To Music and singing…
Further to my last blog about music in classrooms:
Many decades ago, when I attended Burwood Teachers’ College (now renamed Deakin University), students enrolled in the course I was undertaking – called then, “Infant Teaching”- had to be able to play a musical instrument to pass the course.
Luckily for me, I could already play the piano a little. But I also had to join the others in mastering the recorder – and the ukulele (!). So, even the unmusical students had at least some musical knowledge and could hold a tune, enough to encourage singing in their future classrooms.
Music was considered a vital part of education.
(Before those times, old-fashioned teachers often used tuning forks and taught their pupils the sol-fa, “Do Re Mi”, scale to start their songs. An excellent educational tool, sadly lost to all but professional musicians now, I guess).
Teachers’ College in the 1960s was quite awash with music. There were music classes, of course, but also more specialised music extras, called ‘electives’ as well as several choirs. I sang with the ‘Women’s Choir’ as well as a more general one, aimed at competition between colleges.
Also, every Wednesday morning, the entire college population would gather in the large hall to share latest college ‘doings’ affecting students and lecturers. There would often be a guest speaker or a visiting musical artist of some sort. But the best thing was the community singing that followed.
We had a college song book, containing words of nearly 100 songs. They were mostly ‘oldies, but goodies’, such as “The Road to Mandalay”, “Bush Night Song”, a few “Negro Songs” (ouch!) and even some Christmas carols.
One or two would be chosen, with hundreds of voices ‘singing their hearts out’.
I imagine that activity would be ridiculed nowadays. Deakin University is no ‘Teachers’ College’. Far too sophisticated for community singing.
It seems to me to be a shame that music as a general inclusion in our lives is missing now. Sure, you can play music, using many various devices but it’s a far cry from joining in music all together.
As a start, I think it would be better for us to turn on a CD player or some other device in the mornings instead of turning on television or checking Twitter.
In place of hearing about the latest gruesome news or silly gossip, if we all started the day with a song – and I mean a musical song, not rap, (See, I am old!) how beneficial that would be.
“He who sings scares away his woes.” Cervantes
Starting the day with a song
Not long after I had retired from full-time teaching, I visited the local pre-school centre, with an offer to play the piano for the children, if, and whenever they would like.
“Piano?” the teachers questioned.
“Piano?” they again asked, looking at me as if I were a visitor from some distant galaxy.
“We don’t have a piano,” they said. (AS if!)
I could only apologise for being such an ignoramus but retained enough courage to ask what they ‘did’ for music.
“Oh, we have a CD player,” was the answer.
I walked away, feeling demoralised, elderly, and disappointed.
Perhaps it was just me who assumed that music – and, in particular piano music - played an important part in young children’s learning days.
It was then that I realised I had been fortunate to have a had a piano in my classroom more often that not during my 30+ year teaching career. Although there were a couple of times when I had made do with an electric keyboard, that was okay.
To ‘start the day with a song’ had been my sort of credo when teaching in primary school. This often extended to a joyful 20 – 30-minute session with other classes joining ‘my’ kids. Therefore up to 90 children beginning the ‘working’ day with songs and smiles.
Lately, I am hearing a lot about how stressful school has become for many little children. Mainly connected with the disruption caused by Covid-19.
Parents have spoken of their children refusing to go to school or being miserable about school days.
I may be naïve – and I know that there is a huge worry about the Covid virus for parents and children, but I do wonder if a little more music in schools, especially first thing in the mornings, creating a happier start to each day, might appeal to the reluctant students.
MESSAGE TO CHARLES lll
Hey, King Charles. . . Listen up!
The year is 2023. Displays of pomp and ceremony - and vulgar wealth-splashing - are well past their use-by date.
Your coming coronation is nothing but a gaudy, ostentatious display of privilege that is unnecessary in these times.
Too late now, I suppose, to stop this spectacle. But, once it is over, how about you have a good hard think about what it was all about and what it achieved?
Time to sell off the diamonds and other crown jewels. Use the money towards helping the sick and needy.
Give the golden coach to a museum and charge for viewing.
Auction off the golden thrones. There’s sure to be narcissistic American billionaires who would buy them at a price.
Rent out rooms in the various palaces to ‘entitled’ poseurs who would delight in possessing a posh address, and give that income also to the sick and needy.
Cast off the hangers-on and leeches, such as your brother Andrew, and make him fend for himself.
Free the servants and find them constructive jobs elsewhere. Set the horses free to roam in peaceful country paddocks.
You and “Queen” Camilla could surely find a small cottage in Surrey or Devon to live self-sustainably.
Be useful for once.
And, while I’m on the subject of gold and wealth and spectacle, don’t start me on the Pope and the Vatican! (WWJD?)
Is blogging worth it?
Any followers of my blog posts will know that I had stopped posting for a while, due mainly to the ‘argument’ I have been having with Weebly, who insist that I pay them for the privilege of posting words attached to their site.
The upshot of this is that (paradoxically), even though I have succumbed and am paying a small amount, I am now out of the habit of blogging.
I have been reading over my past blogs, starting back in in 2012, and am a little amazed at what I was writing over 10 years ago. Nevertheless it has been interesting to read, but now I seem to be out of ideas. No subject that grabs me seems worthy of writing about.
Politics is boring and, in many cases, depressing and maddening. Take, for instance the Australian opposition leader’s approach to wrecking what I consider to be an essential referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution.
Then, looking overseas, in U.S., the bizarre debacle over Trump’s criminal charges and the response of his supporters is too grotesque to even bother reading about, let alone commenting on.
In the UK, the resultant mess of leaving the European Union and the ghastly state the nation is in is too upsetting to mention.
France is descending into chaos over a two year increase in the pension age.
And Putin is demolishing Ukraine because he wants it.
So….in desperation I Googled “subjects to write a blog about”, only to be disappointed to see suggestions included writing about fashion, celebrities, business, films and a few other unappealing (to me) topics.
So, here I am, back on the blog wagon, with nothing to say.
Astounding that I can just now write over 300 words about ‘nothing’, but there you go!
Back . . . I'm back . . .
,After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, I am back on my blog site, allowed to post, as I have reluctantly paid Weebly a small sum ($10 per month) to allow this.
I am not happy about it and will follow their plans and regulations to see if I will be permitted to, one day, after ceasing to write blogs, I may stop paying the fee, yet NOT have Weebly obliterating everything I have written over the past 12 years.
Hopefully I will have some interesting thoughts to share soon.
In the meantime, I have been reading over blog posts from 2012 and discovered that I wrote more frequently then - and yet not as many words.
I have had a little bit of a scary time with my website.
Once I decided I could not pay for its 'upkeep', I attempted to convert to a free version. The problem was that I had to change the domain name slightly to include the Weebly name, which I was content to do.
However, once I did that, my original website address disappeared . . . not only the domain address, but the whole website . . . erased from everywhere and everything. The whole site demolished! (sob).
Not a word could be accessed by anyone except me.
I panicked a bit (well, a LOT) and sought help from Weebly.
"Fat chance" I thought, knowing that Weebly had MILLIONS of 'customers' and that I, a 'little old lady' who just likes to write, would not even be considered as worthy of helping.
HOWEVER. . . a lovely helpful person by the name of Ira answered my panicky plea and carefully (via email) guided me though the tricky method of regaining my original domain site.
Sometimes a kind person comes along - and today I was the recipient.
It's Goodbye. (sad, but true)
I began posting on this blog in March of 2012.
I have written on very many different subjects. I have whinged about politicians and local, national, and international happenings and I have told simple little stories about my dog and visiting birds and wildlife.
I have tried to be light-hearted yet been angry and even controversial at times.
My latest whinge concerns how once simple websites for blogging have turned into money-making commercial ventures.
The Weebly site I have used for eleven years has been good for me as a way of reaching people and expressing my thoughts on a variety of subjects
I pay a small amount to maintain my domain name — every two years it’s $67.90.
But now I have been informed that I must pay Weebly at least $10 per month or my site will become inactive.
Well, that’s a shame.
In a vain attempt to continue my blog writing, I reinvigorated an old Word Press site I had started some years ago and tried to transfer my current domain name and contents to that site.
Just to be sure, I started another new one, also using Word Press, @disey42 on WordPress.org, and checked that my ‘old’ website at www.diannaedwardsandwriting.com popped up there okay.
Success! But, no, I was unable to add anything to either of them unless I paid.
Both web publishers claimed to offer a free service, but that didn’t seem to be the case once I tried to add to an almost bare site.
The crux of this blog is to say that along with so many, other once-easy-to-manage – and free - internet facilities, such as eBay (that’s now almost fully commercial) there is no longer room for ‘little old ladies’ such as me, to be able to simply share things for free online.
Sure, I can understand that businesses need income to survive — flourish even — but to have no space for the ‘little people’ seems to be the way now.
As a consequence, I will no longer be posting blogs.
How long my site will remain accessible is anyone’s guess. Perhaps it will stay here as an historic reminder of days gone by.
Farewell. It was good while it lasted.
WEATHER: To Bake or to Freeze?
Last Thursday we invited friends to join us at our place for morning tea. We assumed we would have a pleasant morning, sitting outside on the veranda, watching the birds and occasional water dragon enjoying our back yard and pool.
It was not to be, as by 10 am, the temperature had risen to 37 degrees Celsius and we sipped our tea and coffee inside, with the air-conditioner blasting away.
There are still more hot days to come but the heat of this Gold Coast summer will not last forever, and our familiar beautiful weather will eventually return.
Later this year will mark the 10-year anniversary of the day we moved from Victoria to live in Queensland.
We had lived in Victoria for all our lives, beginning in Melbourne. For the previous past thirty years we had enjoyed life in the small rural town of Briagolong in the foothills of Gippsland.
Apart from being separated from our (now well grown and settled elsewhere) kids, one of the drawbacks of living in Victoria, especially Gippsland, was wintertime.
July was brutal.
As minus degrees in temperatures registered day after day, and heaters and fire places battled to keep us warm, we finally took the plunge and moved 1,500 kms north, to be near our daughter and her family in Queensland.
Ten years later, I try to never complain about the hot and humid weather we are now experiencing. I have to just remember those minus 5 degrees days —with frost and ice and freezing toes and fingers — as I settle down with the air conditioner - or fan - blowing coolness in a super-hot day.
How big is a billion?
According to the Australian Financial Review, as of January 2023, there are
45 Australian billionaires.
FORTY-FIVE people who have billions of $$$$!
The top three:
Do ‘ordinary’ people, like you and me, understand the enormity of a BILLION?
Let’s think about it. Let’s pretend that you, or I, had a billion dollars.
If you had ONE billion dollars to spend in a year — just ONE billion — here’s some info:
A billion is classed as a thousand million. Historically, a billion used to be a MILLION X million, but times have changed and a million x million is now classed as a TRILLION. Phew! Imagine!
Now, getting back to your one billion . . .
One billion for a year would give you more than $83 MILLION per MONTH to spend.
As we all know, there are 365 days in a year. That means that, with your billion, you could spend $2,739,726 a day, before you had used up your billion dollars.
How would that be? You could spend well over TWO MILLION per day to get through your $ billion!
You could spend $114,155 every hour of each day (even when you sleep).
So, more than $114 thousand every hour means $ 1,902 dollars a minute.
Let that sink in – as Elon once said.
Or, if you prefer a weekly amount, there’s about $19,230,769 per week to get rid of.
$19 million a week sounds okay to me!
Now, we are talking about ONE BILLION dollars here. You can see that even if you tried, it would be difficult (ha!) to use up that amount in a year. Considering, of course that you (being a billionaire), would already own your own house and a car or two — maybe even a yacht as well.
Okay, so perhaps you had ten years to spend that billion . . .
That’s still a hundred million to spend every year.
Every day you would have only (only!) approx.$274,000 to spend.
Buy a new house every second day if you wished.
Here’s an idea: Why not help some homeless people?
(If you or I really had ‘our’ billion dollars, I hope that’s what we would do).
Yes, I know that these (40+) multi-billionaires do not have their billions of dollars stashed in cash in a tin under the bed. Much of their money is tied up in land, businesses, and such, BUT they do have access to this amount of money (eventually) at their disposal.
And, yes, I know that there is some charity work done every now and again (mostly by Mike Cannon-Brookes – thank you) but it is mostly ‘peanuts’.
A billion dollars is a HUGE amount.
Try to imagine (I certainly can’t) what over $30 billion would be like.
More to the point, imagine what one could DO with 30 BILLION DOLLARS!
What intrigues me is this: WHY don’t most billionaires give away stacks and stacks of money? They surely must see some great and obvious needs.
Is there a connection between being hugely wealthy and lacking in empathy and (dare I say?) COMPASSION?
Or are they too busy accumulating $$$$ to ever connect with ‘ordinary’ others in this world?
I don’t hate billionaires. I don’t even dislike them, nor am I envious of them (well, maybe a tiny bit).
But I wonder about their priorities.
Winston Churchill said: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give”.
I do wonder if “our” billionaires realise how GOOD it makes you feel when you GIVE?
Dogs are 'for life'
The statement, 'A dog is for life, not just for Christmas®' was created by former Dogs Trust (UK) CEO and Trustee, Clarissa Baldwin CBE in 1978.
It is such a meaningful statement. Sadly, I don’t think enough people take it seriously.
Many, many years ago, we gave our son a puppy for his 12th birthday. That little black kelpie pup lived until she was nearly 18 years old. By that time, our son was about to turn 30 and lived in the UK. He had named his dog ‘Olympus’, which we changed to just ‘Ollie’ and we loved her and cared for her even though she ‘belonged’ to our travelling son.
Years passed and when we were ready, we gained another puppy — for ourselves, this time. She was a cavoodle, named ‘Matilda’. When Matilda was a puppy, she wasn’t much bigger than our small grandson’s shoe. That grandson was 20 when Matilda died, in her 16th year.
On social media, families sometimes post cute videos of their kids being presented with a puppy, showing a delighted and delightful response. But we wonder if the young 6-year-olds receiving those gifts of a puppy will still be promising to feed, walk and love their dogs when they (the kids) are aged 12, or 16, or so? Will the parents willingly continue to care for the puppy, that is no longer a puppy?
Also on social media are sites showing pictures of dogs needing ‘foster care’ or a new home. There’s a noticeable similarity around the dogs in these ads. There’s a shared ‘look’ about them. They mostly resemble some sort of pit-bull cross, or ‘tough looking’, muscle-bound — dare I say, ‘mean-looking’ hound! Maybe a staffy (American Staffordshire Terrier) cross.
It's a generalisation, I admit, but some men (or families) have a need to own a powerful looking crossbred dog to give them a certain look to perhaps show they and their property are well protected. But do they know the ‘golden rule’ relating to, 'A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’? Do they lose interest when they find out how much it costs to feed their (no longer a) puppy. The obstacles in their way when they decide to have a holiday without the trouble of a doggy companion – and the care it involves? Or even to find a suitable home that would continue to cater for a biggish dog, that needs room to move?
And, for 12 – 17 years?
I’m writing this on January 3rd, 2023.
If my father was alive, he would have turned 110 years old today. He was a wise and loving father to his five children and a lovely and loving grandfather to his 12 grandchildren. I’m sure he would have also been a proud and gentle great-grandfather, if his chain- smoking habit had not ended his life at the age of 74.
Far too soon.
He had worked for a famous cigarette company for most of his life and was (almost) convinced by his ‘masters’ that statements warning that smoking was a killer were inaccurate.
But they were right; it was a killer in several ways — but he learned that too late.
Another ten or so years wld have been good.
New Year notes
New Year’s message — 2016 to 2022/23 — anything changed?
A reader recently commented on a New Year’s message I wrote, way back in 2016, six years ago.
I thought I’d see if my wishes for 2023 matched those I had for 2017.
Of course, in 2016, we had no idea of what was to come in the form of Covid-19 pandemic. How oblivious we were!
But I did wish for:
1. “A new generous and compassionate attitude to be spread around”.
2. “ALL politicians, to rethink past decisions and try again, with a redistribution of riches”.
3. “Curbing of consumerism, to stop rampant capitalism, putting a check on the greed factor”.
4. “For everyone who wants employment have it”.
*Still waiting…(maybe getting there?)
5. “To care for the environment in every way possible…
6. “To NOTICE the intense weather happenings — floods, fires, blizzards, rising sea levels — and do everything we can to halt global warming/climate change”
(This was originally written when Tony Abbott said that Climate Change was “crap”).
Thank goodness more people have woken up!)
7. “To consider the land that is Australia. A land that has been ravaged and pillaged by the white man for a couple of hundred years. We’ve dug up gold, coal, silver, iron ore, copper, zinc, lead and uranium (gulp!) to the point of wanton vandalism. There’ll soon be more holes than country. The destruction is massive & it’s time to stop.
And “get coal mines out of Queensland!” *
8. Build smaller homes.
9. “Stop random baby-making and ‘discarding’ of those you make, through lack of care. (You know what I mean).
* Still waiting
So, you see, we can wish for LOTS of GOOD things in the coming year —no harm in wishing, I suppose, but most of my hopes for 2017, quite frankly and disappointingly, have stayed unfulfilled.
However, we did get a new PM, here in Australia, which seems to be a GOOD thing. Fingers crossed.
For now, my biggest and most sincere wish is for everyone to be HAPPY. . . and Covid free.
Please wear a face mask. Believe me, it saves you from infection.
May 2023 be the year that war will cease and Covid be obliterated.
We shall see.
Best wishes to all for 2023.
AND WEAR A FACE MASK WHEN OUT AND ABOUT.
*Just had to add in 2022: (facts from three years ago but still relevant)
“of the top 100 companies that paid no tax, 22 were fossil fuel companies, meaning most coal and gas companies are not contributing a cent to the cost of the natural disasters their product is fuelling".
Living in rural Victoria, our choice of Christmas tree used to depend on which smallish pine tree growing randomly on the edge of a nearby pine plantation would be chosen to bring home and decorate.
But, ten years ago, after relocating to Queensland, there was no nearby pine plantation to plunder.
In the hassle of packing and moving, we bought a small artificial Christmas tree in a discount shop for the grand sum of $9.99.
That will have to do for now, we said. Later, we will buy a grander one.
Ten years have gone by and we have yet to but a ‘grander’ one.
Each December, we fetch the battered box from the roof space and unfold the $9.99 tree.
I used to say, ‘this is the last time’, and on several occasions we have gone Christmas tree shopping, each time returning with nothing, after being confused by the array of boxed apparitions. The silver shimmering light-adorned offerings seemed ostentatious and ‘not us’.
So, little cheap tree, I have hung the old ornaments upon you and stood back to see that you are our tree and we congratulate you on your staying power.
What Have We Done?
TWO NEWS ITEMS:
This world of ours has been supporting life for hundreds, and hundreds, of millions of years
and, guess what?
WE – the most recent generations - are the ones who are likely going to finish it off. We are killing our world.
The other recent News item:
Here are the comments on her arrest, made by State politicians: (Premier): “everyone has the right to protest, but do so in a way that doesn’t inconvenience people.”
(opposition leader):.. “you [might] inconvenience literally hundreds of thousands of people. . . . in consecutive days . . .”
NOW, Let’s hear what some REAL “inconvenience” might look like:
In 2021, Will Steffen*, climate scientist, stated, “Massive floods, fires and heatwaves are sending us a clear message. On our present trajectory, we risk heading into a collapse of our globalised civilisation and a precipitous drop in human population — put simply, hell on earth. But we can avoid
this disastrous future if we change the way we think, live our lives and interact with the rest of the living world.”
*Emeritus Professor, Fenner School of Environment & Society ANU
After the so called ‘deal’ reached at the Cop27 UN Climate summit climate, experts and campaigners warned that the biggest economies must make fresh commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
They said “The world still stands on the brink of climate catastrophe”
And that’s putting it mildly!
The story of a fossil find and the arrest of a young woman climate protester, might seem two different stories.
So, let’s re-cap:
This world we inhabit has evolved over many MILLIONS of years.
In these millions of years changes of all kinds have happened; some very slowly, others quickly. But now the rapid decline of the planet through global warming is likely leading to our planet’s end.
While many of us, in our own small way attempt to act wisely to cease further destruction, HUGE changes are necessary before the global catastrophe can be halted. (If possible).
I am appalled by the continuation of promoting coal production in Australia.
Of course I see the benefits, especially in dollar terms, but the consequences of ignoring fossil fuel damage are outrageously negative.
All we have left is protest, it seems.
Little voices, such as Sydney traffic stoppers might seem useless in such a catastrophe, but when the HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of years of “our” planet’s life are being wrecked by our generations, we must use whatever we can.
The message sent by ‘our’ leaders, shown by their obsession with the possibility of people being “inconvenienced” by a protester, shows a lack of big picture acknowledgement and an extremely small-minded view.
Look at the picture of the gigantic fossil and remind yourselves what a magnificent and super-long-lived planet we are demolishing.
Talking about the plastic bag problem, weren’t we?
Here’s one idea: Stop buying (&selling!) those small plastic bags of kids’ snacks.
For heaven’s sake — surely it’s possible for parents, carers, or kids themselves, to put a banana or a couple of crackers & cheese or even a home baked cookie in a school lunch box?
(Home-baked cookie? What’s that?)
The amount of $$$ that manufacturers & supermarkets must be making from selling this stuff must be immense. (as for the $$$ spent by families!)
But the main problem as I see it, is the amount of plastic around this (mostly) rubbish food.
As an illustration, yesterday I walked along a path adjoining a fence of the local primary school and picked up what is shown in the accompanying photo. I could have gathered more.
The path that forms that part of my walk is no more than 500 metres. Over the (wire) school fence I could see even more of the same junk congregating along the fence line, where little piles of similar dropped plastic were fluttering along, aided by a breeze.
A small creek is near the path where I walked. This creek turns into a concrete drain for a while to enable it to flow under a main road not far away. Water from this creek/drain flows towards the sea, where it ultimately dumps not only water, but the remnants of all this discarded stuff.
I see at least two problems: One is the pollution of waterways and sea with plastic — and the other is pollution of land fill, wherever rubbish is dumped. Rubbish that is comprised of plastic in all its guises.
We can try to collect plastic bags to hopefully recycle. (That’s not working, apparently). We can limit bag distribution by retailers, but while nearly every little and big thing we buy comes encased in plastic, we are defeated, no matter what we do.
BUT please look at the photo and imagine almost every kid in every school in every state having a couple of these snacks in their lunch box. Some empty packs will find their way to the rubbish bin, others will accidentally flutter off to ‘nowhere land’ and end up in the sea.
The primary school near my home has over a thousand pupils. I wonder how many of them have a snack in a plastic bag each day.
Some Maths . . .a thousand kids, 200 school days per year, just one snack per kid each day . . . try 200,000 small plastic bags a year . . .every year . . . aarrgghh!
(and that’s not including the cling wrap around the sandwiches & other food . . . !)
Do we give up?
A distressed magpie lark arrived on our back veranda in March of this year (’22). She fluttered around for a while, stopping every so often to peck furiously at her right foot. Alarmingly, we saw that her foot was bound tightly in a tangle of fine nylon blue thread. The toes on that foot were useless for standing or perching.
She flew up close to us and we guessed she was looking for help.
But try as we did, time and time again, to catch her — sometimes attempting to throw a soft towel over her — she would not allow herself to be captured.
To lure her closer, we presented some bird seed (Wild Bird Mix), which she ate quickly, although always wary of our too-close approach.
Days went by and Birdie (as I had started to call her) spent a lot of time on our veranda, still pecking vainly at the thread around the, by now, useless foot. It was a mystery as to how her foot had become so entangled in such a way.
She started anticipating the small pile of seeds we offered each day and would often be waiting at the glass back door when we came out at breakfast time.
As Birdie picked and picked at her mangled right foot, little by little — over months — some of the crippling thread came off. But it was too late. By now, one toe had withered and shrunk, the others bent and useless.
We became used to Birdie’s company when we sat out on the veranda. Through all seasons she would join us, perched one-legged on the back of a chair. We continued to leave small amounts of seed and, if we ever left any crumbs on the table after a meal, she would fly in and finish them off, always waiting for us to leave first.
She eventually started adjusting to her crippled foot and occasionally hopped using both feet, albeit with her right one a backwards facing stump.
For eight months or so we have had Birdie as our veranda companion and lately, guess what – she has brought along a boyfriend!
They are obviously a pair, and he often shares the seed we put out — sometimes being over-bossy and pushing Birdie out of the way, so that he can eat first. (!).
Now we are waiting to see if Birdie and her mate have a secret nest somewhere nearby and wonder if any offspring might make our back veranda a visiting place.
I feel sure that our Birdie story gives yet another indication of intelligence present in other creatures.
Eye lashes of a child
“The long eye lashes of a child” *. . .
Words about a dying child.
A big child,
A brown child,
A boy child. . .
A dying child.
Should we have told a child
where ‘the wrong place’ might be?
Should we have told a child
when ‘the wrong time’ would be?
How could he know
the murderous intent,
and the spite
of the white man in the car,
just looking for a black kid --
with weapons at the ready.
Was, ‘there he is’
Or, ‘there’s one’
the call of mindless hate?
What motivates the dull minds
of that white man
and his mates?
Did they say, ‘Let’s get him?’
Did they mean to kill and maim,
as they came towards the boy?
“With eye lashes of a child”.
*Quote, from Editorial, The Saturday Paper, 29.10.2022,
“DON’T LOOK AWAY’
Ibis, now 'Bin Chicken'
It’s about 32 years ago and we are travelling through Queensland, on a holiday from Victoria.
At a picnic spot by the Mary River at Maryborough, we are sitting in the car drinking coffee, because it’s raining. As we gaze around at the scenery, an ibis walks along the grass, near our car.
It is an unusual sight, and we guess that maybe the bird is searching for food dropped by picnickers.
“What a strange sight,” we laugh, “A bit like the seagulls at Melbourne bay-side beaches.”
We watch the lone ibis and wonder what has led it to become a scavenger.
In 2022 ibis are now commonly referred to as ‘bin chickens’ and seen in many—if not most—areas in Australia. They are no longer only visible in rural settings, by waterways. They are in parks, gardens, and roadsides, attracted by humans and the bits and pieces of garbage food left behind.
Ibis are no strangers to kids of today, but I don’t think I had even seen one before I was an adult. (Yes, I’m that old).
Now, it’s not uncommon for me to step out of my home and see an ibis on the front lawn.
P.S. Ibis in the picture was at outdoor dining area at QPAC, Brisbane.
September 23rd, 2022
Oh, dear…so much going on since Queen Elizabeth died.
A weird sort of reverse snobbery appeared on some social media, with people boasting, “well I am not going to watch even a minute of the funeral” sort of comment.
That’s okay, no one HAD to watch. A shame really as it was an historical occasion, never to be seen again. Whether or not you ‘fancy’ the royal family, the pageantry on show, after a 70-year reign by a British monarch, was amazing.
The sight of a gun carriage, adorned coffin atop, pulled by 142 young Royal Navy sailors had to be seen to be believed.
The funeral service in Westminster Abbey was almost low-key, with hymns and bible readings familiar to any ‘ordinary’ folk who have ever visited a mainstream church service in the past couple of decades. (Apart, of course from the choral anthems, which soared into the cathedral rafters!)
The procession that followed was more than two times longer than the service and was perhaps the more spectacular.
Afterwards came complaints concerning the cost of such a day. A cost that many Brits thought was excessive and wasteful, considering the state of the country’s finances.
Agreeing with this, I thought that the royal family could have dipped into their billions and paid for the whole thing – even if only to help their image.
The week-long ‘mourning’ stirred up many an anti-monarchy protest, exacerbated here, in Australia, by the ‘day of mourning’ holiday on Thursday.
Protests emanating from First Nations people are understandable and may open up a more general appreciation of the coming referendum to enshrine an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice in the Australian Constitution.
So that’s a plus, I suppose.
Although I watched and enjoyed the Queen’s funeral out of interest and a sort of respect for ‘our’ very old and seemingly dedicated monarch, I do have some misgivings about the monarchy.
Having lived through the 1975 debacle, where an Australian PM was sacked, I hold extreme negative feelings towards actions taken by the Queen and Prince (now King) Charles, with their unnecessary involvement with the execrable John Kerr. A blot on our history, as seen in the recently exposed ‘Palace Letters’.
The other very negative view of the monarchy is the appalling deception and subsequent treatment of the young Diana Spencer. What a cruel act used to secure an ‘appropriate’ partner for a philandering and selfish future king.
And now, here we are: the Queen has gone and we are left with a royal family of fractured and, at times, quite nasty (witness treatment of Meghan Markle) group of people who own a £16.5 billion portfolio of real estate.
Do we really need them?
Immersing in Nature
It has been said that “Nature offers one of the most reliable boosts to our mental and physical wellbeing.”
For 30 years I lived in country Victoria where, after taking a short (200 m) walk, I was in the midst of a red gum forest. I walked in the forest almost every day and it gave me a sense of peace.
Earlier in my life, there were two years when an old farmhouse on the edge of a river was my home. At the time I had a stressful teaching position and, on returning from a day at school, I would often stroll down to the river, slowly breathe in the air and look at what nature provided. Once back at the house, I would feel rejuvenated and many of the day’s troubles would have been mentally solved or simply melted away.
There is a word: ‘Biophilia’, which Harvard naturalist Dr. Edward O. Wilson sees as “humanity's innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes, and to be drawn toward nature”.
I tend to agree. We NEED nature and being immersed in nature brings rewards.
There is much research on subjects about benefits of spending time with nature—or surrounding yourself within a nature-based experience.
“A growing body of research points to the beneficial effects that exposure to the natural world has on health, reducing stress and promoting healing” (from Yale School of the Environment, 2020).
During my lifetime—whenever and wherever—I have tried to often be “immersed in nature” and I truly believe in the benefits to health and ‘well-being’…both mentally and physically.
The realisation that there are so very many people—especially kids—who are unable to have this experience is a sobering thought.
I wonder how many city kids have never been in a forest. How many people have never experienced walking along a beach?
How many city dwellers have never seen an eagle in flight?
I am quite familiar with the sight of wedge tailed eagles, having lived in Gippsland for many years. But, about 20 years ago, when travelling between Bowen and Townsville, the sight of numerous eagles and hawks soaring in a glorious blue sky was amazing. These magnificent birds, possibly scanning newly harvested sugar cane fields, looking for tasty morsels of small edible creatures provided a sense of awe. Another way of ‘drawing towards nature’, another different ‘Biophilia’ experience, with accompanying benefits.
Recent articles have appeared about an experience called “Forest bathing”, which is a Japanese practice inducing relaxation. It’s a simple method of being calm and quiet amongst the trees. (There is no bath involved!). Participants claim that by observing and being in nature, especially within forest surroundings—while breathing deeply— can help de-stress and boost health and well-being in a natural way.
Too much to ask, but…all cities should endeavour to make available exposure to trees, gardens and native wild birds at least.
There is a current trend to use a form of biophilia in office buildings and homes to help create that elusive notion of “well-being”. It seems mainly to do with including indoor plants. I wonder if it works.
Look up “biophilia” and “forest bathing” and give it a try!
Spending Gina's Money
Of all the billionaires in Australia I am choosing Gina Rinehart — to pretend to have access to her money.
The latest estimation of Gina’s wealth accumulation (I hesitate to use the term ‘worth’) is around $29.6 (U.S.) billion.
Now, a BILLION of anything is almost impossible to comprehend, but, if Gina wished to spend all her $$billions on herself, some have estimated it would take her about a hundred lifetimes to do so.
So, I have devised a few ways to help her spend:
Just pondering about a couple of items in the News lately.
Firstly, the shocking revelations about the mistreatment of young people in youth detention facilities; the harm dished out — physical and mental — resulting in them being traumatised and, ultimately, worse offenders.
Here’s what I would do:
Instead of concrete and steel cells, armed guards and 23 hour a day lock-up, I would spend squillions on making accommodation for young offenders into comfortable housing; a bedroom, with ensuite for each kid. Make sure the bed is comfortable, with the occupier’s choice of quilt or blankets. Provide top quality everything, including toiletries.
Crazy? Maybe, but worth a try. And, let’s face it—anything is better than what is.
Until (hopefully) the resident is able and willing to look after his own room, have it cleaned and tidied professionally daily. Fresh sheets and towels a must.
Then, create daytime to evening activities to interest and involve the youngsters. Make physical activities fun. Have woodwork, mechanics, creative art and craft of all sorts available.
NO locking up. (Apart from the periphery fence, of course).
Create meals that are tasty and nourishing. Show by example how to eat good meals. No lecturing.
Sure, there will be miscreants who will muck up and wreck things but remember that these kids mostly had horrific starts to their lives.
Ensure superabundant helpful, compassionate and caring staff are present 24 hours of the day.
Of course, all of this will need absolute buckets of money to do…but, guess what? This GR spend will hardly make a dent. It may use up one of the billions, but, hey? That’s okay.
Secondly, my next big spend of GR money would be to set up a car manufacturing plant (maybe in South Australia?) to produce electric vehicles.
Imagine an Australian EV. How good that would be.
And the best part is that, after ten or twenty years, this manufacturing company could be making a handy profit.
This is just me, using GR money.
There are always more billions to be fantasised about.
Try some of real estate dealer Harry Triguboff’s. (Currently ‘worth’ $21.5 U.S. billion).
Or the lesser James Packer at only $3.8B, or Clive palmer’s $2B.
Of course, don’t forget Andrew Forrest, at $17.8B - even as he makes out to be a sweet and generous philanthropist.
Mike Cannon-Brookes has piles of billions – it’s a movable feast as he actually does occasionally use some $$$ for good.
BUT, oh, what we, the impoverished, could do with these billions!
When I was a small child and my English great-grandmother died, my grandfather (her son, here in Australia) needed to talk with his English family. It was an onerous task. He had to book a phone call to UK, wait some hours to be notified that a connection was possible and finally, as his Australian family sat around, he spoke, long distance—using a heavy, black Bakelite phone—to England.
It was not until 1963 that, what were called ‘trunk calls’, made it easier to speak by telephone to family or friends overseas; a sometime tricky thing to undertake—and the sound wasn’t great.
(I read that, “In the UK and the Commonwealth countries, a trunk call was the term for long-distance calling which traversed one or more trunk lines and involved more than one telephone exchange”, but still don’t know what the word ‘trunk’ implies in this context).
As time went by people accepted that phoning overseas was achievable, despite the cost.
At around 1976 to 1978, Australian STD (subscriber trunk dialling) was introduced. STD let telephone users make national and international calls without going through an operator.
Now, in 2022, once or twice a week, my son calls from the UK where he lives. My iPad plays a little jingle, I pick it up and ‘swipe’ the green button and there is my son, my daughter-in-law and my granddaughter.
Not only within clear hearing range but live, in full ‘technicolour’.
My granddaughter tells us about her latest school successes, and perhaps shows us something she has made. As we chat, my son takes his device outside to show us the latest progress in their UK back garden. Through this ‘facetime’ call we are able to be with family with ease.
This is telecommunication in the 21st century.
It is almost scary to imagine what the future in communication might eventually be like.
What are wars for?
This year, 2022, marks 80 years since Japanese bombing raids began on Darwin in WW2.
The air attack on Darwin continued for nearly two years; the city was bombed 64 times.
Australian troops, numbering approximately 250,000 were stationed in the Northern Territory at some stage during those war years. Lives were lost; young men were permanently scarred.
History recalls that the government of the day fudged the numbers of casualties so that people wouldn’t 'be alarmed'.
But conservative estimates of war deaths in NT at the time, puts the servicemen tally at 432 and the number of civilian deaths at 63. That’s almost 500 people. (At least).
What was that all about?
To end that conflict, even worse had to occur, as the US obliterating of Nagasaki and Hiroshima were to prove.
So, what was all that about?
Today, Japan is considered one of Australia’s Best Friends.
And yet, for a decade or so after WW2, Australians refused to buy anything stamped “MADE IN JAPAN”.
Years later, when Japan proved its skills in manufacturing electronic goods and cars, all was ‘forgiven’ and the horror of war time was put in the past.
So, what did that war achieve?
Will we ever learn that all wars are futile?
What is the point, right now, of Putin bombing Ukraine into rubble – killing soldiers and civilians by the hundreds and wrecking any civilisation in his path?
Why do humans keep making wars?
Here are some interesting facts:
The Australian Defence force costs over $48 BILLION p.a., to maintain.
ALSO, did you know?
Australia is one of the top ten weapons exporting countries in the world, selling in excess of $5 BILLION worth of arms and equipment annually.
Imagine, for a minute, if all the money spent on arms and military might was spent, instead, on mitigating the (equally) deadly effect of Climate Change.
Imagine if all the military personnel from every nation rallied to save the planet, instead of bombing it.
Eighty years ago, Japan was dropping bombs on Australia.
Today Japan is one of Australia’s Best Friends.
Please tell me WHY we keep having wars.
WEAR A FACE MASK!
Let’s talk about COVID. (Moan, not again!)
And, let’s talk about masks. (oh, nooo!)
Last night, on ABC tv, ‘The Drum’, CSIRO scientist, Lisa Gershwin, smilingly, yet forcefully, asserted that “This microbe wants to take us down”. (Yikes!)
It is obvious to most people that vaccinations and mask wearing are now necessary to protect us from the dreaded COVID virus.
There has been a lot of arguing over the need for mask wearing to be mandated. Politicians are being criticised for not being firm on this matter.
I do have a little sympathy for the politicians, and maybe understand a reason for their reluctance to mandate—other than the idea that it is businesses who do not want the populace kept away from commerce.
Think about it: IF mask wearing is mandated, it will be well-nigh impossible to police the mandate and you can ‘bet your bottom dollar’ that, as soon as people start being told they MUST don a mask, there will be protests. Once again, the morons in our midst will make their banners, with “my body, my choice”, “masks = Govt control” and so on, and take to the city streets, spreading the virus between them.
I am determined not to subject myself to this latest COVID virus strain of BA.4 and BA.5. I wear a face mask whenever I am out and about, such as a visit to a supermarket. Although I avoid gatherings of most sorts, I sometimes attend a meeting of a writers’ group, where there is a small number of attendees. Strangely, at the previous two meetings, I have been one of only two members wearing a mask. This I cannot understand. But, maybe folk are waiting to be TOLD.
After recommending that vaccinations and mask-wearing are essential tools for keeping us safe, the smiling scientist, Lisa Gershwin, added the much-quoted and true advice, “If you dislike wearing a mask, you’re really gonna HATE a ventilator!”
Think about it!
Protesting then and now
I’m old enough to have marched in a (Melbourne) Moratorium against the Vietnam War, in 1970.
Some years later, although I did not travel to Tasmania, I did what I could to support those protesting against the damming of the Franklin River.
The Vietnam protests, against an unwinnable war—and a huge revolt against conscription— eventually led to Australian troops being withdrawn and welcomed in a new PM in Gough Whitlam.
Success of the Franklin River protests in 1982—to save a wilderness area—coincided with the arrival of a new PM, in Bob Hawke.
In the meantime, I added my (small) voice to a successful protest against sand mining and logging on Fraser Island; an activity that ultimately ceased in 1976.
I have seen and supported many a protest. Protests for important and crucial matters.
Recent protests have been different.
I supported (from afar) the women’s “March for Justice” in 2020, which was magnificent but gained little political response, apart from participants being told they were lucky not to be met with bullets (paraphrasing here).
The school kids’ 2022 protest “Strike for Climate” was also a magnificent happening, but the only political comment gained seemed to be “they should have been in school”. A little later, the (then) Fed minister for the environment, Sussan Ley, obtained a court ruling saying that she does “not have a duty of care to protect young people from climate change when assessing fossil fuel projects”. (!!)
And, so, protests continue…BUT…they have been of more dubious nature and magnitude over the past two years. On our TV screens we witnessed marching and yelling protests that gained far-too-much attention. These protests were different and not aimed at bettering our country or bettering our environment.
Some huge protests erupted, peopled by those who think it is a terrible impingement on their rights to ask them to wear a face mask during a deadly pandemic.
Added to these pathetic selfish protests have been the mindless mobs screaming objection to receiving a vaccination; an injection to prevent serious illness!
Insistent that they will experience devastating (many weird and imagined) consequences from a vaccination, they ignore any devastating consequences of contracting the virus. WTF?
To quote Bob Dylan: “A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.”
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.