Good Things Only #10

Nursing a days old baby in my arms as she practices for the perfect sleep to come. Her pastel skin small nose soft lashes and milk mouth filling my eyes with intermittent tears of joy and wonder. Her irregular breathing coming in short rapid shallow bursts followed by deep sighs of contentment as she snuffles and ruffles and stretches back and reaches out and flexes fingers and kicks legs and crinkles her nose and dreams baby dreams with eyelids aflutter while her eyes move this way and that underneath. Her lapping tongue unconsciously works at nipple traction in automatic rehearsal. The little lips open and shut pucker and pout refining the sucking technique in readiness for the next lactation latching that will draw milky nourishment and unqualified love from her besotted mother supported by her smitten father and adored by the rest of us in this small family bubble. Her smooth brow un-furrowed by concern or worry she is the very picture of innocence.

Good Things Only #09

Australian Magpie

1 Carolling Magpies. I so adore this birdsong. The musical sound of a Magpie nearby is not to be taken for granted. They may be common, they may even be considered threatening at times. Regardless, nature provided them with a voice of beauty.

2 Weeding. Oh how satisfying it is to return a weedy patch to order. Sometimes to rediscover plants you had forgotten you had put there, still struggling along despite your neglect. Other times to prepare the ground for new plantings and the potential they represent. Then there is the satisfying effort of the exercise. Bent over pulling at stubborn and deep rooted infestations, kneeling on increasingly sore knees to optimise leverage, scouring the earth with garden tools to loosen impacted soul and break up clumps. Eventually tiring enough too slowly, very slowly, uh, just a bit slower, stand up straight again for the first time in some hours realising your back ain’t what it used to be. You survey the scene, grunt with satisfaction at the work and the regret your lack of flexibility will bring and go inside for a well earned cup of tea and a biscuit.

3 Putting the lids back on properly. Past experience tells me, when you pick up the jam jar by the lid only to have it go crashing to the floor, it is not a good thing. When you pick up the jam jar and have to unscrew the lid to access the jam instead of scraping it up off the floor it is a good thing. I am just saying.

Transient moments of clarity within my madness

wounded I crawl 
to drag my wounds further through the dirt
dragging my belly along the ground 
is none to low for me 
in my hurt

I will scavenge to survive
but surviving will not a worthy life be
more eking out an existence 
in the shadow of you
to pay my due

just to live in the shadow of you
as close as I can be
to skulk in a shadow world
as of the light
I am unworthy

for the harm that I was to cause
I regret and pay my price
but there is not enough in remorse
that I can forgive
my owned and destructive vice

there is no doubt in my mind
I will always be 
the addict cripple
you tried to save when married
who left you ruined and harried

at least my surreptitious watching 
over you
gives me purpose with which to see
I may prevent further harm 
to you 
as self destruction 
gnaws away 
at me

For this week’s dVerse challenge Ingrid has asked us to revisit a time in our lives when we have felt pain and come out of it on the other side.

This poem is a combination of close, shared personal stories. Feeling pain is as real as the sufferer perceives it to be. How someone comes out on the other side is relative and may not be consistent or sustainable.

3 Good Things Only #08

1 Waiting for a baby, then hearing her cry for the first time, seeing her early at the breast, knowing everything is going to be OK.

2 Feeling grateful for the loving, informed, proactive and justifiably proud parents.

3 Learning that even though locked out you can still immediately bond with your newly emerged granddaughter on FaceTime as she sprawls across her mother’s chest in search of a second breast. Her purposeful efforts encouraging, her fresh ruddiness a healthy glow, her determined expression inspiring, her chubby robustness endearing, her tiny hands already reaching out to the world. She personifies a truth, where there is life there is hope.

3 Good Things Only #07

The Nostalgic Knife
  • 1. A Nostalgic Knife. This knife still gives me the warm and fuzzies. We bought it at a Sainsbury’s supermarket in England in 1986 along with a chopping board and a plastic food container. As we travelled around various countries thereafter those three items provided for preparing many meals on the road.

The board and container are long gone, but the knife has survived and is still in service. It did disappear in the early 2000s for a few years. Then much to my delight I dug it up in the garden one day. How it got there is a mystery that has never been solved. Amazingly, it cleaned up good as new and continues to have a sharp edge.

Is there a case for sentimental attachment to such objects? Yes, I think there is because it isn’t the object itself you are attached to, it is the associations it conjures up. For better or worse many are emotionally potent and the good ones can be well worth reliving.

2. More on the Vegemite theme. I didn’t mention the optional addition of Avocado yesterday, but have been inspired to do so by comments made by other Vegemite fans. This combo is especially good on homemade rye or sourdough. Definitely a good thing!

3. The pleasure of choosing the next book to read. Reading can’t be beaten for transporting you to another place or learning things new or anew. As I approach the end of a book I experience a double shiver of anticipation. The climax of the story or the summary of the learning is experienced concurrent with the knowledge that I get to savour the next choosing. Even if a book turns out to be a disappointment, the enticement of its unknown content at the outset will always be something to look forward too. So, I am looking forward to Bill Bailey next. I will let you know what I think.

3 Good Things Only #06

My all time, super dipper, automatic choice for headwear.

1. Many years ago – about 15? I bought a full brimmed hat at Salamanca Market in Hobart. I had been on the lookout for the right hat for some time. With the hair on the top of my head rapidly thinning, a hat became important in a way it had never been before. However, I just couldn’t find the right hat. All the hats I had tried either didn’t sit well, were to loose and blew off easily or had to be so tight to avoid this they created a feeling of stricture. Often the brims blew up flat against my forehead or flat over my eyes in a light breeze. Some made my head too hot, others simply made me look very uncool.

When I put on this particular hat I immediately knew its rightness. No, not quite. I thought it looked uncool, but then it felt so comfortable that uncool ceased to matter. With an Hibiscus motif on the stitched in band and also into the underside of the brim, it did look odd on me. On the other hand, the denim and cotton fabric meant it didn’t automatically make me sweat. The brim was reinforced without being rigid, it didn’t blow about. The seal the deal factor was the elasticised cotton band on the inside. The soft yet firm grip on my crown was secure without being tight, not cold to the skin to touch, temperate as a sweat band for a hot day as well. 

I have appreciated this hat ever since. It has been my pleasure to wear it. Through all weather and work demands it has stood the test of time. It has faded, it has been patched, it has frayed or worn through at all the regular touch points, particularly the edges and peak. The Hibiscus band has shredded and the sweat stains embedded. Yet it endures as a perfect fit, with a perfectly functional cotton elasticised grip and the brim at the front has angled with use for the ideally acceptable level of eye shading and when I dips me lid. 

2. Today I received a present of home baked biscuits. What a lovely and enjoyable surprise. I am grateful for such a good thing to come from such a thoughtful friend.

3. Vegemite. 

No day feels right without Vegemite. 
It’s in my head until it’s eaten 
That salty flavour that can’t be beaten
I love it on Vita Weet I love it on bread
A Vegemite roll, I’ve often said
Is the very best thing to ensure my day
Is going along in the very best way

3 Good Things Only #05

Japanese Maple leaves in the birdbath last autumn.

1. Japanese Maples. Oh my! Flowers on red tipped new wood that buzz with bees in Spring. The cutest of leaves emerging, developing from a bright new growth light green through to a mature darker verdant green. Insect rich haven for small birds. A canopy in summer dense enough for complete shade and shelter. Massive parrot attracter when seeding. Flaming autumnal colours. Deep, vibrant carpets underneath when leaves fall. As noble a bare frame in winter as any deciduous tree can offer, sculpted of wizened green/grey trunks and wispy lichen laden branches.

2. The Happiness Lab and orange. I listen to this podcast quite often. It is about reporting on research into happiness. There are many anecdotal stories to illustrate the outcomes. To put it in context, the podcast originated a few years ago after Psychology Lecturer Dr Laurie Santos commenced Happiness research subjects at Yale University. Within two years these subjects had the highest enrolment demand in the United States. I usually find the podcast very interesting. Often it gives me cause to reflect. In the most recent edition, host Laurie Santos mentioned how she was delighted by orange in its many manifestations. I thought that was just great because I absolutely get it! After all, every day is an orange day: https://seanmathews.blog/2021/06/04/every-day-is-an-orange-day/

3. Bananas. I eat one banana every day there is one available. Nutritious, full of energy, delicious and so, so convenient to just pick up and eat anytime. They are such a great gap filler. A banana is my go to starter food when bushwalking or cycling. I even love the word banana.

Bananas are always on the sideboard.

Why only 3 GTOs? I can see I am going to start writing more than I expected about each GTO because I am really enjoying giving them the thought they deserve. 3 is looking like a more practical number from this perspective.

The Beatles

masters of lyric
masters of music
masters of harmony
master songsmiths
you raised us
as 
you raised yourselves
from notation illiterate
to craftsmen majestic
the birds
when they hear your melodies listen
hushed in admiration 
and learn

you connected us 
across lands of difference, waters vast and cultures divergent
universal emotions spilled when we heard your work
in your lives you have sung our lives
our joys and sorrows
our hopes and aspirations
our loves and losses
our frivolities and consequence

and still
our hearts open to your words 
as if our own we know them
part of the human life song
playful, raaucous, challenging, beautiful
full of pleasures and sadness

as you endure beyond all before you 
you mark the significance of your generation
you inspire generations to come
your song has lived long
and will not fade while we can listen
because we hear with hearts and minds 
that will always quicken or quieten 
in tune with your words and music

Today’s dVerse prompt is from Sannaa. She asked us to write in a form of traditional poetry called “panegyric” poetry. Poetry of effusive praise.

5 Good Things Only #03

Sitting on the verandah in the late afternoon after the day’s work is done. Relaxing, drinking tea, reading books, watching and listening to birds.

Budding deciduous trees sprinkled with emergent new leaves of every shade of green.

The assertive confidence of a pair of Grey Shrike Thrushes as they stand next to me while I remove a stump. Alert, heads cocked to one side, closely monitoring what the next spade full of soil will turn over.

Bees by the dozen on the tall lilac coloured columns of flower laden Rosemary branches.

The quiet and gentle breeze creating a shimmering in the Swamp Gum canopy along the creek as sunlight reflects off ever tousled, shiny grey green eucalyptus leaves.

5 Good Things Only #04

The Blues Brothers Soundtrack

1. The Blues Brothers Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. If Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and The Blues Brothers can’t make you want to shake a tail feather – nothing can. Music makes my day, every day.

2. A fresh celery stick smeared with crunchy peanut butter along its middle. Groovy!

3. Watching seedlings grow in the greenhouse. I had forgotten how fascinating it is to plant a seed, check it regularly, see it emerge and leaf. Such an everyday occurrence and yet so incredible.

4. Taking the time to get informed and then complete a significant survey with objectivity. I am confident the Euroa underpass surpasses the overpass. The Euroa Connect volunteers have done a very professional job of campaigning accordingly.

5. Removing a scourge of our bushland – Blackberries. Here, and in many parts of Australia, there are no constraints on their growth. They can smother vast tracts of indigenous flora. This particular work has been four years in the making. It felt so good to finally start mulching these dead canes. Once this area along the Seven Creeks is revegetated it is going to look its natural self and amazing once again!

From this …..
To this.

5 Good Things Only #02

Columbines.

1. Columbines flowering in the garden.

2. Sitting in front of the fire with a cup of green and lemon myrtle tea.

3. Talking with old friends on the phone while separated by lockdown.

4. Remembering that paying attention to a person more experienced in an activity can result in your own improvement.

5. Participating in local produce exchanges where relative value has no meaning. Just the pleasure of giving and receiving is enough. Today it was eggs and firewood exchanged for leeks and lettuce.

Firewood and eggs.

5 Good Things Only #01

Greenhood Orchids in Strathbogie Forest.

1. A Grey Shrike Thrush sang for us from the verandah as we ate breakfast while a Scrub Wren scoured the brickwork and window frames for its own breakfast.

2. Starting a new book and enjoying it from page 1. Shadow Hawk by Andre Norton.

3. Listening to a Late Night Live podcast while exercising.

4. Deciding not to walk amongst undulating hills of grazing land in the wind and rain.

5. Deciding to walk in the shelter of Strathbogie Forest instead. The rain stopped when we got there. It didn’t resume until we returned to the car. Adding to the pleasure of being in the forest, we observed many Greenhood Orchids.

Strathbogie – Mt Wombat Cycling Return

What is so secret about Mt Wombat? You would think every local knows about it, most have driven up to the summit to take in the magnificent views and returned home again. Well, maybe the question should be rephrased. How many have really seen Mt Wombat? The views are only part of the story. When driving you miss so much. You have to either cycle or walk for the full forest, granite and wildlife experience. If you are used to time on a bike, a mountain bike or hybrid will do the job. The 16km return from Strathbogie Township is a great way to pass a rewarding half day of exploration. Granted it is a steady incline and the final approach may require some walking your bike. You will not be disappointed and it is all downhill on the way back.Otherwise, ebikes are perfect for this route. You will still get your workout, granted with more comfort. That final steep approach will be taken in your stride. Stopping along the way to soak up the forest experience will be hard to resist. If cycling isn’t an option or you want an even slower immersion in the landscape, walking is the way to go. Park at the intersection of Mt Wombat Rd and Mt Wombat Lookout Rd for a lovely 5.5km summit return. It is truly as pretty as can be.See what secrets you can discover in Mt Wombat Forest.No matter which method of transporting yourself you choose, make sure you are appropriately equipped for self reliant cycling or walking. Carry food, water, First Aid, nav aids and be SunSmart.

Nagambie Heritage Photo Gallery

It appears an online Nagambie Heritage Trail is not going to be achievable at present. As an alternative I give you a Nagambie Heritage Photo Gallery. Viewed in conjunction with the previous gallery of period housing, I think it provides a good perspective on the streetscapes. If you are ever in town and want to engage with a Heritage Trail, I can recommend visiting the Nagambie Historical Society in High Street and obtaining a hard copy.

The Photograph

when weary travelling an image of you I look at when I rest
your portrait kept in a locket of gold warm between my breasts
I see the small photograph and am reminded of what I’ve left
with longing I wish to be home again my head upon your chest

For today’s d’verse prompt from Sanaa I chose the derivative Option 2. To think of a word. I thought of “image.” To use a derivative to create a poem. The derivative I chose was “photograph”. https://dversepoets.com/2021/09/07/poetics-dungeons-and-derivatives/

Garden Range Pocket Flora & Fauna Reserve, Euroa

3km loop. Difficult terrain. Take food, water, first aid. Be SunSmart and equipped for self reliant hiking.

Opposite the gate to Waterhouse Reservoir is a small, outcrop seeking dirt track of a few hundred metres. There is plenty of room for parking at its beginning. Walking up is the best way to engage with the site. Despite the early stretch of track being partially littered with dumped rubbish and trees vandalised by illegal firewood cutters, walking is the best mode to discover the promise of this Reserve. Once you get to the rocky crown things change. The promise of natural world beauty and great views is kept.

Beyond the crown the track gives way to rocky open woodland. Follow the fence-line on your right to keep within the boundary of the Reserve. It will return you to the Euroa-Strathbogie Rd at the base of the hill. Take forays to the interior whenever you see something interesting to explore.

Once you get back to the road you have 3 options to return to your beginning point. 1. Return the way you came. 2. Clamber up the rocky slope on the eastern side of the road. 3. Walk up the road itself on the outside of the safety barrier.

Neglected Reserves can be subject to abuse. This little known Reserve is one of those. Infrequently visited by those with good intent, it has fallen victim to abuse by the unobserved. Rubbish dumpers, illegal tree fellers and firewood collectors, more recently those intent on damaging vegetation for dirt biking. On top of this, there is also a Prickly Pear infestation. What can be done?

One answer is to alert environmentally respectful observers and walkers to the natural world beauty of this place. Encourage visitation that promotes conservation, advocacy and discourages the minority who think these places exist only for them to covertly exploit and damage.

Period Homes of Nagambie

In between lockdowns I got to do a thorough tour of Nagambie township in north central Victoria. I was struck by the diverse examples of housing stock from across the past 150 years. I always find domestic dwellings and their gardens interesting, so I naturally found myself busy with the camera.

Parting

 
 I know I won’t be missing you
 Because you live in my heart too
 It’s not about having your body here
 In my mind you’re everywhere
  
 You also reside in a time and space
 A place of love of ethereal grace
 That supersedes corporeal and now
 That’s my commitment and our vow
  
 We've shared our lives together as one
 With room to grow, make our own fun
 As I watch you go and that time closes
 I can’t think of what the future poses
  
 Yes it hurts, it’s unbearably sad
 But it’s also a marker of the joy we had
 Of the pleasure in each other’s company
 Of everything that will stay with me
  
 No matter what becomes of us as an earthly pair
 Always in my heart you'll be everywhere
 So rest my darling have a peaceful night
 Tomorrow we’ll see what comes of light
 Though parting is near even in plain sight
 We’ll be together forever come what might 
  
   

Call it a day

Silver linings
Call it a day when you’ve lost hope
There’s new hope tomorrow
Again you will cope

Call it a day when you are ill perceived
When the messages you send
Are not well received

Call it a day when there’s no one around
To help carry your burden
To wherever you’re bound

Call it a day when your heart is breaking
Face losing love
Accept the heart aching

Call it a day so you don’t perish
When those that you care for
Have spurned what you cherish

Call it a day when you’re emotionally driven
Decisions aren’t well informed
When emotionally riven

Call it a day when you have earned your rest
So that come next time
You are again at your best

Call it a day when you can no longer learn
When memory is exhausted
And your brain is burned

Call it a day when your output is down
Not accomplishing much
Just one more frown

Call it a day when you are feeling angry
To avoid big mistakes
When harassed and harried

Call it a day when you have had enough
Call it a day when you are faking tough
Call it a day when everything feels rough

Call it a day because there are silver linings
There’s always tomorrow
The sun never stops rising

This week’s d’verse prompt from Ingrid was to compose a poem in the tradition of oral poetry, without putting pen to paper. I found this quite difficult. We were also asked to try adopting a motif and present with regular metre.

I didn’t elect to tell a story as such, more to pass on a wellbeing message consistent with the purpose of handing down oral lessons to future generations.

https://dversepoets.com/2021/08/31/poetics-oral-poetry/

Mackrells – Spring Creek Loop, Strathbogie Cycling

Good for MTB, hybrid or ebike, this is a 14km loop starting from Strathbogie Township. Head out of town along Euroa – Strathbogie Rd, turn right into Mackrells Rd (dirt), right again into Creek Junction Rd, right again into Spring Creek Rd. The roadsides are heavily treed. The vistas are of the rolling hills and pasture atop the Tableland. It is very pleasant cycling.