I was reminded of my passion for Aboriginal art when I was going through my photo files so, again for something a bit different, here’s a collection of photos I’ve gathered over the years of Aboriginal art – some are rock art, some are paintings. I hope you enjoy them.
I was going through my photo files the other day and came across pics I’d forgotten I had of odd animal friendships. The photos have been circulated through the internet and you’ve probably seen some or all of them before. But I thought I’d do something different by putting all these photos together, as well as including a young girl with a Beluga whale
I clean forgot to mention before that the first time I went for a swim and overcame my fear that I might not be able to get out of the pool (a quite unfounded fear so I’m glad I faced up to it and overcame it), I paddled over to the side of the pool from the steps, looked around and there was the most beautiful, little red dragonfly sitting right beside me. It sat there very quietly, not moving, and I felt blessed that this beautiful little insect had graced my first foray into the pool with its presence.
Dragonflies signify change and transformation and that’s certainly been true for me here in North Cyprus, as I said in an earlier post. I feel a different person to when I arrived here, with far more energy these last few days and, amazingly, not feeling the heat so much all of a sudden.
I’m interested this dragonfly is red and moves very quickly, as it seems to represent passion, energy and myself speeding up (with all due respect to the fibro follies of course, ha-ha). We see quite a few of these red-veined darter dragonflies. They are quite territorial, chasing off the larger blue dragonflies that come around. And one always sits beside me when I rest at the side of the pool.
We did also manage to save a very delicate, slightly larger pale green dragonfly which misjudged its distance from the water of the pool and did a belly-flop. Luckily I saw it land so was able to fish it out on my hand before it did a perish. Here’s a pic of the blue dragonfly, it’s the most beautiful colour:
I haven’t been able to find a pic of the green dragonfly but it was quite beautiful and I’m glad it survived its unexpected dip in the pool. I put it carefully down on the paving, and it sat there for a moment drying out, then took off again in good health. A very satisfying moment to see this fine, delicate insect flying up into the sky.
This is not going to be a popular thing to say, but you’ll pardon me if I start by saying I am SO over the hysteria of Western governments and media about the Pussy Riot trial and the mayhem in Syria.
And yes, I did dither before writing the above because it sort of goes against the tide. But I ‘ve been pissed off by the hysterical responses by Western governments and news organisations to the trial and the situation in Syria. Apart from the monumental hypocrisy, it’s a brilliant diversion from the huge problems facing Western governments – the crisis in the European Union; the huge US debt burden; unemployment; a rapidly widening gap between the rich and poor in virtually every Western nation; a poverty of politicians without any ethics and increasing cynicism about the whole political process as a result.
One of the reasons I’ve been giving this some thought is because I’ve been looking at the two situations from the perspective of Neptune being in Pisces. These are watery, emotional signs and while I love Neptune because its position in my astrological chart means I can take off for the mysterious realms quite easily and see into people and what makes them tick, it also represents illusion, dreams, subterfuge, deception and so on.
I happen to think there’s a big difference between the genuine sentiment of people with passion about the well-being and free speech of others (as in Avaaz) and the faux sentiment of Western governments and media who try to whip up hysteria against governments they want to undermine. And that is the reason why people like Hilary Clinton and William Hague are proselytising about free speech and defending the Syrian people – they want to get their mitts on both Russia and Syria.
Yes, I think the Russian penal apparatus looks absolutely stupid with its show trial of the three women for their one-minute performance in a priests-only section of Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The intention of the performance was to draw attention to the special relationship with President Putin and the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church. Neither Putin nor the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church come of this smelling of roses.
Yes, there is a free speech issue here and jailing the three women for two years is a huge over-reaction. But when I see the hysterical response from the leaders of Western nations screaming about Putin and what’s happening in Russia, well, sorry, my own reaction is that they are trying to undermine the Russian state so they can get their nasty little tentacles into a country which has not allowed them free rein.
Why do I say this? Because free speech is not a given if you happen to be an ordinary person in the West. I recall the shameful treatment of the Dixie Chicks. Performing in the UK, they said to their British audience: “We don’t want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas”. It certainly went down well with the Brits because so many opposed the war. But in the US, band members were bad-mouthed by right-wing shock jocks and Government leaders. Their albums were discarded in public protest. They were boycotted for exercising their right to free speech. (And please, don’t get me going on “Freedom Fries” instead of French fries, because I thought that was one of the most sodding stupid things I’ve ever seen, absolutely pathetic).
I didn’t see then any wailing and breast-beating by other Western nations about the Dixie Chicks right to freedom of speech. Sure they weren’t put on trial but they endured vicious, McCarthy-like attacks and intimidation for having the guts to publicly oppose a war waged for control of oil supplies by the cabal in the White House and the stupidly named “Coalition of the Willing”, a motley collection of nations mainly cobbled together by the blackmail and bullying of the White House, particularly led by ex-Vice-President, Dick Cheney.
I didn’t see any angry defence of the Dixie Chicks from media outlets or Western governments outside of the US. Nor do I see much government and media spruiking about free speech when it comes to the treatment of Bradley Manning and Julian Assange over the Wikileaks affair. Bradley Manning, who allegedly gave the documents to Wikileaks which sparked such a furore, has been tortured and humiliated by the US Army with the support of Obama, the Democrats and the Republicans. The only support for Manning has come from rank and file people in the US and around the world. They are the fair dinkum, decent people who really do care about free speech and civil liberties.
The US government put pressure on PayPal to stop accepting donations to Wikileaks. Silence from the UK, French and other European government leaders, and hardly a squeak in the major newspapers of European nations. Now those same British newspapers which roared so loudly about Pussy Riot are quiet as a mouse about the real issue surrounding Sweden’s attempted extradition of Assange to Sweden. I do feel very, very sorry for the two women involved in the rape charges against Assange because they are victims in this whole sorry saga too. But the sexual assault charges are also part of the deception to try to undermine support for Assange and Wikileaks.
The fact that neither Sweden nor the US authorities would agree there would be no attempted extradition of Assange to the US is a sure sign that the subterfuge and illusion of Neptune is working in the background – the sexual assault charges are a front for a vengeful US state apparatus, which doesn’t give a stuff about free speech (or whether women are raped or not) when it affects US wheeling and dealing in the world, and wants to get its hands on Assange, prosecute him and jail him for life/execute him. That the US is working in hidden ways to get its hands on Assange was confirmed when it was revealed in Australia that the Aussie ambassador to the US, Kim Beazley, had requested advance notice of any US move to extradite Assange from Sweden so that cabinet ministers could have the right answers ready. Cue for upchuck at the monumental hypocrisy of the Australian government, it’s gutless refusal to look after Assange’s interests and its crawling to the Obama administration.
And now let’s look at the situation in Syria. The British and American governments have been railing against the Chinese and Russian governments for not agreeing to Security Council resolutions they have proposed. There has been very little mention that these two powers consider European and American governments untrustworthy after they supported a resolution for a “no-fly zone” over Libya, only to find that those governments then gave armed backing to opponents of the regime. Nor has much attention been paid to suggestions by the Chinese and Russian governments that efforts be made to bring the two sides together to sort out a negotiated peace. The rebel factions refused any efforts to achieve a result which would minimise the suffering of ordinary people. That’s glossed over too.
Yes, the Libyan regime was repressive and Gaddafi was clearly mentally ill. And yes, people must decide their own fate in their own interests, not those of foreign, Western, meddling nations. But the whole idea that anyone who rebels must automatically be supported is again deceptive. If you know anything about Middle East politics it is that it is a morass of intrigue, double-dealing, factional and sectarian warfare, and much more. Saudi Arabia and Yemen are secretly arming the Syrian rebels. The British and US governments are working overtime to secretly assist the rebels. Iran is backing up the Assad regime. But the essence of Western support for rebels in Syria isn’t some deep, abiding respect for the terrible suffering of the people. It’s to increase Western control and meddling in the Middle East and let’s be quite clear: the ultimate goal is to destabilise Iran and control its oil resources. Nothing has been learned from the 1953 coup by the CIA and the installation of the Shah of Iran which led to revolution and the current administration. And nothing has been learned from the monumental cock-up and disaster of the Iraq war. The arrogance and refusal to learn from past mistakes is frightening.
If you think I’m being cynical, just take a look at Oman, Yemen and Bahrain. There are plenty of demonstrations in both countries and people being killed because of popular opposition to the ruling elites. Do you hear wails of anguish from Western governments and media about the suppression of the rebels and killings by the government? Not a cracker. Not a peep. Because these countries and governments are of strategic importance to the US. Where is the loud condemnation by European, US and British governments and media of the highly repressive government in Saudi Arabia and its appalling repression of women? It doesn’t exist because the country is again of strategic importance and it is a major supplier of oil.
And if the US and Western governments were genuinely supportive of people’s rights and an end to their suffering, why haven’t they given more support and aid to the pitiful situation of those in refugee camps between Sudan and South Sudan. Two thousand children a day are turning up to live in these camps and god knows how many die on the long treks undertaken when families flee the conflict. Medecins Sans Frontieres has described the situation as “horrific” and likely to get far worse when the heavy rains at this time of the year eventuate. Where’s the huge headlines about this tragic situation? Where’s the Establishment yelling and bawling about the thousands who are dying in these camps? Nada, zilch, zip. Why? Because the poor bastards don’t have oil in their countries so they’re ignored.
What’s the answer? I think we all need to be alert to the subterfuge of Western governments and media which seek to use popular movements for their own interests. The rise of social media and the independent organisations which have flourished on the internet make it easier to keep a track of what real situations are around the world. I happen to think that we need to keep ourselves well informed of world developments so that we can act judiciously, independently and with informed knowledge in whatever action we need to take to support genuine free speech and genuine popular people’s actions.
I know I was banging on about fibromyalgia a post or so back, but on the whole I do have to say that Aphrodite’s Isle has been a rather good place for me to live. Yes, I do have flare-ups of fibro but I’ve also been able to cut right back on pain-killers and I haven’t had a migraine since I got here. We are both sleeping much better, far less disturbed nights than when we lived in New South Wales. I was regularly up in the night there to have a cup of tea and stretch my legs. Now I sleep right through. My husband says I laugh a lot more and look much happier than when we left Australia.
I was dreading the summer as everyone was saying how awful it is. Well, it is hot and the humidity is appalling at times but, as we’ve come from Australia, it’s really not as bad as we thought it would be. It may be that English people living here really can’t tolerate the heat after the living in the more temperate climate of the UK. But after 40-odd years in Australia, most of those living in fairly hot regions, Cyprus temperatures haven’t seemed extraordinary. Yes, we do have a fan in each room and out on the verandah, but only occasionally have we needed to use the air conditioners, just a couple of really hot nights when we had the aircon running all night. And the funny thing is, I’ve tolerated the heat here far more easily than I did in Australia.
I do wonder if it’s because I’m back in the Northern Hemisphere because my body seems far more at ease in North Cyprus. I really enjoy having summer where it’s supposed to be – in June, July and August – and winter where it’s supposed to be – in December, January and February. It just feels right. And I’ve noticed that, while I used to get upset stomachs if I ate too many eggs (two a week were all I could tolerate), tomatoes or
mushrooms, here I can eat as much of these food choices as I like with no problems whatsoever. Food in North Cyprus is seasonal and organic, we eat very little red meat as we just find it leaves us feeling heavy and lethargic, and far more vegetables and fruit since they’re so cheap and tasty. I’m currently working my way through huge, juicy peaches and nectarines, and stuffing my face with dark red, fat, juicy cherries from Turkey. I’ve also in the past munched my way through gluts of strawberries and apricots and other fruits.
I’m also finding I’m getting the urge to get more active, which has been quite a surprise to me. I now swim in our communal pool every morning and I’ve extended the aerobics I do. I’m now up to 2 lengths of the pool and 1 width, whereas when I first got in I could just about manage a couple of widths. I spend 30 mins in the pool every morning and now I’m hopping in for a couple of lengths (and more as I build up) in the early evening. The morning swims are the most refreshing as the water is fairly cool, whereas in the evening and after the heat of the day, getting into the pool is like getting into warm soup, as my husband put it so succinctly. Since we’ve arrived I’ve lost 18lbs in weight, just shifting it slowly which is the healthiest way to get off the pounds.
We lived in rural areas in Australia for quite a few years so it’s prepared us for life in the slow lane here. There are no shopping malls, no presence of big chains like McDonalds, KFC, or Starbucks. The shops are all small and you have to ask people for the location of shops when you’re looking for particular items. The driving is absolutely chaotic, the rule is that there are no rules. But as everyone expects everyone else on the road to be as mad as they are, there’s a casual acceptance of the chaos, no road rage, and unexpected politeness in that cars will flash you and wave you across if you’re turning right, or they’ll flash you and slow down so you can cross the road safely.
And the hospitality and friendliness is out of this world. When we first arrived in Kyrenia and our car broke down, crowds poured out of nearby restaurants to offer us help and rustle up a mechanic to get us going again. Similarly, a while back our Turkish neighbour turned up with a big smile to bring us fresh tomatoes and cucumber from her garden. Yesterday we were walking back from the swimming pool when we saw her husband killing some of their chickens for the Seker Beyram feast. I went a bit green when I saw the pathetic bundles of feathers, but Bryan’s made of sterner stuff since he’s served in the army and seen armed conflict and dead bodies at first hand, so he just said that they were food for people who aren’t well off. I had also bought some dates and grapes for this little family for the celebration, by way of saying thank you for the vegetables given earlier, and handed them over the fence later.
Then late last night there was a knock at the verandah door and our Turkish neighbour was standing there with – wait for it – one of her chickens, all cleaned and gutted, as a gift back to us. I hope I didn’t turn green again when I looked at the chook, but I was profuse with my thanks for her generosity! And if you’re wondering what I did with the chook, I’ve cooked it, to honour the fact it gave its life to feed humans and to honour the gift of friendship offered by this young woman.
I remember when I was back in the UK in 2002-4 that the healing work I did was much more powerful than in Australia, much to my surprise. Mediumship really flowed for me, and Tarot readings took on a depth and accuracy which, like the healing work, really surprised me. I do wonder whether it was because I was back on familiar ground, where I was born, and so I wonder too how all the moving around we do now – even though it expands our understanding of different places and cultures – sort of scrambles our inner circuits. The jury’s out on that one, but it’s definitely in on the healthier and happier life I’m now leading in North Cyprus – and the verdict is a big thumbs-up!
The day before yesterday I had a cow of a day as I had a flare-up of fibromyalgia. You feel grim, depressed, muscles are very painful and you get foghead when you can’t think straight. You have no idea when you’re going to get a fibro flare-up or how it’s going to affect you which is why I talk of the “fibro follies”.
I’ts always worse when it’s hot and humid and it’s been the hottest, most humid summer in living memory in Kyrenia, which is why I have been somewhat backward in coming forward to write. I’ve been resting a lot.
I’ve had fibromyalgia now for thirteen years. In the beginning I fought it with clenched teeth. I refused to slow down, acknowledge any pain, fought the foghead, tried to ignore severe hip pain, pretended the huge hives flaring up all over my body weren’t happening, and generally tried to carry on as if I was still in the same state of health I had been before the fibro hit.
Didn’t work. It was like hitting a brick wall, bouncing back and getting a second thump on the back of my head as I hit the floor and bounced up and down a few times. Over the years I’ve learned to take things more slowly and to put less pressure on myself. When I have a severe flare-up as I had the day before yesterday I take it easy, rest and take care of myself. I didn’t even feel up to a dip in our communal swimming pool.
I’m writing this because I want to say that sometimes it stinks to be in pain and nothing in the world can make you look less drained and knocked out. And it’s okay to feel that way. There seems to be so much pressure these days always to be perky, bright and upbeat, that it’s easy to feel guilty when you feel down, miserable and depressed.
I’m not a great fan of all this hairy-chested, breast-beating “I’m gonna fight this illness” mantra-type stuff we read about illness. You get people talking about “beating” illness, as if you’re going to whup some mysterious germ or tumour or cancer or virus into submission. People talk about the “courage” of people facing serious illness or disease. So what does that make people who don’t survive, or who feel utterly exhausted by the strain of trying to just keep going in the face of severe challenges to their health and well-being? Cowards? Yellow-bellies? I don’t think so.
One of the things I’ve learned to do with fibromyalgia is to learn to co-exist with it. At first I tried all sorts of therapies but the good old fibro follies hung in there with grim determination. I felt so guilty at not being able to cure myself. I got into the ‘think the right thought” mode because your mind supposedly affects your body. And as that didn’t work, I became self-critical and somewhat hateful towards my poor old body.
And then I read a sanity-saving book by a woman who had contracted muscular sclerosis. She tried every cure possible, and she obviously had heaps of moolah because she travelled all over the place. But nothing worked. And then she realised that MS and her previous life experiences had led her to be an activist on behalf of those who walk with MS, to co-ordinate MS organisations and to realise that when you encounter an illness or disease, it’s not necessarily the cure which is the end goal, it’s what opens up for you as you move towards another part of your life.
When I returned to Australia from the UK in 2004, I finally had a CAT scan which showed that the severe pain and subsequent limited mobility I live with originated from arthritis right through my spine. In fact, my doctor told me that the only similar damage she’d seen was in the spines of men who’d done serious physical labour such as working on jack hammers. At least I had an explanation for the pain which a lot of doctors ignored and over the years I’ve worked with various therapists who’ve shown me how to co-exist with this physical damage.
I know I’ve developed coping strategies. I do half of what I think I can do which in itself is hard work as I want to speed up to a strong gallop most days. I work much more on-line than I used to, as I enjoy quiet times, writing and art and photography, something I might never have discovered if I was still running around furiously like a rat up a drain pipe. One of my doctors commented that I was the most positive fibro patient she’d ever come across, because I’d fall over, pick myself up and then work out strategies to move forward in a different way. So in an odd sort of way, while life is different, the fibro follies have had a positive effect on my life.
I do, however, reserve the right to say when I’m in pain. I’m fed up pinning on the bright smile I’ve worn all my life to hide when I’m hurt, down or depressed. I do know, thank goodness, that when the fibro follies strike and I feel depressed, dark and envisage the end of the world opening up, I can conjure up a little mental placard which says “This too will pass” because I know that it’s not the end of the world when the fibro follies start dancing around and that within a few days I’ll wake up and feel so much better and quite bemused by the dark days I’ve just gone through.
I do have a little prayer which I like to repeat when I’m feeling down:
“I am a child of the light.
I live in the light, I love the light, I serve the light.
I am protected, supported, sustained and illumined by the light.
And I bless the light.”
And I do love this blessing which is from the 12th century and the author is unknown:
BLESSING OF PEACE – HEALING
Deep peace I breathe into you,
O weariness, here!
Deep peace, a soft white dove to you;
Deep peace, a quiet rain to you;
Deep peace, an ebbing wave to you!
Deep peace, red wind of the east from you;
Deep peace, grey wind of the west to you;
Deep peace, dark wind of the north from you;
Deep peace, blue wind of the south to you!
Deep peace, pure red of the flame to you;
Deep peace, pure white of the moon to you;
Deep peace, pure grey of the dawn to you,
Deep peace, pure blue of the sky to you!
Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the sleeping stones to you,
Deep peace of the Yellow Shepherd to you,
Deep peace of the Wandering Shepherdess to you,
Deep peace of the Flock of Stars to you,
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you,
Deep peace from the heart of Mary to you,
and from Bridget of the Mantle,
Deep peace, deep peace!
We are coming to the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan (or Ramazan as it’s called here in North Cyprus) when people fast from daybreak to sunset. Families fix up big meals first thing in the morning, then get real feasts going at the end of the day. Given that no food or drink is allowed during the day, I am amazed that people survive this heat in one piece. I know I’m swigging water all day and I can’t imagine not drinking as temperatures hover between 34-38C here on the coast, and 36-42C inland in Nicosia.
Be that as it may, Islam here is a very tolerant society. You see mosques in the villages and large centres like Nicosia, Famagusta and Kyrenia. You hear the call to prayer five times a day if you’re near to a mosque – we aren’t where we live. But everyone is free to pretty much practice whatever religion they worship, no-one forces religion down your throat, and if you want to be an atheist, well, it’s up to you. There is a great resistance to any attempt to introduce into North Cyprus any fundamentalist versions of Islam
The exception to religious tolerance is the Greek Orthodox Church which is not allowed to practice in North Cyprus. This is due to the bad memories associated with the Church because its leaders backed the extreme right-wing Greek Cypriot efforts to practise ethnic cleansing against Turkish Cypriots. Nevertheless, close to where we live there is a Coptic Church and village which reflects Lebanese Christianity and which is accepted as its members weren’t part of the genocide against Turkish Cypriots.
To be honest, I wondered what it would be like living in an Islamic society, that was, until I saw the condoms on sale at the supermarket checkout and noticed the large number of liquor outlets in cities and villages. Sort of gave a clue that Islam as practised here is very tolerant and freewheeling. Women wear what they like – young women tend to be very fashionable in short dresses, high heels, or leggings, whatever. Some have fashionable, Western-style clothing but wear headscarves. Within large towns and cities, you see women in traditional clothing of long skirts or dresses, long-sleeved tops and headscarves, and this tends to be more prevalent in the small villages scattered around where a more traditional life prevails. You don’t see young men here in board shorts, pants hanging down revealing their underdaks, or baseball caps back to front. Men dress casually but smartly on the whole, although in this heat, the older men are quite happy to wear white vests and baggy pants!
From tomorrow at the end of Ramazan and for three days the Seker Bayram festival commences, called Eid-al-Fitr elsewhere. It starts on the first reliable sighting of the new moon, which isn’t difficult here in North Cyprus because there are no clouds at all from day to day. In the lead-up to Seker Bayram, Muslims are required to donate to worthy causes, previously with food but more often now with financial donations.
The first day of Seker Bayram starts with special prayers. It’s generally seen a s a day for family celebration as the family unit is very strong in Islamic religion. Children are considered gifts of God. Gifts are exchanged and special meals organised, with the giving, receiving and eating of sweet things at the heart of the festival’s traditions.
We became well aware of this celebration this morning, Saturday, when we went to the local supermarket. Generally the car park is empty in the mornings and doesn’t get busy until the afternoon and late evening. But today it was packed and there was a real festival air when we went into Lemar. You could tell that Seker Bayram is an occasion to indulge one’s sweet tooth because all sorts of sweet goodies were scattered around the supermarket.The cake counter was unbelievably tempting, with gorgeously decorated cakes, pastries and lots of little pastries soaked in syrup. To die for!
And there were free-standing baskets around the shop piled up with chocolate goodies and other sorts of sweets, a real temptation (although I resisted – what a spoilsport!), and buckets full of bunches of carnations were at the entrance. You don’t see too many flowers for sale here so I indulged myself with a nice bunch of carnations for our dining table.
Banks and government offices are closed on Monday and Tuesday to celebrate Seker Bayram, and then it’s back to normal. But normal here means courtesy, consideration, friendliness, helpfulness and politeness. People will help you at the drop of a hat and it’s nothing for a whole crowd of people to gather all offering helpful instructions if you look as if you’re in trouble. Today, for example, I only had two items to buy in another supermarket and a Turkish Cypriot lady not only allowed me to go ahead of her, she told the young man ahead of her with a lot of items to let me go ahead. And she really beamed when I said: “Tesekkur Ederim” (thank you). I must say too that often I get called “Madame”, which is quite deliciously old-fashioned and it does give me illusions of grandeur!
If you’re wondering whether we’re glad we decided to move to North Cyprus ,I can assure you that we are delighted we took the risk of selling up in Australia and moving to this Eastern Mediterranean island. For sure things are done differently here and you need to be patient to sort out all the different rules and regulations when you’re settling in. But we are guests in this country and we are very content that we have been able to settle in a small slice of Paradise and been made to feel very welcome.