Sunday, May 29, 2011

blog break

Hi all,

I'm taking a blog break, and hope to be back mid to late June. I'll be attending the 'Happiness and Its Causes' conference in Brisbane, and hope to be full of interesting information about how we construct happiness.

till then


Mornington Victoria

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The End Of The World !s Nigh!

I've been quite perplexed about the seriousness with which some people seem to have taken the end of the world predictions. Perhaps that's overstating it though, as I had no idea anything out of the ordinary was expected to happen last weekend and I've only more or less caught up with the whole kerfuffle this week.

I read something on FB about people wondering which time zone something they referred to as Rapture was referring to ... New Zealand? Eastern Australian time? or where the prediction was coming from which seemed to be the USA. My friends seemed to be idly wondering which calendar was being used for the prediction as well. there are quite a few in use after all - it was all a little perplexing.  If I'd spent more than 2 seconds thinking about the so-called prediction, I would have come to the conclusion that it was all a bit sus.*

Anyhow, it was my hubby's birthday and we were going to celebrate, end of the world or not!

You may wonder why I am so sanguine about THE END OF THE WORLD which I'm sure will be accompanied by dramatic and extremely atmospheric organ music.

My mother was born in 1916 and used to tell the following story.

As a little girl she remembered being dressed in a new white frilly Sunday Best dress. Except it wasn't Sunday, and she wasn't used to having new clothes. Mostly her clothes were hand-me-downs from her older sister. She was absolutely delighted and wanted to twirl and dance, but the atmosphere was sombre. Her older sister helped her with her new socks and shoes, brushed her hair till it shone, then tied it with a bow.

The whole family, sisters, parents, aunts and uncles, grandmas and grandpas, many neighbours, farm workers and mill hands all dressed with extra care. Those who could afford it were wearing new clothes. They then proceeded with great solemnity to trek to the highest point of the highest hill near their small village in Norfolk, England.

Hymn sheets were passed around, prayers said, absolution made. Then they raised their voices to heaven and waited for the light of Jesus to carry them to heaven.

They raised their voices to heaven again and waited   and waited   and waited

I often think they must have felt a little awkward when they finally came to the realisation that nothing was going to happen and they'd need to pick up the hymn sheets, go home and get dinner for the no doubt confused and possibly squabbling children.

Some people had apparently sold all their belongings including houses and all their goods and chattles. I wonder what happened to them? Did the preacher apologise, put them up, feed them and help them find their feet again afterwards? I don't understand the motivation other than an abnormally greedy desire for power and the enjoyment of having gullible people fawning over your empty words.

I remember my mother saying that their particular preacher continued to change the dates and claim that the next time was the right date. Some parishioners believed him, but there were less and less as time went on.

My mother's family never went up to the top of the hill again. They emigrated to Australia instead. I think they were right to be skeptical after being duped once, and I'm confident mum would have smiled at the latest doomsday preacher.
A good spot to hang out and wait for the end of the world.
* suspect or suspicious

Monday, May 23, 2011

A mouse plague

"Normally when theres heavy mouse numbers I see at least one in the house. This time I actually fried one in the toaster. I was half way through a slice when it dawned on me what the odd singed smell could be..." more here

Feeling squeamish? Needless to say I'm so glad it wasn't me!

The worst we've had was mice eating wires in the dishwasher, then getting fried. The dishwasher stopped mid cycle, and the finale was an oozing, nauseating, sickly smell. The repairman wasn't at all surprised. Apparently it's a common problem; mice eat the wires and get electrocuted and short out the electrics. He cheerfully presented me with the carcasses; proof that he wasn't making the story up. I suppose repairmen are gearing up for some robust business given the prevalence of mice across the country. The Department of Primary Industries is predicting the worst plague in decades.

So, not only has nature thrown some crappy events at us this year, but has topped it off with creating perfect conditions for a mouse plague. Whoopie.

I came face to whiskers with one IN the dishwasher one day which was a little unsettling - I'm not sure who was more surprised. I think we both stopped and stared before reacting with either a squawk (me) or a twitch of the whiskers and a scamper through the little vent (the mouse).  I wouldn't have believed an adult could squeeze through an opening 1 cm (three eighths of an inch) wide until I saw it happen. We've since strung a piece of wire around the inlet nozzle to prevent it happening again. The thought of the mouse not being quick enough to escape before being caught in the swishing water and being spun around the dishes like a tiny furry dish mop doesn't bear thinking about.

It's unsettling to realise that perfectly hygienic storage of grain is an impossibility (though when I think about it, not unreasonable) and that at least in the USA, hygiene regulations allow "up to two fecal pellets per pint of grain" (Bryson. 'At Home') I doubt Australia would be much different.

I'm not sure how much enjoyment I'll get from my wholegrain and seed bread in the future. Perhaps It's best to just pretend that all the little seeds really are linseed.

And if we have trouble in the home, how do restaurants and cafes manage? Is it "out of sight, out of mind"? "If you can't see it, it doesn't exist?" Ergh.

I was listening in horror earlier today to a farmer describing mice up to a foot deep near the farm sheds, and found this youtube delight to share. It's exactly how the farmer described the situation in central New South Wales. But be warned, PLEASE don't look if you're about to prepare any food or have just eaten ...  or are thinking of eating any time in the near future. Viewing this video could lead to nausea or sudden, unplanned dieting.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Exploding watermelons.

Food for thought:
It’s easy to forget
the weather that caused havoc for farmers across our land; cyclone Yasi, the droughts and floods
Customers concerned with the price of fruit and nit picking about imperfections.

 If we think at all, imagine everything is back to normal for those affected.

ignore the distance our food has travelled
Oranges from California. Durian from Thailand
News of exploding watermelons in China.
Picture from here
If you’re struggling and poor, how tempting to hurry nature along!

Tampering backfires. Crops ruined.

Are our farmers here supported adequately
To enable them to be patient and let crops grow healthily?


A Drabble is a story told in 100 words. No more. No less.

Photo captures from ABC news.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

An infestation of cockatoos

My fitful sleep was in tatters, shredded by the most unholy cacophony, fit to wake the dead. Almost impossible to describe but something akin to a mechanical contraption desperately in need of oil, with metal parts rasping cruelly against each other. Shrill, discordant, unpleasant, intrusive.

Startled fully awake, I lay trying to comprehend, to make sense of this weird, unfamiliar HORRIBLE noise. 

Not coming from a close-by road, but overhead. Perplexed and fully attentive now, I was aware of it travelling from farmland some distance off. Louder and louder. Dreadful ... what on earth? Birds? There must be hundreds, but what are they? Not anything usual for these parts. Eventually they passed overhead and wheeled off into the distance - come morning I forgot their very existence.

North side of the house
Snowy white feathers, cute as a button close up, entertaining, amusing, inquisitive, swinging from strands of bark and twiglets barely able to hold their weight...
but not so delightful in these numbers
West side of the house
voracious feeders
(in what is left of the lopped tree)

South side of the house
East side of the house
Many farmers and graziers despise cockatoos due to their extremely destructive nature. Even in suburbia they've been known to strip timber from houses, shred insulation boxes and create havoc.

So when they were frightened off by a passing truck I was rather pleased
Debris from their visit
I wonder if their appearance in such large numbers has anything to do with the locust plague earlier in the year followed by the floods? Perhaps they've found their way south foraging for food? It's easy to forget that the repercussions from natural disasters affect birds and animals too and this could be just one of many events playing out across the country.

Ah ha! Technically speaking this is a Little Corella or Cacatua sanguinea (I wonder if that's from sanguine, meaning cheerful or hopeful or for the ruddy complexion?)


Monday, May 16, 2011

Do as I say, don't...

do as I do...

I know it’s not fashionable but I love my laptop and I also like watching Eurovision. Whilst my laptop is sleek, and has elegant lines that are soothing to the eye and touch, Eurovision on the other hand can be brash, loud and fun. Chalk and cheese in fact.

pic from here
On Saturday night they were due to meet and be companionable, with me as the lynchpin. Laptop, meet Eurovision; Eurovision, meet laptop.

The Plan (cue here dramatic music) was for some friends and I to watch Eurovision while chatting on Facebook about the songs, clothing, hairstyles and all the glitz and glamour that makes up the annual feast of wacky, weird and wonderful entertainment. My lovely laptop was vital for this to work smoothly.

My appetite for an entertaining evening was well and truly whetted. I’d watched the excellent SBS documentary ‘Secret History of Eurovision’ which tracked Eurovision through many social and political events with wonderful archival footage tracing its rich and fascinating history.

I’d been educated, now to have fun!

So, from the comfort of our respective loungerooms we were about to share the awesomeness (cough, cough) that is Eurovision. Whilst others around Australia were indulging in themed parties and drinking games we were to have a Claytons party.*

The brilliant Julia Zemiro and Sam Pang had been in fine form the previous two nights. The patter was prepared, along with interviews and general dagging around from their broadcasting shoebox in Dusseldorf, so I was confident we were in for a great evening. (For the record, I was disappointed that Belgium and Norway didn't make it to the finals.)

Now, we all know Blogger had a hissy fit last week, so I’d assumed the general malaise surrounding my reliable laptop was some odd residue from that and somehow mysteriously related.

My luscious laptop and I have travelled happily together through thick and thin for years. Part security guards, through airport x-rays, ever reliable and helpful, ready to do my beckoning at the tap of a key or swish of finger. I’d slip her into a little black leather satchel for safe-keeping, and sashay off to whatever destination was necessary.

”I might just check to see if there are any system updates before settling down” thinks I.

Then nothing. Nil, zilch, zip, zero response. "Oh crap".

I used to say I’m not a gambler, and I’m well known for insisting that students BACK EVERYTHING UP. Maybe I'll have to revisit that assessment of my gambling status?

Confession: "Do as I say, don’t do as I do…" oh crap.

ALL my files, ALL my photos…oh crap. Big time stuff up. And what about the Eurovision Party? I felt like I was all dressed up with nowhere to go. It wouldn’t be the same without sharing and giggling and oohing and aaahing with my FB mates.

Many, many stomach churning hours later, fingernails nibbled, results broadcast – Europe voted for Azerbaijan (safe and bland we thought) and Australia voted for Ireland (lively and fun) – Wonder Son (my techno savvy son) walked me through the process of nurturing lovely laptop back to health. But not before some gut wrenching moments of thinking she’d have to go to a Wizard, and even they may not be able to retrieve any data.

The parting comment: “You were really lucky. You’ve dodged the bullet this time, you might not be so lucky next time. BACK IT UP MUM!”

I have. It is done, and I plan (more coughing) to stick to a backing up schedule in the future. It really wasn’t a fun experience.

Surely I'm not alone? What have you done, or not done with your techie toys equipment?

* the Party you have when you’re not having a party

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The end of a Fairy Penguin

I was going to write about something fun and random, but keep thinking about the gorgeous Fairy Penguin that was entertaining the crowds at Easter.
I read in a local paper yesterday that he was killed by some youths. Now I know why he'd disappeared after I wrote the P - Penguin drabble here.

A tiny part of me wants to be understanding and is saying things like "the youths probably have tough lives and are marginalised and unhappy", "they're angry with the world and taking it out on a defenseless creature".

The bigger part of me wants to be unkind and is entertaining mean and extremely uncharitable thoughts towards them. After all Fairy Penguins are a protected animal, and this one was a delight. Hundreds and hundreds of mums and dads, grandmas and grandpas, different ethnic groups and children of all ages had enjoyed his swooping and darting antics. He wasn't hurting anybody, he wasn't a threat, (I guess that was why he was targeted, he couldn't fight back.)

This event brought back the sorrow I felt a couple of years ago when there had been a large sting ray at the same pier. It was there for months, and it was possible to hand feed it if you were game, and there at the right time. Those who fed it knew to keep clear of the barbed tail. It was wonderful to be able to see it up close in its natural habitat, gliding effortlessly through the water and watch the wing-tips glide past boat hulls, flexing ever so gently to avoid making contact.

Then it wasn't there any more. It'd been hacked to pieces by some teenagers.

I'm feeling disgruntled and ill at ease. Locally this has happened, statewide things aren't so great, nation wide ditto, worldwide - not so good either.

For me, little glimpses into the natural world provide a haven from the violence humans choose to do to other humans. It's a form of escapism and helps me find a balance from all the crap out there.

I know the animal kingdom leads to untimely death, is full of the need to eat or trying to escape from being eaten. I think the difference is that it's not killing for pleasure, it's not done because the killer is miffed with something out of kilter in their own life, or for jealousy, or revenge or lust for scarce resources.

So much for these posts being light and whimsical ... perhaps it's time to get to work on my other blog and focus on the healing process after having been bullied!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

If birds could swear - a random post

There was a tree in our back yard. It had grown from a twiggy shoot when we moved here quite a few  years ago, to this majestic stunner with an enormous canopy.
The Rainbow Lorikeets love it, and perch way,way up and plot their next foray into the apple tree to take a single peck at the juiciest apples. (Another post about our trees and Rainbow Lorikeets here)
Unfortunately the tree had one massive limb leaning over, caressing the house. It was splitting. Winter is coming, and there'll be raging storms. The thought of having the limb or whole tree get up close and personal is unsettling.

We called an arborist who confirmed that the tree would need to be lopped.

The trees were in bud, small, insignificant cream flowers way up in the canopy
The birds are extremely unhappy, I think they're plotting revenge. All afternoon, the lorikeets were cursing constantly, abusing shrilly and wildly, watching us mulching, telling their cronies that we're bad people. I didn't need to understand 'bird' to get the gist of the meaning!

The possums have lost their highway to the roof of the house *thumbs nose at possums - no more galumphing across the roof at night.
Sometimes being pragmatic is the safe option, trees are important, but so is our home.
The biggest logs are nearly 40 cm in diameter.
The strong  smell of eucalyptus oil is almost overwhelming, I can fully relate to koalas getting dozy with it. Last night, standing outside watching the first stars appear, the smell of eucalyptus was heady.  Indoors, the fire was crackling cheerfully with some of the dryer branches. A glass of home brew - Super stout - in hand; in all, a satisfying day. I'm kind of glad The Challenge is over, so I can enjoy a slower pace and find a new direction.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Blogging schedule - as a theoretical concept

So, here I am a week on from my last post. Still a bit gloopy in the brain department, but coming together again.

In my wanderings through the reflections posts it appears a lot of bloggers like to keep to a schedule and let their readers know what the schedule will be. (Really? Are people that structured and organised? I'm still in a state of wonder that I'm here with two blogs having just celebrated by first blogiversary!)

Prior to the A-Z challenge (thankyou Arlee at Tossing it Out and faithful crew) I had few followers (and don't we all wish that that word was more welcoming and friendly), and we kind of knew each other and accepted various foibles regarding such arbitrary things as schedules. I'll try to settle into a pattern however, mostly posting on Sunday and include some photos possibly from my travels both here, Victoria, Australia and overseas and have a bit of a chat about them.

Given my passion for kids and adults with learning difficulties, my love of the environment and general concern that the underdogs in this world don't get much of a fair go, those interests will probably sneak in too from time to time.  But the serious wordy stuff will still be over at traverselife, so don't worry, I'll try to keep it light and whimsical here! I might also write some 'small stones' later in the year - after all that's why I started this blog.

I suspect for the next couple of weeks photos will be most dominant - I'm a bit worded out. My mother used to say "Stop eating when you've had elegant sufficiency". Right now I feel like I've been a complete glutton with words and I'm paying for it with severe indigestion!

For all the lovely new people who've dropped in during the challenge and decided to stay around for a while "Hello" it's lovely to have you here, and if it doesn't work out between us, and you wander off after a while, I fully understand. Life happens, we get busy, that's just the way it is, but it's been a wonderful supportive and encouraging month, and for that I'm incredibly grateful. For everyone who commented, thanks, it'd be great to hear more from you when you have time.  I do try to repay visits, but sometimes I trip up, so I'll apologise in advance if I don't manage that goal.

Right now, I'm going to wander off and find some photos for tomorrow.

See you then!

Puppy Fix :D

Stella, the 8 week old Guide Dog puppy.
Being trained by a friend. 


Monday, May 2, 2011

A-Z of Alliterative Drabbles - A-Z Blogging Challenge April 2011

I posted 31 *Drabbles during April, some days I got carried away and posted two drabbles.  I'd planned to write them all on climate related themes, but got distracted and included ones on learning difficulties as well. I managed between 15 and 40 alliterations on most drabbles, on quite a few posts I included sound alike words too, it was a fabulous, fun month of blogging. (A *Drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.)
  • A  Art about artists and art exhibitions included 40 A words. 
  • B  Bereft of bananas about the devastation from Cyclone Yasi included 27 B words.
  • C  Climate & children 2 x drabbles. The first about climate challenges included 27 C words, the second about children with learning difficulties included 24 C words.
  • D  Distinguished Scientists and the difficulties they have in being misrepresented by Shock Jocks included 32 D words.
  • E  Environment & Ethics. About the ethical use of our environment included 23 E words.
  • F  Fretful is about my concerns for our environment. It included 27 F words. None rude!
  • G  Geographers celebrates these salt of the earth people ... Hi A! I managed 36 wonderful G words.
  • H  Horrible Feelings & Hearing. 2 x drabbles. the first again about the environment had 28 H words, the second about children with hearing difficulties ... Hi L! ... also included 28 H words. 
  • I   Inspiring 2 x drabbles The first is about Sir David Attenborough with 30 I words the second about children with learning difficulties with 32 I words.
  • J   Justice & Jam 2 x drabbles. The First about a university lecturer fired when it was discovered he was dyselxic (with 22 J words)  the second about my attempt to make marmalade contained 21 J words. With thanks to my brother for the cumquats.
  • K  Knowledge contained 16 K words and is about a friend wanting to return to work.
  • L  Lighten up It was getting a bit depressing focusing on so much negativity.  It was fun posting photos of fun places I've travelled to. The words I'd chosen for L happened to coincide with my 1st blogiversary. A few of us had a virtual party! Oh, there are 39 L words.
  • M  Marvellous Ideas relates to the need to find alternative fuels to coal, and the derision when alternatives are suggested. I included 30 M words.
  • N  Nincompoop and Napalm is about Vietnam Vets and PTSD. It contains 30 N words.
  • O  Outrageous. A true story that still disgusts me; about a bullying teacher. A restrained 20 O words.
  • P  Penguins. Well you can be lucky! I wrote the post then my husband came home with photos of a penguin taken locally. There are 36 P words and the post relates to climate change.
  • Q  Quinces. Thankyou lovely neighbour for the lush fruit! I managed 18 Q words.
  • R  Reliable & Roberto's Report. 2 x drabbles. The first about climate and water challenges (30 R words) the second a salute to a fellow blogger who helps out when bloggy things go awry. (27 W words 4 WR words).
  • S  Shilly-shally is about climate issues again. There are 36 S words related to oil and water depletion.
  • T  Tense is about workplace bullying. There are 33 T words (My eyes are fuzzing up, so don't get miffed if I'm counting inexactly)
  • U  Unwanted attention related to childhood bullying, and the long term damage that can result. I only managed 21 U words.
  • V  Valiant volunteers is a tribute to all the amazing people who give their time to help others, often working in inhospitable conditions without any recompense for pay lost. For Tim and his mates! 21 V words.
  • W  Weirdo is a repost - I was tired. It's about a relative with Aspergers. It's not an alliterative post. 
  • X  Dr Xing. My brain had gone to mush, I snuck in sound alike words and pretend I got to15!
  • Y  Yollanda and her yellow yacht. A good opportunity to include some lovely photos! There could be 24 Y words.
  • Z  Zero is about a child with a learning difficulty and his heartache. This is for you L and all the crap you survived at school. There could be 20 Z words.
Luna Park St Kilda - near Melbourne
April was a bit of a roller coaster ride!
Gosh, seeing it all together is pretty neat. That was worth the effort, though I'm looking forward to a change of pace!

How to make a Hyperlink (clicky) signature here

An extensive Reflection post is over at traverselife here