WINTER IN PORT MELBOURNE.

THE BAY.

A faded winter sky seeps into the smudge of Mount Martha.

The bay shimmers in its opalescent cloak of silvery grey, mauve and pale, pale blue.

In the distance, a crimson spinnaker draws a yacht back to St Kilda.

 

BAY STREET.

The bitter Southerly blasts up Bay Street.

The tradies working on the new flats have given up on their shorts and hide in their hoodies as they cross the street for coffee and carbs. They push into cafes crammed with huge prams and toddlers.

Disgruntled dogs in designer coats wait outside.

 

Back to Tango after Total Hip Replacement: 5 months

It’s been about 4-5 weeks since my last post about actually getting back on the dance floor and a lot has happened. I’m now at the stage where I can do a whole class and a few dances afterwards at the Practica and feel tired but happy. My legs are tired and thighs fairly tight the next day but the tightness goes with some exercise and stretching.

My new hip has made a huge difference to the strength on that leg even though the muscles are still tight and not terribly strong. Generally, my dancing is developing back to being smooth with some very occasional little bits of wobble and loss of control.

Interestingly, I’ve found that my concentration is harder to maintain but that’s improving. I think it’s because I’m still a bit anxious about ‘how I will manage’ and how I will go with different partners.

What has helped me hugely has been Pilates. I found a physio who specializes in hip and core stabilization and have been going to her small, 3 people, classes once a week. She works gradually and progresses the exercises at a really good rate. I have a set of exercises to do at home. She told me to be really careful about the dancing but recognized my need as a ‘mental health’ issue and therefore important to do.

It’s been important to loosen these muscles as they work and strengthen so I go and have a monthly Remedial Massage.

I’m back to taking a low dose anti-inflammatory once a day to help the knees which still have remnants of tenderness from the bursitis and to help the hip joint itself settle down. That helps and, if I need to, take an occasional Panadol Osteo to remove the pain of tightness if I’m going to exercise and want to do that properly.

All in all, I’m at a good stage of strengthening and feeling normal life returning. I do get tired though. The physio says that it takes 6 months to gain strength in the muscles and another 6 months to develop control.

 

Footpath Gardening. A Traffic Shield and a Memory

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This carefully planted and maintained nature strip shrubbery shields the residents of the corner apartment building from the traffic whizzing from Beaconsfield Parade into Pickles Street. I think it would help with headlight glare and be a really good psychological barrier against the barrage of traffic.

A few weeks ago, a couple of days before my hip replacement operation (just wait, there is a connection), I was rung by an admissions nurse from the hospital for some final checking. After we’d gone through that, she commented that it will be lovely for me to go walks along the beach front as part of my rehabilitation. I was surprised and said something like, “Ah, you recognise the address?”

“Yes. I was born and grew up in the house on the corner of the Beach Road and Pickles Street. I used to love living there.”

Still on the phone, I walked to our front windows.

“I’m looking at that corner right now,”I said. “How amazing”

“Yes, I used to ride my bike to Sunday School at the Anglican Church and I was a member of the Port Melbourne Lifesaving Club.The house isn’t there any more. I’d love to be back there.”

“Maybe a retirement plan,” I suggested.

We hung up, each having relished a surprising personal connection and conversation.

Her house has been replaced by a solid attractive apartment building. I had taken the photos for this Gardening on the Footpath project a few months ago. When I can walk that far again, I will visit that corner and think about that nameless nurse and her childhood house opposite the beach.

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Return to Tango: 3 weeks after hip replacement

Briefly, for my record as much as anything.

My mobility is much improved. I walk everywhere without crutches. Walking feels smooth and natural  for a few minutes. I find that my right leg (new hip) gets tired on a walk outside after about 5 minutes. Lots of muscles are returning to work. I can balance on that leg for about 10 seconds. 

Physiotherapist has confirmed that there are ‘no restrictions’ and that I can stretch, mobilize the joint gently and continue to work on strengthening. It feels so good to get down on the floor again and start stretching. It’s only in the last day or so that I have felt confident enough about getting up from the floor even if I’d been able to get down there. Now that the incision has closed, I’m allowed to start doing exercises in the pool. 

Pain relief is working. I had a go at dropping it a bit a week ago, but that was not a good idea! Will continue for 2 weeks and then have another go at dropping it.  My GP has been very helpful. The pain is back pain which I’m pretty confident will gradually diminish as I regain fitness and continue with back massage.

The tight swelling around the outer upper thigh is diminishing. I’m massaging and icing it.

Generally, I feel good. It’s been therapeutic to regain independence around the house- today I have returned the hired shower chair. I’m cooking, carrying around cups of coffee and so on. However, I get tired quite quickly and it’s good to go off and rest. I’m still loving sleeping!

Springs: Fontaine de Vaucluse and Fontcaudette

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Here in Provence, the landscape is shaped by the limestone hills. The limestone is quarried to provide stone for the houses and walls and the hills also act as a giant reservoir. Rain is absorbed by the limestone and partially dissolves it to create underground pools and channels where the water flows downhill to emerge as springs.
La Fontaine de Vaucluse, pictured above, is the largest in Europe. Its water comes to the surface in a huge cavern after travelling for kilometres through the limestone hills. It lies in a deep blue green pool under a towering limestone cliff and seeps through the rocks at its lip to form the Sorgue River. The river races down the hill, increasing in size as more springs feed into it, to the village of Fontaine de Vaucluse and on to irrigate orchards before flowing through Isles- sur- Sorgues.

The water is clean and clear and rushes and swirls over gravel, rocks and brilliant green water weed. Huge old plane trees shade the stream and the path beside it where people walk up to view the cavernous source.image

Restaurant Philip is on a terrace beside the water. I love to sit right at its edge and look through the water to the gravel bottom and watch the water surge into this section from about five or six channels. Some ducks play in the current and upend themselves looking for food near the opposite bank. I can see every detail of their paddling feet. Long, thin, leafy plane tree branches overhang. All you can hear is rushing water.imageimage

On the other hand, the spring at Fontcaudette, pictured above, is tiny and trickles from a dark hole under a rock wall. It has been formalized a bit by some stone walling creating a small pond for the hameau, probably about five or six house originally. The water flows in a little channel through the garden of Les Romarins and down in to the vegetable garden below our hedge. There are a lot of black polythene garden irrigation pipes involved.

The difference between the two springs is just a matter of scale.