A small weed began growing in my garden of succulents. In a strange (well, not strange, but new to me) climate and it being a weed I did not recognise, I thought I would wait and see before I removed it. Wait and see if it produced a recognisable flower so that I might identify it and decide whether it truly was a weed, or if it was some sort of unknown (to me) exotic plant.
So I left it and waited.
I waited and the weed grew.
No flower appeared on its promising top-knot.
It looks to be in the family of Hollyhocks, but there is no gorgeous Hollyhock flower blooming at its top – or even along its side.
The amazing weed now measures over a metre tall (it’s 41 inches) and has begun to attract some caterpillar-producing insects, as its lower leaves are being eaten. There are tiny white (insect) eggs under the leaves which have, in turn, attracted small black ants.
So now the amazing weed is providing food source for at least two varieties of insects.
And still it grows.
Now, I am reluctant to pull it out.
I guess it’s more of we’ll 'wait and see’.
But I'm starting to think of "Jack and the Beanstalk".
There have been lots and lots of tiny ants wandering over my kitchen sink and bench tops lately. I think that they are looking for water as it’s very dry here.
Being not happy with their presence, I usually just wipe them away with a finger. They are so tiny that there isn’t even a mark left after I have killed them. (It’s just one at a time and not an all out slaughter).
My anti-ant action has never cause me any grief; I simply swipe the ants with a finger, hand or dish cloth and never give them (the ants) another thought.
But then one day my husband took an ‘up close and personal’ photograph of some of these little blighters that had congregated around a minuscule drop of honey on the kitchen bench top.
The accompanying photograph is what resulted.
Actually the ants in the picture are of the bigger variety; some are even smaller – and brown in colour.
Anyway, here were ants looking more like miniature cattle drinking at a water hole. Each ant had a head and torso and a delicate, perfectly formed set of six legs. They looked to be quite animal-like.
They didn’t quite exhibit personalities, but, maybe I didn’t really get to know them enough to find out if, indeed they had personalities.
This new view of the tiny ants (each one way smaller than a match head) made me stop and think a bit more about how I was dealing with them; it gave me a new insight into ants and their right to live.
I recalled hearing of the Buddhist attitude to the killing of ants (NOT to) and did a quick search of the topic.
In Buddhism, the first precept is to avoid killing or harming living beings.
And from Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Online Advice Book
A student killed 50 small ants on her balcony, and regretted the act immediately afterward. She wrote to Rinpoche to confess what she had done, and to say she planned to take the Eight Mahayana Precepts one day for each ant she had killed.
Rinpoche wrote her back. “My very dear Marion, Thank you very much for your kind letter. It is amazing what you want to offer back to those ants. It is incredible! The thought to take precepts for each ant would not have come into my head. I am sure all the ants will jump up and down and clap their hands and have a party for you when you finish, wishing for you to receive all happiness…ha ha ha. I put my hands together at my heart thanking you very, very much on behalf of all the ants.”
So, would ‘my’ ants perhaps “……. jump up and down and clap their hands and have a party……?
From the same Lama site, on the topic of mosquitoes:
You should not kill mosquitoes at all. Your body is so big and they are so tiny. If their body was big and yours was tiny, you came to bite them and drink some blood, because you are so hungry, and all you needed was a small amount of blood to eat and drink, but they killed you, how would you feel? It is exactly the same situation. -
See more at: http://www.lamayeshe.com/?sect=article&id=319#sthash.2BnwQFEt.dpuf
I am requesting you on behalf of all mosquitoes, please don’t kill. I will be the voice for all the mosquitoes.
So, there’s a dilemma here.
The more I look at the ant picture, the more I am inclined to worry about whether or not I have the right to kill the little creatures that invades my space.
Oh, no, I can’t possibly let them fly free around me and take their sips of blood wherever and whenever they like.
I have red itchy spots to back me on this one.
As for the ants.........well..............
“They’ve got everything!”
Who is this ‘they’? Well, it seems as if (around here anyway) it’s EVERYONE who has EVERYTHING.
Christmas is coming along fast; less than five weeks away now.
Gift buying frenzy has begun. Or has it?
How can one have a ‘gift buying frenzy’ when the biggest worry is what to buy for that person “who has EVERYTHING”?
And, most people I ask about this problem agree:
They, themselves, “have everything”.
Their children “have everything”,
their grandchildren “have everything” – and in gross abundance, it appears!
What an astounding dilemma!
At the risk of seeming like a Goody-Two-Shoes and perhaps a little on the pious side – even maybe a bit Scrooge-ish, may I suggest some of these alternatives?
Sure, still give the kids a small, but meaningful gift – and some chocolates or lollies.
And please give them all a book,
But, consider this:
There’s an organisation called
and this is what they say about themselves:
“We are a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.”
Look up Kiva on-line and find out how it works. Maybe someone you know would appreciate you giving a loan on their behalf? Then, there’s Oxfam….where you can buy a Goat….not for you, but for someone who would really benefit from owning a goat. Oxfam tells us: “Fact: goats make people smile. And not just when a person unwraps their gift. Goats also make people living in poverty smile. When a goat is presented to a person living in Mozambique, they know that it can breed to create more goats, provide manure for growing food and can even be sold to pay for school fees or tools.
Plenty to smile about.”
Or……….How about World Vision, who offer lots of choices, including:
Chickens & eggs for as little as $10, you can give a family a chicken………. World Vision, Australia tells us: “Chickens and eggs help provide children and families with a lasting source of protein and income”.
What your gift supports……….
“These gifts help families grow crops and breed livestock. This gives families reliable and lasting sources of food and income.”
There are LOTS of other charities and organisations who can help you to be HELpFUL.
So many ways to help people in the world – people who DON’T “have everything”
Think about it.
Being a somewhat old-fashioned type of person I enjoy making a Christmas pudding in the traditional way, by boiling it in a cloth.
I am not such a traditionalist that I use lard instead of butter, and I do leave out the candied peel, which I dislike…but ‘my’ Christmas puddings are usually tasty and well received by family members.
Last year Christmas was spent away from family, so there was no need for me to make a pudding.
This year we’ll be together and it’s my ‘job’ to make it.
A couple of weeks ago, I shopped for all the dried fruit, spices and other ingredients and made a lovely pudding.
After being boiled for four hours, it was later strung up in the shower recess of the spare bathroom - as we no longer have a pantry in which to hang it.
Keeping in mind that we have moved from the cooler climes of Victoria (Australia) to the sub-tropics of Queensland (Australia) - the summer climate is somewhat different – and arrives earlier.
Anyhow, the bathroom smelled lovely, with the wafting smells of fruity spices permeating the air as we passed by.
Every day or so I ‘painted’ the pudding with brandy and all was well.
Then we had a spell of extremely hot and humid days.
One day I went to anoint my hanging pudding with brandy and found to my dismay that mould had begun to grow on the cloth.
Hoping against hope that the mould was only on the outside of the cloth I hastily took down the pudding, and unwrapped it (a difficult task when it's not freshly boiled).
Alas! There, on the pudding itself, was the most colourful, furry and rapidly spreading mould I have ever seen.
(What a shame I was so quick to banish it to the compost bin and neglected to take a photograph – it was spectacular!)
Suffice to say, after searching the Internet and discovering that it’s best to wrap a pudding and place it in the crisper part of the fridge if you live in tropical climes, I was up early on the next hot morning and made another Christmas pudding.
After boiling it, I left it to dry and then (as instructed) wrapped it in a tea-towel and placed it in the fridge.
And there it stays.
It has left its hiding place only to have a small amount of brandy applied and to have its picture taken. (see above).
The only thing I need to add to this story is the fact that after discovering the mouldy pudding and yet still having the anointing brandy at the ready, not to add to the waste, I hastily consumed the brandy.
Many years ago, in the 1930s, a young woman left her (Victorian) country home and set out for Melbourne to become a nurse.
Her family was very proud of their daughter and sister and presented her with a leather-encased travel clock to have with her in her new place of residence.
They had her initials embossed on the clock’s leather casing: “I.L.B.” for Iva Lillico Blackwell.
Journeying to Melbourne, (seemingly so far away in those days) she left behind a fiancé, who promised to stay true and with whom she corresponded by letter as they planned for their wedding day.
Sadly, the young nurse contracted a virulent disease from the big city hospital where she was working. At first the doctors thought she would recover, but Iva ‘took a turn for the worse’, succumbed to the dreadful illness and died, leaving her family and fiancé bereft.
Her little clock has been in my possession for many years and now I have made the difficult decision to sell it.
How could I?
Perhaps I’ll think it through again, first.
Today a package arrived from my son in the UK. It seemed like early Christmas, for there were books, CDs, a DVD - and a small fridge magnet.
The books we will love. The CDs and DVD will bring us joy and entertainment.
As for the little magnet, it will provide sobering thoughts.
On it is President JFK’s statement on war and mankind.
These words were included in an address he delivered to the UN General Assembly in 1961.
The words are simple; the message is simple, but it seems very few people in power are taking any notice of such sentiments.
What is wrong with our world?
In this same 1961 speech, President Kennedy also said,
“Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us…….”
Over 50 years ago, President Kennedy was concerned with the proliferation of nuclear power and its destructive capabilities in times of conflict. He was unaware of future atrocities, such as that delivered by terrorism and the evil wrought by individuals.
He was also unaware of the threat of global warming as a possible cause of mankind’s end.
The magnet and its message will cling to the front of our fridge as a constant reminder.
But what I would like to see is the same message on EVERYONE’S fridge, on banners flying high, on huge billboards, on walls, on television screens and movie theatre screens, until it penetrates the very hearts of people everywhere.
MANKIND MUST PUT AN END TO WAR BEFORE WAR PUTS AND END TO MANKIND
But, that’s not going to happen, is it?
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.