Wayside

My blog entries have slowed to meanderings and I have fallen by the wayside.  Re-reading my old posts, especially some of those on my first blog,  made me realise that sometimes in my writing I was almost achieving what I once aspired to, but I am not any more.  An old friend’s Facebook posts recently have driven home that she is a better writer than I and indeed a better person with a more interesting and worthwhile story to tell.  She should be writing a blog.

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Tui in a Kowhai Tree

I feel I am at a dead end.  My life has been one of neophilia and hodophilia, the love of new things and of travelling to new places.  I believed, or told myself,  each new adventure in a new location was also a way to do something good.  Maybe it was.  Maybe it was actually just running away from old places.  Most of the major moves I have made have been after events I would rather forget.

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Battle Hill Stream

That raises another disturbing thought.  I spend a lot of time remembering things I would rather not, and trying to remember things I cannot.  Odd.  Mnemophobia is a word that means both the fear of memories of past events and fearing memory loss caused by mental illness such as Alzheimer’s.   The irony of the duality in that word, and in my current frame of mind, is not lost on me.  I have already written that one of my greatest fears is Alzheimer’s.  I have also written, sometimes obliquely, of the memories I wish I did not have.    Then I remind myself that I am writing this blog principally for some future me so I might remember.

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Owharoa Waterfall, Karangahake Gorge

I watched  Hunt for the Wilderpeople on Google Play last night.   I really liked the movie.  I never read the Barry Crump novel on which it was based, but Taika Waititi made a gun movie from it.  Not flawless, but  so very very kiwi and so very entertaining.  One of few films that can make me laugh out loud, and one of many that can make me weep.  What was interesting was that it was not the poignant heart-rending scenes that caused the latter reaction, but two simple things – or perhaps three; Kiwi humour in a kiwi accent, and the New Zealand bush.  This made me realise something.  I think I may be homesick.

I pondered this for a while and this morning I think I have pretty much come to the conclusion that as soon as I have a few more grand stashed away, I am going home to retire.  Maybe next year.

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Roadside Grass near Thames, Coromandel

These are four of my favourite New Zealand photos.  Each a pleasant memory.

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Going Up

Back on the Pregabalin.  After a couple of days the woozy lightheaded feeling passed and I regained my faculties.  I also lost much of the chronic pain I was feeling before.  Clearly the doc was right and it was originating in my back, not my legs.  Science is a wonderful thing.  I still feel the grating pain in my knees, but it seems less debilitating and I can walk further now.  With the use of my beautiful crocodile and snake carved walking stick from Solomon Islands I am venturing around the community more.  The uneven ground is why I need the stick.  A misstep causes me to stagger and nearly fall when my knee gives way.  There are no paved surfaces here.

I have set up a gym kitset on the deck outside, and in the evening when it is a little cooler (and when there is no one around to watch) I do a few upper body exercises for half an hour or so.

The problem with walking and exercise in general here is that the temperatures are now already reaching 40 degrees C during the day and will soon be going higher.  Neither Zeus the dog nor I are overly keen to venture out in the blazing heat.  Neither are the children after school, so I am having a fairly quiet time.  I see some of them for a while in the evening and we talk about the things they want to do, and what we shall do soon but they are not very interested in my company once they learn I can no longer take them out bush or anywhere else in the troopy.

We had an edict from on high a week or two back advising us that we were no longer to transport anyone in the back of the troopies and only one passenger was to be in the front passenger seat using the lap and diagonal seat-belt.  It seems that liability issues are catching up.  I know Northern Territory has already outlawed the troopy with sideways seats in the rear. Lap only seat-belts are not acceptable either.  It has always been a concern with me, and I have always driven most carefully whenever I have youngsters with me anyway.  The consequences of harming someone are unthinkable.

I have always known my main value to most of the youngsters was that I was a means of transport for them to get to the bush for bush tucker or to the lake for a swim and to football games.  I hope I can re-engage with them once I have all the new toys and kit I am expecting.  Meantime I guess I have a little time on hand to get on with my study for Cert IV in training and assessment. I have now completed successfully six of the papers. Four to go.

As a diversion I am spending half an hour a day learning Irish. For no other reason than it is the greatest challenge I can think of at present.  And because it is a beautiful sounding language.   And because otherwise I would probably go spare alone every evening here.  Doubling the dose of my fluoxetine has certainly helped me to cope better with that.

On the wildlife front, the King Brown snakes are out and about.  There are quite a few young ones recently hatched too.  There are bush turkeys gathering in expectation of the plague of locusts that will likely hatch as soon as the rains set in and the vegetation starts growing again.

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Full Moon Rising 

Odyssey

 

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Herbert James Draper – Ulysses and the Sirens – 1909

Sing, through me, O muse, the famous story

Of he, the wily wanderer far and wide

Who – after Ilium was lost – did travel

Through distant lands and cities; there to learn

The manners and the mysteries of men.

Though oceans overwhelmed his troubled heart

And waves of sorrow rocked him now and then

All his companions did he not abandon

He found his way, at last, back home again.

Homer –  Odyssey – 1st stanza, retold by me 2017

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Muse make the man thy theme, for shrewdness famed

And genius versatile, who far and wide

A Wand’rer, after Ilium overthrown,

Discover’d various cities, and the mind

And manners learn’d of men, in lands remote.

He num’rous woes on Ocean toss’d, endured,

Anxious to save himself, and to conduct

His followers to their home.

 

Homer – translation by William Cowper, 1791

 

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Henry Fuseli – Odysseus facing the choice between Scylla and Charybdis, 1794/6

 

 

Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story
of that man skilled in all ways of contending,
the wanderer, harried for years on end,
after he plundered the stronghold
on the proud height of Troy.

He saw the townlands
and learned the minds of many distant men,
and weathered many bitter nights and days
in his deep heart at sea, while he fought only
to save his life, to bring his shipmates home.

Homer – translation by Robert Fitzgerald, 1961

 

It is never too late to begin an odyssey.

I have poetry in my soul.

Beyond the Dreaming Place

Beyond the dreaming place
I watch from my darkness
All the stars I know
Kiss your head, my love
Beyond the dreaming place

And no backward journey
Nothing’s left of that time
That door is shut forever
Now is the time to move on
Beyond the dreaming place

Tim Harries, Robert Johnson, Peter Knight, Gay Woods

 

 

Wildlife

Last week was a good wildlife observation week for me.  I spent a lot of hours travelling.  Firstly I took a trip to Brown’s Range, beyond Ringer Soak, to conduct an inspection at the rare earth mine that is starting there.  Near Ringer Soak we crossed Sturt Creek, the same river that runs past Billiluna.  It has returned to being a series of ponds and small lakes as the dry season begins.  Only a few weeks ago it seems, it was three kilometres wide, and impassable.  There were herons, ibis and jabiru, magpie geese, cockatoos and galahs.  I flew my drone over them and caught some off guard but a drone is not the best way to photograph birds.

Later, I helped Tika again, transporting his football team between Mulan and Kununurra and back. On the trip I added the two common species of kite and wedge-tail eagles to the list. We saw a few bush turkeys – Australian bustards. No brolgas yet this year.  At home I have bower birds and mudlarks, butcher birds, and the sparrow-like little chap I have finally identified (tentatively) as an Australian pipit. Some little yellow birds I still have not identified.

On the road I dodged two young goanna, a king brown and a fairly large specimen of what I suspect was a greater whipsnake.  I stopped for a closer look at it, but it disappeared into the vegetation on the roadside.  I did not follow.

At home in the Single Persons Quarters, two young green tree frogs have taken up residence in the men’s ablution block.  One is usually in the shower I use and I must take care not to splash him with shampoo or soap.  The other day I found him swimming in the toilet bowl.  Fortunately there are two so I used the other rather than risk flushing him away.

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Extreme Sport

This photo of the Fitzroy river in flood under the Willare Bridge, on the road between Fitzroy Crossing and Broome, was published on FaceBook a while back.

It reminded me of when I drove that way, going to a meeting in Broome in the Holden Colorado.  The river was not so high then.   It was in the dry season.

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As I approached the bridge I saw a rental campervan parked on the verge at the end.

A young man was climbing on the parapet in the middle of the bridge and  was clearly about to jump in.  I pulled up beside him and wound down my window.  He looked nervously at the Shire logo on my Colorado, then returned my friendly smile as I said “G’day mate. Having fun?”

“Yes” he answered in a German accent.

I knew it. Tourist.

“You know that’s pretty dangerous”.  I said.

“Oh no! The water is very deep. We checked first before we started to jump”.

“Good”, I answered. “How long have you been swimming here?”

“About twenty minutes.  It is not illegal, yes?”

“Oh it is not illegal. But I am thinking you should stop. Twenty minutes should be just about enough time for the crocodiles to realise you are here. They will have heard you jumping in, with all the big splashes you must be making.”

“Crocodiles?”

“Yes. Big man-eating salties live in this river.  If it was only freshies I’d say go on and have fun. Freshies are harmless.  But salties… They eat people”.

He called out urgently to his companions below, in German.  I recognised only the word “Krokodil”.

He looked very pale as he waited for his companions to scramble up the bank..

“it is not a joke, yes?”

“No joke mate.  This area is full of crocodiles. Be very careful where you swim”.

We talked a little more. They had driven up from Perth. They were heading for Darwin.   It seemed no one had told them about the crocs in this part of the country.

Tourists.