A hike through the hills

28 02 2012

The Bibbulmum Track is one of the world’s great long distance walk trails, stretching nearly 1000kms from the Perth Hills to Albany on the south coast, through the heart of the scenic South West forest and coast of Australia.

For my 40th birthday a couple of years ago a friend gave me a present which was to “walk a section of the Bibbulmun Track” together as a day walk. What a great gift. The Northern Terminus is in our suburb in the hills and we see it every time we go to the local village.

Setting off with Marcia - Kalamunda Northern Terminus.

We decided on doing the ‘first leg’ which runs from Kalamunda to Mundaring Weir, a cross country trip of 18kms including a descent of 300m down to Piesse Brook, then a climb of the same up the other side.

Across the ridge - looking towards Red Hill

The walking was wonderful. We chatted some of the time then spent long hours quietly crunching along the gravel, finding our own meditative rhythm through the changing scenery. We passed through woodlands, jarrah forest, valleys, a camel farm, a national park, an old abandoned golf course, a thirsty weir and across the top of the ridge.

A lunch stop - a gourmet sandwich and fresh cup of tea!!

I was always a keen bushwalker which came from my days of Army Cadets and being a Youth group and Scout Leader. Some day I’d love to walk the length – people come from all over the world to do the “End to End” trip. It just so happens that it starts near my home and ends in one of my favourite places in the world – Albany on the south coast. It is a marathon adventure though and generally takes folks around seven weeks to walk it if they cover 20-30kms per day.
We got lost a couple of times and retraced our steps back to the marker only to find it had slipped and was pointing in another direction. A quick snap of a twig made a makeshift rivet to hold the sign in place for those behind us.

Directions - The Waugul symboli s part of the spirit and culture of the Aboriginal people

The walk we did came two months after I’d recovered from the Swine Flu – yes, the real one. It nearly killed me and has left a post viral storm that became the catalyst for activating Rheumatoid Arthritis in my system. Since then I haven’t been physically able to walk very far due to pain and swollen joints. I’ve been working on it though. It’s been two years since my diagnosis and I’m just beginning to walk daily, establishing a routine that will see me reclaim some health and fitness. I’m aiming to venture out into nature once again, far enough away from the sound of traffic would be a bonus.

Mundaring Weir - five hours after setting off we crossed the weir at the end of the first leg.

I might not ever make it End to End in one go, but I will aim to complete another section sometime this year. Maybe I’ll take it bit by bit. Stay tuned.

For more info about the Bibbulmum Track visit the Foundation here


Shattered by grief

27 02 2012

Mosaic - Stirk Park Concert Shell, Kalamunda

The experience of grief has been shattering.  Grief is sneaky.   It sometimes stalks me, creeping up and mugging me in broad daylight as bystanders quickly flee.  I can’t explain the depth of the tremor that occurred within me after Beth’s passing.  It has surprised me and I still feel broken some three months later.  Each remaining piece and part of me is being sifted over, the rubble examined for things to salvage.  New things are emerging – new routines, new relationships, new perceptions, new beliefs, new priorities.  What will I keep?

Some parts are important and will be reintegrated into this new life.  It will take time.  In a way it will remain an unfinished work unless I decide to stop growing or changing before I die.

The mosaic is a great image for this time and process.  After the objects have been broken and the pieces are carefully selected to make up a new picture in mosaic form, a new creation slowly emerges which could be quite different, more colourful and intricate than before.

The mosaic tiles are set in place carefully and held together with grout, rubbed into each joint and sponged off.  I wonder what the grout will be that holds me together, surrounds and secures each part of me.  Will it be faith, will it be love, will it be something else entirely?   I’m not up to that bit yet, I’m still sifting through the rubble and seeing what pieces are worth keeping and which bits I’ll leave behind. There is a lot to leave behind, life has changed dramatically.  Priorities have shifted.

Shopfront: Gugeri Ave, Claremont.

Here are the bits and pieces I’ve found so far that are worth keeping.  They may (or may not) resonate with you:

1. Love never dies. It is way more powerful than you think – it is a life force.

2. There is no guarantee you’ll see tomorrow.  None.  Make today a good day.

3. You are more than your job, your title, your profession. You are a loving soul.

4. Offer kindness – you have no idea what burden a person is quietly carrying.

5. Be thankful for the (seemingly) little things – they’re really the big things.

6. Love knows no rank or boundary or class, neither does pain or grief.

7. Hold ‘the future’ lightly. It doesn’t even exist. Live your life now.

8. You are going to die one day – make a Will and spare others from guessing.

I’m still sifting…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Indulge

26 02 2012

This week’s photo challenge from WordPress is Indulge. Participants are asked to depict the weekly theme via a photo. To get involved visit The Daily Post here.

Yesterday we took some time out to sit by the river. The scorching heat has relented so it was comfortable to be outside. We found some deep shade and watched the world go by while enjoying an iced coffee, some chocolate and listening to a cricket match on the radio. We saw cyclists, birds, people barbecuing, water bikes and boats.

East Perth Cove: Swan River, Perth

The real indulgence for me was to take my sketch book and be able to sit in the fresh air and sketch, noticing shapes, tones, patterns and feeling them wiggle off the end of my pen. It felt even more indulgent because we’d left all the chores at home, unfinished.

Burswood Resort Complex from East Perth.


15 02 2012

Indulge me for a minute…
A couple of friends in Oregon love alpacas so I thought I’d treat them to some Aussie Alpacas here. Enjoy!!

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15 02 2012

Beliefs.  Values.  Purpose…

There is nothing quite like the sudden death of a loved one to put life into perspective. Overnight, my life and priorities changed. I didn’t care if the report got written or not. How on earth did I ever believe it mattered that much? Some of the change has been a gift, bringing a wonderful sense of clarity about what is important to me. Most of it is still murky and I’m confused but have a sense and urge for exploration.

It feels like it’s timely. It feels like I’m wanting to really consider what I’m going to do with my remaining years and who I really want to be. Even that is a shift for me. A couple of months ago, I’d have said “what I really want to do”.

It doesn’t feel like I’m exploring for the sake of gaining some control, trying to force a shift or put meaning around the current chaos. I might be wrong, I might be doing exactly that – I guess I’ll find that out along the way too. Even that will teach me something.

I’ve decided to examine my life more closely and review some of my patterns and direction. I’ve been doing it anyway, just not in a very focussed way. So many things come to mind. What IS important to me now? When I look past all the externals, who am I? How do I want to spend my time and energy? How important is money to me? Who do I want to be? What guides me in my decision making? What am I learning through grief – about myself and others? Where is faith in all this? What legacy will I leave when I’m gone? What is the point to life? What do I want to be remembered for? What habits are worth keeping? What is success for me? What would I do if there was no way I could fail? What holds me back? How can I take better care of my body? What does it need? How do I help/hinder my own health? How can I invest in others? What are my core values? What is worth fighting for? What do I need to learn? What do I need to unlearn? What do I need to let go of? What is my purpose? What really makes my heart sing?

I’m not sure whether I’ll explore all of this through The Sacred Cave but it may be a good time to contemplate questions during the Lenten period even though they are not all religious questions set within a Christian context or framework. It seems like good timing though. 40 days of examination. Stay tuned, I might be rambling on a bit, or I might just include some glimpses.

We’ve grown together

14 02 2012

The vine

Woven together we climb our way towards the sun
Stretching out, entangled and embracing.
With those around to anchor us, lean on and grow with
We’ve grown together, upwards and onwards,
Providing shelter and respite under our branches outstretched.

Create a memory for someone

13 02 2012

Street Parade - York St, Albany, Western Australia. Photo: E. Morrison.

Photo albums full of pictures, telling stories of adventure.
Men with long side-burns and ruffled shirts. Women in long gowns and gloves.
Moments in time captured in candid colour.
People, places and parties here and overseas.
Photos of children holding fish, running races and homemade costumes.
Weddings, babies, cakes and candles.
All moments in time, all telling a story, all important enough to keep.
You documented your family’s life in pictures unposed.  
So many albums of memories for all of us left here – but so few of the one behind the lens.

I know I’m preaching to the converted here – most of you reading this will be keeping a blog of some description. But how many people know our personal story? How many of us tell our story? What will be told when we’re no longer here? For a time, some of those around us will have fond memories to talk about but what about the future?

I’ve been looking at my family tree lately, trying to piece together scant information for a particular branch that moved to New Zealand. Some relatives are literally just a name on the Census or birth certificate. There is no story. With more work I can find a marriage certificate or death certificate, but in some cases, that’s it. A great uncle moved from England to New Zealand with his wife in 1921 and he died in 1974. A life was lived but there are so many gaps, so many blank sections that make me wonder.

I’ve also been cataloging photos for our family. There are so many albums full of polaroids and insta-matic photos, all taken by Beth. She spent so much time behind the camera, capturing candid moments to share later. It has taught me a lot about the photos I take. The ones we treasure are not posed or staged. They are not straight or well composed. They’re the quick shots that capture a person’s famous laugh, rather than the photo face we all seem to find. I must get out from behind my camera too and leave some trace of me behind.

We sit now without her and tell the stories behind the photos. There is a painful irony to the activity. Beth would have loved nothing better than sitting around the table with us, going through photos and remembering stories, telling and sharing them with love and laughter.

Are there captions to your photos? Do they tell a story? Would anyone know what captured your eye as you took that shot? Was it beauty, sadness, awe? Was it taken by chance or did you set out to find it? What does it say about you?  Where were you?

It makes me wonder – how many people really know your story, my story?  When you’re not here, even the mundane questions will be mulled over. Make a start, caption your photos and get out from behind the lens so we see you and not just the world through your eyes.

I wish we’d made time to find out more, to share time and tales together. If you want to start your story but aren’t sure how to get going, check out these Interview Questions from Ancestry.com and see how you go.

If you want to take small steps, visit my friend Cee’s blog and take part in the “Share your World” posts she runs.

Write it, post it, blog it, draw it, but do something for those who will miss you when you’re not here.  You’re much more than a name on the Census.

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