Sitrep 1, 2018

Once again I am lucky enough to have a doctor who gets the way I am.  She has doubled my meds so the chronic pain is well managed, and the depression is mostly managed. Mostly.

I have a swollen liver, failing kidneys that may need replacing in a couple of years, grating knees, a partly disable left arm, chronic pain from spondylitis or spondylosis or whatever of the spine , and fuck knows what’s wrong with my head.   My left ear rattles with loud noises, since I popped an eardrum last year.

On the other hand I have a job that is not too badly affected by my mobility problems, in a remote community where no one cares if I shift my hours about to suit myself. I have employers who accept the way I work.  I could consider myself lucky.  I should consider myself lucky.

I turned 66 last week and I just need to stick it out a while more so I have enough saved to retire and go home, except I have no home to go to.  All I can think about is a small boat and a cabin somewhere near the sea back in New Zealand.

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Cathedral Cove, Coromandel

 

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All Quiet on the Westinghouse Front

For a few days I was plagued by a periodic beep in the kitchen area.  It was driving me mad.

Madder.

The voices were suggesting that if it did not stop I should burn the house down.

After three days of beeps every fifteen minutes or so, it was a tempting proposition.

At first I thought someone had planted one of those annoying intermittent beepatrons that are available from ThinkGeek for a modest sum.  The only suspect of such a heinous act assured me not.  He had lost his.  He sounded genuine but could I believe him?

After positioning myself at various locations around the room and patiently waiting for the next beep,  by triangulation I thought I had determined the source.  I was sure it was coming from inside the “smart” refrigerator.  Or from somewhere very near it.

I searched the refrigerator inside and out and at first found nothing untoward.

Then a deeper, more exhaustive probe at last revealed a clue.

A pack of Xmas mince pies had slipped out the back of the dairy compartment. The air circulation from the freezer to the refrigeration compartment was blocked.  The vent had iced up.  The poor machine was trying to tell me it could not breathe.   Pies removed.  One eaten. Vent cleared of ice.  A tense wait for the next beep.  Another mince pie eaten.  The tension was palpable now.  The minutes ticked by.   Yet another mince pie.  Then one more. The pies were all gone now. Only the foil dishes and the cardboard outer with its clear window gave evidence they ever existed.  The voices were hushed.  Expectant.

Suddenly, nothing happened.

Sorted.

I told the fridge that if it could beep, it could also give some indication of what the problem was on its display panel.  It remained silent.  It had nothing further to say.

The voices laughed and said they had known what the problem was all along.  They just wanted to see if I would actually burn down the house.

If I could figure out how to leave them inside, I would.

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Caer Ibormeith

I suffer a serious case of sleep apnoea. The treatment is to sleep with the aid of a CPAP machine.  I love my CPAP.  I have named her Caer Ibormeith (Kyr-or Keer-Eebormay) because after I had suffered months of bad sleep and horrendous nightmares caused by the apnoea , she breathed into my nostrils the gentlest of rest and the sweetest of dreams.  She transformed my life.

Caer Ibormeith, daughter of Ethal Anbuail of the Tuatha de Danann, lived in Sidhe Uamuin in Connacht.  Caer was known as “Shapely Yew Berry” or “Yew Berry”. She was a shapeshifting goddess who spent part of the year as a  woman and part as a swan.

Accompanied by 150 handmaids and servants, she underwent a transformation every year on Samhain, a liminal time when the veil between the worlds is thinnest.

Caer Ibormeith was an independent woman of the old way.   She had the right as all women did then, to choose her own man.   The man she chose was Aengus Óg, son of the Goddess Bóann of Brugh na Bóinne (Newgrange ) and The Dagdha, father of the Tuatha de Danann.

When Aengus lay sleeping one night he was visited by a beautiful young woman who sang to him and called his name.   When he woke he knew he was in love, but he did not know with whom, or what to do about it.   He told no one about it for a whole year during which every night the maiden visited Aengus in his dreams.  She sang and played sweet music.  Aengus lost his appetite and fell ill.  He wanted only to return to sleep to be with his mysterious love in the world of dream.

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A physician was called.  He divined the cause of Aengus’ illness and told Bóann, Aengus’s mother, to find the young woman of Aengus’ dreams.  Bóann searched for a year but to no avail.  Then they asked his father, the Dagdha, for help. For another year he searched with no result.

The Dagdha then asked Aengus’ brother, Bodb, king of the Sídhe of Munster to seek the maiden.   After a year Bodb returned to report he had found a woman who fitted the description Aengus had given.  He took Aengus to a lake where, just as beautiful as Aengus had dreamed, she was bathing on the shore with one hundred and fifty maidens, who were her servants and handmaids.  She was Caer Ibormeith, the daughter of Ethal Anbuail, a Faery King.

With the support of Medb and Aillil, whose territory was Connaught where Caer’s sidhe was located, they visited Caer’s father, Ethal Anbuail, and requested the hand of his daughter in marriage for Aengus.  He told them he could not grant such a favour.  Caer was her own woman and her power was greater than his own.  He offered to help, however, and confided that Caer would change in shape from woman to swan every Samhain.  If Aengus wished to win her he must be at the Loch Bél Dracon on the morning of Samhain and call to her by name.  If he could recognize Caer among her swan companions and call to her she might come to him of her own free will.  Whether she answered at all would be up to her entirely.

Aengus went.  He found 150 swans swimming along the shore of the lake, all with silver chains around their necks. They gathered around him.   He despaired of recognising Caer amongst them all.  As he was about to give up and turn away, he spied one swan with a gold chain.  She seemed more regal and graceful than the others.  He called to her by name; “Caer Ibormeith”.  The swan swam to the shore and before him transformed into the beautiful woman of his dream, wrapped in a cloak of snow white feathers.  She reproached him and asked why it had taken him three years to answer her call.   

(I really love this bit – I can just see this beautiful woman asking “What took you so long?”)

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Aengus replied he had become confused and lost when he was not with her in his dreams.  He asked her to come with him and be his wife.   She said she would agree if he swore to allow her to return to the water at her will.  To show he agreed wholeheartedly, he became a swan himself and joined her in the water.   Caer and Aengus embraced in swan style, entwining their necks around each other, and swam around the lake three times singing a  love song of such sweet transcendent beauty that it cast an enchanted sleep, lasting three days and three nights, onto all who heard it.   

After their honeymoon, they became human and returned to Aengus’ home at NewGrange, where they lived together in love and joy, half a year in human form, and half as swans.

I do love “Happy Ever After” stories.

In mythology, Aengus came to personify Love, Youth and Poetic Inspiration, his wife Caer Ibormeith the Goddess of Sleep, Dreams and Prophecy.

When the new tribes arrived in Ireland it is said the old Gods and Goddesses became the Faery Kings and Queens and retreated to underground mounds called sidhes.

Swans in Celtic mythology, are associated with love, purity, the soul, and music.

Swans are often linked with a goddess and will wear a gold or silver chain around their neck.  Swans of Samhain are said to act as guides to the Otherworld.

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A chance reference regarding Tolkien made me believe that Goldberry, wife of Tom Bombadil, may have been modelled on Caer Ibormeith or Yew Berry.

Justin Noetzel wrote a  paper “Beorn and Tom Bombadil: Mythology, Narrative, and The Most (Non) Essential Characters in Middle-earth”. In it, Noetzel suggests an association of Tom Bombadil with the Celtic Otherworld and tales of the Tuatha Dé Danann.  This is an interesting proposition because I read somewhere that Tolkien disavowed any Celtic origins to his tale.  This despite the fact there may be a Celtic association at least in that the name “Gollum” was inspired by a place he visited in the Burren, County Clare, Ireland; Poll na gColm (pronounced Pole na Gollum) “cave of the rock dove”.

In The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Tolkien describes Goldberry as the seasonal changes in nature, and Tom Bombadil as the spirit of the (vanishing) Oxford and Berkshire countryside.

I have a feeling that Goldberry and Yew Berry are at least related.  Both are associated with water, and both had beautiful singing voices.  Goldberry’s voice was “as young and as ancient as spring, like the song of a glad water flowing down into the night from a bright morning in the hills.”

Odd too that Bombadil was the embodiment of song and music, and Aengus of poetic inspiration.

Bombadil and Goldberry represent the ancient water/land –  feminine/masculine principles and so, it seems, do Caer Ibormeith and Aengus.

Just musing…

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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Leftovers

Ham yesterday, ham today. And blimey, if it don’t look like ham again termorrer…

 

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PAUL RAYMOND GREGORY (born 1949)
Mutton yesterday mutton today, and blimey, if it don’t look like mutton again tomorrer (United Kingdom, 2008)
Not that I really mind.  A  $34 half ham leg is really a good investment comparing the prices of other meats.  A single chap like me can enjoy ham and eggs for breakfast and ham sandwiches for lunch for a fortnight.   Then there is the bones and rind to make pea and ham soup.

Janus and Ourobouros

The old, the new, and the same old same old.  It is that time of year again.  Time to look back, time to look forward, and time to reflect that in the long run nothing really changes except our age and, with a bit of luck, our outlook.

My facebook header and profile pictures currently reflect that attitude.

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This time last year I had already been burgled once, and was about to be burgled again.  The year since has not been one of great achievement for me, party due to circumstances and partly due to my response to the circumstances.  The coming year will see renewed effort in my current chosen profession and I hope to see some progress that I may, perhaps, be able to point to eventually with pride.  I have also pretty much come to the conclusion this will be my last working year.  Age and disability gradually encroach on my good intentions and ability.  I increasingly feel a need to return to the country I know and love best. And I want to be idle.  My own man to pursue whatever whim I may have. And can afford.

In the meantime I have a new camera to master.  The new Sony RX10 Mark IV  has arrived and it is a technical marvel.  There is an excellent review of it here.  It makes me realise that I should never have strayed from the brand, even for the Nikon.  Over the last year my Nikon photos got worse and worse but until I replaced my glasses late this year with a new pair I could not see how bad they had become.  The Nikon’s focus is badly out of calibration, something I put down to rough travel through the Kimberley.  I now have a nice padded Pelican case to keep my cameras secure and safe.

I am learning to drive the Sony step by step.  But I am mostly still in auto point-and-shoot mode. Even so, it does better than one might expect.    I bought it on recommendation of a Canadian bird watcher, photographer and blogger friend.  He warned me there would be a learning curve.  It is a sophisticated toy with a lot of features to master.  One thing it cannot do however, is infra red photography using the nightshot mode feature and IR filters which I enjoyed playing with using my old Sony 717 and 828.  I may resurrect my ancient 828 and dedicate it to that purpose if I can get the batteries to hold a charge.

I am also keen to investigate HDR more, using the real technique of bracketed exposures rather than the ersatz method of software manipulation.

So here I am in Halls Creek, house and dog sitting with a month of idle time that I must try to use creatively.  With five cameras at my disposal, counting the drone,  I hope to produce a few images worth looking at.  Here are a few practice shots;

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Wide angle shot with the Sony. The circle shows the location of the next.
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Shot at full 600ml Telephoto (cropped).
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Another full tele shot. 

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Lainie, the girl I am babysitting.  She has a broken leg.  

 

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The local Bowerbird in a Poinciana tree. 

And finally, a belated greetings card to everyone. Not my photo, but the same bird as above, at his home (via FaceBook).

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Bowerbird Christmas Greetings. Photo Credit: Debbie Dicks.  

Matauri Bay

I shall pack up and leave here, move to Matauri Bay,
A cottage I shall take there, sufficient for my need
Kumara I shall grow there, fed with flotsam seaweed,
And I shall live alone there, and while my time away.

And I shall look for peace there, and take my medication,
Wander to the beach and look for shells along the shore;
Beneath pohutukawas; reveries and meditation,
In the evenings I shall read all of the books I loved before.

I will pack up and leave here, it’s time to move away
I miss the bellbirds’ chorus and the singing of the sea;
I’ll exchange the spinifex and red dust in my grey,
For a small boat; to feel the ocean rocking under me.

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This is not Matauri Bay. This is a tribute.  That’s Dave.  

©ARF

Yep. It’s derivative.  Intentionally so.