Turning on Friday morning’s early news bulletin we are informed that a sixteen-year-old boy has been fatally stabbed in Brisbane. He is found, close to death, alone on a footpath, bleeding profusely and dies in hospital shortly afterwards.
Police are not discounting ‘gang’ activity.
That evening, as we sit engrossed in an episode of ‘Vera’ on ABC television, the broadcast is interrupted by an announcement that Prince Philip has died at the age of 99.
The announcers go on and on about the Prince’s demise and his history of how he met the future Queen of England and so on and so on. The Governor General appears and begins a long and dreary talk on the prince’s life and involvement in activities or whatever - and we give up on ever finding out how Vera discovers the villain in the story we were watching. We turn off the television.
And I can’t help but think how some lives – and deaths – are more important than others. In fact, how some lives are more valuable, or valued than others.
Reported deaths of at least 500 brave protestors in Myanmar are given two minutes of reportage on our news.
Grieving relatives of the hundred and more people killed by the horrendous floods and landslides in East Timor and Indonesia are shown on Australia’s news bulletins, before being brushed aside to concentrate on domestic issues.
The murdered Brisbane boy is named as Yannis and photos of him appear in newspapers and online. He is a big and mature looking sixteen-year-old, but he is still only a boy.
Sure, he and his mates were possibly ‘up to no good’ – we don’t know, but he was still a schoolboy, with friends – most of whom would not have wished him to be murdered.
What was his story?
Prince Philip had led a life of privilege and luxury. He had lived to be 2 months short of 100 years.
He travelled extensively and had a busy social life, enjoying wealth and extreme advantage.
What chance had Yannis to achieved fame and fortune in his short life of sixteen years? You can bet that his was not a life of privileges and luxury.
And now, I admit that I would rather hear about the life story of Yannis more than that of the prince. I would like to know and understand what leads a sixteen-year-old boy to be out and about at night-time with a group of friends – one of whom was in a possession of a large knife and prepared to use it – and did.
You know what I think is the missing element from all the argy-bargy that’s been going on in politics, and life in general lately?
It’s kindness; simple kindness.
There’s trouble with Covid vaccinations.
Trouble with gender equality issues.
BIG trouble with Climate Change.
And I’m wondering about a novel approach to problems - using kindness.
I listened to the PM the other day, reciting one of his ‘word salads’ that he uses to try and placate his critics and, as he tried to say that he was on everyone’s side, the reason he sounded insincere is that there were no accompanying words of kindness offered. The word ‘respect’ was flung around, with no attached note as to (or from) whom this ‘respect’ would be delivered. There was a lot of ‘look at me’ and much of how he ‘understands’. We know he speaks kindly of his family, but he never seems to speak kindly of – or to - his fellow Australians.
The vaccination debacle is one of the best illustrations of the undesirability of putting all one’s eggs in one basket. (Definitely no kind thoughts there!)
Then from many commentators, the current explosion of women’s rights and the (necessary) push for gender equality is often met with either derogatory comments about ‘militant feminists’ or the defensive, ‘not me – not ALL men’ claim.
Few people stop to think in a kindly way of their fellow human beings, male or female.
Albert Schweitzer once said,
“Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate”.
Notice the words, misunderstanding, mistrust and hostility. (A lot of that around, lately).
That those things may ‘evaporate’, once kindness is instigated, may well be correct. But we don’t seem to have the time to devote to being kind.
Does it take too much effort?
Too much thought?
Is it possible that lack of kindness could be halting real progress in the Climate Change dilemma?
If the world’s population, especially the world’s LEADERS, applied a truly kind attitude to OTHER PEOPLE – their fellow man - then perhaps it would be an easier task to make Climate Change an imperative - and begin a huge desire to get working together on solutions to save us from inevitable destruction.
Instead of pandering to the god of money and the money-men, whose only thought is of themselves, how about thinking of everyone as needing consideration.
General KINDNESS towards our fellow man would achieve this.
Nothing less is my guess. Futile, I suspect.
“Be kind whenever possible.
It is always possible.” (Dalai Lama)
What fun it is to live in Australia.
I was trying hard to NOT write about current political shenanigans, but politics has been taking over the airwaves lately. And not for any good reasons.
I suppose one could call it ‘dirty politics’.
The behaviour of several people, supposedly in power, has been nothing short of disgusting.
Of those found wanting (for want of a better expression) there have been two staffers sacked, two ministers on leave – (‘dealing’ with their mental and physical health, after being accused of awful behaviour) - and another member ‘stepping down’: That is, stepping down - to have counselling.
Heaven only knows how many more will be chased out of the woodwork and exposed as unworthy of office. We hold our breaths as to what might emerge this week.
Meanwhile, I have a suggestion – a possible cure?
Instead of ‘mental health breaks’ or ‘clinical counselling’ sessions or courses in empathy training (!), can we send our politicians – or at least the ones suspected of questionable behaviour – can we send them out bush? And I mean absolutely out in the bush.
They need to get right down to basics; basic survival, out in the natural world. Or, in our First Nation’s people’s expression, to spend time ‘on country’.
Forget about artificial counselling and courses in cushy hotel rooms and clinical facilities – or whatever. Get them out and about where few other humans can be seen or contacted.
Remove the iPhones. Give them minimal packs with meagre food rations and minimal clothing. Supply a swag and possibly one companion and/or Indigenous guide. Let them walk through sandy deserts and stride through the edges of rough ocean waves, at all times of the day and night, in all weather. Some time to think. Walk into forests and see the wildlife.
No minders or photographers present.
Then, after having absorbed some genuine nature, introduce them to the brave, industrious, empathy-laden folk who reside in bushfire ravaged communities.
It is here that they will find true grit. Here they’ll see community spirit and meet decent people who know what it’s like to help their fellow man.
These country people have the skills and EMPATHY to know how to feed and clothe their neighbours; they build sheds for free, and organise tool sharing for those who have lost their work tools and cannot afford to replace them. Whole communities supported in every way – by their own community.
These country people who have survived horrors, understand EMPATHY - and it shows.
There is no need for expensive counsellors and psychologists in soft and comfortable surroundings.
The place to find and understand empathy is out in the real world, where real people dwell.
John Denver was on to something, when he sang, “I know he'd be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly”. ('Rocky Mountain High'… John Denver 1972)
Get out there with eagles in the sky - and friendly goats who need a head scratch and kids who love their dogs and donkeys, and where people talk with honesty and care.
Get hands dirty.
In place of the absurd ‘empathy training’, each of those empathy-lacking and decency-lacking politicians need to be regularly forced into a life less comfortable, with less self-obsession – and less money and fewer perks, to discover what life is all about – outside that bloody destructive ‘Canberra Bubble’.
I vote the Prime Minister to be first to go.
When I was a very young teacher, my Prep class children used rolled up old woollen socks (brought from home) to wipe their little chalkboards clean.
We later progressed to real chalkboard dusters for cleaning.
It was often messy work. Thirty-or-so busy little people writing and drawing on chalkboards…with words and pictures appearing at a merry pace. But, after the ‘work’ was all erased, the classroom would be in a fog of swirling chalk dust. It wasn’t very pleasant but that’s how we rolled – back in the day!
Then hooray! Dustless chalk was invented and there was less dust resulting in less need to constantly bang those dusters clean on the outside wall of the school building.
Then, the next wonder was the introduction of the whiteboard. Firstly, only for the teacher, who had a large one on which to write and draw and demonstrate.
Soon, along came small individual whiteboards for the children to use.
The only drawback for both teacher and pupils was the occasional misuse of the wrong marker.
Oops! When a more permanent marker (that looked suspiciously like a whiteboard marker) was used by mistake, it took a lot of scrubbing and wiping and half a bottle of metho to return it to its whiteboard-y whiteness. (Ultimately, someone invented whiteboard cleaner).
Also, there were times when a marker or an eraser was put down in the wrong place and couldn’t be found.
BUT, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention and progress in the right direction has once again happened.
The invention of a whiteboard marker that fits into the back of a whiteboard eraser that possesses a hidden magnet to conveniently store it on the whiteboard is the ultimate classroom (or maybe boardroom?) tool.
But I suspect even that will soon be found to be lacking in some aspect or other – and, of course, I guess there will soon be no need to use whiteboards at all, as everything will be achieved using an electronic screen…
What a long way we have come in just one lifetime.
I am on a grassy hilltop, looking down on a beautiful sea. It is too far and too steep for me to clamber down to the waves, so I just look and take it in as a gentle breeze cools the warm day.
I have been walking for a while around the top of Smoky Cape Beach. I look and find a seat to rest on.
Carved into the back of this strongly built and very handsome wooden bench seat is a name, ‘Joachim’ and dates, ‘1989 – 2014’.
It takes me by surprise, and I have the urge to run my fingers over and over the lettering. As I do so, I gaze at the scene below and strangely feel a presence. I keep tracing the carving and a sensation of peace comes over me.
Who was Joachim? At only 25 years of age, he was far too young to die.
Was he a surfer? Did he take one too many risks in waves like those I see below me?
Or was he just a young person who had a passion for the sea? Or this place?
He must have been well loved, for someone to have erected this substantial memorial.
I hope he had a life that was full of wonder. I hope his life was adventurous and full of beauty.
I find my mind turning to the words of Don Marquis from “The Lesson of the Moth”:
“…it is better to be happy for a moment and be burned up with beauty than to live a long time and be bored all the while…”
I hope that’s how Joachim’s life was.
Koalas, koalas, our much-loved koalas, no longer everywhere.
There’s a truly awful fact that, according to the Australian Koala Foundation,
“During the late 1800s and early 1900s, Australia wide, as many as 8 million koalas were killed for their pelts.”
That is hard to believe!
Fortunately, we no longer kill koalas and send their skins off to be made into lush furs for wealthy women in Europe.
But we have found other ways of killing off these precious native animals.
I have this old photo, taken in 1943, showing a small child sitting on a bench seat at the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary, in Victoria. A curious koala has come to check out her hair.
Koalas were plentiful then – nearly eighty years ago. Colonies had largely recovered from the slaughter of earlier years and were valued, no longer for their fur, but for the part they played as an important inclusion in the life of Australian fauna.
The koala in the picture is not behind cage wire or even a fence. In those bygone days, koalas roamed freely in the sanctuary – as well as in many areas in the country.
In the 1950s and ‘60s, koalas could be seen in abundance, sitting in their eucalypt trees all over Phillip Island, Victoria. People could walk in among the trees and see them everywhere. Often a koala would be perched quite low down in a tree; near enough to the ground to be seen and stroked by a child.
About ten years ago, I visited Raymond Island in Gippsland, Victoria and was thrilled to see four or five koalas sitting high up in gum trees. (Someone said they once had too many!)
More recently, near my home on the Gold Coast in Queensland I have seen four koalas, on four different occasions in a park near my home. But it’s taken about six years to see that many.
No longer do koalas randomly come up close to little girls to check out their hair.
No longer is Phillip Island home to hundreds of the creatures – living unobtrusively in the bush and beside the tracks. Where there once was bush, houses now crowd out the trees.
Koala habitat has been destroyed to make way for roads and housing development. All over the (mainly) eastern states, our cars have killed koalas as they search for their gum-leaf trees.
Our dogs have mauled and killed them as they venture into suburbia.
Last year’s horrendous bushfires, due largely to Climate Change, caused deaths of “as many as 10,000 koalas — a third of New South Wales' total population”.
And now, “The Australian Koala Foundation estimates that there are less than 100,000 Koalas left in the wild, possibly as few as 43,000”.
It is sad indeed that the few places for us to now see a koala is in a zoo or wildlife rescue hospital, where tourists queue to have a photo taken with a koala, to show family and friends the precious, unique animal that once climbed the eucalyptus trees all over Australia.
I may be late at working this out, but it has occurred to me that the more power one has, the more ability one has to act – and contribute - in the interest of those around one.
In other words, the more power one has, the more ability one has to DO GOOD.
Then I look at those who are ‘powerful’ and see that this is not often happening.
Why not? Does anyone know?
Looking at our PM and his cohorts. They seem to wield a great deal of power, so what good have they done lately?
Well, so far, in the past three years, (apart from buggering up foreign affairs), they have….
I could go on….but...
Not many ‘good deeds’ there!
The other fact that has occurred to me is that the more MONEY one has, the more POWER one is seemingly magically given.
To have lots of money - and I mean LOTS - gives a person power, meaning access to people who own resources to be able to help others in massive ways.
So, do they use their power and their money for the good of others, as well as themselves?
Well, not usually.
This is what they do:
The powerfully rich give money to other powerful people (in government) to benefit THEMSELVES.
No, not to benefit others, but to benefit THEMSELVES.
One might use a tiny fraction of their 29 billion accumulated wealth to donate to charity, (to silence the critics) while being surprisingly hateful towards their own children and making more money than they would ever be able to spend in eleventy-thousand lifetimes.
There’s a bloke who creates his own charities, only to then instruct the Government what to do, who to 'help' (in a mean & cruel way) and what to buy…including worthless PPE gear and Covid testing kits he sourced in China for which he charged the Aus Gov.$325 MILLION. (Geez!)
And the man who donated over $9 million to political parties and then benefited greatly from countless Gov decisions. In one instance, this bloke donated $1.5 million and then had the cheek to claim $10 million from the bush fire foundation. (And got it!) (True!)
There are a lot more examples, but they make me sick.
I am seriously wondering why those in power, only think of themselves?
AND, which came first? Are these people selfish because they are powerful, or are they powerful because of a lifetime of being selfish?
These are genuine questions.
Sure, there are some exceptions to the rule, such as the occasional philanthropist and benefactor, giving freely of a portion of their riches.
There is the occasional generous billionaire in Australia, including one who is actually helpful towards others, in the area of climate change.
But I have witnessed people who have little money being far more generous (relatively speaking), using a bigger portion of the little they have to help others.
Why is this so?
Winston Churchill was once quoted as saying:
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
“When day comes….” Begins the poem.
How amazing to witness the changes in the U.S. in just a few days.
I have only just had time to watch the entire Biden-Harris Inauguration.
The world can breathe again…hopefully!
To see and hear Amanda Gorman read her poem of hope (“The Hill We Climb”) was something I was not expecting.
An unusual and beautiful poem with rhyming word-bombs dropped seamlessly into a recitation of perfect meter, accompanied by hand gestures more graceful than you’d see in a ballet.
And…never having taken much notice of the singer who goes by the name of Lady Gaga, imagining her to be suited to a much younger generation to the one I inhabit, I was joyously stunned to hear such a magnificent voice. And what a wonderful National Anthem the Americans have. (Poor Australia).
Lady Gaga’s golden peace dove attached to her dress was a gorgeous unspoken message.
There was an extremely noticeable presence of LOVE and caring during the procedures as the Biden family - and that of Kamala Harris - greeted each other and, despite face masks and attempted distancing, there were hugs of genuine care. And it wasn’t only between family members - there were obvious warm feelings from friends, former leaders, and the crowd in general. What a sight to see.
A big difference from four years ago, with the awkwardness and posing of that self-promoting Trump family.
Yes, I think we can perhaps breathe again…it will take time, but the world – not only USA – has seen what can happen and a warning has been noted.
A destroyer who spread hate and division is gone and may we hopefully never experience his likes again.
“…there is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it.
If only we are brave enough to be it.” (Amanda Gorman)
AND, may the “land of the free, and the home of the brave” be very brave.
As animal lovers, where did we go wrong?
We brought our kids up in country Victoria to give them a rural, nature-filled, animal-loving childhood, away from the cities.
Over the years we owned - and cared for - dogs and puppies, baby lambs, calves, cows, goats, chooks, a white mouse, a ginger cat, even a donkey and (of course) guinea pigs.
We went on outings to forests and farmlands to experience the environment and to see native animals in their natural habitat. We saw kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, koalas, turtles, and echidnas.
The kids seemed to love them all—the ones we had at home and the ones they saw out in the bush. We thought we had given them a love of nature as well as knowledge of how to care for creatures of every sort.
Our kids are well grown up now and have families of their own.
What animas do they have?
What animals are they caring for?
The answer is nil!
Our daughter lives on the Gold Coast in Queensland, in a big house that has no room for a pet of any sort.
Our son lives in UK with a backyard as big as a pocket handkerchief.
Where did we go wrong?
Recently, a publisher informed me that something I wrote was unacceptable, as it involved ‘old learnings’.
I was gobsmacked. Not because I thought he was wrong so much as I didn’t think that anyone with anything to do with (decent) writing would stoop to using such a word as ‘learnings’.
I had heard a politician use the word not so long ago and was mildly appalled; it is turning into a word that (to me) almost rivals the expression, ‘going forward’, that seems to have infiltrated so many announcements - and simply popped on to the end of every second sentence – and, indeed, now heard in general conversation.
I am now wondering if I am being too sensitive about words.
Am I Madame Pedantic?
I admit to keeping a 2B pencil by my side when I am reading and (gently) put a line through any typos I see.
Being a fan of Twitter, I occasionally see a misspelt word or a wrongly used phrase and shudder.
I tell myself that there are far more important things to worry about than small grammatical hiccups.
Recently a journalist was criticised for making fun of someone who made spelling errors. She was more than criticised; she was attacked! She was told to stop being a literary snob and was reminded, in no uncertain terms, that those who don’t have an advanced education are entitled to express their thoughts, without being laughed at, when their spelling does not measure up to someone who ‘thinks she’s smart’ – or words to that effect.
I felt sorry for the journo as well as whoever made the mistakes.
I don’t know why misspelled words and grammatical faux pas annoy me so much.
I honestly can’t help it!
Perhaps it was the old fashioned and strict teaching (NOT learnings) I experienced in my early school days. Perhaps it has expanded because of my 30+ years of being a schoolteacher. But it is imbedded in my DNA now, I fear. (There’s another frequently misused expression – as if your DNA sequencing can influence your ability to spell! Or can it?)
Here are a few annoyance-producing expressions and spelling faults:
Twice lately I have read about someone ‘towing the line’ instead of ‘toeing’ the line.
The use of I, where it should be me…. ‘It was a lovely gift for Jim and I’…NO, it’s ’Jim and me’ (take away Jim’s name & see how it sounds!) ‘Jim and I were thankful’ Yes, that’s okay!
Fewer/less… ‘Less people came to the park’ No, it wasn’t bits and pieces of people coming to the park…. It’s ‘fewer people came…’
And why have we stopped using the word ‘who’ when referring to people?
Who/that. People deserve ‘who’. It is not ‘I like people that give generously’ NO, it’s ‘I like people WHO give generously’.
Minor, though it may be, the phrase ‘thin end of the wedge’ was the original statement and is preferable to ‘thin edge of the wedge’ – even though the latter possibly sounds better.
A person wrote of politicians ‘full of dribble’ and I’m sure they meant ‘drivel’, but, then again, perhaps there was some dribble involved.
Then someone referred to the latest ‘poles’, when I think they were talking about ‘polls’…but I can’t be sure.
A recent spate of shouldn’t OF instead of shouldn’t have makes me grate my teeth. Only today, a tweet lamented if only someone could of done the right thing…aarrgghh!!!
The use of ‘impacted’ in place of ‘affected’ is so commonplace now, I can almost ignore it.
A frequent mistake is the confusion of your/you’re. That drives me crazy!
Then there’s Its/it’s – Please, people, there is NO possessive apostrophe in its.
It’s should only display an apostrophe when it is a contraction of ‘it is’.
I could go on……
Please don’t attack me. I can’t help it!
Just as I was writing this, I was made aware that our Prime Minister has praised ‘his’ people for being ‘overcomers’.
The word made my flesh creep – not only because it sounded like a made-up word, but it is a word connected to a weird and dangerous religious cult of which our PM seems extremely fond – connected, in fact. Now that really scares me!
Words do matter!
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!
Here I am, again, moaning. There’s so much to whinge about lately … (IMHO)
In all the ‘News’ about Corona Virus, appalling armed forces' behaviour, inexcusable ‘Robodebt’ cruelty and lack of dealing with Climate Change, there’s one other matter about which I am steaming with rage.
I’m complaining about the $80 billion Australia has committed to spend on submarines… soon to be redundant submarines, by the way.
However, the PM claims that they are important for “Australia’s strategic environment”. Hmmm.
The $$$$$$ to be spent on those mythical national security required (?) submerged warships is an abhorrence to me. It is a HUGE amount: an amount (if we genuinely had it) hat could remedy many, if not ALL, of our country’s ills.
Have a think about how current wars are conducted and you will probably notice that submarines play an infinitesimal - or no part at all.
Now it’s all guided missiles and other evil stuff. (Remember WMD?) Weapons that do not require sailors spending weeks underwater in a submarine, chasing, while hiding, from ‘enemies.
And did I mention that the $80 billion submarines were already redundant? Sorry, yes, I did.
They are so out of date that parts of them are suspected of not being able to work as intended anymore – and this is before they have even been built!
And, by the way, technology has progressed so far that submarines will soon not be able to stay undetected under water. What that means is that they are useless as a deterrent or a protection.
Let me say that word again: useless.
Anyway, back to the $80 billion.
That’s $80 BILLION, by the way. Yes, eighty BILLION dollars, not million.
Gee, I wonder what Australia could do with $80 BILLION?
Let’s see…Right now, in Victoria alone, there is a sixteen-year waiting list for public housing. (Thankfully, Victoria is aiming to fix that a little). But you could still be dead waiting to have a roof over your head if you find yourself in dire circumstances.
I’m not good at maths, but even I could manage to work out that even one billion dollars could probably build more than 2 000, that’s two THOUSAND, (genuinely nice) homes. Wouldn’t that be nice? Imagine what TWO billion could build. THREE billion?
THEN…How about that not-very-efficient NDIS, set up to help disabled people? It’s not going very well from all reports, but…but, say it was given a boost of a billion dollars – maybe that would help? How about TWO billion? Immensely helpful.
Maybe if nurses and public health doctors – and the hospitals they work in – were given a multi-billion-dollar boost to maintain the health of our nation, including the ever-needy mental health departments. Just imagine!
I could go on…and on….and on….
In case you’d like to know more, here are some facts:
Defence officials knew Australia's new fleet of attack submarines would cost almost $80 billion as early as 2015, despite publicly stating at the time the estimated price tag was $50 billion. (SMH), (This is for 12 subs…)
More like $225 billion to maintain – some claimed in 2019)
BTW, Construction of these things has yet to be begin…
“Construction of the first Future Submarine was expected to commence in 2022–23 and is scheduled to enter service around 2032–33”
So, we will be waiting at least another 12 years before they are even in the water. A lot can happen in those 12 years.
But wait…a few weeks ago, it was announced that “construction of the submarines was scheduled to begin in 2024”. In FOUR years’ time?
So, they are now a further two years behind schedule.
AND then there’s this…. “The SEA 1000 submarines are predicted to remain in service until the 2070s.”
I doubt if any nation will be using – needing – subs in 50 years’ time, even if we haven’t already obliterated the entire Earth, with the effects of Climate Change.
So…can anyone please tell me what wisdom there is in spending EIGHTY BILLION DOLLARS on such a folly?
IS THERE ANY HOPE OF STOPPING THIS?
I apologise for not remembering where this quote (below) originated, but it is very telling:
“It is hard to believe that a government genuinely committed to defending the nation would sign a contract to buy 12 ludicrously expensive submarines that would not be operational for at least 20 years, with the final submarine not ready for nearly 40 years. The fleet will be obsolete before its delivered.”
For over thirty years, I lived in a house on an acre of land. Stretched across part of the wide back yard was a washing line. At each end of this was a sturdy post that held an adjustable cross bar, from which came two strands of strong (plastic covered) clothesline, each stretching for about fifty metres.
At about midpoint on these lines resided two tall clothes ‘props’ – strong, but lightweight and straight branches from eucalypt trees, culled for the purpose, with forked tops. The purpose being to lift, or prop up, the lines as high as possible, after the washing was securely pegged.
I loved that clothesline.
On warm windy days, washing would be fluttering, horizontal, flat out, quickly drying. Conversely, on rainy days, clothing would flap around furiously, only to eventually settle down and dry nicely – and so fresh and clean - once the rain stopped. Items left out overnight during a frosty winter would be rigid in the morning and almost in danger of breaking at a touch if you were not careful.
During many days, kookaburras came to perch, and laugh, on the clothesline end posts.
Now, that was a clothesline! As I said, I loved it!
I have decided that I could never live in a house or apartment that did not have an outdoor clothesline. The benefits of outdoor washing lines are many: Perhaps number one should be the saving on power needed to artificially dry clothes, and that is true. But, I also love the way, no matter what else you have to do, you need to find time to go outside in the fresh air and undertake and action that requires very little brain power and just a little exercise. Just to enjoy the air, reach up from basket, peg, to line until all is swinging in the (hopeful!) breeze,
In summertime, the dried washing can be brought inside whenever you have the chance to once more step outside into the fresh air. There you can stand, mind emptied of worries, unpegging, and folding beautiful fresh clothes, sheets and towels.
Sure, if you’re working an eight-hour job, a midday check of the washing might be well-nigh impossible, but, lucky you if you can have any bring-in-the-washing time at lunchtime.
Smell the cotton and linen. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can give that sunshiny smell to fresh washing, other that sunshine and fresh air.
I cringe at the thought of one day having to downsize to apartment living and have to transfer items from a washing machine straight to an electric dryer. I cannot even contemplate such a thought.
It’s 9.30 pm and my husband is outside, in the dark - a bright beam from his hand-held torch shining in front of him. Neighbours probably wonder what this man is doing at around the same time, every night. ‘Is his wife nervous and needs assuring that there are no criminals or strange animals out in the yard?’
No. He’s looking for cane toads.
Before we left Victoria to come and live on the south east coast of Queensland, we knew about the dreaded cane toad and how it was wreaking havoc with our wild life; killing much of anything that tried to eat it and eating things that were needed by our native species. We read about its poison gland and saw pictures of it in all its ugliness.
We read about how colonies of this awful pest were marching forever westwards, and reports were telling that it had reached the magnificent and precious Kakadu National Park.*
We had visited Kakadu a few years earlier. We had clambered up the steep escarpments and admired and swooned over the views and the bird life.
The thought that cane toads could be infiltrating this beautiful part if Australia was almost too hard to bear.
We decided that, when we became Queenslanders, we would join what we imagined would be hundreds of Queenslanders joined in their efforts to eradicate this awful menace.
After settling into our Gold Coast home, we brought up the subject of the cane toad, only to be met with strange looks and a sort of ‘who cares?’ attitude.
‘There aren’t many around here’, said some.
‘You occasionally see a squashed one on the road, but that’s about all’.
Why would there be cane toad bodies, squashed on the road, if there weren’t many around?
They must come out at night was the answer.
‘Do you ever look outside, after dark?’ I asked.
‘Nah, there aren’t any here.’
So, that’s when my husband started his nightly rambles by torchlight.
The result? Cane toads – big ones, small ones, middle-sized ones – cane toads in our suburban Gold Coast yard.
As he finds them, he gathers them up (carefully) into plastic bags,
Then, what does he do with them? You may well ask.
The plastic bags containing toads go into the fridge, where the toads go into a sort of hibernating sleep.
Once they are well asleep (usually the next day) they are transferred to the freezer, where the tranquil sleep turns into something more than a doze - and they slip into a painless death.
And, then what?
Well, when the human food in the freezer seems to be in danger of being crowded out by frozen cane toads it’s time to deliver the frozen catch.
There’s a not-for profit organisation called, “Watergum” – where a dedicated group of volunteers “help the community engage in real, on-ground work to restore, maintain& protect the natural environment”.….There’s lots they do
And one of their tasks is…
“The Cane Toad Challenge - a revolutionary new method of cane toad control that uses the toad’s own toxins against them. Lures made from toxic cane toad glands tempt tadpoles into traps that can catch upwards of 4000 in one go”.
So, that's where we take them.
Thank you, Watergum !
At least we have found one group of Queenslanders doing their bit to help rid us of the cane toad.
BUT….My question to other Queenslanders - and Northern Territorians is:
Why isn’t EVERYONE out and about EVERY night trying to rid us of this bloody toad?
There’s only so much one old bloke and a torch can do!
*……….Biodiversity in Kakadu National Park has been "decimated" by cane toads in recent years, with some species disappearing from sight altogether, according to one of the NT's leading toad experts. (ABC Feb, 2019)
What are we doing?
What is this ‘wishing away our lives’ thing?
Last week, as I drove along the nearest main road, I was stunned to see Christmas banners fluttering from electricity poles.
Different messages, but all variations of “Merry Christmas”.
It’s October! OCTOBER!
As of today, we are two calendar months away from Christmas Day.
When I first saw the signs, it was approximately 11 and a half weeks – or about 80 days — until Christmas Day.
Why are we aiming our thoughts towards a day as yet quite distant? There must be a thousand other deeds and thoughts to occupy our minds other than that! Yes, I know that perhaps it is a happy distraction from the woes of Covid…but…
I feel for the poor children. They’ll see the Christmas signs and think that Christmas is almost here.
What an interminable wait for them.
When you’re a little kid, a week can seem like a month, a month, a year! 80 days? Forever!
Should Advent calendars now come out, ready to count off the days? Will someone design an 80 day "Advent" calendar, do you think? (With no idea what 'Advent' is)
Someone told me that the supermarkets are now selling Christmas goodies, such as mince pies and puddings. WHY?
Are we wishing away our time on Earth? Is there nothing to look forward to, other than Christmas?
Sure, I know that the year 2020 has been a bastard of a year. Covid has not been fun for anyone, but does this mean that the only thing to lighten our mood is to hope the weeks go by quicker than ever?
But, of course, it’s the commercial aspect. Time to get ready, folks, to spend, spend, spend…
Off to the shopping centres — or start spending online. Get into the spending mood; Christmas is coming.
Does everyone have plenty of money to spend? Now, there’s a sticky question. (But we won’t go there).
Only a couple of months away, now.
And, what was it that’s started this Christmas thing? Can hardly remember. Something about angels and a baby? Or was it something about Cadburys chocolate? Maybe Myer? Or just banners from light poles?
Oh, my… What would Jesus think?
We all know fairy stories. Here’s an un-fairy story.
Once upon a time in a kingdom known as Auz, there was an emperor called Clotty, who had two daughters, whom he loved very much. He constantly gave them everything they wished for – and even some things that they didn’t wish for.
“Aw, c’mon, Daddy,” they said to him the day he built them a cubby house. “That cubby is for three-year-olds. We’re much bigger than that”, and they laughed at him.
So, next he built them a henhouse. But it was too small, and he foolishly built it in a place where hen houses were not allowed.
“Silly Daddy!” said his daughters.
Clotty still wanted his girls to have everything they asked for. They had presents galore. He even invited BOTH their grandmas to come and live with them, so the grandmas could spoil the girls as well. And their Mummy’s best friend came to stay often, and she gave the girls even more attention and presents.
Lucky, lucky girls!
But Clotty was not kind, loving and generous to all little girls. He was especially mean and cruel to two sweet little girls who once lived in a country town in Auz. He sent these little girls away, far from their home and all the friends who loved and cared for them. Clotty’s mean and nasty helpers put the little girls on a plane with their mummy and daddy and flew them over the sea to a horrible hot place, with wire fences - and where there are guards to watch them and tell them where they can go and what they can do.
When nice, kind people objected and asked Clotty why he did this, he and his mean and nasty helpers said it was because the little girls’ mummy did not sign a special piece of paper she was given many years ago. Clotty said that the little girls and their mummy and daddy had to be punished and must soon go and live somewhere else - over in a very scary place.
The little girls did not know the scary place, as they had lived in the kingdom of Auz all their lives. They were little Auzzies, through and through.
“When can we go back to our friends and the house that we loved?” the little girls kept asking their mummy and daddy. But their mummy and daddy could only sigh and tell them that they didn’t know.
And there were tears.
The family became sadder and sadder. There were many people who loved and cared for them and those people also became sadder and sadder. And then became angry.
Lots and lots of folk in the kingdom of Auz were also extremely upset. They wrote letters to Clotty and sent messages to his mean and nasty helpers, asking for the little girls and their mummy and daddy to be able to come back to their home in the country. But the mean and nasty helpers just grinned their awful grins and rubbed their hands and said, “No way.”
“We like to have some people locked away”, they said. “Especially those with brown skin.”
And, as they were saying this, they gave their own children presents and treats – and hugged them.
And so, unlike most fairy stories, this un-fairy story does not have a happy ending. A happy ending will have to wait for an emperor who not only loves his own children, but who can also learn to love other children too.
But I guess it won’t be Clotty.
Maybe there’s something lovely at the end of the rainbow. I’ve been looking, but I can’t even find the rainbow.
How about the light at the end of the tunnel? Even that is hard to see.
I’m talking about the end of Covid19.
In February of this year, we had plans for a road trip from Queensland to Victoria, taking in some of our favourite places in outback NSW as we travelled. We had arrangements to visit friends and relatives in Victoria and had booked some Airbnbs and cabins for stops along the way. BUT as we were packing our bags, we felt an unease, as news of a horrible Corona virus appeared.
Should we go? Should we stay, wait, and see how serious it is? Should we cancel our bookings? Should we cancel all thought of a traveling holiday?
And we did – cancel, that is.
What a disappointment. But there was worse to come as we realized the severity of the virus and its far-reaching effects.
And, now here we are, seven months later, and I’m looking for the light at the end of the COVID tunnel.
To be honest, as we live in Queensland, the situation is not as dire as it is in some other states. We must be grateful for that - and perhaps there is a glimmer of light at the end of our tunnel.
Victoria’s tunnel has been long and dark, with hardly a tiny glimmer at its end. But just yesterday some of its more stringent restrictions were eased, and so, with that news, the whole of Australia is starting to look a little hopeful, even though the cost has been extremely high. 27,000 people have been infected and, the ghastliest count of all - the number of deaths is calculated at 870. Too sad to contemplate.
However, we have a personal worry as we have family living in UK. Over there the infection rate is currently nearing 50,000 per day. Let that sink in! 50,000 people diagnosed with the virus, EVERY DAY! The UK death count, hovers just over 42,000 (so far). How can that be? It should be unacceptable; unacceptable to the people and certainly unacceptable to those in charge, especially their PM.
Oh, but Boris Johnson is offering ways to alleviate this. One of the new restrictions is to make pubs close early! Yes, still go to the pub, but please leave by 10 pm. Is that really going to help lessen the numbers of infections?
Of course, he has another plan, one that will come into effect by next March – next March! And this plan is to test every person – yes, EVERY PERSON - and those who are tested as COVID-free will be permitted to go about their usual activities, such as work, thereby keeping the economy going.
I can only gasp with disbelief.
Yes, a vibrant, functioning economy is vitally important, but should it be considered more important than lives? Apparently the answer is yes.
Let’s not even go to the US facts. (Seven million infected, to date) and Mr Trump says it’s nothing much and will soon “go away”.
So, I guess I shouldn’t be worrying about our holiday plan cancellation. There are far, far worse effects than our little blip.
As I scroll through Twitter, emails, and news sites, I find so much talk of COVID-19 and its limitations on life - and the scary implications that it “could happen to you”. And, of course it could happen to anyone – even if most precautions are observed. But I am, like most people, tired of all this.
A walk in the park seems like a good idea.
It is late afternoon and a pale three-quarter moon is looking down from a clear blue sky. There is a cool wind blowing but enough last rays of a fading sun touch my back and make me feel good.
The lorikeets and noisy miners are squeeping and squawping in the trees and flying all about. Though their noise is loud and boisterous, they are welcome company.
I continue walking for 30 minutes. The smell from the tall eucalypts is just enough to tease my senses and, as I turn for home, I start to relax. A little girl in a pink dress and bare feet, runs over to a small slide, giggling as she goes.
With this vision, my afternoon walk has almost been made complete and I go home with a vow to keep off electronic devices for a while.
As I walk into my kitchen, I see that my husband is putting the finishing touches on a beautifully round pizza.
I sigh with contentment.
No more worries – for now.
Go away, COVID-19. You are not wanted.
Remembering my brother, Pete, born disabled, seventy-five years ago, today; the day a bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.
Pete lived for sixty-three years and I offer the following in his memory.
(Adapted from: Beatitudes for Disabled People… by Marjorie Chappel)
Blessed are you who take time to listen to defective speech, for you help us to know that if we persevere, we can be understood.
Blessed are you who walk with us in public places and ignore the stares of strangers, for in your companionship we find havens of relaxation.
Blessed are you, when by all these things you assure us that the thing that makes us individuals is not our peculiar muscles, nor our wounded nervous system, but is the God-given self that no infirmity can confine.
Blessed are those who realize that we are human - and don’t expect us to be saintly just because we are disabled.
Blessed are those who pick things up without being asked.
Blessed are those who understand that sometimes we are weak and not just lazy.
Blessed are those who forget our disability of the body and see the shape of our soul.
Blessed are those who see us as a whole person, unique and complete, and not as a “half” or one of God’s mistakes.
Blessed are those who love us just as we are without wondering what we might have been like.
Next Thursday, August 6, it will be 75 years since the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Three days after that day, on August 9, 1945, a bomb landed on Nagasaki, leading to the Japanese surrender on August 15.
(The official signing of the surrender took place on September 2, 1945).
It was a war that cost Australians an estimated $74 billion— and many lives.
It is perhaps timely to remember this war and the part Australia played.
We may think of World War 2 in terms of British and German involvement. Some of us also think of Pearl Harbour and Hiroshima. Not many people instinctively think of the Northern Territory when the subject of the war is broached, and yet there are at least 800 war sites: air strips, ammunition depots and soldier tent sites, in the N.T..
And, no, this was not WW1, Gallipoli, where thousands lost their lives, it was WW2, in Darwin, our Australia.
Troops numbering approximately 250,000 were stationed in the Northern Territory at some stage during the war years. Many lives were lost; many young men were permanently scarred.
Not so long ago, on a visit to the War Memorial at Adelaide River in the Northern Territory, in amongst hundreds of graves, I found a headstone with the date of a young soldier’s death matching the exact date of my birth. I felt unsettled and, ultimately, somehow attached to him.
I have written that soldier a letter:
To: Sapper J.D.Gyton, N202639, 23 Field Company, Royal Australian Engineers.
You’ve been gone for over 70 years now. We never had the chance to meet because you died on the very day I was born. I don’t even know where you lived.
Just a name and number are on the brass plaque that I discovered in the Northern Territory’s Adelaide River War Memorial Cemetery.
I’m not usually one to visit war memorials, but this one time I did, and I was not prepared for the wave of grief that swept over me. As I read the words on the plaques, I felt something like a punch to my gut and found it hard to swallow the sobs that threatened to erupt.
You were 21 when you died, John. It was World War 2 and you were just a boy. But there were graves of others with ages listed as 18 and 19. There was even a grave for a seaman of just 16 years.
What a truly awful war. But then, has any war ever been less than awful?
My father, though slightly older than you, was also in the Australian army during World War 2. And in the Northern Territory too.
At the end of the war, he came home to us and I, as a three-year-old, didn’t know who he was.
But, lucky us! We were fortunate that he had been in Katherine when you were in Darwin. ‘Though Katherine was also on the receiving end of bombs.
Dear John, I think of when my own boy was 21 - a few years back now, and I wonder how I would have dealt with the fact of his death at that age.
On the little plaque, under your name and army details, are the simple words, “In loving memory of my darling son John.”
How did your mother cope? Why is your father not mentioned? Were you your mother’s only child? Did you have sisters and brothers? What about grandparents?
How they would have missed you and grieved.
How did you die, John?
I searched the Internet for details and found the word “accidental” as the cause of your death. Whatever happened to make your death “accidental”? You died in the May of 1942, right in the middle of hundreds of Japanese bombing raids on Darwin.
Conservative estimates of the numbers killed during that time put the servicemen tally at 432 and the number of civilian “casualties” at 63. That’s almost 500 people. Five hundred!
Were you one of the many caught up in the panic and un-preparedness of the Australian military? Did you overturn an army vehicle in your haste to reach a position of defence? A place of refuge? Did part of one of the many bombed buildings collapse upon you?
It is now supposed that many more were killed in Darwin than those reported. You were just one, but you were still someone’s son.
If you had lived, you would be over 90 years old now. Would you have lived that long— maybe a great grandfather.?
But you had no chance for anything like that.
Your life was severed at the tender age of 21. To use the word “waste” is too much of a cliché as well as an understatement.
To see my date of birth on a cemetery plaque indicating your date of death shocked me. It made me ask more questions about what happened in Darwin in 1942. The information I gathered shocked me even more. I discovered that the government of the day fudged the figures so that people wouldn’t be alarmed. “Don’t worry”, they said, after the first two raids by the Japanese, “only 17 people were killed”. In fact, 243 lives were lost in those initial raids. And between 300 and 400 wounded.
The air attacks on Darwin continued for nearly two years and the city was bombed 64 times. Was the government still saying, “don’t worry”?
And why are we still making wars?
You died in a war on the day I was born and now I’m an old grey-haired grandmother, and still people kill others by the hundreds in “just” wars.
Will we never learn?
I have never believed in such things as reincarnation, but have sometimes wondered if people’s souls, adrift in the ether, are able to influence other souls as they pass “in transition”, so to speak.
As I entered this world as a baby, could a whisper from your departing spirit have made its way into the new life that was mine?
And, if it did, I hope I have lived my life as you would have wished. Perhaps that whisper for the soul helped me along the way. Perhaps that is why I am a pacifist.
Dear John, you, and those other (at least) 494 people who were killed in the attacks on Darwin, paid the unthinkable and ultimate price all those years ago.
Was it worth it?
I have always been outspoken against war. As a young woman, I marched in moratoriums against the war in Vietnam. But your small bronze plaque has affected me more than any other anti-war message.
Dear Sapper John Gyton, I’m so sorry that you had to die, but now you have become a part of me. I will never forget your name.
I am measuring and cutting pieces of fabric, while following instructions on YouTube. On one hand, I cannot believe what I am doing, on the other hand, it is strangely interesting - and almost a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
I am making face masks for the off chance (or inevitability?) that COVID19 will reach the area where I live.
I am in Queensland, a place almost unaffected by the onslaught of the horror virus infecting and killing others in the country where I live. And all over the world.
Members of my family, in the state of Victoria, are ‘in lock-down’ - and petrified. They are staying at home, staying indoors, becoming bored and depressed.
All they can do is be extremely patient, stay away from other people and, occasionally, when their food supplies run low, make a cautious and hurried trip to the nearest (sometimes smallest) supermarket.
Their current situation is far from ideal, but the alternative is risky and horrifying.
I am hoping that our turn will not come, but I will sew some masks – just in case.
BE PREPARED! As they say.
How many species of animal life have been obliterated by mankind?
How many species are now extinct?
It’s many, many more than the Tasmanian Tiger.
According to John Woinarski of Charles Darwin University, “Over the last two hundred years at least 34 Australian mammal species and 29 birds have become extinct," (Pacific Conservation Biology – 2018).
A 2014 study claimed Australia's mammal extinction rate was the world's highest, with more than 10 percent of species wiped out since Europeans settled the country two centuries ago.
The main causes of species decline that have been identified include habitat loss, such as through land clearing and other development — and feral cats and foxes.
This did not mention the horrific loss of wildlife in the recent bushfire disaster.
It’s not just Australia, of course: “one eighth of the world’s species – more than a million – are threatened with extinction”. (The Conversation)
And here’s something horrible: from a report in today’s Guardian: The bacteria in humans that has grown resistant to antibiotics has more than likely made its way into wildlife? (that means our sewage has leached into oceans and elsewhere! Erk!)
Imagine how that is affecting marine life.
Or - plants, trees, whole forests, wetlands, we could go on….
Humans have done this!
Now, take time to research the loss of habitat, resulting in the loss of animal life that has occurred since, say, 1950. It’s inestimable.
Sure, we have also killed a lot of humans on the past 100 or so years, using war as an excuse.
Or starvation – often connected to war – or disease.
The popular theory is that man is the superior being here on our planet.
Human Beings are generally thought of as the most important entity in the universe. (Sometimes referred to as humanocentrism).
But then…Hello, COVID19!
Is COVID19 telling us that it’s now OUR turn to feel the heat of possible extinction?
We have exterminated animal species willy nilly over centuries, culminating in tremendous losses over more recent years.
Even our beloved koala has been threatened by extinction. Now, that made some people sit up and take notice. The koala is cute to look at, cuddly to imagine and engenders lots of tourist dollars, so we value it above less attractive or photogenic species.
But they all matter.
Apart from mosquitos, human beings are the biggest cause of death to other human beings.
Yes, forget the Orca, the Great White Shark, Polar Bear, Saltwater Crocodile, Tiger, and others who are Apex predators, but are not (often!) after humans.
We, as a species do a lot of harm to ourselves as well as the rest of the planet.
BUT then along comes something that is perhaps a bigger and smarter top predator – COVID19.
Have we met our match?
How does it feel to be in danger of being obliterated? Just as we have done to all the hundreds of other life forms, animals, plants, insects.
We have far more at our disposal to fight off this stalker, this attacker.
Most threatened animal species have little other than nature and a few concerned individuals to try and protect them. We have everything the world can muster to help us.
But still, how does it feel to be ‘hunted’? To have an enemy that defies our current logic.
Let’s hope it will be ‘farewell, COVID19’ soon.
Put your face mask on!
I seem to be part of a group of like-minded people who are giving Twitter and other social media a break.
My Weebly blogs have been dwindling as my enthusiasm for sharing and discussing News and information has become more and more depressing.
Forced isolation, social-distancing and other necessary behaviours have affected our lives—adding to the despair generated by current political shonky-ness and destruction of values of decency. I am not only referring to Australia’s mess, but also to what is happening around the Globe.
So…there you have the main reason my voice is somewhat muted of late.
Compounding this is the fact that my little dog of 16 years had to be ‘put to sleep’ last week.
The little dog who, when we lived next to the Red Gum Forest in Victoria, daily gleefully ran through trees and long grass, after the scent of baby rabbits. The little dog whose collar was once caught in her doggie companion’s canine tooth as they played—the companion who shook and spun her, trying to break free, ultimately leaving her unconscious. And me, the witness, having to give a small furry body CPR and ‘mouth-to-mouth’ to revive her. The little dog, who moved with us to live in Queensland and who spent her remaining years looking for Eastern Water Dragons and snoozing in the tropical sun on our veranda.
Yes, the little dog, whose joyful and uncomplaining presence was felt by us for all of her 16 years, but who became old and so ill that, last week, I had to wrap her in a blanket and take her to a kindly vet, who gave her a small injection to send her to doggie heaven, while I stroked her soft fluffy head and whispered, ‘good girl’.
So, there will be a break from me for a while. Not long, but a while.
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.