Posted by: shortkay | June 12, 2019

Only The Lonely

Love this!

The Global Goddess

Everybody hurts, sometimes. REM
A BITING, bitter Brisbane wind is howling outside and I am inside, howling too. I’d love to say I have a case of the winter blues, but if only it were that easy. I am back home after a hectic six months of travel and I am struggling to earth myself, drop anchor. When you are out in the world, living the frenetic life of a travel writer, hunting and gathering the stories of others, it’s all too convenient to forget your own story. And that story is loneliness.

One in four Australians now live alone and despite having greater electronic connectivity than ever before, we are less connected. A recent article in the Guardian online, penned by Penelope Blackmore, examines the latest casualty of our disconnected world. In the United States, Uber has just launched a new service in which you can now request that…

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Posted by: shortkay | February 8, 2018

The Unexplained

I don’t know how it works. I only know what happened.

Throughout my life I have suppressed those instincts and funny feelings that we all get, keeping my logical thoughts and decisions to the forefront. And I have lost count of the times I have said, “I should have listened to my instincts.”

Instinct is one thing.

In my simplistic view, it is based on experience and the vestiges of the human animal that we all possess. You know. We’ve read the Facebook homilies about making up our minds about someone in the first seven seconds of meeting them, and only having one chance to make a first impression.

If we analyse these “instincts”, we can track them to identifiable and logical facts. Shifty eyes. Sweaty palms. Looking down and to the left when lying. When we are pushing someone else’s buttons. When someone is pushing our buttons. Domesticated animals that seem to know what we are feeling, when they are simply keen observers.

We humans may believe we have lost the power of observation and using our instincts, but it’s all there, deep down if we choose to tap into it.

It’s the inexplicable things that intrigue me.

These are the things that logic and instinct and facts cannot explain. Call it the sixth sense, or psychic ability or whatever convenient name you prefer. The Unexplained. The

In due course, I will share some of my experiences through this page.

Some may well be the result of powerful emotions I have experienced over the past few years, grief paramount.  I can rationalise these as consequences of my feelings and my imagination.

I am interested in those for which there is no rational explanation.

Many years ago I travelled around England and Europe. I was in Budapest on an overcast late-autumn day when I had a sudden urge to phone home. How ridiculous!

This was a long time before mobile phones and email. The only contact with home, a farm at Two Wells, South Australia, was by letter (via AMEX at Vienna) or a reverse charge call through a public phone box.

Phoning home was expensive and awkward, given the time frame. But the urge was strong.

Mum answered the phone and her voice sounded strained. I rationalised that’s what happens through public phone boxes in Budapest, and I counted myself lucky that I had got through at all. Everything was fine, she said.

Three weeks later, I arrived in the UK where mail was waiting for me. Lots of letters from home. I worked through them by date, logically, until I reached the one where she told me she’d had to have my part-Arabian gelding Spider put to sleep the day before (Australian time).

She had been astounded when I’d phoned the same day (Budapest time). She quickly decided not to tell me about Spider until I was back among friends in England. Her voice had not been able to mask her cover-up.

But what had made me call? Why had I felt compelled to phone my mum from such an awkward place, the other side of the world.

Decades later, I still don’t have an answer. And there are other puzzles like this to ponder.

I welcome your feedback and thoughts.  Warning:  Zero tolerance for abuse.

Posted by: shortkay | October 19, 2017

That special horse

A purebred Arabian, bright chestnut with flashy white markings, he was named “Rusty” within minutes of birth.

I had seen him born, late one Saturday night. I’d run my hands over his entire body within minutes of his birth, caressing his nose to let him breathe in my scent, even before he smelled his mother, in an action called “imprinting”.

I don’t know if this imprinting made a difference, but he was always easy to handle and allowed me to do anything.

Even so, nothing prepared me for the day when I realised I was his special person.

Each morning, I would walk to the far end of the overnight paddock to open a gate so he and the other horses could run in a larger paddock for the day.

One morning, I felt a puff of warm air on the back of my neck. The hair stood up on my scalp and neck. Then I realised a horse was nuzzling my neck, walking close behind me to draw in my scent. It was Rusty.

He kept pace with me, nuzzling the nape of my neck as we continued towards the gate. And when we reached the gate, just as casually he walked on to graze in the paddock.

Good horses and happy times don’t last forever. Rusty is now elderly and very arthritic, with a skin cancer on his pink nose. But he still snuffles my hair as he walks behind me. The hair rises again on the back of my neck as I am reminded that he is my special horse.


Posted by: shortkay | June 30, 2016

In the car

I am getting through a lot of good reading on my journey to work, 3 days per week.

By car, my trip averages 45-60 minutes each way. Audio books are a great way to pass the time at traffic lights, although sometimes I have to re-run a segment if traffic conditions distract me from my listening.  (Joking).

Last week I listened to ‘The Secret River’ by Australian author Kate Grenville. What a tragic story of people transported to New South Wales in the early 1800s. What a beautifully crafted book. Is it a novel? Is it based on real people? There can be no doubt that everything depicted actually happened, and the main protagonist Will Blackwood is an authentic, vulnerable, fallible, optimistic human character.

The book I’d listened to immediately before was ‘Salt Creek’ by South Aussie Lucy Treloar. Quite by accident I listened to two books on the same theme – early white settlement and the interface with indigenous occupants.  Both were wonderfully written.  Treloar’s depiction of the Coorong and parts of South Australia were of course most familiar to me.

Making it even more poignant for was Treloar’s characters were based on her Quaker ancestors, particularly John Barton Hack (JB Hack).  Hack had employed my great-great-grandfather Henry Hampton as a bullock-driver and probably a gardener at Hack’s Echunga property, in the Adelaide Hills, prior to Hack’s financial ruin.

Treloar’s book echoed stories from within the extended Hack family, combining many into the Finch family who found themselves eking out a meagre living on the Coorong. Pioneers.

But these books made for a heavy heart and I am now whizzing through a jolly MC Beaton “Agatha Raisin” murder-mystery.  There must be something about the Cotswolds in England that attracts murderers, or at least writers of murder-mysteries.  First we had Midsomer Murders (loosely set in the Gloucestershire area) and now we have Agatha Raisin finding bodies everywhere. I’d avoid Carsley. Just as well it’s fictional.

MC Beaton is better known for her Hamish McBeath novels (also murder-mysteries) set in Scotland.

I prefer the Agatha Raising stories, possibly because they are so wonderfully well read by Penelope Keith. The Scottish-accented readers of the Hamish McBeath books are sometimes difficult to understand.

I’m off to bed now, and will read a little before turning out the light. It will be an article or two from that excellent English magazine “25 Beautiful Homes”. It’s top of the pile of books on my bedside table.


Posted by: shortkay | June 10, 2016

Rationing my writing

Why is it that when I start to write, I don’t want to stop?

My mind fills with words jostling for space on the page, and the ideas flow, but then I must stop because it’s time to shut the chooks away for the night, feed the horses, stock up the fire and muster up something for tea.

Yet those words and ideas continue to batter at me, even while potato peel falls into the scrap bucket and as I shrug on my jacket to leave the warm house to tend my animals.

I feel suspended between two worlds – the world of writing and the world of my reality, of what I want to do and what I must do.

Words and ideas finally ease back into the keyboard, and tuck themselves away into the corners of my mind. They haven’t gone away. They’ll be there next time I dare to sit down and release them into sentences and paragraphs and pages and chapters.

Time to check dinner.

On February 29, 2016 Tonja Carter, the estate lawyer and trustee for Harper Lee who replaced Alice Lee after her death in 2014, asked, through the legal firm representing her, an Alabama court to s…

Source: Harper Lee: A Different Angle on the Long-Term Effects of Dementia

Posted by: shortkay | January 9, 2016

Bad C-foods

It’s taken me a long time to admit this, but I undermine my efforts to lose weight (and keep it off) because of my liking of ‘C’ foods.  These are those naughty-but-nice foods and drinks that start with the letter ‘C’.

Cake, Chips, Crisps, Chocolate, Champagne, carbs, Cheese, Caffeine, Cream biscuits (in fact, all biscuits – well, there’s a ‘c’ in the word), etc. I’m sure you will tell me if there are more.

Of course, there are ‘good’ C-foods:  Carrots, capsicum, chilli, cucumber. My body, unfortunately, rejects these as much as it, fortunately, rejects that other famous C-food:  Cream (and it’s delectable cousin Ice-cream).

My weight-to-height ratio (BMI) is in the obese range. I don’t feel obese and most people would be delighted to weigh only 69kgs, and so would I if I were taller. Much taller.  As the saying goes, I am short for my weight. In fact, I am short, and weight gain is too easy.

There’s little wrong with my exercise:  the problem lies in the other C-word – Chewing.

Many years ago, my GP Steve S said the formula to lose weight was simple: exercise the top [mouth, ie eating] less, and the bottom [feet, ie exercise] more.  It’s so true.

But as much as my head knows I shouldn’t be eating that C-food, something else in me says, “That little bit won’t matter,” and “Just this time.”

So, now I am going to think about those C-foods in general as Calorie-foods. No longer may I think of these as ‘naughty-but-nice’. They are unhealthy, unnatural, unnecessary, unkind.

C-foods are Calories.

Wish me luck!


PS:  I just had bacon with an omelette and salad for tea. Although it contains a ‘C’, Bacon is NOT – yet – a C-food.

Time to control technology!

Going Gentle Into That Good Night

Technology can have devastating effects on the brainIn my book review of The End of Absence by Michael Harris, we see how an increasingly constant interaction with, reliance on, and addiction to technology is creating devastating effects on us neurologically.

Among these effects are dementia-like symptoms: loss of short-term memory, easy distraction, lack of focus, loss of critical thinking skills, and loss of executive functions.

These effects are happening to people all around us just like you and me. The effects don’t discriminate: even the very young are affected just as profoundly as others of varying ages.

In Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, a book everybody should read, the discussion centers on the neurological effects of 24/7 technology connection in the actual composition of the brain.

The research and the science is sobering, especially in light of how it points to the emergence of another lifestyle dementia that is already…

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Going Gentle Into That Good Night

verbal and behavior communication hand grenades dementia Alzheimer's Disease human relationshipsIn “Eliminate Behavioral and Verbal Hand Grenades in Our Relationships with Our Loved Ones with Dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease – Part 1,” we looked at the first six of the 12 verbal and behavioral hand grenades that psychoanalyst Trevor Mumby has identified that hamper and inhibit communication with our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease.

As I stated in the first post, these 12 verbal and behavioral hand grenades should be eliminated from all our communication with all humans, because although our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease will visibly and negatively react to each of these hand grenades while non-neurologically-impaired people may not, we still damage and destroy relationships when we use them.

The last six verbal and behavioral hand grenades of communication that Dr. Mumby has identified follow below.

verbal behavior hand grenadeUndermining.

Slowly and insidiously tearing people down from the foundational level with regard to their abilities, their intelligence…

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Posted by: shortkay | April 2, 2014

Henry’s Crooked Little Fingers

In 2010 my article on my gg-grandfather Henry Hampton was published in the Sussex Family Historian. What’s more, the magazine featured his portrait photograph, taken in the 1890s, on its front cover.

Although I didn’t get much response to the article, it must have caught the imagination of the ‘Historian’ editors because the article was reprinted in their 40th anniversary magazine, published in March 2013 (yes, a year ago, but some things mustn’t be rushed).  I was totally chuffed that my article had been selected to be included with this august collection.

The Sussex Family Historian editor, Sharon Paskins, wrote, “This quarter we have turned the clock back mixing the reprinting of some classic articles with the history of various aspects and projects within the group.”

“… classic articles…”

I like that.

Again, there was little response to the article in terms of people being able to help me solve the mystery of Henry Hampton’s background, but I continue to beaver away at finishing the Australian “leg” of his story.

After all, with 21 children and 85 grandchildren, there are a lot of people around who carry his crooked little fingers, and I’m one of them. We don’t know who his parent were, but we sure know who are his descendants.

The reprinted article is attached. Crooked little fingers_0001

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