On opening the latest sales catalogue/leaflet from Kmart, with the large statement on the cover, announcing, ‘WE LOVE TOYS - YOUR CHRISTMAS GUIDE’, I am horrified to see, not only (what I consider – and yes, I’m a grumpy old woman) mainly ridiculously stupid toys, but am confronted with this truly awful replica machine gun,
‘Elite Demolisher’ ‘2 in 1 blaster’, (suitable for ages 8+),
at the cost of only $49! (‘save $10’).
What are we thinking if we buy such things for our little boys?
A plastic replica machine gun - for our little boys to “play with”!
To “play with”?
Is this a play thing?
This is a gun which, apart from its bright yellow colouring, is made in the image of a (murderous) modern-warfare machine gun.
It is a copy of the guns seen in the shocking vision that appears on the television news almost every night.
Do we really wish for our children to imitate the current carnage that is taking place in the Middle East?
And, for it to be a suggested that it be a most suitable Christmas gift?
Even for those who are not in the least religious, surely there is a little niggling thought about what Christmas is (or was) all about.
Aren’t we are supposed to be giving gifts of “joy and love”:?
I don’t think it’s about ‘elite demolishers’, with ‘2 in 1 blaster capabilities’ to be used on friends.
Or am I the odd one out?
A couple of decades ago, when it was (briefly) trendy to own autograph books and to ask acquaintances to write wise messages in them, I used to think it appropriate (smart, or clever even) to write part of a verse from the Cat Stevens song, ‘Father and Son’.
The part that goes like this: ‘….. take your time, think a lot, think of everything you've got; for you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not’.
But, now, I’m not sure if the message was appropriate – or even meaningful.
I certainly intended for it to be meaningful for the person in whose book I wrote it. But was it really? What DID it mean?
These lyrics, written by Cat Stevens, latterly known as Yusuf Islam, originally were to be part of a music project set during the Russian Revolution, about a boy who wanted to join the revolution against the wishes of his father.
The musical never came about.
Interestingly, in more recent years the song has been performed by (Irishman) Ronan Keating and was (apparently) extremely popular in the early 2000s.
But (to return to my original train of thought) does it present a positive message or is it just a lot of gobbledygook? (That is, words that are meaningless)?
One other phrase I occasionally wrote in friends’ autograph books was, ‘Opportunity knocks but once; take care in recognising it’.
How does that stack up against the other quote?
I found this similar quote (below) online, so it may be a popular type of message.
The question is, does this really mean anything?
I guess it all depends on who is reading it and what frame of mind they are in and how receptive they are to ‘inspirational messages’.
There are so many ‘deep and meaningful’ pieces of writing to be found on wall plaques - and even on cushions nowadays, that they are hard to ignore.
But does anyone ever really take them in and use them as guides for living?
I expect not.
But they do manage to make us feel good from time to time.
The term ‘curve ball’ has lately crept into (almost) common usage. I’m not sure if American citizens are more familiar with the term than we in Australia are, but it is being used commonly in reference to something that is out of the ordinary or not particularly nice - or simply difficult.
I looked up the expression’s origin and discovered that it comes (as expected) from a reference to base ball pitches, as in “Any of several pitches that veer to the left when thrown with the right hand and to the right when thrown with the left hand”.
But the dictionary also includes the slang usage as “Something that is unexpected or designed to trick or deceive”
Or: “To cause to be surprised, especially unpleasantly so”.
So, to say that ‘life throws some curve balls’ is a very fitting expression for most people at some time (or times) in their lives.
Consider this: A fit, middle-aged woman, mother of four and grandmother of five, experiences headaches and some dizziness and, thinking it’s the result of hitting the back of her head after a fall from a small stool, she ignored it for a while. When the symptom did not go away, she sought medical advice, which led to a ‘roller coaster ride’ of X-rays, scans, visits to specialist doctors and diagnosis of two brain tumours - and they were growing.
Though eventually found to be benign, the tumours could normally have been removed by surgery, but these tumours were (are) in such a position that to operate would put this woman’s life in an unpredictable situation. Her physical well-being would be seriously compromised; her vision and speech may be affected – or even lost - and any normal sense of balance would be in doubt, making even walking unaided extremely difficult.
Following radiotherapy and steroid treatment, she is now remarkably well, despite her balance being affected, a buzzing noise ever-constant in her head and a tiredness that is sometimes hard to deal with.
That’s the story of one woman’s ‘curve ball’ situation.
She is my sister.
A brother-in-law of mine went to the dentist a few weeks ago, expecting treatment on a painful tooth to put a stop to his misery. Instead, he too, ended on the ‘roller-coaster ride’ of specialist visits, X-rays and so forth. It was not an abscessed tooth as he thought but an aggressive cancerous tumour in his jawbone.
Now, as he recovers from major surgery, where part of his jawbone was removed and a new section fashioned from part of his leg bone, he contemplates six weeks of radiotherapy and an extended time of learning to walk, eat and talk again.
Just two dramatic ‘curve balls’ that have affected members of my family recently.
These stories, although both of a serious medical type, are certainly not the only ‘curve balls’ that have affected us.
But both recent - and thought provoking.
There must be some equivalent happy story curve balls around – surely.
It’s interesting that any happy ‘curve balls’ (if such there be) are usually of a smaller and simpler nature and not often related to health issues.
Last week I advertised two second-hand windows for sale on Gumtree for $50, meaning $50 for the two. The person who came to buy thought I was asking $50 each and was happy to pay me $100.
Was that a curve ball or just a lucky break?
The same goes for those times you’re driving in a busy parking area searching for a vacant spot and, when you’re just about to give up, a car pulls out in front of you, in the perfect place.
Another lucky break or a mini curve ball?
Shopping in Target and finding out, at the check-out, that the particular jeans you have chosen are part of a ‘half-price sale’ of which you weren’t aware.
Just a lucky break?
I apologise for telling such negative tales early in this post but maybe it can serve as a reminder for all to appreciate each day as it comes.
You just never know when a ‘curve ball’ with be pitched your way.
Tell me about your most recent ‘curve ball’.
My old - very old - mobile phone stopped working a few days ago.
The pink phone in the picture is mine.
I’d often felt self-satisfied knowing that I used it solely for voice and text messages – no internet or emailing and definitely no ‘selfies’.
I pay Aldi Mobile a small amount (about $30) every few months and that is all.
I mock the TV ads that spruik ‘bargain’ plans at only $79 per month to enable access to countless apps, which I neither want nor need.
But now I have to brace myself, join the 21st century and buy a ‘smart phone’.
Interestingly enough, ‘mobile’ phones (that is, not connected to a land-line) were in use as early as 1916, as seen in the picture from World War 1. They were, of necessity, rather large and cumbersome and occasionally unreliable, but they did the job.
It wasn’t until many decades later that we, as individuals, embraced the concept of ‘need’ to own our own mobile phone.
The first one I had was a ‘car phone’ and had to be fitted to the car, where it sat in its ‘cradle’ charging as we drove along. It was oh so smart to own it - and (to be honest) oh so heavy and awkward.
Then followed a series of more devices that we used mainly when away from home - usually when staying at a holiday place; these were big, bulky and expensive to use.
Finally there was a phone to put in a pocket or handbag.
Starting off as fairly large, heavy - and ugly by today’s standard - the phones advanced until such as my little pink one - bought on eBay (second hand) for very few dollars.
And that’s how I liked it. It seemed perfect.
For years and years.
I tolerated the few jokes more progressive friends and relatives proffered, especially anyone of the teenage variety, and stayed with my simple device, even though sending text messages was a trifle tedious – 4 taps on the tiny ‘pqrs’ key to locate the letter ‘S’.
However, today I am heading to a shop to purchase the simplest ‘smart phone’ for the cheapest amount I can find.
Once it is charged up, I have a teenager ready to remove all the excess and costly apps - and any other ‘garbage’, to make my new phone able to send and receive voice calls and texts and that will be all.
Then all I will have to do is learn how to turn it on and off - and work out what to do if it ever ‘rings’.
Wish me luck!
How lucky are we?
Just to change the subject from doom and gloom - and nasty war-mongering politicians - here is a picture of what we saw on an evening walk in our nearby park on Sunday.
The mother and baby koala were walking along, minding their own business – well, the mother was walking along, the baby was on her back – they were enjoying their walk in the park when we humans, accompanied by our little dog, arrived to disrupt their stroll.
Mother koala soon assessed the situation and quickly scrambled up the nearest gum tree.
Baby koala seemed unconcerned.
As fortune would have it, my husband had a small camera in his pocket.
As the koala mother (with baby) began clambering up the tree trunk I heard myself saying something like: “C’mon, little bear; you can do it!”
What was I saying?
I have spent years explaining to people that a koala is NOT a BEAR and here I was, calling a beautiful mother koala a ‘BEAR’.
As penance, I have sung the words of Don Spencer’s children’s song a dozen or more times since then. (Annoying, but necessary).
For those reading this who are not familiar with the song - or are not Australian, here is the first verse and chorus of this 1980s educational song:
"I’m a koala, not a bear, and I don’t think it’s fair,
The way that people always add a word that isn’t there.
I’m a marsupial (and proud of it),
And there can be no doubt of it,
I’m closer to a kangaroo
Than I am to a bear.
So please don’t call me a koala bear,
I’m not a bear at all.
Please don’t call me a koala bear,
It’s driving me up the wall!
If your name was Tom and everyone called you Dick,
Perhaps you’d understand why I’m sick, sick, sick -
I’m simply a koala and I want the name to stick,
Please don’t call me a koala bear!"
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.