Friday, January 18, 2013

10 years ago today...

Australia's capital city burned. Fires encircled Canberra, generated their own weather, created cyclones of fire, massive balls of flame and destroyed 500 houses.  People died, people were burned.  Animals died - stock, pets, wildlife.  The furnace was so intense that it ripped through the pine forests, the trees left bent in the direction that the flames burned. The fires extended from here down into Victoria.

The weather today is as it was 10 years ago.  It is hot, the winds are dry, strong and gusty.  I find myself checking the sky, half listening for the water bombing helicopters, for the sirens that call emergency.  It's a total fireban day,and likely to stay that way for a while.

We weren't burned.  I've done this before, while living on a farm.  I know the routine, the preparations.  It was night-dark at 2pm with the smoke.  I was on-call for work, but the mobile phone network was overloaded and besides, power went in so many suburbs.

Coonabarabran and the Warrumbungles have a massive fire - it's gone through Siding Springs and the astronomers don't yet know how bad the damage is.  There's a nasty bushfire down Cooma way, another bad one in Victoria's Gippsland. Business as usual in an Australian summer.

The weather patterns and climate scientists suggest that this is how it will continue.  Hotter days and more of them, more fires, a cycle of destruction and drying out that it is probably too late to stop.  Maybe we can ameliorate it.  I doubt there is the political will.  We are frogs in water, coming to the boil.  Maybe we can adapt.  But the future is frightening.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"Extraordinary how potent cheap music is"

Amanda in Noel Coward's Private Lives.

The Master didn't quite get it right - take the word cheap out.  It is extraordinary how potent music is.

 "I don't want to change the world with our music. There are no hidden messages in our songs..."  (Freddie Mercury, Queen).

Music can be a whole different universe. It can sweep you into melancholy (Debussy's Clair de Lune), into rage (Kate Bush, Get Out of My House), into exuberance (Mussorgsky's Night on Bare Mountain, Queen's Don't Stop Me Now or Jim Steinman's Bad for Good), into joy that's peaceful, that's magnificent, that's laugh out loud and dance.

I could give you a list of songs and symphonies, folk tunes and fantasies, reels and the rhythmic beat of shamanic drums or Gregorian chants.

There is a resonance and magic in it.  Listen to an old, scratchy recording of Saint-Saen's Danse Macabre.  To Greig's In the Hall of the Mountain King (Peer Gynt) - with vocals, if you can find it.  To The Sawdoctor's Still the Only One (the album version is slower and tinglier than that on youtube).  To Christy Moore's Well Below the Valley or Biko Drum.  The sweet memory in Ivor Novello's We'll Gather Lilacs in the Spring Again.

Words as important as melody, but not always needed.  The voice can just be another instrument.

We can all sing, some of us sound more like crows than nightingales.  But listen to the cadence of a crow's cry.  I regularly get an earful from the magpies who come to us for mince.  It's a lovely warble, but deafening at close quarters.

Listen to the rain when (if) it falls.  To the soughing of wind in the branches of trees or tumbling leaves in autumn.  To the small sounds of insects.  To the almost infintesimal sound of soil crumbling in and through your hand.

Stop.  Listen.  Just listen....

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Warning - health update

I'm really, really hope that 2013 is better health-wise than 2012 was.  I'm so over the being tired and having a fogged up brain that goes with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  But last lot of test results were interesting.  My GP and I have started to go off the beaten track slightly, and looking at nutritional medicine.  This is very much a developing field and it would be daft to think that all the answers are there for the picking.  Just as it is impossible to describe an elephant by feeling only one part of its body.  Too much we don't know.  Interactions we aren't aware of.

Anyways, turns out I have extremely high levels of cortisol whizzing around all 24 hours of the day and starting to get insulin resistant.  Translation - my body is in constant flight/fight mode.  Um, hello, not really sustainable.  So I'm doing additional supplements (chromium, GABA, 5-HTP, L-tryosine, massive amounts of Vit C, mega dose of B group vitamins and magnesium).  And the upshot is a diet low in sugars and carbohydrates.  No more muesli, no bread (which I'd just started experimenting with), no baked goods, no Cascade Ultra-C, no fruit juice, no icecream (in the middle of an Australian summer, for heaven's sake!), no tropical fruits (no ginger with my last cup of the day!), no grains (polenta, couscous, rice, pasta, burghul), no potatoes...  On the plus side, bacon and eggs for breakfast each morning, lots of pr0tein (eggs, meat, dairy), awesome smoothies with full fat yoghurt, proper milk and as many berries as I can fit into the jar.  The dogs thoroughly approve of any change in food patterns which involves them getting bacon rind each day.

I'm also about to step into a mental health plan.  Not too sure what that entails, will find out more at the GP's on Thursday. Think it's aimed at the poor management of stress.  But my reaction to this step is intriguing (in a poking a wound sort of way).  Small melt down for a few days afterwards.  But it's as if, despite the depression, despite the suicide attempts, despite the permanent medication and open acknowledgement of my slightly odd brain/psyche, it feels as if this is a no-going-back-label of "nutcase".