The old photos you find in a box in the attic might be rubbish. You will only know if you take a look. You know what I mean I hope. The fuzzy black and white ones, the faded colour ones, came from long ago. The machinery you see in them seems unbelievable, yet it was as new as fresh paint when the photographer took the picture. The same can be said about the people. The clothes they wore, and the hair styles are different to yours. So much so everything looks old.
In another place you might find a book with old photos stuck to the pages. That is how people kept in touch with their past before the digital age. (You might have to look up the meaning of the digital age – things seem to change so fast). At first it might seem hard to see anything you recognise in the scenes, for example, if there is a photograph of your house – take it outside and compare the scene with your surroundings today, it is likely as not much will appear the same..
The children you see in the photographs grew up. Luckily most of them lived long lives. You know that because the photo of that girl “Grace”, that boy “Albert” are the same people we can see in this thirtieth birthday snap, see Grace here, and the old fellow with the walking stick is Albert. We know that because his name is on the reverse. (The names in your photos will be different. The challenge is to find their names, it might be fun).
This could become a little history game. You could try and guess what work they did just by looking at your photos. That would become a sociology game. You can learn some science, or some geography just from photos. If you take this far enough you can learn about obsolescence and how Kodak, the name most people used to capture their photos, died in capitalism’s nirvana.
My writing is like that box of old photos. Some ideas are stuck together. In other essays the point of the story is lost. I am hoping you might find a glint of something before it is trashed.
She wrests rusty orb
Forgotten in lost concepts
I am gathering some of my writing into a book to be released in 2021. I imagine the readers of my book are as yet unborn. Here is my proposed prologue. The reason for writing the prologue is to explain Cassandra’s prophecies are minute, like diamonds..
A trip to Clifton Springs is usually just a short dash along the highway. Today though it was hot, and all the Sunday drivers seemed lost, or unwilling to get a move on. All they could do was tootle along – one foot poised over the brake pedal – ready to stop in case road workers were actually at work. Too often, in the rush to finish work on Friday, signs – warning construction is underway – are left in-situ instead of being locked away at the end of the last shift. What happened today was an example of worker laxity. Unnecessarily signs were left out. This is just another reason to avoid the people who timidly drive one day in the week.
Fire warnings today
Sunlit dried silver grass lies flat
No snowflakes in sight
Basho haibun poem. ( saekaeru) Definitely not celebrating a return to icy weather, but what can you write on this topic at the beginning of autumn? A paragraph of prose, finished with a haiku with a hint of the same theme.
Perhaps you will pause and comment. I will thank you.
Living with good genes you visit your doctor only to replace the medications he has prescribed for daily use, when you have run out. You trust your GP – the pills prescribed; will reduce your cholesterol, replace the hormones your absent thyroid cannot produce, or lower your blood pressure. The proof all is well is revealed with a regular blood pressure check – 120/73 at 59 heart beats a minute. Excellent result. Even for a person a quarter of your age. It is all you need to hear before you exchange pleasantries and leave to go about your daily business.
With no comprehension of Greys Anatomy, or understanding of pharmacology, you trust the diagnosis your GP advises. Even he may not decide your the treatment for every ailment from a conversation. Most likely your GP will order blood tests to confirm the diagnosis gleaned from careful questioning. She may recommend you visit a specialist before ever a diagnosis is reached.
Not every visit is conducted with such routine rhythm – but you hear things.
Today your primary carer will reserve opinion until all channels are exhausted. This is as good – as it is bad. Specialisation can become misleading unless the specialist keeps a clear mind – the whole person needs treatment, and not just a specific disease found in part of the body.
The life of the doctor is most certainly fraught. This is especially so in this Internet age. Lots of people visit a doctor after first making inquiry of Dr Google. Your friends are often more knowing (not knowledgeable) than the doctor, and hypochondria is very common among those friends who make weekly visits with yet another complaint.
This is not to condemn them. How one feels can be misleading. Too often an acquaintance has died because they ignored symptoms other people acknowledged. One person says “I feel this,” The other says nothing. The first has a diagnosis, a treatment, a short, or a long painful – convalesce, and they are cured. The second, dies, or worse – is given a prognosis and dies shortly afterwards. The difference in their lives is sometimes a matter of how they think of the medical profession.
Currently the conversation is about pain. The press is full of the dangers of opioid and other drugs prescribed for pain. Codeine, Fentanyl, OxyContin form part of the list of products which pain sufferers are very familiar. Word has it that these drugs can be habit forming, just as morphine – first discovered in 1803, is known to be.
Tragically many lives have been lost by sufferers of long term pain. Their treatment caused them to become addicted to their treatment. In time the drug becomes more necessary to them than the pain it was prescribed to aid. It has reached a stage of alarm across the developed world.
The level of pain individuals can accommodate varies from person to person. The truth is few men would be able to live with the pain of child birth. It remains one life’s mysteries how women naturally live through confinement. But not all pain is equal.
From my own experience I have learned how easy it could be to slip into addiction. Many decades ago I visited Dr Bill Davies, (the doctor that was present at the birth of out children). On this occasion I had to wait for a long time outside his rooms. Every minute I waited the second hand of the clock scraped against its body on its journey and it screeched at the five o’clock mark. “Screech screech”.
I do not remember why I had made the appointment, just the noise the clock made every sixty seconds. perhaps I talked about to him about my jumpy legs. (My wife will tell of how I kick her nightly as I am going off to sleep. I have done this for years). Anyway, when I got to see him I said I couldn’t live with such an irritating clock. He looked quizzically at me and wrote out a prescription. This I took to the chemist, and in time I started taking Valium.
The prescription had five repeats. After about the third I mentioned I was taking diazepam, and the listener said it was addictive. Instead of taking pills I should read Dr Ainsley Meares 1968 book, Relief without drugs. I did. However I had a strong feeling of wanting something despite knowing the drowsiness I felt from was caused by the Valium. So I read it again and practiced what it said.
Fortunately I persevered with the techniques recommended by the book and I stopped taking Valium before I fell into its grip. The technique explained in the book is now recommended as Mindfulness training by professional groups. This is not news to Buddhists of course. It is just one of the practical parts of their practice.
Another aspect of the “Relief without drugs” book is the knowledge it is possible to retrain the brain to think differently. Interestingly this is now a recommended pain relief action. This has lead to whole new field of pain management. One I am convinced I must turn to with renewed energy and retrain my brain for practical reasons.
One grapples with pain. When, like now, I have remained in one position too long. One winches with the odd ache before moving freely. The relative influence of pain comes and goes. The arthritis that was causing pain in my finger knuckles a few months ago is now so bad my right hand constantly aches. The truth is I am losing the use of my right hand because of pain. To the point I try to avoid using it. Past experience has taught me not to rely on medication for things you can set aside with training. My brain is being retrained not to complain about an aching hand.
My message from all this? What happens next is up to me.
My work is as scrambled as my brain according to Faerie. My written words are no different. This entry is prompted by “Almost” an article a new reader has posted on WordPress. I was prompted to write a response to him when I read this quote of his just after R visited. Here is his quote and my response to his article.
“The artist’s main goal is to create.
The craftsman wants a finished product”.
Cristian Mihal. Irevuo WordPress.
To “Almost” I responded.
This quote from your post explains to me why I have half finished projects everywhere and why I felt put out when a friend came over. He was in my shed and he found a piece of wood he had given me 2 years ago. I have almost finished carving a figurine but I reached that stage months ago and it lies unfinished. He said, It’s time to get out the Dremmel to get rid of these marks, as he rubbed at my chisel marks. I do have work to do certainly. Yet I want to show how the figure was made so the marks will stay.
The photo is of detail from my unfinished work.
Chip, chip. Please leave your mark before you leave, or stay to read more. Chip, chip.
The embarking passengers ran to the taxi rank and opened the door pausing just long enough to flick water from the rain soaked umbrella before they climbed into the cab. The driver, wearing a checked shirt embossed with the logo “13 cabs” on the collar asked, “Where to”? “Recital Centre Kavanagh Street South Melbourne”. The reply was sufficient information for the driver to perform a quick U -turn, taking advantage of the sudden break in the traffic. In the first two hundred metres the wheels bottomed out of every water filled pothole on the city road. Suddenly the female passenger cried, “Stop! I have lost Il Cannone Guarnerius. I thought you had it”, she wept to her male companion. “I have”, he calmly replied, as he flicked aside his overcoat and showed her the violin case resting on his lap. “That was close. Ok you can keep going”. The diver turned to her and asked, “When we get there can I play with you? You play? “First Violin in my homeland orchestra. I always have my Stradivarius with me, but since I came here as a refugee I have to drive this taxi”.
Image ref. Nanooze.com
No sound was made recording this scene. Tell me, what music best suits this scenario?
If you liked this piece then I hope you can find something else to like before you leave.
I married a country girl. She was of the land. She knew things about the rural idyll that other girls didn’t. She knew, in the fog of the early morning, the cows welcomed the release they felt in their udders when she milked them. She knew the fruit trees with spring flowers meant there would be bottling jobs to do in the autumn. She also knew that when the grass dried out in the summertime the hay she helped store in the barn would smell sweet in depth of winter.
Her larder was used to store the bounty of the seasons for use where nothing much grew and the days were short. A full larder meant there was no need to starve at all in less plentiful times. And so we married.
Into our home marched the habits of a lifetime. To be even more correct, as she was only young, she bought with her the wisdom handed down to her by her generations who had learned the benefits of prudent living through bitter experiences. If life couldn’t be predicted, it was wise to, at least, prepare for contingencies unknown.
Thus, instead of the clock announcing it was dinner time, and the necessity for food to placed on the table becoming a scramble, her well established routine meant dinner appeared on time. At our place there was no need to rush to the supermarket it was all at hand. Our panty has always groaned with the ingredients of a gourmet’s kitchen.
Country living had prepared this woman to plan. So there was never any need to rush to a shop at the last minute because the odds were, if you did the shop would be closed when you most needed it to be open.
For over fifty-five years it has been that way. Before something is consumed the need for its replacement is recorded on a list, and the list is set aside ready for our next visit to the shops. In the early days of wedlock we shopped fortnightly. We we settled in suburbia the need was perhaps not necessary but we shopped weekly. We still do.
Our world is currently in turmoil because of the unknown direction it will take as countries around the globe prepare for the threatened pandemic of coronavirus. Already many countries have closed their borders to foreigners. There are obvious signs of xenophobia especially towards Chinese people. (As far as I can see, in these early days before a vaccine is formulated, the virus does not choose to infect one nationality before another.)
The resultant caution is upsetting global markets. This country is predicting -along with an unprecedented run of bushfires- there will be a reduction in business output. In turn this means it must – at some stage – be met with other reductions.
I have read our oil supplies – supposed to be equivalent to three months – would only be enough for nineteen days. This is less time than Mrs W sets aside for staples like flour at our place. At a pinch, if the need arose, she would be able to supplement other cereal powders instead of wheat for even a much longer period.
Countries, like this one, that rely on things like petroleum they no longer refine – need to spend a little time in the company of country girls if they are to weather unconsidered emergencies unscathed.
The other day it was very hot. Cook an egg on the roadway hot. It was a day the advice was, “Make sure you get plenty to drink today, it is going to be very hot.” Locals, and their holidaying couch – surfing friends, went to the beach. So many went there it was impossible to park the car within a kilometre of the shore.
Jac asked if I would drive the car to Cosy Corner, and drop everyone off to have a swim – and collect them all in an hour. This I gladly did. I couldn’t think of becoming desiccated on the sand myself. When I returned we saw a man helping his intoxicated partner to somewhere safer to sleep off the alcohol she had consumed. She had taken the radioed message to drink plenty the wrong way.
To find a man lying in the gutter dead drunk was a common sight in the 1950s. Six o’clock closing encouraged people who had worked all day to swill down as much beer as time allowed after work and before six. War babies like me saw this too often when we walked past the overcrowded, noisy pubs. We smelled the beery odour as it filled the air outside. Additionally we heard the rowdy arguments that spilled from the houses when the men returned home.
Janice was the last born in our family and she became one of the cohort called the baby boomers. This was the generation born after the war. They filled the houses. They filled the schools. By the end of the 1960s they entered the adult world, and they filled the jobs.
Their numbers continued to grow and by the mid 1970s they were the dominant crowd.
They had political power and they used it for their own betterment. They were dissatisfied with the status quo. They tore apart the rules of work. People were once promoted on their seniority. They changed that. They argued and got the right to free tertiary education. This time of prosperity meant they pushed for and got many other social benefits and they pushed back on tax and saw that constantly reduced as government liabilities grew in their wake. They didn’t exclude alcohol but they turned to psychedelic drugs, sex and rock- n – roll as their cultural expressions.
Here we are these many years later with the problems their policies have left behind. As the influence of this retiring group reluctantly diminishes a new world order is emerging. It is more terrifying than the influence of beer, and psychedelic drugs.
Throughout the world the world is turning to fundamentalism.
Speaking, as I do, as someone who grew up in a Judea-Christian tradition I can see this drift to fundamentalism plainly. Those familiar with the bible stories of Revelations see the signs of the forecast plagues; earthquakes, floods, fire and famine and have joined churches promoting , The Rapture. Their belief that in speaking in tongues it will deliver them from the perils before the world is their release. They have no need to do anything. God will solve their problems for them.
(If your belief is different you may recognise other fundamentalist traits. I cannot speak knowledgeably about them. All I can see is that is what has happened, particularly in the last half decade, is a right turn to fundamentalism.)
In my three articles – Time to set things right – I highlighted just three areas where I see capitalism has let us down. (My socialist attitudes on how society would work better if the state provided the services it once did may jar with you. Horribly as soon as people see the world socialist they think communism. (Are you one of those?)
I do not propose that at all. If the state looks after security – military services – other services like water, energy, health, housing for the needy, are just as important. These are the social things it needs to do. To do them it needs cash in the form of taxes to fix thing up.)
Back in 1978 Rod Goode and I introduced a new program in social science to teachers in the Ballarat Region. The course of instruction lasted a week. It was a big ask to get teachers to leave their classrooms for a week of introduction to the course of study. In time we saw all teachers from about 70 schools. In one session , through the week, we touched on the work of Viktor Frankl. I have borrowed this explanation of his work from Andy Forcena quoted in “The worst of all possible worlds” he wrote
In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, the Psychologist Viktor Frankl posits the necessity of meaning for survival. As a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps, he has a unique and first-hand perspective on suffering, horror, and evil. He notes that many of the prisoners who died in the camps (that is, those who weren’t executed outright) had lost all sense of meaning. For them, life was suffering, because they dwelt on their past experiences in the camps rather than cultivating a sense of hope for the future. Given their experiences, who could blame them for this? Frankl claims that he survived the camps because he stayed oriented towards the future, finding meaning in hope for a better tomorrow. This future-oriented outlook is inherent in all of the world’s major religions, whether the heaven of Christianity or the Noble Eightfold Path as a means to ceasing craving in Buddhism.
In my mind we have a choice. We can remain hopeful or despairing. I think it best to remain hopeful and not to give into fundamentalism. The world certainly has some intractable problems but they will not solved by fear or hatred.
I think it is best to turn to the philosophers. Like the major religions Frankl posits, they teach us not to fear and not to hate but to reason. We also have to keep our eyes and ears open and test whether we are getting fake news.
Thank you. Please take the opportunity to comment and give me a chance to broaden my mind.
Around fifteen years after my school class read John Masefield’s poem “Sea-Fever” we were reading about his death in 1967. His lines beginning with, “ I must go down to the seas again….” impacted on me from the start.
In the intervening years I lived near lakes. Later all my visits to the coast were to the fishing villages near the Twelve Apostles. In the mornings the fishermen would return to shore and I would watch as they hauled their Couta boats out of the water onto the pier. Thus I saw the results of working as sea from the safety of the land.
Consequently my experience with boats is very limited. In fact to say I had an occasional sails on Gippsland lakes would sum it up.
Once though I spent thirty hours in Bass Strait on a 36 ft yacht. We started in blissfully calm waters that turned into a raging forty knot storm through the night. On that occasion my faith in boats was buoyed by memories of sticks, and how when tossed into a stream, they always floated. So I did on it. To think of sailors lost in stormy seas would have been too terrible that night.
Now I find, for reasons that can only be fathomed by analysis of my unconscious mind, I am building a dinghy. The plans suggest it can be fitted with a small sail. The knowledge it can be propelled by the wind has had me imagine I can pass on my love of sailing to my grandchildren playing in it. If I build one they can sail it single handedly, this is how I imagine it anyway.
Roger and I each started building “Blondie” a John Bell stitch-and-glue designed dinghy a few weeks ago. I think you need to come up to speed about how it is going.
The journey of this little boat started with a visit to the Internet where we found its rudimentary plans. From there we visited VJS Victorian Joinery Supplies and found marine plywood at a good price. Because we were building two boats we bought four sheets 1200×2400. fig 1.
When we got them to Roger’s workshop the first job was to measure and mark the dimensions of our first cuts. Like good tradesmen we measured twice before cutting. (It is safer to recheck your work before putting it under a saw. So we did.) We carefully measured and checked our cuts and work began. Fig 2.
We cut and rounded off two bottoms, two left sides and two right sides.
Then we used cable ties to pull the pieces together after we drilled holes every so often.
The boats came together when we applied resin and fibreglass around the inside joins. Fig 3
The job has only just begun but now you can see we each have a boat like shape. Fig 4
Thanks for reading. Come back again to follow the next stages.
Can you read about the life of a person by looking at their face? When you sit in a public space and you look about do you wonder who the people around you are? I do, and I search their faces to see what I can make of them from looking. None seem to notice my inquiry. The odds are if they are sitting they will not be doing anything else but looking into the screen of their phone. If they are on their feet they may be on some purposeful mission but many will be blissfully unaware others share the space with them.
In 1888 the child who became my grandfather was born. The rumour is he was born into the home of a public servant in the municipality Governor Phillip first called Rose Hill. By the time he was born it was called Parramatta. His parents names are an unanswered question to the family. Some members of the family have attempted to research his past but no one can yet claim certainty they have the whole truth for he was abducted as a child.
His abductor was the woman he grew to love and whom he called mum for about a third of his life. She was his nurse until she stole him away from his family home and disappeared into the neighbouring state of Victoria. She eventually settled with him in the forests of Gippsland. I am uncertain when she left New South Wales and whether she was married or not. Mrs Hartman was indeed married at some point to Mr Hartman. She continued to work in service to other families and Grandpa worked as a timber worker in the forests around Woori Yallock. The work he did in the isolated forests was to cut down trees. The timber he cut became railway sleepers used on the rail tracks that spider-web like spread across the state from Melbourne
Eventually she became a legitimate mother to other children but she was not my grandfather’s natural mother. I know this because he eventually changed his surname back to the name of his father. The truth emerged when he announced, to his parents, he was getting married. His mother confessed to him his past was not all he knew about himself when the Banns to his marriage was announced.
A fit young man, because of his work, he won the first underhand wood chop at the Royal Melbourne Show as Alex Hartman. He won many more magnificently ornate pieces of Victorian silverware in other similar competitors. By the time his firstborn child, Evelyn my mother, was christened as Hartman-Mason, he was entirely uncertain of his past. Known to everyone as Alex he had also recognised he was born James Fredrick Mason. He fathered seven more children and by the time the last, the twins, were born he had dropped the Hartman altogether. My mother, on the other hand was Hartman-Mason until she married. At that stage her wedding certificate named her Mason.
The life of a labourer is difficult. Like many of his kind during the Great Depression this fit man, just past his fortieth birthday, could not find work locally. It meant leaving home early on a Monday morning with something to sustain him and rough sleeping each evening after an often fruitless search for am itinerant job. By that stage he had qualified as a power monkey as the person in charge of blasting with explosives. This meant he did get a job, for a period, working on the Great Ocean Road at some stage.
Later on he returned to full time work in that job at the Cave Hill lime mills owned by the family of David Mitchell. Father of Nellie Melba.
Despite his hard physical labour he was a man who weathered the ups and downs of fortune. One of the downs was the compulsory acquisition of some land he owned near the road to Lilydale. Government policy at the time was to acquire whatever property they needed without paying the actual market rate. Thus the acquisition was a big blow to his financial security.
At another time land he had purchased for development was sold before it was exploited to assist a son, imprisoned in Bruma by the Japanese for three years during WW11, resettle on a Returned Soldiers Property in the Mallee. This was a further setback that he did not dwell upon.
The old man I knew as a child taught himself to swim in order to qualify as the local swimming pool manager. He built himself a shed. He pottered about with bees and chickens. He loved the twice daily paper and magazines deliveries. He was a big strong man used to his own company until he was hospitalised with a brain tumour in the last weeks of his life.
At one stage, many years after his abduction, he did get in touch with his Sydney family. Their response was, a child was abducted many years ago, however we don’t want to know you because you could be an imposter. With modern science it would be possible to easily prove my relationship with the other family today. I could not be bothered. No one in the extended family has an inclination to restart that search today. We all prefer to remember this tragic story as an interesting anecdote in the life of a relative.
He died on 3/9/1965. Today a stained glass window in St John’s church Lilydale is dedicated to the lives of both my maternal grandparents.
The person sitting beside you on the train. The one you see at the bus stop. The noisy person next door – has a life with a history. Mostly it will be mundane. The colour of a life is not always easily seen. To discover the interesting roles another plays allows you to appreciate the unseen life.