Time Out – With a Book About Walking

One day, I would like to think I could write a book about walking. Not hill-walking. Not walking the Camino de Santiago. Just plain, old, walking of the streets of one’s neighbourhood or city.

I’m not sure if it should inspire or demotivate me, but I have been reading a book that is just the kind of book I’d love to write! ‘The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris’, by John Baxter, has been my reading companion during the last few days of my current time off work. (Thanks to this guy for the recommendation!)

Love this book! Love my local library!

Love this book! Love my local library!

I feel a natural affinity with John Baxter. When I came upon the following quote, I felt we could well enjoy a coffee and a chat together after a long, city walk – or at least, a knowing nod as we passed each other on the street:

‘But even in infancy I recognized my natural habitat as urban. What I wanted under my feet was asphalt, not grass.’

Earlier readers of this blog may recall the growth of my love for milk and nails – as their purchase required heading into town where people were and things happened!

If I was to write a book about urban walking, I might include the aforementioned quote from Baxter – to give readers a taste of who I am.¬†To give them a taste of who I am not, I might include a quote from the Sydney Morning Herald last weekend. Dumas, in an article about ‘The plan to make Sydney a walking city again,’ cites Dr Megan Hicks:

‘The thing about city streets is that you always have this conflict between wanderers and purposeful walkers.’

I may never be known as a ‘wanderer.’

Daily Prompt

Time Out – With a Parcel Full of Birds

In a recent post, I shared something of my fear of birds. Two days later, a parcel arrived for me. A ‘Time Out’ care parcel from a good friend. A parcel that just happened to have a lot of birds in it!

Not the living kind, I was glad to note – as are, I’m sure, those of you who began reading this post understandably concerned about the welfare of living, breathing birds potentially wrapped in brown paper and tied up with string.

I don’t think my friend had read the post about birds by the time she had posted her parcel – but the irony was sweet. As were the contents – which included some blackbird wall-transfers and some paper birds to hang on a decorative branch. I am yet to find a decorative branch – but have not stopped looking yet.

Here are the interesting, thoughtful array of contents:

Birds and Other Things

Birds and Other Things

A ‘To Do’ booklet, a pack of Ransom Letter Tattoos, a Reading Challenge for the year, a Matchbox Garden, a pack of Tissues with an important message, some Scrabble tiles and – birds in various forms.

The parcel also came with the family’s updated sibling-to-parent height ratios and assurance of prayer. Lovely!

The next day, I took myself, my trusty map and a book about walking in Paris – and walked for an hour around some more streets of Sydney. I finished off at a another cafe from the book of cafes I’m working through. I was delighted to see there, a continuing Scrabble theme.

The Grumpy Barista

The Grumpy Barista

That night, I had a visitor staying with me and she obliged me with a game of Scrabble and two games of Bananagrams.

Scrabble tiles, birds and kind friends¬†are everywhere! And I’m rather happy about that.

Daily Prompt

Time Out – With a Crossword (‘Crossword’ starts with ‘C’)

Coffee and Crossword both start with 'C'

Coffee and Crossword both start with ‘C’

Compose a poem in which every line starts with ‘C’?

Can I?

Consideration tells me that I can as, just yesterday, I walked

Crossword in my pocket, folded neatly with my map, and loyalty

Card for coffee purchase.

Coffee, that is, once the streets were walked:

Crisscrossed, then crossed off.

Challenge for the day:


Counsel, later that day,

Came with help to make sense of ‘across’ and ‘down’

Crumpet and Chocolate

Cracked eggs to make an omelette.

Completed a most excellent novel in between steps, tears and mouthfuls.

Can I tell you about the book? Tomorrow?

Daily Prompt

Time Out – On the Streets of Sydney

I’m on a roll! I’m even losing some of the extra ‘rolls of ‘insulation’ I’ve been carrying around my middle. I’m walking the streets, the byways and (occasionally) the highways, in my effort to colour pink some more of those six pages of the Sydney Street Directory that I have photocopied on my wall.

Last night, I walked with a friend up and down some pesky little curvy, dog-legged, inconveniently interconnected streets down in the bottom left-hand corner of my map. They were the kind of streets where you have to back-track a lot in order to cover every little bit of each street. But we covered good ground and clocked up a good 70 minutes of walking.

Walking is good for the body, soul and mind. The way I do the walking would not, in any way, be called ‘wandering’. It would more likely be described as ‘prescribed’ and somewhat obsessive. For a picture from a past walking project see this post. The prescriptiveness works for me. As for the friends that sometimes walk with me, they’re usually just happy to humour me – or at least they pretend to be happy.

Walking with purpose and very detailed map in hand, helps me to take time out from my recycled thoughts and take note of the houses I walk by and, very importantly, the street names.

Occasionally I stop to take a photo!

Occasionally I stop to take a photo!

My attempt to cover the streets in any given patch with the least amount of back-tracking keeps my mind whirring with ‘problem-solving’ energy. If my mind’s not quite up to problem-solving on any particular day, then I choose a patch that has very straight-forward, straight streets in a neat cross pattern.

For those of you reading in places like the United States where it means something for someone to tell you to head west down First Street and then turn north up Straight Street – this navigational certainty doesn’t work in the older parts of Sydney, where streets and houses developed in a more haphazard, curvy, run-with-the-lay-of-the-of-the-land kind of way.

I have not tackled this part of the map. Yet.

I have not tackled this part of the map. Yet.

It’s raining as I type. But in an effort to keep that roll rolling, I shall be thankful for umbrellas and get myself out there!

With my map, of course. No aimless wandering for this girl.

Daily Prompt

Time Out – With My Diary Closed??

The elastic makes my diary easy to re-open.

The elastic makes my diary easy to re-open.

Taking time out from my diary is easier said than done.

The other day, when I and my pot plant returned home from work for some time out, I went ahead as instructed and cancelled appointments and meetings I had with people over the next few weeks. There were some that felt harder to cancel than others. Mostly, people just said ‘No Worries! Take care!’ and so I didn’t worry and I did take care.

A couple of appointments I kept for my own well-being. A couple of those occur today.

The difference between my sleep last night and my sleep the night before (I had no appointments yesterday) was quite marked. Admittedly, I had some other things on my mind as I lay down to sleep – thoughts that had developed as a result of the introspection that happens when you take time out. The introspection was illuminating – but not without pain. So sleep was mostly a fitful kind of thing last night.

What interested me, was that I wasn’t so much losing sleep over the results of my introspection – but over the speaking engagements that were looming in the not-to-distant-future. I’ve learnt the hard way, over time, that one should never make decisions or send emails in the middle of the night. So I resisted the temptation, in the middle of the night, to work through my diary and cancel every future commitment.

The thought that got me a little sleep in the end, was something I’d read that night to steer my introspection in the right direction – about how God is committed to me – unfailingly – with a ‘stick-to-it-ness’ that is unmatched by any other. I could let go of commitments for a while, because he was committed to me – no matter what.

So I’m heading off to my commitments today – trusting that God will be doggedly following me with his unfailing, committed love. I’ll be finishing the day with a friend’s offer of a walk with no obligation to talk – that’s one I wouldn’t turn down.

Tomorrow, there are no commitments – apart from one very helpful one – so I trust I will rest well tonight and not see so much of the moonlight.

Daily Prompt

Time Out – With the Birds

I’ve always fancied having a pet cockatoo.

For those of you not familiar with Australian birds, here’s a fine example:

"I'm gorgeous!"

“I’m gorgeous!”

The trouble is, I’m quite scared of birds. With good reason! We used to have a pet Galah (another fine, feathered Australian) who loved my father, tolerated my mother and brother, and hated me. She was jealous! She would even go as far as pretending to flirt with me (this bird would actually flutter her eyelids and purr like a cat!) in order to make me feel it was safe to tickle her under the chin (her favourite gesture of affection from my father). As soon as I plucked up the courage to put my finger near her chin, she’d lunge in for a bite!

I suspect that a pet Cockatoo would not be much different in its approach toward me. Even if it didn’t bite me, there’s the very real possibility that it would screech – very loudly and very persistently.

But I do love them! I love their character, their playful eyes, the way they dance if they know they have your attention. Occasionally, they will learn to talk by imitating words they hear. My aunt’s cockatoo used to fairly constantly cry out the name of my cousin! It was clear that my aunt was in fairly constant communication with her son…

When I long for a pet bird, or a dog, or a goldfish, I realise it’s a longing for connection with living things that respond.

I figure I’d be better fostering relationships with humans who aren’t quite as likely to bite me – though they may, occasionally, screech.

This morning, on my first day of some prescribed ‘time-out’ from work, I began the day by sitting at the kitchen table reading and eating my breakfast. I was feeling cold. So, I did something I’ve never done before in this place I’m staying, I took a chair and placed it neatly on the very tiny verandah at my back door. There I sat, in the sun, with a book and a coffee. I felt the sun on my face and heard the birds in the trees around me.

I shall do this again! One day I may even see a cockatoo while I’m out there.

Daily Prompt