Christmas Eve is here and, in some places at least, there will be joyous family celebrations tomorrow.
I send my best wishes – laced with some sorrow - to the families who can’t get together because of the COVID-19 virus.
But we must face it, to leave yourself and family vulnerable to contracting this ghastly illness is far, far worse than missing out on a family gathering, no matter how awful and sorrowful you may feel about it.
But, cheerfully (crazy though it may be) on the other hand, many of us are assuming – albeit unconsciously and wrongly – that, once Christmas is over and a new year begins it will no longer be 2020 and all will be well. We will have left the old and dreadful 2020 behind! Phew! Thank goodness!
Of course, that’s not true at all…but…but, just for a day or two, let’s think it is true. Sure – don’t go taking any risks – but simply let your mind register that a new year is around the corner and it will be a great year; a year free of COVID-19 and a year of freedom from restrictions and mask-wearing and businesses losing their incomes and so on.
Let’s just fantasise that soon the ghastliness will all be finished, and life will be back to whatever our ‘normal’ was.
Let’s avoid the truth, suspend our disbelief, and stop worrying about the virus, but briefly!
On a personal note: I live in Queensland, where we are extremely fortunate to have no restrictions on where we go – as long as we don’t leave the state. Lucky us!
I am happy that tomorrow I will be enjoying Christmas lunch and gift giving with much of my immediate family.
Fortunately (or unfortunately) I have no elderly parents to be concerned about. To be truthful, I have taken up that mantle – I AM the elderly parent!
Unfortunately, my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter are in the UK and we will only be seeing them via Face Time.
Britain, under Bumbling Boris, is in dire straits and it is very worrying! The area where my son & family live is not currently considered a ‘hot spot’, even though there were 323 new cases last week alone! YIKES!! It’s concerning.
As for Sydney – such a shame that a second (or is it third?) wave has arrived there.
And, yet, here, in Australia we are nowhere near the disaster that is UK or USA. Or those many other badly affected places around the globe.
So, let’s make the most of what we have. My sympathy to those who cannot be with family…but guess what? It’s not really the end of the world and let’s be certain that NEXT year will be better and brighter.
As much as you can, forget the awfulness of COVID and enjoy Christmas in whatever is the best way for you.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS to everyone.
The weather had been extremely hot for weeks; the birds had even stopped singing.
And then the rain came. For days and days, it rained. Heavy downpours drenched everything around us.
And the birds stayed hidden in the thick foliage of the largest trees.
One very early morning, when it looked like the rain might ease, through the back door I saw two very wet and bedraggled magpies: an adult and a baby. They were on the veranda, looking through the glass at me and making sad little imitations of what is usually a beautiful warble.
It was then that I realised because I hadn’t seen them for quite a few days, perhaps they were hungry—because I had made a habit of feeding them a little each day.
The magpie feeding started gradually. Some mornings, when I sat outside eating breakfast, a magpie stopped by and I gave him a small piece from the edge of my toast. After a few days, another magpie came. They seemed friendly and often settled close by, waiting for scraps of toast.
I knew that bread wasn’t a good substitute for foraged-for food, so I didn’t give them too much.
Then a relative suggested a good muesli might be a better idea. But they weren’t so keen on that. Researching magpie food suggestions, I discovered that (if it was top quality) minced meat was a favourite.
Minced steak? They loved it! The magpie family came to spend (musical) hours on my back veranda. Waiting and watching. They stayed so long that every piece of outdoor furniture ended up with streaks of bird-dropping decorations.
Sometimes the magpies collected a small wad of mince in their beaks and flew away into the tall gum tree over the back fence. I should have known!
Next thing, they brought their whingeing baby along and, as he squawked, they filled his wide-open beak…over and over again.
Now I had three magpies, all wanting food. They loved the meat! They followed me when I was outside. They watched me through the kitchen window and became excited when they saw me go towards the fridge. If I left the back door open, I would often find a magpie walking around the kitchen.
It was getting out if hand!
But then, some more (Google) research led me to believe that minced steak should NOT be given to magpies—especially young magpies.
What to do?
A little more searching revealed a recipe suitable for magpie food. A recipe!
This involved: tinned puppy food, wheat germ, baby cereal, bird seed (for wild birds), chopped parsley, hard- boiled egg and something called calcium carbonate (which I think is carb soda – but I didn’t include that).
After a trip to the supermarket, I made up a mixture and rolled it into small sausage shapes, some of which I froze.
The next day I sensed a disappointment in the magpies’ demeanour. They were not impressed with the new diet.
But, for the magpies’ health I would no longer feed them mince. I sprinkled more wild bird seed mix over the sausage thing and there was a bit of interest.
Days went by. The magpie family still visited but the mince-induced excitement and enthusiasm had evaporated.
I put the special food on a patch of grass near the veranda – with extra seed – and eventually my magpie family accepted that this was the food from me now.
Each day they came and ate what I put out for them. They still perched on the outdoor furniture, but not as often or for as long. I missed their singing.
The baby learned to eat by itself and all was well with my conscience about feeding wild birds.
The most interesting thing about the new feeding regime is that, once the magpies have had their fill of recipe-based food, the beautiful water dragons who live around us, come and finish off the scraps.
What could be better?
PS: The magpie in the photo is the baby.
What does it take to realise that war is futile? Any kind of war.
Reports of (alleged) atrocities committed by Australian Special Forces against unarmed – and sometimes very young – Afghan citizens is sickening.
Then there are the stories of Australia’s returned ‘veterans’ taking their lives in unimaginable numbers, after returning home.
There is something terribly wrong here!
We reportedly have ‘our’ soldiers shooting civilians – let me rephrase that – ‘our’ soldiers murdering Afghan civilians and ‘our’ soldiers suffering terribly from what they have done and what they have seen.
We constantly hear of veterans suffering from PTSD…that’s POST TRAUMATICE STRESS DISORDER. Let’s check those words:
Post = ‘after’. That is, AFTER something has occurred.
Traumatic = ‘ causing severe and lasting emotional shock and pain’
Stress = ‘pressure, tension, strain’
Disorder = ‘disruption, upheaval, tumult’.
Do you see? PTSD is not just a glib expression to describe worried soldiers, it is a declaration of what happens to people after being exposed to war situations or other trauma.
Let’s mull over the futility of war:
Just one example of war’s pointlessness:
Australians and Japanese are great and helpful friends – as nations.
Quoted in the news in July of his year: ‘The Australia–Japan partnership is our closest and most mature in Asia…’
And yet, in the 1940s, my father and my husband’s father left their families, and spent months and years in appalling conditions in the NT and New Guinea protecting Australia from the Japanese.
That didn’t end well for anyone, especially the Japanese, after being obliterated by atomic bombs.
By no means am I suggesting that we should ignore or malign Japanese folk. What I am trying to point out is that, once upon a time – not so very long ago - we were deadly enemies and now we are best friends. That seems to be often the case with warring nations – eventually.
Sure, some wars are never-ending and these disputes are even more ridiculous. If a dispute is impossible to settle, even after decades of fighting and killing people who are different, or have differing views, then what’s the point?
It is like a grotesque version of Dr Seuss’s children’s story book about the Sneetches, when there were ‘Sneetches’ who were envious of ‘the other’ – in this case those who wore stars.
It’s a story we can learn from.
The memory of the futile and deadly war in Vietnam is still in the forefront of many Australian minds, and yet Vietnam is currently one of Australia’s favourite holiday destinations.
What the hell did that awful war achieve?
Remember John F. Kennedy’s famous quote?
“Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.”
Truer words have seldom been spoken.
And just think of all the BILLIONS of dollars that are spent on war, war ‘machines’ and the thousands of army personnel.
The world would have no homeless people, no impoverished people, no hungry people if money was spent on helping humans to live, not to kill.
What with us obliterating the planet by ignoring Climate Change - and making wars a perpetual way of life and cruelty, there’ll be nothing left soon.
“I do not know with what weapons World War 3 will be fought, but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones”, (Albert Einstein purportedly said).
Think on that!
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.