About seanatbogie

Life has value when you choose to be interested and active.

Gotta Get Out

Sustenance, sustenance
The needs of my family, the very future
depend on my
Hunter’s skill
Tracking is the game
ignoring the baubles for the meat
persevering when hope is lost
When perseverance is the
only hope to find

As I cross the threshold
between sunshine and artificial light
where my flaming torch
of knowledge and experience
must keep me lit
alert to fallacy and trickery
Nevertheless it dulls
against intensely bright competition
These high ceilinged vaults
as if starlit with halogen and diode
I find it hard to distinguish whether
inflamed or extinguished
my very own light flares
or fades
As does the light of knowledge
or critical elements of judgement

This is a brilliantly ominous
hole in real space
This dead centre of comsupmtion
Of glow worms on mirrored walls of
perverted fairy lights created by evil spirit
I cross a
sinister boundary
into a world of corruption
temptation
and reduction
The world is rendered thus

The cavernous halls of this space
daunt
Its glittering stalactites drip
luminously
sweet waters
impure as added sweeteners can illicit
over gem encrusted
subterranean alcoves and niches
Where false gods are worshipped
Where diamonds turn to glass
Where purchase is neither
with foot nor by hand
But by extraction and brand
Burning into pockets
through means of exchange
where the purpose of this cave
becomes revealed
Although,
still not
to the naive, the gullible and the willing

Yet I stand strong
Resolute by my informed knowing
I conquer foreboding
fear held at bay
by the most fragile resilience
and I buy in

I buy big I buy small
I buy all the things I want at the Mall
Until I can but no longer
As these halls previously mapped
have seen the bounds of my credit card zapped
Gotta get out
before ruin befalls
My Christmas spree buying
One day for it all

Today’s prompt comes from Dora. In the context of the Crazy Christmas season she suggests, ….. “imagine a moment of pausing, a still point of epiphany.” dVerse

Good Things Only #15

River Red Gum Forest at Shire Dam Swamp

Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing. When I first read about forest bathing the cynic in me scoffed, “Jeezus, how many gimmicky ideas can humanity come up with?” As curious as it may appear, I have reevaluated the matter. Why? Well, it was an accident really.

In reading the aforementioned book by Bill Bailey I learnt more. It was the Japanese Government that validated shinrin-yoku in the 1980s. After research confirmed the hypothesis that forest walkers experienced significantly less stress and anxiety than urban walkers, the idea became a public health policy. Hence the very real, legitimate and officially mandated practice of shinrin-yoku, forest bathing or put more simply absorbing the atmosphere of the forest.

I learnt this with a little embarrassment because I have clearly been a shinrin-yoku practitioner for years. Walking and cycling in the bush have long been favourite pastimes, as soothing to the mind and cleansing of the soul as anything I can imagine. I realise now I have practiced forest bathing and even refined the practice. My own specialised sub discipline will now be called forest basking. This is where I find myself paused, stationary, sometimes mid step, sometimes sitting, sometimes lying down looking either up, across or down, grinning, goggling or gasping or all three at once, in awe at nature’s beauty and evolutionary accomplishments.

I am no shirin-yoku guru or forest bathing shaman, but I am an advocate by default because I do my best to promote these wonderful activities publicly and widely. Why? Because if they are good for individual lifestyle and well-being they are good for societal wellbeing. If shinrin-yoku encourages people into positive low impact forest experiences those people become advocates for the forest and habitat gets improved as well. And who doesn’t want such a desirable set of outcomes from the simple act of taking some time out in the forest?

The beginning of a life together

We first lived together below Tawonga Gap beneath mountains capped with snow
In a Happy Valley cottage by a valley threading creek, the Happy Valley flow
Where trout could be watched hunting or basking below the surface
And rocks were smoothed and sandy beds were lit by sunny luminance
It met the Ovens River at the bottom of our hills
Joining other tributary waters of mountain rivers, creeks and rills
Where the crystal waters ran clean, clear and bright 
Where the snow melt chilled the river deep to summer’s great delight

We shared an abandoned cottage dusted off for our loving residence 
After approaching the farmer about its rental and to make his acquaintance
That small cottage at the bottom of a gully became our first home
With surrounding hills and mountains our romantic place to roam
Where the land about us and its occupants were both so ancient and so old
And the farmer who was born there had so many stories to be told

The days were long our backs were strong as we stepped outside the door
And the fruits of our labour on the block fed us more and more
We took the offered chook manure from the empty runs out back
Enriched the soil, dug the beds, sowed farmer’s seeds, we did not lack
The planted seedlings turned to vegetables as if by magic overnight
Their abundance when we harvested fed us and friends heartily every night

The dairy herd had long since gone and beef were the local stock
But one house cow remained for butter and milk beside the dairy block
Daily hand squeezed from her teats was milk so creamy and rich
It was hard to drink, and harder to say we thought we couldn’t stomach it 
We had to tell the farmer not to deliver each and every morn
But he was good he understood stopped delivering without scorn

At days end an historic long tin bath bathed us once water was heated hot
Soothing us and cleaning us of grime and sweat gathered on the plot
The back step was the place to sit for weaving, sewing and repair
The hammock was the place to hang and relax either alone or as a pair
To hear the wind, to feel the still, to think and to contemplate
To reflect on the newness of life together, the pleasures to appreciate

And now forty years on I still think back gratefully to that time
With certainty of knowing here were the foundations of a life together
This life of yours and mine

Today’s d’verse prompt came from Laura, to write a pome recalling some specific thing or things from the past. https://dversepoets.com/2021/11/09/poetics-in-the-light-of-other-days/

Yakking

Yakking yakking
on the phone they’re lacking
basic social grace
they are in your face
if wanted or not
their conversation is everywhere
like a worm that twists deep inside your ear

Yakking yakking
shared across public space
on public transport
in public parkland
throughout Halloween
with not a thought to public courtesy
private calls aired I do not care to share

Today’s dVerse prompt is from Lisa. She asks us to present a Quatorzain poem (a 14 line poem not necessarily a sonnet) in Duodora form as follows: 2 septets for which Line 1 repeats. Syllable counts per line are 4, 6, 5, 5, 5, 10, 10. Quite tricky! The subject is to speak to a human attribute that is particularly irritating to you with a Halloween or Samhain theme.

Good Things Only #14

Wildflowers. Spring is a nice time of year for many reasons. A plain, field, forest or reserve full of Australian native species is hard to beat. Today I visited the smallish metro Bungalook Conservation Reserve looking for wildflowers. There was plenty happening. I will let the pictures speak for themselves. I hope you enjoy this natural world gallery of many good things only.

Good Things Only #13

Drying baby’s clothes and a Minna Leunig print hanging out together with potted plants

Oh happy day, coming out of lockdown to gather for the first time with three generations of our newly extended immediate family. Seeing the fatigued but over the moon parents adoring and learning every minute something new about their days old daughter. Witnessing the unbridled happiness of the new Grandma and Aunties as they emotionally engage with our immaculate new cherub.

We all hold her and smile at her and laugh at how fresh and sometimes awkward and beautiful we are with this tiny new presence amongst us as we make funny faces and soft cooing and baby talk noises and hold her out and hold her in looking her up looking her down oohing and aahing with blissful amazement.

And she takes it all on her own terms dozing, occasionally peering into our faces (we like to think), practicing various facial expressions for future reference, gracing us with something we like to call a smile, mouthing for the breast when she is ready and crying if delivery isn’t fast enough.

Seeing our children with a grandchild, their mother and their partners happily together after what feels like an age apart, talking, smiling, laughing, just loving each other all over again. I smile on the outside, smile on the inside, my very pores turn into micro smiles.

Good Things Only #12

Bearded Iris in our garden

Bearded Iris blooms. Even year I look forward to perusing the Iris flowers as they bloom across our various rhizome clumps. My Grandfather had a whole backyard full of them. He cross bred, cut and spliced in a decades long attempt to breed an original. Although he never succeeded he took great pride in the quest.

As his small grandson, I would be subject to instruction on the various attributes of his favourites. I can still remember the ones with peach and apricot hues that I thought were pretty and special. I still have the set of small scalpels, spatulas and tweezers he used for dissecting and cross pollinating.

In the off season, I would get to enjoy the fallow patches being rested for next season’s plantings. The sandy grey soil was ideally mouldable for designing and constructing large townships through which I drove toy cars and above which I flew toy planes, before ravaging them with troops of merciless toy soldiers and destructive machines of war.

In so doing, it was not uncommon for me to dig up ancient lead MIAs and other paraphealia from a previous age – when my father and uncles played the same games before me.

My wife and I moved into the house after my grandfather died. Our son and daughter followed to play in sandpits in the same backyard, but with less ruthlessness.

We dug up the hundreds of, possibly thousands, of Iris rhizomes as we returned the backyard to a more diverse and recreational space. In turn these were bagged and distributed to friends, family and workplaces across the city. I like to think of them as a pleasurable legacy, still growing in unanticipated locations. Maybe even being passed on again to new generations as they continue to multiply and flourish.

These are the toughest of plants. When at their best they are also the most easily damaged. They do well in poor soil and conditions, survive frosts, can largely be left to fend for themselves. Then every Spring for a few brief weeks they flower in splendour. Such beautiful blooms on close inspection they stimulate wonder. Such tall flower spikes topped with such colourful blooms they should not be ignored. And yet, they are often ignored. They remain such a fragile thing. If you don’t appreciate them immediately at full bloom they are like to be gone the next time you look, weatherbeaten by either wind or rain. Turned into a torn, ragged mess with little shape or form.

Great beauty is such a transient condition in living things. So often taken for granted before appreciated – and then gone. Irises remind me to take the time to appreciate.

Two Creeks, Ringwood Station Walk

Dandenong Creek

This is the fourth in a series of metro public transport based walks I am mapping for Victoria Walks walkingmaps. The idea is that people who either do not have cars or don’t want to use cars to get to walking locations can catch a bus or train there and back instead.

Two Creeks, Ringwood Station Walk

Good Things Only #11

Sunrise

Peer Gynt Suite: Prelude to Act IV (Morning mood), Edvard Grieg (1843 -1907). This mesmerising classical music masterpiece captures the romantic aesthetic of a sunrise so completely it interrupts whatever I am doing when I hear it. Immediately the flute begins I experience the beginning of an aural dawning as if present. This calming, tranquil expression of the golden period in a new day is profound.

Good Things Only #10

Her right hand at Day 4.

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.