Category: Musings


AFTERWARDS

Afterwards
When swords are downed
And dust has settled
On the ground

Afterwards
When words are done
And actions all have
Come and gone

Afterwards
When Metal rings
No more upon the
Heart that sings

Afterwards
When Air is still
And blood and stone
Bend to your will

Afterwards
When Water flows
To cover bodies
Of your foes

Afterwards
When Earth is giving
Soft beneath the
Flesh that’s living

Afterwards
When Wood is cut
And fire heals
The broken heart

Afterwards.

By:
AlyZen Moonshadow

image (Oil painting “Rose Red” or “The Rose Knight” by Dan Dos Santos)

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Blue Stag

When I was living in Ireland, I once had a most surreal experience. Where I lived was out in the sticks, the house I was renting was surrounded by the forest. My only neighbour for more than a mile was the farmhouse diagonally opposite me, and it too was surrounded by the forest. Hardly any cars went past our road, unless they had business in the town 3 miles away.

That day I’d driven my car out of my driveway onto the road, but as I’d forgotten something in the house, I reparked my car parallel to my gate. After going back into the house to get that something (I forget what it was now), I got back into my car and had just put the key into the ignition when I heard an almighty rustling sound, followed by a clatter of hooves.

There, right in front of me, not 10 feet away, stood an enormous stag. He must have broken cover from the forest surrounding my house. He stood in the middle of the road, steam coming off his nostrils, and pawed the asphalt with his solid hooves.

For a full minute we stared into each other’s eyes. I from behind the windscreen of my car, he majestically from where he stood in the middle of the road.

I was close enough to note the soft brown colour of his dark velvety eyes as we locked stares. He was truly a majestic, noble creature. For one beautiful moment we were connected. For me the day suddenly looked brighter, even though the Irish sun was as usual hiding behind some clouds.

And then the stag suddenly sniffed the air, gave a grunt, turned and before I knew it he’d jumped my neighbour’s wooden fence and cantered off into the forest beyond.

That was the day I had an appointment to see someone who practised shamanism. When I got there, after we were seated, my Shaman friend asked if I had experienced any strange or inexplicable events that morning. I told him about my encounter with the stag. And he nodded wisely and suggested perhaps that stag was my Animal Totem.

To this day I still recall the jolt in my heart when that stag broke cover and landed right in front of my car. I am convinced that my Shaman friend was right. The Stag is my Animal Totem, my protective spirit.

And so when I saw this mass-produced canvas art at my local KMart, I felt compelled to buy it and hang it in my bedroom. Where it can once more watch over me. Blue is the colour of my Aura, I’ve been told, so this Blue Stag resonates even more with me.

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Villa Epecuén

The 2010 remake of the film “And soon the darkness” centres around 2 American girls on a bicycle trip around Argentina in South America. One of them gets abducted, to be sold as a sex slave across the border in Paraguay. The other girl’s frantic search for her friend ends up at an eerie abandoned town by a lake, called “Villa del Lago”.

In reality there isn’t such a place as Villa del Lago. The setting for that in the film is actually an abandoned town called Villa Epecuén in the Buenos Aires province of Argentina. The town’s history is rather bizarre.

But first, in case you have never heard of the film or the town itself, and have not a clue what I’m talking about, here are some images from Google:

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And this is what happened to Villa Epecuén: it was a tourist spa, known for its saltwater lake’s curative properties, rather like the Dead Sea in Israel. Then one day in 1985 a dam broke and the entire town and surrounding area were inundated. Everyone was evacuated. In 1985 the water level was 1.2m high, but the area kept flooding and the water level rose to 10m by 1993. The waters did not recede until 2009, nearly 25 years later. When it did, the old buildings and trees arose in an eerie silvery haze. Only one man, 81 year old Pablo Novak, ever returned to live in Villa Epecuén.

image Pablo Novak in Villa Epecuén.

There is a video on Villa Epecuén, featuring an interview with Pablo Novak in the village. The video, which is in Spanish, also shows historical images of Villa Epecuén in its heyday, the bursting of the dam, and “before” and “after” photos.

http://youtu.be/PGe3ATcTWIg

Another video, “The Last Man of Epecuén”, contains English subtitles and follows Pablo Novak as he cycles around Villa Epecuén followed by his faithful dogs.

http://youtu.be/eRJE5qrxrI8

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Detritus

I am pulling and pulling
This great weight on my back
Like an ox in the fields
Struggling to get free
Of the muck that besmirches me
This cloying, clinging mud

Why is it such an arduous task
This simple pulling
Out of a sticky situation
Why does my chest feel
Like there’s an iron band around it
Holding me back?

I turn my head and look back
And now I see
That what I thought I was pulling
Was not what I am pulling
No, now I know the reason
Why it’s been so hard

It isn’t because I’m weak
It isn’t because of the mud
It is hard simply because
The weight that I’ve been pulling
Is not just the detritus
Of past emotions and actions

It is all that once was
And, clinging to it
Intertwined in a death grip
As real as any living thing
Comes the spectre of The Other
A mocking, grinning skull

Pulling one is hard enough
Carrying the extra baggage is worse
And now I’ve learned that
Since the remains are so entangled
Impossible to part completely
I am being hampered, I am hobbled

So instead I break my own chains
Step out of the metal vice
That held my fluttering heart
And I walk forward
Into the unknown
Alone, but free from my shackles.

And now I am finally moving ahead
And I steal a look back
And I see the detritus behind me
It is unable to free itself
It lies on the ground thrashing
Its arms still around The Other.

By: AlyZen Moonshadow

image(Image source: Google)

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I know, I know, such a cliché…remember the book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”? Well, it’s all about serendipity, choices, philosophy.

Today’s post is in appreciation of my humble bicycle. Yes, you read that right. My bicycle.

Here’s what happened. This morning I was going to dye my hair red, but when I took the box out of the bathroom cabinet, I realised the dye colour was mahogany brown. I’d wanted a rich red. Okay. I also needed to get a few bits and pieces. So I got on my bicycle and cycled over to my local shopping mall, all of 3 roads away. I parked my bike at the bile rack, secured it using my coiled cable bike lock, along with my helmet, and then I went into the supermarket. This was around 12 noon.

At around 1230 I came out. The bike was gone. For a second I thought maybe I’d made a mistake and had parked my bike around the other entrance to the mall. Then I saw broken pieces of black plastic on the ground. Then I saw the green coils of my bike’s lock. Then I saw my helmet and water bottle lying on the floor. That’s when the realisation sank in. I’d been robbed of my beloved bicycle!

The nice Security officer who took my details told me the barber whose shop was next to the bike rack had reported seeing 4 Aboriginal/Kiwi boys taking the bike. He said they’d probably used a hammer or pliers to crack open the plastic housing where the cable clicked into the lock, hence the broken pieces of plastic lying on the ground. I lodged a Police report and gave the report number to the Security guard.

And then I had to walk home with my groceries. As I walked, I wondered what were the chances of ever recovering my bicycle. I wondered if our household insurance covered the theft of my bike. I needed a bicycle to get around on…how long would the Insurance company take to pay up?

As I turned the corner to my street, I saw an Aboriginal family ahead with a supermarket trolley. There were 2 men, 2 women and 3 children. I noticed that one of the children, a girl aged about 8 or 9, was on a bicycle. Could it be? She didn’t look very steady on it. Was it MY bike?

It was!!!

I dropped my shopping at the gates to my house and ran towards the Aboriginal family. As I ran, I hit the redial button on my mobile phone to call the Police (having only done that not 15 minutes ago). When the duty sargeant answered, I told her to just listen.

At that precise moment, the family turned towards me when they heard me talking on my mobile phone to the Police. And the girl fell off my bike. I took advantage of the situation and went all Mama Bear on the family. As the adults were helping the girl up off the ground, I yelled at them “That’s my bike! I’ve reported it to the Police as stolen. Leave it right there and just go! Go now! Or I WILL press charges against you for theft!”

One of the men, who had shorn sides but a little ponytail under a red baseball cap, said “We didn’t steal nothing”. One of the women said “We just found it lying in the alley”. I yelled at them “I don’t care whether you stole it or found it, that’s my bike and if you don’t leave right now, the Police will be coming and you’ll get arrested for handling stolen property! If you just “found” it, you should take it to the Police Station, not claim it for your own use!” I picked my poor bike up off the ground.

The other man, a big fat guy in a dark blue sweatshirt and pants, mumbled some swear words at me. I stood my ground, held my mobile phone up to show them the Police were still listening to our exchange right now.

For a minute it looked like a Mexican Standoff. Then, thankfully, the family decided it would be wiser to just move on swiftly. As soon as they’d gone around the corner, I spoke to the nice policewoman on the line. I gave her the Police report number from a few minutes ago, described the suspect family, and asked her to kindly update the mall’s Security department that my bike had been recovered.

My heart didn’t stop pounding til an hour later.

Now I’ve put a protective spell on my bike and my son’s bike (he needs it for school). Oh, and just to be doubly safe, I also bought a heavy duty iron lock and cable from my local bike shop. No one messes with my bicycle! No one messes with me!

That scene of me flying up my street, mobile phone in one hand, chasing after that thieving family…worthy of a Cops & Robbers television drama!! The adrenaline! The excitement! The close avoidance of violence! Thank God for mobile phones and fast redials! One little woman against 4 adults and 3 children! I am one Fearless Mama!!

imageHome again, safe and sound!

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Rockingham Penguin Island

I’m proud to be able to boast that our little city of Rockingham, Western Australia, is home to a race of adorable tiny little creatures. These are the Little Penguins, so-called for their small stature.

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The Little Penguin, or Fairy Penguin (I love that name!), is the world’s smallest species of penguins. They stand little more than a foot high. End to end, one would fit nicely from the crook of your elbow to your fingertips, that’s how tiny they are. They can be found along the coastlines of southern Australia. In New Zealand they are called Blue Penguins. Rockingham, Western Australia is about the furthest north these little critters go, and we are all the better for that. Penguin Island hosts the largest colony of Little Penguins in Western Australia.

image View showing Penguin Island in the forefront, and the Rockingham mainland in the background.

imageShowing Penguin Island and behind it, Seal Island. The large island with a causeway is Garden Island, Western Australia’s largest Naval base.

Penguin Island is called that because…well, obviously because it’s where the colony of penguins live. But not just penguins call the island home – on Penguin Island itself, and on its neighbouring islands are large colonies of pelicans, seagulls and seals. You can take a tour in a glassbottomed boat further out to sea and see playful dolphins, and even swim with them. On Penguin Island there are several nature walks (watch out for raucous seagulls guarding their nests, eggs and young!), a picnic area (bring your own food and drink), caves you can explore, even the occasional basking sealion on the beach!

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For both the ferry to Penguin Island and dolphin tours around the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park area, Rockingham Wild Encounters is the sole operator.

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There is a tidal bar or sandbar from Rockingham across to Penguin Island, and people were allowed to walk across until recently…the sandbar unfortunately does not go out in a straight line, like a bridge, but curves and zig-zags underwater, and is extremely difficult to see underfoot when the tide is rising or in strong winds. Step off the sandbar and you would plunge into the sea, or worse, be swept by strong currents onto jagged rocks.

I recall reading about an unfortunate family from India who had just had a picnic on Penguin Island on 28th December 2010. They, along with around 10 other tourists, had either missed the ferry or wanted to experience walking on the sandbar. The tide started coming in, so they quickened their pace to get back to the Rockingham shore. Unfortunately, the 2 Indian wives were swept off the sand bar into the sea, and their husbands jumped in to save them. The women and other tourists were subsequently rescued, but the men drowned. These days, there is a huge sign on the beach strongly discouraging anyone from using the sand bar.

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So, please, if you are planning to visit Penguin Island, do it safely. Take the ferry. The cost of it covers you to and from the island, and you can also combine it with the cost of the Penguin Island Discovery Centre Show aka feeding time for the Little Penguins. You can see them up close and learn about their habits, watch them swim, play and eat. They really are the sweetest little things.

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Penguin Island is closed to the public during the penguins’ winter nesting period, from June til mid-September each year. But the wildlife cruises are still operational all year round. During the breeding season, there are up to 1000 pairs of Little Penguins on or around Penguin Island. The penguins that you see on show are either orphaned or rejected and rescued and are now permanent residents of the Centre, or those found injured and nursed back to health.

Where I live, each morning at sunrise, large flocks of wild birds fly over my house: seagulls, pelicans, cockatoos of all colours – white, pink and white, green, black. The cacophony is unbelievable and enough to wake the dead! And the same happens at sunset each day. I absolutely love it.

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(All photos courtesy of Google images).

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Some ads from the 1950s and even earlier: (as seen on Pinterest)

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And who uses these appliances?

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That’s right! The lady of the house! Look at that beatific smile on her face as she irons, washes, hangs out the clothes, sews, scrubs and mops! Doesn’t she look like she’s enjoying every last second of it?

(Cue sound of DJ scratching record)

Luckily, you’ve come a long way, baby. Here are some household appliances, gadgets and innovations the modern house already has, should have, or will have in the very near future: (images also taken from Pinterest)

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All to make your life much easier…after you’ve just returned home from a long day at work and find that you’re still expected to cook, clean and tidy up after the kids and the husband.

Luckily, there are always willing slaves to help you out…The following images are from a witty little book called “Porn for Women” ;).

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Like I said, you’ve come a long way, baby!

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Take one old garden bench.
Add one found bookcase, minus the shelves.
Add 30 litres of potting compost. Scrounge around the house and gather together various succulent plants and what not.
Plant in bookcase planter.
Add smooth pebbles from old pond. Tamp down.
Water with watering can.
Add various plastic toy animals.
Stand back and admire.
Enjoy!

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Everyone has high and low periods in their lives, it’s only normal, as Life is constantly changing and never the same.

Whenever I feel low, one of the things I do to help raise my spirits is to look on Google Images and Pinterest for affirmation quotes. It’s reassuring to know I’m not alone in the way I’m feeling, that countless others have experienced the same and lived to tell the tale. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.

Here are just some of my current favourite affirmations or sayings, for a positive outlook on Life when it gets you down. (Courtesy of Google Images and Pinterest).

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So, whenever you’re feeling not so on top of the world, remember to Stay Positive. It’s only Change. Choose Happiness!

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Visarute Angkatavanich hails from Thailand and has a wonderful talent for photographing fish. I keep fish, but I can never get mine to stay still long enough to be photographed properly ;-). And my photos of fish never come out as envisioned. Quite possibly because my weapon of choice is a mobile phone camera and not a professional SLR with all the bells, stops and whistles attached to it. And definitely because I am not a patient person who’s willing to sit for hours watching for the perfect photo opportunity. I’m like that proverbial Panda that eats, shoots and leaves lol. Visarute uses specialised lighting and crystal clear water to shoot his subjects. (I have problems getting my fish tank water to stay clear and my subjects to stay alive long enough!)

Visarute is perhaps most famous for his portraits of Siamese Fighting Fish or Betta Splendens. A fitting tribute, for these fish originate from his own homeland and are part of a rich cultural history going back to the 19th century and Siamese royalty.

Here are some examples of Visarute’s glorious Bettas, courtesy of Google Images:

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To me, it seems almost balletic, the way the wavy fins appear to dance in mid-air. The Betta Splendens is a beautiful fish in its own right, and Visarute has managed to enhance its attributes even more, with his photographic prowess.

I also found on Google some examples of Visarute’s photography that are Not of the Betta Splendens. This leads me to believe that he is flexing his photographic skills and observing the characteristics of other types of animals, no doubt in the near future we shall see more of his astounding works.

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rabbit fish
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Portrait of Visarute Angkatanavich and his beautiful young family (from Google Images):

Family portrait

 

I contacted Visarute on Facebook, and asked if he would like to add anything to my post here. He told me that his work is available on Amazon through this link:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=art_artist_search?node=6685269011&field-keywords=Visarute+Angkatavanich

 

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