Dear Pepi

This week, I mourn the loss of the fur being who supported me through my first sixteen years of adult life.

The end came sooner than expected, and I am unspeakably sad.

But Pepi now dreams of a world without pain, of eternal golden orbs and endless grassy meadows…

He is at peace.

Dear Pepi RIP

1 June 1996 – 26 September 2012

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Out of respect for Pepi, there will be no new posts until further notice.

Instead, please visit the boy with a hat.

While you’re there, download his free eBook, 50 Tales.

They are beautiful, whimsical, sometimes naughty, often funny little vignettes of life, and are sure to make you glad to be alive.

Campfire Magic

Some of you will know already that last weekend I took a little day trip to a regional park, known as the You Yangs.

In case you’re wondering, it is a name derived from a local Aboriginal word that means ‘big mountain in the middle of a plain’.

I’d promised to take some friends and have a meal over a fire back in May.  But then the weather turned bad, life happened, and before I knew it September had arrived.

To be honest, the work involved in preparing campfire food and packing up the car seemed less than appealing at first.  But we all chipped in, and on Saturday morning four of us hit the road.

The minute the fire was lit, the weight of the week lifted off…

The feeling stayed with me, and infused my on-line interactions.

Someone who I think of as my cyber Mum saw animal shapes in the fire and made me laugh.

One of my fire buddies reminisced about the yum and I was hungry all over again.

And then I was reminded of an email dialogue that started with a new on-line friend who goes by the name Campfireshadows.

It made me wonder – what is it about campfire that captures our imagination?

In the documentary, Becoming Human (Part 2), I was fascinated by the suggestion that fire was responsible for the social evolution of humans.  At least, it makes sense to me that waiting for food to cook by the fire might lead to social interaction, the development of intimate bonds and (quite possibly) of language itself.

So perhaps there’s science to the magic of food, fires and storytelling?

In a globally fragmented world, these moments of community are rare.  It makes me wish I could invite you all around my fire, for a yarn and some good ol’ Aussie tucker.  And some wine.

Instead, I open up Twitter, and find these two messages side-by-side:

And that’s when I remember the power of blogs, and Facebook and Twitter.

Sure, it doesn’t always have the same romantic glow.  I might have even been a skeptic once.

But that was before I made the effort to pack my baggage up and really Go There.

Now when I log in, more often than not, I find myself smiling and laughing and even shedding a tear as I’m invited into the intimacy of other’s private worlds.

We may not be able to gather around a real-life fire.  But we’re lighting up each other’s worlds all the same.

I don’t know about you, but I find that magical.

The Goose that Got Away

Recently, I had a dream.

Before you groan and run away, yes, there have been times in my life I’ve been guilty of over-sharing when it comes to dreams.  But this one has a point, I promise – so stay with me.

A baby goose grew from my hip and started demanding food.

It was a greedy little critter, and soon became unwieldy attached to my hip.  So I tried to detach it and accidentally separated the poor beast from one of its legs!

It didn’t seem to mind, it just wanted food.  Lots of it.  Now.

I took the goose to the local supermarket, but somehow, they had run out of sardines.  We began to get desperate.

I stood, holding my flailing goose, by a rocky, surging coastline.  How am I going to catch fish in there? I wondered, but before I could answer, the goose wrestled free and dove in.

No!! But he hasn’t learned to swim!  He’s too weak to fish!  He’s disabled!  He’ll be crushed on the rocks!  I screamed, silently, watching for any sign of a resurging goose.

Then, on the crest of a massive wave, I saw my goose.  Head held high, swimming with the glee of a bird wild and free…

Coming back to reality is always frightening after one of those dreams.  What does it all mean? you ask, not really wanting an answer.

The truth is, I’ve been keeping a little pet project all to myself.  I thought if I don’t tell you, then it’s not real.  I can back out anytime.  It can die a hungry death and no one need be wiser.

Except my pet has started growing up!  It’s become greedy and snatching and uncontrollable.  I’m afraid you’ll start to notice my strange behavior – unexplained absences, slurred comments and an oddly non-existent life outside of blogging.

So it’s come to that point in a parent’s life when, even if I don’t think he’s ready to go public, he has other ideas.  He might be missing a leg or a whisker, but the time has come to share my work in progress with some friends…

Say Hello to Pepi.

Some of you might remember me telling you about the day I realized Pepi was the Best Man in My Life.  How I had a second chance to honour his being before he says goodbye.

Pepi never was one to have his picture taken.  Quite aside from the fact that he would never sit still long enough, he hates the camera.  And for a long time I was too allergic to budgeting poor to own one.

Instead, his story will soon come to life in a series of illustrated verse.  Above is the illustrator’s first sketch – I don’t know about you, but I think she’s done a mighty fine job.

Pepi’s not so sure.

Now when he hears his name, he’s suspicious it’s a rival dog that lives in the computer.  His fears are confirmed by the barks of Youtube Pepi look-alikes that get played on repeat!

Anyway, the point here is – I’ve been keeping this quiet in case it all goes to pot.  But now that the illustrator is weaving her magic, it is taking up hours of my day – finding reference material, reviewing sketches, researching Kindle formatting (argh), tweaking verse…and the list goes on.

This, unfortunately, leaves less room for chit-chat in the virtual social-sphere.  I’m doing my best to keep up with you all, but let’s just say, I’ve bitten off more than I can comfortably chew in learning curves this year!

At least now you’ll know it’s not because I’m sleeping on the job ;)

Do you have any wild dreams you’d like to share?  Maybe a goose that got away?  How did you handle it?

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Credit for images not mine is as follows:

Give-ourselves-a-break Week

This week I’ve noticed a strange phenomenon going on in the blogosphere.  It seems like everyone’s gone into some sort of meltdown at the same time.

Either that, or everyone’s in a perpetual state of meltdown, and getting brave enough to talk about it.

The posts I read were illuminating.

First there was 4amWriter (who does, impressively, get up at 4am to write).  She did an analysis of her time spent Blogging vs Writing and the results were – astounding.

Let’s just say, it’s more than the average 21 hours most Aussies spend on-line in one week.

I encourage you to check out her blog, because in it are some great links to other posts and related conversations about blogging habits.

Most notable (and I hope she won’t mind my linking to this one) is a post by jmmcdowell that includes a live poll on how we follow blogs.  Did you know most people follow between 100 and 200 blogs?  I didn’t (though I am getting close to the 100 mark).

Right after I read these two posts, I saw another one by onethousandsingledays.  In I’m not a jerk, but I am sorry, she discusses the issue of life, balance and replying to blog comments.

There are other comments I’ve received, tweets I’ve read, and probably a hundred other posts I haven’t read, discussing a similar theme:

How to honour our followers
while also honouring our real life loves and occupations.

There’s no easy answer to that.  Everyone has different expectations and reasons for being here.  There are also numerous (and sometimes conflicting) rules out there about what one should and should not do.

I devoured those rules when I first started blogging.  Rules are useful – they help point me in the right direction when I haven’t got a clue.  They also (hopefully) stop me from making a complete nincompoop out of myself.

But here’s the thing:

Too many rules does not a happy blogger make.

Maybe it’s just me, but I start having what are affectionately referred to as ‘Alarna Dramas’.  I get paranoid, and wonder if maybe I did something that upset someone and maybe that is why I haven’t heard from them in, like, two weeks?

I’m no different than anyone else out there when it comes to a borderline blogging addiction.

I mean, who doesn’t feel a rush every time they log in to WordPress and see the little orange speech bubble gleaming in the corner?  Not to mention gloom when the bubble’s STILL a shade of grey.

But then I think back to those days, before blogging, when the Inbox was empty and the phone didn’t ring and nobody visited unless they were invited and I ask myself some simple questions…

  • How many meaningful real life friendships do I actually have?
  • How long do they usually last?
  • How often do I hear from them once a month, let alone once a week (and vice-versa)?
  • Is the conversation always equally two-sided?
  • Is the conversation always interesting?

When I compare that to the quality and level of weekly online engagement I’m expecting myself, and others, to adhere to, suddenly the rules fall away and I am just eternally grateful for anyone who ever bothers to come by, let alone RETURN…

So, in honour of all the faithful and not-so-faithful bloggers out there, I say, let’s give ourselves a break.

It’s like this tweet I fell in love with yesterday:

Presumably, there’s no one holding a big stick over our heads making us blog our hearts out, right?

Let’s do what’s meaningful for us, and let the natural laws of physics do their thing.

Life’s too short.  At least that’s my thought on the matter.  How about you?

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Credit for images is as follows:

Emotiguy by farconville, courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Signposts by jannoon028, courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Friends by digitalart, courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.net