Thursday, 4 September 2014

TV Guidance

Amazing what can occupy your mind when you’ve been crook as a dog for a whole week. Even when you have no energy for anything else, you eventually discover why you never watch daytime television, but the TV Guide itself, after scanning it yet again in the hope something of worth would miraculously appear, proved to be inspiration enough. So, from the TV Guide for September 4, here is my tale of woe.

What a week. Getting up each morning has been like waking the dead. The faint sounds of the drum could be heard as Charlie’s Angels hovered overhead, waiting for the dead to be brought out.

When I’d rather be wild at heart sitting around the campfire as I tour the world, I was instead bushwhacked by a heavy cold, sinusitis, coughing, sneezing, chills and aches. The dreamhouse has been liberally contaminated with germs in every nook and cranny.
The mirror could not lie…
“You are definitely not one of the bold and the beautiful.”
“You look like you’re about to die on your feet.”
“You look like the biggest loser on the last leg.”

Couch time has been the only thing I’ve managed, even woke up with a double dribble on my chin after nodding off in the middle of the day. After 7 days of every home remedy known to man, the catalyst to action was spicks and specks flashing before my eyes during yet another rattly coughing fit, and so, seconds from disaster, it was time to seek professional advice.

Was tossing up whether to go to Harry’s Practice on Coronation St and get them to put me down, but eventually decided to go to the doctors on Shortland St, not the ones on Ripper St, to relay the horrible histories of my symptoms.

After question time, it was time to shake it up with a reality check, and deal or no deal I agreed as a last resort to antibiotics which will serve as the avengers against my bronchitis. Armed with probiotics to combat the antibiotics, and with necessary home shopping to sustain me for another week, I was ferried home again where I’m still alive and cooking, preparing for the next few day’s rules of engagement which will see me on the road to recovery, when hopefully I will be in a condition to say cheers and have a super fun night with friends.

So, stay tuned, I will soon crawl out of the grave and rejoin the world of real humans.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Seeing through Fog

There's nothing like a decent foggy morning to head out with the camera, have taken some of my favourite shots at such times.

From our vantage point part way up the mountain, sunrise can be particularly dramatic as the thick blanket below picks up the sun’s rays and moves, a golden inland sea, a fluid thing shifted by the breeze and the slowly rising temperature.

Hilltops appear as islands, the contours of the landscape resemble a coastline as the relentless white sea ebbs and flows.

It can remain on the valley floor for hours, but at times creeps ever so slowly up the foothills and envelops us as well. It would be easy to believe our village has been spirited away at such times. Then what we usually see is obscured either partially or totally, and with the distant horizon gone our focus has to change, stop straining to see what we know is there but is hidden from view. Instead of waiting for the big picture to return, what is revealed as we focus on what is closer often highlights hidden delights.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
The footprints of some small animal returning home after his nightly outing, followed by those of the early morning golfers crazy enough to aim for flags unseen from the tees, peering into the distance as their white balls are hurtled into the unknown and swallowed up.

Cobwebs jewelled with dew, a shrub transformed with its ethereal shroud woven in the night, a magical hiding place for the tiniest forest nymphs. If it were a fine morning these marvellous creations would go unnoticed.

Even the beastly monolithic towers conveying power to the masses take on an other worldly aura as they rise like H.G. Wells’ killing machines from The War of the Worlds.

Blurred lines, muted colours, quiet, numbing cold. Even morning birdsong has been put on hold. Only the crows and currawongs have seen fit to emerge from the relative warmth of their nests.

Peering into the fog, we will our eyes to penetrate the barrier, a useless exercise. It forces us to change our focus. For most of us, our life’s journey can often feel the same in our attempts to find a clear way forward. Sometimes, we simply need to set aside the controlling, all knowing and all seeing creatures we may wish to be who want all the answers right here and now, and look at what is right in front of us. Taking notice of the here and now, playing, smiling and making someone’s day, recognising the beauty around us, appreciating the little things, being thankful for each other, things that may seem insignificant in the moment, but which make up the fabric of what makes us more human. 

Do one thing at a time. Be patient.

The fog will eventually lift.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Hitchcock Revisited

Could the airing of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds the other night on TV been a warning? A prophecy? A seasonal anomaly? A magnet sent out on the airwaves to the air currents?

Whatever it was the currawongs have gone crazy. As in Hitchcock’s thriller they’ve been gathering, in small numbers at first, following me down the street and crisscrossing from one tree to the next, congregating in the backyard in groups of a dozen or more, giving me the dare you stare as they perch on the clothes line, fence and shed and strut around the yard as if they own the place.

Seeing The Birds as a young teenager scared the living daylights out of me and caused me to adopt a certain attitude and respect for that rather large beaked sleek black ornithological predator. The currawongs might not be quite as big as their crow cousins but those beaks look just as sharp, and the population has been gradually increasing until something set them off today throwing us into what sounded like a Hitchcock sequel.

Congregating down on the golf course they took off in groups, circling here, there and everywhere around the village, wave after wave, probably about a hundred in all, landing in yards, trees, perching on fences, houses and wherever they liked, all the time screeching and squawking, going totally off their face. I was fascinated, had to follow them, but as in The Birds the “attack” for want of a better term lasted only a few minutes as they eventually decided to leave us alone and head into the bush. 

Despite their bravado and safety in numbers they did tend to be somewhat camera shy, so the photo doesn't do the event justice. Will be interesting to see if they return tomorrow and continue their onslaught, or whether they meet up with more of their kind and go further afield to lay siege on some other poor unsuspecting neighbourhood.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Short & Sweet

 No, not a description of me, though the stature would be correct enough. ‘Tis the Winter Solstice, so what better way of making the most of the shortest day of the year than bouncing out of bed before sunrise to see how much I could pack into nine or so hours of daylight. It was worth wandering up and down for half an hour or so to catch the sunrise, waiting for the light to be just so, to get the best shot I could. Don’t know how the professionals set themselves up for hours on end waiting for the light, I wouldn’t have the patience.
Spent the morning tidying up and pruning in the Village Green, or murdering depending on what you’d think of our efforts. Giving creepers and shrubs a number 1 haircut or short back and sides if we were feeling more compassionate might mean things look a bit denuded for a while, but come spring they’ll grow rampant again and I’m sure will end up just as out of control as ever.

Took the afternoon to get over the morning, the old back is protesting loudly. Maybe I should’ve headed to Hobart and gone to the annual early morning skinny dipping winter solstice swim in the Derwent, part of the Dark MOFO Festival. Can’t imagine it would’ve limbered me up like a nice swim in a heated pool. Quite apart from the fact the sight of me in the buff would not have been one you’d want to see that early in the morning, the temperature of the water would probably have ended up causing me doing more harm than good as I froze my toes and every other bit of me. Definitely not that adventurous. Think I’d relegate that experience to the same category as running with the bulls in Pamploma. You’d have to be mad.

Anyway, the sun has already set, not spectacularly, but tomorrow marks the turnaround as the days lengthen again a minute or so at a time. Spring is definitely not just around the corner though, in fact winter hasn’t yet made much of an impact even here in Tassie. The real freeze is yet to come, snow is forecast in some parts early next week, so time to make that big pot of soup, chuck some spuds in the fire for dinner, curl up on the couch and make inroads into my accumulated pile of secondhand books purchased for just this reason.

Roll on Winter, do your best.

Marking the years

Have been having trouble dragging myself out of bed for my morning walk for a while, but figured what would’ve been Bob’s official retirement day warranted the effort. After several mornings of thick fog blanketing the valley, the fog was somewhat higher as I brightened up his grave with my little bunch of bright red leucodendrons to mark his 65th birthday. No spectacular sunrise to herald this occasion, just splashes of pale pink as the bank of fog rolled relentlessly on blocking out the hidden brightness attempting to light up the sky.

Thought I’d sit in the gazebo at the memorial garden on the one folding chair and contemplate this peaceful morning, but unfolding it revealed a cockroach and Huntsman spider had taken up residence in its folds so opted for visiting each of the eight burial sites instead, a reminder of the passing of some precious people over the past eleven years. Tinged with sadness, but full of warm memories, and it is the positive that remains.

We don’t tend to live our lives consciously thinking about what legacy we will leave behind, we just live it the best way we know how, often operating by the seat of our pants hoping and praying we’re raising our children to be honest and resilient in a world that often doesn’t treat them as it should, and that we’re also operating from a set of values which will see us through so we don’t stuff up too much as we stumble along what can sometimes be a rough road through life.

It is only after we’re gone that people refer to the legacy we have left behind. We can’t contrive it, performing in a certain way to manipulate how others perceive us. There are plenty who have tried I guess, but eventually it all unravels. We can spot a phony from fifty paces, and avoid them like the plague. But the genuine article? They earn our love and respect, and not necessarily because of what they have achieved but simply by who they are. They’re the ones whose legacy lives on in a positive way, not only with those who remember them after they’re gone, but with those whose lives have been enriched to the extent that those values are replicated, multiplied, given freely and generously, handed on to the next generation. You can’t fake it.