Another Country Diary
Links to images and other pages are in blue, mouse-over pop-up comments are burgundy.
|5 June '02|
a slice of my birthday cake?
Well, you'll hafta ask the fairies.
Arbutus revisited. I mentioned the
Strawberry tree in an
entry on autumn/winter berries. I've since found out that Jan's
parents have one in their yard in Melbourne and that to Jan it was known
as the 'climbing tree' because that's what they did in it. I also found
that her mum has a few small trees that she's dug up and potted so we've
decided that we'd like to plant one here in our yard. Jan thinks of it
as some horticultural family continuity, but it may have to be our
grandchildren's children who get to climb in it.
The tree is obviously tough enough to withstand our winters and reading Mrs Greive's Herbal it seems to be wide spread in Europe as well as growing wild in Ireland around Killarney
|The narcotic nature of it's fruit and being able to make a wine from it with the same properties, doesn't attract this old hippie but I'll find out more about it. Seems like another thing we'll plant that fits right in with the other decorative but poisonous plantings across the yard. We'll never be able to pass this place on to a young family. But I'm not feeling irresponsible in the least.|
|6 June '02|
tray backed truck overtook me on the double lines just past Smith's Gap.
The road a head was clear and I smiled at the impatience. It then sat just in front of me all the
way to the highway, on it's rear window there were two signs and one of those twee full colour transfers
of a Rotweiler. The biggest sign, in red, said "Don't like my
driving? Call 1-800-EAT-SHIT" Yep I thought. I tried to and take a photo
while I was driving (not that dangerous with a digital camera but not
recommended folks) They're all blurred but if I see it again it should go into
the 'bad boys in utes' collection.
a higher level, I haven't seen anyone photograph the phenomena that is the Hume
Highway truck culture. It's probably because of the work involved in becoming
part of it so you see things as an insider, but it seems like it would
be great to take part, even from the edges. It would be difficult because
it's a moving target subject. It doesn't sit still and unless the
drivers are is eating dinner at one of the service stations I stop at, or
are parked having a regulation sleep, you'd have to be moving with them in all
kinds of weather, and at night.
The above copy of 'Highway Evangelist.
The Voice of the Christian Truckie' I picked up in the Shell service
station at Berrima. It consists of four sheets of foolscap folded and
centre stapled and is printed in Mittagong on what looks like a home
offset press, by John Wheeler Printing. I presume it's the same John
Wheeler but now called Chaplain John Wheeler (sic), who leads Transport For Christ - Australia. There's a
website that will give you a taste of the publication and the
ministry that aims to be ' an interdenominational Christian organization
dedicated to winning truck drivers to Jesus Christ and establishing them
in faith'. To help the task along, there are photos of trucks, both big and strange models, and a
of articles. One about health -"Our Bodies are our Temples, lose
some weight" exhorts the truckie eating fatty take away food to
'lighten his load', and there's a description by a driver who was
working in Brooklyn on
September 11. Another about a Russian Ministry to transport workers there, and some
standard 'Where will you spend eternity' 'repent now' and 'Show
you're a Christian' pieces. It's all a bit hopeful in the trucking environment I
know, but there's some charm to that.
|8 June '02|
another for that 'bad boys in utes' collection. I wonder if there's a
hidden backwoods redneck community that serves up these guys? This
ute came up behind me as I slowed to go through Tarago and was obviously
pissed at me going slow. ( 65 in a 60 zone. I'm no saint on the open road with the speed
limit but I'm careful around towns.) You can't go too fast into Tarago
because here's a sharp right hand bend to the road that then goes beside
the hall, shop and pub. If you overshoot you used to end up in a
paddock, but there's now a newly sealed narrow road that goes straight
When I turned, the ute continued on and appeared in front of me just beside the school. I could see the guys laughing in the cab, but my interest was taken by the shortcut that I hadn't ever noticed. I then sat behind them for the next 20k and although it was quiet on the road and early morning, there was no road rule that seemed to apply to their vehicle at all. Double lines were crossed on bends and the Lake Bathurst speed signs were a signal to speed up. Just past there, I felt I had to record the image above for you. Five minutes on, the ute turned at one of the lanes that head over the railway line into the hills towards the Federal Highway. The sign posts are always to names of small communities that I've been meaning to explore sometime with my camera in hand. Remind me to take my banjo when I do.
|10 June '02|
Images are - the cover of Uncle
Tungsten, the spidery thin filaments in one of our low
I finished reading Oliver Sack's story
of his 'chemical' boyhood some time ago, but have taken a while to write
this. The immediate response to the book (as it was for my English mate
Norman) was 'Yes! I felt just like that as a boy'. 'Yes! That was me and
my chemistry set'. (For Norman growing up in London it was a few more 'yesses' - 'Yes! I went to that museum... I loved
that Periodic Table display... I bought my chemicals at that
What I hadn't expected was
that reading the book would bring back a lot of my own experiences with
childhood chemistry sets and the obligatory explosions and smells.
What it also made me realise was that the emphasis on 'safe'
experiments in schools has robbed students of any of the excitement of
learning about the subject of chemistry that I
experienced. Watching how changes of state happen in a test tube, noting the colours in
violent reactions that tell you what is happening chemically. Handling acids,
and finding that phosphoric acid needed a glass stopper because it eats into rubber
ones. Cutting a pea sized lump of a sodium and watching its shiny metallic face disappear
to gray as it oxidised immediately and then dropping it into water to see it fizz and move
violently (and explode noisily in larger lumps).
Then dipping a finger into the water to taste the salt. How can you
understand or learn that without experience? How much stronger
it would be and easier to remember for the students if they could?
Those developing smells were on my skin for the next twenty years until I could afford to get someone else to print my pictures (or the shift to colour and Kodachrome movies dictated it). There was some loss in that however, and I've returned to my own processing at times. That feeling of powerful chemical magic watching an image come up through the developer, rippled with reflections of the dark room red light, is still lurking and as I imagine it, I can smell it.
Years later I understood how the early alchemists were using their chemistry as an allegory
for things of 'deeper meaning' (I was reading a lot of the weirder bits of
Carl Jung at the time). I was also fascinated about those leading figures of alchemical history, their searches for transmutation and how their understanding fused into modern
chemistry. Oliver Sacks' book brought that sense of the 'super-natural' back vividly as well.