Mar. 1st, 2010

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The place


Bowen swans
It's hard to imagine Canberra without Lake Burley Griffin. It was the main feature of the winning entry in the competition for the design of the new capital city, but it took fifty years for it to become reality. For most of its existence, Canberra was a sleepy little country town with a provisional Parliament House in a sheep paddock, and roads leading down to wooden bridges spanning the slow-moving Molonglo River.

Depression, World War Two and the fact that most of the public service remained in Melbourne and Sydney kept Canberra small, until the Sixties when rapid growth really began. New suburbs were laid out, the National Library and the Royal Australian Mint were built and the place just mushroomed.

In keeping with the modern buildings and their fresh architecture, money was poured into landscaping and parkland. The shores of the future lake were defined and built up, high level bridges over the Molonglo erected to complete the geometry of the Parliamentary Triangle, and Scrivener Dam raised in a narrow part of the river valley down past Government House.

Came the big day when the dam was complete, the band played, the Minister for Territories pressed the button, the floodgates were lowered and the crowd rushed to the side to peer over.

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Or no time for one, anyway.

Let's see. Working backwards. Sunday was lazy day. Finished off taxi envelopes for week before last. Finished my Brodburger post and tweaked it here and there. Watched a rare bit of TV: Landline at lunchtime and Borderline Security and Air Ways after dinner. DD and I love shows about people getting hassled at the airport!

I booked a car for the Boston to Chicago leg of the April trip. We'll spend a night in the hostel that will be the base for the August Uncon, then pick up the car from the airport, drive to Montreal one day, Ottawa the next, Niagara on the Lake after that and then we have three nights in Chicago.

Some research, trying to get the best possible rates. Highly variable, depending on site. Looked at one place offering a 300C for about a thousand dollars for the week and resigned myself to something like a Taurus.

Then netflights.com came good and I could get a 300C for about $300. Awesome!

I scrolled down a little more, and it said they had a Mustang convertible available. I checked and rechecked everything, and then booked it!

Subject to confirmation, the site says. Let's hope they don't try to fob me off with a Sebring. The price? £212 which works out to less than $400! Awesome, for a week of Mustang!

I also got some work done on planning for the 2011 Washington DC trip. My day driver and I are planning a roadtrip – it's all roadtrips nowadays – and I spent a lot of time looking at Route 66 pages.

Faddled around with the weekend papers. Spent an hour on the phone with a young lady in Brisbane – we used to live together in student accommodations at uni and after, and she's not short-winded on the phone.

Saturday involved getting up early after finishing early at about 0200. Lots of work around, but there was a philosophy activity at 1030. I spent a bit of time writing a post for OneMoreFare.com about a political thing.

The philosophy activity involved labyrinths. These are things you walk along in a small compass, the paths recurving and spiralling in. Not a spiral - it's more complex than that - but you start on the outer, go to the middle and back out and it's a bloody long way to walk in a small space.

In the Middle Ages, pilgrims who couldn't go crusading against the Saracens walked a labyrinth on their knees to make the total distance a bit at a time and show their piety.

God would give them new knees in heaven.

Anyway, there are labyrinths in the modern age. And websites. Thousands of them around the world. The Canberra one is here, just scroll to the end of Blackall Place. it's a kind of maze with a tree in the middle.

There's a community labyrinth on the back of Mount Ainslie, made out of branches and stones, jarred out of alignment by kangaroos and echidnas.

We learnt a bit about labyrinths. There's a World Labyrinth Day on 1 May, which is when Kerri and I fly back in from San Francisco where Grace Cathedral has a matched pair. Probably won't be in a fit state to walk the local one.

We drew a labyrinth on paper. Quite easy, once you know the trick. Of course, there are various sorts, but we did a classic mediaeval one.

Then we put on hats, went out into the sun and walked it. One at a time, our own pace, the ten of us meandering around the paths, drawing closer and apart. Bit of congestion in the middle, and back out again.

Basically, it's a walking meditation. I was almost getting high just watching my feet go one after the other through the gravel. A metaphor for life's journey, a journey into your mind, a way to focus.

And then I came out again, walked the larger paths around the site and back to the meeting room, where we had tea and bikkies.

The week was pretty quiet. We had a good deep session on Wednesday.

No, I'm not getting all spiritual. I'm learning more about myself and humanity in general. I'm enjoying it.

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Skyring

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