Saturday, 31 March 2012

When a loved one dies on your watch.

His name was Stafford but with a father and grandfather of the same name close by, we called him David to avoid confusion and that might have been the first rejection.
Crawling around the feet of a practicing musician he was exposed to the best, Bach, Beethoven, Count Basie, Sinatra, Barney Kessel then Blood Sweat and Tear and the new wave of drummers of the super groups.

At three, on the one hour drive from his nanna’s, his incredible memory and vocabulary regurgitated in detail the story of whole movies. At six, he made up a drum kit from cans and boxes, so at eight when he persisted, Santa arrived with a real kit.
Then it was concerts with Frank Zappa and Chicago.
By twelve he was playing like a pro and seasoned players came to hear and learn from the prodigy.
By early teens his talent was too good to keep at home and professionals booked him for gigs. He was flying… but where? We were not ‘watching his back’ and he was introduced to drugs by his adult bandmates, who probably thought it was funny.

By his mid teens, strange things were happening, unfathomable lapses. Amazing opportunities blown like in the Man With the Golden Arm. A pattern was emerging. First time in a band, he was a star then next time, he arrived stoned and was sent home. None understood, not even me, who was so proud of his genius. I am sure I must have, but can’t remember telling him so. And after learning of his addiction, I was too confused to know what questions to ask. Even he did not understand what was happening to him and despite his prodigious insights and ability to express his feelings, if he did, we were not listening.

Just yesterday I had this thought:
Any prodigy only becomes so by having an extraordinary and detailed vision of a goal at an early age. In David’s case, his musical standards were assumed by osmosis while he was still a baby. His eagerness to play music was welcomed but nobody watching was aware of his anguish. What appeared to be perfect to us was never enough for him. He outshone the best of them, but failed his own test of worth. He never felt he was good enough.

If this is true of most prodigies, it explains why so many young celebrities fall victim to addictions. He was handsome, funny and when working he earned good money. Marriage and fatherhood gave him stability for a time, but even that was not enough and feelings of inadequacy drove him back to heroin.

Some get over it, but for some, they become dead men walking, repelling those who would help if they could, but having exhausted their patience, give up. From there, rejection and a failure, made bearable by drugs, completes the downward spiral to homelessness and all the terrors and horrors that brings.

But somehow, he managed to get clear of heroin and even beat methadone but alcoholism was a bridge too far. He keep himself clean and almost always had a phone and an i-pod. All he owned was carried in two shopping bags and all his clothes except undies, he wore all the time. And he found friends among the homeless and with them he spent his days, so there were good times. But he always yearned for contact with the daughters and siblings he loved, and he did love with a heart that was big, generous and forgiving, in the end, even of himself, his toughest critic.

His girls did give their love, and even sought him out when they could as did I. But although I had long stopped trying to change anything and just enjoyed being with him, accepting that he could not change either, I never really understood what kept him where he was and I doubt anyone else did either, at least until yesterday. Almost a week after he died alone and in despair, I think I finally got it.

Foresight can one’s life enrich
Lack of it, our dreams unstitch.
Ignorance, they say is bliss
But hindsight can be a cruel bitch.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Too soon


Perfect infant
Born to children
Too soon.

Innocent prodigy
In adult world
Too soon

Making choices
Taking chances
Too soon

Addicted, lost,
Choices gone
Too soon

Stolen life
Ended today
Too soon,
Too soon.

PS. Replaced Julie's photo of the homeless man with David, about 12 at a gig, and a recent one taken by a family member.
Thanks Julie.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Mirror Images.


Left is right as you can see
It looks that way to you and me.
But turn your arse
Toward the glass,
And all’s in place as it should be!

Image pinched from Tess for Magpie Tales.
PS. As the doc would say; 'This is getting really silly'.

So, for those who wake to the sound of Bow Bells,

Her norf ‘n souf, mince pies that glows,
Her Harold blair, o’er boulders flows.
Twice mirrored there
Her face so fair…
Shame about the garden hose!

PPS. If makes sense to you, explain it to me!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Walmart Starts the plug-in Smarts.

Electric cars are all about the batteries.

An electric car costs about 10% as much to run as an equivalent petrol car, has virtually no maintenance and is cheap to make. So why are they so expensive?

If you want an electric car that does 200KPH and goes 200Km between charges, get a Tesla at $200K+. I f you want an E-car that does 0 to 100 in 4 secs, a Mercedes is for you, price to be announced but it will be hefty. If you need to replace a Tesla battery you  reportedly need to fork out $50,000. Now wonder so few are sold!

But if you want a town car to take you to work, shopping, or the kids to school, get an Indian built Reva for about $15,000 or wait for the Australian designed, Chinese built E-Day for under $10,000

But whatever car you choose, the price is about the batteries and the batteries are about range.
With weight not an issue, on our ketch Heavy Metal we have 600 amp hours of storage for under $1,000 but in a car, lead acid battery power is less attractive because of range for weight. But what if you could double the range and do it at no cost? Walmart in Columbus Ohio has done just that! Simply by running a few cables and installing some plug in points, your e-car is charged while you shop so your range has to take you only one way. The cost to them of a full recharge might be 60c, but the average top up might be more like 10c.

Now compare that with the Coles-Woolworths 4c per litre reward scheme here in Australia, where the average reward payout is about $1.20. If they offered free charging at 10c their rewards payout would reduce by over 90%. It is a no-brainer, but will they?

You have to be joking! The big duopoly has cornered the petrol market with its 4c/litre supermarket spend reward system, so why would it want to undermine that? We need a third player to get in here and attract the electric car commuter and that will probably be Costco, with its US roots and Walmart philosophy, or German based Aldi with its innovation and established chain of outlets. Then again, it could be done on a whole Shopping Centre or Mall basis with shared cost and even pay-as-you-go card activated spaces. So even if we pay, it is still attractive at 10c per top up!

Who will be first? Aldi, Costco, Franklins? Perhaps we need a Walmart here!

Monday, 19 March 2012

The Works.

Brown earth
Blue planet

We tinker
At our peril

Few things in this world are black and white, except magpies.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Fortunate Metamorphosis.

Our eyes met.
I fell in love
with the image
I created.

Over time,
cicada like,
emerging, real,
I loved you more.

Take a tip, take the trip to, go to Magpie Tales oh!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Making a splash

On Friday, IXL brought her lovely traditional wooden river boat to visit and when one clambers along her deck she leans, so to traverse from stern to bow, to feel perfectly safe, one needs harness and pitons.

The task of releasing lines fell to me but on the way I lost hold of a handhold and over the side I tumbled, cap, glasses and worst of all, i-phone!
Glasses, cap, wallet and me were all saved, but the i-phone, despite being doused in fresh water and placed into a plastic bag with silicon crystals is dead. My old Nokia, long since retired, survived a similar dunking because it was immediately disassembled, battery and sim card out, front face off, washed in fresh water then dried. But the i-phone does not come apart! Any ideas?
Her guests were Lyn, psychologist, John, radio producer and Ruth, photographer. But with dry clothes I rejoined the party and we were off. Just around the corner we anchored off a little waterfall and had lunch IXL had prepared beforehand of roast pork belly and veal, with antipasto and salad following her exquisite entrĂ©e, seafood terrine made with goats cheese and prawns wrapped in pink salmon slices all washed down with iced white wine. Life's tough.
So we had a lovely day, with free counselling for IXL, free advice on converting files to MP3 for me and Ruth took plenty of photographs, unfortunately. Haha!

PS. I have not gone crazy. Blogger is doing its thing, changing fonts, colours and underlining as it sees fit!

Friday, 9 March 2012

When the going gets tough...

For someone who was born to have a maidservant to tidy up and put screw caps back on jars, IXL coped extremely well. I managed to hide my anxiety during the crisis or her composure might have cracked. Mine went close.

Earlier in the day a multi million dollar plastic cruiser had anchored in front, too close for my absolute comfort but hey! I was here first and it was his problem if we collided and Heavy Metal cut her in halves.

Legally that is the situation but when a severe storm cell hit about ten that night, with torrential rain, continuous lightning and fierce winds, liability was forgotten when the electric sky, like an old jumpy movie showed the big tub being blown back on a collision course.

We started the motor to be ready in case we needed power and IXL put fenders along the side while I managed to contact Marine Rescue on the radio despite the continuous lightning crackle while the gap closed. But then a wind shift and she was passing almost close enough to touch. We could see there was nobody home. Help was coming, but for now we were on our own and there was nothing more we could do.

My real worry, that I did not express, was that their dragging anchor would pick up our chain, dislodge our anchor and then we would be dragged backwards with no way to steer. But that did not happen as she slipped further into deeper water and seemed headed for rocks at the western end of the bay.

By then the cell was moving away and as the wind dropped a light appeared aboard the runaway. They had been out to dinner at the salubrious Cottage Point Inn when mayhem hit and it took them that long to get back, climb aboard and reset their anchor in whatever state of sobriety the emergency found them.

IXL and I, wet through and shivering, dried off, changed our clothes and settled down to a midnight hot chocolate when we were alarmed to hear a horn and shouting. We rushed up on deck with our steaming mugs. It was the water police, half an hour too late, wanting to know 'name rank and serial number' of the person who dragged them from their warm beds on a wild goose chase!

Later as my mind replayed the movie, I amused myself with the thought that during the crisis, IXL had obeyed every instruction I yelled at her to the letter and in double quick time. But I kept that thought to myself.

Monday, 5 March 2012


The nature of the bind that ties
eludes the minds of sage and wise,
Legs and hair?
Curves and flair?
For me it’s always been the eyes!

Prompted by dear Tess Kincaid
her Magpie pic, a poet's aid.
Take the link
and in a blink,
see yarns and poems there displayed!