What Can Make Me Happy?

Posted in Mixed Nuts on October 17th, 2010 by MadDog
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At the end of my last post, I talked about my current inability to derive joy from activities which have previously provided me with the emotional, intellectual and spiritual satisfaction which we all crave. This disablement has resulted in a strangely lifeless life. I’m sure that for many readers this will be preaching to the choir. As I’ve said before, this is my first experience with dire personal tragedy. I’m a late comer just catching up with most people my age.

My friend suggested that, as I engage in these experiences, say a Saturday out with friends on the boat SCUBA diving, that I pretend  to enjoy it. I took this to mean that I should try very hard to not let my mind wander to subjects best left alone for the moment and that I engage with others as if nothing had happened and laugh when it seems appropriate and so on. You can make up your own list of fakery. The theory is, I suppose, that if one does this consistently it will become real. This makes some kind of wacky sense to me.

A day or so later I got a Facebook message from Ush Antia who has departed Madang, but is fondly remembered by her friends. Having read my remark about pretending, she sent to me a very interesting link. A guy named Dan Gilbert presented a twenty-one minute lecture titled Why Are We Happy? I’m not going to go into detail about the content, because you can watch it for yourself. I’ll just say that our prefrontal cortex gives us some remarkable abilities that we may not ordinarily recognise. Here’s a little blurb about the lecture:

Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness,  challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if we don’t get what we want. Our “psychological immune system” lets us feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned.

Really, if you are less than ebullient concerning life in general, you might want to view it.

In order to investigate and reorient myself to what my current standards of happiness are, I decided to conduct a little experiment. All of the images which have speared in Madang – Ples Bilong Mi  are in one folder on my computer. I set out to scan through these several thousand images as quickly as possible, getting as far as I could in five minutes and pick out eight pictures which instantaneously, as in a word association test, elicited the response, “happy”. This is not as easy as it sounds.

Some of the images seem logical responses while others are puzzling. I’ll comment briefly on each one, if I can think of anything to say.

This one is so obvious that it requires no analysis. It is a composition of many tiny images from MPBM in a mosaic which simulates a picture of Eunie and I at our anniversary party.

Who would not respond with “happy” to this?

This one is not so straightforward. It’s important to remember that analysing these lightning responses one-by-one is a bit like Monday morning quarterbacking.

I think that I responded with “happy” here because, though the surface message of the image is decidedly not happy, the experience of expressing these feelings in an artistic manner was  happy. I derived considerable pleasure from the process of capturing a precise mood in an image.

This one of Carol Dover goofing off during a dive is another obvious choice. Friends always make me happy. That’s because I have no troublesome ones. That has not always been true in the past.

While it is sad that Carol is no longer here in Madang, true friendships never leave the heart.

This shot of a Bulb Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor)  got the “happy” tag because it is one of my favourite underwater images and always makes me think about the great mysteries of the sea.

It is one of the few underwater images in which I have deliberately fiddled with the colours. This is not the natural colouration of this anemone. However, I wanted to accentuate the surreal beauty and alien quality of the creature. So I did. That’s the beauty of digital photography. You can do anything you like.

This one is not to difficult to figure out either. It immediately brought to mind all of the wonderful times I spent with Eunie in far away places. I don’t remember anything about this lovely statue which we found in Berlin of a young woman releasing a bird. I do remember that we both were captured by its beauty and significance. It belonged in that place.

Eunie and I were very fortunate to have been able to travel considerably during the last thirty years. The necessity of moving back and forth between Papua New Guinea and North America gave us the advantage of seeing many places without spending much extra money.

As I looked back over my choices and pondered my response to each, this one gave me slight pause. It is of a lady selling her produce at the Madang town market.

I did enjoy working with the image. It required quite a bit of effort to get it just the way I wanted it. However, I don’t think that is why it struck the ‘happy” chord. Maybe it represents home to me. That’s a bit of a stretch, but it is close enough.

This baby balancing shot taken up at Blueblood is a no-brainer. Kids, friends, tropical warmth and water, a party . . . who would not think “happy”?

I’m beginning to see a pattern here.

The last shot also is obvious – family. I got this image of Tamara, Pippa and Audrey on the train returning from the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. It is one of my favourite images of Hans’ little family.

Though there is the sadness of so seldom seeing them, happiness is the feeling I enjoy whenever I think of them.

What can I take away from this little exercise? I’m not sure that I know. All that I can do is make an observation.

Of all of the ideas, things and people in the images above, only one is physically missing. While it is a very crucial point that my wife is no longer on the scene, everything else remains, at least for the time being.

So, the question is, can I take what remains, do a lot of pretending and take the lessons of Dan Gilbert’s lecture to heart, trusting my brain to rewire itself in its own self interest as a function of its natural immunity against adversity and despair? Will my prefrontal cortex kick in and create a new standard of happiness?

I trust that it will. And when it does, it will feel real to me. Right now, I don’t see how it can happen. That it will  happen requires trust in something much bigger than my brain. God will have to handle that one.

I trust that God will do that for me.

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Of Ships and Mushrooms

Posted in Mixed Nuts on October 15th, 2010 by MadDog
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Sleep still flees from me. I tire of chasing it. Maybe that’s the problem, that I’m chasing it. It had been my habit for a long time to shoot for eight hours. I seem to remember reading somewhere that as we age, we require less sleep. Maybe I don’t need eight hours. At any rate, I’m certainly not getting them. Except for a couple of nights when the events of the day relieved some of my stress, I seem to be averaging four or five hours in fitful episodes of no more that a couple hours at a time. Honestly, it’s exhausting.

I’ve received no small number of suggestions, none of which seems to help. Drugs are out, since I’ve decided that the “no substances” route is the safest way for me to get though this minefield. I don’t think that there is a magic bullet. I can but hope that as I heal and shake off this mantle of depression that is hindering my progress, some acceptable level of sleep will return.

Anyway, let me give myself a break from my constant whining and show you some pretty pictures of fungi. My friend from Hamilton, Ontario, Ron Barrons sent these two images a couple of days ago. He shot them last weekend on one of his regular outings into the wonderful countryside around the Niagara Escarpment:

Ron says that he likes shooting mushrooms because their growth patterns are interesting and they pose so nicely. I couldn’t agree more.

I am looking forward to visiting Hamilton again next year. I’ll be able see my son, Hans, and his family and my friends Ron and Brenda. Ron and I will take some long walks in the woods and try to outdo each other with our cameras. Here is a big mama mushroom and her babies on a fallen Birch tree:

There is no such thing as a “dead” tree in these woods. After they fall they begin a new life which takes them back to their origin.

I was always so happy with Our House. It’s big and roomy, plenty of room for parties. There is a dining room table which seats twelve. Now it seems somehow too big, too unrelentingly spacious. I’m rattling around in here like a forgotten marble in a boxcar. As I walked around the house last night wondering if I’d ever actually go to sleep instead of just feeling stupefyingly sleepy, a ship across the harbour caught my eye through the open door.  “Hey, I can make that interesting!”, I thought. Actually, I said it out loud. I’ve been talking to the walls a lot lately. Is that a bad sign?

I complained to a friend recently (something else I’ve been doing far to much of) that none of the things in life which used to give me joy are producing any these days. No joy. What to do. She said, “Pretend.” (she did elaborate on that) I thanked her and said that I would give it a try. It’s just crazy enough that it might possibly work. So, deciding to experiment, I grabbed my camera and tried to focus my mind on deriving some good vibes from the experience as I focused my G11 on the image. Hmmm . . . the image is ever so slightly blurry, but I did get a little tickle of satisfaction from getting just the shot that I had envisioned.

So, deciding that this pretending thing is worth pursuing, I went for a slightly more “arty” shot:

It’s not going to be hanging on any gallery walls, but it shouts at me nevertheless. It’s deafening. If fact, there are so many messages in this image that I could run on about it until you beg me to stop. It is the Vogon Poetry of pictures. I’ll let you puzzle it out for yourself.

In the meantime, I’m going to practice pretending. Maybe if I pretend enough, it might begin to feel real.

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Sympathy and Remembrance

Posted in Mixed Nuts on October 13th, 2010 by MadDog
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I have been feeling as if I have been concentrating here a great deal on current events concerning Eunie’s passing and neglecting to feed myself and my readers with enough variety of ideas and images to keep us all distracted. After all, aside from being a personal journal, Madang – Ples Bilong Mi  is intended to be a minor but useful distraction from the vagaries and vicissitudes of the daily grind. However, as I look back over the last couple of weeks, I see that there is still some variety there and I may not have strayed as far into my navel as I had thought. Pardon the existentialist humour.

So, as I have not completely disappeared into that dark, furry place (though it was a close call), I’ll tell you what happened on Saturday.

As those who have been reading MPBM and holding my hand on this journey will already know, this is the second Memorial Service for Eunie. The first was held in Gympie, Australia. Having survived that one, I felt reasonably confident that I would make it through once again. It is so strange just how much one can exaggerate, as such an event approaches, the magnitude of the suffering which will be on offer. I imagined having a stroke and falling down dead, an idea which leaves me thinking, “Eh! What would be so bad about that?”, aside from the horrible mess it would leave behind for my friends. And then I think, “Remember what a Drama Queen you are, stupid!”

The sad part of this is that I get so caught up in self-pity (not for the first time in my life) that I completely miss the point of what’s going on. Well, that wasn’t the case on Saturday or at least I think it wasn’t. I’ll get to that in a minute. First, let’s lighten this up a little. I need to let the sad face rest for a bit.

It my entire long and mysterious life, I do not recall ever having anything at all to do with a mayor. This seems a little odd. One would think that it would require active avoidance to have escaped the attention of or never have had the need to interact with a mayor. But not me. I take the road less travelled. Until now:

What you are looking at is a Sympathy card from the Mayor of Gympie, Australia and his good wife. This arrived in my mailbox one day and caused me to scratch my head. Does the funeral director notify the mayor’s office when someone is processed through on the way to the final destination? Does someone in the mayorial chain of command read the death notices? Or, as I suspect, did my friend Val Jerram have something to do with this? Hmmm . . . Busy, busy, busy.

Okay, here is another puzzle:

I believe that, by any standard, this could be called an incomplete address. The town name is implied, providing you know the geography of Papua New Guinea, as is, of course, the country. However there is no street address or P. O. Box. Di Cassell is well known, but not that  well known. When Di gave it to me, we both engaged in a little head scratching. We agreed that it was worthy of a slot in a post on MPBM. I’d say that someone at Australia Post was really on his toes that day. [Please excuse the use of the masculine pronoun to cover all of those Postmen and Postettes. English sadly lacks multi-gender pronouns. His/her, just doesn’t cut it.]

On Saturday, the crowd was not as large as we thought it might be. That was neither a disappointment nor a source of concern. Every person who needed to be there was there. It’s just the way it played out. I don’t estimate very well, so I won’t bother saying how many. Here’s a shot that includes most of the group which came to, as the expression goes, pay their respects:

Early in the service a group of ladies from our office and from the Country Women’s Association sang Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross,  one of Eunie’s favourites. For the first time since I returned from Australia, I dissolved in a flood of tears. I had been waiting for that. It was good:

The group included our haus meri,  Juli, who has been managing our household for twenty-seven years, freeing Eunie to concentrate on her work. I also invited Sisilia, our next-door neighbour, to sing with the ladies.

When William Butler, one of the senior members of our organisation and a friend who knew Eunie far better than most rose to speak about Eunie’s work, I fell apart again as he began to read John 3:16  in Waran, the language in which he has been working for over thirty years. I can not imagine a more fitting way to represent the focus of all of Eunie’s efforts, bringing the message of the Gospel to the people of Papua New Guinea in their heart languages.

William was his usual eloquent self. Through my sobs I heard him speak with admirable skill and the great passion of a true friend. When he was finished I was exhausted for the moment and feeling very grateful to him for such a beautiful tribute to my wife.

I wish that I had an image of Mike Cassell delivering the eulogy which he wrote for Eunie. A great number of the Madang “family” were present on Saturday. I know that all who were there appreciated Mike’s honest and loving portrayal of Eunie’s life and her many contributions to the welfare and happiness of the community. Again, I was overcome.

Paradoxically, some good things are made more powerful and meaningful because they are hard to endure. Saturday was a hard day for me, and for my friends. It freshened the wound of our loss and brought back anew the sadness we feel when denial is subdued and we realise once again that we will never again see the radiant smile and hear the joyous laughter of our Eunie. And yet, there was benefit for all of us. We had our opportunity to collectively remember and celebrate a life well lived. We could pool our grief and leave some of it in that place, ready to proceed with our lives while carrying Eunie home in our memories.

It was a good day.

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Posted in Mixed Nuts on October 11th, 2010 by MadDog
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Some days it just doesn’t pay to carry the camera around. Yesterday I drove up to Blueblood to join friends for a day at the beach. it was a greyish day with very flat lighting. I had hoped to get some images for this journal, but I seemed uninspired and the poor lighting didn’t help. I guess that it’s okay to show the results of a bad day of shooting, It reminds me that I can do much better.

The memorial service for Eunie on Saturday went very well, but I was in a weird state through most of it. I seemed to be running on autopilot. However, I was grateful that I was overcome three times during the service and dissolved into a sobbing mess. I have been distressed during the weeks since I returned to Madang that the reactions which I expected to experience were not forthcoming. It was a relief to discover that, when the circumstances are right, the tears will come. Though the day was exhausting, I felt better in the end. A small group of us went over to Mike and Di Cassell’s home for a mini wake afterwards. I also spent a couple of hours in the afternoon with our PBT group at the home of Mike and Eunice Herchenroeder. Both were comforting and happy celebrations of Eunie’s life.

The barbie is a constant feature of Blueblood beach parties. This is a typical spread of yummy victuals:

Pascal Michon wields the spatula. How a Frenchman came to be the barbie master, I don’t know. I guess he knows what he’s doing.

Since the lighting was so poor, I had to seek out subjects that might promise some small portion of visual appeal. I became mesmerised by the interplay of light dancing on the ripples on the water and the small ripples forming in the sand in the shallow water near the beach. There was a lot of dark leaf detritus which formed into lines along the ridges of the ripples:In this shot, there was just a hint of sun poking through the overcast. This gave enough of a point source of light to refract bright patterns on the sand from the little chaos of waves on the surface of the water.

Of the dozen or so shots that I took, this one was the best:

The ripples in the sand were quite small. These were only about five centimetres apart. Again, a hazy sun created enough shadows to make a pool of light in the middle of the image. You can also see the reflection of the flat, grey sky. On a sunny day, the reflected sky would be distinctly blue.

To demonstrate just how desperate I was for something to shoot, here is some rust for you:

This shot might be a little puzzling without explanation. The corrugated, galvanised iron roofing is a little the worse for wear. There are two sheets of it in the image. The one in in the rear is in fairly good shape with only a few rusty holes. What appears to be a huge rusty area on it is actually a second sheet a few inches in front of it. That one is nearly rusted away.

I thought that this shot of driftwood on the beach might be more appealing. Try as I might, I could not bring it to life:

I thought to convert it to monochrome, but the black and white image was even more lifeless. Sometimes a flat grey sky is just what you want, but this was not one of those days.

Of the hundred or so shots that I took, this is the best by far. The softness of the light worked to advantage here for these fern leaves:

There is something strange going on in the water drop at the tip of the leaf. You can see it if you click to enlarge. At first I thought it was mosquito larvae, but now I notice all of the other little twisty, black threads near the end of the leaf. I don’t know what it is. There is also a strand of sticky stuff extending from the drop down to the leaf. What’s that? Nature is full of tiny puzzles.

UPDATE: From reader Lee Downie concerning the black, hairy stuff on the fern leaf and in the drop of water:   The birds nest fern (as it is known here) has hair on the back of the leaf when it is sporing. My father has actually grown ferns from this hairy stuff, he has quite a green thumb.   – Thanks, Lee

As soon as I gather some photos from friends, I will write a post about the memorial service.

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The Wonderful Distraction – Fake Art

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Photography Tricks on October 9th, 2010 by MadDog
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There are so many things which I’d like to say. However, now I am falling just short of  finding the words to articulate these things. I never really believed that some thoughts were inexpressible. I’m learning much about life lately. It seems a bit late for a grammar school education about Getting Along in Life. Today’s lesson is about being tongue-tied, mute, unable to find the expressions, analogies and idioms to translate the thoughts spinning in my head into English. I’m writing this on Friday, the eighth of October. If you’ve been following, you will recognise that day as being singularly significant. Not to put too fine a point on it, one month ago my wife went to claim her reward.

Yes, today is a bit of a hard day. I arose early and called in to the office after 08:00 to beg a day off. I have music and pictures to prepare for the memorial service tomorrow. Our office staff have been infinitely understanding and supportive. Lorraine Collins, a dear friend who lived in Madang for some time has flown in from Cairns to come to the service and stay a few days in the company of old friends. She came over to have lunch with me. Afterward, we watched a movie. I was glad for the company and the distraction.

It’s a good thing that I did have company today. I would otherwise buried myself in work and not have had the chance to sit with a friend and quietly talk about what is happening to all of us. It is  a shared experience. I can’t imagine that it would be more intimate if I were were with my blood family. So, speaking of things left to do today, I’ll get on with tomorrow’s post. Yes, I’m writing this on Friday. I’ll schedule the post to go out tomorrow. I do not know what tomorrow will bring to me.

I took a couple of hours of otherwise wasted time last night to do something other than attempting to sleep. It seemed mindless, but more emotionally useful to look through images from past posts and turn them into fake art. Sometimes it is better to do something completely useless. It gives one the feeling of wasting time usefully. And so, since I can’t transfer my feelings to the computer screen, I’ll give you fake art instead.

Here is Honey the aged mare from Honey, Beast and Other New Friends:

Honey and I got along well. This may have been because, in horse years, she is my age. We understood each other. Most of these images will require you to click to enlarge to see the effect of the Photoshop filters which I used to create the fake art images. This one had a light treatment with Poster Edges, just enough to punch up the edges a little and give it some texture.

I finished all of my chatter at the beginning, so I’ll simply show you the rest of the images with my brief comments about how I made them.

This is a shot of a diver’s bubbles with a glass block effect applied:

It is more interesting if you enlarge it.

When we were in Fiji earlier this year I got this image of Bougainvillia overhanging the hotel pool. It’s a delicious mix of colours made all the more yummy but the Watercolour filter:

Reducing the number of colour values in the image by increasing the posterisation effect in the filter creates some interesting patterns in the water.

Still in Fiji, here is an image from The Nadi Temple – A Feast for the Eyes:

This is a more severe flogging of the image with the Poster Edges filter. It is very posterised, using only a few colours from the millions available. The edges are extremely accentuated. This gives a nice poster effect.

Here are some orchids from my garden. I wanted a mild distortion effect, in this case the Watercolour filter, and I also wanted to bring the flowers dramatically forward in the image:

The Watercolour filter worked a treat. Bringing the flowers forward proved to be far simpler than I had thought it would be. All I had to do was reduce the saturation of the green tones in the background, reducing them to near monochrome. This piece turned out better than I though it would.

This Phyllidia ocellata  nudibranch makes a perfect subject for a cut out. The black background makes the absurd colours of this outlandish critter pop:

Nice design for a black t-shirt, eh? A touch of the Poster Edges filter gave the nudi an interesting texture.

Finally, I’ll toss in another nice piece by Lindsay Smith. Take note that I do not include Lindsay’s work in the fake art category. Lindsay actually sketches. Oh, that I had such talent:

Lindsay sketched this lovely lady over a background of my image of an oil slick on the water in front of my house. I enjoy seeing such imaginative uses of my photographs.

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A Little Bit of Everything

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Under the Sea on October 7th, 2010 by MadDog
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I do not intend for Madang – Ples Bilong Mi  to indefinitely remain a place where I forever keep going back to the events of the last few months. I need to move on at some point. However, this is  a (more or less) daily journal.  I think of it as an open diary. I cannot escape the present. If I am to continue to be open and honest, I must put down here my thoughts, fears, challenges and successes. This allows me to take these things out of my head and examine them as I write. It allows me to record them as waypoints on my journey. It helps me to gauge my progress and someday, it will allow me to remember the events with the fresh perspective of one who is healed and able to look back with less pain.

So, having said that, I’ll tell you that the plans for the Memorial Service for Eunie at the Chapel at Divine Word University are progressing smoothly. Yesterday, I burned a CD full of Neil Diamond songs to play before and after the service. Later today, I will organise photographs on a flash drive to be displayed on the big LCD screen in the Chapel. These are small tasks which were assigned to me by the little “committee” of friends who are carrying the main load of organising the event. I was glad to have something to do which I probably could not mess up.

Tomorrow will mark one month since Eunie’s death. I think that that is the first time that I’ve used the word – death. Possibly this marks the end of my daily walk with denial.

This is the first sunrise which I have captured since before leaving for Australia:

The mornings have been mostly cloudy. Starting at about 05:30, when the sky begins to lighten, I can tell, by looking out the bedroom window, whether there will be a decent sunrise or not. Though I’m looking west, I can see the general colour of the sky and judge the brightness. If it looks promising, I’ll get out of bed and look out the front of the house. Yesterday, it was worth getting up.

Here is a particularly good image of a Red and Black Anemonefish (Amphiprion melanopus):

Its wholesome goodness comes from its very accurate colours. The conditions were perfect for a good shot. It was taken in about seven metres of fairly clear water with a bright, thin neutral white cloud cover which provided flat and untinted light. I’m quite happy with this one.

While our little troop of was back in Gympie at the home of Val Jerram preparing to scatter back to our own places we found this very amusing lizard under Val’s veranda:

That’s Carol Dover’s hand in the shot to give some scale. It’s not huge by Australian lizard standards, but it does look as if it might inflict some damage if it bit. Dr. Robert Sprackland sent a copy of his new book, Guide to Lizards,  because it has one of my images in it. I could not find this lizard in it. I don’t know what that means. Maybe it’s rare? Seems unlikely.

UPDATE: Reader Madcap Maven left a comment identifying the lizard as a Tiliqua scincoides scincoides,  the Eastern Blue-tongued Lizard. Her ID checks out. I consulted the Ultimate Resource, Wikipedia. You can read her message in the Comments at the end of this post.

Since I’m just rambling here I’ll throw in this interesting image by Lindsay Smith:

It’s a strange, moody piece.

Last, but not least, here is a beautiful shot by Alison Raynor titled Toogoolawah Sunset:

Someday I hope to visit Toogoolawah. It seems a peaceful place.

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Corals and Friends

Posted in Under the Sea on October 5th, 2010 by MadDog
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Today’s lecture will provide you with utterly useless information about coral. I’m certain that you will find this to be an illuminating and valuable experience. There will be no quiz at the end.

We’ll start with this ordinary image of a fan coral. This is the way we usually show them – flat side facing the camera, so that one can see that they are fan-shaped. Fascinating, eh?

What does make this picture mildly interesting is that you can see a very young Feather Star taking advantage of the food-rich water flowing through the fan. Both critters are filter-feeders. When I got these images at The Eel Garden near Pig Island,  the water was full of yummy plankton and other edible bits and pieces. Everybody was getting a good feed, but we were getting stung by some of the more vicious floating creatures.

Here is a small cluster of Fan Coral seen edge-on:

I seldom think to photograph fan coral from this angle. It is a fresh perspective.

Here is a Feather Star (Comanthina schlegeli)  resting between two different coral species:

Some corals are able to coexist very close to each other.

Other corals need their space. This shot is really quite interesting (yawn):

Here we can see a hard coral completely surrounded by a leather coral. I suspect that what is going on here is that the hard, staghorn-like coral in the centre is producing some chemical that tells the leather coral, “Back off, Jack!” This phenomena is quite common in nature. It was the keystone observation in the discovery of antibiotics. In 1928, Professor Alexander Fleming noticed that some glass plates which he had coated with a film of Staphyloccus  bacteria had some spots of mold growing on them. Around each mold colony was a clear ring free of the bacteria. The mold was Penicillium notatum.

Okay, enough of that.

Here is a cute shot of Geneviève Tremblay learning to steer Mike Cassell’s Felmara:

We had a gathering of the usual suspects up at Blueblood last Sunday. I rode up on Felmara,  because I did not want to drive up the coast alone.

I think often about how fortunate and blessed I am to have such a fine group of friends. Here is the mob gathered around the table after a good meal:

I decided to have a little rest in the hammock.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I had a long conversation last night with the lady who is handling my claims at the health insurance company. My friend Trevor Hattersley is helping me to sort out this very complicated mess. The lady gave me some information about a different way that I can submit claims. It will allow me to submit all of the as yet unpaid invoices and request that the providers be paid directly by the insurance company. I was not aware of this. I am close to breaking the backs of my two credit cards. This new way of submitting claims will probably save months of time getting all of the claims settled. It will also save me a lot of interest on the amounts on the credit cards.

That conversation removed part of the heavy, very stressful load of concern which I’ve been carrying. Last night I got nearly five hours of sleep. I have been averaging three. I call that a big improvement. I have plenty of serious challenges ahead, but now this one seems much more manageable.

I’m feeling very grateful.

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