Thursday, July 22, 2004

Tree of life

Trees come into flower. Bees move pollen from stigma to stamen. There is fertilization  and the fruit ripens.

Someone or something will eat the fruit. Seeds will be spread. New trees will grow. New fruit will be formed.


Clinging on for dear life

Lichen does not grow to be big and noticable. It is flat on the surface of a stone. The yellowish colour must come from chlorophyl. It gets its energy from sunlight and carbon dioxide, and perhaps some minerals from the rock.

Lichens love a sunny day,  as do most living things.

I will sit on my balcony and enjoy the sunset.

Life and death

The tree was covered with a grey web. Most of the leaves had been eaten by caterpillers. A colony of them had formed a grey sack like object. There must have been a few hundred caterpillers in the web. They had made a good job of killing off the tree.

A bird came and picked them off the web one by one. It flew back to its nest to feed its young.

Everything has a time to die, and there is a purpose for everything under heaven.

How did the white stone get here

Took a photo of a line of big heavy stones. They were all neatly laid out in a row. In the line up was a white stone. Different from the red granite to be found on Ahvenamaa.

Had the sea lifted it and gently placed it in line?

Life in the extreme

I took a photo of a daisy. It was growing on a platform down by the sea. It had no soil to grow in. No source of nutrition. Yet it was in full bloom.


Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Heart Dye

The nurses chatter amongst themselves... they break out a "pack of three". Catheters that is... not condoms. It is too exhausting to try and explain the joke to them. An inscision is made in my thigh and a catheter if fed upwards towards my heart. Its progress is like a tapeworm in my artery.

The procedure goes on for half an hour, at the end of which time the doctor says you will feel some hot flush now. I think middle aged women. A hot flush spreads across my chest, and a second later I feel it in my genitals. The sensation in my chest is like downing a shot of single malt whiskey in one go.

Now comes the time to remove the catheter and to stop the artery from spurting your life's blood over the operation room floor. We are talking big arteries here. They have come prepared with a bean-bag full of lead shot which they will lay on the artery to stem the flow of blood.

The doctor then says "This is going to hurt for 10 seconds" and what you feel is something like a three pronged hook from a spinning reel being sunk into your thigh, and with the hooks firmly stuck in your flesh someone begins to reel you in. The tension on the fishing line becomes stronger and stronger, and your leg is a salmon fighting for it's life. The hook feels like it is torn from your leg, and the angioseal is now in place and with any luck you won't bleed to death.

I am wheeled back to the ward and told to keep my leg staight. I can't do anything else since trying to move it in any direction at all gives me pain.

I sleep and have a vauge memory of the doctor saying you don't have any coronary heart disease.

All in the family

Blood was taken from me four or five times a day. They are looking for cholesterol and heart enzymes and anything that will give a clue as to why the ECG should be abnormal. We get down to the family history and I am asked to tell the story how my mother died at the age of 35.

I must have been about 8 years old or there abouts. My mother comes in from the pictures and goes into the kitchen to boil some water for a hot water bottle because she is tired and wants to go to bed. She comes to the mirror in front of the sideboard and runs her fingers through her hair. She looses her grip on the hot water bottle and it falls on the floor. My dad takes her to bed. I am whisked off to my aunts. A week later she is dead and buried. I don't attend the funeral. The last memory I have of her is her brushing her hair from her forehead with her fingers.

After the death I go and live with my grandmother.

Three years later whilst living with my grandmother, my uncle Andrew who is my mother's brother visits my grandmother. He is an electrician and my grandmother wants him to mend her iron for her. He sits at the kitchen table and begins to unscrew the bottom plate from the iron. The screwdriver slips off the head of the screw. His hands shake. Screws fall on the floor. He slumps on the table. An ambulance comes and takes him away. He is dead within the week. He was only in his forties, and had played professional football for Bradford City in the 50's

My grandfather died when he was 57 the same age as me.

The doctors decide to take a closer look at how my heart functions. On Monday they will shoot a dye into me and see how it moves around my system. I am feeling fine.

Horns of a dilema

Taken into Jorvi hospital with chest pains. I had them from last Thursday when I had gone out with Ilona for an Indian meal to celebrate her birthday. They persisted until Saturday morning so I drove into Jorvi. They took my blood pressure and it was 180/108. Not so good... and there was something wrong with the ECG... some irregularity.

They gave me some nitrate and it brought my BP down to 120/60 and made me feel light-headed. After a few hours they decided to do a stress test so I climbed onto a bicycle and pedeled. After three minutes they increased the resistance by 50 watts so it felt as though you were going up a slight incline. They did this 3 times more, and I began to sweat. My pulse went up from 60 to 120 and my BP was soaring at 220/120 and I had a pain in my sternum. I stoped and they had me blow into some apperatus to measure lung capacity. The needle hit 700... top of the range. The medic cracked a joke... see how exercise is good for you... that exercise really opened up your lungs.

They put me in a room with a man of about 77.  One of his legs had been amputated below the knee, and now his other leg was giving him trouble. He had a scar running from his knee to his ankle. He lay on the bed drenched in sweat. He had lost the ability to speak properly, and his words came out as a croak. I was feeling OK. The nitrate does that for you.

Slept well and next morning the doctor comes in and says to the man in the bed next to me. "We will have to amputate your other leg below the knee... how do you feel about that"?  The man was silent. The doctor then says, "If we don't amputate then you may loose your life" The man's wife is there and she observes  "He has recently had a heart operation... do you think his heart could stand another major operation"?

So there you have it, the horns of a dilema. You are given two choices both of which are equally bad. Who wants to make decisions like that.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The Monkey

(Written and performed by Dave Bartholomew in 1957)

Three monkeys sat in a coconut tree
Discussing things as they are said to be.
One said to the other,"Listen here, you two.
I just heard a rumor that CAN'T be true."

"That man descended from our noble race!
The very idea is a big disgrace.
No monkey ever cheated his wife,
Starved her baby, and ruined her life."

The monkey speaks his mind!

"You'll never see a mother monk
Leave her child with others to bunk.
Passing him off from one to the other,
Till the poor child barely knows his own mother."

The monkey speaks his mind!

"And here's another thing you'll never see -
A monkey build a fence around a coconut tree.
Letting good coconuts go to waste
While forbidding all others to come and taste.
Why, if I built a fence around a tree,
Starvation would force you to steal from me."

The monkey speaks his mind!

"And here's one more thing a monkey won't do -
Go out at night and get on a stew.
Or use a gun, or club, or knife
To take another monkey's life.
Yes, man descended, the worthless bum.
But brothers, from us HE DID NOT COME."

The monkey speaks his mind!

Clip by Dr John The Monkey speaks his mind
Original by Dave Dave Bartholomew in 1957 The Monkey speaks his mind

The wisdom of Janet.

A plate with two Karjalanpiirakka was presented to Janet. One was red (with carrots in it), the other was white (with rice).

Maija offered Janet the choice of which one to take.

Janet took the rice one and said.

"I'll take this one and you can choose whatever one you want."

Weeds and blight

If you leave your garden unattended for 3 weeks, when you come back it is a jungle. You look at all the other gardeners from China, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Kurdistan and you marvel at how neat their gardens look and how well the onions and marrows have grown.

You have chickweed, dandylions, thistles, ragwort, horsetailed ferns, nettles, buttercups, and a host of other plants that you don't know the names of. They smother and suffocate your onions and turnips and peas. You wonder if it is worthwhile trying to salvage anything, or just abandon everything to the weeds.

You examine the potato shaws and see that they are yellowed and withering. You dig in the ground only to find the shoots are slimey with a black rot. The potatos themselves a grey mushy mass.

The mother-in-law had heard on the radio that due to the long rainy summer season Finnish farmers are complaining that their crops have been hit by potato blight, but it is only when you put your fingers in that rotting mess that you understand that you are coming in contact with the fungus phytophtera infestans that caused the potato famine in Ireland and was responsible for the deaths of thousands of people due to starvation.

Lilies of the Valley by David Byrne

Momma she had complications
There’s nothing very strange about that
Nuns said we can’t kill that baby
We’ll have to let your mother die

We are all just lilies of the valley
We neither reap nor sow
We need to get our hands a little dirty
To make our gardens grow, hey hey

Way too many people on this island
Getting way too crowded on this boat
Need someone to bail some water
If we’re gonna keep this thing afloat

I like a little sugar in my coffee
I don’t mean sweet ’n’ low
You don’t know what you want until you find it
I believe you’ll tell me so

I need a little water in my garden
I need a little sunlight on my head
I need someone to cover me with kisses
When I’m all alone and scared

We are all just lilies of the valley
We neither reap nor sow
We need to get our hands a little dirty
To make our gardens grow

I like a little sugar in my coffee
I don’t mean sweet ’n’ low
I'd like you to cover me with kisses
To make my garden grow

Sad Song by David Byrne

You may think I look sad
But I am just sleeping
It’s my facial expression
I’m probably dreaming

Would you like to be sad?
Would you like me to teach you?
Well, you can learn to be sad
But you must practice like I do

Na na na, na na na na ...

You must follow directions
And learn it right from the start
There isn’t a short cut
It must come from your heart

Well there are those who are happy
And there are those who are wise
But it’s the truly sad people
Who get the most out of life

Na na na, na na na na ...

You may think I look sad
But I am just sleeping
It’s my facial expression
I’m probably dreaming

David "big suit" Byrne was the psycho killer with the group "Talking heads" I liked his style of singing especially on "once in a lifetime". He has advanced the career of Jim White, because both are grotesque gothic mystics. They both know that in this modern world.

"Now you're paying top dollar
For what you used to get for free."

I don't want no part of it.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Good noise... Evil noise

When we read and absorb ideas from a book, it is the words that influence us, but what happens if you listen to music that is without words. Music in the form of chants. Primitive sounds from Islam and the Sufi tradition. Zulu war chants, Joika from Lapland. The sound of water falling on stones, the bleating of a lamb. A fire roaring and sparks flying. The bubbling of blood in your own aorta. Grains of sand falling on a piece of aluminium folio. Pebbles in a tin can. Teardrops falling in a pool of water. The snore of a bear in a cave during winter hibernation. The song of a whale. Lonesome bells. Reeds rustling in the wind. The rumble of a train along a track. Two matchboxes being rubbed together. Footsteps in a tunnel running beside a canal. Metal scraping agaist metal. Chalk on the blackboard.

Having got Jim White out of the library. I also picked up Kimmo Pohjonen's Kluster and Bobby Mcferrin's Circlesongs

Pohojonen uses the accordian and fearful sounds of droning monks. There is alot of energy in his music. For me it is dark and frightening most of the time, but some of the tracks like Voima start out peaceful as an eagle soaring in the clouds, then move onto a hunt with yelping dogs, then goes all subteranean with monkish chants and hooting owls with glassy yellow eyes staring at bubbling lava in a dark cave. Huge spiraling sounds that seek to engulf you. Then you get Avento that could be part of Barber's Adagio for strings by William Orbit if it was not so long and repetitious.

On Real player it is listed as 15.56 minutes and on the CD it is only 4.15 minutes. The last bit sounds as though the CD player has got stuck in a continious loop. You would have to concentrate very hard to find out if there were indeed any differences in the repeated phrases. I hope I have not fried my brain listening to it.

Mcferrin on the other hand is joyous and uplifting and he talks about the effects of communal singing. Apparently at his concerts he will invite audience participation in Circlesongs. It is said that he is a practicing Christian and I wonder if the type of chanting that he does puts an acceptable face on glossilia. I was making wordless noises to his songs as I drove into work. It was good. I wonder if Maija would think I was singing in tongues. Mcferrin is of the belief that wordless songs is a form of deep calling to deep.

Seedy Character jailed

From the sleeve notes of Jim White's album No Such place

A man who robbed several savings institutes armed with a cucumber received a 5 year jail sentence yesterday...

... the famous line from William Faulkner's "the wild palms" which stated between grief and nothing I will take grief. I confided this sad truth to my friend Diego Riewald. He laughed an replied Okay man, but for me the prospect of nothing is much more interesting! To this day Diego's laughter rings happily in my ears... Thank you Sir.

The sad irony of Love is how seldom you feel it, yet it's all you dream about , night and day. Sometimes you throw yourself in the sea of faith and the sharks of doubt come and they devour you. Other times you throw yourself into the sea of faith only to find the treasures lost in the shipwreck inside of you.

White has appeared in a BBC Arena documentary about the poor white population in the southern states of Merika. It is a fourway collision at the crossroads, between poverty, violence, religion, and salvation.

Searching for the wrong eyed Jesus on the BBC
Searching for the Wrong eyed Jesus... the documentary

He is the wide eyed madman in rags standing at the junction shouting at the traffic Are you going my way??? Nobody in their right mind would stop and pick him up... except perhaps another madman.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004


There was a course pizza on the last night of the course in Trieste. At the Pizza restuarant the muslim student from Sudan ordered a tuna pizza. The waiter brought him a pizza and he got stuck into it. The pizza was the wrong one, and it had ham in it. He had eaten half of it, and had remarked several time how good it tasted, before the waiter came and said he had given him the wrong pizza.

A good natured Italian at the table offered him a bottle of beer to wash the taste of the ham away. Pork and alcohol are forbiden for muslims. He spoke in arabic to his friends at the table. Obviously he was greatly concerned that he had somehow defiled himself by eating pork. From their hand gestures I could see that they were telling him not to worry. His tuna pizza was delivered to him and he eyed the fork and knife he had used to cut the pizza with ham in it, as though they were contaminated. He asked for new knife and fork. He wanted a clean start.

At the long table where we sat, wine was drunk, and beer consumed, and at the end of the evening the bill was divided up between everybody who had eaten. It came to 10€. Not at all expensive. The student from Sudan said he would not pay for the alcohol that the others had been drinking. He did not want his money to be used in any way to break the laws of the Koran. His money would not be used to help people commit sin.

He stood up for his principles and beliefs and refused to pay more than 9€. Many of the Arabs thought he was being foolish, and contended with him furiously. He could see that the other students were looking at him arguing, and every so often he would use the english phrase "it is a matter of principle", which was for their benifit.

The Italian girls thought he was being courageous, and would have smothered him to their boosoms, if he had allowed himself to be touched by mini-skirted girls who wore skimpy tops and had their belly buttons pierced by diamond studs. The western boys thought he was being stupid, they rolled their eyes and took another swig from their beer bottles. I offered to pay the extra euro for him, but he would have none of it.

Was he a captive of his own conscience? If you write of speak your opinion on any matter, some people will think you are being foolish and will argue with you, others will respect you and come to your defence, while others will swig their beers and ignore you. You can expect nothing else. There is no universal acceptance or universal rejection. The world walks in the grey areas of public opinion. The Koran is of no consequence in the disco bars of Trieste.

To hold a clear conscience was the most important thing for the muslim student from Sudan. But I wonder as he walked away alone from the table did he think to himself, if it is a sin why did that pork taste so good.

The future belongs to us

Monday, July 05, 2004


In Italy I talked to a student from Sudan. Crazy things are going on in the Darfur region. Famine rape and murder. A different culture and a different country. We know so little about the way other people live and die.

I just finished reading "Life is not all ha ha hee hee" which tells about the lifes of three Indian women living in modern Britian. Culture and tradition still influence their lives. Chila who enters an arranged marriage to please her parents. Sunita who rebels agaist her Indian culture and tradition and marries the man whom she loves, only to find later that she has thown her life away, and Tania who is a career woman and has no time for husbands or children.

Chila is married to a very rich man who betrays her. Her mother has this to say to her. "To love in the times of harvest is easy... to love in the times of famine is true love." Life it seems is all about sacrifice. Laying down your life for others.

When you look at some of the pictures from the Sudan. Starving children who are all skin and bone, they are all being cradled in the arms of their mothers. No matter how wretched their lives are, some spark of human kindness still exists, and has not been extinguished.

Famine in Africa