What I Did Yesterday …

Embroidery in progress …

A couple of days ago I read someone else’s post on this, describing how you can ‘say’ whatever you like without anyone ever really knowing you. It’s what you ‘do’ … maintains the theory … that will identify you.

I don’t know yet if it’ll work. Can but try, in the words of one of my characters. I have several typical days, and since it has been raining here for about a week, I can only describe a typical day at home.

I wake but do not roll instantly out of bed. One of my eyes will never open right away, I have to lie there and think a while, convince it of the day. On blue-sky days, my bedroom is striped with light–due to vertical blinds–after sunrise. But, all this week, the daylight stays grey.

Roll on to my side, sit up, swing legs over the side. Stump down the grey corridor to the kitchen. Oh wait, you expected me to at least wash my face? Yeah, I did that. Ablutions. In the en suite.

And I dressed. T shirt and shin-length pants. Slide my house-keys and rest of needs-musts in my right pants pocket. Mobile/cell in the left pocket. A few years ago, I fell over in my house and after lying unconscious for a time, had to crawl injured to a landline phone to raise the alarm. Since then I’ve worn a mobile on me at all times.

The kitchen is in the middle of the apartment. Dark on a sunless day. I make it friendlier by pulling out the slide-out range hood so that its automatic light shines warm above the benches. I get a bowl out, spoon in muesli, cooked brown rice, LSA and hemp seeds. Mix and pour on rice milk. Boil water. Dole out mineral supplements and anti histamine. Today, due to the dark, I eat at the round dining table.

While still drinking my three mugs of warm water, I check yesterday’s step score on my mobile and enter it in my exercise chart. Also on the mobile, I check the weather to see what temperatures and humidity I can expect. Then I check the weather in the town where I lived last year, the weather in Copecabana in NSW; Dover in Tasmania; Perth in Western Australia; Karratha in Western Australia; Cape York in North Queensland, Amsterdam and Singapore. All my places of interest for various reasons.

Still using the mobile I will have quick look at Facebook comments, trying not to get involved yet with anything needing research and or deep thought.

Today, after stacking the dishes in the sink, I started on my exercises. Eleven–I’m building up to fifteen– push-aways against the front door. It’s timber and the only place in the apartment that can take it. Eleven stand-ups from sitting on a chair not using my hands. Walking with half kilo weights, twelve stretches from front of the house to the back. I expect to graduate to 1 kg weights after my birthday in a few weeks.

Chart to record daily exercises

Make a cup of coffee and sit down with the laptop. Check my emails and answer the ones requiring it. I resist getting involved with newsletters though do read a couple of articles from the Fifth Estate Magazine. Do my Wordle.

Rain, rain, go away, many of my local acquaintances are saying. I also read a science article (on the weather website?) about research in Antarctica with ice cores. Averaged out over two thousand years, east coast Australia has had only two hundred wet years. That’s ten percent. Can’t get away from climate change. It’s going to get a lot drier is the forecast.

By about 11.00 a/m, I open the work of the day. MELD, part two of the Doomed series. I’m in the thick of a structural edit. I need to lose at least twenty thousand words, rewrite the first chapter, and re jig the first act. Finesse the middle fifty percent. The final act is good to go.

So, today, I read chapters 7 and 8 aloud to figure how I need to change them.

At about noon, a pathology assistant arrives. Courtney is her name. She is the only live person I talk with today. IE it’s Friday. No phone calls. I’m still isolating, as I have several co-morbidities and do not want to get sicker than I already am. I’m lucky because I don’t have to go out for a blood test. S & N come to the house. Takes ten minutes. My veins are recovering after the beating they received having chemo this time last year.

Afterwards I walk round the house for a while to start to build up the step count. I visit all the rooms in turn about twenty times. Lunch then. A frozen meal. Wack it into the microwave, 4.50 minutes. Dish up. Yum. Another three mugs of warm water. I read the two first chapters of MELD, printed out earlier, and start to mark up bits to keep and bits to cut.

Today, I do my lying down exercises after lunch. On my bed. Yes, the temptation is to doze off. Twelve air-grabs that warm up every muscle. Six bridges to a count of ten per bridge. Six legs raises, each leg, each raise for a count of ten. Twelve clam-shells, hold open to a count of ten. Doze, five to ten minutes.

Oh man. This is taking a long time. It doesn’t feel like I don’t do anything much.

Get up. More walking in the house. Still raining. BOM (Bureau of Meteorology) says 120mm has fallen in the last 24 hours and a huge rain cloud still hangs overhead. No going outside today. I get some walking music going. It’s God Speed You! Black Emperor today. I walk about an hour more, 5000 paces plus.

Sunset despite rain

When I rest this time, I do some embroidery while I listen to an ABC podcast. The stitching is slow but joyful. The colors sing. After the podcast I catch a few minutes of news. Nothing cheerful about that with old man Putin doing his thing.

Dinner is two rounds of toast, smashed avocado and a boiled egg. A pear for dessert. Three mugs of warm water. I start to re-read The Tailor of Panama by John Le Carre (1996) which I will talk about in the future.

After dinner, I work on this. I’m not posting it tonight. I need to mail myself some photos, from my mobile to my laptop.

Art: Dune’s Fremen & Sandworm

Front cover of card with close-up of one of the fremen warriors of Dune

A couple of the reviews I’ve read of the new film version of ‘Dune’ by Frank Herbert, have said how much better it was having read the book first. So ordered my near-and-dear co-SF reader a copy that would not make it in time for his birthday, supply chain troubles and so forth.

Decided to paint him a birthday card as a teaser, and whispered a promise to our four-year-old descendant–in a fit of over-the-top confidence–to make it a ‘pop-out scary-monster’ card.

Luckily, I had Youtube to help me. Pop-out cards are a favorite subject for craft and I soon found more than I needed.

Since this is the first pop-out I’ve ever made, I managed to stretch a four stage process into about ten steps.

But feel reasonably pleased with the result. {Had to make the sandworm more recognizably a monster … I know the maw is different in the movie.}

A Fremen on one of Dune’s Sandworms, hooking open its maw to stop it diving under the sand

‘Plan B’

Low-hanging stratocumulus sunset over Mullumbimby, Northern NSW

Plan B is where you go when Plan A evaporates.

It’s sobering to see a map of where climate activists hang out and where they do not. Just go to https://350.org/ and you will see the sad fact of the matter.

Plan A has been evaporating… I doubt that anyone in the science of it still believes the world can claw back to less than 2 degrees warming and therefore that much more, more violent weather. Probably we are already in that bracket.

And now there’s a war looming. Even if it does end up being posturing, millions of units of extra exhaust gases will have been pumped into the atmosphere to get the elements of the threat to the Ukraine borders.

It’s still winter up there in the northern hemisphere. Would a severe cold snap stop proceedings?

Can hope.

Blog Address …

Newly Hatched Dragonfly

I’ve been getting a few complaints and comments about the URL of this blog … why so unwieldy, … and that’s only least worst name it’s been called.

Trawling through the Help pages a few times without being able to understand the jargon, I finally got to a place where to ask … we shall see!

It is anybody’s guess whether I will still have any followers when the fix takes place. Everything these days is mystery.

Intertwined: 3

Moonrise Seaweed Company

When I get news of a project that, if it can get up, will help resolve some of the global problems our society has got us into, I get my hopes up that we can scrabble back from the brink.

But only if most of us support the few who have it in them to think up, design, test their concept and then finance it. That’s where the majority of us can help.

So there’s this one, Moonrise Seaweed Company. A promising initiative by two ocean lovers that will help save kelp and other seaweeds, help fix carbon dioxide in a natural way and will pay for itself with the products being developed.

Have a look at the products already offered as rewards for the different pledges. Now imagine a doubling and tripling of output. Have a look at the campaign. Break into the piggy bank that you keep to help negate climate change and help this project get up and running.

Short link: http://kck.st/3qUsbEk

Fiction: ‘The Pup’, and ‘Wolf’

This scene is from a long ago prose project—looks like the one on memoiring—the first time I wrote anything with a dog in it.

Evanna woke to the rasp of a stainless steel food bowl being shoved across the old concrete laundry floor in the back of the house. That’d be the pup trying to get food by vigorously licking an empty bowl. There was silence in the rest of the house though it was time to get up. Get up, she said to herself, and felt herself dozing on. Get up, she thought at herself again, opening one eye to check the time. My god, is that the time?

She leapt out of bed and jumped into an old tracksuit, not forgetting to slip her spectacles into her pocket. Couldn’t bear to wear them this early in the morning. She knocked forcefully on the bedroom door of young son, the Half-Grown Hunk, until he answered just as forcefully.

The back of the house was alive with animal sounds. The cat miaowing at the back door to be let in. The chickens clucking for their grain. The Childdog scratching at the inside of the laundry door to be let out for her big good morning welcome, and a quick pit stop. In the middle of her routine, the Half-Grown Hunk wandered through.

The pup immediately transferred her attention to her chosen pack-leader, leaving Evanna to attend to the chooks, put a load of washing into the machine, read the rain gauge, shake the pup’s bedding and put it out to air, and finally clip the pup onto her long lead so that she didn’t raise Cain in the backyard while her humans had their breakfast.

Chores this morning were a load of washing, a 24-hour collection of the dishes, sweeping, and mopping a couple of floors. The pup was distraught when she was shut from the excitement of the sweeping broom, when Evanna lost her patience the third time the broom head came off in the dog’s jaws. The chores were followed with a quick training game with the dog … Sit, stay, good dog. Evanna walked five paces. Come. The Childdog came.

Six out of ten this morning. After the game, the pup was put back into laundry with a bone, fresh water, and her bed.

<<<>>>

The second dog I’ve written was to give Beren of Lotor a companion. This YA story is set in the time when humans, already having colonised Moera, a (fictional) planet in the (actual) Procyon Two-Star System, turned their attention to the second (also fictional) liveable planet in that system. This was Lotor, unbeknowest to them, a living entity. The humans brought their animals and Lotor produced analogues. Not yet published.

The Plan
The dogs looked up. Their eyes glowed like coals though they were blind to the red light. They belonged to the invaders and were as blind as them to the light of their own dying star. Though the dogs were his friends.

Wolf most of all. He got all of Beren’s special patting and cuddling. The soft, wriggling pups were good too. They found him by smell alone and licked him blindly with their warm wet tongues. When he came from his attic, he always dropped down into the dog-box and hid the end of the rope in the gap between the box wall and the stable’s outside wall. The head stable lad might be friendly, but there were the rest of them. A rope out of sight was a rope out of mind.

The dog-box walls were still too high for him to see over. And smooth on the inside to stop the dogs getting out, so no climbing up them either so Kandor let Beren have a latch on the inside, at his own level.

He slipped out the half door with Wolf beside him though it was still nighttime to Wolf. The horses, because they were Lotor horses, were awake and watching with their eyes a-glow like golden jewels. Twenty pairs followed his every move. Wolf padded at Beren’s left side so he wouldn’t get trodden on with the hard tip of the crutch.

Beren’s left foot was a human foot and his right foot was a hoof.

“Lotor doesn’t have the pattern for people off by heart yet,” Dev said once. Dev was the head stable lad. “There are people all over the planet with bits of their bodies that weren’t human. So you’re in good company.”

Beren didn’t know if he believed it. Dev never showed him the bit he had that was wrong. Maybe Dev joked. But still, Beren was afraid to think of the day Dev would decide to stop being a lad and decide he was a man.

The tack room was at the front on the right, then the feed store.

Wolf stood beside Beren to prop him up while he stacked hay biscuits on his left arm. “Good boy.”

Wolf turned when Beren turned so he was always on Beren’s left side. They slap-thocked to the horses leaning over their half-walls and doors while they talk to him and to each other, whinnying and blowing their bronze-colored hair from their eyes.

He put their breakfast biscuits through the slot above their feed tubs. He talked at them. “Good girl. Good boy.” Bet whiffed him in his face and blew his hair – mouse grey Kandor called it – out of his eyes. Wolf pressed his furry warm side against his leg. This was his favourite time of the day.

The dust Wolf and Beren stirred up with their comings and goings sparkled in the pink light as he walked Wolf back to the dog box. When Wolf figured out where they were going, he made a noise in his throat. Like he said, what are you up to now?

“It’s all right, boy. I’m thirteen. I’m allowed.” But Beren hesitated shutting Wolf in. But then, what if Wolf got excited and ran in under the jenny? No, it really was better to shut him into the dog-box. “It’ll be safer, Wolfie.”

Wolf whined, telling him he wanted to join Beren whatever he did.

“Be quiet, Wolf. This is something I need to do by myself.” He push at Wolf with his knee and Wolf went reluctantly into the box. Beren snicked shut the dog box using the high latch on the outside.

Dogs: Jesse (1997 – 2009)

Jesse, Half-Staffie/Half-Australian Shepherd, loyal friend

Despite reading many wonderful novels with dogs and other animals as important characters, I didn’t try to write dog characters until I had raised a dog myself. That was Jesse, named by my son after one of the dogs in Footrot Flats by Murray Ball, a popular comic strip in the newspapers in the 1990s.

Our Jesse was a medium-sized half-Staffie/half-Australian Shepherd, according to the farmer who we bought her from. The Staffie part was dominant, except when it was a case of her habit of herding the poultry we also had at the time.

The first dog I wrote about was Jesse herself, for she was still a pup then, and I just described her and how she fitted into my life at the time.

Jesse lived just on twelve tempestuous years. Human mothers and fathers of dogs will know what I mean when I say that your children grow up but your dogs will always stay two and a half years old. A toddler, needing just as much input and supervision.

The times that the human parents relax their attention will be time when the dog suffers a collision with a moving car; or get a tick on her; or take fright at a Little Athletics starter gun when out walking; or, or, or … All these things happened to Jesse.

She broke her shoulder joint while still little more than a pup and was forever crippled. Mea culpa. She almost died of a tick that I didn’t find until almost too late. Due to the accident with the car she was always frightened of loud noises. The starter gun incident caused me—walking her in the wrong place at the wrong time—to be pulled to the ground and dragged behind her, clutching the lead.

When I finally was able to get to my feet, we returned home along the fastest way possible. Running along a creek bank, away from any activities by human people, in fact. After I had secured her in her beloved old laundry, with her head under her blanket, I had to go find my spectacles, lost from my face while I was on the ground.

She herded chickens, as I said. The little black bantams however were her equal, and would not be scared into running. The white silkies ran, here and there, and sometimes crashing into fences and gates. They hated it. Small children were herded without them realizing.

In 2003, Jesse’s favorite person in the whole world left home. He was eighteen, and needed to find casual work, get trained and then find permanent work. Even if he hadn’t been keen to leave home, our town of five thousand people was too small to support 300 school leavers every year.

Tibby on Jesse’s bed, establishing her dominance

From then on it was Jesse, me and the cat jostling for the top-dog-position. When the cat decided the dog’s bed would be hers, Jesse decided better make friends with the biggest person and we could fight the monster together. Our good times started then.

Jesse’s absolute favorite activity were our walks by the sea, though she mostly ran or swam. The Brunswick Heads Dog Beach was a 400 meters length marked out along the bay, south of the Surf club and ‘Main Beach’.

At times there were a hundred dogs there, playing together, socializing and generally racing around.

Jesse did not socialize—she had no patience for other dogs—and would snarl or snap her teeth at them to warn them away. Her work at the beach was to chase her stick into the waves, bring it out, drop it at my feet, and grin and wag her tail to encourage me to throw it again. I was very fit in those days bending over, picking up the stick, tossing it as far as I could.

We did low tide, high tide, storm tide. Even when the tide was so high that there was barely a beach to walk on, we were there, at our work. While swimming, Jesse’s crippled shoulder did not seem to bother her and she was as good in the water as any other dog. I always thought she must have some water-dog in her. A touch of Labrador genes, maybe.

Her end came more suddenly than I expected. She developed hiccups. They didn’t stop whatever I, or the staff at the vet clinic, tried. After twenty four hours, she was worn out. I let her go. The diagnosis was a brain tumor.

Thirteen years later, I still regret that I couldn’t bury her in our backyard. We lived on a floodplain and we were having a very wet year. The yard was a sea of water and mud. The vet took her away in a body bag.

Favourite Reads: Dog Boy

My favourite novel about dogs

For a long time the novel-version of The Incredible Journey (1963) was my favourite ‘read’ about dogs. Then, 2009 or there abouts, I was at The Writers Festival in Byron Bay. Heard, or heard about Eva Hornung’s then new book, Dog Boy. Bought it after the segment to leaf through it while taking time out, and lunch, in my car.

I’m not a fan of events with 45+/- thousand people … probably not that many … but enough that I didn’t meet any friends or acquaintances] Read about 60 pages, kissed the Festival goodbye, drove home and read the rest.

It’s worth all the accolades. Every hyped up adjective. It’s “confronting”. “Highly descriptive, confident and thought-provoking.” “Completely believable. Unrelenting.” “Meticulous research.” “Pared-down, non-sentimental writing.” “A tour-de-force of imaginative empathy.”

In my opinion, it’s the most moving, frightening, heart-breaking story of how a child, to survive, becomes a dog. It’s writing from the soul.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6667541-dog-boy

Words: Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

Grey wolf, Canis lupus, single mammal on snow, captive

Type ‘dog’ into your search engine and you will get the facts about dogs, their history of domestication, the variety of dog breeds, the origins of the word ‘dog’. Everything you might want to know about Canis lupus familiaris. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog#Terminology.

There are hundreds of dog related metaphors. I wouldn’t be surprised if you know a few more than are described here: https://symbolismandmetaphor.com/dog-metaphors-similes-idioms/

BUT … all the above were not the concepts I had in mind when I started this research. I wanted to know how dogbox, dogger, dogging & dogman fitted into the word ‘cloud’ to do with dog. How these words originated. Have they anything to do with the canine subject of the title?

Apart from ‘dogger’ hard to find.

So. Dogger. Is not originally an English word. It’s an Old Dutch word for codfish. Pronunciation, I assume, is with the Dutch/Scottish -ch-. The boats the Dutch used to go fishing for codfish became known as ‘doggers’; then the place in the North Sea where they usually went fishing got the name Dogger Bank. Now sometimes known as Doggerland. Quite a bit if interesting reading about that: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/aug/01/doggerland-lost-atlantis-of-the-north-sea-gives-up-its-ancient-secrets

Dogbox, dogman and dogging. The only place i found mention of them is in the Australian construction industry.

“To safely sling a load, it requires an understanding of the suitability of the lifting gear, as well as what method of slinging is required. Further consideration of the nature of the load, such as its mass and centre of gravity, is also a factor. The Dogman course teaches you the basics to get the load moved safely.” https://constructiontraining.com.au/courses/dogging-courses.html

At the bottom of that page: “The simple explanation is that a dogman, colloquially known as a dogger, is the person. The actual task – the slinging techniques or guiding of loads mentioned above – is called dogging work.” The basket used to lift a load of smaller items is referred to as the ‘dogbox’.

Finally, back to Canis familiaris, in Australia someone culling feral dogs is also called a dogman.

Any other interesting uses out there of this three letter word?