Friday, December 23, 2011

Oh Come On!

Kids get stuck in buckets! 
The boy is unstoppable! 
"Don't sit in that bucket boy! .... Listen to me I know!"
His favorite line... "Oh COME ON!" So despite my advise, he sits in the bucket... and... Ha! He gets stuck!

We spent most of the day together today, just hanging out, doing our favorite stuff. Amongst a bunch of other stuff, me scrounging at the tip shop and the boy scamming lollies from the receptionist at my work. 

I finally finished putting the Cargo bike together, (mostly) and we did some miles together in her, me peddling, the boy jumping around like a crazy monkey on a stick! Singing, laughing teasing joking. The kid cracks me up! Later in the day I loaded the cart up with three kids and we went riding in the rain with the roof on, our outfit looked just like a wagon from an old John Wayne movie. The kids ran amok in the cart, laughing and goofing around, screaming when we hit a bump and sticking their heads out and waving at people as we bounced along the bicycle path. It's about a 6 km ride to Rapid Creek where we dropped our temporary charge back to her folks. We then rode the Nightcliff foreshore path all the way around to Nightcliff and then branched off to the Mulch pit for a bit of gardening and to take a couple more kids for a short joyride in the cart.
As the sky began to darken we headed back home. Mission accomplished. The Cargo bike handled the load, three kids, easily but most importantly, they enjoyed riding in it.

Oh yeh and the boy surprised me somewhat this afternoon. His sister likes fairly heavy rock music but he seems to have finer taste. Well we spent a little bit of time in the car today and when I put on my new Chili Pepers album I was expecting to hear the standard "Oh COME ON!", which in this context would mean get this crap off and play the music I like, but it never came! I looked over my shoulder and there he was nodding his head to the music! He likes the Chili Pepers! His Mum is gunna kill me! I started tapping and bopping away... then from the back of the car I hear. "Arrrgh.... OH COME ON!".
"What?" I ask, (maybe he's changed his mind and doesn't like the music)
"Stop dancing that's MY MUSIC!"
 How do you like that! Only a few hours previously I'd rescued him from a bucket and here he is telling me I can't even groove to my music in the car!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Managing the mischief

"Don’t throw sticks at butterflies in trees!"
That’s the conversation I had with child 1 recently… That's the sort of conversation we have on a regular basis... Sometimes it drives me crazy! "Don't stick those skinks in the bucket full of water, they'll drown!" Don't shake the bush with birds nest in it the babies will fall out and die!" "Clap your hands together to catch the moths, you'll crush their wings!" If you like a peaceful life and think settling down and having kids might be some kind of serene dignified way of growing older with grace… Good luck to you! You might find it an adventure into the limits of sanity, tolerance and acceptance. If you struggle with feelings of powerlessness and wish to seize control of your own life, if you want to develop a set of values to live by and never falter, you're in for a big surprise if you think this will be easy when raising a family! You might find that every day is a battle to maintain even a thread of who you aspire to be. You might find that as you trudge from one day to the next you are lucky if you can make the vaguest of symbolic gestures toward the life you intended to live. You might find that your daily routine, directly contradicts those virtues you were hoping to nurture. The design you had intended to live by might now only be nothing more than a wistful dream you had selfishly harbored in the space between changing the dirty nappies and washing a pile of dirty dishes. Or worse still clawing your way through a swathe of plastic toys to the front door, clambering out of the air-conditioned unit, with an arm full of Mac Donald's wrappers for the bin!   
Marrying someone doesn’t make that person your minion and spawning fry does not guarantee the children will be a physical representation of all you aspire to be.  Ha! If you wanted that you could have created an avatar in Second Life!

This is real! This is where the rubber meets the road! This is where the shit can sometimes ‘…hit the fan!’
Am I Bitching? Nahhhh! 'It's All Good!'
There are funny times as a parent too. Amongst all the madness and fighting there is a lot of humor!
Yesterday the kids were arguing over a toy. One of us told them if they didn’t sort it out we’d switch the toy off! By now the youngest is really annoying the eldest child, it went something like this:
 Eldest child :   “If you don’t stop that I’ll turn you off!”
Youngest child retorts promptly and quite seriously : “But you can’t…! I don’t have any button!”

We all burst into laughter, our little one fancies himself as a comedian. Although he was serious about the fact that he had no switch that could be pushed to turn him off, he immediately capitalized on the situation to try and keep us laughing.
Damn these kids are funny!

As I've posted previously, I feel like I am lacking in originality, however that is not true. I am surrounded by it! If I quoted half of the crazy stuff my kids have said I'm sure I'd have a best seller! 

Oh yeh, Child 1 received a prize for colouring-in a picture for a local supermarket. She has also completed the poster that Sam copied for her (minus the corporate branding). The final product was pretty good.

Child 1 painting a Christmas Poster

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The books on your shelf

Recently we were given the opportunity to accept a pretty hefty increase to our rent or consider finding cheaper accommodation. Since we for about the past 13 years we've been paying about the cheapest rent in Darwin, we realized that finding anything suitably cheep would be far too difficult. We'd been holding our breath and crossing our fingers, hoping that our rent wouldn't go up for a couple of years as we watched house prices sky-rocketed in our area. But we knew crunch time was bound to come!

About 6 weeks ago the landlord contacted me and hit me with some news, which we'd been expecting but it still sent us into a brief state of shock, for a short time we were afraid we'd have no choice but to move out. We went through a little fear for our future security but when the various stages of grief had passed we were ready for the worst case scenario. After all this place does not belong to us, (nowhere really can) but we've been here for many years and call it home. We thought about the prospects of having to move all our stuff out and realized that in 13 years we had accumulated a whole lot of stuff. It's time we considered, what we would do if we had to leave? Where would we go, what would we bring?

As it happened we came to an agreement with our very generous landlord that we could just afford. Thankfully we can stay. Now we don't have to move out but there are renovations planned and we have to clear all our stuff out of the living area. It dawned on us that we have a lot of stuff to move! Amongst all our gear are two book cases full of most of what we have read over the past 13 years and a bunch of stuff I may never read! I'm a slow reader but in 13 years even I can accumulate a lot of books. Why do I think I need to keep them?

One big problem for me is the so-called acquisition of knowledge! I want to know stuff, I want to learn about the world, people and things, there is information in books. Most of the books can be dispensed with once I have read them... but for some reason I have kept them.

Lately I've managed to take some time to re-assess my priorities and consider how I have been approaching the business of life. What is my purpose etc... What am I clinging to? What do I really need? I know that I don't need many possessions but constantly find myself hording stuff. Building up a stock pile that could come in handy... but when? Bike parts, computer bits and pieces, and books mostly. I admit my life is cluttered with stuff. I remember a line from a Redgum song 'Where Ya Gonna Run To "...And the books on your shelf are a measure of all that you've earned..." Well I always thought the last word of that lyric was 'learned' but in the end both words add up to the same thing. Are my books only a manifestation of my own attachment to stuff, status, achievement? If I have learned something surely I can move on to the next lesson, why do I need to cling to the vessel? Am I ever going to read a novel a second time? It takes me so long to read them once! Do I keep these books as resources or trophies?

I dumped a bag full of books on Saturday... It's a start but I'm not ready to part with most of them. Maybe one day.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Smiling Cyclists

Today as I peddled home beneath Thor's Mighty Mountains of vaporous silver light and dense black thunderheads, I felt an odd euphoria. With all that weather up above there must have been a lot of negative ions in the air. I slowed my pace and sat back on my saddle with arms outstretched just feeling the air flowing across my arms, as the breeze blew through my fingers my hands caught enough to pull my arms slightly back behind me, up above clouds expanding shining and full of power. 
It's funny the joys of cycling. 
I remember how as a motorcyclist I had joined a fraternity of Riders. We were set apart from the drones who sit dumb behind the wheels of their automobiles! Trapped in steel cages! We lived closer to the road, closer to the trees and rocky verge. We were with the sky, in the rain and the sun and closer to danger and life. On a motorbike you get to contemplate the fragility of life, instant by instant and you get to really appreciate the beauty of movement and those times when it's all flowing in perfect time! I can remember that once out of the town riders would usually acknowledge each other on the open road.

Cycling is sometimes like that! Just like AB Patterson's Drover, 'The cyclists life has pleasures that the car-slaves never know.'

Rolling up to that set of lights that usually catches 3 or 4 of us like a fishing net, holding us for a while while the cars roar past and we catch our breath before the next push headed for home. Sometimes I see familiar faces and sometimes there's people I haven't seen caught there before. We wait for the lights to change. Some riders won't make eye contact, they're on a mission and possibly take no pleasure in their ride home. Maybe they're concerned about their fitness level, or something. But mostly the riders waiting will glance at each other and give a smile or a nod. Today was kind of magic like that. For some reason everyone I came across gave a great grin! As if we could all feel the awesome energy that surrounded us! Or maybe some of us were just glad that the ominous thunderhead wasn't quite ready to dump on us. It the path home was abuzz though. As I crossed that road a bloke on an old postie bike came shuffling up to the lights... he was dragging his feet up to the white line and beaming at me happily! I chuckled and then I laughed! Sometimes it's like that On The Road!

As I got closer to home I felt that amazing coolness of the dark thunderclouds that were now all around me. Not the rush of cold air that comes flooding in with a thunder storm, just the coolness on the skin, a reprieve from the heat. The cloud didn't open up on us, it just slowed on it's path across a bitumen patchwork shimmering heat and combustion engines. Enough to remind all riders, we are blessed!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Creativity and Compost

I've had a bit of a breakthrough regarding my lack of creativity!
It's a long and interesting story, which I had hoped to write about here in an attempt to break through the veil of stifled incompetence but... once again, I'm out of time! And it turns out I spend it doing exactly the wrong thing. Always doing something when I should be doing nothing! It's no mystery why I and so many others lack creativity and it's merely a symptom. Nothing to worry about really, unless you're in a state of half awakened confusion and dismay... Like me.. ha ha ha... So much attachment but nothing worth holding onto!
It turns out (according to some fella, doesn't matter who he is or how he figures) that we tend to loose our creativity as we get older simply as a mechanism for dealing with a world of rules. We are expected to perform a whole bunch of mundane tasks, which would take forever if we were to approach them with all our consciousness every time we had to do them. Thus as a pragmatic mechanism of energy conservation most of us tend to perform many tasks in a state of semi conscious autopilot. It seems that what generally happens is that as we age, many most of us give up our creativity bit by bit in the name of "Getting shit done"! That was something I heard by chance on the radio the other day. Sounds about right to me. I'm guilty!
Then today as I was plodding my way through invoices at work and listening to Echart Tolle, (Bit of a trip really but nowhere near as crazy as Jed Mckenna!) Mr Tolle reminds me that in the mad rush to cram as much of what I desire into my crowded life as I can fit, I leave no spaces in my life (for God, Emptiness... whatever.. to enter). All I'm left with at the end of the day is whatever obsessive crap my ego was up to when last I let it run my life.... Ergo The same old repetitive crap! (My words not his). I don't stand a chance of channeling creativity if I'm running the same old tapes! Blagh! Take this post for example... It has no chance can not possibly entertain or create a shred of interest simply because here 'I' am again! Worn out, full of my own thoughts, having spent no time outside of my own thoughts head in months! No wonder I used to seek oblivion! But that's no solution, so what is? LOL Give it up! Don't watch TV, let go of obsessions. Wake UP! Breathe, Laugh! Better still, laugh at 'Me!' See those words I've struck through? They're exactly what I'm talking about. My mind is stuck in a rat trap! Whilst I continue to grasp I am doomed to repeat myself over and over until I am a blabbering vegetable!
**POST SCRIPT** It is possible that I am The Man With No IMAGINATION!

A borrowed Santa for the kiddies

I came home from work today to find the kids had been building Lego houses and Sam had copied a picture of Santa onto a large piece of art paper for the kids to colour in! Creations everywhere, lucky for me I took part in some pretty special little creations when I had the inspiration to make something good!  
Tumbling the rotting grub

What about the COMPOST?
Oh yeh and the other item for this post. Compost! I'm not talking about me now... Not yet!
The garden has been an ongoing drama for us. We'd really like to grow our own food in the yard but have been frustrated by various issues like, gardeners poisoning our plants, palm trees growing a mass of roots anywhere we lay soil, a body corporate that prefers us to grow grass and palm trees, a dog that digs up our compost and kids who like to trample over or pluck out anything we stick in the ground!
Anyway a little while back Sam decided to divide out some of the garden and dumped some potting mix then broad cast most of the seeds I'd been collecting. We were ready for the next step. Compost!
Some time about a week back we decided, no more food waste in the rubbish bin! We ordered a compost tumbler bin and decided to stop burying scraps in the yard where the dog can dig them up or chucking them in the rubbish. We didn't figure it would take so long to get a compost bin and ended up stowing all our food scraps in the lovely new chest freezer, which by then was nearly empty of ice-cream. Finally the compost arrived and I collected it on Monday. Tonight we loaded her up with all the food scraps we'd been saving for the past several days and included a bit of paper and cardboard for roughage. Apparently the dry stuff is called 'brown compost', food stuff is called 'green compost', you've gotta get the right mix but I'm sure we'll figure it out.

Ice-cream with banana topping and crushed nuts!

Coincidentally the night before we set up our compost we also consumed the last of our ice-cream stash! The freezer has now been decommissioned until mango season... or the next time Ben or I have to do an emergency run to the airport to bring home dead Magpie Geese have to be jettison from someone's excess baggage headed to Elcho!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Ice-cream Bike

I don't know where to begin with this story...
Once upon a time there was a kid... '...who had a big hallucination...'!
A stupid idea took root in the mind of an obsessive and compulsively deluded dilettante...!
Dive in jack and never mind the flack!

Ok, here we go and please try not to judge.
Firstly let me say that I have literally no spare time or money to devote to foolish flights of fancy, fairytale business ventures or hobbies! I'm fully booked! Do you get it?

That's right! So don't bother asking am I free to catch a film, go for a ride or sip f---ing lattes down at that cool caffe where everyone hangs out hoping to be seen wearing their hippie sandals or sporting expensive custom tribal tatoos coz I don't have the time!
OK... back to the idiotic tale.

So I'm gathering supplies for a work event and planning to put the gear and myself on a carbon hungry airplane to travel into a remote part of the country where I'll meet a bunch of other people who got there the same way in order that they may sit and discuss 'What God Wants' (apologies Roger Waters!). And I'm wondering couldn't we all just do this ourselves at home and save a few thousand years of rotting vegetation from being converted into CO2? Not to mention the money!
Anyway I'm at the shops doing this crazy shopping with other peoples money while I contemplate if I can afford to buy myself a softdrink... when I see an add on the wall.


With photos and a blurb about all the stuff that comes with this great bargain and business opportunity!

Special project x
(First viewing of the machine)

I snatch the phone number off the wall and proceed to the supermarket to gather supplies... (Not enough coins in my purse for a can of drink for myself..!) I go home and sit on it for a few days. An Ice-cream vending 3 wheeled bicycle (tricycle). This could be the answer to my dreams! I have a great job but sometimes I struggle with the madness of the money and resources that get consumed to no apparent end! I feel like a dirty sellout every time I fly. I could leave all that and spend my days cruising the streets on my new Ice-cream vending bike! Not a care in the world. Hanging out with the kids on the street. Bringing pleasure to all with cool refreshments... and blah blah blah! Dream on dream on!
I discuss the idea with my wife and she (quite an amazing person) agrees! "Go for it" she says!
"If you really want to do this then just do it!"

OK! I busted into our savings! I got the cash out! Broke the contract! Stuff the interest! I'm following a dream. Actually it gave me great pleasure, less of my money being used to oppress the people! (Of course I'll pay it all back once I get into business!)

I purchased the Ice-cream bike.

So I've finally got it home, the bike and all the stuff that came with it! Including a gas powered fridge, chest freezer, deep cell battery, ac inverter, battery charger, original cart and gear for the ' MKIII' trike, ice-cream cones, a snow cone ice shaver, several litres of syrup, 5 kilos of crushed peanuts, and a bunch of other bits and pieces...

Ice-cream bike with petrol assist
(The last time ice-cream bike was seen in tact!)

So I get all this stuff home and have a few days to think about what I've done... The questions pop into my mind. What about hygiene? What about regulations? What about health? What about time? What about how far I'd have to ride the bloody thing to get to where I want to sell this stuff? What about how heavy the frigging thing is? What about the fact that I've got two young kids and I'm seriously considering keeping tons of ice-cream in the house? What the f--k did I think I was doing?

(The chest freezer... after a couple of weeks...nearly empty)

Yep... Yet another ill-conceived idea... but this time I followed through! I've got all this crap and I've got no idea now what to do with it!
Well first thing's first! I reckon so we set about getting rid of the ice-cream! Yep! one tub at a time! We're eating it! There were about 3 2lt tubs plus a bunch of these little single serve tubs designed to be squeezed into a cone... We're eating them all! With nuts and topping!

The kids love me! I'm the Ice-cream man! When I get home from work at night it's snow cones all round! Ice-cream is garbage if you ask me, when the stock is all gone we'll turn the freezer off and save electricity and sell it! I won't be selling ice-cream! Actually I don't even like ice-cream very much and I don't want to be selling the crap to kids, soft drink either! But while it's in the house I'm eating the bloody stuff! I know it's not like selling drugs or grog but seriously if I'm not into it myself why sell it to others? I'm thinking of converting the whole thing into a 'portable film projector' or maybe I'll do fruit juices or something... I don't know, it was a crazy idea! For now we're just going to have to finish the ice-cream and use the cart to take the kids to school and do the shopping... reducing the atmospheric CO2 the hard way... one calorie at a time!

I was telling an aunty about this latest adventure and she couldn't stop laughing! She thought it was a great laugh that I'd purchased a business and had spent the past few weeks eating my way through the stock! I reckon I got off lightly! I once met a couple of fellas who bought a pub and thought they'd do the same thing with their stock! Now you might think that would be pretty cool... I doubt most of us have sailed so close to the wind! Believe me it got pretty bloody ugly and quickly... They'd gone bust and nearly killed themselves not long after they started.   

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Wednesdays. We spend Wednesdays in the garden.
The weather is getting hot.
Sometimes we are drenched in sweat before we even get there; but, we go!
We like to feed the horses and look at the cattle along the way, sometimes there are calves,
As we ride along the river there are magpie geese, and egrets, sometimes whistling ducks.
Today it was hot! I felt tired, things felt wrong... I wanted to leave but persisted.
We have friends at the garden and it feels bad to desert them but the energy felt wrong and my heart said no,
It's like getting out of bed on the wrong side or wearing your clothes inside out...
We stayed. I felt like the sun had already drained me. There were feelings of anxiety and uneasiness around.
We stayed... but our hearts weren't in it! I was covered in ants, they bit, I welted! I became dehydrated, the kids dropped their tadpoles on the dry earth and everything began to feel really crappy.
We struggled to move heavy things, we dug holes and chipped away at claystone, shards of coffee rock sprayed our faces as the mattock forced it from the ground, sweat dripped, vision blurred, head thumping... drink as much as you can! The pond wouldn't fit no matter how hard I bashed the rock. Somebody said it's facing the wrong way... OK, no problem how would you like it? (I could shove it sideways for you if I had the energy!... I didn't have the energy!) Big f-----g Deal I thought, what's next?

Then someone stood on a piece of tin that had been hiding a baby blue-tongued lizard and I knew the day was lost! Poor thing had a broken back and we tried to carry on as though it was OK.
It wasn't OK.The lizard was badly hurt and will die. I said kill it, somebody said no... What can you do? The lizard will die, we all die! We shouldn't have killed the lizard, we should have been listening... We weren't.

My mate Dan got some new teeth. Teeth are important, it's good to have teeth. They can chomp food and also make you look better when you smile, people stare when you have a gaping hole where teeth should be... I know because I do... I stare.
Some of my teeth are gone. I won't get them back? What does it mean to loose teeth? Death. That's all. It's only a sign that we are dying. We're all dying so what's the big deal? I'm glad I won't have a head full of perfectly good teeth when I die. What would they be good for? Some people pay big money to have their teeth straightened. Just to look good! True! Why leave this place without a few dents and scratches? Surely we need something to carry with us into old age. To show the senile and forgetful that we lived! Something cool to show the kiddies. What about the stories? I wonder what the tooth fairy would pay me for that chunk that fell out the other day? 
Some days you've just got to find a place in the shade, sit down and find let the spirit rest, listen. Dadirri!

Down in Melbourne they buried a family friend. It's OK to mourn! Sometimes it's all we really should be doing! 100s went to his funeral and celebrated his life.

Now I'm home, cooled off and relaxed, sunburned neck and nose. Enjoying a cool glass of water. Water is precious, lovely and sweet.

Friday, November 25, 2011

About Teeth

I have a recurring dream. It's kind of like the, 'I'm walking down the street and everyone is looking at me funny, Oh Damn! I'm completely naked' dream. What? You haven't had that dream? No not the one where everyone else is naked! That's a different kind of dream. I mean that dream when you are in what would be an otherwise normal public setting, like at work or school or doing the shopping. And... then... WHAM! You realize that you'd forgotten to put clothes on before you went out. To my nudist friends, please imagine that this is not something you normally do!

Anyway I'm not talking about that dream now either! I'm talking about the TOOTH Dream! 
I have this dream that all my teeth crumble and fall out of my mouth. It's not a nice dream. Although there is no immediate fear or consciousness of pain, I just get this terrible sinking feeling like my teeth are my life and they are falling from my mouth like grains of sand through an hour glass... (or a 7 minute glass in the case of our egg timer). I sometimes dream that my teeth are falling out and it gives me a strange sense of impending doom.

Now everyone knows that teeth are pretty important. Eating is one of my favorite activities, without teeth I would find it more difficult and less pleasant. To loose ones teeth is not a superficial thing! For many people, before dentistry became popular or a sanitized affair, and before processed foods were available on the market, I'm talking way back, in this country about 200 years ago. If a person lost his or her teeth, unless a close friend was prepared to pre-masticate their food, or they had a decent supply of milk, the toothless wouldn't last very long. In many early human societies the teeth were used as an important tool for survival. If you didn't have good teeth you would have been far less effective at a whole lot of important daily duties, like making string, chewing sinew, stripping the flesh from animals and fruit, cracking seed pods, etc... etc... How long do you think you'd last if you couldn't chew your food?

I can definitely see why my primitive sub conscious associates the loss of teeth with calamity, defeat, and death. However I don't how my primitive sub conscious is able to remind me of this just a week or so before I actually loose a tooth! Or at least a bit of one anyway!

A few weeks ago I had the dreaded tooth dream and then just this week I was chewing on a Mintie (OK bad move!) when I noticed a bit that was harder than the rest. At first I thought it was solidified Mintie but when I felt the loose piece clang against one of my remaining teeth I knew for sure! I've broken another tooth! It was a pretty big chunk too. What a bummer! Now I'm wondering how young I'll be when all my teeth are gone! Thankfully there's no pain but I know I'm gonna have to get the thing fixed, I hope they don't want to pull it!

I'm not too sure why my teeth are so week but I have a few theories.

1. Caffeine, (I drink a ton of it and have heard it depletes calcium.)
2. Sugar free cola drinks (there's no sugar but heaps of caffeine and a bunch of nasty chemicals)
3. Too much sugar (It's possible but I'm not such a sweet tooth)
4. Opening beer bottles with my teeth (Haven't done that for a long time but I don't suppose it did my teeth any good)
5. Eating ice (A friend got me onto it years ago when we had no money... I kind of got used to it, At least it doesn't make you drool red bile and spit, like an anesthetized camel!)
6. Too many years of falling asleep with the 'whitelady' or one of her friends and forgetting to brush my teeth before collapsing into unconsciousness. (Hey when you're all charged up and living for the moment who's seriously going to march off to the bathroom and brush their teeth? It just wouldn't be the same!)
7. Genetics (Probably! Nothing I can do about that one either)

It doesn't bother me so much to loose a few teeth. I don't like paying to have them pulled but I've enjoyed plenty of steaks in my life and am happy enough on a vegetarian diet these days anyway. Besides during these days of affluence and highly processed foods a person doesn't really need his or her teeth, except for social reasons like smiling at a potential mate, new employer etc...
But the world is changing quickly, I have a strong sense that teeth will become quite a useful tool in the post peak world. I sure hope the kids don't end up loosing their teeth too, I reckon they're gonna need them!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rest - a Parasympathetic imperative!

Last night I actually got to bed before midnight!
Burning the candle at both ends has worm me down... way, way down! I have ignored all the signs and laughed at suggestions that I get some rest. I don't operate heavy machinery, I sit in an office for most of the day, who should care if I stay up every now and then? Surely I'm entitled to a little bit of me time!

Well every now and then has once again become every night! After a day sitting, mostly at the computer I come home, get straight into taking care of kids and family and once they are all settled and sleeping, the adolescent in me says great! Now it's my time! And so I switch on the computer and catch up on all the stuff I'd really like to be doing if I had more time! I convince myself that there's no harm in it but I recently read an article in Kindred magazine titled A Place to Rest that made reference to the Parasympathetic Nervous System. 
My lifestyle would appear pretty easy to most people but the reality is that I am suffering from stress! TRUE!
Having virtually collapsed from unhealthy exhaustion last night the article reminded me of all the aspects of life I've been pushing to the side for too long. Physical exertion, meditation and most importantly some healthy Rest! I have refused to rest! I know I need it but I've fueled myself on caffeine and insisted on getting my fair share of time to do what I like! The problem is that the most available time, when I don't have other commitments is late at night when everyone is asleep... and when I should be too! I have no energy to actually do anything so I jump on the computer! I can defrag the computer but my mind remains over wound.
I have never coped well with sitting around at other people's leisure! Not that I have miles of strength or energy but I am one of those people who is much better off put to productive use! The sedentary life is like a slow death! I enjoy the comfort of working in an office and I love my family but I respond to captivity like an animal caged. I have developed a neurosis! Reading this article which mentions the Parasympathetic Nervous System reminded me of the harm I know my lifestyle is doing to me... It's gotta change!

Well actually it is changing, little by little. Just for today I have managed to counter this problem! (I say as I type about it so close to midnight!) Today I spent the whole day outside with my boy! It was hot and we sweated... Spending the morning laboring down at our community garden in Nightcliff was a great way to exercise the demons of idleness! Then off to the pool for a swimming lesson, followed by a fairly long cruise along the foreshore on our bike, visiting a friend and eventually returning home at about 4pm exhausted (and sunburned...). Physically exhausted and completely happy. Ready to rest! As my boy gets older I am gradually finding ways to get us both out there. I think he's a lot like me and enjoys the stimulus of being amongst the plants, working in the soil, meeting the Frilled Necked Lizards, the people and the weather!

This morning it rained on us while we rode down McMillans Rd. We sang and laughed as we cycled through the tropical shower. When we arrived at the garden it was hot but we were happy to see the chooks and eat snake beans off the vine! We inspected the Banana Circle that we'd help to make the week before and found the compost rich and steaming, full of life! The boy happily wandered off to find lizards and collect cicada shells while I cut bamboo and chatted with my gardening friends... As far as I can tell this is about the best way to prevent:
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep problems
  • Digestive problems
  • Muscle tension, pain, and headaches
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Memory impairment
  • Worsening of skin conditions, such as eczema

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Inattention, lack of focus
  • Irritability and aggression
  • Sadness, depression, and lack of motivation
  • Over-eating or under-eating
  • Smoking, drug, and alcohol abuse
(List of ailments as per that article in the Kindred magazine)

It's been really difficult to get any time to Rest at home since we had the kids, (Several years) Today was one of the few days in all of that time when I could actually lay down on the bed for half an hour, during the day without having to break up a fight, change a nappy, prepare someones food, or attend to any number of other domestic responsibilities or demands. I actually managed to get half an hour of real Rest! BLISS!
Now that the boy is getting older we may be stepping into a new phase of family life. My mission will be to wear him and myself out physically whenever the opportunity avails. This will be our path to peace!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A walk in the shade of a Glasshouse Mt.

I have resisted a trip to southern Queensland for a very long time. It's a busy commercial crowded and glitzy place, what could I possibly do down there? I've seen Surfers once and I've heard the Sunshine Coast has gone the same way! Why would I go through the pain of seeing what they've done to it? Like the song goes... "There ain't no Paradise in Surfers.... It's a Paradise Lost!"

Well guess what. There's more to Sunny southern Queensland than beaches, Highrise and sweet blond chicks wearing gold bikinis!

We've been off and away, tripping along in the cool of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and it was Good!

A couple of days at Glasshouse Mountains Eco Lodge. Where there was an abundance of fresh fruit straight from the trees, pineapples and even macadamia nuts just lying around on the ground! We cracked the shells, chomped on the white flesh of nuts and scooped chunks of melting sweet bromeliad flowers dripping with sweet syrup. Drinking rainwater from the tank was also a pretty sweet experience.

Glasshouse Mountans Eco Lodge
(Glasshouse Mountains Echo Lodge)
It was via The Glasshouse Mountains Echo lodge that I discovered the word flestering, and while we were there we saw a few creative examples of the owners recycled re-sculptured flester art. OK doing this sort of thing is nothing new but I think the creation of a word to describe it might be.

Beerburrum lookout walk/climb
(Walking uphill)

From the Echo Lodge I went for a drive with my Mum and Brother up to Maleny and then on to visit an old friend who happens to live in an amazing part of the world called Crystal Waters... WOW!
Yep! This was the part of the trip that sold me on going down to Queensland! At the beginning of this year I thought we would need to leave Darwin, I felt so sure about it that I used up a large chunk of my money to fly to Tassie seeking refuge in the cool mountains surrounded by temperate rainforest. I went looking there because it was a place surrounded by trees and fresh air and because it was very cheap. However the place I really wanted to go to was Crystal Waters Eco Village!

Cob woodfire oven
(Cob woodfire oven @ Crystal Waters)

Crystal Waters Village Green bakery
(Crystal Waters Village Green Bakery)

This trip was no longer urgent but having done some research I was pretty keen to see the place first hand. I'm so glad I got to see it. It was beautiful! I had lowered my expectations too far after having read as much as I could find about the place. It was actually quite beautiful, which I hadn't expected. This is a place I could live in! Maybe one day we'll return!

As usual there's plenty I'd like to write about this trip but it's late, my eyes are stinging and I have a head ache so I'll reduce it to a few words.

I really liked the hill country behind the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast. The diversity of plants and animals caught me by surprise! I was not prepared to see so much variety of species, it blew me away. The fertility of the soil and the availability of fresh water was also surprising.
One day I am sure I will return!

Friday, November 04, 2011

A glove full of peanuts...

Give me an inch and I'll take a Glove full of peanuts!
I know that obsessive self indulgence is not a healthy path to tread. I know that I'm prone to fits of fantastical illusory dreams of divine expression and art and that the high I seek will always dump me like a king tide surf on an empty shore.... but... There's no law against it yet and if it don't interfere with my ability to operate a motorcar then what's the harm right?

Tonight I dragged the family out to the Darwin Visual Arts Association (DVAA) at Frogs Hollow to see an exhibition of paintings titled 'Peanuts fill the glove...' by the Artist Nat Uhing. Nat is a multi skilled and practical artist who has produced some awesome textile creations in embroidery and bookbinding... sometimes, I think combining the two! If you thought embroidery was just for old ladies (Hey I didn't think that! I'm just saying if you did...), you'd be tragically wrong! This exhibition isn't about textile art though I did see one mixed media piece... the exhibition is essentially paint on canvas! Paintings...! 

The title for her exhibition may seem a bit cryptic so if you're wondering maybe a snippit from the Artist's blurb will explain...
"...every one of these paintings went out on a journey by itself, to grapple with whatever the fixation of the week was, and without a care for where the others had gone…peanuts, gathered to fill an ineluctable glove."
Nat's art erupts with colour and exudes imaginative introspection, self exploration, energy and humor! It's fun, sexy, elevating and... well I reckon pretty bloody good! 
'Reading Monsoon Dervish' is Melancholy... Lady Kitsune (foxy) is crazy! 

I've followed these paintings via Nat's Blog so I'm already kind of connected to these paintings in a way but Sam, who hadn't seen them before was just as impressed (as I am obsessed!)... The kids were more interested in the free corn chips and lollies outside! (Well we hadn't fed them dinner and hey if their busy stuffing their faces and letting me check out the art, I'm not going to complain!)
Just as Nat let us in on the creative process vial her blog 'The Smallest Forest' she also shared some of the music that inspired her paintings. I'm listening to it now and am transported into that ethereal world of imagination.. possibly gleaning some of the power that enabled the artist. But to be honest, feeling more like the voyeuristic dreamer. No paper, no brush or hand. I can't watch the bubbles bursting above my head all day (or night). It was a nice interlude though. Thank you very much! 

Oh yeh there was a collaborative exhibition next door called Sirens which was also great, full of mermaids, octopuses and seascapes, the female form with fins in shades of blue. We were surprised to see some familiar names in the list of artists and rather impressed with their work too!

I'm not sure how long the exhibition goes for... maybe all of November. Check it out.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Blowouts and blisters

If I could go back in time and give myself some advise before embarking on the journey of life I might say to myself... 'Now kid you're in for quite an ride, some of it will blow your socks off! Some will be a bit scary. Sometimes you're going to wonder if any of it was worth it and some days you'll think you've discovered Paradise and you just won't want to leave but remember! Things never stay the same and 'There will be blowouts!'

(Don't get excited I have no intention of continuing with any profound revelations in the rest of this blog post, from here on it's just an ordinary day in the life story about getting a blister and bursting a tire.)

Today the kids and I had a great time hanging out on the church lawn and scratching around in the Mulch Pit. There was a mob of people around as usual, everyone on their own trip, talking drinking coffee meeting friends 'networking' (OK that word shits me just as much as seeing it in practice but if the word fits...). Yes It sometimes gets a bit pretentious on our turf, sometimes it seems that "connectedness" has displaced friendliness but on the whole it's still an OK place to hang out on a Saturday Morning. Today the boy and I decided to venture back into the Mulch Pit, It's been a while since I'd attempted to do any physical work in the garden, the kids had been a bit of a handful over the past year so I'd given up trying to do anything beyond keeping a close eye on them. But Today was different! Today We Gardened!

I got stuck into it for a while with a crowbar, mattock and shovel, (digging a banana pit) only to find that after years of working in an office with very little sweat time... my hands had gone all soft like a girl baby! The callouses I had developed years ago when I did stuff, had dropped off and my hands which are now pink and soft, were vulnerable to blisters! So after only a few minutes of digging, I felt the skin on my finger rip as the crowbar tore open a blister that it had only just created! The sweat of my over fed, doughnut blubber, office-bound body dripped into the wound and I said "eowww!" I cried 'I've got Blisters on my Fingers!' but nobody sang along! (Some folks have no sense of humor... Or maybe they were never into John Lennon!) I am discovering just how frail my body has become. It all started when I learned how to use a computer! My body has atrophied to a shadow of it's useful self and I've become a helpless blob of cyber-space-cadet whose body has been drifting in zero gravity for over 10 years. This was bound to happen! I resolved to continue digging, but more carefully. I managed to get a few other things done and ultimately I felt good. It was a weak first start but at least there was sweat!

During the process of me recommencing manual work a fella turned up carrying a banjo, I think it was his girlfriend who had the harmonica, they were into gardens but not used to the heat and didn't want to sweat. I suggested they might like to sit in the shade and play some music for me while I do hard stuff and... they did! What a way to work; with the sound of banjo and harmonica to spur me on! I had this eerie feeling I was in a Coen Brother's movie. Now referring back to my first paragraph, this is what I call something close to paradise, blisters and all, the day was GOOD!

We stayed in the garden until the mobs had left Frilly's. Just as I was about to mount my bike there was a very loud CRACK sound a bit like a rifle going off. A jet of dust shot out from under the front wheel of my bike. It was a blowout! The front tire of my bike had a great split through the center of it! I couldn't believe it! It just went off! Lucky I wasn't riding down hill at the time it would probably have sent me off into the gutter or worse. I looked at the tire. It was yet another salvaged from the tip. I'd traded up a few times having found better profile tires, this was one I was quite fond of and not ready to part with. Unfortunately, even though there was still a bit of tread on it, the tire had actually perished a fair bit and needed to be replaced! I just wasn't ready to do it yet. That'll Learn me! The blowout only set me back a few minutes, I happened to have another wheel waiting in the wings, it had been donated a couple of weeks previously, I just pumped up the tire and threw her on and Bob's your uncle. I was mobile again!

 (There's a hole in the tire!)

(Best tire I've ever used and it was a gift left under a tree!)

Got home, went to the shed, reached in and pulled out a treat that spun my head! Magnificent tire full with tread,  left under a tree just by an anonymous friend!
It was given only a couple of weeks ago! A Schwalbe Marathon in closer to new condition than any of the tires I've ever had! I fitted the new tire and tube, filled the thing with air, stuck it where the front wheel is supposed to go, re-connected the brakes and took it for a quick spin. Unbelievable! I actually couldn't believe the difference in the ride! With a lot more pressure and slicker tread pattern, this tire made my bike feel totally different! Better! Much better! The problem now is I look at my bike and think. "You're not worthy!". A feeling of guilt or shame or something came over me. How could I put that beautiful tire on such a crappy, nasty old rattle heap of a bike! The darn tire's got me wanting a whole new bike to put it on! Or maybe I'll just have to get busy learning how to rebuild this bike properly! I can't wait to take the bike out for a reasonable ride to see just how great tire is, who knows I may even put the rear one on before the old one has a blowout!

Thanks Douglas! You're a champion!

Friday, October 28, 2011

A life choice dilemma

Finally I've arrived home after having spent about 4 and a half hours sitting on the locally manufactured bricks at Maningrida airport terminal. Although I am impressed that they make their own... I am not so satisfied with them as a day bed!

(Maningrida Bricks, Glad I didn't have to sleep on them!)

I've just spent a day at Elcho Island, where I had to go as part of my work. It kills me to think that I'm flying all that way just for one day! I'm trying to live simply and in the process reduce my carbon emissions, I ride my bicycle everywhere around town yet here I am jumping on a damned plane and flying across the country like some kind of jet-setting wanker executive! Or actually a lot more like the hundreds, possibly thousands of contract laborers, (and qualified tradesmen of course) who fly in and fly out of remote communities every week! It sucks and it kind of makes me sick to think about how ridiculous the situation is! Don't get me wrong, I do like flying and I really like visiting the people and staying in Arnhem land Communities but it's just not sustainable and besides my job simply isn't so important that it should require me to travel like this... yet here I go again! Anyway, I was on my way home this morning when the plane had technical difficulties and we had to wait for someone to come from Darwin to fix it. four hours later and we're wondering if we'll ever leave.
If the aroma of burning av gass and the sound of screaming engines turned me on then today would have been a real treat! Unfortunately I was kind of keen to get back to Darwin to see my wife and kids and to throw myself into sweat labor down at the Mulch Pit! It was possibly some kind of a blessing that I shouldn't complain about but I did have other plans and wasn't feeling terribly philosophical about the delay... at first.

Having recently read 'Radical Simplicity: small footprints on a finite Earth', by Jim Merkel (who happens to be an ex military weapons developer and trader) I am well aware that this trip alone has completely engulfed any fuel I would have used driving to work throughout the year...
The book is interesting but Jim lost me with all the calculations! Even if I was into maths I don't think I'd ever enjoy scrutinizing my consumption to the extent that he advocates. It just isn't fun! Anyway since I've read the book and now have a hundred formulas for finding out exactly how many planets it would take to sustain my consumption of resources. I am seriously reconsidering what I do for a living and how I can find a more acceptable way to put bread on the table.

There are several positive aspects to my work, which I shouldn't take for granted. I come in contact with some amazing and inspiring people.I have learned so much from them that I always balk at the decision to leave. It's a very peculiar problem... to leave would feel like deserting my family... actually because of the Yolngu system of adoption and Malk it would be exactly like deserting my family... and that is the biggest dilemma! So I guess I'll stick with it for a while.

cashew Elcho Island
(A very healthy cashew, hidden in a jungle)

The thing that has really been firing me up lately is my interest in learning more about growing food. How shared gardens can actually build resilient and caring communities! It might sound a bit mooshy but this is something that energizes me! Nightcliff Uniting Church has recently taken the extraordinary step of  employing a Permaculturist to coordinate activities at The Mulch Pit! I think that's an amazing and thing to do! A community that runs on the smell of an oily rag has deemed it's appropriate to employ someone to develop their permaculture garden! That's awesome!
I recently spent some time with Dan, and was instantly infected with his love for plants, soil and everything that lives in a permaculture system! I've always been interested and my minor involvement down at the The Patch gave me a sense of why I think it's such a special thing to do but now that I've been talking to Dan at the Mulch Pit, and having just spent 4 hours reading our mate Robbie Lloyd's book 'Going Walkabout through the Suburbs' (about creating inclusive societies) I'm thinking that now is the time for me to start studying permaculture.

Timothy @ the farm
(Timothy with his banana and sugar cane plantation)

Meanwhile back on Elcho this morning I was fortunate to spend time with the Community Minister, Timothy Buthimang, my Mari. Timothy is a devoted gardener and a Uniting Church 'Community Minister', although he can illustrate many things through the metaphor of gardening, he is a man of action and wisdom... a Worrier of the Spirit who is a living demonstration of the power of wuburr (sweat) to overcome adversity! His lessons provide real fruit! Timothy has maintained a garden of some description for many years. Recently Buthimang's farm/plantation was burned by a wildfire, but he showed me this morning that he has reclaimed the garden from the ashes and now has some very healthy banana and sugar cane growing in the ground. He has pots full of Pawpaw seedlings and various melon varieties as well. Having spent time with Timothy, I know what I need to be doing.

So here's to gardening tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A concept takes flight

More about the aircraft salvage operation.

A few weeks ago a mate of mine told me about a plan that another fella I know had to salvage some aircraft parts. Well the operation didn't quite work out and they were beginning to wonder if they'd be able to find what they were looking for.
Remarkably, coincidentally... whatever you want to call it, I happened to have something pretty close to what they wanted so the project was able to continue.

So without giving too much away I thought I'd post some more photos of the progress that has been made over the past couple of weeks. Conversion from trash into functional artistic creations of  beauty!

(Building an undercarriage of individually curved wooden frame for wings)

tail in mono chrome
(Cleaning and painting tail)

Transit lounge
(Fitting hand crafted woodwork to aluminium flight gear)

There is a deadline for this project so I imagine I'll be posting about it's completion soon. It's looking fantastic so far.

Reflections of ego... the road ahead

Another self indulgent naval pondering excuse for a blog post.
I have been wondering for some time about the purpose and reason for this blog. It's not specific, often full of personal rants with no real objectives and little to no research of subject matter prior to publishing.
It doesn't contain any useful information about how to make money, fix your car, pick up chicks, catch fish, grow your own vegetables or cook a souffle!
It does not provide inside information about corrupt political or business entities, have any suggestions for achieving Buddha consciousness, Nirvana, or reaching heaven or even describe personal encounters with any of these things.
Mostly it's so eclectic and vague and the over abundance of opinionated clap trap does nothing to entice the reader's attention or inspire further reading... So what is it for?

Well I have thought long and hard... (Well for about half an hour) and I am now sure that I do not know!

I've been at it for nearly 6 years now so I suppose a brief deconstruction is in order.
The purpose of this title is to let the reader know that the author of the blog views his world through the eyes of a Balanda. The word Balanda is a Yolngu word that is used generically by many indigenous people in the Top End of the Northern Territory to name non indigenous people... particularly Anglo. It is a word that was introduced by Macassan traders long before Yolngu ever set eyes on a White Man.
I like to use the word Balanda because it implies that there were important cross-cultural interactions between Indigenous people and those from other parts of the world long before Europeans arrived in Australia. It forces me to be consider my dominant culture experience of the world as only one perspective among many other world views. So Through Balanda Eyes means to me that although I am living here on Larakia Land I am not necessarily seeing things in a way that is natural for this place. Ultimately I am only a newcomer and have much to learn.

The Sub Text - 'A collection of thoughts and images usually scattered and disorganized that have now found a home... '

This pretty much explains the nature of the blog and I expect warns the reader not to look for form or any kind of reliable format to my writing... It's a mess!

Further Sub Text in Brackets - (Commentary from somewhere near the center of THE EMPIRE!)
This bit might be a little more cryptic. It is something I added after having listened to Eleine Pulos of Uniting Justice speaking about the bubble of contented ignorance that we live in here in Australia. Assuring ourselves that the world is becoming a fairer and better place to live, while our affluent lifestyles starve a growing portion of the worlds population into inescapable poverty, deplete the world of precious resources and create unprecedented environmental disasters and extinctions... I suppose it's a fairly standard Marxist perspective but these days we seem not to hear too much that really challenges the sense of capitalist, entitlement that allows us to justify any crimes for the sake of preserving our current way of life.... At the Center of the Empire.

Blog Format 

Well I've basically used a standard template but added a repeated background of bicycle sculpture... because I'm into bicycles. I have a list of blogs and stuff in the right hand column that I don't remember updating for a long long time. There is also some political, environmental widgets, and my flickr widget and some other stuff.

Blog Content
This is what it's all about and now I'm getting too tired to write about it. This is where I am stuck! I'm thinking of trying to take a more organized approach to my blogging but balk at the idea!
I could refine my subject matter and focus on particular subjects, but I have realized that some of the subjects I am most passionate about I never write about on this blog! They seem to be too serious for me to do justice so I just tend to leave them un-written! What is that all about? What should I do about it? I'm not sure yet.
I'm wondering if I should just choose only one subject per week and try to post about that at least once in the week. That might help me to focus. Maybe I could focus on the title of my blog and keep everything contained to the perspective of a non indigenous person... in order to prompt the reader to wonder how an Indigenous person might feel about the same thing... (I think that was the point of the title after all!) and how might we act if we cared about that?
One big problem I am concerned about is that by writing on too many subjects I risk appearing like a smartass pretentious know it all! I'll have to watch out for that one. It's not a good look for someone with as little knowledge as I have!
I'm still not sure where I'm going with this but it's too late in the day now to be interested.

Hoo Roo.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Flestering for a saner world!

Have you ever heard of 'Flestering'?
I don't think I had until my wife thought to point it out to me recently. She knows I like doing stuff with junk and when she discovered the word and art of Flestering she had to tell me all about it!

I couldn't find the word in the dictionary so looked it up online and discovered only a few references to it but what I found, I liked!

Here is a definition of flestering according to this site: (Go and read some of their theory, I think it's pretty cool)

"Flester (fles-ter), n.,flesta, -am; v.,flesto, -are, avi, -um.

Attributed to Uncle Flester, presumed timeless and ubiquitous.

1. n. Defunct, discarded, things; immediately redeemable. In the post-industrial age, fragments of formerly functional contrivances.

2. n. Any "thing" in so far as one ascribes a presumptive integrity to it, often the result of a visual prejudice.

3. v. The act of flestering, i.e. making proliferative and promiscuous use of what is at hand, closely related to the practice of Bricolage (See French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss: "The Savage Mind.")"

If you've ever seen the film 'The Gleaners and I' you might remember seeing some of the fascinating people in the film who collected junk from the street and turned it into something... artfully transforming trash into objects of curiosity and sometimes beauty. The creators of the River Cube project call this kind of transformation of discarded material Artful Trash Management (ATM) and also use the term Flestering to describe the process. I like it.

There's a satisfying feeling you can get when salvaging stuff, junk, and turning it into something useful. Whether it is intended as art or not, many things transformed in this way appear to take on a magical new quality and an odd beauty! I remember the farm gates on properties back home were often made from recycled beds or other iron, which had been welded and cut to fit. The latches too were crafted from recycled iron.

Darwin has it's own examples of Flestering, some of it I have found to be absolutely inspiring! I can't help being drawn to anything created in this way, it just sucks me in!

Here's a couple of local examples of Flestering that I reckon are pretty cool.

Creative Image Gallery Tin Shed Gallery
I don't think they're showing anything at the moment but you can check out Pedro's handy work at Casuarina Square, you sit on it! (Erratum - the link is to Tin Shed Gallery but the place I'm referring to is actually the Creative Image Gallery... Oooops!)

Darwin Fridge Festival
The event came into being last year. It is produced by Darwin Community Arts. Last year it was a basic exhibition of art done on, in and with discarded fridges (from the tip I expect), In one year it has grown enormously and now includes poetry and performance art! I believe there's still time to get your entries in.
The opening of the 2011 Fridge Festival was held last night at the Darwin Aviation Institute. An awesome open air venue, that absolutely reeks of Old Darwin Town! If you weren't there you have seriously missed out on something special! No dress code, free mangoes and plenty of room for the kids to run around!

If you're into a seat of your pants Adventure Flester check out Monsoon Dervish! If you scroll down you can see the awesome recumbent bike that local adventurer (not sure he'd like to be called that) Kris Larsen has created and ridden where most people fear to drive! If you're curious about his yacht or bike and would like to know how they came into being, with a capital 'B' I recommend reading his books.

As for me I've only tinkered with small stuff, re-using things that have been discarded, and mostly things I find on the side of the road while riding to work. (you'd be surprised how much treasure falls through the cracks in a wealthy society!) There is one project I am following with keen interest though. I managed to rescue some old aircraft bits before they were tossed out for scrap metal and they are now being transformed by a wizard of recycling and his conspirator. I'll try to post a progress report soon.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Twilight Sailing

But first about - A Graduation Ceremony.
Before I get into the drama's of learning to sail stories I'd like to mention that today (oops technically yesterday now) was CDU Graduation Day. This year for the first time CDU graduated some very special people who have managed to complete the Mawul Rom Project at Galiwin'ku. This was a very special occasion, graduands received a Masters in Indigenous Knowledges! Congratulations to those who graduated especially those members of my adopted Gupapuyngu family who have worked so hard! I was proud to see you there today! I wanted to jump for joy and cheer you but of course the atmosphere required a little more restraint!

(Academic protocol doesn't encourage emotional explosions)


Over the past few months I've managed to complete two basic skills courses in Sailing and have even attended 4 Twilight races at the Darwin Sailing Club. It's been a real hoot! I love being on the water. Attending sailing classes has made it possible for me to experience some of the basics of sailing a yacht and provided some great moments bobbing around in the sea.

Today was the Darwin Sailing Club's final Twilight Series 'Non Serious' sailing race. This was possibly my last chance to sail until next year and I kind of spoiled it a bit by being a little too blase. Today there were no Pacer dinghies available and my regular sailing partner deserted me to crew on another boat so I had to take out a Pico. Actually I was looking forward to finally sailing solo and not having to share any of the boat with someone else but the rapture soon wore off! Picos are smaller dinghies than Pacers and the reduction in hull size means, surprise surprise, they're more cramped! With no jib to watch for my boat's orientation in relation to the wind, I soon discovered that it is a little harder to avoid the no-go-zone! Another problem which made things worse for me was the fact that the hull is more like a flat platform, which means there's not leg room. I ended up nearly dislocating my right knee 3 times!

It happened all to quickly! Directly as a result of two important factors... My lack of experience in these boats coupled with lack of concentration lead to me trying to quickly move from one side of the boat to the other during a Tack or a Gibe, resulting in my torso and everything else moving in one direction while the lower part of my leg is caught sideways under the weight of my body! The result of this unfortunate maneuver was the unmistakable shooting pain of two leg bones unwilling to maintain their relationship within the bounds set by my kneecap! I experience it as a deep pain stemming from a knee that will not bend in the usual way. It hurts, I swear, I thump the side of the boat and there's a sickening feeling like my leg won't straighten, but I try and then *POP* it's back in place. This happened three (3) times!!! Strangely now, just after midnight I can feel the pain in my hip joint! How odd!
Despite the physical discomfort and frustrating lack of skill at sea, I still managed to have a pretty good time. At least I was out there and it truly is beautiful to be propelled in a wind powered boat!

The sailing club is a new social experience for me. I found it quite a laid back and relaxing scene.When the race is over we all go back to the club and enjoy a bit of social activity and one or two free drinks from the esky. It's good fun actually but unfortunately the season is over which will mean I am at risk of forgetting everything I've learned before the season starts again next year. Looks like it's back to paddling around in the canoe with the kids.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What can be written?

It's been a few days since I've etched anything in these zeros and ones...
Sometimes there's nothing to do but leave it. Nothing can or should be Done!
I've had some moments along the way but a nausea has overtaken me when I've thought to write anything at all.. It's like the millions of repeated statements or thoughts are rotting at the bottom of a pit somewhere!When I look for words I find they've all been said. Any attempt to be authentic is futile. The stench of decay... generations of wasted words, gossip, chit-chat, slander, flattery, useless prose and failed poetry rises up and choke me. What is that stink? Am I wearing a suit of rotten fish and steaming crap?
Sometimes it's like that. Sometimes any attempt to tell or write about an insight or an experience can only reduce that special moment to cliche. Like every combination of words I attempt to join together, are recycled or borrowed and nothing original can be said by using any of what I think I know. Why say anything at all?

I have noticed so many 'coincidences' lately. Would it be fraudulent to even mention them? Sometimes to experience synchronicity is incredibly gratifying but it can also be a lonely kind of realization, like there are no discoveries or secrets only glimpses of kismet and so why tell what has already been told?

But No! There have been some divine moments lately... How can I express that? Would you feel what I feel if I wrote about it or made a list? Probably not! An idea can evaporate and moments are lost as though they never existed no matter how strong an impression they make at the time... So what?

the Joker's ball
(Joker's Ball with an Idiot Grin!)

Sometimes I listen to 80s Pop music and capitulate to nostalgia. I find memories easier to recapture through a tune or scent but struggle to grasp that idea in current moment. With word or by pen! So I won't even bother with that! Today I'll just tell some things I think are cool. Treasures I've stumbled across!

(Placards - Fundamentally good advise but... Did she have a particular God in mind? I should have asked)

Treasures I've found:

A Dugong passed beneath me as I was sailing last Friday afternoon.
Frangipanis are flowering and their scent is intoxicating and blissful.
A gift of two good tyres left under a tree.
Mangoes are ripe and ready to be eaten... Gleaned fruit tastes sweeter than bought!
The pearl shell I found on East Point Beach this morning is worth more than the days pay I traded for time with my kids at the beach.
'He who pays the piper calls the tune' I already knew this but was recently reminded of how important it is to remember.
The use of Academic Jargon is nothing more than pseudo intellectualism. Using it doesn't mean you know anything of any real importance.
Regurgitating Political / media Spin is even less impressive than using Academic Jargon.
Spring Tides in the buildup are immensely beautiful. (the beauty is not recordable as far as I can tell)
Solar Cars are cooler than V8s no matter what Territorians think.

Solar Car challenge Darwin 2011
(Solar Cars are cool)

Oops! I can feel the bile rising...
I actually would rather not post this but I have to do it! The compulsion not to write or talk is so strong that I feel I have to do something to purge it!

Lawson wrote The Rovers.  He knew a thing or two!

"... And when the world is crowded—
    ’Tis signed and sealed by Fate—
The roving blood will rise ...."

Sunday, October 09, 2011

How to fly

Last night my daughter had a flying dream. She seriously wanted to know if she's ever flown before because she thinks she can remember it...
Then she asked earnestly.
Dad... do birds fly from here (Tapping her head) or from here (with her hand on her chest). How profound!
I think she got the idea from a movie or something but it prompted a very serious question. How are we motivated? What is the cause for our striving? What elevates us to the greatest heights? The brain or the Heart?
She said when she flew in her dream it came from her heart.
My lack of originality and creativity is always trumped by simple and honest wonder of children. They are truly and purely Artists!

(Captain Flinn with his parrot, spider and boat)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The scent of rancid coconut

There is a foot on my head and laughter at my back,
Nothing I do will release me from this trap.
Run around, jump, spin, stagger and fall!
Trapped in a spastic dimension,
Like a clown in a glass box.
Jump, spin, stagger, run around again
You can struggle and strive if you like.
To all ends, No difference made!
You will be greeted by more of the same.
Try to make it work but some things never change!
No talent, No chance, nor music or art,
Just these spastic jitters and a crumpled heart.

I lit a fire to calm my aching soul
Smoke billowed through the yard and the street
A few coconuts for fuel, and their rancid fumes filled the air
Peace torn apart in the smoke and choking stench
Dark birds gathered to pick over burned offerings
My wretchedness exposed
Ready to be devoured like flesh from scorched bones
No time to ponder or chance to grieve
Back to bread labor put away your dreams!

Sometimes every effort is met with calamity, shame and ridicule...
I take comfort, to laugh heartier, louder than the din that surrounds me!
Not hollow or empty but maniacally in Zen.
All is ridiculous, Lets not be serious!
The Gods of Olympia might scoff and scorn but to this life I was born. And so will proceed, whither my headstone does read, Here lies a joke, mock him while he sleeps!

Monday, September 26, 2011

"Don't dream it.... be it."

Apologies to the writers of Rocky Horror, this post has nothing to do with the Rocky Horror Picture Show and I probably could have saved that quote for something related to the play or film, whatever. But the catch phrase really fits this situation.
The following video offers an alternative to how things are and shows how the Dutch have successfully realized a dream.

Introducing the Dutch Cycling Embassy!

Cycling For Everyone from Dutch Cycling Embassy on Vimeo.

This video dispels any myths that might exist about Holland always being bicycle friendly. They were headed down the same path as every other industrialized country! Cars begun to dominate the Streets of Holland's major cities just like everywhere else in the world. Holland didn't just happen to become a bicycle friendly country... They chose to respond to the negative social and environmental impacts of motor vehicles by deliberately creating bicycle friendly infrastructure for the sake of their citizens!
We can do the same in our cities... If we wish!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Family for Family

The culture of Darwin is constantly in a state of flux. When I arrived here only 15 years ago there was a sense of togetherness and community that I hadn't experienced in other places I'd lived. Such a large proportion of the population had originally come from somewhere else. Folk would often gather for BBQs, strangers were welcomed and there was a general sense of openness and acceptance of others from all walks of life. It was fun! 
People I'd met who had lived here a lot longer than I, would tell me, that it's nothing like it used to be and that  Darwin used to be much more easygoing, that people were more connected before. Well maybe gradually that easygoing lifestyle is shifting, but the spirit still exists. Many of us who have experienced that special hospitality are determined to keep the spirit of welcome and acceptance alive. 
Old Darwin Town lives! We will reject oppressive laws, we will reject inhumane policies, based on fear and xenophobia, and we refuse to condemn and fear our neighbors. We live too closely with the indigenous people of this country to believe that we are entitled to call ourselves Owner! We scoff at the attempts by Government to dehuhumanize those seeking asylum. They are just like the rest of us who have come here from elsewhere and we will reach out to them with the same friendship as was offered us when we arrived.

If you're in the Darwin area and are looking for something to do with your family and would like to show your support for those families who have been locked up from the moment they asked for asylum, then maybe you'd like to join the party outside the airport lodge.

Family for Family - Asylum seeker support BBQ and concert

This will be " afternoon of picnics, games and live music to show support for children, adults and families
in detention in Darwin.

When: Sunday 25 September, 2011
Where: On the big block of land opposite the Darwin Airport Lodge
Time: 3pm onwards
Why: To send a message to those living in detention to stay strong and let them know they are supported.

Bring: Your family, friends, food, music. (Musical instruments)"

For more information or are interested in helping checkout the DASSAN website or contact: Cat Beaton

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Softening up

Back to the Xtracycle rebuild!
I posted a while back that the Xtracycle had blown bearings in the center bracket, worn breaks, cracked saddle vynil a busted gear shifter and probably some other things... Well I fixed it all up a few weeks ago and managed to 'soften' up the ride a bit by changing some components. 

OK I better clarify one thing first. 'Rebuild' is a bit of a misnomer. I didn't turn my wreck of a bike into an all purpose all terrain, 'pimped' to the max (I hate that word, pimped, but you get where I'm headed with this right?), urban utility bike. No I didn't really fix her up nice or spend hours rebuilding the bike with expensive custom parts that shine and make lovely click sounds when shifted into position. But I did get her back on the road and and a bit more comfortably than she had been before.

Total cost.... ? Not sure I think it all cost me about $10 and about 2 hours work.
Here's what I did.

simple indexed gear shifter
(Shimano SIS 6 speed shifter $0 10 minutes work)

I ripped out the old twin leaver rear gear selector with the complicated mechanism and replaced with a basic 6 speed Shimano SIS gear selector. This item cost me nothing, Cheep mountain bikes are all fitted with this style of gear shifter, I just ripped it off a wreck that was laying around. It works perfectly and now I can change gears! I could have got another of those complicated ones from the tip shop designed for a 7 or 8 speed hub but I couldn't be bothered fiddling around changing the gear cassette, besides I'd rather ditch the complicated shifter!

(Second hand Biopace chain-ring & second hand replacement axle and bearings)
For $10 I bought an old mountain bike minus the wheels for two reasons.
1. It had a biopace chainring.
2. The frame was large and I thought it might become my new Xtracycle

It turned out that the seat post had become fuzed to the frame and I ended up ditching it. I did however keep the chain-ring. I really like Biopace. I'm not going to argue the pros and cons, I know some people think it's crap but my old Shogun road bike has biopace and I've always found it easier on my knees than other bikes. Biopace may not necessarily provide more power but it does seem to 'Soften' the experience of riding on my knees!
The Biopace chain-ring did not protrude as far as the original chain-ring so I needed to find an axel for the center bracket that would match it... (The original one was just as worn as the one I'd been using on my Xtracycle bike (Raleigh). I pulled apart one of my old Giant Road bikes and used the axle and bearings from that. I scavenged the best of the bearings from all three sets, crammed in a bunch of grease and fitted it all to the bike. With a few adjustments I managed to get the axle to turn quite freely without too much lumpiness... (Well there is a little bit of a notch but what do you want from a set of bearings that have come from three different worn out bikes?)
I threw the chain-ring on having no idea if it would fit, or work (I don't get the maths, geometry or physics of what I'm doing I just look at stuff, size it up roughly, throw it together and hope for the best). It worked! There's only a couple of milimeter's gap between the smallest chain-ring and the frame, which means the front derailleur can't reach the small ring but I'm happy being able to use the two larger ones.
Now I'm running a Biopace chain-ring on my Xtracycle! Mock me if you like. I'm happy with the result. 

brake pad - bicycle
(Replaced brake pads with a little more tread)
I pulled some flash looking brake pads off an old bike at the Tip Shop. I think I paid a couple of dollars for them. Too much really they aren't very good but at least there's some rubber and my bike will stop.

flat peddles
(Flat surface peddle belonging to a Giant Hibrid bike)
Second 'Softening' agent I applied to the bike were these standard Giant Hibrid peddles. I had been using some pretty decent metal peddles which had good bearings and great grip but they were chewing up my thongs! I usually ride in thongs or bare feet and rarely wear shoes, the grippy spikes in the old peddles had already worn holes right through three pairs of thongs, including a couple of emergency replacements I'd scored from the side of the road! I've been riding on these peddles for about two weeks now and the bottom my thongs are completely in tact!

Having replaced these few items with stuff that cost me next to nothing my bike is back on the road full time! The net result of my efforts is that I now have a softer ride.

Long bike

Major points of softness I have added:

1. Gear shifter - I can change gears... ergo it's easier to peddle than when I'm stuck in top gear.
2. Biopace Chain-ring - Biopace eccentricity reduces the pressure needed on down stroke while maintaining constant drive to the rear wheel. Resulting in less pressure on the knees of rider.
3. Peddles - I don't do hard core BMX or mountain-biking. Flat peddles are fine for urban cycling on a heavy bike. These are softer on my footwear and softer on my feet.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bikey Boy rap...!

The family went out without me on Saturday night. I had a busy day and came home to an empty house!
I'm pretty sure it was the first time in a couple of years! I could have done anything but I wasted my time on the computer again..! Well it wasn't a total waste of time, I did manage to play my own choice of music on the sterio... through the speakers! As loud as I wanted! YEH!

Sam took the kids to the NT Schools concert IMAGINE. They were bombed out when they got back so we put the kids to bed and Sam told me all about the show. Apparently there were plenty of great performances but what the kids really liked was. The Bikey Boys from Nyirripi!

She was sure I'd like them and insisted that we look them up on Youtube straight away. We did, and I do!
Check out their video it's very cool!

Bikey Boys From Nyirripi

Some great lyrics in this song, fun dancing but, strangely, the Bikey Boys only have one bike between the lot of them!

"My bike is a bird, I fly around town.
Looking for food, crawling on the ground.
Watch out because it might be you.
There's no tellin what my bike bird could do"

Or how about this line?

"...It's me, My bike, and the dirt road!"

The beginning of the song reminded me of a section in the middle of 'The Brothers Cup' by Red Hot Chilli Peppers, a little bit.

What is the message in this song?
Rap On Boys.. and get yourself some more bikes!