I saw a guy who had spinach stuck between his teeth.
I said to him: Here I’ll give you this toothpick. That should help.
My plate laden with sliced roast meat. I cut off the fat. Juice drips from the meat.
Potatoes with dark roast skins look delicious.
Pumpkin looks soft and colorful.
Cheese platter. Cheese knives. Lumps of cheese waiting to be cut and eaten. Dry biscuits.
Glasses. Empty, half empty.
Fruit platter. Grapes, pieces of rockmelon, mango, banana, mandarin.
Kids jiggle and bounce around the room. Unstoppable and never stopping.
Adults perch on chairs and lean on the table. Handy to a plate of food, cheese platters, fruit platters and their glass.
Our dog strolls around licking up anything spilt. Better than a vacuum cleaner.
The room is empty. Everybody has gone. I see a forgotten left-behind card with writing on it. It is not addressed to me. I read it. I photograph it. I upload it.
Dear Emily you have two minietes to flip this card the other way
To Emily love Kaya
I love you Emily. Emily you are so speshil as usual. and you are the kindest girl know. I love all of the family but you are the one I love the most.
40 years ago
40 years ago I loved the way
You sat on the floor and watched TV.
You said this is my favourite TV show
And finished the days sudoku.
40 years ago I loved the way
You smiled when you cleaned your teeth.
You brushed and flossed and whispered
How would you like to taste the paste?
40 years ago I loved the way
You added the milk before water.
You raised your eyebrows and said
Nothing like a good cup of tea.
40 years ago I loved the way
You removed the crust from bread
cut the sandwiches diagonally.
We lay on our lawn and ate them.
40 years later. Here and now.
You are the best
40 years ago it was true.
Today it is true.
It will always be true.
What you see above are the lyrics to a song I wrote. At the moment the music is being written and recorded. Eventually, I don't know what we will have but I am optimistic.
It is now the turn of the lady on the other side of the net. She moves smoothly and gracefully. She skips towards the ball swings her arms and hits the ball back towards me. I skip towards the ball swing my arm and hit the ball back over the net. The ball bounces back and forth between us. Connecting and joining us as we dance around the pickleball court.
I love smashing away a volley. A winning shot where my opponents watch the ball fly undeterred and unhindered. I get the feeling my opponents also love smashing volleys away for winning shots.
In this pickleball dance we both have the opportunity to hit winning shots. To smash a volley for a winner. A volley smashed away results in both of us watching where the ball lands; one of us saying good shot, muttering silently, trudging after the ball, picking it up while one of us smiles proudly.
When I stand on a pickleball court I need other people on the court with me. Today there are three others on the court. Without them I wouldn’t be able to dance around the court. Without them I wouldn’t be able to stretch, turn and twist. I appreciate and thank them for turning up, picking up a paddle and moving onto the court with me.
My mind wanders. Back to when I was a child. I copied my mother. I copied her actions and watched her emotions, actions, thoughts. I clapped my hands when she clapped her hands.
As an adult my mental and emotional health benefits from watching and copying other people. Choirs, music ensembles, drama, dance, bridge are all good for mental health.
Team sports such as soccer, netball, hockey, basketball, volleyball and pickleball are all good for mental as well as physical health. Team sports involve being aware of other people. When I play pickleball I watch, anticipate and guess what my opponent is going to do. I then react. When I play pickleball I want to beat them. I try to avoid their strengths and exploit their weaknesses. I alter me behaviour because of their behaviour. I give and I take. When I play pickleball my opponent benefits just as much me. They are trying to beat me.
All sports have official rules and unwritten rules. The unwritten rules are so everybody wins socially, emotionally and mentally.
I will now list my idea of what my unwritten rules of pickleball might be:
Everybody calls the ball on their side of the court. All the calls will not be perfect. The aim is for perfect behaviour. Which is accepting all calls without questioning. Not perfect calls.
Standing and arguing where the ball has actually landed is not good pickleball. A greater good is served by accepting all calls. Accepting all calls without comment outranks where the ball lands.
If ball or serve is out/fault call out/fault immediately. Don’t hit the ball back; wait for rally to end and then say the ball was out/fault.
If any doubt about where the ball lands then it is in and play continues.
A ball lands on court from another play the point again. Always. Irrespective of the rally.
The server keeps and says the score before serving.
Don’t smash the ball directly at your opponent.
Treat other people the way you want to be treated.
If your opponent hits a good shot then say good shot. If your opponent hits a bad shot then say nothing.
If you hit a good shot then say nothing. If you hit bad shot then don’t say what you think.
The answer is pickleball. Pickleball came to Australia in 2015. First games were played in Cairns and were organised by Gabi Plumm who had a son playing pickleball in the USA.
First played in Tasmania in Launceston YMCA in 2017. First played in Hobart at Glenorchy YMCA and Kingborough Sports Centre in 2019.
Today over 200 people play pickleball regularly at 10 different locations. Old people, young people, fit abled bodied people, people with a handicap, people of any sex, even Collingwood supporters.
The inaugural state championships were recently played at Kingborough Sports Centre. Over 60 players in with two divisions.
1965: Pickleball began when some politicians, on holiday in Bainbridge Island off the coast of Seattle, decided to have a game of golf. They returned from their game of golf and saw their kids listlessly mopping around. They thought this is not good enough. They rounded up some sports equipment lying around and headed to the vacant badminton court.
Everybody started playing with the table tennis bats and ball. A game with rules evolved. Everybody loved the game. The game spread rapidly amongst neighbours and friends.
The new game needed a name. Sometime years ago, in English yachting, the last boat to finish was called the pickle boat. It was said it was slow because it stopped to fish for herring and then pickle them.
Rowing used the name pickle boat to describe a boat crewed by all the people left over from the other boats. One of the founders of pickleball rowed when younger.
She thought the new game reminded her of a pickle boat. It was a game made from left over equipment and bits and pieces thrown together.
She named the game pickleball. The founders of pickleball had a dog named pickle who always pinched the ball. This led to a myth that pickleball was named after the dog. It is likely the dog was named after the game not the reverse.
1972: Pickleball Inc was officially incorporated with official rules and equipment.
Today: Pickleball is a bat and ball game. Can be played indoors or outside. Normally doubles. But can be singles.
Like most bat and ball games the game begins with one person serving across the court. Their opponent then returns the ball. A rally occurs with both sides hitting the ball over the net into the court until the point is won.
A rally is won when one person hits the ball into the net, out of the court or fails to hit the ball.
Basic rules of pickleball:
Court is a badminton court. Covered with lines that divide the court into four quarters and a non-volley zone.
Serve is served diagonally across the court into service square.
To prevent the sever dominating the server is not allowed to volley the ball until it has bounced. The ball must bounce twice, on both sides of the net before a volley can be played. In pickleball the serve is not an offensive weapon.
At any time in any rally a volley cannot be played directly behind the net. This non-volley area is marked out and called the kitchen.
The serving team gets two serves. One serve to each person. The person in the right-hand box serves first. If the first serve is lost the serve goes to their partner. A point is awarded to the server if they win the point. If the server wins a point the serving team changes sides.
You can decide what number of points is the aim. Normally the first side scoring 11, 9 or 7 points wins but I think everybody wins.
I play tennis with other people. Everybody I play with is unique. Everybody is different. I play with anybody. I don’t judge people or discriminate. I look at their tennis style. I notice if their backhand is weaker than their forehand. I notice if they prefer the ball short or deep. I notice if they have a good volley or smash. After looking at my opponent I alter my game. I try and beat them by playing to their weakness.
My aim is to spot a weakness and then attack it. Do they hit the ball in certain ways or to certain spots? I change my game in order to beat their game. One lady often goes short. Hits a very good drop shot. I have to come in. One man hits a very good lob. I need to stand deeper at the net. Get ready for his lob. One lady often goes down the side. I need to stand a bit wider. I can hear Geoff muttering.
Geoff: You are labeling and judging people.
Me: I play with anybody. I judge them so I can beat them. I don’t get upset If I lose. My goal is to play well. To hit good shots. To play in the moment. To be relaxed, flexible and move well. My ultimate goal is for everybody on the court to play well.
Me: You could say I am treating my opponents badly by judging them and by trying to beat them but they are also trying to beat me. I need them and they need me. We are both aiming to beat each other.
Geoff: So that’s your goal. Beating people.
Me: I respect my opponents by trying to beat them. When I play tennis I play to win. It’s no fun playing against someone not trying to win. But win or lose is not the big goal. A game which I win 6/0 is often a bad unenjoyable game. Losing 7/6 is a much better way to go. The ultimate goal is for everybody to win.
The Copenhagen City Heart Study is a much quoted and read study. 8577 participants were followed for all-cause mortality from 1991 to 2017. Their participation in various sports and other leisure time activities and length of life was monitored.
Various sports were associated with improvements in life expectancy compared with a sedentary group. The researchers found that tennis players added 9.7 years to life expectancy. Badminton players added 6.2 years. Soccer players added 4.7 years. Cyclists added 3.7 years. Swimmers added 3.4 years. Joggers added 3.2 years. Health club members added 1.5 years.
This study showed that all physical exercise was associated with increased life expectancy. Social physical activities such as tennis, badminton or soccer were associated with greater increased life expectancy more than individual/solitary activities such as jogging, swimming or cycling.
Increased life expectancy is associated with both physical and social health. Connecting with other people, playing and interacting with them is as important as physical exercise.
The Copenhagen Study found that people who played tennis lived on average an extra 9.7 years. While receiving serve I think: Tennis is for team players. Me and my partner will both hit winners; hit the ball into the net; serve both well and badly. Both of us respect each other. This is the ways teams work.
Tennis is for someone reasonably healthy emotionally. During tennis the ball will bounce or fly towards you. You then have to attack it with confidence. You have to take a risk. You have to do something which may or may not succeed. You have to gracefully accept either result.
The players I play against are emotionally and mentally healthy. They are nice people. I love them so much I love to beat them. It’s not tennis that makes them live longer. They are the type of person who lives a long and healthy life therefore they play tennis.
The message from Copenhagen is don’t play tennis. The message is social health is as important as physical health. Social health is about respecting your partner and opponent. The other message is people who live a long and well-balanced life play tennis. If doing a solitary physical activity then try and do it with other people or afterwards go social. You need a balanced life.
Geoff likes watching. Hiding in the foliage. Not getting involved. Splashes of red and blue but most of his feathers help him blend in.
When he is not helping me play better tennis he forages in the trees and shrubs and on the ground for nectar, fruit, berries, seeds and if he is lucky insects.
I approach the tennis courts. Two people loiter, bounce balls, stretch their legs and swing racquets. I am number three. We all look up the hill. Peering for number four. Who will it be? We watch the fourth person walk down the hill and enter the tennis courts.
We all wear different clothes. Colourful. Flexible. Neat and tidy. Sunglasses, caps. Water bottles in our bags.
We now have the magic number. Which is four. Let’s start. We have a few decisions to make. I let others decide who is playing with and against whom? I don’t really care who I am playing with or against. I need both a partner and opponents.
I wait for others to decide. What the teams are. And who is serving and from what end. We then all stand on the court in our positions; say good game and play tennis.
My aim is not to win. My aim is to be nice and relaxed; loose; in the mood; nicely balanced; hitting good shots.
My aim is for everybody on the court to be playing well. For everybody to be nice and relaxed and hitting good shots.
The ball lands between me and my partner. We both hesitate. Then we both go for it. Then we both laugh and both agree to talk.
The wind is strong. Changes the shots at both ends. Time to live in the moment.
There is a moment when the ball hits the top of the net and rolls along the net. The ball appears to tease us. Then decides who will win the point and who will lose.
More people arrive and more courts waken.
Bounce thump followed by bounce thump. The players talk.
“I thought it was going out. It dropped in.”
“The sun got in my eyes.”
“That was a funny bounce. The ball hit the tape.”
Between points we glance up at the clouds surrounding The Mountain. Where is the wind coming from? Is it going to rain?
The tennis ball heads towards my left. I move my arms and legs and hit a backhand shot into the net. Geoff the Green Rosella says the bleeding obvious.
Geoff: You should move your feet before moving your arm.
I nod in agreement. I always seem to know what to do after I should have done it.
Geoff shakes his head and says: Lack of footwork. How many times do you have to be told?
I think about my feet. Must move my feet; get comfortable and nicely balanced; swing easily and gracefully and hit the ball. Win a few points. Lose a few but who cares. I am now moving nicely. Nice and relaxed. Not stressed. I find the ball coming off my racquet a lot better. It is now going where I envisage. I begin instinctively hopping and skipping around the court and playing well.
Geoff nods in approval. Then he flies away. Geoff has done his job. He imagines more seeds over that way. Or maybe even an unlucky caterpillar.
Our first set finishes with a shaking of racquets then talk. Should we go for revenge or change partners?
After more tennis we shake our racquets again then gravitate towards morning tea.
We sit and talk.
I ask one lady about her sons: What are they doing nowadays? Where are they working?
She tells me about her sons. I enjoy listening to tales of their work, their lives and their future.
I ask another lady: How is your week going?
She tells me: Busy week. Had to look after my grandkids. They have been sick.
Another man tells me about the traffic. He then tells me about his dog. Yesterday he took his dog for a walk and they met a badly behaved owner with his dog.
I hear talk about the vaccine.
But not as often as talk about grandkids.
A lady stands and reads out the roster after the break. She says who my partner will be, who we will play against and on which court. Somebody has to think about how to play with me. Others have to think about how to beat me. Where to hit the ball. Deep or short. Fast or slow. High or low. Spinning or not.
I love the idea of randomly playing with anybody. Not only playing with my mates. Accepting everybody and anybody.
I thought I would write about the top doctors in Tassie. From the point of view of someone who is not a doctor. But like all of you, has at times been sick and needed a doctor.
Doctors are just like us. Sometimes they do the right thing. Sometimes they make mistakes. They have good and bad days. They have good and bad times during any one day. Their recent continuing education may be related to your present complaint. It may not. Recent patients may have presented with similar diseases. They may be distracted by their home life or their kids or their aching back. Their workmates may be helping, hindering or distracting them.
Let’s assume your doctor is the top doctor in Tassie. They have good reputation and have many patients. The only way they can see many different patients with many different problems in the one day is to have a routine. To routinely do and say the same thing.
When you present to their clinic your doctor will start by writing down why you are there. They will probably call it your chief complaint. They will write down the story about your chief complaint. Where does it ache? How long? What makes it worse?
After hearing about your chief complaint your doctor will begin to assume. Do I know what I am about to do or do I have no idea where this will lead? Has she fallen and broken his arm? Straightforward. Is he feeling a bit tired? More complicated.
After listening to why you are there, your doctor will sit in front of you with your medical record.
They will look at your medical record and check for notes about:
Medical history. Chronic diseases. Major illnesses.
Medications taking and medical allergies.
Family history. Some diseases are genetic.
Habits. Such as tobacco, alcohol, exercise, diet.
Emotional and social history.
After listening to why you are there, and reminding themselves who you are, your doctor will then do a physical examination.
They will modify their physical exam based on your chief complaint. But they need at all times to know what a complete physical exam is.
Everybody has their routine for a complete physical exam.
One common routine is to go in the following order. Starts with the vital signs. Temperature, blood pressure, pulse, rate of respiration.
Then exam the head/neck, chest, heart, abdomen, extremities. Followed by sight, hearing, touch and occasionally sense of smell.
There are four basic elements to a physical exam. Inspection, palpation, percussion and auscultation. Palpation will involve use of hands to determine size, shape, firmness, location. Percussion will involve tapping on the surface to hear the sound made. The sound will determine whether the structure is hollow or solid. Sensations felt by patient may help with diagnosis. Auscultation means to listen and is usually done with a stethoscope.
After listening to your chief complaint, reviewing your medical history, and doing a physical examination your doctor should have a diagnosis. They may call it a provisional diagnosis or differential diagnosis if there is a need for tests.
Tests such as lab tests, X-rays or MRI.
After receiving the results of the tests your doctor will have what can be called a definitive diagnosis. The definitive diagnosis will give a name to your illness. The definitive diagnosis will fit with all the signs and symptoms. A sign is what the doctor sees. A symptom is what you notice.
Your doctor will then follow their naming of your illness with a management plan.
That is management of the disease that you have. Management will normally involve doing a number of things. Such as rest, using crutches and tablets. The medications prescribed are only one part of the management plan.
Your doctor being one of the top doctors will follow the management plan with prevention. Prevention involves knowing the aetiology and knowing how to avoid it. Your doctor will know how to prevent most maladies they see. They will know how to prevent most common illnesses. They will know how you can live a long healthy and happy life.
Kununurra: We have our last communal dinner with our travel group. I notice fervent discussion and a card circulating. I assume if they need money for a present they will not to speak to me. This is what happens. They speak to Mrs. C and she makes a contribution for both of us.
One of our group, I’ll call him Peter, gives a touching and appropriate speech and gives the card and present to the driver and guide.
At 9:30pm one of the bar staff says: Last drinks. We are closing the bar.
The reason they are closing early is because the hotel can’t afford to pay any staff to stay and serve us.
Subdued talking after last night’s joviality.
The group consist of 16 people randomly thrown together.
In the group. Nobody smoked; nobody tried to lead everybody; nobody was habitually late to the bus; no factions formed; no-one complained about everything. All were Aussies. Coming from all the usual Australian cities. We missed out on the usual two Kiwis.
The future is unscripted. I don’t know who I will see again or when. It is likely that if I see any of the group again it will be in Hobart. Hobart is a place people travel to and visit. It is the gateway to Tasmania.
After leaving our tour we see some of our group in the airport. I cheerfully greet them. I ignore everybody else in the airport. Our Kimberley trip has bonded me to members of our group. Not fellow airplane passengers.
Bus departs Bungle Bungles at 5:25.
I avoid the seat rotation. I’m permanently in the sick bin. Which is a seat near the front.
Our guide plays a little word game.
Guide: I am going to the moon and with me I will take with me…
The game involves guessing what to take to the moon. It is either accepted or rejected. A fun game where you have to try and break the pattern. If you know the pattern it is obvious what the next object to the moon should be. For me it was not obvious.
I will let you try.
Baboon, abacas, scarf….
What is the next object that would fit the pattern?
We arrive at Lake Argyle. Our bus takes us to a boat on the Ord River below the dam wall.
Guide: I can talk about anything. You tell me and I will talk about it. I do plants, birds, fish, boats, Lake Argyle, Water for Perth, cane toads. If nobody asks a question we’ll be back early. Ask and you’ll have a longer and more enjoyable trip.
He then proves he can do what he says. He talks informatively and entertainingly about anything along the river. He has been taking tourists for a ride on his river for many years. He is an expert. To say he is an expert doesn’t do justice to him. He was entertaining, informative etc. Where is my thesaurus.
Bungle Bungle tells me. You get an amazing view of me in a helicopter.
The helicopter doesn’t contain a thesaurus. I have to use standard words like amazing, stunning, breathtaking, unbelievable.
After the helicopter trip I notice I have lost my sunglasses.
Ah well. It is the hand I have been dealt. Must play with it.
Mrs. C: I’ll lend you my extra sunglasses until we buy more.
Back at the lodge I am given my sunglasses. They were found on the helicopter. I am stunned by such service. Running through the heat to give lunch to one guy and now giving me back my sunglasses.
I gravitate towards the incredible staff. I discover that one of the staff lives during wet season down near Hobart. We talk about a place near Hobart and discover we actually know similar people in the real world.
Our last night in Bungle Bungle.
We have drinks and a few snacks at Sunset Spot.
End of school atmosphere. Jovial. Lots of smiles and laughter.
Many photos are taken.
On the bus back to our camp spontaneous singing. America Pie. Sound of Music.
One guy stands up and tells a joke. The bus sways; He has been drinking; He remembers the joke; He hits the punch line. Right where it deserves to be hit. An amazing performance by a non-professional comedian.
Morning breakfast at 5:00am. Subdued. Polite. Respectful.
Me: Perfect breakfast. Fruit, cooked breakfast, tea, coffee, table settings.
Tourist: Not perfect breakfast. A mozzie just bit me.
We board the bus early. Rocking, rolling, twisting and turning. Few cows. Kangaroos. Many self-drive vehicles piled high and towing everything including, bikes, a canoe, BBQ, chairs and the kitchen sink.
Bus hits bitumen. Speeds up. Straight road. We shoot forward through the untidy scrub; beneath the clear blue sky.
Walk in the Bungle Bungles. Celeste runs after us with a non-capsicum sandwich. She ran through the heat to prevent Peter eating capsicum. Days ago he had filled out a from saying it was not safe for him to eat capsicum.
We wander to Cathedral Gorge. We don’t walk tightly together.
A few of us men arrive and sit and wait for our wives.
Man: When my wife gets here she will say where we will sit for lunch.
Another man: I reckon she will tell you to sit over there.
Another man: I’m the same. I have to be told where to sit.
I say nothing and sit patently waiting for Mrs. C.
Mrs. C turns up and says: We will sit over there. Much better spot.
We eat lunch and walk back with our guide. He talks about what is all around us.
Guide: The geology of the Bungle Bungles is it consists of clay and sand. We call them bee hives.
Me: What is the dreamtime story of these bee hives.
Guide: I’ve tried to find it out. I know nothing.
Me: So I can just make it up.
Guide: Is this a termite mound, a wasp mound or a bee hive?
Two lies and one truth. What is the truth?
Guide: It is a termite mound. They go underground. 80 m. They eat spinifex.
Every day we have a seats rotation. Go forward or back one seat. New view of the bus. Good for morale on the bus. No small groups within groups forming. No people owning different parts of the bus.
I draw the back seat on a day we spend five hours in the bus. Five hours swaying, swinging on a dirt road. The day after I vomited in a plane.
Mrs. C calls out to the driver: Alan’s going to be sick.
The driver stops the bus, opens the door and says: Get out. I get out. I don’t vomit. I reboard the bus.
I notice that a lot of the seats up the front are empty. Covered by bags.
Me: Can I please sit here.
I sit down in a much better seat. Must relax my breathing. Relax my stomach.
We arrive at Echidna Gorge. Echidna Gorge is in a WHA. Spectacular cliffs merge into rocky mountains.
Echidna Gorge is spectacular. We walk on small pebbles around big rocks. Walking in the shade makes the walking enjoyable. Many photos are taken.
After the walk in the gorge I tentatively and successfully eat some lunch and drink water.
Our group has exclusive access to the hot springs for one hour. A beautiful stream cascades down between rocks. A few pools created.
One of our group stand and looks at the pools: Its just hot water for old people.
I enter; sit down; lie down. Water flows over and around me. Warm water with no smell of minerals. Lying back I see palms overhead. Feels good to be an old person.
Time speeds up in the pool. Time to exit the pool and put my clothes on over my bathers. No drying myself. Towel salesmen would battle in the Kimberley. Wet clothes are a pleasure.
We pass an iron ore truck. 250,000 tons of iron ore are trucked to Wyndham and exported every year.
Driver talks like a laconic stockman. I will tell you what you need to know. I will tell you once. Without colour or flourishes. No fucking around. Honest and truthful.
Driver: This section of the road they need to make it wider. Its too narrow with all these road trains.
Driver: Just travelled onto another million acre cattle property.
Driver: Keep your eyes peeled for brumbies. They can cross the road suddenly around these chicanes.
Back at the resort we have a bit of spare time. Everybody rushes to the laundry and the washing machines.