Friday, January 29, 2010

Ferries at the bottom of the garden


Cruise ship season at Port Chalmers continues apace, sometimes two a day.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I had a dream

Dreams have their own rules. My own dreams don't often deliver the "dream", the wish fulfilment. If ever. Usually they deliver warnings or riddles or enormous complicated buildings I have to wander through and explore.

Or, rarely, I have to try to evade nuclear holocausts and erupting volcanoes, or pack and be ready for planes or trains I'm almost too late to catch. Those are the nightmares of course.

Sometimes I dream a movie idea but honestly they're far too corny to take any notice of. Really, I don't dream art movies I dream B movies. It might be some kind of muse, and maybe I'm turning down a Hollywood career, but the bad plot is simply knocking at the wrong door.

Often it turns out my whole dream is delivering one giant bad pun. It's fun when I work it out.

Dreams are usually very easy for me to analyse and explain. For instance when I was supporting a dearest one through her final months of life, I had a recurring dream of trying to avoid a crashing plane as it hurtled out of the sky in flames towards me. I had to sidestep the disaster and not be destroyed by it but I had to watch it too.

I love it when I go to the dream house that I recognise from all the other times I have been there. It seems other people have those places too, that they recognise and revisit. Someone told me once that the sprawling mansion with all the rooms and doors and stairways is my own psyche. That made sense.

It seems I am allowed just one dream, when someone I love has died, in which they reappear as real as can be, and I can talk to them one last time. Just once. It's so good and I even smile when I wake up, for having had that gift.

The other night I had a dream that a loved one who cannot speak, spoke. I heard her voice as clear as day, and it couldn't have been more earth shattering than if God had spoken in my dream. Wow. I'm glad that dreams can still surprise me.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Commercial Life Cycle


Christmas/Easter Overlap: Spotted in a Dunedin supermarket on Friday 22nd January 2010 - the last of the Xmas fripperies marked down for a quick sale, next to the first of the Easter egg stock.
Easter isn't until April. Whatever happened to Lent?

Able was I ere I saw albatrosses


On Saturday - a beautiful day after about a week of fog - I visited the Royal Albatross Colony at the very end of the Otago peninsula. (I now live less than 10k away from it, but it has taken several months for me to make the pilgrimage!)

As always there was a wind blowing and the magnificent birds with their impossibly long wings were soaring high above the lighthouse and giving a great display to the many visitors. (The colony, being so close to Dunedin City, is a huge tourist attraction.)

But there was dark side to the visit, concerning a terrible kind of junk food the albatrosses have been eating.

This picture above was part of the display at the centre - shocking - it is of the 272 pieces of plastic that were found inside a dead albatross chick at Dunedin.

Bottle tops and all sorts of lumps of plastic.

And the actual pieces of plastic are also on display, attractively set out.

What are we doing to the birds? To ourselves? To our planet?

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Lump

As if there wasn't enough trouble this year so far, recently a Lump came to Light. My doctor sent me to a specialist at the hospital and the consultation followed swiftly.

As I'm no spring chicken, this whole Lump thing has happened several times before for me. It's a brush with mortality, and as I'd already had one of those recently it did seem a little extreme to be going through it on another battle front. The finding of the Lump, in the past, took place with various degrees of urgency, and alarm. One tries to stay positive, and it's difficult to decide who to tell, before knowing if it's a false alarm or not. Usually I keep it quiet, and that has proved useful since so far the strike rate for the big C is pretty poor. But I've had the rehearsals: I've been through the different examinations - from an expert eye cast on the offending Lump, and a scoffing and reassuring "Nah that's just an X/Y/Z", to an urgent MRI scan, or a needle biopsy with technician standing by to examine the tissue, and a surgeon with an operating theatre ready...

Every time so far the eventual or immediate result has been "not malignant". Lucky me!

Now and then the Lump has been cut out anyway. This one is on the waiting list and I have received a letter to say it has been Funded. More good luck!

The current Lump, again, is Not Cancer. Bloody Hell, another escape. Yay.

And you may notice I didn't blog the Lump until it was rendered innocuous. Would I have blogged it now if it had been malignant? Probably not.

But I might have been forced to Facebook it and rally the troops.

Never mind the Lump. I thank my lucky stars I've been spared having to resort to Facebook to get support.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The devil made them do it.

According to opinion polls:

More Americans believe in angels than believe in Darwin's theory of evolution.

More Americans believe in the devil than believe in human-influenced climate change.

That's incredible!

Global warming runs about neck-and-neck with UFOs. Those flying saucers must have a hell of a carbon footprint.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Holiday Cold Snap


Even for Dunedin we're having a rotten summer...

Great weather for rainbows though.

And nice for convalescing too. Curled up on the sofa with a good book, or just dreaming, looking out at the pouring rain.

Still almost indistinguishable from being on a lazy summer holiday...

And the birds are loving the wild weather. The usual suspects have been joined by a band of poaka (pied stilts). They're impossibly thin and jaunty-looking but they don't seem to mind the storms.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

On the mend

Visitation from a flock of karoro, outside my window

I've had a good report from the doctor today. Yesterday's blood test shows that the severe infection that attacked me just before Christmas, is almost gone. And all seems well on the autoimmune front so no need for steroids. Phew.

The beach house has been the perfect place to convalesce in the past week after I got out of hospital. I haven't been feeling too well most of the time, but each day has brought renewed strength and some milestone on the road to recovery, and it's been nice just to lounge around peacefully watching the tides come and go, and contemplating the bird-life, and observing the unusual influx of holiday makers to the region.

It has struck me that being an invalid and being on summer holiday are very similar physical states. The brain is turned off and refuses to engage with anything beyond wondering what kind of food and drink will be appropriate next; any kind of work is out of the question; lazy recreation is almost indistinguishable from post-hospital fatigue. One nods off easily. I haven't felt like reading anything much yet except for leafing through some of the many bird books we collected last year.





I'm really enjoying Colin Tudge on The Secret Life of Birds.

His insights into bird - and human - behaviour are fascinating, and it's the sort of book you can dip into for the amusing or startling anecdotes as well as, presumably, read more closely when in a serious frame of mind.
The bounty of Christmas brought yet another bird book into the house, Margaret Orbell's meaty Birds of Aotearoa.




I learnt on looking through the Orbell that that karoro, the black-backed gull, was viewed by early Maori as a bird of mourning, due to its restlessness and melancholy crying.


Tangi amio ana te karoro i te awa


Nga tohu o te ipo unuhia noatia



The gulls circle the channel crying

They are a sign my beloved is taken from me


Karoro is not a common visitor to our bay in any significant numbers; we usually just see a few at a time. But they have been present in vast hordes over the past week, floating raucous sobbing rafts of them, drawn by an unusual tide of a rare treat for them, the squat lobster. And drawn also I'm sure, by my distress at not being well enough to journey to be at the tangi of a close and dearly loved old friend, as a message from her that tears don't need to travel.

Haere, e kui.

Many thanks to those of you who wished me well, said prayers, and sent healing thoughts. xx

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A toast for the new year



Here's tae us!
Wha's like us?
Damn few,
An' they're a' deid,
More's the pity!