Africa-Cape Town

Just a few days back from the long trip to Africa and I am still tired! Trying not to fall asleep in the middle of the day and getting up at 2am is still ongoing. I was really surprised to see that Africa was very much like Australia, environmentally that is. Hot, dry weather and sparse vegetation, actually Africa was in the middle of a drought. I was pleased with the amount of people who turned up to my presentation and the amount of discussion that it generated. It was also very rewarding to see the little picture/poetry books being enthusiastically received. One person in the audience was reduced to tears, I guess then, that my presentation had an impact of a certain kind.

How about this fact, my presentation was programmed for the Slave Lodge! Imagine presenting about death and dying in an environment filled with the ghosts of the slaves. The atmosphere was heavy, filled with emotions, the stone steps were worn where the slaves once walked. It was very confronting, to say the least, coming to terms with past events, not usually so prominently physically evident. The Slave Lodge was built in 1679 as the slave lodge of the Dutch East India Company. From the website -It is believed that up to 9000 slaves, convicts and the mentally ill lived in the building between 1679 and 1811. The Iziko website The Heritage of Slavery in South Africa gives details of the slave period in the history of the building. Surprisingly, the insensitivity of the South African people to continue to use this building as a venue for performances, is simply a calamity! And does not respect the people who were imprisoned and died there in the past.

Also, surprising to me about Africa was the Englishness of the place. The buildings, the way the people dressed, the silly suits that the men wore at the hotel, and the silly politeness of it all, was really elite and frustrating. Given the history that Africa has undergone, I guess it is not surprising, however, I found the African Indigenous people very kind, shy, smiley, gentle and humble. During the conference when the speaker was addressing the participants, there was a disruption caused by an African woman who was extremely upset at the research that was being undertaken. Unfortunately, her opinions were right in one case, however, it became apparent that her intentions to disrupt the proceedings were paramount and slightly misguided, although given her first interruption and the complaint it is not surprising that she was upset by the research process.

Whilst in Africa I could not leave without at least seeing the animals in their correct place, on African soil. So, I booked a safari. It was fabulous to see the animals at home and content in their environment but at the same time very disappointing to see the mutilation of some caused by the greed and I guess the poverty of people. IMG_6378.jpg

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New Zealand:catching up

On returning to my blog page, I realise that I have not written since my post before travelling to New Zealand. It was a fast trip, but great to see my favourite sites again. The Auckland museum is a real winner with its Kai room for children to have snacks during their visit. It was lovely to travel with my grandchildren watching how they experience new surroundings, especially the smells and sights of Rotorua. Rotorua is important to my family as my great grandmother was a survivor of the volcano that destroyed the surrounding villages around Lake Tarawera. The buried village is now a tourist attraction that brings visitors from around the world. It is so sad to see reminders of the day the volcano erupted, the tiny cot all burnt and twisted, the small baby shoes, clumps of hair in molten mud and broken crockery. All presented behind the glass walls of a cabinet. It is especially important for my grandchildren to see the place where my family originate, and it was great to see their tiny faces light up at the seeing the bubbling mud for the first time. There are striking parallels with my great grandmother’s life and mine. She was a teacher of the first native school in the local area, she died at the same age as my father, leaving her children to be looked after by their grandmother. She was a fluent speaker in Teo Maori, unfortunately, I am not. The following pictures I found when I returned home from NZ.  While looking through my son’s wedding album, I noticed that he had visited the buried village  on his honeymoon without knowing that he had a relative who survived the eruption.
IMG_5889.jpg In fact, being raised in Australia it wasn’t until late in my life that I found out that I had this connection in New Zealand. We stayed around the lake for a few days and let off firecrackers on the lake’s edge. It was an eery feeling knowing that the sky was lit up as it was on this night many years ago with the fire of the volcano. And that we had returned to the lake’s edge once more. This time with extended family members from the original survivor, Clara Haszard.

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Busy times ahead

I am pausing to write this now at almost 1am in the night or morning what ever way you look at it. I have just submitted another abstract to attend a conference in Canada.While I get busy to pack to head off with my family to New Zealand next week. The following week I pack for Africa, Cape Town to be precise. My book came back from the print in record time which, is great. Especially knowing that they are ready for Africa. I am really please at the quality although there a few editing mistakes, but nothing that can’t get fixed for future copies. I have surprised myself by actually getting this book together, somehow I just imaged it, and stuck with it and it came together.

Strange as it may seem, I was listening to a song on Facebook today, a song that was shared by a psychic medium John Edwards. He was really keen to share this song for one of his friends who is dying. And to share the song will the rest of the world. So, I listened to the song and I knew the ending, I knew the ending. As a matter of fact, i wrote the same words, which is a poem dedicated to one of my patients. When she she died, all the words that I could write, was a poem. I have never written poetry, I don’t proclaim to know how to write poetry, but poetry it was the day she died. I was really touched, when listening to the song how close the sediment was to my thoughts and how close the final words were to the ones that I wrote. The song is, Always Goodnight by Scott Allen.

The next entry for my blog will most likely be after Africa, so farewell for now.

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Slow beginnings

It is certainly hard to get started again after a hiatus from my usual activities at home. It feels like a real slump in my Ph.D but this is not really so as I am in the middle of producing a small book on my journey thus far. Between the shadows, will be presented at a conference in Africa, and I eagerly await the next month as I finalise all of the necessary bits and pieces of my trip.
I have also a new puppy who is lying at my feet, after stuffing herself silly with dog food…she is now unable to walk and sleep she must.

Last month was full of grandchildren, which mainly meant me flying between all four families to care for their children. It is so exhausting to care for children when at the grandmother stage of life. I  now have an understanding of how my own mother must of felt being surrounded by my children and her own two when she was a grandmother. Granted, though, she was able to sit and sleep in the afternoons. I never understood her need to nap in front of her favourite soap opera, but I sure do now a days.

I think too, that although it seems that I have not been busy writing my PhD I have snatched moments between babysitting and marking millions of student essays to catch up on my work. But I must admit that having the time that I now have is luxury that I will not take for granted, I hope.

I have also connected with a wonderful project that is trying to reimagine death. The Zen Hospice  Project, here is the link: http://www.zenhospice.org/

This is a project that is directly related to my studies and as it would happen is how I would like to change the view of death and dying. On their opening page they share:

Our mission is to help change the experience of dying. We create a space for living that offers the opportunity for individuals, their loved ones and caregivers to find comfort, connection, and healing in this shared human experience. Through our pioneering model of care, we inspire each other to live fully. Zen Hospice Mission Statement

And just so I remember all the fun we had with Big Red, I say goodbye to him and his girls. last month his demise was sudden and full of fox (I suspect). He did put a great fight being the fiery creature that he was, thanks for all the chicks Big Red and we hope you rest in chicken heaven.

 

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Farewell Kate

Today while reading through my work, I decided to check Dr. Kate Granger’s  blog on WordPress and to my surprise, I found a small one-line message saying that Kate had died, how sad. I knew that she was not well, that she was or had been unwell for several years and that she had been through awful, painful procedures, yet still the news comes as a blow. How sad, for her family and friends and those of us who know the work that she had done. Firstly, in raising awareness for people like herself who are dying and secondly for raising money towards a cancer charity. She was an amazing woman who will not be forgotten, rest in peace Kate.

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August late post…

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Time has come and gone and I must post this now for August. I have to think now where I am up to with my PhD. I am currently honing in on my writing, which in its self is quite refreshing. I find that getting clearer in my writing and discarding all the unnecessary words is akin to un-cluttering my life. The more I throw away, whether it be words or things, the clearer my writing, my thinking and my life in general becomes. In fact, after what seems to a night full of ‘thinking’ I have decided to use my own art works in my PhD. This revelation came to me after my daughter suggested the idea. I, of course, discarded the notion immediately, thinking to my self that my art is not worthy of being included. Then after some time chasing copyright on material that I am not even sure is owned by the blog site I decided to go with my own images….I can’t wait now to see what the final images will look like. Just the creativity of finding the right image whether it be a photo or a painting to match the stories, I feel connects me on another level to the story writers within my thesis. So, I think I will start with my blog, matching images to stories, which is what I seem to instinctively do anyway.

Meanwhile, I have not been home for a couple of months now, taking care of my grandmother, mother duties is extremely time consuming in an emotional kind of way. I am finally over the flu, of which I have had two doses, like most of my family.

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Sick, sick and more sick

This is not such a great month this month of July. Actually it started a month earlier with a nasty migraine that had me vomiting for 24 hours followed by the flu. I hope to look back in a month or…

Source: Sick, sick and more sick

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