silent echoes
Cathedral of San Gervasio, Vallalodid

Cathedral of San Gervasio, Vallalodid

Cahuachi pyramid temple. This site was incredible. 24 square kilometers of buried mudbrick pyramids with only this one evacuated. I didn’t realize as we were driving in that all the low sand dunes & small hills were buried pyramids & then on the way out it just blew my mind to recognize they were there.

Cahuachi pyramid temple. This site was incredible. 24 square kilometers of buried mudbrick pyramids with only this one evacuated. I didn’t realize as we were driving in that all the low sand dunes & small hills were buried pyramids & then on the way out it just blew my mind to recognize they were there.

10 insanely beautiful photographs of the milky way by Yan Larsen

© All rights reserved by Yan Photography


 Breaking Bad ad for Hostess Twinkies by Brendan Tobin.

B(re)aking  Bad



 Breaking Bad ad for Hostess Twinkies by Brendan Tobin.

B(re)aking  Bad


Isn’t it humbling to write hundreds and hundreds of words about sexism and gender and entitlement and then remember that “Flight of the Conchords” nailed the whole displacement-of-responsibility and nice-guy rage things in, like, four sentences?


To most of us, chemistry is a class in high school we got a B in and being able to measure just the right amount of sugar into our Kool-Aid without fumbling around for the measuring cup.

"Seriously, man, it’s a fucking art."

But it’s an invaluable science, and without centuries of…

The problem with having a “discreet” conversation with a deaf friend about somebody else in the room because as soon you say, “that guy behind you…” they go and do this…
(via the-real-deaf-life)


Animated solar flare porn.


(I was asked to repost this to make it rebloggable, so here it is again)

Sleepyhollowjacks asks: During your Heart-Shaped Box writing days, how did you divide your time between projects? A few days a week on the occasional short story, the rest on Judas? One of my short stories isn’t so…

I am old, older than thought in your species, which is itself fifty times older than your history. Though I have been on earth for ages I am from the stars. My home is no one planet, for many worlds scattered through the shining disc of the galaxy have conditions which allow my spores an opportunity for life. The mushroom which you see is the part of my body given to sex thrills and sun bathing, my true body is a fine network of fibers growing through the soil. These networks may cover acres and may have far more connections that the number in a human brain. My mycelial network is nearly immortal, only the sudden toxification of a planet or the explosion of its parent star can wipe me out. By means impossible to explain because of certain misconceptions in your model of reality all my mycelial networks in the galaxy are in hyperlight communication across space and time. The mycelial body is as fragile as a spider’s web but the collective hypermind and memory is a vast historical archive of the career of evolving intelligence on many worlds in our spiral star swarm. Space, you see, is a vast ocean to those hardy life forms that have the ability to reproduce from spores, for spores are covered with the hardest organic substance known. Across the aeons of time and space drift many spore-forming life-forms in suspended animation for millions of years until contact is made with a suitable environment. Few such species are minded, only myself and my recently evolved near relatives have achieved the hyper-communication mode and memory capacity that makes us leading members in the community of galactic intelligence. How the hypercommunication mode operates is a secret which will not be lightly given to man. But the means should be obvious: it is the occurrence of psilocybin and psilocin in the biosynthetic pathways of my living body that opens for me and my symbiots the vision screens to many worlds. You as an individual and man as a species are on the brink of the formation of a symbiotic relationship with my genetic material that will eventually carry humanity and earth into the galactic mainstream of the higher civilizations. Since it is not easy for you to recognize other varieties of intelligence around you, your most advanced theories of politics and society have advanced only as far as the notion of collectivism. But beyond the cohesion of the members of a species into a single social organism there lie richer and even more baroque evolutionary possibilities. Symbiosis is one of these. Symbiosis is a relation of mutual dependence and positive benefits for both of the species involved. Symbiotic relationships between myself and civilized forms of higher animals have been established many times and in many places throughout the long ages of my development. These relationships have been mutually useful; within my memory is the knowledge of hyperlight drive ships and how to build them. I will trade this knowledge for a free ticket to new worlds around suns younger and more stable than your own. To secure an eternal existence down the long river of cosmic time I again and again offer this agreement to higher beings and thereby have spread throughout the galaxy over the long millennia. A mycelial network has no organs to move the world, no hands; but higher animals with manipulative abilities can become partners with the star knowledge within me and if they act in good faith, return both themselves and their humble mushroom teacher to the million worlds all citizens of our starswarm are heir to.
From Psilocybin - Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide
Tiger MonkThis tiger monk adrift in samsāra
Stripes balancing yin and yang
Desiring bodies passion-soaked
Rainbow fire burning oil on water
Solitary moon awash in strength
Blazing trails into the rising East
Sharp bhakti claws softly sheathed
Raw gaze barely contains intensity
Silent countenance hides satcitānanda
Coiled muscles dying to leap
Tiger eyes stare across the Void
Bodies aloof as the East wind
Serene heart whirls volcanic Love
Balanced passion and steadfastness
I and I, thee and thou
Unconditionally, I am Love
A tiger with a monk’s soul
Tiger Monk

This tiger monk adrift in samsāra
Stripes balancing yin and yang
Desiring bodies passion-soaked
Rainbow fire burning oil on water
Solitary moon awash in strength
Blazing trails into the rising East
Sharp bhakti claws softly sheathed
Raw gaze barely contains intensity
Silent countenance hides satcitānanda
Coiled muscles dying to leap
Tiger eyes stare across the Void
Bodies aloof as the East wind
Serene heart whirls volcanic Love
Balanced passion and steadfastness
I and I, thee and thou
Unconditionally, I am Love
A tiger with a monk’s soul

Thirty Six Steps to Empowerment

1. I am grateful and give thanks to the difficult aspects of my life as I know that adversity is my greatest teacher.

2. I know that I am always at the right place at the right time and that each person, place and thing that comes my way is perfect.

3. I have the courage to be different as I no longer need the approval of others.

4. I manage my expectations accordingly as I know that all pain and agony occur when there is a contradiction between the ego’s expectations and the reality of the moment.

5. I trust that there is an Infinite Self and I am less vulnerable to the manipulating fear of the ego.

6. I open my heart to hear the answers instead of depending upon the intellect.

7. I conform to what I feel from my Infinite Self as opposed to the norms and expectations of society.

8. I do not compare my unique self with anyone else.

9. I accept what I have and where I am today and don’t confuse my current reality with goals for the future. [note: if you do not have any goals, create some]

10. I am satisfied as I know that all is well with the world right now.

11. I continue to expose myself to the present moment and come closer to my Infinite Self.

12. The less I care about the future the freer I become.

13. I need less and less to be happy.

14. As I maintain balance I create energy and power.

15. I continue to give thanks for what I have and know that I am blessed.

16. I maintain discipline by having a greater desire for wisdom than my need to accommodate the ego.

17. I maintain harmony by not judging, criticizing or complaining about other people or circumstances.

18. I am conscious and respectful of the needs of others and they are conscious and respectful of my needs.

19. I maintain objectivity by being an unemotional observer.

20. I attract what I want by seeing, feeling and experiencing what I want as if I already have it.

21. I attract what I want by being centered and having a clear intention.

22. I don’t talk about myself nor explain what I know or do.

23. When I feel angry, I stop and emotionally go within to figure out what I’ve lost and agree to lose it.

24. By respecting other living things, I am respected.

25. I practice non-action by watching the ebb and flow of events and getting underneath life.

26. I attract what I want by effortlessly allowing it to come to me.

27. I know that my job on this planet is to experience, express myself, create, grow and transcend.

28. I know that nothing is permanent and all change is a “gift.”

29. I serve humanity through my silence.

30. I easily change as I have no fear of not knowing.

31. By changing I create energy. By creating energy I affirm life.

32. I am light hearted and laugh a lot. I flee from seriousness as it is a disease of the ego.

33. I accept being here and not being here as equal in value.

34. When things don’t feel right, I do nothing as my actions are initiated by my certainty.

35. I know that life is a sacred journey and feel humility and gratitude.

36. I fear not death as it is my friend.


From Shenker, M. (2009). “Empowerment Chapter 8 (of 10)-Empowering Others.” Emergence : Complexity and Organization 11(4): 88.


Demons Kōan

“Master Muoga, tell me of demons.” Pita said.

Master Muoga and Pita walked slowly up the hill through the downtown Friday night crowd. The air was hot and humid. Flashing neon chased shadows around the busy street. The crossing beeped and Muoga and Pita quickened their pace to cross the intersection.

“A demon is a madness; a feeling that takes control of your life,” Muoga said. “It overpowers will with a series of waves of emotion, desire, and regret. And people suffer.”

A group of drunken youth bowled towards Muoga and Pita. The young men glared fiercely at one another and catcalled passersby. Their girlfriends clung to them like thug-life accessories.

“How can you be untouched by the suffering of the people?” Pita asked.

“You see demons everywhere.” Muoga said, “They are Maya dancing in Brahman. Their names are legion.”

“Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare,” A drumbeat followed the chant down the hill. “Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare, Hare Krishna…” Shoppers, drunks, nightclubbers, and homeless on the sidewalk got out of the way of the Hare Krishna devotees who were dancing towards Muoga and Pita, chanting their names for God, and drumming ecstatically. Muoga and Pita moved to the side of the walk and watched as the troupe passed by.

“I don’t understand,” Pita said. He frowned. “You’re not possessed. You’re a Master. You’re not like anyone else. You don’t need to drink, shop, or chant the names of God.”

Muoga laughed. “I have many demons. They stir restlessly in me. I feel for my fellow human, for I share the demons of sex, drugs, language, and regret. We are all possessed, Legion.”

“Demons are fed by your attention. Starve them of attention, and they wither away.” Muoga said, “This doesn’t mean that they disappear.”

Muoga waved at the Hare Krishna devotees, who were now dancing in a wide circle near the intersection while they waited for the lights to change.

“They’re feeding their addiction to their ecstatic absorption in the names of God. Perhaps some of them believe that God will come to them if they chant mantra.” Muoga said. “People generally feed their demons in the same way. I only let you call me Master, because my demons are dried husks of their former selves. There by grace I have gone and I have returned.”

Muoga and Pita watched the Hare Krishna troupe cross the intersection. Some drunkards were mocking their dancing, but the Hare Krishna devotees just smiled and laughed at them.

“Hare Krishna devotees have renounced the modern world,” Pita said. “But they still remain attached to the mantra, to the lifestyle, to so many things.”

“Our demons teach the value of renunciation. Renunciation is not material, but spiritual.” Muoga said. “If we renounce and surrender our attachment to the fruits of our actions, there is peace.”

“My demons will die if I give up my fears and worries about the outcome of my work?” Pita asked.

Muoga laughed and said, “Give it all to God!”

Pita smiled at Muoga. Two pretty girls saw his smile and as he noticed them, they winked at him and giggled, and Pita blushed.

“We cannot escape desire or attachment, but we can be wise about what we desire and attach to,” Muoga said. “And if we desire to master our demons or attachments, all we need to do is embrace them with compassion and love, and they will fall away on their own.”

Pita laughed, “I’ll embrace my inner demons tonight!”

Williamson Ave, Grey Lynn
November 2, 2011

Ben Newman’s art is just that perfect mix of sexy & twisted for a Sunday morning. 

Family Dog


I ran down the hall and barreled into the lounge and tripped over a multicolored snake coiled in a pile and tumbled into Dad’s legs. Dad picked me up and swung me around the room by my arms. I giggled as the room swirled about me. The floor was covered with a plastic sheet, and laid out on the sheet were Dad’s things. They spun beneath me as Dad turned on the spot in the middle of the lounge. The sunlight fell into the room and winked at me from the metal beneath me. Dad stopped spinning and I dropped down from his arms to pick up the thing that most drew me in, it was as long as I was tall, and glinted wickedly. I ran my finger along the rough edge of the knife that stuck out of one end. Dad grabbed it from me and his mouth moved. I watched his lips move. He said, “no, Chris, no ––––––––– dang––––––, you –––––––– yours–––.”

I picked up a metal ring and turned it over in my hands. It was heavy, cold to the touch, Dad stood there, watching me play with it. I thumbed the bit that moved when I pressed down on it. It sprang back and pinched my finger. I cried out in surprise and looked up at Dad. He picked up another ring and turned the thing in the middle so that it moved sideways on the ring. I copied him and the bit that moved stopped moving. Dad was talking, but I wasn’t really watching him talk, I was watching his hands work the ring.


My son ran in the room and tripped over the coiled rope into my legs as I laid out my tools for this weekend’s climbing expedition. I picked him up and swung him around the room. He laughed as only he could, unselfconsciously. After all, he couldn’t hear himself laughing. His laugh had the pure innocence that only children can have. I always thought of spring melt chuckling around mountain boulders when I heard my boy’s laugh. I was becoming dizzy as I spun him around the room so I slowed and held him in the crook of my arm. He slid down my body, clutching at my shirt to ease his descent. He picked up my ice axe and felt its serrated edge. Before he could hurt himself, although it was unlikely since the pick on the axe was blunt, I took the axe from him and said, “No, Chris, no, don’t play with this, it’s dangerous! You might hurt yourself.”

Chris picked up some carabiners and played with the locking mechanism, looking at how the nose locked into the gate, he snapped it open and shut and caught his finger in the mechanism and yelped in surprise. He looked up at me. I smiled at him, took another carabiner from the floor, and showed him how the sleeve on the gate could be twisted so that it locked the carabiner. He copied my movements with his fingers. Chris was always a good mimic. He could be shown how to do something once and he’d be able to do it again with no trouble.

I waved at the chair and Chris sat down in it. He watched me pick up my sleeping bag and squeeze it. I said “Sleeping bag” and made the signs for “sleep”. I packed my bag with my climbing tools, holding each one up so that Chris could see it, and naming it slowly. I wasn’t sure if he could understand what I was saying, because they were all new words for the large part. I’m sure he knew what I was trying to do as he was paying careful attention to my lips. Without some kind of reinforcement, it was always some kind of luck that Chris seemed to know what we were trying to do when we named everything for him. 


Dad picked up a little brown bag and squeezed it between his hands. It swelled out between his fingers like dough. He bounced it between his hands and it didn’t look very heavy. His mouth moved and he said “––––––––– bag” and pushed his palms together like “bed”. He pushed the bag down into the big red bag with white lines around it like a lolly. He picked up the rings and said, “car––––––”, and showed me where they were going in the bag, near the top. He was trying to tell me something important about the way everything was going in the pack. Something about weight, how heavy everything was. Dad picked up the pack and hefted it in his hands to show the balance. He passed it to me, but I dropped it, it was too heavy.


The sunlight was only on half of my Dad’s face so I couldn’t see what he was saying to Mum, not properly, anyway. Mum didn’t look very happy. Her arms were around Dad’s waist and she was looking out the window. I climbed up onto one of the cane chairs in the kitchen and looked out at the far-away mountains. The snow on them shone brightly and they rose up into the fluffy clouds around them. I blinked and an afterimage of the mountains shone in my eyes. I leaned against the window and pressed my nose to them. The air was crisp and my breath misted on the window. I drew a squiggle into my condensed breath and looked up at my parents. Dad noticed and smiled. He rubbed my hair and pointed out the window and said something. I frowned as I tried to lipread, so Dad repeated himself. “Chris, see the mountains? Tomorrow I will climb ––––––. –––––– not one of ––––––––, but it’s –––––– of the same mountain –––––––. They’re called the Southern ––––.”

“Dad, what are ‘halpes’?”, I asked. He smiled and chucked my chin. “Alps, it’s spelled a l p s”. I followed his lips. He fingerspelled the letters as he said them. “A el p s, alps”, I said copying the way Dad moved his lips. “Alps are another name for a lot of mountains joined together.”


“Chris, see the mountains? Tomorrow I will climb Mt. Cook. It’s not one of those, but it’s part of the same mountain range. They’re called the Southern Alps.” Chris looked up at me. It was obvious he didn’t understand everything I said. He asked me, “what are alps?” He mispronounced “alps” by putting an ‘h’ in there. “Alps are a name for a group of mountains,” I told Chris. “I’m going to climb one mountain, far to the south, near Tekapo. You remember skiing at Lake Tekapo last winter? With the MacDougals?” Chris nodded and made skiing gestures with his arms. “Mt. Cook is our biggest mountain. I’m going with my good friend Mike.” Chris nodded and pointed out the window at the mountains.


I held my Dad’s hand as we walked out the front door. The pack over his shoulder swung near me and I looked up at Dad. He squeezed my hand and smiled. Mum followed us outside. We walked down the garden path. The snowdrops had emerged in the recent Indian spring weather and they nodded in the breeze, slightly bowed. Little green buds studded the stark branches of the trees in Mum’s garden.

Dad’s friends were waiting in their Hillman Hunter by the macrocarpa hedge at the bottom of the driveway. I ran to the car and waved at Dad’s two friends who were sitting in the front, waiting. Dad’s best mate had his arm crooked out of the window and he tousled my hair as I went past his window tracing the racing stripe down the side of the car. I ran my hand over the bumps on the front of the car and traced the letters. They spelt “H, I, L, L, M, A, N”. I said “Hill, man”. My dad’s friend laughed, and said something really quickly. I didn’t understand and I looked at Dad. Dad was still talking to Mum so he didn’t tell me what his friend said.

I crouched down and peered under the car and watched Dad’s legs move and, my hands on the front bumper, I felt the back latch click and the car moved on its springs as it took the weight of the bag. I peered into the headlights and looked at the squiggle of the lightbulb. The lights flashed and I fell back onto my bum. I stood and Mike, my Dad’s friend, behind the steering wheel, was laughing. He looked at my frown, winked, then poked his tongue out. I laughed.

I looked at Dad, he was holding my mum closely. Her arms were around his waist and they were looking into each other’s eyes. Mum’s eyes were filled with worry, Dad’s with love. As I looked, Mum’s eyes watered and she smiled as Dad said something into her hair. He looked at her, and the lines in his face deepened. He looked over her shoulder at me and winked. His eyebrows waggled and he spoke again. It must have been about me, because Mum turned to look at me. I ran into their legs and hugged one of Dad’s legs and one of Mum’s legs. I looked up and saw them both looking down at me, smiling. They looked over at my sister, Ingrid, who was playing with her Barbie and Ken on the stoop by the garage. Ingrid was making Ken hug Barbie, and Ken was rubbing Barbie’s back. And then she made both Ken and Barbie wave good-bye at Dad. She was making different voices for each doll, I could see. My parents smiled warmly at us.

As Dad got into the car, I ran into a cave at the bottom of the macrocarpa hedge and climbed up the branches near the trunk where the bristly leaves weren’t as thick.


As my husband got into the car, I told him, “Don, please don’t do anything dangerous.” Don laughed and said, “Darling, mountain climbing is dangerous! Don’t worry, at the first sign of any danger, we will head back down, or not make the climb for the summit.”

Mike chipped in, “Yeah, Rochelle, I’ll make sure your man comes home. We won’t climb if it looks like the weather will close in.”

As Don got into the passenger seat of the car, Chris ran into the hedge and climbed swiftly and surely to the top. I wasn’t too worried about Chris as Don had checked the fort up there and made sure it was safe for Chris to play around in. He said he’d laid in some fresh branches to complete the flooring, but I knew that wasn’t always safe as Chris had cut his leg a few weeks ago when he fell through the floor. Fortunately he’d caught a branch and stopped his fall.

“Mum! Watch me!” Chris shouted from the top of the hedge. I watched the car turn the corner and looked up to see Chris balanced precariously on the side of the hedge. To my horror, he jumped forwards into the branches on the side of the hedge and fell down the side of the hedge, the branches breaking his fall. He slid down in less than a minute, laughing all the while. I gasped and covered my mouth in horror. “Chris, no! Never do that again!” I scolded. “You could really hurt yourself!” Chris just laughed and ran into my legs and hugged me. He looked up with the cutest face ever and I couldn’t bring myself to scold him anymore. I crouched down and hugged him. I nodded at the house, and hand-in-hand we walked back up the path.


I waved at Mum from the top of the hedge and shouted, “Mum! Watch me!” Taking care not to go too close to the edge, I jumped down into the branches and slid down the side of the hedge, the branches cradling and bending as I fell down through them. I wasn’t worried as I’d done this many times before, but this was the first time Mum had seen me do this. I’d been scared the first time I tried it, but after a few slides it was one of my favorite things to do. Mum wasn’t impressed. She looked scared and covered her mouth. As I reached the bottom of the hedge I looked up and saw her say “–––––, no! Never –– that again! You ––––– hurt your–––!” I ran into her legs and hugged her to say, it’s OK Mum, I’m here and I’m not hurt. I took her hand and we walked back up the path to the house. I wanted a hot milo.


The swirling white candyfloss on the TV was moving up the green outline of the island. I looked for our hometown of Christchurch on the map. First, I looked at the bottom and ran my eye up the side for the little thing that stuck out. There! Christchurch. The big swirl of candyfloss was moving halfway up the bottom of the island. Mummy gasped behind me and I turned to look at her. Her face was pale. Chris was playing with his toy soldiers and he looked at me looking at Mummy. He smiled and went back to his toy soldiers. He was making these annoying “brrrrraaapp” noises by flapping his tongue and knocking over soldiers. Mummy got up and walked out of the room. I heard her pick up the phone in the kitchen. I listened to see whom she was talking to, probably her best friend, Imogen. Yes. Imogen. The weatherman was saying something about a big low pressure thing moving into the Southern Alps, and that there was going to be snow. I wondered if Daddy would make snowmen on the mountain. He made one for me last year when we went up into the hills for a drive that day I saw snow for the first time. I heard Mummy’s voice go high. Then she started talking really quietly. The weather finished and I settled in to watch Shortland Street.


“Hi Imogen, did you see the weather report just now?” I said. “It says that a storm front is coming up from Antarctica. Do you think that Don and Mike will be okay up on the mountain?”

“Well we know they left base camp this morning so they’ll be high up on the mountain.” Mike’s wife, replied. “Hopefully they’ll have seen the weather change and gone somewhere safe to ride it out.”

“But you know how quickly the weather changes up there. They may not have had time to do anything.”

“Don’t worry, Rochelle. I’ll call the Hermitage. They should have someone there who can assess the situation on the ground. I’ll call you in the morning with their update of the situation. Mike’s very experienced. They’re probably sitting in a snow cave right now riding out the storm.”

“The news said that the weather pattern may stay over the South Island for two days. They won’t have enough food to stay up there that long!”

“Rochelle, don’t panic. We don’t want to frighten our kids. They’ll be fine right now. Let’s worry about them running out of food when they have definitely run out of food! You’ll be OK there tonight?”

“Yes, we’ll be fine. I just had a feeling that something like this might happen.”

“Well, we all know the dangers of mountain climbing. I’ll call you in the morning with the news.”

“OK. Thank you, Imogen. It’s good to be able to talk with you. Goodnight.”


I was up in my hedge fort when the police car came up the road. I was sad that its lights weren’t flashing. It pulled into our drive and I read the number on the roof. Four, eight, seven, four hundred and eighty-seven. A tall, coffee-colored man in a police uniform got out and put his cap on. I kept as still as I could and looked at the things he had on his wide black belt, it was like Batman. He walked up the path to the house and went around the side. Once he was out of sight, I slid down the side of the hedge and ran up the other side and peered over the windowsill. The police man had taken his hat off again and he was talking to Mum. I tried to lipread him, but he was talking too fast. Mum shook her head. My arms were getting sore so I dropped down from the windowsill and walked around to the kitchen door. I pushed it open the rest of the way and walked in behind the police man. Mum looked at me and shook her head. She pointed to my room and said, “Go ––– –– your room.”

I looked up at the police man, and he was smiling at me. His teeth weren’t even and I looked at the crooked tooth, the one that looks like a dog’s tooth. He said something, but it was too fast. It was a nice thing, I felt. I ran out of the kitchen and went up the stairs on all fours, like the big spotty cat I saw on TV last night. I made a snarly face like the cat as I came to the top of the stairs. I crouched down and looked down the stairs through the railings. Mum and the police man walked into the lounge. I got up and ran into my room, touching the little label on the door that read “DOOR”. I said, “dor”. I climbed onto my tall blue wooden chair “CHAIR”. I said, “cheer”. I looked out of the window from the chair and the police car was still there. I ran to my toy box and found my police car and held it up so it was next to the police car.


Ingrid tapped on my shoulder. I turned and looked at her. She pointed at the windows. The sky had gone dark all of a sudden. I looked at the way the sunlight behind the clouds changed their colors from bruised bluegrey to a wispy white gold like Mum’s wedding ring. I didn’t notice the rain had started. Rivulets of water were running down the windows. I turned on my hearing aids and heard what I was seeing, the raindrops hammering on the roof, and the whistling of the wind in the window frames. Ingrid nodded and said “––––– loud!” Far away, the sky flashed. I looked at Ingrid, and then there was a great bang, and Ingrid grabbed my arm. She said, “Thunder! ––– you see –– light––?” I didn’t understand everything, so I said “What?” to make Ingrid say it again. She said, “That was thunder. Did you see the lightning?” I nodded. Ingrid frowned and said, “I ––– Daddy is OK” and signed, “OK” by touching her forefinger to her thumb when she said “okay”.


It had stopped raining when I woke up in the night. I could hear Mummy crying. Daddy is away, maybe that’s why. I miss Daddy too. I got out of bed. Chris was turned to the wall on the top bunk, and I saw his back rise and fall with his breathing. I walked down the hallway to Mummy & Daddy’s room and Mummy stopped crying when I turned the door handle. I climbed into the bed and cuddled Mummy. The duvet was nice and heavy. Mummy said, “Are you all right, Ingrid?” I murmured and curled up next to Mummy. I told Mummy, “I miss Daddy. When will he be home?” Mummy caught her breath, and then let it out in one long breath. She said, “I don’t know. I will find out tomorrow morning. Now, hush, let’s go to sleep.”


I woke up this morning and Mum wasn’t here. Mrs. Constantine was here. She took us to her house this morning in her rattle car. I don’t like Jimmy. He talks behind my back and when I turn around and look at him, he stops talking and laughs at me. Mum had to go somewhere, but I’m not sure where.


I pushed the peas around the plate. I was sitting at the end of the table and I looked around at the Constantines. They were eating and talking with food in their mouths. Across the table, Ingrid was talking to Sabina Constantine, who was sitting next to me. I saw her say “Cabbage patch –––.” Probably talking about Sabina’s Cabbage Patch doll, which was next to her in a highchair. Every time that ad comes on TV, Ingrid sits up and drinks it in through her eyes. I don’t understand. People talk to the dolls like they’re real children on the TV, but do the dolls talk back? I don’t know. I should ask Ingrid, but I don’t want to talk in front of the Constantines. Jimmy always repeats what I say with his mocking face. I looked at Mr. Constantine. He was talking as his hands cut a piece of meat off a long slice on his plate. He didn’t stop talking when he put it in his mouth with a fork; he chewed and spoke through the food. His beard was cut quite short, but his moustache was over his lip so all I could see was that he was chewing and talking. Mum told me not to do that because it was noisy. Was Mr. Constantine being noisy? I tried to follow who he was talking to. The hair on his head looked like a helmet from a suit of armor. His faceplate opened and closed as he spoke and then he stopped. I looked for the next person talking. It was Mrs. Constantine and she said, “–––– don’t –––– ––––– –– mountain.”

I looked down at the meat. It was strange. Boiled peas and mashed potatoes, I knew. Too much butter and salt in the mashed potatoes. But this meat, it was strange. It was hard to cut, and hard to chew.

“Mrs. Constantine?” I looked and waited for Mrs. Constantine to look at me. When she did, I asked, “What’s this called?”

“It’s called ––––– –––––––.”

I couldn’t understand the name. I said, “What?” to get Mrs. Constantine to repeat herself and I frowned as she said, “What’s a wee nee shit Neil?” I glanced at Mr. Constantine to see what he thought of his wife saying shit and then his name, Neil. He was chewing something and talking to Jimmy.

“–––– beef covered with bread–––– and –––––––. It’s German.” Mrs. Constantine said. “They call it ‘vee nee shit Neil’.”

Jimmy Constantine laughed and the movement of his head caught my eye. I looked at him and saw him say, “–– so stupid he doesn’t know what a wee nee shit Neil is!” I looked at Mr. Constantine and he was frowning at Jimmy. Maybe it was because everyone kept saying, “shit Neil”? In the corner of my vision, I saw Jimmy smirk and Mrs. Constantine rolled her eyes and said something really fast. Ingrid looked at me and screwed up her nose. Mrs. Constantine made Jimmy stop laughing. Everyone was talking too fast. I couldn’t understand anyone.

I asked again, “What?”

In the corner of my eye, I saw Jimmy say, “What? What? What? Chris is –––– – –––––.”

Mrs. Constantine started talking really fast again. I cut off another piece of this strange meat, wee nee shit Neil. Maybe Neil made this meat and his family is being mean to him? Everyone talks too fast. The meat is chewy and it sticks in my teeth. I cut another piece and put some mashed potato on top of it. I looked up and saw Mrs. Constantine say, “–––– the mountain.”

“Dad is on the mountain!” I said. I looked at Ingrid and smiled. “It’s the biggest one in New Zealand!”

The table went quiet. I looked at Mr. Constantine and the brown caterpillars above his eyes were a different shape now. He turned his head to Mrs. Constantine and said something. I looked at Mrs. Constantine and she shook her head and looked at Ingrid and me. Jimmy said something fast, and it wasn’t nice, I could tell. Mrs. Constantine shushed him and pointed at his plate. Jimmy pushed at his peas, his face twisted into a scowl and he said something too fast for me to see.

I asked, “What?” But no one would tell me what anyone was staying. All I could get were words here and there. The Constantines looked at me with this look in their eyes. I didn’t like it.


Chris said, “Dad is on the mountain!” He smiled at me and said, “It’s the biggest one in New Zealand!

“No, he’s off the mountain now.” Neil said, “He was up there for nearly three days you know.” He chewed and swallowed. He said, “They’re lucky to be alive.”

Melanie shook her head at Neil. “The kids don’t really know about that, Neil dear. We shouldn’t talk about that here.”

Jimmy said, “Look at Chris; he doesn’t even know that his dad was missing for three days. What a retard!

Chris asked, “What?”

“Now, Jimmy!” Melanie said, sharply. “That’s quite enough from you. Don’t talk about the mountain. Ingrid and Chris still haven’t been told about what happened.”

“Well, Ingrid certainly knows now.” Neil observed.

I felt a tear come into my eye. Was Daddy okay? I must have said that out loud, because Melanie said, “your father Don is fine. Your mother has gone to pick him up. You’ll see him tomorrow.” I nodded and looked at Chris. He was chewing on the wiener schnitzel. Mum never cooked us wiener schnitzel before. It was nice, I liked the breadcrumbs. Chris looked at me. It was obvious that he couldn’t understand what anyone was saying.


I don’t like staying at the Constantines. No one talks to me or tells me anything. They all laugh at me when I say, “what?” So I’m glad that Mrs. Constantine is driving us home. But Jimmy is sitting next to me and he’s laughing at me right now. I can tell. I’m trying to count the lampposts. I lost count and looked at Jimmy. He said, “What? What? What?” Mrs. Constantine turned her head slightly and said something. Jimmy sank back in his seat and frowned.

I looked at Ingrid with ‘what?’ in my face and she said, “Never mind, it’s not important. We’re going home to see Mummy and Daddy!”

We turn up our street. I looked at the new buds on the kowhai tree, hints of yellow speckling its branches. I wonder if the fort is OK. Maybe Dad will help me put some new branches down in it? We pulled into our driveway and Mum and Dad are there. Dad looks like a red panda. His face is red like when I got sunburnt last summer, but his eyes were like pale goggles. His nose was like Rudolph the reindeer. His eyes are watering, but he’s smiling.

“Dad!” I called as I ran up to them with Ingrid. Dad swept us both up in a hug and squeezed us. He let me go and picked up Ingrid in the crook of his arm. He tousled my hair and said something. I was so happy to see Dad, but I think Dad was happier to see me and Ingrid. I looked at Mum. She was talking to Mrs. Constantine and they were both looking at us.


I was sitting on the windowsill watching two fantails dancing with each other by the apple tree below, when Dad’s car came into the driveway and went into the garage. I waited a few minutes and Dad came out of the garage carrying a large square thing wrapped in brown paper under his arm and his old leather briefcase in his other hand. He looked up and saw me. He grinned and waved his briefcase at me. I waved back and got down from the window. I put my shoes on and ran down the stairs and outside through the kitchen. Dad was just turning around the corner and I turned and walked to the back door alongside Dad. I looked at the square Dad was holding and up at Dad. Dad said, “I’ll show you this soon. –––– let me take my –––– off –––––.”

Dad put the square down on the kitchen table and I sat on a chair and picked at the tape on the side of the square. I looked up at Dad and he nodded and mimed tearing paper, like unwrapping a present. I grinned and turned back to the square. I found the edge of the paper and ran my fingers beneath it. Holding one side of the square, I tore the paper away from the edge. It was a wooden square with white paper and a string across it. There was some kind of writing at the bottom corner but it was too hard for me to read. I looked up at Dad and he mimed turning the square over. I lifted one side up, and Dad caught it before it fell over onto the table.

It was a black and white photo of a mountain. I traced the edge of the mountain with my finger and saw a plane against the side of the mountain. I pointed at the plane and looked at Dad. Dad nodded and said, “That’s the ––––– plane that was looking for me on the mountain”.

“The what plane?” I asked.

“The spotter plane”, Dad said, and fingerspelled, s p o t t e r. “It was looking for me and Mike when we were stuck on the mountain two years ago.”

“You were stuck on the mountain?” I said. “What happened? I don’t remember.”

“Do you remember I went to climb Mt. Cook with Mike?”

“Yes, I remember. Me and Ingrid went to stay with the Constantines and you came home with a really red face.”

“Yes. Well, Mike and I climbed almost all the way to the top, but a storm came in suddenly and we were stuck up there for three days. We only had food for one day because we thought we’d be up and down in one day. The weather changes so ––––– in the mountains, we—”

I interrupted Dad and asked, “The weather changes so?”

“Rapidly” Dad said, “the weather changes very quickly. All we could do was dig a cave in the snow and wait. We told each other stories to keep awake and melted snow in our water bottles under our shirts. We’re very lucky to be alive.”

“You mean, you nearly died?” I asked. “Three days. I didn’t realize!”

“Mum didn’t want to upset you, so she didn’t tell you or Ingrid anything.” Dad said. “When you went to stay with the Constantines, we were already safe on the ground. Mum and Imogen drove down to Tekapo to see us at the hospital. We had bad frostbite and hypothermia. By—”

“You had what?” I asked. “Something bite and something else?”

“Frostbite and hypothermia.” Dad fingerspelled the two words. “Frostbite is when it is so cold that the skin freezes like an iceblock. Hypothermia is when the cold makes the body go to sleep and if you sleep when it’s that cold, the body freezes and can die.”

“By the time Mum and Imogen got to Tekapo,” Dad continued. “We were ready to go home. Imogen drove the other car back to Christchurch with Mike and Mum drove me home.”

“You nearly died!” I exclaimed. “And I didn’t even know.”

















Williamson Ave, Grey Lynn

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

What is a ‘family dog’?

This little-known, but common, syndrome results from the isolation of a deaf child in a hearing family, where the family makes little effort to ensure that the child has a ‘normal’ participation in the family life. Such families usually have a great deal of shame about having a disabled child. This sense of shame is not unique to families with a deaf member, but is shared by many families who have a nonnormative family member, such as someone in a wheelchair, autistic child, etc. However, where the deaf child differs from other disabled peers is that they lack the ability to communicate easily using their hearing family’s preferred mechanism for communication, i.e., the audible spoken word. This lack of communication often leads to a degree of isolation in the deaf child’s community, an isolation that often becomes lifelong. This is an isolation born out of the inability to share a language. Deaf who use sign language with their families at home and are able to communicate across cultures (hearing and deaf) have a lesser degree of this isolation. Chris has a family dog experience when he goes to stay with the Constantine family while his mother goes to pick up his father from Mt. Cook. The family dog syndrome appears to be somewhat invisible as I haven’t been able to find much research exploring this feeling. I suspect it’s because many Deaf have access to sign language environments and the commonality of the experience only arises in commentary over the experience of Deaf boarders who return to their hearing families for holidays, and on the general Deaf experience in the hearing world. Susan Dupor painted this experience in a very graphic way. The deaf boy lies on the ground in front of a group of seated people, whose faces are all blurred. The note that accompanies the painting says that the blurry faces symbolize how the family dog sees his family, he knows they’re talking to each other, but he’s unable to understand. The only way to avoid family dog syndrome is to be explicitly aware of the presence of the other in the room, and interpret or otherwise facilitate communication so that Deaf person can access normal family life in terms of conversations, etc. Too often people forget that the person present cannot participate, and sits there watching people pass the invisible verbal ball. This is the family dog.

Family Dog

Family Dog by Susan Dupor