Saturday, August 28, 2010

Those small perspective moments

There's been a bit of conflict about lately.  One thing I can say is that how I respond these days is truly a far cry from my habitual set of responses of only a few years ago - and that's a good thing.

I'm not sure what meaning there is for me in this recent upswing of conflict scenarios, and I'm not sure that it's important to work it out either; but I am listening and as always, cleaning.  In each situation my peacemaking effort has been quite different, ranging from a simple apology for my part in the conflict, to scribing a treatise on group healing and freedom of speech.  The unifying theme though is my witnessing others' distress, while remaining relatively unruffled emotionally myself.  Where once I may have judged others badly for their seemingly uncontrolled outbursts, I find myself detached from such thoughts, and feel far less a hypocrite for that.  More whole, is what I'm saying.  Not better than others, no no, just different from how I used to be.

There has been some unpleasantness in an online group I frequent and feel special closeness to, because it's a great community of people.  A small issue has been blown up into a large one through clumsy communication and lack of attention to ensuring one's written words convey adequate respect while disagreement is taking place.  Censorship and active 'moderation' have all been effectively threatened.  Happily though, lots and lots of members just carry on with other topics of conversation as if there is no problem.  I love that this choosing to ignore the problem is happening at the same time as others (like me) are more actively addressing the issue.

And if a wake-up call were needed by some about the relative smallness of our quibbles, this happens:

I see a new post from a regular member not heard from for a week or so, just headed "read please and pray for me" and a link to a news article.  It's about a house fire.  Three people died.  One survived.  Our online friend just lost all her family in a terrible, sudden accident, and was badly injured herself, it seems.

Yet still, having one's feeling hurt by another's careless outburst, retaliating, people leaving groups in disgust, moderators threatening censorship.....these things remain important too.

It never ceases to amaze me just how much we create our worldview by what we choose to look at.

A little while back in an email conversation a friend wrote something about them really hating the way we are governed presently, to which I was poetically moved to reply "Hate the government?  Might as well hate the sky."  Not meaning to be flippant, just pointing out that they are two things that currently exist, and hatred is something we choose, and choose to ascribe, not something inescapable and beyond our influence.

It's too trite to say "see, there's someone with much bigger things going on so get over yourself" but really, let's just get a handle on the perspective.  When I am having some issue with being Mr Tubefeeding Guy, I just make sure my next feed gets dedicated to those who really can't eat - because they have no food.

Just sharing, is all.  And of course I'll help her in whatever way I can.  I'm sure the community is already taking great care of the family dog, whose name I do not know, but who survived too.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Things I want right now #5

I've mentioned previously in this series the odd triggers that can cause these craving moments.  Just now I was standing with my back leaning against the kitchen sink, holding my wife's hand in a moment of contented coupledom, idly wondering also whether I should clean the stovetop soon, as my eye wandered down to the stove knobs, and the one in the middle, marked "Grill".

I have never used the grill in this oven, as I was not eating when we moved here.  I wondered whether it was a self-igniter (it's a gas stove, with a 'clicker') or if the igniter only worked for the oven.  Then suddenly, I imagined myself pulling out the tray to reveal hot, sizzling...

Grilled cheese and onion with jalapenos (pickled, sliced) and a slice of tomato on crusty white bread.

Mm.  That is all.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Election Result Forecast; predicted with uncanny accuracy.

The outcome of tomorrow's Federal election in Australia in a very real sense simply does not matter.  What does matter, deeply, is what we all choose to do with that outcome.  So just skip to the bottom if you only want my prediction, but if you're interested in the why of it, and the future of my (your?) country, and how it reflects the future of the world, read on.....

Maybe it seems a tad disingenuous to suggest that the institution of participatory democracy wherein we decide by majority who shall lead our nation is not so relevant to our lives - because it can be, and the very fact we are blessed with some way of exercising individual choice, however corralled and fettered, is nice - but in this particular case, it's really not such a major issue.  I'll try and explain.

More than at any time I can recall, this campaign and the commentary thereon has been hyper-focussed on the process of campaigning and electioneering itself, rather than on the more traditional Western notions of leadership, vision, and appeals to our better natures and genuinely shared values.  Interestingly, the one party to attempt this to any great extent has suffered a seeming conspiracy by the two majors and their friends in the media to stifle and suppress their presence to the largest extent possible.  So in the absence of all but the merest whiffs of future policy positives to differentiate the main combatants, the whole thing has been like watching two opposition parties in action, and has relied most heavily on the negative meme-warfare that has been so widely commented upon.

Where else do we see this sort of rampant labelism?

Speaking of memes, a well-worn and now venerable one is that in many ways "Australia lags 5 or 10 years behind the USA." Stereotypes, as they say, save time, as does an axiom like this one, which I happen to find has much truth in it; although perhaps the time lag is shortening of late.  Note that I say "much truth", not "complete blanket certitude".

It's been a process going on for a long time, but following the G W Bush years, the horrors of '9/11', a couple of disastrous military excursions, and the almost awe-inspiring almost-implosion of the world financial balloon, the accession of Barack Obama to The Holy Throne of the Freedom Loving People's Republic has seen a tremendous tipping point reached in terms of how the USA talks to itself and thus how it then relates to the world.  US politics has always had a bumper-sticker quality to it, but with the great crash of the Republican party, the subsequent splits that have occurred within it, and the newly widespread questioning of the supremacy of life under an unregulated free market system, there has been a massive shift into the meme market.  To quote Roger Ebert, "Why do you need facts if you have catchy memes?"

In his recent blog post Ten Things I Know About The Mosque he opines that "Someone on the right is an Anonymous genius at creating memes." And goes to to point out that Sarah Palin seems to be floating a lot of them - Death Panels, Ground Zero Mosque, 9/11 Mosque, Terror Babies and so on.  Interestingly, Twitter  seems a first-choice medium for launching these little nuggety bites that become the cud for talkfests over all forms of media in the days thereafter, and they're scrupulously planned.  I don't think Ms Palin is doing her own tweeting all the time, at least not since "Refudiate-gate" anyway, as the below tweets on the Laura Shlessinger brouhaha, within a minute of each other, would suggest.

All the great issues in the US since Obama's election have been increasingly boiled down to mini-messages by the conservative side especially, but not forgetting that POTUS himself is quite the master of the game.  Oh Yes He Is.

So here we've had Moving Forward and Standing Up For Real Action.  Nothing unusual in lame slogans though.  The Liberals' four-point Action Contract is as precise as you can get without saying anything about how you would run a country if elected.  It's just a dot-point collection of vagaries about what they hope to stop from happening.  Labor is scarcely better.

There might be a feedback loop in play here.  The public and the media, stymied and starved of any policy or leadership grist have increasingly bought into the short-message syndrome.  Boat people. Stop The Waste. Big New Tax On Everything. Budgie Smugglers.  Pay Back The Debt.  Work Choices - Jerk Choices, even. Sustainable Population.  Political Assassination.  Faceless Men Of Labor.  Ranga.  Mr Rabbit.  We could go on and on as there's a new one or two every day to satisfy the 24/7 news cycle.  This has been harnessed by either side to attempt to perhaps exhaust the opposition but moreover to keep the focus as squarely as possible away from the deep issues that everyone knows are the real ones, the right ones, the ones we need to face but would really rather not thanks very much if it's all the same to you because down that way lies some not-so-nice home truths about how we are behaving and where we really find ourselves in this world.  Because for either side to embrace the ugly truths is electoral suicide.  They have each done a fair job of applying the anodyne ointment to the few pesky souls like the annoying Dick Smith insisting with the weight of all his dollars that we listen to his blatherings about population, thereby opening a genuinely gaping sore in our sense of security about the future and forcing us to confront our morals head-on.

But clearly, we're not quite ready to get real about our shared hearts just yet.

Last election, I recall having a chat with a work colleague - a mature, intelligent and very respected woman with a great and level head on her shoulders, and a good heart to boot - who said that she "liked Kevin Rudd, but I'm really not sure about voting for him because I worry about what he'll do to interest rates...."  She'd bought the fear campaign sold by the Howard spin dudes, with the supremely subversive assertion embedded that Prime Ministers control all the levers of the economy and are personally responsible for ensuring that rates do not increase.  Because the Liberals had of course done their level best to grow the economy by creating ideal conditions for a massive housing bubble, and it worked rather nicely.  Except that bubbles...well....

So the meme game is far from new, true, and we none of us are entirely immune to the effects of the advertising professionals.  How apt that the best and highest-rating TV commentary on the election is Gruen Nation, a show focussing entirely on the advertising.  Even the most democratic of fora, Q&A, has been unable to stay completely above the mire of the scripted sword-and-shield duo of one-liner barbs and deflections.  People have bought in more than I have ever known them to.

A major change is that this year Twitter and to a lesser extent Facebook (and other forms of tech-enabled instant forum) have left their cosy dens of denizens and initiates for the small screen mainstream of everyone's lounge rooms and in the absence of substance the short-message-stream has become the entire conversation.

What I'm wondering is are we heading rapidly into the sort of labelistic partisan politics we're seeing in the USA where ideology is used as a weapon, where fear of ostracism runs rife, and where the hackneyed rhetoric of timeworn ideological divide is the substitute for genuine thought and the quest for a new, better way?

I know I'm being overly harsh and generalistic, but I'm willing to bet that there is a substantial number of Americans who would say otherwise.

I have complete faith that it will work out just fine though.

Maybe the twitspeak we now enjoy as a substitute for exploratory discourse will bring us closer to a succinct summation of what we all know is right and true.  Perhaps it will lead us into the damned cul-de-sac of blind self-interest and individualist narcissism that is the hallmark of much of the so-called social media experience.  But then again perhaps this would be a good thing too, for Narcissus always has the chance to thusly come to his senses.

My feeling is that whatever the outcome of this election, the real test comes afterwards, not just for the politicians, but for us.  We have invented and nurtured a dumbed-down discourse about how we want to live as a group and in how we want our group to fit in with the others on this so-far stoic planet.  I believe that this is out of fear of the truth, which we all know deeply inside ourselves.

We can go one of two ways, and this applies to our brethren in the States and elsewhere too.  We can take whatever vicissitudes we heap upon ourselves through our elected leadership and use them as fuel to agitate amongst ourselves and drag the deeper truths inside us out into the light of day and start, each one of us, to refuse to countenance dumbspeak; to insist that we need to face the future with a bright mind, a strong back and a soft heart, and to start to find new and better ways of doing it together.  Or, we could just go on like this, increasingly embracing the message as being the meaning, believing that the system is to blame or that it's all going to turn to shit anyway so let's get down and burn some oil while we still can.

Either way though, the outcome will be the same.  We'll get by, some of us.  There will be survivors, and there will come a time that is more harmonious and fulfilling to all our needs and aspirations than now.  The difference is whether we need more pain and suffering and damage and degradation - whether we need the nightmare to get much worse - to wake us up as a nation or a species; or whether we can just pull a little more firmly in the direction our true hearts lie, talking compassionately to our equally-flawed neighbour, and helping each other through the hard bits.

Tipping point ahead, I reckon.  And I no longer reckon we're that far behind the States in this way.

My prediction for the 2010 Federal Election?

We'll get exactly the government we need to have.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010 I bought a new rhinoceros.

WARNING: Forecasted graphic complaining, bitching and moaning with possible SHOUTING, swears and profanity.

In case you've wondered why I've not been writing much of late, there are some reasons.  Firstly though thanks to those who have inquired through various channels.  Meeta - staunch, loving, perseverant and awesome though she is - is not a fair channel to pour forth the bilious rot I seemingly need to expunge in a wordy way to regain my equilibrium, so I'll just park it here, if you don't mind.  Good thing you can choose to not read it, yes?

Okay, the reasons.

Mainly it comes down to mood, as with all things in life, and everything else is just detail - a symptom, if you will.  I'll try and explore how this whole banana came to pass.

A number of new things have popped up for me.  I've started taking 'tissue salts', homoeopathic preparations in the fashion of Dr Schuessler, on the recommendation of my Bowen Technique person.  Apparently I'm so medically 'interesting' that the local tissue salt expert person wanted to work with me for free, in consultation with the big guru of the modality Over East (as we say here).  OK, all good, what's to lose.  I have a decent understanding of how homoeopathic stuff works and have seen - yet not personally experienced myself - some great things.  But I have this enormous resistance.  This is a problem for me as I cannot find a way to clean it away, yet do not trust that this resistance is a guiding Insight rather than just some hideous mental memory-noise there from self-sabotages learned in the past.  It is seriously giving me the shits.

The other really shit parts of it are that my life is already run too much by clockwork to work around my less-than-ideal digestive system.  I have to coddle it along with 5 feeds a day, three of which have their own medicinal supplementation rigmarole, to get enough nutrition and caloric value in to me to maintain weight.  If I miss my timing by half an hour or so then I'm getting all shaky and hungry, but if I feed too early I get all backed up and refluxy.  So now, I have 2 tissue salts that I have to dissolve, separately, and hold under my tongue, separately, 5 times a day before each feed, 3 more to do the same with 3 times a day and another after three feeds each day.  I can't just do it like normal folks either (dissolve under tongue then swallow) because of my freaking specialness, no, I have to dissolve each one in a little plastic cup, tip into mouth, remember not to breath it in, hold there, spit out, repeat....aaach.  I'm spending frigging hours on this crap, and always seem to be dicking about with water, containers, medicines, washing stuff, storing stuff....and there's fuck-all time left in between to do anything meaningfully large.

Because everything else takes an enormous amount of time to do compared with more ordinarily-embodied humans.

See, this is what happens when you tip over the camel-back-straw edge; all the other stuff you were nicely enough adapted to and dealing with gets all big and in your face with its comparative shittiness too.  It's been the case for years now that I can barely dress myself, but that's been OK, I just have tricky ways and means and take my time with it.  But now I'm feeling like C-3PO trying to zip into a fitted-bodice ballgown just changing my trousers to do something in the garden.

And to date, there is no change at all with the tissue salts.  I am getting no sense of 'rightness' or confidence in the whole shebang, and as I intimated, I just can't tell if I'm getting in my own way or hearing true wisdom on this one.  And to make this extra-funny, the last few days I've been inspired on various fora and other online places to suggest to others that "they know the answer to their question, and knew it the moment it was raised" and they've all responded with affirmation and closure.  Pfft.  The noise in here is so bad I even had tinnitus for a few minutes the other day.

But I have to admit, there's a big loud chunky part of me that has not wanted it to be any other way.  So, you know, like, sorry everyone.

Then I joined up on Twitter.  Yes, I know I said I would never, but I also said never say never say never.  Long story but it boils down to seeking some newness in my life, in combination with reality-checking this part of the zeitgeist.  I discovered some good stuff, true, like micro-poetry and entertaining things.......but it really just isn't me.  To properly engage and get the benefit of a discerning, rewarding twit-stream you really have to devote a lot of time and tweeting to a) searching out those sorts of tweeps you want to invite into your reading space - and deleting out those you don't - but the real rub is b) to feel like you are engaging with anyone at all and not feel like you're just a voice howling in the darkness hoping someone else is there you actually have to tweet away blindly, promoting yourself in effect, and almost sycophantically retweeting others' stuff and replying to their tweets in the hope that they may notice you, follow you, and you can have a conversation.  It really sucks if you aren't the sort of person who sees social intercourse as necessarily competitive.  Because Twitter, unless treated solely as an instant-news, read-only source, very much is.

So that made me rather two-dimensionally focussed for a few days and coincided with my mood crashing properly.  To be fair, I did rediscover my joy in making something very succinct (unlike this post), and I shall carry that with me moving forward.

Oh, yes, the election.  I know I said I'd given up, and would do my best to watch as if it was just a passing parade, but I have not been able to sufficiently turn away, as whatever the outcome is, it will be a significant turning point for us in Oz.

Look, hang on will you, for a little while?  I have to go and do the tissue salt/feed thing now.  Sorry.  Fuck.

(thumps off to kitchen)

Back now.  Sorry.

Right, the election.  Here's the thing.  I'm having a pretty hard time forgiving myself for creating a world in which this travesty is taking place.  This is the greatest dumbing-down show I have ever witnessed in this country, and it's coming close to out-dumbing Sarah Palin's campaign last time round in the states.  At least you could laugh at her.  When I see some 'ordinary voter's' face on TV mouthing off about how "the boat people issue is a big one for know, we should be looking after our own first, and they should be made to come here have to have law and order....they're swamping us and taking Australian's jobs" or some such arrant nonsense bereft of all fact, relevance or perspective I just want to do some punching.  It's not like the facts aren't there, available, for all to see, on all the issues, but the bumper-sticker meme, lowest-common-denominator, marginal-seat swinging-voter mentality, fully bought into by most of the mainstream media in their Stockholm Syndrome thrall to the story are seemingly carrying the day if the polls can be believed at all.  But I shall post on all this anon.  Suffice to say I'm disappointed, annoyed, and frustrated.  Last night I found myself quietly wishing for Tony Abbot to effectively win in a hung parliament with Bob Katter holding the balance of power and the Greens able to control the senate from next July.  Because that's exactly what all the dipshit sleepers and wilfully ignorant affluenza-infected mortgage slaves and ideologically vacant opinion mouthers desperate to belong to some camp or other deserve for a government.

But I don't.  And yet thus have I created my reality also.


I just can't seem to sustain the philosophical and spiritual equanimity the situation truly requires right now.

As well as all this, I've noticed a few little deteriorations body-wise.  Mainly in my hands, which is deeply disturbing for my sense of the future.  Typing, you see, is a mainstay of my communication abilities (communicability?).  The talking thing is more extreme, which is OK, except when it isn't.  By this I mean when I can talk, it's actually slightly improved on where my average was a few months back (yay!) but when I can't, I really can't, and the switch gets thrown BAM just like that.  So I never know what's going to come out of my mouth - or not.

When you've got these sorts of moods on, everything else tends to turn shitwards too, doesn't it?  I see myself setting myself up for future shitfalls, and carry on anyway.  For example the other day we needed to move our 'second' car which hardly ever gets used now (waiting the right moment to sell her) and amazingly it started, the battery was not flat. I knew the thing to do would be to take her for a run to charge things up but I thought "no, she started now, chance are she will again, and I'm already feeling burdened enough by shoulds, so I'll just 'relax' about that and let it go" and even as I had the thought, the background voice is going "you're bullshitting know what'll happen...."

Today I thought it would be good to sort the car parking out, and take Shazza (that's the second car) downtown to do the chores I couldn't do on the first trip because of the genius sales person standing in for an engineer who designed our printer so that when any of the colour cartridges runs out you can't print anything (like even just with the 'black ink only' function) without changing the empty cartridge, and who then made it so that when the print heads need cleaning you have to run a nozzle check first which can't happen if any of the cartridges are too low (yet not empty) requiring those to be changed as well.......and naturally the battery was - and remains to this moment - flat.  With the car parked really inconveniently.  And the battery secured properly (because I'm Mr Frigging Safety Trousers like that), which means ages with spanners and dicking around with my stupid hands to get it out and charge it because even if we did have jumper leads there's no way in hell they'd reach where she's parked and we have no outdoor power point (genius design strikes again!) and it's simply not feasible to run a cord all the way out to the car.  Sigh.

Took the other car, did the chore, also went to drop in to the big toy store because I wanted some pop sticks (we call them "Paddle Pop sticks" in Oz) to use as seedling markers.  Couldn't see any anywhere.  But I did see this awesome rhinoceros.

I love rhinos.  We have all sorts of animal totems about the place, with maybe 20 or 30 images and sculptures of birds alone, horses, elephants, cows....and the odd rhino.  But this little plastic Schleich guy just had this look that said "you need me on your desk.  Rhino energy and a massively ranting, unselfconscious blog post will sort you out" so I picked him up.  Soul Patch Dufus guy sidled up to the counter in a 20-ish friendly way and asked if he could help so I asked:
"Do you have any Paddle Pop sticks?"
"Um, 'do we have scissors'?"
"No, Paddle. Pop. Sticks" making a completely unambiguous (or not) hand gesture for 'paddle pop sticks'.
"Um..." Soul Patch reverse direction sideways and reaches below the counter, hand hesitating, fingering the scissors....glances up at resigned, slightly embarrassed me....hesitates some more....and retrieves a pad and pen (oh great!  Now I get to try WRITING!), and smilingly, tryingly, wanting-to-pleasingly proffers it.  I hold a pen like a kindergartener who refuses instruction these days.  If I could stick my tongue out the corner of my mouth I'd do that too.  I manage a legible-enough PADDLE POP STICKS.
"Paddle Pop Sticks?" he queries, just to make sure.
And eventually we got there.  I now have 1000 of the suckers.  It was the smallest bag.  Hidden on the floor beneath a shelf unit.  Soul Patch felt really pleased with himself (I could tell) for so assuredly, sensitively, non-fussedly and effciently navigating the disability issue.  He's having a good day.

The rhino was right.  It is a female, I see (Schleich are very correct like that).  Perhaps I shall name her.  Suggestions?

I feel betterer now.  Thank you for bearing witness, and for whatever cleaning you are willing and able to do.  I hope you enjoyed it a bit.

Normal transmission will be resumed shortly.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I saw her standing there....

In this, my 100th post here, I thought I'd share a great blessing in my life.  It's sort of long.  There are no pictures.  It's worth it.

Sometimes in your journey through the world you're blessed with great friendships, and they say that if you find just one, you've had a life well lived.  I feel blessed to have had (indeed still have) a few. 

Sometimes you know you've made a friend, but you never really know what the future holds.

Sometimes you get hints along the way, and sometimes you actually pay attention.

So I shall tell a story of making a friend.  Let's travel back in time together......

When I was in my late teens I had no real aims.  I'd shifted from one side of the country to another, so whatever social and friendship roots I had put down in my school years were pretty effectively kaput.  I did what all folks with no clue but reasonable marks did and enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Western Australia.  It didn't last long, what with me only being there by default, but I met a girl, dropped out, had some adventures 'Down South' as they say here; which is to say getting all foresty, 'alternative' and Green, and lots of random jobs and happenings until a major car accident in a mining town in remote Western Australia where I and my girlfriend (let's call her J, OK?) were working put a sudden stop to things, meaning a Flying Doctors flight back to Perth, months in traction for her, and a hit of the Reset button generally.  I hung in there with her.  This is the very potted history version, as you can tell.  J decided to return to study whilst recuperating.  I started thinking again about getting a job, or something.  This paragraph is a couple of years long.

I saw an ad in the paper one day for canvassers for Greenpeace.  Good looking hours that suited my night owl habits, and it of course appealed to my sensibilities entirely.  What we did was head off in a group to some suburb and the area would be divided up between us (in pairs, or singly, it depended) and from around 4PM to 8PM we'd knock on doors, talking about Greenpeace and environmental issues, taking donations, and ideally selling subscriptions to the Greenpeace magazine.  The money was not great, and for the most part we were a rag-tag bunch of late-80's alt hippie types, backpackers with morals, and odd bods, in it for some money, but not the money.  Although there were a couple of gun sales types, and they did pretty well.  It was done on commission.  A very far cry from the Greenpeace of today, I can tell you.

Before departure each afternoon we'd meet at the offices, three flights up a rickety old stairwell in central Perth, just adjacent to the largest bong shop in town (among other things) and drink instant coffee, and smoke silly amounts of cigarettes.  I'd been there not long at all, maybe only days, and was sitting with a few others out on this death-trap sort of loading gantry that served as a balcony over the back laneway, smoking, messing around with a guitar, when a human movement caught my eye from inside.

It still gives me wonderment that I remember this moment, and moreover I remember remembering this moment many times in the years since, and that it's such a clear little snapshot for something that lasted only a second that long ago.

It was a woman I'd not seen before, about 10 metres away, talking to one of the more managerial types.  New, or at least who'd not been there in my time - I'm not clear on this irrelevant bit of detail - and I was instantly attracted.  Not in a "oh, she's a hot one I'd definitely go for" sort of way, because she so clearly wasn't 'my type' as I thought of it then, or something, despite her being a most striking and elegant assembly of the classical elements of youthful womanhood.  Beautiful, is what I'm saying there.  Tall, like 6 ft, very slim and svelte, with pale pale skin, dark but multicoloured tights tucked into black boots, and a black cowboy-style Akubra hat with a bright scarf tied about it as a hatband, flowing down the back of the brim and setting off her enormous mane of long, dark hair.  Sunglasses.  Crikey.  She looked over and smiled in our direction, and the rest of the moment is lost to me now.  This was Kat.

Kat and I somehow quickly became friendly in an entirely uncomplicated sort of way, and went through our training period together, then often paired up as canvassing buddies.  I needed to move from where I was living, and needed a room in a share-house type setup with my girlfriend (J, the recuperating one, now still often on crutches but doing really well considering).  Kat's share house was undergoing changes in makeup, and suddenly there we were.  Housemates, and the kernel of a legendary Greenpeace party house, a rambling federation-era pile with multiple bedrooms a not-too-distant walk from the city's centre.  The Greenpeace thing steamed ahead and both Kat and I soon found ourselves pretty senior members because of the high attrition rate.  I ended up being one of the Field Managers (the only one for a while) mainly by dint of still being there and having a drivers licence I think, and so we had use of the official van too.

Field managing is a term that means I'm the one with the photocopying and map distribution duties, as well as the driving, so to compensate for the lost canvassing time I got an extra $7 bucks a night.  Told you we weren't there for the money.  In fact, we would sometimes be so jacked off with the futility monster that descends on all conscientious enviro-warrior types that Kat and I would often cut our canvassing stupidly short and end up just sitting in the van talking until it was time to pick up the crew.  A funny thing was going on though.  Kat always had the front seat, because we were mates, and no-one commented on this.  Ever.  It seemed to be a non-political point.  About this time is where we first started to encounter the odd phenomenon of our joint apparition - a pattern that was to repeat over and over in years to come.  People would think we were related, as in siblings.  Or, that we were a couple.  Maybe both sometimes, I don't know.  But we loved it.

We were physically similar, it's true.  Maybe less so these days.

Kat and I would stay up late and watch motorsport together on TV; Grands Prix and the Motorbike GP especially were faves, and this as often as not involved a bottle of port or similar, and it should be said to paint a sufficiently complete picture that there was a near-universal fondness in our circle of folk for a certain medicinal herb still inexplicably illegal in much of the 'civilised' world.  We came to know each other well, and seemed to have lots of similarities in upbringing.  Kat and I were just.....comfortable.  All this while J was busily beavering away at her academic studies, being a Class A Brainiac from an academic family, and saw no threat whatsoever from her friend Kat.  And anyway, these were times of what some may call loose but we might have called more flexible and open morals when it came to matters of partnering.  Mainly.  In theory.

One night, I was drunk....etc.  Very, actually.  I'd been sitting up late with another housemate and eventually of course it was time for bed.  This is another of those moments I'm still amazed at remembering powerfully.  Through the doorway into the darkened bedroom ('Shh! don't wake J!' I think to myself) remove clothes, climb into lovely warm bed.  Snuggle up gently to her back and ever so gently and lovingly if a little cheekily put an arm over her and cup her left brea...
...time stands still for just a moment, because...
"ERIC!"  sharply issues from the doorway, backlit now, with my girlfriend's annoyed form in silhouette unmistakably looming.  Oh, yes, wrong bed, I see.  And apologetically muttering something to a rather amused Kat, sheepishly stumble off to the correct sleeping appliance and partner.  I still wonder how she knew....girlfriend radar?

I've talked about this with Kat in the intervening years, and it was genuinely mutual that we had no sort of sexual spark thing going, at any stage.  For the purposes of this storytelling I'm just discounting whatever hidden internal or cosmic messages I may have been ignoring in the 'wrong bedroom' anecdote just then.  I certainly recognised Kat's undeniable attractiveness but just....not to me in that way.  I shan't speak for her of course, as you'll notice throughout this history, but I understand the feeling (or lack thereof) was very much mutual.  As with most things, life in this house had to eventually come to an end for a whole bunch of reasons and Kat moved back to Melbourne for a short while to deal with some stuff over there.  J and I actually visited her in her parents' house there the next New Year's - I don't recall what we were doing in Melbourne, but the Screamin' Jay Hawkins concert was fabulous.

Then J and I moved to Fremantle some time later, as regular or long-time readers will know, and at some point I remember her saying "Kat would just so love it here, I think she should come over" and thus it came to pass that we all lived together again.  I really had a best-of-both-worlds feeling as I realised that apart from living with my girlfriend and all the good stuff that brings, I got to live closely with the person whom I discovered had become my best friend.  This naturally gave me pause to think differently about my relationship with J.

Ah, the Fremantle days (daze?).  I've waxed rhapsodic before, but it's here that Kat and I allowed our mutual orbit free rein.  I was doing the musician (ie substantially unemployed) thing, and she was similarly sporadically occupied.  Life was the cafe scene, parties, the poverty and wealth of an artistic life, and an ever-expanding circle of new friends.....and partners.  Fremantle was still very much culturally influenced by the Orange People / sanyass thing and a whole wide spectrum of the hippyish, the New Age, the Artsy and the Lefty Academic all rolled around into a background history of immigrant dockside grunge and organised crime, just recently plastered over for Freo's debut on the world stage - her hosting of the defence of the America's Cup by the first ever non-Americans to have won it.  What I'm hinting at is a vibrant atmosphere of fun with a heavy undercurrent of Free Love, where things like ordinariness of relationships just seemed - well, ordinary.  So both Kat and I (and J, it should be said) entered a period of relative chaos, ups and downs, with the whole mating game.  But of course, Kat and I stayed true to form with each other.

Even when Kat moved out to a new abode I saw her most every day, at the cafe.  We counselled each other on our respective relationship issues.  Supported each other.  Sat often al fresco at the cafe with our legs entwined companionably (her legs clad as often as not in my trousers, us being the same size.  Actually, she pretty much took liberties with my entire wardrobe) and as expected, we were oft mistaken for a couple, or siblings.  We shared finances more closely than J and I, and indeed spent more time together.  Many adventures shared, scrapes gotten into and out of.

We drifted apart for a time then contact-wise, as work, relationship and other things pulled us in different directions, but we orbited still, with Kat sharing a house also with the next major girlfriend I had.  Kat and I sort of shared houses on and off for ages, it seems.  We sometimes discussed, with amazement, (I'm choosing words carefully here) how we had still never even looked like being lovers, when it seemed (for example) that I didn't really know many women at all now who didn't fit that bill for me.  I seem to recall that we'd shared a bed a few times through simple sleeping convenience or companionship but that was not unusual in those days for people to do.  And we'd laugh about the Wrong Bedroom Incident of years before.

One beautiful day, sitting with Kat on The Cafe Strip having coffee, a guy we both were friendly with lurched up sort of excitedly and asked us if we wanted to go to a wedding.  His.  Wow, total surprise!  When?  In about half an hour.  WTF?  He was getting married to a sort-of girlfriend and reading between the lines it was really about him (being from overseas) getting Australian residency, and he needed some witnesses....and a bit of friendly support.  Registry office, 30 minutes; roger that, see you there.  We got to talking.  Given our seeming tendencies towards serially 'interesting' relationship dramas of late, mightn't it be a good idea - and One Helluva Laugh - to get married?  You know, to prevent ourselves from doing something rash or stupid and marrying someone we really shouldn't?  We got the giggles with this idea hugely, and besides, it actually made a whole bunch of sense.  It just....felt right somehow.  We were primed, and when we got to the registry office we asked how exactly you go about it.  $150 and fill out a form with some ID.  Takes 30 days to process, and then you just turn up with some witnesses.  Done.  Well, it's not like either of us had the spare cash lying around and the wait....wasn't really our style and.....we just let it all slide.  Nothing at all wrong with being the way we were anyway.  Life carried on.

I went overseas for a while travelling with music, and returned to set up house again with my then-girlfriend, the one Kat had been sharing with some time before.  Let's call this one G.  I'd been with her for maybe a few years now, living together for much of that.  G really wanted to do the travelling thing too, but I couldn't and besides she sort of wanted a solo-ish adventure.  We had a friend or two living overseas she'd visit and apart from that she'd be on her own way.  A month or so in, Kat - as had happened a number of times previously -
showed up at the door desirous of somewhere to stay. She knew she would always be welcome with me, and it always really made my day too.  Great stuff!  G and I had been sharing the 2-bedroom house with a friend who was still there, so Kat just bunked in with me, like old times.  But something different was going on, in a subterranean sort of way.

One day I woke up beside her, with a sort of frisson of....I don't know....excitement?  Whatever, ignore weird stuff, get on with life.  Cafe times, and I'm busy at it with the band trying to finish recording this album, which is taking up a lot of my headspace anyway.  Then here's another of those memorable vignettes, did you see it coming?

Waking up one morning, Kat waking beside me, and as I lean up on an elbow our heads come close and there's this pausing moment....and then we pull back.  "I almost kissed you then" I blurt with habitual obviousness and suavity, to which Kat simply grinned and replied "I know!" We got up and had coffee, or something.  The energy circled around us for a day or two more before it just had to happen, and we made love.  I was nervous.  Yet it just seemed inevitable.  Gosh it was good and so much fun for a week or so there, and that's all the commentary you're getting.  But there was something else going on, less subterranean this time.  This was far more than just fun, or 'friends with benefits' as they say, and as I think we had been justifying it to ourselves at first.  Or that is to say, I had.

We fell in love, and it showed no signs of going away.  I started to feel like I understood why Kat had been in my life all this time, and for me it all had this...I don't know....destiny sort of aura about it.  I mean, what a totally lousy thing to do to your girlfriend while she's overseas.  I was in tumult and agony on that score.

G knew that Kat was staying, in our bed, no problem.  Now I had to tell her what was actually going on.  we'd had this pact thing about "what goes on on tour stays on tour" and when I had been overseas we'd each had little adventures with others, and expected this time would be similar.  Same rules; plus, it's not like we'd had an ordinary everyday regular sort of completely monogamous thing going anyway - again, not unusual for the time and place.  But this was obviously not in the same ballpark and understandably G can imagine all the emotions.  Plus the disempowerment of being 15,000 miles away.  At least it worked out that she was with a friend.  Some plus, I suppose.  I really felt for our housemate too, friends with all of us and now with compromised and divided feelings of loyalty.  What a mess!  This is where a deep and already old part of our friendship came to the fore - steadfastness.  Not only did we stick together through hard stuff, but we helped each other stick to what was right, and I really needed some help with that right then.  Kat just flat-out stood for me doing what I knew and felt to be right, whatever that may be.  So I did, despite a whole whirling cosmos of 'shoulds' and 'buts' and 'if onlys'.  I went with what I felt to be true and right.

Yet despite all the upheaval and pain caused I sort of didn't care.  Even with some of my most loyal and closest friends telling me that "you surely can't be doing this to G" I could.  I had to.  More than that......

One night Kat and I were giddily, you know, 'in love' giddily walking back home from down town, and stopped at the last pub for a drink.  Another memory moment ensues.  Beautiful cool night, out in the courtyard and all is wonderful with the world.  Holding hands, legs entwined, besotted eyes, the whole romantic cliche on steroids.  The Force was with us that night.
"You know what we should do..."I said, leadingly.
"Since all this stuff has happened..... and you and I....." I laugh half nervously, half in sheer delight at the idea; "we should get married!"

No bended knee, no premeditation and to be truthful I don't exactly recall all the words we each said but it was just a typical "you know what?" sort of us conversation, where we rambled on excitedly about all the great reasons and things we could think of about getting married.  I won't go down that path with y'all today, but you know what happens next anyway...

G gets her brother to come and collect her stuff from the house - she's still overseas and is going to have her holiday, regardless of what her evil now ex-boyfriend has done.  Then came October 4th, 1997; possibly the best party I've ever been to at what we think of as our house now; our wedding.  The afternoon of that day, with days and days of work having gone into the house and yard and catering and...all that stuff, with the wedding set to kick off just at sundown; we were blessed, by a swarm of bees.  A whole seething mass of them came from a hive they must have had in the wall of a neighbour's shed, hanging on a tree branch right in the middle of where the ceremony was to take place.  They left in plenty of time, and I was glad.

This is how I came to marry my best friend Kat, also known perhaps to you as Meeta, as I have referred to her throughout this blog.  But I'd always called her Kat until around this time, because that's the way she preferred it when we met.  Like me, she wasn't too frightfully hung up on the name issue.

So naturally the story doesn't end there, all sorts of changes occurred and maybe one day I'll write the book.  One of the things that changed was our relationship to the world at large, as we for various reasons and in various ways began to draw back; to retreat now, and to become a very different and indeed unexpected kind of us.  It became far more private, and remains that way for our purposes here today also.  Still, my painting of this picture is not yet quite complete, but the telling of the stories in detail, for now, is.

Meeting, befriending, loving and marrying Meeta has been the largest and most important series of events of my life.  The challenges and joys, all the 'for better and for worse' stuff (not that we had traditional vows) have only multiplied since marriage and I'd be dishonest if I didn't admit there have been times when I despairingly had doubt and saw my faith in this decision sorely tested.  I have even questioned why it is that I always overcame these doubts - was it just some egotistical stoicism or stubbornness?  I certainly possess those qualities, but in true self-reflection I have to say no, it's deeper than that and I don't honestly belive that it's really me in charge here anyway.  I'm not saying I have a subordinate relationship role or the Meeta always 'wears the trousers' (although she does for her fair share without a doubt). I'm saying there's a bigger picture, what you might call a higher purpose, and if there's one thing in my life I feel a teeny bit proud of it's that I keep listening to that call, and following my heart, even when it leads into pain.

There have been too many lessons and changes to enumerate but so far there's a clear theme that runs through my growth through this voyage with Meeta.  And that's loyalty.  Until her I had never truly known the feeling; how it is to have someone be completely and unquestioningly loyal to you.  So of course, I'd never really done a great job of loyalty myself.  I'm not just talking superficials here, I'm talking about heart and spirit.  Honesty.

By nature I am a loyal and honest person, and part of my journey has been to reclaim that.  Through a friendship as great as this one I have indeed come far, and I am deeply grateful.  I have rediscovered that loyalty is not just about how you relate to one person, or a country, or a football team (go the Magpies!) or a political party or a set of rules for living - it's about how you relate directly to God, for want of a less loaded descriptor.  And thus, it's about how you treat yourself.  This great friend of mine has helped me, through her loyalty and by accepting my flawed self as being loyal to her, get back closer to Oneness (the ultimate thing beyond loyalty, I suppose), to Godhead, to peace.

Thanks love.

I wonder what happens next?

Friday, August 6, 2010

The 99th post

Well, I never really gave it that much thought when I started.

Then I notice, all of a sudden, there are very nearly one hundred posts here on this blog.  I had no really clear reason for starting this whole thing, and over time I've become no more clear in truth, but many things have occurred to me.  It still feels a good thing to do.  I didn't set out to be famous, although I admit to vanity.  The aim wasn't to change the world, although I love it when someone is moved in a good way.

Just recently blogger (that's google btw) has made an easy-to-use stats function so you can see how many people are viewing your stuff, what country they're from, all sorts of things.  It started in July only, so there aren't stats before then.  But when I found this out, and had a look, I was frankly astounded.  I had no idea.  Comments and emails I get had given me great feedback, and an inkling that there were some regular readers out there, and maybe a month or two into the blogging thing I started to feel a little kindredness with this imagined or perhaps illusory audience.  Then I looked at the updated July stats a week later, wondering if I'd misread, or if it was a 'new thing' glitch, but no....a far, far higher magnitude of people seem to be dropping by both this and my tubey blog (about equal numbers interestingly) than my biggest estimates had suggested; and coming back too.  Plus it seems to be growing.

It made me feel really rather - and unexpectedly - loved, so thanks everyone.  Then naturally I had to clean up and let go of that and not become a stats obsessive.  Which I have done now.  Still, it was a great moment for me and I am grateful.

Writing the blog has brought me new friendships and helped enliven some old ones; for this I am grateful also.

Next of course will be my 100th post.  So I thought what with 100 being a milestone number in the base 10 mathematical system with which we have largely constructed our physical (and some would say spiritual) view of the universe, I might make it a special post.  I saw it coming a couple of days ago and have made a start on what I think it will be.  No teaser, no spoiler here though.  Except to say it might be long, and it hopefully will live up to my depth of feeling on the subject matter.

I like the idea of 100 more.  We'll see, yes?

In the meantime, I saw this and thought of you.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Bile; n:

1. A bitter, alkaline, brownish-yellow or greenish-yellow fluid that is secreted by the liver, stored in the gallbladder, and discharged into the duodenum and aids in the emulsification, digestion, and absorption of fats. Also called gall1.
2. Bitterness of temper; ill humor; irascibility.
3. Either of two bodily humors, black bile or yellow bile, in ancient and medieval physiology.

To quote Catbert, "It only looks like a coincidence".

Erstwhile Australian Prime Minister Kevin '07' Rudd has just emerged from hospital having had his gall bladder removed.  Interestingly, his wife underwent an almost identical procedure earlier this year.

For those unaware, the short history to this is that only a matter of weeks ago Mr Rudd was Australian PM, but his popularity was waning due to a whole bunch of stuff and an election was due soonish.  His party, the Australian Labor Party, seemingly decided they could not win an election with him in place and stealthily replaced him in what amounted to a party-room coup with his deputy PM, Julia Gillard.  Who is now PM, and has called an election, now just a few weeks away.  Kev bowed out with some sort of grace, and there was weeping and lament amongst the people and indeed much of the party, especially at the callous manner of his demise.  Kev disappeared from the scene but after 'spending some time with his family' as they say stepped up and begun campaigning in his seat in Queensland for his own re-election, as a Labor party member, but uniquely without sporting the party logo on any of his propaganda material.  Things were a bit tense all round, and the party's fortunes continued to decline and suffer in part because of the uncertainty surrounding him.  was it he who leaked details of supposed behind-the-scenes deals that were reneged upon, for instance?  Could Julia work with him as a minister?  All of that.

Something missing?

Then suddenly, his gall bladder went bung, and he was admitted to hospital.

Medical wisdom of yore had it that bile, gall, spleen and similar 'humours' related to anger, and that excesses of anger upset the stomach and digestion.  To this day people are said to "vent spleen", to have their "bile rise up", to be "full of piss and vinegar" as euphemisms for having, or expressing, anger.

My personal take on such things is that indeed we do much of our feeling and thinking in concert with far more of our bodies (and spirit) than modern science would have us believe.  Descartes has a lot to answer for in terms of our self image with his supremely delusional (pun intended) proposition:

"Cogito Ergo Sum" - "I think, therefore I am."

Because once we got it into our heads (yes I know) that the brain was the primary centre of thought we started to think that it was the only place where memory, reaction, thought, feeling - in short, identity - resides.  It's a proposition I deeply disagree with, and there is much modern science and experience that agrees with me too - about disagreeing, at least.

So how frightfully intriguing that the very first thing Kev does upon his emergence from hospital sans gall bladder (the place where bile is stored prior to injection into the duodenum when required for digestion of lipids and so forth) is make a strong and unequivocal statement that he will be fully backing the Julia Gillard (re)election campaign because he "can't stand idly by and see (Opposition leader) Tony Abbott try and just slide into office" and perhaps even more importantly that he would be putting his bitterness behind him now because "life is too short to hold on to anger".  It had been a major theme of his incumbency that he had a bit of a temper behind closed doors especially, and of late it was widely held forth that his prime motivator of his workaholic control-freak ways was a barely suppressed rage.  So yeah, interesting.

Just recently a new episode in my relationship with my own dear gallbladder came to light.  I was having some ultrasounds done on my liver and the sonographer plus the tech-in-training both had a funny moment trying to identify what the rather small structure was at a certain depth there...oh, look, it's a teeny little gall bladder how cute!  OK, this makes sense.  As a teen, I had polyps in my gallbladder so when I ate something with a bit of extra fat my gall bladder would squeeze a bit harder, constrict in on the polyps and PAIN with sPaSmS for up to a couple of days would ensue.  The cure was to not eat fatty things and wait, as they would probably go away.  As they did.  A few years back now I started not doing so well in the gut department after oily dishes, like fried fish and chips, or a dessert with a lot of cream.  Previously these had been favourite meals without problems post-polyps. So my gallbladder had been shrinking the whole time perhaps?  I don't know, but in general my diet had been pretty low-fat more by accident than design for a long time (and still is really, compared to your average Westerner) so maybe it's a use-it-or-lose it thing.

And do you know what?  These days I'm actually more quickly moved to anger, or at least the urge to express anger, but it's not the crushing and oppressive imperative it used to be.  It also passes very quickly compared to how I used to be with it.

Coincidence?  Maybe I will get that t-shirt.

Would it feel different if you knew them?

I tend to watch SBS for my TV evening news.  It used to be a better quality bulletin than it is these days but at least it still has some sort of global perspective.  It's because I don't really want or need to know about the latest local sensation - if it's that important I'll hear about it elsewhere or on SBS anyway.  But the vast majority of Australians still get their news and current affairs from the 'mainstream' commercial media, with its typically parochial and variously partisan biases.  And that of course does much to shape how the electorate talks to itself, the stories we tell ourselves, what we understand the 'norm' is that we must find a way to fit in with, or be content to be in some way an outsider.  Just saying, is all.

The other day on an internet forum I frequent (a special-interest one about Blended Diets and such for us tubey people) I mentioned something about my Australianism and in response got a "g'day!" from some sort-of expats, with a bit of their story.  It squeezed my compassion glands somewhat, and admittedly made me a little ashamed (again) that I've not done a better job of shaping the government that serves me into a more humane organ.  But it also got me thinking.

What happened was this, in brief.  An American couple, let's call them the K family, had been in Australia working for a couple of years, in Sydney.  Wanted to stay here, as they fell in love with it.  Happens all the time as we know, and these were the sorts of skilled and good people we say we want and need to live here.  They had been told that should they apply for permanent residency they would be a dead cert, it would be just a formality.  Then they had a son, a new little Aussie; let's call him O.  O was born with some problems and disabilities.  As is so often the case with these sorts of kids, the prognosis takes a while to develop.  The K family do not have the benefit of Medicare, being American, despite O being born here.  Mr K is still working and paying big tax dollars and buying the groceries and so on.  They have applied for permanent residency too, but now there's a hiccup - little O the Aussie.  Basically, the run-around began.  Delays asking for further medical reports in so many months time, then when the reports were submitted no-one would ever get back to the Ks about progress.  Insert all the usual horror stories about bureaucracy you can think of here.  The immigration folks seemed to be putting every log in the track they could without actually formally completing a denial of application.  In time the K's immigration lawyers advised them that they would eventually be denied and would then be faced with a long and expensive legal battle with no guaranteed outcome.  All because this little boy was born with medical issues that may affect him for an unknown number of years into the future.  Had he been a healthy little guy, or had he not been born, we'd have some good new Australians right now, rather than one little native-born guy we have deported to a country with the sorts of interesting healthcare outcomes we all know they get in the USA.  Without Medicare support and far from the help of family they had to pack up, quit Mr K's excellent job, and move back to the US.  Good one, Australia.

Apparently, this is far from unusual.  The only way I can properly describe this as a systemic approach is as economic eugenicism.  Interestingly, had they been refugees, O's condition would not have been an issue at all, born here or not.

No problem for these kids (once the detention nightmare is over), regardless of their possible health issues.

Now I don't really know the K family except from a few forum posts and a couple of emails with Mrs K asking if I could share their story here anonymously.  But regardless of that I felt ashamed at their treatment, that we civilised humans can behave in this dishonest way.  I would have felt completely different if there had just been a simple, outright, cut-and-dried policy saying "no disabled kids.  Take him to where you guys came from or lose him and then you can stay, just the two of you."  That would suck, but be honest at least.

What do you think?  And does it make a difference how the story comes to you?  Might you for example read some stats about how many folks are denied entry each year based on the medical situation of their children (and consequent social/taxpayer costs) and think "that's a bit unfortunate, but really we already have enough kids who need help and it's good to create a healthier society where we can.  Got to draw a line somewhere"?  Or might you read such a story such as this, or see it on a current affairs program with repeated emphasis on "Aussie O" and tearful parents, and their contribution to society here, (subliminally also their whiteness - if they're white, I don't know - and their English-speakingness) and the underhand ways of immigration delaying tactics and legal system parasites and have a moment of outrage at the inhumanity of it?  Or how about if you met Mr and Mrs K and little O (O.K., ha!) and heard their story, and looked at their faces, and held his tiny, uncomprehending hand.  Could you then still easily rationalise the economic eugenicist argument of social cost?

I know in myself that I'm susceptible to such first-impression filtering.  The local news about a missing child with graphic shots of a tearful mother, unspoken suspicions of her possible complicity or guilt perhaps, serious police faces, a streetscape near's all designed to elicit a response in us that apparently consumers of such news want to have - or they wouldn't make it that way.  On the other hand we could view it through the filter that someone goes missing every 15 minutes in this country and hundreds of these case go unsolved every year.  Tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of children go missing and meet unknown fates worldwide every year and their parents are no less mauled and wrenched by the experience than any other.  Yet Madeleine McCann was a worldwide sensation.  How she disappeared is not even all that unusual in a global sense.

So I wonder, since we are the ones who demand to be fed the emotive stories we seem to crave, why we do not have the stories such as little Aussie O more often on our screens.  When the Gulf oil spill happened, BP effectively occupied the affected beaches and banned media to avoid oiled pelican shots hitting our screens. Well at least they tried every trick in the book.  But that's different, this is like a conspiracy of silence.

Is it that we are actually ashamed, en masse, by consensus, yet are so mired in not knowing what to do about this stuff that we just shut it all out?

Can we only talk about asylum seekers in polarised terms as either deeply desperate refugees; all 14 million of whom worldwide who must all be given safe shelter here immediately, or as illegal queue jumpers and suspected terrorists carrying foot and mouth disease?

Perhaps we lack the will to let this stuff out into the open genuinely.  Sure, there are lots of voices I'm hearing seeking a heartfelt and rational conversation, and urging action on the core issues of how we treat each other and ourselves, but the inertia and gravitational pull of the dumb-sensation media feedback loop we use as a substitute for genuine emotional and spiritual engagement with our brethren humans and natural environment still seems king.  Truly, in this light we are Borg.

And it is this last that gives me greatest comfort, oddly enough.  When enough of us decide to stop just tolerating the status quo that passes for movement towards a better shared future, the tipping point will be reached.  Surely.  So tolerate those who wish to remain asleep to this, of course, but do give them every chance to be helped awake, should they see a light.

Again, here endeth the rant.

For now.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Things I want right now #4

Actually, right now I'm fine, thanks, but it's nice to keep a series going and anyway, this little nugget of memory has been bugging me for over a week now on and off.  Chairman Kaga reveals today's Theme Ingredient to be......


My home growns are still a year away, as they take two years to grow, but they're appearing in the shops now.  Oddly, they were a dollar each just over a week ago but now - same shop - $3.68, if you please.

Someone, I can't remember who now, but I'm extremely grateful for this, showed me a particular way of enjoying artichokes that made them subsequently one of my favouritest ever treaty food things, for a couple of unusual reasons....

Here's what I used to do.  Get a whole artichoke, pull off the outermost leaves only, cut the stem so it sits flat on the bottom of a saucepan and steam it quite well.  While this is happening, get a large amount of butter - and then get some more because it's really hard to convince yourself you're going to need that much but you will - and use it to very gently saute finely chopped garlic - again, lots - to make a sort of thin dipping butter sauce.  Put this in a teeny bowl, retrieve artichoke, and commence.  Peel off a leaf, dip base of leaf in sauce, and using front teeth scrape the fleshy bit from the bottom inside bit of the leaf.  Mm, hmm, mm.  Remind self that fingers are not burn proof and hold next steaming leaf a little more daintily.  Do this over and over.  

This odd frenzy happens as the leaves get sweeter and fleshier the further in you get, and you're trying to maximise the garlic butter quotient but make sure you don't run out until the last edible leaf.....because then the leaves start to get smaller and smaller, with less and less flesh, and it starts to get a bit stringy, and you know that at some point.....the fun must stop, because eventually you return to inedibility.  It's like a whole metaphor for life, somehow.  So I adored the ritual and the flavour certainly, but even more there is a special aftertaste that lingers for ages, a sweetness you don't even actually detect while you're eating that only develops when you stop.  And then there's the high.

Yes, I used to get high on artichokes.  I would remark on this to fellow eaters to whom I introduced this way of eating them, saying "don't you feel that artichokes"  And I got mixed responses.  But for me, they always put me in a super duper mood, smiling away in a world of wonder and goodness, and it's a variety of experience unique in my memory to consuming artichokes.  Never happened with the pickled variety though.  Anyone else had this?  I can find no scientific basis for it.

So what I'm wondering is how best to blend one of these fine fellows.  I'll let y'all know.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sublime, and just a moment later, ridiculous.

Sunday in a small town in the wheatbelt.  Crisp morning, not much above freezing overnight, and as the sun rises there's just a hint of spring in the air.

I had a few little things to do today, and before heading out I paused for a while at this simple picture of reflected domestic bliss.  Dappled sun through trees, warm blanket on bed, feline contentment.

Then off I go, striking forth from my cosy den of warm domesticity to perform an errand or two.  Most of the shops in town are closed on Sundays, but the ones I needed are not.  I love Sunday mornings in town, there's hardly anyone about, just folks headed for the hardware or the video store or maybe the chemist, and the occasional perplexed tourist wondering why our town closes up on Sundays when the neighbouring, more tourist-oriented towns only 20 minutes either side are all arms-wide-open.

So it was especially odd to see this on the main street:

Behold, a man clad head-to-toe in lurid green lycra, posing for traffic and doing weird, slow gyrating dance moves.  On his own.  For no apparent reason.