Notes from a KTM – December 2019
Autumn steals in like a quiet
cat, looking for a warm place
to settle. On the mountains
in the copses and through the forests, the trees rustle
amongst themselves, and blush
at her touch. Do the beetles know
of this? I do not know, they talk
to their gods in tongues.
©️2019 K Price
The sea knows
loss, its ancient suspirations inhale
terra firma grit by grit
The sea knows
abyssal hobgoblins well up
from their deep-rutted trenches
even on sunshiny days
they manifest their stinking grotesquery
on sabulous shores
The sea knows
is always sighing
Like you the sea knows
© 2018 Karen Price
Last week, this funny, sweet floofie-bum turned one. He celebrated with his best friend, Millie, who joined our family in May this year. They bring us such joy.
In February, this little creature came into our lives.
Born in early November last year, he arrived from the breeder a bit worse for wear: our local vet confirmed he was underweight and treated him for an evidenced flea infestation and a suspected case of worms.
But with lots of TLC (not to mention sleep and food)…
Such a funny, sweet creature, who chirrups and chats away. Considering Mainecoons can reach up to 16kg, let’s hope he stays that way 🙂 .
I chatted to this chap while riding the spectacular Tadami Line in the Fukushima Prefecture of Japan in January. He has travelled all over the world and, now retired, loves to travel on the Japanese rail network on his pensioner’s card. He told me that he is 84 but climbed Mt Kilimanjaro when he was 75: “Three days up, two days down. Climbing Mt Fuji is a lot easier.”
While we were talking he smiled a lot with his spectacular gold-filled teeth, but when he posed for me to take his picture, he struck a more serious look.
Now, this makes my heart glad 😄🥂🍾
The friendly, helpful staff at Kanazawa Station Visitors’ Centre advised me not to attempt a day trip to the Snow Monkeys from Kanazawa. Not unsound advice, but I ignored it anyway (as I only had time for a day trip) and caught the 8:58am Hakutaka567 Shinkansen (bullet train) from Kanazawa to Nagano. On arrival at Nagano Station, after asking directions, I flew down a couple of escalators and bought a day pass to the Jigokudani Yaen-Koen. The pass included the return trip on the local Yukemuri express train (or the express bus) between Nagano and Yudanaka on the Nagano Dentetsu line, the local bus between Yudanaka Station and the park entrance, as well as admission to the park.
From the local bus stop to the park main entrance, it’s a short uphill walk along the road, and once you’re in the park, you climb a set of stairs, walk approximately 1.6km through the forest, and then climb another set of stairs at the end of the trail to reach the macaques.
The park’s visitor advisories stress that visitors ensure they wear appropriate footwear, but humans being what they are ignore advice when it doesn’t suit them (yes, I know, I ignored advice not to attempt the day trip), and I saw many people attempting to walk the snow- and ice-laden forest trail in the most ridiculous footwear, including one chap in sandals and socks.
The walk is beautiful but quite treacherous even for those in sensible footwear. You need to watch out for iced sections; I saw people land flat on their backs without warning. And while the unfenced forest drop-off is not exactly sheer, it is precipitous, and you’d need rescuing with ropes if you slipped on the ice and disappeared over the edge, so a good sense of balance comes in handy. And bear in mind that you’re walking at altitude, even if it’s only 850m, so you need at least a basic level of cardiovascular fitness. Many visitors seemed to struggle along the way.
Is it worth it?
The monkeys are utterly fascinating to watch, particularly those bathing in sleepy bliss in the hot spring, and I wish I’d had the time to observe them for a bit longer.
However, it’s not quite the scene of simian serenity depicted in the brochures. It’s not so much disturbed by the constantly scrapping, screeching macaque troupe romping about in the surrounding snow, but rather by their human cousins behaving badly. Contrary to the blurbs that advise that the monkeys ignore humans, this is not what I observed, and my guess is that the situation has developed due to our endless stupidity. The park provides many clear warnings to visitors to not bring packets or foods into the area and to not attempt to interact with the monkeys in any way, all of which were ignored by some people on the day I was there. I watched as a macaque went for a girl who attempted to retrieve a torn packet of junk food rubbish from him. Another bystander amused himself by throwing snowballs at the animal, which it blocked with a fascinating human-like action. And the way that macaque sat and stared long and hard after the idiot as he walked off down the path chilled me to the bone.
A few things to note if you’re planning a similar visit:
- The JR Rail Pass is incredibly good value for getting around Japan (not to mention much more convenient and relaxing in comparison to flying), and I cannot recommend it enough. But it doesn’t necessarily cover all local train routes, so check beforehand (in my case, it covered all the local train trips I took except the local train from Nagano to Yudanaka).
- Although the Shinkansen (bullet trains) are equipped with all the modern conveniences including impeccable toilets, many of the local trains do not have toilets, including the local train from Nagano to Yudanaka, so make sure to check, and take your comfort breaks before boarding.
I do not know
This silence, the silence
Words fail me at the moment, so I’ve been doing a bit of postcard colouring instead, using the output as birthday and thank you cards.
Quite smudgy in places, but life is not lived by colouring between the lines.
On my return to blogging in April, I was deeply saddened to discover that one of my favourite poets of all time had died in December 2016.
Cynthia Jobin was a blogging friend and a masterful poet, whose art was superior in form, structure and rhythm. But what I love most in her work is the way she infused it with mischief. Her intellect and humour shines through her poetry.
Sadly, Cynthia’s WordPress site is no longer up. I hope her unpublished work will not be lost.
I will miss you, Little Old Lady. You were a beautiful light in the darkness.
It’s been 8 months since my last blog post (sounds like confession). Where has the time gone?
Since then I’ve changed jobs and finished my degree.
And the world seems to have gone quite mad.
At least the Blogosphere is still turning.
My work meeting finished at 4pm. I still had minutes to type but was also due to meet a friend for dinner and the theatre at 6:30pm on the other side of The Bridge.
Anybody who lives in Sydney knows that trying to get across the Sydney Harbour Bridge by car into the city from 5pm onwards gobbles time. So I made the journey at 4 and typed the minutes here. A lovely way to end the work day.
Concealed in the sameness
the faded blue suit
Clark Kent by day
Who cares, who cares to look?
But out there
when darkness falls
it’s kite-flying breathtaking riddles
out of dayshadows, an infinite teasing
of zetetic minds
The Universe –
ultimate mystery man.
To find oneself, at 50-something, studying astrobiology (under duress) as a subject in a Bachelor of Arts (Linguistics) degree is a little discombobulating, to say the least. Particularly if your last contact with the fields of chemistry, mathematics and physics was some 30-odd years ago (and geology, never). But the university at which I’m
studying crawling through my degree has a rule (which only came into effect after I started) that every undergraduate student must complete a Planet unit and a People unit outside of their stream in order to complete said degree.
So, every week this semester just past, a very grumpy band of Arts students, including me, would huddle together in the prac room, muttering furiously over concepts such as chirality; and biomarker composition; and whether the lump of rock before us was sedimentary, metamorphic or igneous; and whether another lump of rock before us was a stony, iron, or stony-iron, meteorite; and whether the earth was oxic or anoxic when another lump of rock before us was formed.
On the opposite side of the room, sat a bunch of engaged, aspiring astrobiologists, scientists and geologists, who spoke in a language even the polyglot Arts student doesn’t care much for. We were strange bedfellows; almost different species. 😀
What a discomfiting experience.
But, it blew my mind!
I learnt so much. About how far (and not) scientific knowledge has come since I was at school; why the exploration of our solar system (so what’s the big deal about a bunch of dead rocks and gassy balls in the sky?) is deeply interesting; the mysteries of the vast and strange universe that we find ourselves in; and, most fascinating of all, the extent of the microbial and extremophile world around, beneath, on, and in us. I even had a bit of fun with the Design-a-Lander-for-Titan assignment (the tutors mentioned that they were looking forward to the Arts students’ designs. Yeah, I thought, some comic relief).
There is much value in seeking out our opposites and differences in knowledge, beliefs, philosophies and interests.
What have you learnt recently that has broadened your mind?
I’m in a city of 14.50 million
souls. I know no-one
here. I’m a nano-human, a speck
in the smog. I make myself big
riding the subways with no-one
with light-coloured hair. No-one notices
the gweilo; the ghost-person, I think,
until I step into the deluge at Shanghai
Library, and a dark-haired
girl steps in time beside me, her umbrella
banishing the rain, her words, my ghostliness
“Where are you going?
Can I take you there?”
“They’re irresponsible”, my husband says, “sending you there on your own.“
“It’ll be fine. I’ll be careful”, I say. I have an unspoken list of no-go countries for work, but China’s not one of them; my 8-year-old self has waited a lifetime for this. From a young age through most of my teens my dreamscapes were exotic places far from my home in Africa, in particular, somewhere intoxicating called the Far East. There…
View original post 848 more words
I’ve had the good fortune to travel to Shanghai twice in the last 6 months for work. On my most recent trip there, I was lucky enough to be shown around by wonderful hosts, and so I got to see the some of the incredible architecture in the Pudong area for the first time.
This is the interior of the Shanghai Grand Hyatt hotel from the top floor, a view not for the fainthearted.
‘Anti-mimesis is a philosophical position that holds the direct opposite of mimesis. Its most notable proponent is Oscar Wilde, who opined in his 1889 essay The Decay of Lying that, “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life”. In the essay, written as a Platonic dialogue, Wilde holds that anti-mimesis “results not merely from Life’s imitative instinct, but from the fact that the self-conscious aim of Life is to find expression, and that Art offers it certain beautiful forms through which it may realise that energy.”.
What is found in life and nature is not what is really there, but is that which artists have taught people to find there, through art. As in an example posited by Wilde, although there has been fog in London for centuries, one notices the beauty and wonder of the fog because “poets and painters have taught the loveliness of such effects…They did not exist till Art had invented them.” ‘ Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_imitating_art
I don’t agree with Mr Wilde; surely the fact that artists painted the fog is because they saw its beauty in life, and thus art imitated life in this case (chicken vs egg). But I concede that art provides us ways of seeing and appreciating life from a number of different perspectives which we may not otherwise notice.
In time, Nature conquers all.
“This week, share a photo of something vibrant. Let’s wash the web with a rainbow of colors to keep the winter gloom at bay.”
The Daily Post