Tech Problems, xyz

Digital Illustration of a Cyborg Neck: A puzzle, because I am confused

Having internet problems meant no posts, again. All my best intentions went astray. Over here, on the east coast of Australia, we are in a La Nina weather pattern. Meaning that in Peru and Chile, people are suffering drought. In between the odd sunny day we had rain, wind, storms, more rain. Flash floods. River floods. Landslides. Road closures. Communication outages. Mobile phone towers down.

You get the picture.

My confusion is about the reason why I had a personal communication outage for two weeks longer than anyone else living in my patch. I’ve taken the modem off the power. Put it back on. Reset it.

I’ve read every Help page and FAQ on my provider’s website … I could do that by Hot Spotting my laptop to my mobile. I discovered that possibly the laptop is having battery problems but that shouldn’t affect my internet connection, what do you think?

I’d do the Hot Spot thing 24/7 and cancel my ISP contract if I had the same level of service. But I don’t. An ISP connection gives me the ability to write this blog and marshal imagery to my fingertips. Without it I can only read blogs.

The Hot Spot gives me wide-ranging shallow paddling. An ISP connection gives me the ability to dive deep into the virtual surf, through the wave and come out the other side where there are new things to discover.

Yeah. I missed my connection to the world.

For some inexplicable reason, when I reset the modem again this morning, the little light for the internet flashed, then steadied, and I suddenly have connection? Huh? Why didn’t it work the first or second time I did it?

Well, better not look a gift-horse in the mouth …

Fiction: MELD

The writing hand
My hand-painted hand writing my next tome

MELD, Part 2 of the Doomed? trilogy is going through a structural edit. Here my attempt at conflating Chapters 1 and 2 into one, while keeping all the important information.

  1. Two Mules and a Misfit

Tardi rock-hopped through the northern ridge-top pass. He grinned at his human toes stinging when he skimmed them over a boulder. I still hurt. I’m still human, you know? The stony going wore down his toe-roots without hurting them.

The monster-in-him made like it was a heavy-water balloon bouncing in his gut. Tardi’s soured breakfast rushed up his gullet and he vomited acid. Choked on its sting.

“You okay?” said Shad, the younger of the Stormies with him. He passed Tardi the water-bag left-handed. The pack of cards in his right hand.

Tardi rinsed his mouth and spat. “Thanks,” he said. He drank. You’re going to starve me, aren’t you? The monster’s silence grew obdurate or was that his imagination? One of your reasons is following behind.

Trinnet pushed by them. Him. You’ve passed the baton to him. “Good. Because-a-promise-made-under-duress-isn’t-binding.” His mantra, the words that shaped his actions.

The big rocks of the gap gave way to a slope of basalt rubble stones. Shad and Trinnet leaped down the slope like a pair of rock-wallabies. Tardi followed more steadily. At the bottom, Shad fished his hat from down his shirt. He punched it out. “Dint want to lose it leaping about,” he said, clapping it on his head.

“Is that that adder’s skin round it?” Tardi remembered the death-adder’s saddle-needle teeth spiking into him.

Shad nodded. “Fright you gave us. Have a piece of possum-jerky? The monstrous critter inside you seeks to starve you?”

Tardi narrowed his mind’s eyes. He knows what I thought? He accepted the jerky. “It’ll set me up for a good run.” Long slow hills. Shrubs. Long grass.

He stopped well past midday. “Flat enough for fire?”

Trinnet and Shad also stopped, which he took as agreement. He pulled the tarp from his pack, partially unrolled it and cross-legged down. “I wouldn’t mind a brew.”

Shad grinned. He put his cards into a pocket and took dry sticks from his gleaner bag. He built a fire. Where Ace was Tardi’s uncle, he was Shad’s father. Making Shad and Tardi cousins. Shad came along of his own free will, apparently.

Trinnet, an older man, took the water-bag Tardi carried. He filled the billy-can he carried and set it by Shad. “Be quicker if we heated water in our mugs. Couple of good walks will get us along the road the Great Flicker is planning.”

Trinnet was sent along by Ace. “Keep my nephew honest,” Tardi heard back at the Stormy village early one morning. Probably they thought him still unconscious. Ace talked while Trinnet listened, Tardi discovered, peering from under his eyelashes. In the here and now, he took example from Shad and didn’t answer Trinnet.

Trinnet hunkered opposite Tardi and Shad.

“I’d like us to parse-out the task a bit more,” Tardi said. “If parsing-out means analysing a problem?” Stormies had a dialect all their own.

“Close enough,” Trinnet said. “Ace covered all that. I was setting there listening.”

“Good,” Tardi said. “You can explain the bits I don’t understand. Could be I was still woozy due to the snake bite?”

“You should’ve been fine with every Stormy’s good blood in you,” Trinnet said. “Watering down the venom-gift to your mulish constitution.”

Tardi rose, shaking his head. Save me from Trinnet-speak to unpack. He spread his tarp out all the way.

Shad shared tea among the three mugs. “Cold anyone?” he said. At a nod from Tardi, he slurped cold water into both theirs.

Trinnet sipped and blew his uncooled brew. “What don’t you understand?” he said finally.

Into the deep end, Tar-boy. “I’m meant to tame the alien so it can be milked of its very advanced technical knowledge—otherwise known as magic—for that technology to advance Stormy culture?”

“Sums it up?” Trinnet said like asked. Like he said what’s the problem.

Tardi laughed. “What I thought hearing Ace spout it all? High falutin’ crap. What I think now, after thinking on it while we traveled? It’s rubbish. Garbage. Send it to the limbo of stupid ideas.”

Shad laughed. “Got a way with words.” He set out an array with his cards. One, three, five, seven. Half a stepped pyramid. One cliff-straight edge.

“The mule laughs,” Trinnet said. “Will you be the Tamer’s yes-man, as well as his cousin, and his …”

“Stop right there,” Shad said. He was up without Tardi seeing him make a move.

Shad held his knife by the tip, ready for throwing.

Trinnet scoffed. “Huh. Touchy.” Like he backed down.

Tardi had no clue what threatened just then.

Shad sat, gathered his cards and spat into the fire. “Hi-falutin’ is the best word yet for the wonky plan. I’m hearing that the Tamer has no flicking idea. An the way he sets it out, neither have I.”

He a-sided to Tardi. “Given you’re still learning the lingo … flicking, flick, flicker and all such terminology refer to the poor saps that were changed. They suffered eons of flickering before they stabilised and became us. The words now be used as swears.”

Tardi nodded. More questions to hold in my heart. “Let me lay out my thoughts for you, Trinnet. I’m apparently meant to steal the alien’s support group—his so-called ladies—from Zoo Hall and deliver them somewhere safe to hold them. Right so far?”

Trinnet nodded.

“Why bother with that when in Zoo Hall they are already in a safe facility?” Tardi said. “But say you insist I do steal them. Where is there a safe Stormy-owned facility?” He shrugged. “I don’t believe it my job to organise that?”

Shad grinned. Took a card from the top of his pack. Turned it face up. Glanced. Put it under. And again.

“Next step in the plan,” Tardi said. “Milking the alien of its advanced technical knowledge? Huh? Oh wait, I forgot. It doesn’t mean milking it like a snake is milked of its venom, it means forcing the alien to tell us about its magic. That right?”

Trinnet frowned. “Magic is why you’re the Tamer.”

Tardi forced a chuckle. “I’m the Tamer because I bested a bunch of eels?” Steve’s poor eaten-off face hovered in his mind. He cleared the frog of unending sad from his throat. “No magic in that. I used my feet and fists. And though I’m also said to be good at stopping live-minds, I don’t do that by magic either.”

Catching an edge of Shad’s faster-than-fast frown, he swallowed the rest. According to Tardi’s little brother when he was still alive, Tardi picked up ruinous programming dealing with recalcitrant live-minds. Shad upset at me saying ‘stopping live-minds’? Why?

On we go. “So, I’m meant to harness a thing that isn’t a horse or a bullock, and I’m meant to advance Stormy culture. You sure that’s what is wanted? Advance it to where? See, it all sounds like Uncle Ace—using his nephew—is trying to advance through Stormy politics. Whatever that looks like.” Tardi glanced at his listeners.

Trinnet frowned. Shad rose and pocketed his cards. He threw water on the fire. Tidied away their mugs and wok. “I’m with you for the real thing. Need help to get up?”

Trinnet grunted. “Pit stop,” he said. “All that tea.” He stepped into the trees.

Shad gripped Tardi’s arm and pulled him up from his knees. “My flicking father’s desires are just another thing to not-achieve,” he said.

What other thing does Shad think there is? Thoughtful, Tardi shoved his folded tarp under the flap of his pack.

————

Trinnet led them north-west, through a vine-edged thicket, and then sloshed through a wide shallow creek.

“How is the alien influencing you right now, Trinnet?” Tardi said. “You being infected with him the same as I am?”

“We call him the Great Flicker,” Trinnet said. He stopped shin-deep. “He’s letting me get on with paddling my Stormy-craft.”

“What about when he doesn’t let you get on with it? What does he do then?” Tardi said. He also stood in the creek. His skin—where human—goose-pimpled sensually from the chill. His right-foot toe-roots grappled the stony creek-bottom.

“What?” Trinnet said. He sounded confused. He sneered watching Tardi free his dripping foot from the creek bed.

“The Great Flicker intends us to go northwest where there’s a signalling station,” Tardi said. “It doesn’t want us at either Zoo Hall or the Reefarium. Which is what I got from his signal in me earlier, when we still headed north.” At the end he said, “My flickering toe-roots trying to grapple the stones underfoot.” Explaining his actions to them both.

Tardi caught Shad glancing all over him. Face, neck, shoulders, chest and down to the way his one leg stood in the water while he lifted the other. Though Shad barely allowed his gaze to touch anywhere, Tardi enjoyed what unaccountably felt like a caressing. He grinned into Shad’s direction, quick and friendly.

“Every time I think of either Zoo Hall or the Reefarium,” he said. “The Great Flicker sends me the makings of a stomach upset. Nausea. Cold sweat. I would’ve puked again if you hadn’t angled northwest.”

“The Great Flicker sends you gut-wobbles if you cross him?” Trinnet was disbelieving.

“How does he normally affect you?” Tardi said.

Long silence. “Probably I don’t let him rule me that close,” Trinnet said. He brightened. “Could be I have a maturity you’re still lacking? Contradictorally to you, mule,” he said at Shad. “Standing there gawping at the tree-hair. Eating him up.”

Shad went red-brown towards his cheek-bones while his mouth, lips pressed together, became pale.

Embarrassment the one and fury the other, Tardi hazarded. Shad was a guy about Tardi’s own age who’d proven already that he didn’t need protection. But still. Tardi turned on Trinnet. “Could it be that you follow the Great Flicker’s instructions without thinking? That you’re compliant, and that’s the reason we’ve angled northwest?” He turned for the creek-bank they’d just left, where Shad still stood.

“What’ve you got against northwest?” Trinnet said.

“If we continue that way,” Tardi said, chin-pointing at the forest-clothed slope opposite, “We’d be aiming at a signalling station. Before the death-adder bit me, the Great Flicker planned for me to cross the ranges south of your village, then travel south to Parkes, where there is another signalling place. I believe he’s hidden his shuttle in the southwest, across the Central Sea.”

“Could be he wants to go home?” Kind, like the man instructed a youngster.

“No home to go to,” Tardi said. “Star blew up. Planet is gone. He thinks Earth is a good place for his people. Data packages in his starship. They’ll reformat Earth, make our home-planet suitable for them. Which is why we’ll angle northeast for now.”

“Make for the cane-fields if you wish still to lead,” Shad said.

“You can have it,” Trinnet said. “I’ve got to think. Talk with the Great Critter somehow.” He waited while first Shad, then Tardi passed him.

————

Shad led them into a service road between a pair of sugarcane fields. “Good place for a camp. Cane only half-high, big enough to hide us without losing the breeze.”

Trinnet glanced at Tardi sitting on his blue tarp. “An you don’t trust him, you’ll never have peace.”

Tardi rose. “Can’t sit too long. The tree in me is never going to stop its flesh-grab no matter what promises were promised.” He walked a little circle while deciding his next strategy. “Do you trust the monster to know what’s best for humans, Trinnet?”

“Humans when Stormies aren’t? This is what he can do with the sapient lot,” Trinnet said. He gobbed together a wad of saliva and spat.

Tardi’s green hair strained wanting to prickle from unease, but too heavy. The Stormies don’t consider themselves human? Why? Why not?

Shad lay aside his cards and set Tardi’s wok in the flames. Poured water into it. Dropped leaves in it, then a couple of cuts of possum. Sprinkled a spice. Lay bits of sugarcane over for a lid. He nodded at Tardi. “The sooner we get out from under our flicking father-uncle, the better for both of us. The cards tell me that.”

Oh ho. First time Shad said anything about the cards always in his hands.

“The Flicker asks me how we will get north other than on foot,” Trinnet said. “To a place he knows where we can cut west. On foot we are slow. He has space-time and the tides of the planet to consider.”

Tardi wanted to roll around with laughter at the pomposity of the man. “Don’t even dream I won’t be asking about Stormy ancestry,” he said. “Everything else we’re talking about here is social grease and en-flummox-ment.”

Shad laughed.

“Mules. The pair of you.”

Shad took the sugarcane lid from the wok, piece by piece, and stirred the stew. “That’s the third time you’ve called us that. Explain.”

Trinnet laughed. “That’ll be my pleasure, oh up-jumped youth. Always Ace shut my mouth on the subject but what can he do out here and him still at home? We’ve got that system of marrying in and out. Not enough women, ever. A woman takes two husbands, we still have a man unrequited. Some requite themselves with each other being made that way.”

“What about women made that way?” Tardi said.

“How would I know when I’m a man?”

“He means,” Shad said. “How would he know, being an unmarried man. He does not have the confidence of any woman, no matter how he tries to charm them. The women will have a system.”

Tardi recalled Trinnet in the company of the two little ladies during the storm, when Ace rescued Tardi. And how he’d trusted Ace with his life until the minute that Ace had cut them both and forced a blood-share. What a fuck-up.

Smiling about some private joke, Trinnet continued. “Some men marry out. Like Ace. His woman outside bore him Shad and Bundy. A pair of tainted children. Tch-tch. But happy days for Ace because he fathered a girl, proved himself fit for husbanding. So deemed the women. Hyee took him as her second.”

Tardi feared for Shad sitting like a stone-man beside him. “You’re saying Shad and I are both half-Stormy?”

“Mules. Infertile. Like the young of horses bred with donkeys.” Trinnet smiled broadly. “No issue for either of you.”

No problem for me. “I’ve never heard of a second human species living into modern times,” Tardi said.

“Did I say we are human?” Trinnet said.

“You’re not sapient, you said,” Tardi said.

“The women drove your mother gone,” Trinnet said. “Never happy with what she had. Why she died in the end, I hear. Lucky for me that it weren’t by my elbow.”

“You’re doing it again, the flummoxing,” Shad said. ’Things the Tamer knows already. Letting your poor-me-I’m-hardly-done-by show. Because all the women turned you away. A proper trey we are, a misfit in the company of two mules, and with the Great Flicker a here and there at every discussion.”

“You didn’t know Ace kept you just for this.”

“Ace told you that?” Shad’s eyebrows up. “I was raised for this. Why wouldn’t I have known?”

“Oh ye-es,” Trinnet laboured his irony. “You’ve got that skel-sicht!”

Both Shad and Trinnet bristled.

“Stew is starting to smell challenging,” Tardi said. “Here’s my mug.”

Shad laughed, took Tardi’s mug and scooped out a good amount. He filled Trinnet’s and his own. “Seconds when you’re ready.”

“What’s a trey apart from a three?” Tardi said.

“You never saw us but singly or in threes,” Trinnet said.

“Treys, Pents and Septs is how Stormies organise themselves,” Shad said.

“You never said what you think to do,” Trinnet said.

Tardi blew over is after-dinner brew to cool it. “About what?”

“Controlling. Managing. How you think to tame the Great Flicker,” Trinnet said.

Is this guy for real? “I thought I told you the limbo of bad ideas?” Tardi said.

“Didn’t tell me nothing,” Trinnet said. “Spouted a whole lot of cover. Keeping whatever you were deciding in your purse-net.”

“Interesting turn of phrase,” Tardi said. “I might start collecting them.” He’d have to extemporise, or whatever the terminology was for skating close to the truth. “I was deciding that I don’t know enough. That I need advice. I know of a woman at the Reefarium who can maybe help with that. So that’s where I thought we’d go first.”

Silence.

Trinnet stared into his mug. Maybe he read the pattern of the brew’s leaves in the bottom. “Well. So. We won’t need to walk the whole way. You probably know the glass merchant, the combo as travels north middle of the week? You—the trucker amongst us—can cadge us a ride with him.”

————

Tardi lay rolled in his tarp. Trinnet already snored. Glints in Shad’s dark eyes showed him still awake, still upright, by the glowing fire.

“Paddling our Stormy-craft,” Tardi said. “Is that what your-father-my-uncle sent him along for?” He didn’t say ‘Trinnet’ in case that gentleman woke on hearing his name.

“There’s steering with paddles, the Stormy way,” Shad said. “And there is steering with a rudder.”

“Half the effort, and it’s in the back of the boat,” Tardi said softly. “Will you be the rudder in this craft?”

Shad grinning disbelievingly is what Tardi heard. “You? You need steering?” Shad said.

“There’s so much shit to come,” Tardi said. “My attention span for external things gets smaller the more that the monster, the tree and now also your flicking father pile on my back. So, yeah. Someone to steer me sometimes would be good.” He waited for Shad’s response.

“I like it, Cuz,” Shad said. “Sleep. I will keep watch.”

A calculated risk for not having to guard myself from Trinnet day and night.

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

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

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

Intertwined?

Days 4-7 of Inktober 2021, a cultural practice by Rita de Heer

Just how intertwined are we, with Nature?

Here, in this cultural practice of applying pigments to paper, pasting scraps to paper bound in book-form, and drawing over the top with an ink pen made of petrol-based polymer filled with petrol-based ink?

Not much at all. Because cultural practices are part of what we do in the World, right?

Pigments are powdered clays, lichens and mosses, madders and goldenrods, rust, verdigris, pewter and gold. Some of Nature’s bounty.

Bound with gums, latex, and oils.

En-tubed, slopped into pots, or dried in patties.

[Sold, which is a whole other story.]

Livened with water … the best is straight from the deep ground, unadulterated with unnatural chemicals such as chlorine and fluorides.

Applied to papers linens, canvas, parchments; wood panels, bone, and teeth; applied to stone.

Using brushes made of bunching the tail hairs of a myriad of different furry animals, as well as threads drawn from petroleum products such as nylon, rayon, polyesters: all of them products of the sun’s action on eon-old vegetation when you go right to the origin.

Air drying is preferable but takes a long time, so people who can’t wait use hair-dryers that often use a variation on the theme, electricity stoked with coal.

[If framed, that’s another story]

We are intertwined.

Inktober, 2021

Day 4 to 7, Rita de Heer

Inspiration is everywhere but I like to start with a scrap of painted watercolor exercise, of which I have many. Tearing and cutting, I lay them out in a collage and hope I remember to glue them down before I start the drawing and sketching.

This page done with a uniball ink pen, which behaves very well on thickly coated mixed media paper. On the unpainted craftbook pages the ink sinks in and often wants to spread.