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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Lore

It is Lore time.  Or Law time as some will have it.  The time when aboriginal boys become men.  The time for initiation rites.  I was away last year at this time, on leave, then trapped in Halls Creek by the weather.  This year I plan to be trapped here.

There are a lot of new faces in the community, all male.  The women and girls are making themselves scarce.  They are packing up and heading to visit relatives in Halls Creek, or in Warmun or Kununurra, centres where no Lore is practised.  Those remaining stay mostly at home.  There do not seem to be many children about either.

We gardia keep to ourselves and don’t stray near the men’s areas.

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Lonely Places

“Seek lonely places and be still, listening, hearing the songs and cries of the winged ones, the sounds of the four-leggeds, and the cries of the insect people; feeling the breath and touch of the earth, of leaves, of bark; for all have messages for you… “

Sees-Beyond-The-Lightning, of the Sioux.

 

This year I am going to find out what a night out camping in a lonely place can do for the young ones.

Heading Back

I’m heading back to Bili in the morning.  I’ve had enough of this metropolitan life.  I have stocked up on food and I am ready for the Wet.  This year I plan to be trapped at home by the weather, not away from it.  There has already been an attempt to get into my donga.  Unsuccessful, but I’m not taking any chances.  I will spend my last week of leave at “home” then get back to work.

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.  

Outback Kites

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Before I took my leave of Bililuna for the holidays, I left the youngsters with a kite each.  These are inexpensive kitset kites made of “indestructible” Tyvek paper with fibreglass and carbon rods.  They come as kitsets with blank white sails that are suitable for decorating with paint or permanent marker pens.   They are remarkably easy to fly.

One afternoon we had an art session and the kids all decorated their kite sails.   Then I assembled the kites for them.  That kept me pretty busy because they could decorate a lot faster than I could assemble.  I insisted they fly the kites out on the oval well away from any power lines and trees.  We finally got about 25 kites out flying, but I was kept so busy assembling and then repairing some that I never got a chance to watch or take a photo before the sun set.  So thanks to Joe Makisi for these pictures.

I asked my kids if they had ever flown a kite before.  They told me that they had not even seen one.  These may be the very first kites to fly over Bililuna.

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Holiday Happy

Here I am in Halls Creek, just as last year, minding a friends house and Lani the dog again.  The poor thing has a broken leg and is limping around in a cast.  She is a sweet and affectionate girl and follows me wherever I go.  So I try to sit still a lot and scratch behind her ears.

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My own dog, Zeus, I left behind in Bililuna.  The neighbours were sorry when they heard I would be away for a month and was taking Zeus with me.  He is a good guard dog and his barking alerts them when someone is prowling around.  And there has been quite a bit of prowling lately.  Several break-ins over the last few weeks.  I have to admit I was worried about leaving the donga again, remembering always what happened while I was away last year.  Even with the cage, three padlocks and three deadbolts I am still a little paranoid someone will break in.  So I suggested that maybe they would like to keep Zeus with them.  I was happy they enthusiastically agreed.  Joe emailed me the other day to tell me Zeus has adapted to being with them without any fuss or bother, and that he had awoken Joe at 2AM the other morning to tell him someone was outside.  So Joe is happy too.  I am just hoping that Zeus’ range of observation extends across the road to my place.

It might have been problematic had I brought him up to Halls Creek with me anyway, so I guess things have worked out well.

For Christmas this year I have invested in new camera gear for myself.  I replaced the Olympus Tough that was stolen last year, with the latest model and I have already found it is a big improvement on the one I had, while still being submersible, rugged, and sand proof.  It is capable of taking some pretty amazingly sharp macro photographs.

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For the long range nature photography I ordered myself a new Sony Cybershot DSC-RX10 Mark IV 20MP Digital Camera. This will be my fourth Sony camera.  They have never disappointed me and I am told by a knowledgeable expert friend that I will not be disappointed this time.  I am hoping it will arrive in the coming week.

In the meantime I am just chillin’.  Sleeping in, having a quiet time.

I found a little visitor in the dog’s water bowl yesterday.  I rescued him, took a few photos and let hi go in the pot plant area.  Lani the dog was quite cool with it.  So I hope it is safe.  It is a Little Red Tree Frog.  Litoria rubella.  Which I now realise was the same species that I found accompanying the Green Tree Frog in the shower at the SPQ some time back.

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