Outback Spaceman

I’m the outback spaceman, baby; I’ve got speed
I’ve got everything I need
I’m the outback spaceman, baby; I can fly
I’m a supersonic guy

I don’t need pleasure
I don’t feel pain
If you were to knock me down I’d just get up again
I’m the outback spaceman, baby; I’m makin’ out
I’m all about

I wake up every morning with a smile upon my face
My natural exuberance spills out all over the place
I’m the outback spaceman, I’m intelligent and clean
Know what I mean?

with apologies to Neil Innes

Back to Billiluna yesterday and finally started on cleaning up the donga.  Committed genocide on a billion spiders that festooned the walls and ceiling.  Some looked as if they might be redbacks who had moved in during my absence.  I spent a lot of time cleaning up the deliberately spilt food and herbs and spices, scrubbing and bleaching and sorting out the stuff thrown on the floor, at least where I needed to walk.  Bedding all washed and sanitised with Domestos.  Unpleasant little gifts uncovered and removed as I went.

I got a better idea of what was gone, and what was not.  I hate to add up the coast of what I have lost.  Sentimental value aside, I think it possibly amounts to around 15 to 20 grand.  It is ironic, isn’t it, that a few blogs ago after the first burglary, I wrote that I had too much stuff and I needed to figure out what to do with it.  I guess that problem is solved.

Finally, having made a good start on the mess, and finding myself psychologically stable in the face of this shit heap,  I decided to sleep and start again in the morning.  I set up my CPAP and settled down on my mattress with a sleeping bag. Within minutes my skin was crawling and I was being bitten by something tiny I could not see or catch. Cooties?

Sod this.  I can cope with the smell of pee and the other adversities, but this was too much.  I pack up my kit and drive back to Halls Creek, itching all the way, arriving at the SPQ around midnight.  Hot shower, clothes into the washing machine to soak with hot water and bleach, then to bed in what seems to have become my second home. I shall try again next week after giving the place a good permethrin spray and airing out.

For those newcomers who have not been following, the story so far:
I live in a remote community in the outback in a small portable home called a donga.
I was burgled twice in a month while I was away from the place, the second in particular being very devastatingly thorough in removal of my property and destruction of what was not taken.
CPAP: Constant Positive Air Pressure machine. A device for those who suffer sleep apnoeia. I am one.
SPQ: The Shire of Halls Creek Single Persons Quarters,  A sad lonely place for people who have no one to love them.  Elvis called it “Heartbreak Hotel”.

Now read on…

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Spéir Súl

At last my new toy has arrived.

To cheer myself up, and because I fell deeply in love with Jake’s when we took it out last week, I bought a drone with a really good camera.  The DJI Phantom 4 Pro. This will replace the GoPro I lost, and then some.

I have named it Spéir Súl, which is Irish for “Sky Eye”. It sounds better in Irish.

It was not cheap, this new toy, but I rationalise the purchase by considering it to be a new stage in my photography adventure, plus it will enable me to see, and photograph, places I can no longer access on foot. Besides. I am on my own now, and how I spend my money and my time is my own affair.

That seems a little defensive, so perhaps I do feel a little guilt.  But I’ll get over it.

Today I took her out to Palm Springs for her maiden voyage.  I wanted to film the rock I am no longer able to climb, and the view from the top I can no longer get to.  However, the drone would not fly for me, because before it’s first flight the software that controls it from my iPad demands that I register and activate it first.  Of course, that requires connection to the internet, and there is not even phone reception out there.

Mission aborted.  Try again tomorrow.


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I just posted this on the Halls Creek Community Facebook page

To the person who broke into my donga in Billiluna, stole my possessions and trashed the place, and wrote nasty things on my wall:

I forgive you. If you were hungry, I would have fed you. If you needed something I would have tried to help. I am sorry you had to act so badly, but that is on you, not me.

But I am really sorry for what is likely to happen next. You should know that among the spears, bows and arrows and carvings from my family in Solomon Islands, were two genuine antique war clubs that were used in warfare back around 1912 or so. They have a very powerful blood curse on them. Before I became their guardian my brother in law had to make a strong protection charm for me. Anyone who steals, mistreats them or damages them or uses them without protection is likely to have Very Bad Things happen to them. I hope bad things have not already started and you and your family are safe. I would not wish the Solomon hikaluzi on anyone. Please return them to the Shire office before something terrible happens. Tataru nomana Koa goi. (Good wishes to you).

No point appealing to their sense of fair play. Maybe this will work.

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One of my colleagues (my boss) travelled down to my home and started what I could not; cleaning up the mess left by the vandal thieves. He also spoke to the community about why I was not returning yet.

He came back last night with my grandfather’s fob watch (smashed) and my vintage 1978 dive watch that is unharmed and still going. They had not been stolen with everything else, but had been tossed into the trample pile along with my cds, DVDs, books, and other things that the thieves had no use for, so did their best to smash.

The dive watch was robust enough to survive that treatment.

In my mind that dive watch had become a symbol of all I have loved and lost, and all I have done in my travels round the world. Losing it had brought about a despair I could not overcome. Regaining it gave me a new resolve to deal with the other losses and get on with it again. I had not consciously focussed on that one thing in the midst of overwhelming loss of valuables and collected memories but having done so has actually in the end proved beneficial to my mental state. Because I have it again.

I think I can get back on the horse now. I am not sure if there is a life lesson to be drawn from this, and I truly don’t know why, of all things, it was the watch that was the focus of my angst, but having recovered it has made me feel so much better. Since the incident, I have been very ambivalent about returning in spite of my confidence that it was not a community member who had desecrated my home. Now, once the Shire have improved the security there, I am happy to go back and once more try to help the youngsters find their way into the future.

I have to add that I work with awesome people.

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Last night I dreamed a memory; a rare thing.

We were swimming in warm, clear Northland waters near Matauri Bay.

We were nude, save for mask and snorkel.

Dappled light rippled over your form; floating, freed from gravity.

I was thinking you were the most beautiful thing I have ever seen;

Within the water or without.

Then you swam away.

I awoke: salt sea pooling on my pillow.

(C). 2017 ARF

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Here I am still, staying in the Single Person’s Quarters in Halls Creek and turning up daily for work at the Shire.  I am dividing my time currently between helping out my Youth colleagues and standing in as Shire Environmental Health Officer, as they currently don’t have one.  The temptation is to return to that position and give up my new career path. But somehow I am reluctant.

The team is planning to come with me down to Billiluna soon and make an effort at cleaning out my donga and returning it to a habitable state.  I want to do that, and I want to get back with my community kids. But I have to own up to feeling a bit anxious about that too.  I don’t want to be reminded of what is gone, and I don’t want to discover more missing items. On the other hand I have been wondering about some things I did not check on, that might actually still be there.  I am almost afraid to find out.   I want to be resilient and get on with it. I also just want to run away.  If I could afford to.  It would be nice if could actually retire.  I think.

This spell in Halls Creek has confirmed in my mind that I was actually happier as a youth worker than I was as an EHO.  But will I continue to be?

How can I get over the trust issues?  Although I sincerely believe, or at least hope, that it was not community members who did this thing, it is impossible to believe that absolutely no one in the community was aware of what was going on.  At least two adults, probably a couple, stayed at my home for more than just a day and night or two.  They removed enough stuff that they had to leave with a car full of swag.  Even if they were from another community and passing through, they had to have been visiting someone and someone had to know where they were staying.

Apart from this, how am I going to cope without the comfort and satisfaction of my favourite knives and cooking utensils, and those personal things; knickknacks and memorabilia that made the place home, and reminded me who I am, where I have been and the things I have done.  If I go to the expense and trouble of replacing even only the essential things how can I feel secure enough to leave my home for a weekend or a week away?

Judas Thaddeus only knows.  Add a spot of anxiety to my depression diagnosis.

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Things, Only Things.

While I was in Darwin, people broke into my house again.  Despite the massive bolt and lock I put on the door.   I got back to Halls Creek on Sunday morning, which is when I learned of it.  The road had been opened on Friday so I drove straight down to take a look.  The police had resecured the door, but really they need not have bothered.  I was devastated to find that everything of value or of significance to me was gone, or destroyed.

Everything.  My valuables, my artefacts, my documents, my kitchen stuff, food, tools, whatever.  Gone.  What was not taken was wantonly destroyed.  They stabbed holes in my bodhran, they smashed my laptops, trampled any books, cds and DVDs they did not take. They pissed on my clothes and desecrated the bed.  They wrote on the wall but not in ink.

I truly could not handle it.  Once I found my most precious things were not there, I did a perfunctory check of the rest and realised I could not cope and I could not stay.

I did not stay. I just locked the door again and left.  I am back in the SPQ.

I tell myself it is all just things, only things.

But I am grieved and angry.

That is why I wrote the Prozac song.  Humour is my coping mechanism.  Even so, I took a double dose today.


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