Tuesday, April 29, 2014

An answer (and more wildlife)

Well it is Tuesday so I had better get round to answering last week's WIIW.

Linda G. Guessed: "An extreme close-up of a camel? (Hey, a girl can hope!)"
It certainly is camel colour, but as much as I enjoy your camel posts it is a much smaller creature!
Ann said: "A woolly mammoth"
What a creative guess, but it is not elephant sized.
Well this image came from this extreme close up piccie
Still can't see?
Well does this help? Isn't it odd looking?
Here it is, a moth lured out of the rainforest by our lights. As you can see it is excellently camouflaged for hiding in a forest.
It doesn't work quite as well on our fly-screen! 


Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Centauress

Just a quick post tonight as I have spent all weekend at the Inaugural Dorrigo Grassroots Writers' Festival and am rather tired.

But I wanted to say my friend Kathleen Jones  and long time commenter on this blog has just published her latest book the Centauress on Kindle

 I haven't had a chance to read this work yet, but I have read her biography 
Katherine Mansfield: The Story-Teller  and her previous novel The Sun's Companion  and to say I loved them would be an understatement!

Friday, April 25, 2014

ANZAC, Ghost town and a tunnel

Today is ANZAC day in Oz.

Held on the 25th of April it commemorates the day in 1915 when soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) went into action in the ill fated Dardanelles Campaign of World War One.

A mere 14 years after Australian Federation the casualties that fell in that campaign and the rest who fell before the end scarred our fledgling nation. Of a population of just over 4 million people in 1914, 330,000 Aussie soldiers served (all volunteers). Of those 330,000 who served 221,000 were killed or seriously wounded.

Deb and I went for a drive along the Old Glen Innes Road which runs from Grafton one of our local towns up through the Nymboida Valley to Glen Innes.

The road has been bypassed by the new highway further north so it is pretty much in the same state as it was when it was opened in1867.

Much of the way it runs along a cutting perched above the Nymboida River.
At one point where a spur comes down to the river side it dives through a tunnel that was excavated by hand!

I paused at the other end to catch this piccie of a vehicle coming through. To give an idea of the size of the tunnel and just how narrow this old road is.

Further along we turned off up a side track which took us up to "Tommy's Lookout"
The view from about 1,000 feet above the river gives an idea of what the country is like. You can't see the road from up there but it snakes along parallel to the river.

The track up to the look out is suitable for 4x4 vehicles only and is not for the faint hearted.
Deb snapped this piccie through the windscreen on the way back down.

Back to the subject of ANZAC day. At the ghost town of Boyd Newton stands a lonely ANZAC memorial.
The local tale is that all the military age men volunteered and not one returned. Whatever happened the village was abandoned soon after, leaving nothing but the memorial.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What is it Wednesday

Well here is my first WIIW in ages.
What on earth do you think this is?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Wildlife and sleep

Well our young dingo is still around. It seems to have taken to howling at all hours just up the hill behind our house.
I suspect it is trying to carve out its own little territory between those of other dogs.
Or maybe it doesn't know the etiquette yet? 

I like to hear it is around, but random howling in the dark of night is not good for my sleep.

Speaking of sleep... last night there was a noise something like a fizzing-chattering noise (if that makes sense) coming from the roof of our back porch.

I had to investigate and this is what I found.

No, this sweet little creature is not a mouse. She (and I am fairly sure it was a she) was arguing with this fellow.

What are they?
They are Antechinus, probably Brown Antechinus (Antechinus stuartii). Despite their mouse-like appearance they are actually a marsupial (like kangaroos, koalas, wombats and other Oz animals).

They are common in Oz forests, but most Aussies have never seen one (or perhaps realised they have). They live in forests and are nocturnal and mostly people who see one think they have seen a mouse. Hence they don't really have a common name and get stuck with their scientific moniker.

So how does an Aussie tell the difference?
Well these guys are a little bigger than a mouse, their ears are rounder and they have much pointier noses.
Plus in terms of behaviour they are like mice on speed!
They leap and bounce around as if they have no tomorrow. Which is kind of true, male antechinus only live a single year dying of stress related disease before their first birthday.

Unlike mice they do not gnaw. Instead of the big incisors mice have, these guys have a mouth full of little needle like teeth. They make their living as predators, mostly eating insects and spiders.

Oh and they don't squeak! They fizz and hiss at each other far more loudly than such a little creature should.
Here's to an unbroken night's sleep.

Another Dog

First up thank you all for your supportive comments about yesterday's post.

Today's post is also about a dog.
Again Lilli is not the topic of conversation, but this time it is a real animal rather than a metaphor.

I have caught glimpses of this young Dingo (Canis lupus dingo) around our place a couple of times but only as a streak disappearing into the rainforest .

This time it didn't realise I was around and I got close enough to get some piccies.

When I was younger dingoes were very rare around here. Oz has been very enlightened about native animals with nearly all listed as protected species for many decades.

Dingoes were seen as damaging to livestock and were listed as pests except inside national parks. In earlier times there were quite substantial bounties offered for dingo scalps. Farmers and trappers, trapped, shot and poisoned so by the 1970s they were very rare in this area.

But things have changed in this area. While these animals are still listed as pests the traditional farming community has declined. Much farmland has either been sold to more 'alternative' incomers, or converted from pastoral land to forestry plantations.

The net result is local dingoes have been left comparatively un-molested.

Things are changing even in the 1990's it was rare to see or hear them.
Now though their numbers have crept up to where on a night of a full moon we can often hear a dozen or more howling along the ranges. An eerie and simultaneously thrilling sound.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tale of a Black Dog

Despite the title this post is not about our Labrador Lilli.

It is instead about me and why I haven’t been posting for sooooo long.

Since before Christmas, I have been battling an episode of depression. Hence the title of this post, Winston Churchill called his bouts of depression a “black dog”.  The sad truth is posting has been a casualty of my illness.

What follows is an account of what I have been going through.

It will be somewhat personal so you can of course stop reading now.

Still reading?
Well here is some of my story:-

I suffered with repeated episodes of major depression (clinical depression)  from my teens until my mid to late thirties - to the extent that I was frequently suicidal. Fortunately, I never attempted, because I always retained some inkling of what my death would do to those around me. I did the typical male thing and hid much of what I was going through all that time.

Then around 2000 I was introduced to a psychotherapy called cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and achieved amazing results - from about 2001 - 2002 until recently I had been well. I was essentially controlling my illness using CBT techniques.But I guess like a recovering alcoholic there is always the risk of a relapse...

Then, as readers of my blog will know, I have been putting myself under a fair bit of stress with a new job (ironically working in mental health) and rebuilding our house etc. etc.
The final straw was my mum getting very ill. We have always been very close and her condition deteriorated to the point where I thought we were going to lose her.
The end result was last year I became unwell. Perhaps surprisingly given my history it took me some time to realise that I was ill again.

It was quite a strange experience.
I knew depression well and it seemed that my bag of mental tricks was still working. I experienced nothing like the despair I had known in the past.
What I did experience was a growing sense of anxiety, which got so bad that it became virtually crippling. As an example I spent 36 hours worrying about how to cancel an appointment.  Oddly, at the same time I was still positive. I didn't understand what was happening but I knew I had beaten mental illness before, so I assumed I could do it again.

This time I did the right thing, talked to Deb about it, made an appointment with a GP and got a referral to a psychologist.  After discussion with the GP and Alice (my psychologist) we decided not to medicate, but to hit me with CBT.  After all I am an expert at using CBT on myself after all these years.

I was seeing Alice nearly weekly from December until February and have dropped the frequency of visits now. In terms of diagnosis, Alice has plumped for depression rather than anxiety. I have some of the other symptoms such as exhaustion, lethargy etc (hence no blogging) so she argues it is the best fit.  I am not quite sure I agree, because my experience of depression was always agonising despair. And as I said I have felt surprisingly positive the whole time, I guess that part of CBT never stopped working for me. In any case CBT seems to be working for this new species of dog I have had visiting me. I would not say I am well again, but I am very much on the mend.

I am back at work and more or less functional there.

We have the house to the point where it is comfortable enough to allow me to ease up on it. There is still a lot to do, but we won't freeze in the coming winter and the kitchen and bathroom are fully functional. In fact I have barely touched it for weeks.

We have also been deliberately taking it easier, making trips so I can point my camera at things, visiting our girls who live only a couple of hours away now, spending more time with mum while I still have her (her health is improved at the moment). 
Dangar Falls (near where we live)
 Speaking of mum, I have been more involved with her medical journey. That has, I think, been positive. I think when it happens it will be "simply" grief. Part of my problem has been grieving in advance.
As a measure of my improved mental state I am even thinking about my writing again!  I haven't written a word for months, but the creative juices are beginning to churn.  I think I have worked out how to solve the problems I was having with my book Veil of Iron. I have also been composing this return to my blog.
So for me, it is a case of one step at a time, and hopefully most of those will be forwards.