My Mind Mapped – Writing 201: Poetry, Day #5

Today’s Theme


Today’s Form


Today’s Device


The Map of My Walks

The Map of My Walks

She walks all the streets of the Inner West:

A project, a plan, a self-imposed test.

Can her size 11 feet track from East to West,

Before those same feet cry out for a rest?

She walks up, she walks down

She walks all over that town

For the map’s her way back

From that shaded cul-de-sac.

In the morning, she sees families with time that is tight.

In the evening, it’s workers heading home for the night.

When the sun shines, retirees make the most of what’s bright,

Before settling in for the night by the TV’s light.

She walks up, she walks down

She walks all over that town

For the map’s her way back

From that shaded cul-de-sac.

She sees gardens with flowers and neat, stone chip paths.

She sees front yards of concrete – no fruit for the vase.

She sees cacti and succulents she’d rather were on Mars,

And she tries to remember to keep an eye out for cars.

She walks up, she walks down

She walks all over that town

For the map’s her way back

From that shaded cul-de-sac.

She imagines the lives lived in each house, each place.

She wonders if they’ve faced the things that she’s faced.

Her thoughts are kept in check as her body keeps its pace:

‘Your life is a walk, take your time, it’s not a race!’

She walks up, she walks down

She walks all over that town

For the map’s her way back

From that shaded cul-de-sac.

She colours each street, once it’s walked, with pink.

She walks the sweet streets and the streets that stink.

The map is a plan – it’s her life – there’s a link:

She’s walking, she’s changing the way that she thinks.

She walks up, she walks down

She walks all over that town

For the map’s her way back

From that shaded cul-de-sac.


Not Neglecting the Book (Not Much) – With Marcella #119, #120, #121, #122, #123 (of 466)

Forgive me readers. It’s been four months since my last posting of anything regarding my Marcella-n cooking adventures. Not that I’ve been working through the book at any great rate, anyway.

Here are the five that I’ve cooked over these past four months:

#119 ‘Pan-Fried Thin Beef Steaks with Tomatoes and Olives’ (with steak cut and served by my lovely nephew at the butcher shop where he works) – with my brother, my niece and my nephew (the butcher) at their table.

Pan-Fried Thin Beef Steaks with Tomatoes and Olives

Pan-Fried Thin Beef Steaks with Tomatoes and Olives

#120 ‘Sautéed Sea Bream or Sea Bass with Fennel, Sicilian Style’ – cooked for a dear, old friend (the friend took me out for a beautiful dinner that I wrote about here) – with Byron at the table of a kind friend who loaned me her harbour-view apartment while she was away. I didn’t take a photo of the food – but I did take a photo of the view.

The View

The View

#121 ‘Tuscan Peasant Soup with Cabbage and Beans’ – with Peter and Sonja at my table.

I felt the need of something green!

I felt in need of something green!

Shazzameena following Marcella's instructions!

Shazzameena following Marcella’s instructions!

The soup with the requisite poached eggs and parmesan on top. It really worked!

The soup with the requisite poached eggs and parmesan on top. It really worked!

#122 ‘Spinach Sauce with Ricotta and Ham’ – with Helen and Janet at my table. I forgot to take a photo…but just imagine pasta with lots of green sauce. Very yummy.

#123 ‘Tomato Sauce with Sautéed Vegetables and Olive Oil’ – with my brother, tonight, at my table.

Sauce cooking on the stove.

Sauce cooking on the stove.

I plan to get back to the free-writing prompts tomorrow. If you’ve missed the past three days of 15 minute free-writing stories, take a look back at the past three posts.


Photography 101 – Day #7 – Big

I’m currently on a mini break in the Blue Mountains where, had it not been raining, I might have dazzled you with photos of blue mountains. Instead I found the mountains grey and somewhat invisible, while the cafes were warm and inviting.

So for today’s theme, ‘Big’, I take you back to that sunny day in Pyrmont. Two photos today: one with big round things in the foreground; the other with a big bridge in the background.


The Anzac Bridge doesn’t get the same world attention as the Harbour Bridge, but it’s wonderful to look at, great to walk over and, when driving over it toward the city centre, gives one of the best views of Sydney at night.


The Anzac Bridge in the Background

Photography 101 – Day #6 – Connect

This morning, as I went for my walk, I had in mind to take some photos around today’s theme ‘Connect’. It turns out that it wasn’t a great day for taking a photo – not with my basic camera anyway.

Overcast days don’t happen very often in Australia. So it didn’t take me long to find a photo or two taken on a brighter day.

Anzac Bridge

Anzac Bridge

This photo was taken on a lovely day out with my niece and nephew. We walked from Lilyfield, over the Anzac Bridge, into the Pyrmont area. The walking route is on my photocopied walking map (my ‘Inner West Architectural Appreciation Walking Tour’) and so I managed to combine quality time with the family members, exercise, and highlighting some more streets on my map.

View of Harbour Bridge from Pyrmont

View of the Harbour Bridge from Pyrmont

As we set off together, a packed lunch in a backpack on my back, I had ‘flashbacks’ to previous day trips with them when they were much younger. My niece and nephew have grown up knowing me as their aunty that comes from far away every couple of years. I once heard the term ‘parachute aunty’ used by a friend – a great term to describe the phenomenon!

I’m so thankful that I’ve managed to keep a connection with them over the past 15 or so years – a connection that ‘picks up’ where it leaves off each time – no matter that there’s a whole world of oceans between us at times.

Photography 101 – Day #2 – Street

On the Street Where you Live

On the Street Where you Live

My daily commute* currently takes me five minutes. This leaves me with time spare to walk every street of six pages of a Sydney street directory. So, most days, before work or after work, I find myself walking alongside other people’s commutes.

In the morning, I pass driveways where parents attempt to start their family’s commute – ‘Get in the car! Please! Now!’ In the evening, I walk past a weary worker returning to a warmly-lit home where, I like to imagine, they’ll find a warm welcome and not the cold leftovers of a heated discussion tasted earlier that morning.

I’ve come to appreciate the different rhythms of Sydney’s Inner West. I walk from one neat, polished, silent suburb, into neighbouring streets with scruffier gardens, unruly cacti and the delicious aroma of fatty proteins under a grill or above some charcoal.

I’m loving this mildly obsessive walking project of mine. I started the year walking the ‘Bay Run’ only to find that I was bored, distracted and surrounded by lycra-clad fitness enthusiasts. Lacking a challenge (other than dodging cyclists and runners) my thoughts would travel in familiar, well-trodden ruts. With this new challenge, my thoughts turn away from the dark alleys off Memory Lane, to travel down new roads filled with hope and imagination.

Other Peoples' Commutes

Other Peoples’ Commutes

In my determination to walk every connecting street and cul-de-sac, I am forced to strategise, to come up with the best route to cover as many roads as I can with as little back-tracking as possible. These mental athletics keep me mindful: away from the back streets of my mind and in…what street am I in?…Present Street.

If I want to increase the cardio-vascular challenge, I walk until ! reach a home or block of apartments I deem not so beautiful, then I run. I resist the urge to carry a pair of secateurs in my pocket. I’ve learnt not to judge the gardening habits of those households I pass, for, on weekends, I see so many weekday-commuters out in the gardens, seizing the moment they have to fill their green bins ready for the trucks arriving the next day.

As I walk alongside, through, before and after other people’s commutes, I’ve come to appreciate – or at least begin to imagine – the lives of other inhabitants of the Inner West – lives that include, but are not limited to, their commutes.

(*I wrote the above piece as a submission to the ABC Open Drum writing project ‘Commute’. You can check out my submission along with others here)

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 – 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

Ten Things I’m Thankful For – Day #7

Today, it’s all about lists!

Lists are right up my alley – or should I say street? I’ve been walking street after street in the Inner West and, if I were so inclined, I could make quite a long list of them.

I’ve also been visiting cafe after cafe – ticking them off the list in the index at the back of the Good Cafe Guide. It’s from 2014, but I figure that makes me a little ‘yesteryear’ and makes me quirky-ly short of up-to-date. Dare I say that it gives me ‘street-cred’?


The Guide!!

Today I am thankful for:

1. A friend offering to get up early and walk with me this morning.

2. Wisdom shared as we walked.

3. The patience of the friend as I ran down the little cul-de-sacs shooting off the main streets, just so that I could colour them in on my map later.

4. The surprising glimpses of bits of Sydney Harbour as we rounded bends and peeked between houses.

5. The quiet streets of gorgeousness that run parallel to the main roads of despair!

One such quiet street of gorgeousness.

One such quiet street of gorgeousness.

6. God-given imagination to wonder at who might be blessed by the $10 note that fell out of my pocket while we walked. (We’re trusting that note may appear on someone else’s list of thankfulness today!)

7. The anticipation of breakfast at the local bakery in the area where we were walking.

8. Anticipation that proved well-placed!

9. Perfectly cooked poached eggs on soy and linseed sourdough toast, in the bakery.

10. Discussions over breakfast about our God who invites us to ‘dialogue’ with him – no matter how pain-filled and confused our side of the dialogue may be.

Ten Things I’m Thankful For – Day #6

This morning I awoke to sunshine! Well, once I opened my blackout curtains, I could see the sunshine. I’ve now gathered up the wet towels that had been soaking up intrusive rain through gaps in windows and little, hitherto unknown, gaps in the wall.

Everything is now getting a good dose of sunshine! Things are being put back in order.

Today I’m thanking God for:

1. The return of sunshine and the brightness of things.

2. Being free to get back into my walking routine for an hour this morning.

3. Another seven or eight streets walked on my walking map (more on that in another post)

An older map from a previous project with the catchy title 'The Inner-West Architectural Appreciation Walking Tour'

An older map from a previous project with the catchy title ‘The Inner-West Architectural Appreciation Walking Tour’

4. The joy-giving sound of someone practicing the piano as I walked by (I can’t vouch for their joy in practicing…)

5. The sound of a leaf-blower outside signalling the local council’s efforts to get our streets back in order after the recent storms.

6. My brother popping in on his way home from work and washing my dishes for me. Unfortunately I missed him while I was out walking.

7. The colour purple – and the clothes I have in this colour.

8. A stimulating lecture on ‘Otherness and the Book of Job’ last night. My mind is still whirling!

9. A new, inspiring helper in my efforts to get my weight and fitness back in line.

10. Apps. (I had never used these marvels until very recently – the Scrabble dictionary is my favourite)

Daily Prompt