About Sean Mathews

Life has value when you choose to be interested and active.

Diary of a Retiree: Day 273

Mt Wombat Road

Fitness

While walking along the Goulburn River a couple of days ago, I realised I was getting a bit short of breath going up hills. I haven’t been doing much strenuous exercise in recent months and I think it is telling. So, I got on the bike for a 10k tester to see where I was at. I need to get the cardiovascular system pumping again! The legs felt heavy and I was puffing away on inclines that have never bothered me before. My conclusion is that walking is a wonderful form of exercise for keeping you active, the joints mobile and getting some fresh air into your lungs, but you most certainly need to get the heart rate up on a regular basis as well.

Getting back on the bike mid-winter around here is something of a challenge though. Even on this sunny afternoon, the chill factor on the downhill cruise was quite uncomfortable across my chest. I will need to pick my times and use the resistance trainer in between. Still, these are good options and I think I am in the right frame of mind for regular cycling again.

I also started a Quigong class a couple of months ago. This is an ancient form of Chinese martial art practiced in a fluid, slow motion, somewhat like Tai Chi. It is excellent for coordination, balance, mind / muscle control and range of motion. I am yet to remember the 64 sequential movements necessary to take myself to the most basic level of fluidity, but that will come in time.

Company

There have been quite a few visitors lately. The most recent, a lovely visit from Lyn, an old school friend. This weekend brother Keir and nephew Caleb are arriving for some riding and bushwalking. It has been wonderful to see so many friends and family make the effort to come here. We really value and appreciate their stays. Interestingly, I don’t always know the people that come. Recently we had a visit from Mitch (who used to work for Mary) and his wife Jacqui. In their mid 20s, I had only briefly met them at their engagement party a while ago.  What a delight to have such vital, intelligent, young visitors in the mix. They were great company and I really hope to see them again.

I love it when we have people of all ages come. Mary’s Melbourne book group is a case in point. 10 of them, half in their late 20s / early 30s, half in their 60s, are a highly entertaining bunch. I am lucky to be able to sit in when they meet at our place. Their birthday book club lunch meeting celebrating Darren’s 30th and Mary’s 60th was a real hoot. There was lots of laughter, perceptive book talk and conversations all over the place. I was sorry to see them go.

It is also great to see people arrive with their baggage and begin to leave some cares behind as they settle into the groove of just being here, no pressure to do anything, time to talk and walk, to look around, become part of the landscape and change down a cog, to begin to match the pace of the place. At least, this is the way I see it and I hope this is the way they find it to be.

 

Sean

In Molesworth

James Reyne plays the Molesworth Hotel

(On the night of this photo, from this very microstage, it might not look possible, but it is true, true, true! The man above caused the mayhem below)

I come upon a fawning crowd
Of ferals
Bogan fresh and proud
Straight from the shower 
And into the pub
Girls glistening with glitter 
Post hot water scrub
Their stretch jeans too tight
Their muffin tops showing
Breasts fixed just right
Pancake face glowing
The boys in their utes
Polished for showing
All looking cute
With product hair woven
They come in their droves
From asbestos laced shedding
From acreage homes
Town houses with cladding
They gather in cliques
Or large social groups
The drinks go down nicely
The talk turns to hoots
And bold statements of fact
And alcohol hugs
The bravado act
As beer goes in chugs
The girls are a twitter
Who did what to whom?
They flit hither thither
Across the filling room
The singles are looking 
For a match for the night
All out there hooking
Their catch to hold tight
The couples are clingy
Not risking detachment
While the bully boys prowl
Asking “What that meant?”
The lonely boys savour
Their chances tonight
And if they’re not lucky
There’s always a fight

We’re packed in the room
As the lights slowly fade
There’s noise in the gloom
It comes from the stage
A postage stamp corner
Two metres by three
Can it be enough
For a man such as he?
Hushed anticipation
A God almighty roar
An explosive oration
James Reyne’s through the door
They know every word
For every single beat
They’re a seething horde
A mob on its feet
The mob moves as one
Rolling in great waves
And it sings as one
Waking cemeteries of graves
Glasses held aloft
Drinks slosh with abandon
Dancers mash and mosh
Bodies bounce and cannon
Reyne looks astonished
With worry in his eye
They won’t be admonished
They’re living the lie
So he charms them 
And he works them
The favourites are all here
He sings every hit
Everyone holds dear
Delivers with great fervour
Stokes their every passion
They sway and rock and quiver
Out of their heads and thrashing
The pace increases
Momentum builds
They’re here to get
Rock dreams fulfilled
He massages their egos
He caresses their zones
He tickles their fancies
He shakes their bones
He works them to ecstatic climax
As one collective lover
The building shakes
The room erupts
Foundations quake
…..
But it’s not enough

They cry loud, “More, more!”
But James is through the kitchen
Quickly out the door
To quit while you’re ahead
In Molesworth that’s for sure

Together, the mob bows its collective head
They pause in the afterglow
They know tonight went red
They know how to put on a show
In Molesworth

Winter forager

Image

female white-naped honeyeater

Photographed at the edge of the Tableland in a stand of flowering manna gums, this acrobatic female white-naped honeyeater was one of dozens foraging for nectar. Nowhere near as colouful as her male counterpart, she was just as noisy with her husky throated sqwawk and musical whistle. When her beak wasn’t deeply inserted into one of the thousands of bright yellow sprays of bloom it was furtively seeking insects.

for eternity

Image

image

A poem for thine eyes to see
Words that speak of love for thee
A verse from where my head doth rest
Upon thy softly rising chest
A breath
A gentle tender plea
To bind our hearts eternally
To state our love is rich and rare
An intimacy that none can share
I’ll stay with you through eternal life
My friend my lover my eternal wife

The Death of Miss Richards

 

Unknown

Did you read A S Patric’s Black Rock White City? “The Death of Miss Richards” stands alone as a poem, but read the book to meet the character properly. Highly recommended.

Why did miss richards die

Jump in front of the train

Without learning to fly

She broke her wrists and her ankles

Before the Hallam train hit

For the briefest of moments

She hurt a bit

Although and however

She may have been hurting

Previously forever

 

Why didn’t miss richards cry

Let out her feelings

Sob, weep and sigh

 

Miss Richards always looked so content

Nose in a book

Mind being sent

Not a woman in pain

Not a lass to complain

Of a heart broken or rent

And she ate vegetarian food

For the soul

It looked good

It makes you wonder how should

What actually could

Make miss richards want to die

 

Miss Richards looked serene

Like one in a dream

Thoughtful and peaceful

Quiet as a mouse

I note she loved music

And the capacity to choose it

Her playlists sashay lists

Of walls without bridges

As we on the ridges

Played miss richards I spy

 

I never said hi miss richards

Nor hello now goodbye

So she sat by herself until lunchtime went by

Miss richards headphones and book

Ne’er one to sook

Ne’er a wet eye

As she kept to herself

Alone on her shelf

Self sufficient as one cloud in a blue blue sky

Oh why oh why

Did miss richards have to die

Hedge End Lane

Hedge End Lane

we took a walk down Hedgend Lane

squeezed it in ‘tween showers of rain

a short walk from the bogie road

walking to an end unknown

 

with us walking we took the whippet

keen as mustard leashed and at it

we set off into an icy grind

tempting fate against winter’s mind

 

the road was dirt puddles like scales

the wind was cold sharp as nails

the sky was grey and overcast

prophesising an arctic blast

 

we met two cockies one unwell

the other uted name of Neville

we chewed the fat for a moment or two

then nev went off to feed his ewes

 

he knew our house and seller’s name

said she fell victim to a scam

he asked about the other cock

down the road about a block

 

we said we saw its damaged wing

we couldn’t get close to do a thing

nev had been asked by his lovely wife

to mercy kill it take its life

 

as we waved farewell to nev and ute

we thought the man was quite astute

a life at bogie on a farm

a laconic style of rural charm

 

the next instalment was a procession of lambs

from biggest to smallest dashing for dams

such cute and playful snow white children

it’s quite a flock old nev’s a building

 

then we came to the farm homestead

work dogs wagging tethered to sheds

at the front gate there’s a dead bloated sheep

the one nev warned us about to go deep

 

onward we walked into more open space

where grazing occurs at a slow country pace

a hereford watched our brisk passage past

as it chewed on cud made of wet winter grass

 

at the end of the road there’s a pleasant surprise

a tableland drop off topped by glowering skies

the gap between hills is not very wide

but big enough to see down the hillside

 

it’s a break in the mountain to a view of great grace

we can see to the plains and expansive green space

to the base of the tableland looking down is a thrill

from our throne like position at the top of the hills

Where Have I been?

Diary of a Retiree: Day 247

181 days since my last diary specific entry.

Where have I been?

I have had this question a few times. Maybe it is time to answer it. I have been in a headspace called preoccupied. A week or two ago, I had a realisation. I realised that I may have finally arrived somewhere else. Where? Well, I think I arrived at some sort of understanding or reconciliation with the fact that I no longer need to be preoccupied with the concept of working under the instruction of others. It has taken eight months.

Admittedly, particularly in the last five years or so, I enjoyed a significant degree of autonomy in my work – a very fortunate and often rewarding circumstance. On the other hand, I found plenty of reasons to be dissatisfied, especially when I felt outcomes could have been better. Instead of settling systems into place, I have seen widespread and rapid change with poorly considered impacts on work groups become the norm. The recurring, patronising platitudes and executive level incompetence I have seen offered up in approaches to radical change management have been gob smacking. I have felt stymied by management incumbents and structures that do little other than promote power plays, churn and corporate memory loss. I have seen stabilising, value adding loyalty between employees and employers evaporate.

I have worked with some brilliant people. I miss and take my hat off to so many of my ICU and HITH nursing colleagues for their enormous depth of experience, their vast reservoir of knowledge, their diverse skill sets, their advanced professionalism, their teamwork and individual initiative, their collegiality and their highly-developed sense of empathy and compassion. How blessed to work with such people! I have been Supervisor, ANUM and Educator working with some outstanding Nurse Unit Mangers and fellow Educators. Very sadly, after 36 years of working in healthcare I can’t make the same observations about the medical profession. I have worked with some good medicos, but as a generalisation, I would have to say self-serving and arrogant are still the words that come to mind. The medical culture is toxic to efficient and cooperative healthcare institutions.

So, where have I been? Coming to terms with the haunting of my working past. Lifting the weight of working to protect colleagues and patients from harm at the hands of my employers.

The frustration is fading. I am beginning to look ahead, toward the possibilities of the future. The new question is, where am I going? It feels like an optimistic one.

 

Ni’ ni’ sweetie pie

Ni’ ni’ sweetie pie

I’m going to leepy la

To the land where the dream tree grows …..

Once I’m settled and curled

And my heart has unfurled

I’ll be ready to witness the show

I’ll beam all beatific at the wonders terrific

Of the whorls and the heat and the snow

I’ll meander with candour

Past sweet treats and wander

To the rooms where they play with a bow

Sweet music will render

My soul to surrender

To the passions of love’s inner glow

And I’ll put all at stake

On the heroes I’ll make

As I stand up preparing to go

Back to the darkness

To the bedroom soft harkness

Of the breathing of sleep low low low

Summer meditation

At first it is the light you become aware of

The golden hue of a summer evening sun

The surreal enhancement of every vista

An enriching highlight to the end of the day

Take a deep breath

Sigh it out through an open mouth

Cleanse

Then the sounds reach into you

A rippling cascade of water

A wind gently rustling leaves

A magpie carolling

Find your position of comfort

Melt your body into the earth

Unwind

Your skin responds to the air around you

Its featherlight touch, gossamer weight

Soothing, reassuring, fresh and clean

Smooth your brow

Part your lips

Drop your shoulders

Let your hands and feet fall where they will

Relax

Close your eyes

Meditate

The world around you fades

You pacify it, clear your mind

Letting everything that was today go

Focus your mind’s eye between your eyebrows

Know your breathing

Breathe in

Breathe out

Breathe in

Breathe out

Float

Be

What you see

Koala at Smith's BridgeIt isn’t the best shot of one of the local koalas, but it is the only one we saw on this evenings walk along Bridge to Bridge. There will be better shots to come. If you take your time, the wildlife exposure up here is something really special.

We stopped at the Seven Creeks site of the Goulburn Valley Water Treatment Plant akong the way. I will be meeting GV Water reps there in a couple of weeks to show them the state of the area. Hopefully, I can recruit them to the clean up cause in cooperation with our Strathbogie Tableland Landcare Group. I have a vision for extending the Landcare managed Bridge to Bridge bushwalk into a celebrated 12 – 15km experience that encircles the town. So far, various agencies have been supportive and collaboration with GV Water at this site would be grand!

 

 

Walking the Tableland

Kibbles RdWe are on a journey here. I mean, we are on all kinds of journeys of course, but this one is quite specific. This is a physical journey, one for travelling together. We have tasked ourselves with walking the roads, tracks and trails of the Strathbogie Tableland. Sometimes 4km, sometimes 15, every time something new to experience. Even when we repeat a path there will be a seasonal difference, something that has changed in the landscape surrounding us or something that has changed about ourselves that we take to each place.