Friday, December 31, 2010

Now at the end of 2010 and for my family near the end of one of our live's great chapters.

Those that follow this blog will know my Dear Old Dad is struggling, so much so that about three days ago we were all summoned to the bedside. A darker mirror of just a couple of days before, we filed into a tearful room, and began to say our goodbyes. Typically, and in bog Irish fashion, large swathes of our genetics being Fitzpatrick, Brady and Murphy, Pa began, amidst the gurgle, to pick up and give short sharp replies to our commiserative group.

"What are you lot looking at? You're like a bunch of bloody crows sitting on a fence..."

Naturally this opened the door to progressively blacker humour as we'd cry a bit, brother Brendan cracked us up with a look at his watch and a twinkle eyed, "Will you hurry up?" to Dad which elicited a Mad Eyed sideways grin and something like "Get stuffed" from Pa.

It got worse from there, the common denominator being we still cried a lot and didn't really know if he'd peg out any minute.

In the end we decided lunch was in order and all went off for a coffee and a sandwich.

So it has continued the last few days. Brothers and sister tag teaming 4-6 hour stints with Pa, helping where we can, conversing when awake, and dodging bullets when he was really awake and pissed off something wasn't coming out quite the way he wanted.

Like trying to remember the name of a friend of his from his mining days in Fiji almost 57 years ago. Phonetically I know the man's name was Charley Sinamaimbao, even remembered him vaguely if that's possible, but my effort to work out what Pa was saying at first could have been as far off the mark as Bingbang Wallawallabingbang.

We got there in the end.

Onwards into 2011. Our beginning is being written as I type, and yours, I hope, will take you safely to the places, and waves, you dream of.

My pic, a moment from the Wake that Wasn't, a grainy dear old Pa holding brother Bill's hand, continuing to surprise us all.

Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

What a couple of weeks it's been.

As with 'most everybody, the Holiday season is both a time of joy and stress, demands of family, friends and work making it a roller coaster of love and life. For our 'mob'... a particularly special year, as we all headed north to Brisbane to celebrate both a Christmas and a Boxing day birthday with my Dear Old Dad. Pa to grandchildren and children alike, his run up to this particular Christmas has been demanding to say the least.

This time last year he was diagnosed with cancer, the prognosis poor and his attitude philosophical. Deciding not to go the chemotherapy route, and take his licks..." bugger it, I'll just have to eat more oysters!", his past year has been one of catching up with friends, getting his business back on an even keel after a bit of GFC beating, and being attended to by a tag team of sons spending some time with him and giving a rest to my sister Kath and brother Ben who, by dint of geography, live in the same city and have a far greater role in caring.

Those of us from interstate would come up for spells of a week or so, and tell stories, relive moments from their own far off dream times, the common denominators being the love and fun had with Dad, and Mum, in those carefree days long gone.

Of course, in the telling, you discover why Dad was a grump sometimes, and we could say finally, 'we understand!" as we too deal with the storms of bringing up kids, and all the pyrotechnics hormonal monsoons bring.

And laugh. A lot.

So come this Christmas and the run in is all good, a couple of weeks back Pa gets up for a midnight pee, tottery and half groggy as you'd expect at three, leans the wrong way, falls down a flight of fifteen stairs, head first he goes, ending up at the bottom, out cold, with a busted rib. Naturally a fall like this should have killed a near 83 year old, or at least broken everything, but not Pa. Shaken and stirred, down but not out.

A couple of days later we hear, to top it off, and this really is a topper, he has a stroke, loses his speech, and the use of his right arm. Hoo-fucking-ray, if you'll excuse the french. Who's going to tell the jokes at Christmas?

Fast forward a day or two, and we are getting sentences out of him, the ever sparkly mind saying, "I'm learning new stuff everyday" referring to the discourse with the physio and speech therapist. Good on him. Skinnier now than a cattle yard dog, but still swinging though the punch wouldn't knock out a starving budgie.

Ageing surf rat that I am we had planned, post Christmas, to spend a few days on the coast, catch the odd wave and play, a car load of boards and a road trip adventure with father and sons being the way north for both budgetary and fun reasons. Pa's misadventure, however, meant Sue and Beelzebub took a plane, while Joey and I did the gun north (2000K) over two days to get there on Christmas Eve.

All good. We did the drive with only one or two hair raising moments. Always something happens on these drives. This time 'round, apart from the locust plague (I'm serious), a near miss of a rather large kangaroo, and me dozing off, only being saved by hitting a pothole which woke me up just in time to avoid us going off the road. My frustration there was it happened fifty metres before the rest stop I was aiming for.

Finally in Brisbane and straight into the hospital, Pa propped up, on the oxygen and looking a little like a twinkling Mad Eye Moody from Harry Potter, a wicked crooked smile on his face and a welcome good hand. Speaking way better than I could have imagined, lights on, everybody home, but now so skinny you wouldn't even feed him to the cattle yard dog.

Still good for a laugh though, so yesterday, Christmas Day, the whole family gathers at home, and I mean every grandchild, every child and every spouse, plus friends, all together to wish Pa a very special Christmas.

Holding tottery court on his throne, oxygen at ready and rugged up, he managed some pureed turkey, stuffing and joy of joys, a prawn and four oysters that slid down beautifully. Understand that post stroke eating is no easy task, and the slippy slidey oysters proved the hit of the day, no chewing, just a delicious toboggan ride down.

After dinner, an endless round of family photos, to the point I asked Dad if he was getting over it.

"You're dead a long time" was his reply. Amen to that.

With time to get back to the hospital looming, while we ferried Pa to the car, the kids, from, 8 to 28, lined up for a Mexican wave as the car backed down the drive. Waving like the King heading off to his palace, Dad sailed into the night, skateboarding on the street resumed and we went back inside and had another drink.

Wonderful Day.

The pics: The road north, Joey's Christmas Pa portrait done on the sketching toy the hospital use to help patients with speech problems communicate, and Pa, crooked smiling and Mad Eye in the shade.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Two posts in a day.

This can only mean I stumbled on something worth sharing.

Via a variety of sources I encountered this, what you might call a snuff movie, from Tasmanian hell man Marti Paradisis, who's quite well known for his Shipstern Bluff exploits.

This bit of lunacy puts paid to earlier youthful ambitions I had of surfing Shippies, as you'll see. There must be, though, given the extremity of the wipeouts, an inbuilt flush mechanism, a unique hydraulic action of some sort, that keeps the surfers from death at every flogging.

I find it quite amazing this is an injury free session.

The music I could live without.

Stern Carnage from marti paradisis on Vimeo.

After lurching into politics over the last week or so in an attempt to bog up the blog, it comes as a very pleasant change to be able to report a surf.

Saturday finally had a lately rare combination of swell and offshore that coincided with a shoulder that threatened to hold together. I decided to make the run down a little later, partnered by my artist friend Harley, largely in a bid to find a shift change in a water no doubt populated by every other surfer in the area frustrated by a long crap spell.

We seemed to time it well, and arrived to a crowded but hopefully dwindling Winki pack. Gingerly paddling out, I was greeted by more friends in the water than I could have imagined, a bit like a reunion dinner that made for a lot of friendly chatter, chatter that made up for the still competitive line up.

Out of the blue people started to disappear, the line up cleared, I managed a few waves beyond what I'd expected and the shoulder held up. I even, rusty as I am, managed the odd good turn.

The next day, no pain, shoulder good, old porky happy.

Pics.. Winki looking very fun indeed.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The other day, the bad day, I let loose on my nostalgia for a simpler life. While I don't resile from that, I do need to step back on what may have come across as a bagging of Wikileaks. Of course we could know less, in a head in the sand sort of way, but the right of freedom of the press is what makes the model most of us live under, though imperfect, still the one I would prefer.

With the constant possibility of disclosure, the less admirable impulses even the best of us are inclined to are discouraged, at least. When you consider even the milder alternatives out there, like the repressed press of China, or the murderous treatment of an impressively idealistic and courageous press in the former soviet republics, you cannot but thank your lucky stars we have what we have.

Therein lies the rub when someone like Julian Assange dares to put it all out there, and governments jump over themselves in to find ways to shut him up. It begs the question just how much they have to hide? Human nature being what it is, quite a lot.

There was a tiny political party here in OZ a way back, The Australian Democrats, led by one of the great idealists of Australian Politics. Don Chipp was his name, and he formed the party with one clear direction in mind.

To Keep the Bastards Honest.

That is what Wikileaks does, and so I, apolitical ostrich that I am, support wholeheartedly their right to publish.

On another note, I had the good fortune to have a twitter message pop up the other day, another follower of @safetosea, where I tweet not, ever. Why, how, people find the moribund home of my tweets I do not know, but for once I was glad it happened. Through it I discovered a US pacific coast author who is well worth visiting.

Tom Mahony has just released his first novel, to consistently good reviews.

I dipped in to a couple of his short stories, and liked very much what I found. As one who aspires to write more but finds frustration through time, procrastination and belief, to see someone getting it done, and done well, is both food for the soul and inspiring in its own right. That Tom is also a surfer, and I suspect, from the odd shot on his site, a good one, allows another excuse to dip in and perhaps put a penny in his pocket.

Pic: Tom, at the end of a ride, and hopefully at the beginning of another career.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

After building an alaia late last year I entered the water with much hope that a new dawn was about to break for me. Unfortunately the choice of five foot Bells as a first go out meant that the only thing that broke was a Bell's lip, on the back of my head.

More than once to be quite honest.

They are devilishly hard things to catch a wave on, let alone ride, and doubly so as the years creep up. Compounding that has been a last third of the year where injury and lately, lack of surf, has kept me out of the water altogether, and I am clearly not going far in my alternate surfcraft advancement.That being said the little belly alaia I made has been a huge success, and continues to get a run, when the mood strikes.

Rummaging around on this near flat and onshore Sunday morning, waiting for the family to wake up, I came across this gem via Jon Wegener's site... a glorious clip of Rob Machado riding a little peanut alaia at a silky little lefthander. Edited as a bonus to Taylor Steele's Castles in the Sky, it is one of those rare combinations of fine surfing and unexpected music that works beautifully.


Pic: My efforts, and below, how they should be ridden.

Alaia & Machado from 360 To Nowhere on Vimeo.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Did you ever get the feeling that 'things are getting complicated'?

'That there is too much to know'?

'That every bit of news I hear is bad'?

I'm finding myself wishing for simpler times. Times without credit cards, without mobile phones, where there wasn't some window to the world sitting at you finger tips saying 'plaaaay with meeee'... Sapping hours away from daydreaming time, from work time, from time when you might have had a good idea, or one that changed the world, or just remembered something lovely.

I wish I didn't know the synapse by synapse development of a growing brain, how a brain rewires itself in adolescence and how much we need to protect that plastic wonder from every thing we know is sitting out there waiting to rewire it into some Golem that will take over our babies.

I wonder where that worry came from?

Now we have Wikileakes making sure that we know everything about everyone, but mostly about what the US says about about everybody else, but then who do you know that doesn't say something Unkind or True behind somebodies back? Human nature is unkind, imperfect and has muddled through since we rose from the soup, will continue to do so but now we have the added insult of Knowing Too Much.

Wouldn't it be nice just to step back a little and be oblivious to some things that we really could do without knowing?

I'm having one of those days.

The truth is, knowing and the search for knowledge also gives us a chance to see the infinite possibilities that are out there, it gives us the chance to look beyond our noses and our personal worlds, to feel tiny and great at the same time. If the fundamentalists amongst us allowed themselves the luxury of knowledge of the 'other' before blind belief closed worlds off to them, all our worlds would be better places.

And if the young fuckers out there allowed themselves the possibility that someone over fifty might actually still have something to contribute, that wisdom is not a barrier to creativity, that some things actually get easier....


I think I need to go surfing.

Pics: Wasted time sometimes has it's rewards as you discover hidden gems here and there with the magic of Google Earth. My lips are sealed.