Every Day Moments

So its December Aussie style. Already this coastal town is filling up with city people. The traffic drones/roars. As on most days here in 2021 the late afternoon sky is overcast. Grey and flat. The wind off the sea is cool to cold. Many people are stressed. Tired. Over the Omicron Comic Con thing before it even really starts.

Everyday moments
and life is what you make it
– is that lemonade?

prompt: https://godoggocafe.com/2021/12/01/haibun-wednesday-december-1-2021/ Write a haibun poem that captures an ordinary moment from your day. Incorporate the color, scents, activity you witness. 

Fear

Fear. It’s like a drug so many of us are mainlining now. Fear of Covid. Fear of Vaccinations. Fear of Climate Change. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t have some degree of fear about one or all of these things.

Then there’s the personal fear. Will the plumber come to unblock the drains behind my house today or will I have wait another day? That’s the problem with living in a rental. You can’t control stuff like that.

Blocked. Now there’s another subject I could write on. Blocked drains. Blocked options – are there no rentals anywhere in Victoria, Australia in my price bracket that are anything other than brown brick units set in a sea of concrete? Seems not. Rents went up with Covid. The fear is they’ll just keep doing that and I’ll have no option but to stay on in a rental with blocked drains. Then of course, there’s writer’s block and the fear I’ll never finish the book I started writing. The story has gone stale on me and I’m fearful it will never come alive again. But hey – then again – do I really even care? I fear no one will ever read it anyway.

The underlying fear of course is that I may have turned invisible. All these lockdowns – iso our State Premier calls it as if it’s some kind of game – the thing is – I fear I’ve disappeared from view so long it become habitual.

Fear of being seen,
fear of never being seen
– spinning on a dime

prompt:https://dversepoets.com/2021/10/25/haibun-monday-10-25-21-fear/

Tree talk

We went back into a snap lockdown on last Sunday at midnight. This is lockdown No.8 here in regional Victoria, Australia. It is supposed to be a seven day lockdown but who knows. Before we were once again restricted by the 10k travel limit I met up with one of my daughters and her kids for a quick catch up. Seeking a place where the kids could run around freely we went to a steep wooded hillside beside a large lake.

The wind was blowing a gale and the kids ran around screaming with excitement at the sense of freedom it gave them. They’ve been cooped up for weeks what with all these lockdowns, remote learning, playgrounds being off limits for some of the time and the swimming pools closed.

My daughter and I braced ourselves against the wind. The force of it whipped our hair around our faces and made our jackets billow out from our bodies. The trees were bent at wild angles and the leaves were tossing about frantically.

The wind in the trees,
the sound of banshees singing
-change hurtles in.

I’m using the time in lockdown to work on my novel.


I’m writing an eco novel set at some unspecified time in the future. In the process I am delving into obscure areas of research. Here’s some unusual facts I learnt recently:-

Electricity from Trees
To extract electricity from trees and convert it into useful energy, researchers built a boost converter capable of picking up as little as a 20 millivolt output and storing it to produce a greater output. By hooking it up to a tree using electrodes, the custom-built device was able to generate an output voltage of 1.1 volts, enough to run low-power sensors… Using the electronic output to keep track of a tree’s health is another possibility. https://www.livescience.com/5711-electricity-harvested-trees.htm


A Finnish company recycles batteries by turning them into plant food

Globally, the disposal of alkaline batteries has become a major problem,” said Adrian Griffin, managing director of Lithium Australia, in a press release. “Our plan for repurposing the active components of the spent cells is not only a significant step towards worldwide environmental management of the issue but could also have a powerful influence on the sustainability of disposable batteries.”

Although some chemicals in batteries are toxic, this new method takes micro-nutrients present in alkaline batteries and turns them into vital food for crops. Zinc, which is present in many alkaline batteries, helps plants to make a chemical called chlorophyll. This is what makes plants green and without it they can’t use sunlight to turn water and CO2 into energy…

The batteries are first crushed, then filtration and purification processes remove toxic elements like mercury and nickel. It is important that these don’t end up in the fertiliser as they could make their way into the food we eat so testing of the final product is rigorous. Once removed, they are sent on to be safely disposed of by hazardous waste treatment plants instead of leaching into the soil as they would if the batteries were sent to landfill.
https://www.euronews.com/green/2020/05/28/don-t-throw-away-old-batteries-feed-them-to-your-plants-instead

prompt: https://earthweal.com/2021/09/20/earthweal-weekly-challenge-a-timbered-choir/

Walking the same paths

Still in lockdown with a 5k limit on how far we can travel I spend a lot of time in the local nature reserve. We are slowly moving towards spring here in Victoria, Australia. On Saturday the temperature climbed to 18 deg. After months where the temperature has been hovering between 11-15 this was a noteworthy event. I went to Reserve – along with about the half the town. Luckily the place is big enough to find places to be alone and to let the obligatory mask slip a bit to breathe in lung full of deliciously scented air.

Walking along the bush tracks I felt blessed that I have such a wonderful place to retreat to. I have been there so often over the past 18 months I notice the details more than I used to.

Walking along on Saturday my mood lightened at the sight of golden wattle and the first blooms on a flowering gum tree..

We are allowed for two hours per day for exercise. Wanting to make the most of my time out of the house i got absorbed photographing various types of fungi.

One part of the Reserve I visit most times I go there are the wetlands.

I have spent so much time staring into the waters there my photo archives are crammed with images of water reeds and their reflections. I’ve got so many now I’m thinking there must be some kind of art project I could create from them. They are like a visual record of my moods during the pandemic. Depending on the day I either take up 10 photos that look like this –

or this –

prompt: https://shareandconnect.wordpress.com/2021/08/28/78688/

Did I miss something?

Over here in Victoria, Australia the State Government continues to pursue its objective of zero Covid cases. To do that they impose strict lockdowns and restrictions. It worked last year with Alpha variant but Delta is proving harder to eliminate. I live in regional Victoria. We went into our 7th lockdown with 90 minutes notice on Saturday afternoon.

Meanwhile the Federal Government has announced that Australia’s borders will re-open when 70-80% of the population are fully vaccinated. The way I read the figures we are now around 25%. They tell us that the 80% vaccination rate should be achieved by December. In response the Victorian State Government announced this morning they may not reopen the State even when we reach a rate of 80% fully vaccinated because their modelling shows 25,000 people will die if they do. Does that mean Victorians will be locked down until Covid is eliminated?

Did I miss the announcement as to where all these vaccine doses are coming from? Last I heard there wasn’t enough vaccine in the country to vaccinate such a high percentage of people.

I also must have missed the announcement about how the government is going to convince the anti- vaxxers to get the jab. I have family members in this group. They are adamant they aren’t getting vaccinated. They are otherwise rational people and I’ve learnt not to argue with them for they have an answer for everything. I must have missed the scientific proof that the virus is a hoax and that the vaccines are untested.

Rolling out the vax
despite logistic problems
– how’s that working out?


Of course it could be said that all this argy-bargy is just a smoke screen for Australia’s refusal to do anything constructive about climate change.

More machinations,
the big wheels keep on turning
– the world gets hotter

I’ve been thinking about all the things I hear and wondering what’s going on. I explored the idea that Australia has gone mad but then I got to wondering if something else is in play.

All these scenarios are based in fear.

The Victorian Government appears to be scared people will die of Covid and that they will be voted out of power as a result. The Australian Government seems fearful that if they do anything to change the status quo the economy will suffer, people will lose jobs and that their government will be voted out. I may well be missing some of the finer details here but the end result is the same – incompetent governmental bungling, mixed messaging and lack of compassion.

The anti-vax position looks to me to be fear based too. People are worried they will lose their freedom and that they are being manipulated by an insidious and powerful elite that seeks to control them.

The denial of climate change is also fear based. The fear is that recognizing climate change as a clear and present danger means that our current way of life will be threatened. People are fearful they will lose their jobs and that they will not be able to continue with their hedonistic, consumerist lifestyles.

A lot of climate action also seems to be fear based. Many activists fear that we’re all doomed, that’s it too late and that we have passed the tipping point. They are fearful their message won’t be heard and that governments won’t act in time.

I’m wondering if the way through all this is to acknowledge the fears as real but to move beyond letting them control us. Maybe the future lies in finding ways to live with fear and uncertainty. Maybe we need to move away from top down governments that impose their authority on the people. Maybe we need to put in place forums that ensure all voices are heard in decision making processes. Maybe we need free and easily accessible access to information so that people can make decisions based on objective facts. Maybe, maybe, maybe… Perhaps I’m missing something but…

all this fear based messaging coming from so many divergent viewpoints polarizes people. You can buy into brand A fear based messaging or you can reject that and embrace brand B fear based messaging. Then again you can reject both brand A and B as being mainstream manipulation and align with the alternate fear based messaging of brand C which is cleverly disguised as a non-brand. The end result is that no matter which fear based messaging you chose to believe you are opposed to other forms of fear based messaging.

All this polarization makes any kind of cohesive collective action for the betterment of all impossible. We are too busy being frightened and arguing with each other.

Climate change is bigger than any polarized position. To find ways to mitigate its effects we will need to work together.

Future realities –
dystopian or healthy?
– It depends on us

prompt: https://earthweal.com/2021/08/23/earthweal-weekly-challenge-big-wheels-turning/




Searching for Continuity

I had fun doing this challenge- https://bopaula.com/2021/06/24/thursdays-special-pick-a-word-june-2021/:-

You can choose any or several or all of the following to interpret them in your photos:

CONTINUITY

INWARD

PEDESTRIAN

REFLECTING

STRONGHOLD

CONTINUITY – this is a word I’ve been using a lot lately. I’m working on the 2nd draft of a novel. I’m finding the 1st draft has big gaps in continuity. I’m also finding writing very hard work at the moment. There are times when I just cannot think of the words that would create continuity in my novel so I simply write the word ‘Continuity’ on the manuscript hoping that at some stage in the future I’ll be able to figure out how to bridge the gaps.

. (The photo is of a walkway that is being constructed at a local beach to create continuity between the walking track and the beach beyond.)
INWARD – seeking continuity in writing (and sometimes in life during these disjointed, chaotic times) I often feel I am looking through a dark passage way to an empty interior space.
PEDESTRIAN – this shoreline pedestrian looks like to me like she’s looking for some of that elusive continuity. Then again maybe she’s just REFLECTING
STRONGHOLD – Maybe in the end the continuity is found in things built with ingenuity and perseverance. This old mill dates from the early days of white settlement in this part of Oz and was built entirely without nails. The man who constructed it made four huge wooden frames which were held together with wooden pegs. Each one was laid out on the ground and hoisted up into position then stone walls were constructed around them. Now there’s continuity in action!

The Fork in the Road

The authorities are saying now that there is a likelihood that Covid 19 escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China. Apparently the lab in question was involved in creating viruses in animals as part of a global plan known as ‘Gain-of-function’ research:-

“The rationale for this type of research is that by isolating these new viruses, researchers will be able to identify the specific changes in the genome that are responsible for the new characteristics. This knowledge could make it possible for scientists to better predict the arrival of new pandemics. It could help scientists develop vaccines and treatments adapted to new infectious agents.
https://theconversation.com/origins-of-sars-cov-2-why-the-lab-leak-idea-is-being-considered-again-161947

Apparently the lab in Wuhan involved in this research had poor security measures and was involved in risky research on bats.

Like many people I bought the WHO line in 2020 that Covid is a zoonotic disease that crossed from animals to humans via a wet market in Wuhan. It’s now been revealed that this line was pushed by the authorities because Trump and the conspiracy theorists were aligned with the lab escape idea.

That fantasy was exploded by the meticulous reporting of the veteran science writer Nicholas Wade in an article published in May in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Wade’s persuasive case that the novel coronavirus escaped containment at the Wuhan Institute of Virology — which was conducting research on altering viruses so they would more easily jump from animals to humans — has reopened a debate we should have been having all along. Biden’s order is a consequence.” https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-06-04/if-covid-did-escape-from-a-wuhan-lab-brace-yourself

Well – WTF!

This morning I had a fleeting vision just before I woke up. I saw the whole Covid lab escape v natural virus as a kind of holographic projection that has been beamed onto our minds – a kind of filmic, illusory thought form.

The zoonotic disease theory appealed to me because it reinforces my personal belief that we are impacting too much on nature and are cutting down too many trees. With habitat destruction people are more likely to encounter wild animals. Zoonotic diseases like HIV can cross over to humans. Seeing Covid as yet another zoonotic disease fits with into the framework of ideas.

Last year when conspiracy theories about Covid were peaking I read they were becoming so popular because people seek patterns to explain events. Conspiracy theories are big on patterns – x happened because of v – w – z…

Now I realise my mind has been seeking similar ‘rational’ explanations:-

On waking
I find myself
exposed
in fabrications
I clung to
as explanations
of events

When I saw the lab escape v zoonotic disease debate as a holograph this morning I had a momentary impression of seeing through it. Beyond it was a clear expanse – the higher state of mind reached sometimes in meditation. The peace and clarity that comes during bursts of creativity, gardening, being in nature and listening to beautiful music are also ways in which this higher state can be reached.

It seems to me that the wisest course of action I can take is to cultivate this state. Nothing in the construct I’ve taken to a solid, immutable reality is as it seems. It’s all open to interpretation.

Flashback Friday

I was looking for a blogging challenge tonight and came across this one https://fivedotoh.com/2021/05/21/fandangos-flashback-friday-may-21st/
The idea is you find a post from this day in a previous year and reblog it. I couldn’t find anything on my blogs from May 21 but did find one from May 22, 2019. The weird thing is it’s about a place I visited today many hours before discovering Fandago’s challenge. It’s a place I rarely go so it’s a noteworthy coincidence. While I was there today I kept thinking about how it used to be.

Here’s a link to the 2019 post ( warning this a prepandemic post and the end of it reads as naive now) https://beinginnatureblog.wordpress.com/2019/05/22/being-in-nature/

In one part of the post I wrote:-

 I walked on to the mysterious medicine wheel I discovered on my previous visit to the reserve. I have no idea who made it or why. Grateful for these anonymous earthwalkers I walked around the perimeter honouring the four directions. I then moved to the centre – the axis mundi – and made an impromptu prayer for the earth’s healing.

The 2019 photo of the medicine wheel

Today the place is overgrown and the medicine wheel can hardly be seen. Whoever made it obviously hasn’t been back in a while. The stones still mark the circle but the grasses around it are much taller and the inside of the circle is full of weeds. I walked around it but it didn’t feel as powerful as it did two years ago.

In my 2019 post I wrote:-

When I came to a clump of casaurina trees I found a warm, dry spot to sit. The fallen needles from the trees made a soft cushion on the ground. Above my head the trees murmured quietly to each other in the soft breeze. Out across the lake another flock of swans flew by giving their melancholy cry. Further out and higher still I saw an eagle circling lazily above the cleared paddocks of the farther shore.

Time passed. I breathed deep and the troubles of the world fell away. Out here I felt truly alive, free and utterly myself.

Today’s experience was rather different:-

I walked further into the reserve. During our second Covid lockdown we were allowed to exercise outdoors. Lots of places that used to be quiet and rarely visited suddenly got discovered. So many people visit these places now it’s hard to find quiet time alone. This morning there was no one at reserve so I found a sunny spot off the path and sat down to enjoy the quiet. I was just starting to relax and observe the water birds when a barking dog rushed up to me. A girl tugging on its lead was laughing and saying it was just curious. I scrambled to my feet as the dog snarled and barked while the girl struggled to pull it back. So much for peace and quiet! I went back to my car and drove home. Often these days I find it’s the quietest place.

A white faced heron I saw before the dog arrived

The post from 2 years ago ends with me wondering about climate change and where humanity is heading. I still wonder about those things but now have even less idea of the outcome.

The Sadhu and the Shaman

While away from my blog I have been working on a novel. Yesterday I hit a break in the flow. Now I need to journey deeper into the story to find the next bit.

My story is set in the future. One of the characters is a latter day shaman. Just before I ran out of steam the shaman in my story spoke these words:-

“Who among us has not looked out across the empty lands and felt deep sorrow at the state of the planet? When that mood hits the few scraps of regenerated forest we have managed to create are like drops in the ocean,” he said. You don’t have to travel far beyond our settlement to find places where the environmental damage is so severe it will take thousands of years to heal… There is a deep grief about the state of the Earth within us all. Until we are able to release it our ability to dream and believe in a new, vital way of life is limited.”

To get my story flowing again I have written this poem in response to Brendan’s Earthweal prompt: https://earthweal.com/2021/05/03/wounded-healer-songs-of-the-earth-shaman/

The funeral pyres of Delhi,
images of hell on Earth
seared into the heart.

I remember the Delhi I knew
decades ago,
a flower child wandering,
a sadhu blowing a conch shell.
Kundalini awakening
and my heart opening.

Coming back into the heart now,
remembering the holy man.
Mother India he said,
his brown eyes pouring into mine,
Mother India, Mother Earth.

The sadhu and the shaman
dancing at the brink of doom.
Salvation lies in the heart,
the healing is in the grief,
letting it in, feeling it.
.
Beyond the ego self
the eco self knows the way.

– a page from one of my journals

The Covid Carnival

As the pandemic sweeps the globe
the carnivalesque relocates to shopping malls
– masked faces, paranoid glances.
Out on the blasted heath
bulldozers dig mass graves
– the grotesque becomes the norm.
At the local high school
the class clown wears a plague doctor mask.
No one laughs.

Turning away,
switching off the news feed.
cultivating the garden of the soul.
In the re-alignment
the blasted heath becomes the fertile ground.
This is the paradigm shift.

The blasted heath 2021- oil on canvas 20 x 30 cm

prompt: https://earthweal.com/2021/03/01/earthweal-weekly-challenge-the-unsayableFor this challenge, write about the unsayable. Describe the unsayable nature of the pandemic we are still fighting our way through”.