Ten Incredibly Stupid Things To Do Before You Die

  1. Try to climb the Statue of Liberty without pre-booking

I have spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to get to the crown of the Statue of Liberty, never succeeding. Each time I end up tired and poorer, a huddled mess yearning to have several hours of my life back. The last time –and I say “the last time” advisedly — after three hours waiting in Battery Park, I boarded the Statue Cruise Line only to find on arrival at Liberty Island that there was a three hour wait to get back off the island – and Lady Liberty had closed!

Generally, you need to book months in advance — at the moment the next available slot is over three months out, and I have no idea whether the booking system actually makes the experience more tolerable. Regardless, if you haven’t booked, my recommendation is to take the Staten Island ferry. It is free, frequent, and hardly ever slams into the pier killing people. The ferry gives a great view of the statue and the entire harbour, too. Optionally, you can use twenty minutes of the hours you save to explore the wonders of Staten Island.

 

  1. Miss your flight out of Istanbul on the last day of Ramadan

Continue reading Ten Incredibly Stupid Things To Do Before You Die

Digging St Kilda Beach Volleyball

I did not expect to take up beach volleyball at the age of fifty-one. A friend, Barbara, was doing a secondment in New Zealand, living on Papamoa Beach where Frank and I visited her. One day while she was at work we walked the sixteen kilometre length of the beach to hike up Mount Maunganui. Descending the Mount, there at its foot on the beach was Barbara, as arranged. We watched her play what she described as “social beach volleyball”.

I didn’t play that day, not that I wanted to. I was impressed, though, by the casual, unpretentious nature of the sport. A referee kept score in rather haphazard fashion, but it wasn’t as if anybody cared. Players sipped beer between points and laughed at their own foibles. It reminded of the American company softball game, something I have missed since moving to Australia. Continue reading Digging St Kilda Beach Volleyball

17. Enough is Enough

  1. 01. Fiji…Again?
  2. 02. Fun & Games
  3. 03. Growing Indigenation
  4. 04. Coup de Grâce?
  5. 05. Friends Go Away
  6. 06. Mercy by Coup, Merci Beaucoup
  7. 07. It’s Nice to be Needed
  8. 08. Walk Like A Man
  9. 09. Extreme Retirement
  10. 10. Get a Grip
  11. 11. Dangerous Cargo
  12. 12. Drinking in the Holiday Season
  13. 13. Fit for Purpose
  14. 14. Emotion Sickness
  15. 15. New Fiji’s Eve
  16. 16. One Helluva Christmas
  17. 17. Enough is Enough

You may be as delighted as I am to know that Boxing Day was our last full day in Fiji. I’m a little weary writing about Fiji, so I can understand if you are getting a little weary reading about it.

Boxing Day was also Lucy’s birthday. People with birthdays around Christmas are generally assumed to bear a grudge about it, having endured a lifetime of being gypped with combined presents and multi-purpose parties. Certainly that was assumed about my mother, who was born on Christmas Eve. Looking back, I cannot recall her complaining about it, and she was never the sort of person who kept complaints to herself. Even so, no one who knew her would dream of describing a gift to her as a Birthday/Christmas present for fear of the reaction that might ensue.

I may never know whether or not Ma would have blown a gasket over it. She turns ninety this coming Christmas Eve, so I suppose I could try to find out, but in her current happily demented state, the results are likely to be inconclusive, and moreover it seems kind of cruel. I could give her the same gift ten days in a row, telling her each day was her birthday, and she would accept it gleefully each time. I envy her in this regard. Continue reading 17. Enough is Enough

16. One Helluva Christmas

  1. 01. Fiji…Again?
  2. 02. Fun & Games
  3. 03. Growing Indigenation
  4. 04. Coup de Grâce?
  5. 05. Friends Go Away
  6. 06. Mercy by Coup, Merci Beaucoup
  7. 07. It’s Nice to be Needed
  8. 08. Walk Like A Man
  9. 09. Extreme Retirement
  10. 10. Get a Grip
  11. 11. Dangerous Cargo
  12. 12. Drinking in the Holiday Season
  13. 13. Fit for Purpose
  14. 14. Emotion Sickness
  15. 15. New Fiji’s Eve
  16. 16. One Helluva Christmas
  17. 17. Enough is Enough

The sunrise cut through the crack in the blackout curtains like a laser beam, illuminating the room just enough to leave me utterly perplexed as to where I was awakening or why I was there. Frank was nowhere to be found. For reasons that defy explanation, he had left his iPhone broadcasting WBUR, Boston’s National Public Radio station:

“…an assailant stole a baby Jesus statue this morning from a nativity scene outside a Haverhill church and replaced it with a severed pig’s head…”

That’s right, I recalled, it was Christmas morning and I was in Fiji. Continue reading 16. One Helluva Christmas

15. New Fiji’s Eve

  1. 01. Fiji…Again?
  2. 02. Fun & Games
  3. 03. Growing Indigenation
  4. 04. Coup de Grâce?
  5. 05. Friends Go Away
  6. 06. Mercy by Coup, Merci Beaucoup
  7. 07. It’s Nice to be Needed
  8. 08. Walk Like A Man
  9. 09. Extreme Retirement
  10. 10. Get a Grip
  11. 11. Dangerous Cargo
  12. 12. Drinking in the Holiday Season
  13. 13. Fit for Purpose
  14. 14. Emotion Sickness
  15. 15. New Fiji’s Eve
  16. 16. One Helluva Christmas
  17. 17. Enough is Enough

“Did you enjoy Emori’s tales?”

“Excuse me?” I looked up from the room bill, still reeling from a nine dollar charge for the miniature tube of Pringles out of the minibar. “Tales?”

The front desk clerk clarified. “You took the island cruise yesterday, didn’t you? Emori’s memory is, uh, his stories are never the same twice. How much did he tell you the Dutch man paid for the island he gave his daughter?”

“Fifty-nine dollars and twelve cents!” I barked angrily about the credit card surcharge, head shaking.

“Really? Last week it was seven million dollars. Australian.”

For a moment we regarded each other quizzically. What we were talking about? I realised that having charged my credit card, she was completely disinterested in discussing my bill.

Finally, light dawned. “Oh, oh, the island…um, ten million, ah, US dollars, Emori said. But I thought the buyer was Danish, not Dutch. It was a daughter, though, that much is consistent.” Continue reading 15. New Fiji’s Eve