Sunday, 30 December 2012

New Years questions

Well with the new year approaching I have no resolutions to make. I have only questions for myself.

Tonight I completed my Fathers will request and placed his ashes into the ocean. Its been a long time between his cremation and now, but a lot has happened between now and then.

So with only the few close friends I have gathered around me in my life I feel that somehow I stand alone, and am somehow just a shadow of who I was.

I was growing into someone else with my wife. For sure I started as who I was in 2005, but her influence upon me, changed goals, changed directions all added up to me becoming something different. Who I was becoming is now dead. Passed along with my wife when she passed.

I can never grow into who I was becoming.

Only time will reveal who I will become now. All that I can do is focus on becoming better, not becoming bitter.

But right now I am empty of inspiration. I am simply grateful to my friends for their support, sadly I have little or nothing to give them in return. That they ask for nothing more than to give me what help I ask for is testimony to how fortunate I am to have such good friends.

That I have no idea what to ask of them is testament to me being just a shadow.

I know well that I can still do something with my life. Being simply a 'has been' may be satisfactory were I in my 80's but at my age thats a long time to wait to fade away.

Perhaps something will reveal itself to me in the new year.

So my new years resolution thus should be: give substance to what casts that shadow on the ground. Thats going to be hard work alone, but in my view I don't have any other choice,

good night

learning to see

I was talking with some friends on Saturday and one of them is interested in learning about photography. In the process of giving my thoughts on this issue I had to dredge up all my (now) unconscious thoughts and try to go back to what it is I needed to say without any unstated assumptions.

I am pretty sure I failed at that.

So (being the brooder hen I am) I thought about it on the way home (motorcycles are good transport for that) and decided that I'd focused (gosh yes, that was a pun) on the technical and missed seeing the vision.

Can't see the wood for the trees so to speak.

So I thought I'd go back to one of my old favorite images and put a little time into how I saw it and how I 'visualised it' as an image.

I took this image with 4x5 inch sheet film using my Toho camera. I was walking along through the rain forest at Lamington National Park and came across this tumbled down rotting old "Strangler Fig" covered in moss. I loved the texture of the moss and wanted to visualise it as a rumbling brook of moss.

I picked my 4x5 for the shot so that I could control focus exactly where I wanted it (along the log) and not have everything else in focus. I used my digital for a quick light meter check to determine the camera exposure settings (as I have long held that digital cameras make the best light meters) and then by the way also have a sort of reference of the shot.

This is the 'digital' reference with no attempt made to correct the colours or richen it up. As it happens I didn't need to do that either with the film image as Provia III is rich enough as it is :-)

As you can see the image looks totally different from more or less the same location (the digital was taken just to the side of the film cameras lens).

But it the composition, the sence of the elements of the image and the focus (like its completely in focus) which makes this shot look totally different to the above image.

Now I could have just taken a heap of shots and picked the best, and with digital that's what people often do. But with large format film (at $10 a shot) you tend not to do that. It is knowing how to see what the camera will see which will save you a lot of time an money.

On another occasion I've done something similar on another shot. the following image was taken with my digital camera (an "SLR" for those who think that means something important). Digital doesn't like stark contrasts...


well here is the resulting vision which I wanted to attain where I could use the big camera to control focus.

Please do click on the image and load a bigger view. You can see more clearly that the focus is different (as well as here seeing that film handled the sky and sun better. That shot has a blog article about it already, so if you're interested that is over here.

So my point is that to take good photographs (be that whatever pleases you), you have to learn to develop your creative vision. To see in your mind what the camera will see and create an image which when people see it they like it.

Cos what you see and what an image looks like are often different.

Hope you got something out of this.

I hope that 2013 is both a happy and a creative year for you and for me, and I hope that Anita comes with me on as many of my trips into the wild as possible

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

difficult subjects

One of the difficult topics in any society is that of suicide. With the survival instinct being high in 'normal' people the idea of killing yourself seems abhorrent to the mainstream population. While this is a reasonable reaction for those who have never suffered for those of us who do suffer the idea of ending the pain by ending ones life is something which occurs to many people.

There is lots written about the statistics of killing yourself, a wealth of academic material exists, but to me it seems that little is written about how the person themselves feels. I am not about to preach to anyone here, not going to deny a person makes their own choice, but I have discovered something on my own journey that I wish to share. So if you have time, before you go, then have a read of my story and see if it offers you anything.

Myself I have spent an amount of time considering the subject, I wanted to write about my feelings to make them clear to myself and perhaps to provide some help to either people trying to comprehend it or people who may be contemplating it.

To me death is inevitable. That I will die is about the only certainty that there is in life.

People who 'recoil' from or are 'sickened by' the idea of killing yourself are probably in some combination of: very happy with life and in denial about the inevitability of their own death.

Having had my best childhood friend die of cancer in my twenties, watched my mother die of ahlzimers, had my father die of cancer and my wife die of a brain tumor, as well as witnessed a few deaths "in the field",  I am under no illusions of the permanence of life.

For me the consideration of killing myself has nothing to do with a 'plea' to others. Those people (ones trying to make a call for help) choose methods which may be survivable and do so in a manner to allow someone to know about it. If I was going to do it, I have concluded that the most certain, quick, painless and "minimizing the risks of failure" method is the best. This last point is important, as if I decided to kill myself  then the risk of remaining alive but maimed and unable to control the circumstances of how I end my life would be intolerable and perhaps some sort of hell.

Hell? Does this mean I believe there is a heaven or a life after?

Well at this point perhaps I do. That topic in itself is the basis for another blog post, so for now I'll try to keep on subject here.


I guess that everyone comes to consider killing themselves from different paths, but I suspect that the place we find ourselves in is quite similar in many ways. Personally the sorts of feelings I have are:
  • intense sadness
  • can't see that life will ever get better (only more of the same and perhaps worse to come)
  • decreasing physical health (reducing the possibility that life will get better)
  • loss and grief
this all leads me to wonder "why do I go on?"

Currently I don't have any good answers to that, except that in the 'faith' of my survival strategies I just make one step. Each day that's all I ask of myself, just take one more step.

When you look at it like that (and don't ask why? or what's the point?) then taking one step isn't so hard. It is after all just one step.

I have at the moment decided to keep just taking one more step.

these poor bastards suffered from Polio, so all you new age - anti immunisation wankers, just keep this in mind when you selfishly decide to not immunise your kids (you ignorant assholes).
I know that life is difficult, I know that life seems to have no point, I know that I feel like shit, but as long as just taking one step is actually possible I'll keep doing that.

I've been to India a few times, and on my first trip there (some decade or so ago) I saw people with the most horrific crippling injuries but how just kept taking one step. I'm sure they gave no thought to tomorrow, just took a step each time they could to keep on surviving.

If they can do it I can do it.

First world problems: 

The higher you are elevated in life, the harder the fall back to a base line seems.

Personally I had found a pinnacle of happiness in my life. For I had been without issues from my heart for nearly 20 years, I had been traveling the world, I had met and married the most beautiful woman in the world, we lived by the beach in one of the best areas of the world (from a climatic, meteorological, geographic, political and economic point of view), we loved each other totally and trusted each other without reservation. We could not have been happier.

Then she died, and my whole world ended.

In the last year: I have had a major surgery to my heart, my father died, (then the worst thing ever to happen to me) my lovely wife died and my surgery developed an infection which required me to be hospitalised and re-operated on (to cut out the dead and infected flesh).

Presently I feel that I can never climb back up to the life that I had before the shit in my life happened.

I can't see any good future, I suffer the grief of the loss of my wife and I am still not even touching on the grieving of the loss of my father (who died just one month before my wife, yet somehow seems both distant and insignificant now), I remain uncertain if the treatments will enable me to continue of if there simply awaits some more years of hospitals and being cut up and reduced to a cripple in order to survive .

So planning to end my own life is something that I have been giving good consideration to. This has lead me to discover something about the nature of these things.

Opposites attract, but the same poles repel stronger the closer they get

If you get two strong magnets, you'll find that the closer you try to bring the same poles together the more they repel. At the point where they nearly touch its almost impossible to bring them together by hand. This effect seems to be how I think people who are contemplating killing themselves react to the idea of killing themselves. The idea seems OK from a distance, but the closer you get to doing it, the more the idea somehow seems wrong and the execution of it is somehow not possible.

I believe that this is an indicator that no matter how desperate you feel that the time is not right.

While I was laying on the prep-table in the operating room I found myself wishing that I would not awake from this surgery, wishing that I could just die and be with my wife again. At the same time I found myself crying about this.

I was surprised as I have faced death a couple of times and not had this strong emotional reaction before.

The more that I actively brought to my mind my death in this surgery (while reaching out for the spirit or memory of my wife) the more that I found tears in my eyes, as I brought myself away from these thoughts and considered the struggles of life after the surgery and all its possibilities for difficulty I found myself simply sad, but not crying. This behavior perplexed me (and worried the staff at the surgery as they wondered what was going on. I told them. I learned from this the problems which can arise from telling 'normal people' about these feelings as they can't understand, and had a psychiatrist visit me in ICU after the surgery).

I wondered if this was some internal subconscious aspect of my survival traits and mechanisms? It has been a few months of contemplating this and this blog post is the current state of where I sit with this.

I currently feel that killing myself is an act which should only be undertaken when all other options are totally exhausted and that human dignity is being stripped of me by some terminal illness. Sure, life is a terminal state, but we are made to live. We are designed to live and to fight to survive. No matter how many setbacks or resets of state we have, we are designed to keep on fighting and struggling until we somehow know its time to die. Cancer patients get this way in their final stages, and everyone who works with and deals with palliative care knows when patients make this switch.

So as hard as it may be to deal with things (and I can assure you that dealing with the loss of my wife is the hardest thing I have ever faced), as long as you can just make that one step, then do it.

Its all anyone can ask.

I look at the photographs of my wife, and reflect on the happy times we had together. Mostly it still fills me with sadness, but that sadness is for her loss. Sadness for the destruction of everything we planned for, for the destruction of all that I had worked towards, for the plans we had for family, for the cessation of the joy we were living every day.

This sadness is so overwhelming I often feel that I just can't go on without her. Especially when combined with the depression I feel at the health issues which gnaw at me and tear at my fitness and strength. I feel that I have nothing to fight for, nothing to go on living for.

Sometimes I stumble across a picture of her pulling a funny face and I laugh. She makes me so happy sometimes and I realize that it is for her still that I make that one step today. For I feel that her love is still alive. Certainly it is alive within me. Killing myself would perhaps be killing that love too.

It hasn't been easy, it still isn't easy, but I did make that step today.

I hope you do too.

Monday, 24 December 2012

chest wound progress

Chest wound / post 'debridement' operation

Day 1 (the morning after surgery, which was the 23/11/2013 in normal international format)

a few days into it, first day of the VAC pac redressing.

today (the date of the blog post), 3 days after the VAC dressing has been removed.

its getting smaller and getting more 'well healed' looking

Merry Christmas

PS: Subsequent to this post the green muck that you can see on the chest in the above picture kept flowing. I then underwent a second debriement surgery in Feb 2013, and that looked a little worse.
The following image is taken 2 days post that debridement

Post debridement 2

things healed fast with the combination of the VAC and silver based dressings.


There were a few subsequent eruptions but the discharge has reduced significantly , especially in comparison to the first operation (which kept oozing green goo).

My present status (23/12/2013) is that the wound has healed and that so far nothing has erupted for a few months now. The last eruption was on 13th of August 2013

Chest wound

That settled over a matter of a week. Since then it has been quiet on the visible front with only intermittent grumbling in the mean time.

For now I remain on antibiotics (still).
I will update this post with further information as it comes to hand.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all

well its that time of year again. Sweating in the South East Queensland heat makes me wish I was able to be back in Finland ...

perhaps next year.

So I wish you and your families a good and healthy 2013

Sincerely, Chris

Friday, 21 December 2012

where there's a will there's a fight

and where something is dead there are often maggots and grubs.

My father's partner of some 20 years passed away just before he did. Actually I think its fair to say that her passing was cause for him to give up hope. He gave everything to look after her in her later years (as she was not of good health) and in my mind found some soft of redemption for his failure in doing the right thing for my mother.

Gwen left all her estate to him in her will, primarily because her daughters refused to do anything to assist her or even send her a birthday card for decades. Dad had not amassed any fortunes (well and neither had Gwen), leaving behind just a bunch of personal effects and family items such as photographs and military discharge papers of her late husband (not my dad) and just enough money to cover her funeral as well as enough for my fathers funeral too.

Naturally her daughters decided to contest the will ... Today I got the letter from the solicitor:

The two maggots moved in to contest the will as soon as they found opportunity to, and stripped the lot.
So I was left to find the funds to bury my father in a decent (but humble) manner.

I was not about to consume all of those funds ($10,000) and more in defending this matter in court.

Better to let the worms get it.

Not even a thank you note for all the work we did in helping her move and processing and packing her estate.

Humans disgust me sometimes.

If there is a god I hope he judges them better than I would.

Merry Christmas S and D

Without Wilson

Had a dressing change and inspection today. It was determined that I don't need Wilson anymore.

(I had been calling my portable vacuum dressing vacuum pump Wilson)

Not that I am too sad over this.

Glad that the progress is steady (if slow)


Monday, 17 December 2012

ginger bread houses

"Its just not proper"

well that's what my wife decided after living here for her first Christmas. Being a Finn she loved the things which Finns do in Christmas time, like bake and decorate Gingerbread houses. She was pretty darn good at it too. She was surprised and saddened that all we got here was plastic rubbish like this which (as she would point out) you can't even eat...

Every year in Finland Anita would make gingerbread houses and distribute them to the family.

My influence on this was the suggestions of subject matter (and I'm not entirely sure how this started). Naturally we went though a variety of themes:
  • gingerbread beach houses (with surfboards)
  • gingerbread scrub shacks (with crocodiles)
but my favourite ever was the gingerbread Honda S-600, based naturally on my own Honda S-600

This car was "under restoration" even back then, and now is more or less stripped and gutted in different parts of my house. But it was my promise to Anita that it would be finished and become her car (and wouldn't she have looked HOT driving it).

So what would such a creation look like? Well I happened to document the process of creation(and a pineapple, come on, its TROPICAL).

note the driver inspecting the diff on car #2 while the other driver is just chilling with those marshmallow chicks in the pan ...

Almost ready for the road with their cool curving wind screens (trade secret) the teams pose for the press.

Naturally no photo session would be complete without the hot marshmallow chick posing on the back of the car in front of a big pineapple.

The cars were all received well by the family and eaten as they should be.

My lovely wife tied to make similar things here in Australia, but Queensland being tropical (well near enough that only an academic would point out the latitude issues) and in the Southern Hemisphere that when the "time is right" the weather is wrong.

32°C days (yes that's nearly 90 for you 18thC Fahrenheit users) with high humidity (think Florida) lead to ginger bread houses collapsing (which I guess explains why we don't have decent ones here). So after one year with lots of "voi vittu" emanating from the kitchen and me using the Air Con and plastic bags to seal them into, we decided that gingerbread doesn't suite Australian Christmas.

So ... we lead closer to the time of Christmas. During which I'd like to share some of my wife's wonderful character with you.

I'll leave you with my wifes only blog post ... she was a good baker and wrote some advice on baking to assist experts who may have forgotten the lessons they learned early on.

Friday, 14 December 2012

I just dont know

To me most that happen seem to be explainable, sometimes they are not. The human mind seems designed to attempt to recognize patterns and to make associations to find sense in things. Perhaps this is something like that, perhaps it is not.

Just a little while after the funeral of my wife I was out in the field at my in-laws property and was getting some space to just cry and howl and ask WHY (which is something I still ask). I was looking towards the sunset and trying to just cope when I noticed that the clouds in the sky seemed to be showing me a face.

I felt I could see a face with one eye open and the other closed, having my phone with me I took a shot of it so that I could attempt to see it later and see if I was seeing what I thought I was seeing.

To me I still see that. So today I decided to superimpose a shot of my wife into that and see if I still did see that.

I've blended them subtly and without distortion it overlays perfectly.

Now, as at that moment, I am tempted to believe she was watching me and with the wink of her eye attempting to comfort me.

I'm not normally a superstitious person so make of this what you will, because I just don't know what to say to you.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Can't Buy Me Love

God knows I like my coffee. Actually my wife knew that too.

If you don't make espresso coffee yourself at home in any serious way (for example you use one of those pod machines instead of ground coffee) then you probably don't get the importance of a good coffee banger as part of your coffee making routine.

Now there is no end of these things on the market, small ones, big ones ... but because this is aimed at a 'boutique' market the prices are aimed at people who don't ask the prices.

Well that's not me!

Fundamentally I don't want (or need) what amounts to a bin for my used coffee beans to be a $100 item ... its a bin for crying out loud.

My wife shares my sense of thrift in this area and decided that she would make me one for my birthday.

Now this was a little while ago and my coffee banger has been banged on and filled with the used "coffee biscuits" (read this if you have no idea what a coffee biscuit is) many times. Accordingly it does not look like anything from a promo catalog now.

 Essentially my wife cut down a tin (which had something like pineapple in it) and put a stick through it to be a home made banger.

She chose well and picked a branch from the (god how I hate that plant) Bougainvillea in the back yard.

The thorn visible on the side of the branch is testimony to why I hated that plant (and then there is the spiders which seem to spontaneously generate in it) and the thickness (thinness) of the branch testimony to how tough it is (and also why I hated it).

My mother (God bless her well meaning heart) planted this nasty feral weed in the back yard and I've struggled to remove it for more than 15 years.

But I digress....

Its a bit difficult to see on this picture but there is a heart on the container as a decoration. Its difficult to see because I insisted it remain there and I covered the area with clear plastic tape to preserve the heart from coffee stains.

Wanting to share this with you today I removed the tape (which seems to have promoted some surface rust) to show you.

It proclaims what I already knew, that my coffee banger was made with love. I knew well that my darling Anita loved me, so it wasn't really needed for her to say that. But saying we loved each other to each other every day was something we did. It wasn't boring, it wasn't a hassle ... because we loved each other.

That she chose to invest some time and effort (instead of money) to make me a coffee banger rather than go and buy one is exactly part of the reason I loved her. Let me quote a Beatles song:
Say you don't need no diamond ring
And I'll be satisfied
Tell me that you want those kind of things
that money just can't buy
For I don't care too much for money
For money can't buy me love
Let me assure you that no money can buy me a better coffee banger.

But I did buy her a diamond ring, as her engagement ring, and the symbol to wear of my undying love for her. We spent many weeks looking far and wide (across many towns and a few countries) until we found a ring that was exactly what she wanted.

It had a softness of gold and a practicality that would allow her to wear it always without fear of the stone being damaged.

She is still wearing it today

My message today is "don't fukken worry about money, worry about the love you have". Treat it with the respect it deserves and foster it like the garden that grows the food that nourishes you.

Cos money can't buy you love.

Monday, 3 December 2012

grapefruit and drugs

If you are on any drugs don't drink grapefruit juice.
Canadian researchers suggest that the number of prescription drugs that can have serious adverse effects from interactions with grapefruit are increasing.
Basically listen to this link. This first came to my attention (by coincidence just last week) on a forum of other people who use Warfarin as an anticoagulant.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

back home how

well back home now. It seems that the bug which I had was propionibacterium acnes
so now I know ... from here on in its a matter of what happens next