and only discovered the beautiful nature park that’s practically on my doorstep last year.  I’ll be having many more walks through the reserve in the years to come.

Meanwhile – here’s a photo of grandchild No. 7 together with a photo of the chicken and leek pie I baked for the Winter Solstice back in June.

Well, that’s enough rambling for the moment.

Carpe Diem

Goodbye to a wonderful man

I have only just heard the news of the death of Professor Alfred Steinbeck.

I first met my dear professor (as I came to call him) in February 1997 when I attended his consulting rooms in Bondi Junction following a referral from my doctor.

The Professor was a first-rate endocrinologist and probably treated thousands of trans folk over the years.  We had a long chat and to my surprise, he prescribed estrogen injections and anti-androgens on that first visit.

I saw him every three months after that until late in 2002 when he decided that I no longer needed to see him.  He was there when I transitioned in 1998 and was there for me when I had SRS in February 2002.

We often hear tales of  “gate keepers” and about the hoops we have to jump through in order to access treatment for gender dysphoria.  I never felt that.  I felt I was always in control of my journey from presenting as male to presenting as female.  And it was because of the kindness and respect shown to me by professionals such as Professor Steinbeck that I felt this way.

The professor has been such an important person in my life.  I am deeply grieved at his passing.

An obituary appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Good-bye dear friend.

Meanwhile…

Family: I’ve had lots of cuddles with my latest grandchild – he’s so cute.  His dad and big sister appeared on page 3 of Wednesday’s Canberra Times riding their bikes around the lake. I’ll be going to Brisbane for a while to visit my youngest daughter, R, and her family (I have 3 gorgeous grandkids up there and miss them heaps).  I’ll be catching up with daughter 2, J, during the week and having fun with her two kids. I visited my sister at Jervis Bay for the See Change Art Festival and had a great time  – our youngest sister was also down there.  We then all headed for Sydney to celebrate youngest sister’s 50th birthday.

Friends: We had a Euro Vision Party the other week and had a ball.  Tonight we’re off to Pulp Kitchen for a dinner.  Last night we attempted to visit the Silk Road Markets at the National Museum – so did half of Canberra.  It was mayhem! I was the only one who actually got there and I didn’t stay.

Books: I saw Jeffrey Eugenides at the National Library the other week and bought Middlesex and The Marriage Plot – enjoyed them both.  I also dusted off To Kill a Mockingbird and enjoyed that immensely.  I completed a survey conducted by ACT Health and the ANU and consequently won a $100 Amazon gift voucher.  I may buy some books on poetry.

Carpe Diem

May Day

Well bugger me! It’s May already.

So what have I been up to over the last couple of months?

Family: We’ve had a few family get-togethers.  My eldest grandchild, KMan, turned 7 and we had a party for him.  On Easter Sunday we gathered at my daughter J’s place for an easter-egg hunt and we had a family Dinner to celebrate a visit from my Queensland family.  Daughter K’s pregnancy is going well and bub is due later this month.  K is looking forward to starting maternity leave.

Friends: I continue to have regular dinners with BFF and her family which is always nice.  Our group of friends have also had a couple of restaurant nights, Friday night drinks, the odd lunch and a trivia night!  I managed to catch up with my former university workmates  for a lunch.  They want me back but I tell them they can’t afford me.

Movies: I went to the movies a couple of times over the past few weeks.  First I saw Coriolanus which I enjoyed but found a little jarring at times – a brave effort to present a Shakespeare play, originally set in ancient Rome, in modern-day Bosnia.  I also saw Margin Call with great performances from Jeremy Irons, Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore, Simon Baker and others.  And of course, over the Easter weekend I dusted off my Chocolat DVD and had a good laugh and a bit of a cry.  I love that film.

Books: Ian McEwan’s Black Dogs has been sitting on my bookshelf for years and I finally read it.  He is a fine writer.  I also opened my copy of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare and read Coriolanus before going to see the movie.  One of my farewell presents when I finished working at the university last year was a signed copy of  Tim Bonyhady’s book Good Living Street, a story of several generations of his family from their life in Vienna, patronage of the arts, flight from Austria with the rise of nazism and life in Sydney, Australia.

Culture: My sister visited and we went along to the Renaissance Exhibition at the National Gallery.  It was interesting in that it covered a period when artists were beginning to use oil paints and moving to canvas.  There were some brilliant pieces but also a lot of pretty average stuff.  I much preferred the Picasso exhibition in Sydney that we saw in February.  While my sister was here, we also visited the Canberra Glassworks which was a real eye-opener.  It’s been around for a few years now, but this was my first visit.

Reunion: My high school classmates got together recently to celebrate our collective recent-or-near-future 60th birthdays.  The turnout was not as great as previous years but there were a few guys turn up who I hadn’t seen at previous reunions.  This was quite interesting given we went to an all boys school.  I was chatting to a couple of my classmates when another came up and asked me how I knew the two guys I was talking to.  I told him I went to school with them and then watched as he slowly processed this information.  It took a while for the penny to drop.  A photographer who came to take some photos also wanted to know how I was associated with this group of old, grey, balding men and seemed quite surprised when I explained that I went to school with them.  It was a good day and I look forward to our next reunion which will be in late 2014.

Other:  My new year resolution to keep the weight off is going well.  I’m now 16.5 kg lighter than I was last August! I just love being able to wear some of my old clothes.  The local ABC radio station has been reading out cryptic crossword clues during the Breakfast program and inviting listeners to come up with the answers.  I have been getting a few mentions on air (as Peta of Holt) for my solving ability.  Canberra is beautiful at this time of year as the leaves turn bright yellow, gold, red and orange.  I’ll need to turn on the heating soon.

Well, that’s about all I can recall.  Next post should have a photo of my new grandchild.

Tempus fugit

I’ve just returned to Canberra after another delightful few days at Jervis Bay.  And here we are at the end of February already.

I am really enjoying my retirement!

It has been a very mild and wet summer but I’m not complaining about that.  I have never seen Canberra look so green at the end of Summer.  We’ve only had a handful of days where the thermometer has nudged above 30.  Nevertheless, I managed to spend 3 days lazing on the beach at Jervis Bay in early January.

I’ve seen another couple of movies and enjoyed them both – Midnight in Paris and The Descendants.  And I just love the quote from the Descendants where George Clooney’s character says “you give your children enough money to do something but not enough to do nothing”.

We had a bit of a family gathering last Saturday night.  A cousin’s son does a Roy Orbison Tribute show and was playing at the Huskisson RSL Club.  Three of my cousins, a brother and a sister and their partners were all there to enjoy a dinner and the show.  The show itself was actually very good and it is always nice to catch up with the cousins.  We generally only get to see each other at funerals!  I also had a ball with some of my sister’s friends who joined our table.

Earlier this week my sister and I travelled to Sydney to see the Picasso Exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW.  It was wonderful.  What many people do not know it that he was a very good drawer and could have followed a conventional path of painting life-like portraits and still-lifes but chose to take his art in a brilliant, unconventional direction.  I’ve booked tickets for my sister and me to see the Renaissance Exhibition at the National Gallery in 4 weeks time.

My youngest daughter and her family have moved to Brisbane and I really miss them, especially the 3 grandkids.  I’ll plan to head north during the winter and spend some time with them.  We spent a lot of time with them before they left.  My other two daughters are still here and we have had a couple of birthday parties for 4 and 2 year olds already this year.  And grandchild number 7 is due at the end of May.

The pace at which this year is flying by means that it will be no time at all before the new arrival is enjoying the cuddles and love of our family.

Carpe Diem.

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