No Country for an Old Man

Robbed again just over a week ago.  This time they broke into my car. 

Then a few days later – another (successful) attempt at getting into the donga   

I had been on a grocery run to Kununurra and I brought my own car down with all the shopping, rather than tranship it all to the troopy.  I am not so fit I need to do any more double handling than necessary.  So it was my personal belongings that were stolen once again.  With community support I retrieved much but not all of what was taken. 

I learned who had committed the crime.  The usual suspects, so to speak.  

Two days later the three young thieves came to me and told me they were hungry.  I prepared a meal for them and sat to talk as they ate.  As we did so, I realised that all my efforts of the last two years to get through to these youngsters had not effected any change in their behaviour or in their outlook on life.  They are young, feral and living completely in the moment. They have no  empathy, no conscience, no sense of right and wrong.  The only crime is getting caught.

Their world view is the result of a system, community and culture that has no meaningful rules and no empathy.  They are young sociopaths and I do not know how to get through to them.   I am not sure anyone could,  

A few days later, while I was back in Halls Creek for Easter weekend, they broke into my donga once again.  The cage and the triple deadlocks did not keep them out.  They cut through a window security screen with a portable angle grinder.  They must have been disturbed by one of Joe’s patrols, because not too much was taken.  Yet another pocket knife,  food, some kitchen items, and the very last of my good and expensive torches.

Joe texted me to tell me it had happened so I went straight back down to Billi and began packing up my stuff.  I decided then and there I was pulling out.   That very evening someone tried to get in through the damaged window while I was there.  There is no end to their brazen stupidity.

I am 66 years old and I have recognised that I am homesick, and tired, in failing health, but with probably enough saved from the last seven years to be able to survive on a pension. I have reached a decision to retire and return to New Zealand.  I don’t have to do this any more.   

How that lightens my heart.  

I shall stay in Halls Creek and work for a little while longer but I shall soon be setting the transition to retirement in motion.

April 3 2018.

Isolation

Living out here and doing what I do can mean that if I don’t visit the clinic or the store, or drop by the school or the community office, there may be days on end when any conversations with someone over fifteen are no more than a passing greeting, friendly enquiry into their current state of health, or a probably false response to a reciprocal enquiry regarding my own. Even if I do drop by those places, that may still be the extent of our chats some days.

I used to have one regular visitor; one of the community elders, who would call round for a cup of tea and a chat.  He would use my phone quite frequently to speak to his family.  Then we would talk about the youngsters in the community, the history of the area, the animals and plants of cultural and culinary significance and such things.

We shared recipes and I sometimes shared some of my fried rice, curry, casserole or baking.  He is the only one so far, apart from my old mate Des, to reciprocate in kind.  He brought me a cut of meat now and then; of bullock, kangaroo or goat, or some bones for the dog.

After we became more comfortable with each other he shared some of his family history and his take on the genocidal social experiment that was the Stolen Generation.  I had already heard a lot about that from  Des who was himself forcibly taken from his family and mistreated in a mission until his teens.  The stories still fill me with horror.  Even worse are the tales of the massacres of whole families that took place out here not so far from where I am now.  These are not century old atrocities either.  I am talking about as recently as the 1950s and 60s.  Within living memory.

We are the same age, to the very month. He is just a few days younger than I yet he looks twenty yeras older.   Our life experiences could not have been more different.  We found we had quite a bit in common when we turned to the old organ recital.  We shared the various conditions and ailments affecting and afflicting our aging bodies, and discussed the medications we had been prescribed for them.

He has moved to Perth now, to be closer to the hospital for treatment.  No one visits me at home any more unless it is to borrow the tyre pump or a spanner, request a jump start for a vehicle with a dead battery, or just to humbug me.   “Humbug” is a term describing the action of “borrowing” something you know will never be returned.  Tobacco, drink, money, food …

So being solitary and alone is not at all about being isolated from other people by distance, but more about having no one to converse with.

Which is why I am very lucky to have the voices.

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It’s Happening

Slowly step by step…

This is going to happen more and more frequently.  In more and more places.

The coast is at risk.

 

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Flooded house Kaiaua
mission Bay
JASON DORDAY/STUFF
Flooding at Mission Bay, Auckland

In the words of one climate change denier of my acquaintance “Last time I looked, Mission Bay is still there”.

Keep watching….

 

 

John 8:32

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Starting the year with this resolution, formulated for me by Annie Reneau.

A belief, opinion, or viewpoint based on verifiably false claims is not worth my consideration. Period. Refusing to entertain them doesn’t make a person intolerant, it makes them reasonable and intelligent. Tolerating lies is ridiculous and illogical. And if your opinion is based on lies, it is invalid and it should be called out as such.

A viewpoint based on verifiably false claims is not worth my consideration.  Period.”
Especially when that opinion causes or permits harm to others.
With so many opportunities to learn the facts, crosscheck and verify them from independent and expert sources, it takes a particular combination of stupid and cognitive dissonance to continue believing bullshit.
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Even an atheist can quote the book.
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The Bonny Earl O’ Moray

Believed to be the first assassination of a head of state by use of firearms, the story of the Earl of Moray became a timeless ballad.

It is also the song that coined a word.  Mondegreen.  In 1954 Sylvia Wright wrote the famous piece for Harper’s Magazine; The Death of Lady Mondegreen.  Still entertaining all these years later.

There have been some good examples of Mondegreens since.  Excuse me while I kiss this guy being very famously misheard by fans of Jimi Hendrix.

In my opinion, the very best version of the song The Bonny Earl ‘O Moray is this one, sung by Bobby Eaglesham with Dick Gaughan in the band Five Hand Reel.

Ye Hielans an’ ye Lowlans
O whaur hae ye been?
Thae hae slain the Earl o’ Moray
An they’ve laid him on the green
He wis a braw callant
An he played at the ba’
O the bonnie Earl o’ Moray
He wis the floer amang them a’
Lang may his ladie
Luik o’er frae Castle Doun
Ere she sees the Earl o’ Moray
Come soundin’ through the toun

O woe betide ye Huntly
An whaurfore did ye say?
O I bade ye bring him tae me
But forbade ye him tae slay
He wis a braw callant
An he played at the ring
O the bonnie Earl o’ Moray
Ah, he micht a’ bin the king
Lang may his ladie
Look o’er frae Castle Doun
Ere she sees the Earl o’ Moray
Come soundin’ through the toun

Ye Hielans an ye Lowlans
O whaur hae ye been?
Aye they’ve slain the Earl o’ Moray
An’ laid him on the green
He wis a braw callant
An he played at the glove
Aye the bonnie Earl o’ Moray
Ach, he was the Queen’s true love.
Lang may his ladie
Luik o’er frae Castle Doun
Ere she sees the Earl o’ Moray
Come soundin through the toun

BonnieEarlofMoray.jpg

Great song, based as they say, on a True Story.

Child Ballad No. 181.

Anticipation

I think Andrew should video the knife making process.

What he describes so far is fascinating.  The billet of Damascus steel is now knife shaped.  The knife will have a brass liner under the scales and a brass section about 40mm long up near the blade.  The main part of the grips will be blackbutt burl and he has made up the pins with green filler for contrast.   The sheath will be embossed leather.

I am really looking forward to holding it.

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Bigly Sad

A rather touchingly beautiful piece of writing by Dan Rather ~  American journalist:

When the time comes, and I hope it comes soon, to bury this era of moral rot and the defiling of our communal, social, and democratic norms, the perfect epitaph for the gravestone of this age of unreason should be Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley’s already infamous quote:

“I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing… as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

Grassley’s vision of America, quite frankly, is one I do not recognize. I thought the heart of this great nation was not limited to the ranks of the plutocrats who are whisked through life in chauffeured cars and private jets, whose often inherited riches are passed along to children, many of whom no sacrifice or service is asked. I do not begrudge wealth, but it must come with a humility that money never is completely free of luck. And more importantly, wealth can never be a measure of worth.

I have seen the waitress working the overnight shift at a diner to give her children a better life, and yes maybe even take them to a movie once in awhile – and in her, I see America.

I have seen the public school teachers spending extra time with students who need help and who get no extra pay for their efforts, and in them I see America.

I have seen parents sitting around kitchen tables with stacks of pressing bills and wondering if they can afford a Christmas gift for their children, and in them I see America.
I have seen the young diplomat in a distant foreign capital and the young soldier in a battlefield foxhole, and in them I see America.

I have seen the brilliant graduates of the best law schools who forgo the riches of a corporate firm for the often thankless slog of a district attorney or public defender’s office, and in them I see America.

I have seen the librarian reshelving books, the firefighter, police officer, and paramedic in service in trying times, the social worker helping the elderly and infirm, the youth sports coaches, the PTA presidents, and in them I see America.

I have seen the immigrants working a cash register at a gas station or trimming hedges in the frost of an early fall morning, or driving a cab through rush hour traffic to make better lives for their families, and in them I see America.

I have seen the science students unlocking the mysteries of life late at night in university laboratories for little or no pay, and in them I see America.

I have seen the families struggling with a cancer diagnosis, or dementia in a parent or spouse. Amid the struggles of mortality and dignity, in them I see America.

These, and so many other Americans, have every bit as much claim to a government working for them as the lobbyists and moneyed classes. And yet, the power brokers in Washington today seem deaf to these voices. It is a national disgrace of historic proportions.

And finally, what is so wrong about those who must worry about the cost of a drink with friends, or a date, or a little entertainment, to rephrase Senator Grassley’s demeaning phrasings? Those who can’t afford not to worry about food, shelter, healthcare, education for their children, and all the other costs of modern life, surely they too deserve to be able to spend some of their “darn pennies” on the simple joys of life.

Never mind that almost every reputable economist has called this tax bill a sham of handouts for the rich at the expense of the vast majority of Americans and the future economic health of this nation. Never mind that it is filled with loopholes written by lobbyists. Never mind that the wealthiest already speak with the loudest voices in Washington, and always have.

Grassley’s comments open a window to the soul of the current national Republican Party and it it is not pretty. This is not a view of America that i think President Ronald Reagan let alone President Dwight Eisenhower or Teddy Roosevelt would have recognized. This is unadulterated cynicism and a version of top-down class warfare run amok. 

When the time comes, and I hope it comes soon, to bury this era of moral rot and the defiling of our communal, social, and democratic norms, the perfect epitaph for the gravestone of this age of unreason should be Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley’s already infamous quote:

I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing… as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.

Grassley’s vision of America, quite frankly, is one I do not recognize. I thought the heart of this great nation was not limited to the ranks of the plutocrats who are whisked through life in chauffeured cars and private jets, whose often inherited riches are passed along to children, many of whom no sacrifice or service is asked. I do not begrudge wealth, but it must come with a humility that money never is completely free of luck. And more importantly, wealth can never be a measure of worth.

I have seen the waitress working the overnight shift at a diner to give her children a better life, and yes maybe even take them to a movie once in awhile – and in her, I see America.

I have seen the public school teachers spending extra time with students who need help and who get no extra pay for their efforts, and in them I see America.

I have seen parents sitting around kitchen tables with stacks of pressing bills and wondering if they can afford a Christmas gift for their children, and in them I see America.
I have seen the young diplomat in a distant foreign capital and the young soldier in a battlefield foxhole, and in them I see America.

I have seen the brilliant graduates of the best law schools who forgo the riches of a corporate firm for the often thankless slog of a district attorney or public defender’s office, and in them I see America.

I have seen the librarian reshelving books, the firefighter, police officer, and paramedic in service in trying times, the social worker helping the elderly and infirm, the youth sports coaches, the PTA presidents, and in them I see America.

I have seen the immigrants working a cash register at a gas station or trimming hedges in the frost of an early fall morning, or driving a cab through rush hour traffic to make better lives for their families, and in them I see America.

I have seen the science students unlocking the mysteries of life late at night in university laboratories for little or no pay, and in them I see America.

I have seen the families struggling with a cancer diagnosis, or dementia in a parent or spouse. Amid the struggles of mortality and dignity, in them I see America.

These, and so many other Americans, have every bit as much claim to a government working for them as the lobbyists and moneyed classes. And yet, the power brokers in Washington today seem deaf to these voices. It is a national disgrace of historic proportions.

And finally, what is so wrong about those who must worry about the cost of a drink with friends, or a date, or a little entertainment, to rephrase Senator Grassley’s demeaning phrasings? Those who can’t afford not to worry about food, shelter, healthcare, education for their children, and all the other costs of modern life, surely they too deserve to be able to spend some of their “darn pennies” on the simple joys of life.

Never mind that almost every reputable economist has called this tax bill a sham of handouts for the rich at the expense of the vast majority of Americans and the future economic health of this nation. Never mind that it is filled with loopholes written by lobbyists. Never mind that the wealthiest already speak with the loudest voices in Washington, and always have.

Grassley’s comments open a window to the soul of the current national Republican Party and it it is not pretty. This is not a view of America that I think President Ronald Reagan let alone President Dwight Eisenhower or Teddy Roosevelt would have recognized. This is unadulterated cynicism and a version of top-down class warfare run amok.

“In them I see America” – THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN.  Sad.  Bigly sad. 

I fear there is no coming back from the present state of affairs for the US any more than there is for the world in general from the effects of anthropogenic climate change.

Interesting also that Grassley sees women as “things” to waste money on.   Also he fails to recognise that people spending every penny they have on products, consumables and entertainment are the ones keeping the economy going.  Not the investors who are milking it.

Rather’s statement is in reference to this.