Sunday, November 22, 2015

Wood Staining Art

Time for something cheerful after the world wide horrors of the past few weeks. This came via my friend, Lyn, who shared it on Facebook. It's lovely, isn't - and I'm guessing there are some of my artist friends who might be inspired to do something similar. You know who I mean.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

I Think the World Has Gone Mad

It has to be that, don't you think, because the alternative is that we are responsible and that's a hard thing to accept. Just look at the world around us and see what you think.

In the Middle East and parts of Africa we have people killing other people just because they don't follow the same religion - and some are now taking their war into Europe and have plans to spread even further. That both sides worship the same God makes it even more bizarre. We have a tidal wave of refugees and asylum seekers forced to flee this war in unseaworthy boats, people - men women and children - who are being forced to sleep in forests, in parks and on the side of the road with the onset of the freezing European winter not far off.

We have asylum seekers being locked up in prison camps because they haven't waited in a mythical queue to be processed. When you look at the refugee camps which have existed in some parts of the world since not long after the end of WW2, camps where generations of people have lived out their lives there, you can see why people might just lose patience and decide to take their chances with the people smugglers who prey on the vulnerable.

We have school girls being kidnapped in Africa and forcibly 'married' to their kidnappers and girls in other places being denied an education just because they are girls. In some parts of the world we have so-called 'honour killings' when a girl makes her own choice of marriage partner or chooses not to marry their partner at all. We have rapes, disfigurement and murders as punishment in some places and female genital mutilation 'to keep girls pure' in others.

Science has proven climate change is happening - and if we just look around us we are already living it. Where I live the climate has changed dramatically in my lifetime with the amount of rain decreasing and temperatures rising. We know the lowest lying parts of the planet will be most affected by the inevitable rise in sea levels but we still have no consensus or genuine, serious discussion on how to deal with this. Heads are being buried in the sand of ignorance or may be that should be are being stuck under the rising water. Trouble is neither of those options allow you to continue to breathe and I suspect that, if we continue not to act or make some contingency plans, the numbers of the displaced will make the current tide of refugees in Europe look like a trickle.

I could go on - the disastrous burning of the rain forest in parts of Asia, the clearing of the Amazonian rain forest, the rise in sea temperature and the effects of it and over fishing and so much more - but it's simply too depressing.

We're supposed to be the clever primates, aren't we. So why can't we just set our minds to solving these problems, which are all of our making? I don't know the answers but I do know if we don't find solutions to all these issues we are heading for possible extinction - and a lot sooner than we might like to think.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Oh Poor Paris

and poor Beirut, too. Both cities have undergone terrorist attacks in the last few days and all I can think of is why. This follows the recent crash of the Russian passenger jet in Sinai that may have been caused by a bomb. So many lives lost and why? Simply to spread terror as far as I can see because there's no military or other objective to be gained. I can't help thinking that the world has gone mad. Some form of collective insanity seems the only answer because there's no rationality to it.

How we can deal with this I don't know and my heart bleeds for all those who have lost family and friends in these atrocities.

Friday, November 13, 2015

It's Nearly Summer

Officially summer starts here on December 1 so technically we're still in Spring but yesterday the temperature reached 33° C and the forecast for today is 36° C. I'm scared to even look any further. It's going to be a long and hot summer, I suspect.

We're lucky in one respect. Because this house is extremely well insulated it takes four or five days before the house itself starts to heat up and we have ceiling fans which help keep things cool. We did succumb to installing evaporative air conditioning a while back but we only have to use it when a heatwave goes longer than four or five days or is excessively hot - the year we hit 43° on the second day of a heatwave at the beginning of February was one of those occasions.

Weather like this takes a toll on the garden and I've just been out putting shade cloth covers over the more delicate plants like the lettuces. The summers here are definitely getting hotter and I foresee a time when the entire vegetable garden will have to be roofed with shade cloth from November to February. Not this year, though, although I may have to rethink that if things if the temperature keeps rising.

resee f

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Remembrance Day 2015

It's over a hundred years since the Great War, also called the War to End War at the time, and now known as World War One, began with all its waste of life on all sides. Sadly it did not end war. We've kept on fighting each other multiple times since then. Sometimes they are big wars like World War Two, sometimes we've pretended they are not war like the 'police action' in Korea, sometimes we've rushed in without due thought and we and others have had to suffer the consequences and sometimes we have been dragged in by circumstance or have had no choice because we've been attacked. The end result is always the same. Blood is spilt and men, women and children - both military and civilian - die or are maimed, physically and psychologically.

Today at the eleventh hour of the eleventh month of the year we remember those who died in World War One because that is the time and date in 1918 that the Armistice was signed bringing that war to an end. But we also remember all the others whose lives have been lost in all the wars before and since.

Like every family mine has its lost ones. While my paternal grandfather, John, survived World War 1, my great uncle, Captain Horace Chamberlain, did not although his two brothers did and in World War 2, the four sons of that same John went to war but only two, one of them my father, survived.

At 11:00 AM today when the Last Post sounds I, along with many others across the world, will stop what I'm doing for one minute to remember these men and all the others whose lives were destroyed or irrevocably changed or damaged by war.

Lest  we forget.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Randomly From My Garden

 This kookaburra was doing a bit of hunting. I don't encourage them because they kill the young  blue tongues as well as the small skinks and frogs. The photo is a bit blurry because he was down near the back fence but he came up to the veranda later - when I didn't have my camera handy, of course.

 One of the motorbike frogs basking in the sun. Not the greatest photo but I didn't want to frighten them. There's another you might just be able to see in the patch of shade. I found them just as I was going to clean out the algae that you can see floating on the surface. They don't mind it but I do. The grate is to protect them from birds - and to make the pond safe so small people can't fall in.

This is one of my blueberry bushes in fruit. We have to grow them in pots because our soil is too alkaline. They were delicious, by the way.

And to finish off - a mystery. I'll give you a hint. It has been growing for nearly three years and I suspect I'll have about another three months or so before I can pick it but it will be worth the wait.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

The Race That Stops the Nation

We've just had running of the Melbourne Cup in Australia. It's known here as the race that stops the nation and, as you will gather from that, it's a big deal. The state of Victoria, where the race is run on the first Tuesday in November as part of the Spring Racing Carnival, has a public holiday on the day, there are celebratory lunches held across the country where people gather to listen or watch the Cup and workplaces run 'sweeps' where the horses' names are randomly drawn and participants put a small amount into a pool with whoever draws the winning horse taking the pool. Even people who never bet at other times are likely to put a small bet on. The race is only part of it. There is a huge emphasis on fashion with a fashion parade as well. And that's the good part, particularly when the winner is an outsider as happened this year - even more special this time because it was the first ever a woman jockey had ridden the winner.

So it's glamorous and exciting. Right? Well, yes, in some ways it is but I feel somewhat conflicted about it for a number of reasons. There are the human costs. Horse racing is a dangerous activity where jockeys can be and are injured, often severely. Michelle Payne, this year's winning jockey, had recently spent 15 months recovering from a brain injury and broken arms, legs and shoulder injuries are common. Another problem is the way many of those attending the race meeting drink far too much. The result is not pretty and sometimes dangerous. Then there's the issue of betting with much advertising of on-line betting firms who think that putting a very brief tag end exhortation to bet responsibly is enough to fulfil their responsibilities not to encourage those who are addicted to gambling.

And then there's something that's rarely talked about - the potential harm to the horses. Personally I don''t like to see horses being whipped - it's one of the reasons I don't go to the races - but there is another problem. In 2014 two horses died at the Melbourne Cup, one from a heart attack in his stall immediately after the race and another, spooked by a flag following the race, kicked a fence shattering a leg. This year Red Cadeaux, a ten year old and very popular, crowd pleasing gelding, finished the race with an injury to his fetlock.  This horse is one of the lucky ones because the injury can be treated - unlike a shattered leg bone which, given the weight of a racehorse (around half a tonne) and that they need to weight bear on all four legs to support themselves, is almost always a cause for euthanasia. Red Cadeaux is obviously much loved by his connections and is to be retired but it still begs the question as to whether we really have the handling of racehorses right.

I'm not an expert on horses but it seems to me that we have perhaps gone too far in breeding horses for racing by favouring animals with light leg bones which makes them at risk of shattering a leg. Racehorses are beautiful and very fast - but perhaps we need a rethink about their well being. To me it's a bit like the pedigree dogs bred for looks which cause health issues like protruding eyes which dry out or pushed in noses that make breathing difficult. They may be very appealing to our eyes but is it worth the animal's discomfort or, in the case of a racehorse, the risk of serious injury? I don't know the answer but I'd be pleased to hear what you think.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015


I'm pretty sure that isn't a word but you have probably got the gist which is that I've signed up for NaNoWriMo again. So far this has been something of a disaster. On the first morning I got up, made myself a coffee - as you do, well, I do - and sat down with my writing journal to put down an outline of my already planned novel - and discovered a plot hole of gigantic and apparently irreparable proportions.

Undaunted I did a rethink and by the end of the day I had a new outline. So it'd be fine, wouldn't it. I could make up the words easily over the next few days. Hey, I went to Clarion South. You'd be amazed at what I can do.

Then the next day there was a family gathering which was great. It's rare for us all to get together  and I enjoyed every minute of it. Of course, that meant no words on the page but that was all right. I was mapping it out in my head all day. It'd be fine.

Except I had a very bad - as in not much sleep for various reasons - night and got up exhausted - so exhausted I ended up back in bed for much of the day apart from a visit to the dentist. At least that wasn't too traumatic. But it'd be fine. I'd get down to it first thing in the morning. No problem.

And I did. Despite only having five hours sleep - yes, sleep can be a mysterious and rare beastie around here - I sat down at the computer this morning, went to open up my word processor  - and it wouldn't work. So I spent much of the day trying to resolve the problem because, although I back up meticulously, if the program won't work you can't access anything. It's - finally - working now and it's almost time for bed - lack of sleep is catching up on me - but there's always tomorrow.

It will be fine. Won't it?