Thursday, March 31, 2011

An apple a day

from w
Our friends, particularly from the church community, have been outstanding in their gifts to us in recent weeks. With an abundance of apples on the trees in our suburb, we are inundated with excellent fruit so I'll need recipes that include apples for the next few weeks. Thank you very much to our friends who are making sure that our household of eight are eating an apple a day each and more. Not that an apple a day really stops these visits to doctors and specialists and diabetes educators. At least I have an extremely nice opthamologist (spelling?) and dental technician who I will give my 'glug' poem to next time we meet.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Climate change discussed in Geelong

from w
Some of my friends attended a meeting last weekend on climate change - with an audience of nearly six hundred, mostly polite, no real stirrers which was a surprise. There was not only one speaker but a panel who answered questions from the audience.

There seems to be much truth in the scientific findings and certainly our weather has gone crazy the past year.

The event was written up in the Addie as follows:
Climate experts ring alarm bells for city

Martin Watters | March 27th, 2011

GEELONG will swelter under intense heatwaves and the Great Barrier Reef will become a bed of algae should we fail to act on climate change, the Climate Commission warned last night. A carbon price was also essential for heavy industries, such as Shell's refinery and Alcoa's Point Henry aluminium smelter, the first national public forum heard.

After a week of vitriol over denialist protests in Canberra, chief climate commissioner Professor Tim Flannery led the discussion before more than 300 people in Geelong West.

Yesterday morning the Federal Government's newly-launched commission visited Shell's Geelong operations and lunched with city leaders to understand Geelong's specific challenges.

Climate science expert Prof Will Steffen said the "mega-event" week of the 47C heatwave of 2008 would seem like a a cool summer day by 2080 without action.

Prof Steffen said the globe had already warmed by 0.8C since pre-industrialisation; this would rise to 1.2C in 2080 if we stopped all emissions tomorrow. Without action, warming estimates ranged from 2.5C and 6C. "Four degrees is frightening," he said. Nature as we know it would be changed forever, with the Great Barrier Reef becoming an "algal bed" if global temperatures rose as much a 4C.

Biology expert Prof Lesley Hughes said mass deforestation accounted to 18 per cent of the nation's emissions. "I don't even like to think about a plus-four (degree rise) it's too scary," she said.

But the good news was action now could halt the damage.

Commissioner and former BP Australasia president Gerry Hueston supported compensation to trade-exposed industries and energy providers, such as coal power stations, to avoid destabilising the electricity market and help ensure companies survived. "History has taught us market-based mechanisms that allow industry to innovate and make investment decisions are the right way to get the best outcome," he said.

Prof Flannery agreed, saying Shell needed to be compensated during any changes. "(Shell) are competing directly with petroleum exports from Singapore or India," he said.

The science behind climate change was questioned only a handful of times at last night's gathering, swiftly addressed by Prof Steffen. "There isn't a debate in the scientific community," he said. "Is the climate shifting, is it getting warmer? Unequivacable is the word that we use. What's the cause for that? The emission of greenhouse gases from human activities."

Prof Hughes added: "Climate scientists ... are the only scientists that wake up every morning and hope that they are wrong."


Friday, March 25, 2011

I love a sunburnt country

from w
It's Saturday afternoon and with eight of the household away watching Eparama play rugby, I have a quiet household to think about 'my' sunburnt country and listen to youtube Mozart (who occasionally gets it right) - with 'Rest gently' from Zaide or Ruhe Sanft mein holden Leben as it is in German. There are several versions on youtube and I think it is a perfect song for a funeral, not dark, not mournful, but liberating.

Oh, and they are back. I can hear voices and a noise from a computer in another room. There'll be about ten or eleven of us by evening to drink kava and yarn. Our household has seriously altered in the past three or four months with an expanding three-generational family here. It's nice and we are a strong family, but it does get chaotic at times.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bark and leaves

from w
Though the CBD of Geelong is a bit of a gutless wonder of riff-raff shops or 'For Lease' here and there, at least the Geelong Council does get one thing right - that is - the walking tracks beside the Barwon River. Very wholesome and healing. Without a sketchbook or a camera I just picked up stray leaves, bark, seedpods, and at home put them on the scanner then made a few images. If you think we should still paint realistic photo-like images, that's alright but I just have to play around a bit with shapes, overlapping, and so on, but still maintain the link with the natural environment. Okay?

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Good Sam

from w
Usually you hear stories about someone young helping an elderly person across the streeta but this time the Good Sam was the elder of the two. After visiting the Newcomb library we saw this woman in black struggling to push her trolley onto the road to cross over. What a lot of shopping she had from Aldi's. She laughed and said something about having a 'big family'. Anyway Peceli rushed to her aid as packets and bags of vegetables started falling onto the road. He helped her across then tried to push the trolley up over the kerb and more vegetables fell out, so I had to help then. Why all the food I wondered as she headed for the side entrance to the kindergarten with Peceli's help. 'This is for thirty small children for five days,' she said. What whoppers they must be I thought. Anyway I thought I couldn't miss a photo opportunity like this to see a modern Good Samaritan in action.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On a hayfever day

from w
I'm not doing much today except sneezing as the wind is carrying pollen or something in the air is disturbing me badly. Anyway I ventured outside to say hello to Brandon, the wounded crow, and take a few garden kind of photos and mess around with them. The results are a bit psychedelic at times. One of the relatives said I shouldn't mess around with nature as it's beautiful by itself! Perhaps she is right.

And then when I think about the annoyance of a bit of hayfever, it's nothing compared with the suffering of some of our friends. Last Sunday a group of us went to visit the nearby nursing home, the minister to lead, me to play music, others to sing. Some elderly members of our church congregation now live at the nursing home. One song we sang 'Come as you are' now has a new meaning - as we were singing it I noticed our friend Nola, who is now deep in dementia, looking so lost and being cradled by her husband. The tears just came and 'Come as you are' now can mean all kinds of elderly people in their various states of ill health. I felt like the 'Weeping Camel' in that film. Also, now I'm on eye-drops for eye pressure that will surely make tears come more easily. For the past five years Nola, every Sunday, had asked me 'When is your son coming home to Australia?' and I had answered, 'Not yet'. Well, I told her this time that the family have arrived and now live with us (immigration matters pending of course) but Nola doesn't recognize us these days and wouldn't have understood my comment. So sad.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

The suffering of the Japanese people

from w
I received this photo in an email from an interfaith organisation in Melbourne. It's just so sad. From a distance of safety and a life of relative ease, we see the suffering of Japanese people in the thousands of pictures and videos coming out this past week. The viciousness of nature in the places that are struck by earthquake and tsunami. And also the threat of a meltdown at more than one nuclear facility. It is just terrible.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

One Ranga has her day in the sun

The Prime Minister during her address. Photo: Gary Ramage
from w
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry as I read this article on-line in today's Age newspaper about our No One Lady in Washington. Good on you for the red-heads - but in her speech, she certainly did lay it on with a shovel.
TOWARDS the end of her 30-minute address to Congress, Julia Gillard's voice wavered momentarily, straining under the weight of occasion and as she reprised her schoolgirl reaction to an awe-inspiring moment in history.

Americans could do anything, she had thought while watching the moon landing as a student not yet eight years of age.

Palpable and personal, her emotional recollection drew empathy from her audience. Speaker John Boehner, the chain-smoking Republican from Ohio prone to tears, sniffled behind her, as did several of those assembled in front of her.

''As I stand before you in this, this cradle of democracy, I see a nation that changed the world, a nation that has known remarkable days,'' Gillard said, faltering a little. ''I firmly believe you are the same people who amazed me, when I was a small girl, by landing on the moon.''

At which point, her audience erupted in loud applause, interrupting momentarily her emotional crescendo.

''On that great day, I believed Americans could do anything,'' Gillard continued. ''I believe that still. You can do anything.''

To which they responded again, rising to their feet for the sixth time to offer a sustained ovation, then handshakes, as the Prime Minister - the fourth Australian to address a joint meeting of the House of Representatives and the Senate - made her way out.

Gillard had laid it on with a trowel, pledging undying loyalty to America that made ''all the way with LBJ'' look like a cold shoulder.

The PM, in her very best Strine, poured it on, lavishing praise on Americans, the American dream and on Ronald Reagan as a symbol of American optimism, of which there was no greater symbol than ''America itself''.

''You have a true friend Down Under,'' she assured those present. ''You have an ally in Australia, an ally for war and peace, an ally for hardship and prosperity, an ally for the 60 years past … an ally for all the years to come.''

''True friends'', ''real mates [who] talk straight'', ''together in the hardest times'' … standing firm.

And without any sense of irony, she said: ''Those of you who have spent time with Australians know that we are not given to overstatement.''

But this was, er, well, not to beat around the bush, a case of ''blowin' smoke … '', capping a string of picture opportunities during a three-day orientation of the capital and Capitol, replete with footy and yeast extract.

And here was the climax, an address to Congress to commemorate the 60th anniversary of ANZUS.

Mastering the autocue that is the ubiquitous accessory of modern statecraft, Gillard stood upright in a smart orange jacket that played splendidly against the deep blue of the chamber's carpet, the diplomatic mis-en-scene completed by front row attendants, the Republicans' John McCain, a jolly Richard Lugar and a grim-faced Mitch McConnell alongside Democrat heavyweights Harry Reid, as well as foreign specialists John Kerry and Dick Durbin.

And while barely a couple of hundred of the 535 elected representatives and senators showed up for Gillard's speech, officials avoided embarrassment - and an echo chamber - by back-filling with staffers and interns and even a few rows of school children in navy blue uniforms.

Their welcome was genuinely warm, even if it also reflected the weight of Australia's worldly standing. And when the Prime Minister entered the chamber at 11.05am, they stood and turned towards her, applauding dutifully, some juggling Blackberries and iPhones that would keep them in touch discreetly with matters of state du jour - federal budget cuts and Libyan no-fly zones.

They were on their feet again five minutes later when Gillard's mostly staccato lines touched on friendship, again after another couple of minutes when she told them they could achieve anything and soon again when she confirmed Australia's betrothal.

They rose, too, mid-speech when she condemned Iran's nuclear program.

But some American brows appeared to furrow ever so slightly when she offered what might have been construed as gratuitous advice.

''You were indispensable in the Cold War … and you are indispensable in the new world too,'' she said.

So, ''as a friend, I urge only this: be worthy to your own best traditions. Be bold.''

The PM made her way from the chamber at 11.40, autographing the printed programs of a handful of eager attendees as the crowd beat a hasty retreat, mostly through side exits, and the students made a beeline for Senator McCain.


Is it a crow or a raven?

from w
All of this week we've had a strange visitor near the back door, but I still don't know if it's a raven or a crow. It's rather large and everyone here just says it's a crow. Anyway I wrote a story based on its visit to us. A story for kids. And there's a couple of photos a friend took of it.
Josh and the Crow

Normally the boy was frightened of birds. He did not like to be touched by their feathers, their claws, especially their beak.

When he was small, an angry bird had flown over him and given him a fright by swooping on his head and pecking at his red hair. It had been a magpie who swooped on him in the nesting season.

So when the large black bird peeked at him from behind a pot plant the boy jumped back in fright. What was this big fat bird doing between the red geraniums on the table near the back door of his house?

The bird stared at Josh with strong black eyes.

Josh stared back, then turned away, ready to run. But, something made him stay.

The bird waddled towards him and put his head up in the air opening his beak wide.

Josh wondered why the bird didn’t fly away. Most birds would do that when so close to a human. Perhaps it couldn’t fly. Yes, that was it. One wing was drooping down. So the bird had been injured.

Josh decided not to be scared anymore. He went into the house, broke some stale buns into pieces and filled a plastic bowl with water and took the bread and water back to the pot plant table. The bird was still there. Then Josh stood back.

The black bird, which Josh realized was a crow with shining black feathers, drank the water and ate the bread.

Then the bird started to sing. It was a wonderful sound, like a clever piece of music by Mozart, better than the piano piece Josh had to practice every day.

Then the bird nodded his head towards Josh as if saying thank you.

So Josh went into the house but did not tell his parents about his ‘pet’ bird.

Next morning when Josh opened the back door, the crow was standing on the back step and it waddled alongside Josh as he put out the bread and water.

Over the next week, each day Josh put out stale bread and water for the bird and each day it was eaten and drunk but the crow did not come up close to him again.

One day Josh looked up at the tall palm tree against the fence and saw that the bird was resting on the topmost branch, and later in the day, there he was sitting on the tall television antenna up on the roof of the house. So he could now fly well. Josh ran inside to get his camera but by the time he went outside, the bird had flown away.

Josh never told his family about the bird. This was his secret friend. But sometimes in the evening when he hears the caroling of a bird, he wonders if that is a visit from his ‘pet’ crow.

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Friday, March 04, 2011

Visiting Van Loon'sNursery

from w
Apparently a winning plant nursery in the whole of Ausralia, our local guys really have a splendid display of plants, pots, sculptures and a restaurant called Peppers. Our church ladies had lunch there the other day and it was a nice occasion. I only ate date scones and cappucino as I don't want to pay $11 for mainly rabbit food. Hmmm. The other ladies enjoyed their dinners anyway though some left the lettuce etc. on the plates. My cheaper scones were scrumptuous!

Here are some pics I made from 'borrowed' images and none of them are of plants! My camera didn't work after someone altered the batteries! I would love to have a finely designed Japaneses type of garden, raked sand, stones, water, sculptures instead of the rambling overgrown kind we have, but... those sculptures, stones, etc. cost plenty paisa.