Share your world – 4 April 2022

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Share your World – Autumn

Questions

Are you more productive at night or in the morning? Do you think it’s possible to change and get used to another schedule?

 I always say that my brain doesn’t ‘wake up’ until about 10am. I also get a ‘new lease on life’ from about 4pm.

At the moment, however, I am very scattered and unfocussed and don’t seem to have the same pattern of alertness. I feel like a zombie, all day. State of the world, mind and body. I’m not looking after myself, so it’s no surprise.

Also, I’m generally not good at routine and schedules. Either I’ve something to do, or I don’t. Full on, or fully off.

The couple of times I’ve successfully completed nanowrimo I have managed to get up early and do a set amount of words or minutes before the rest of the day distracts me. So, I can do both change and routine.

What’s the biggest vehicle you’ve driven?  If you don’t drive, what’s the biggest vehicle you’ve ridden in? 

Driven, a Mitsubishi Pajero, the husband’s car. Too big. I don’t know where the edges are and was stressed the whole time, but was taking my turn 🙂

Ridden in? A tank during army reserve days. Otherwise, those big wheel tour buses that take you onto the glaciers (Canada).

What songs would be played on a loop in hell?   

Bad cover versions of classics. Country music 🙂 Discordant jazz. I can appreciate the cleverness, but can’t stand the listening.

Mariah Carey, Celine Dion – any of those screaming, high octave, ballady songstresses. I can listen to a song, but not on a loop. You’d give up and die, and die.

(Deep and chewy philosophical question):     What does it mean to be a person?  What constitutes “personhood?” (there may be some diverse opinions, but we’re all mature adults in here, so be respectful of others please).

Specifically on this planet, I was thinking human because of the ability to choose and make decisions. To feel compassion and empathy (there are degrees of empathy, so you don’t have to be a saint).

Sentience alone doesn’t lead to personhood.

But then if my parameters are compassion and empathy, and making decisions / choosing – doesn’t man’s best friend the dog display all that?

Do I lack the passion to be a Writer?

Sunday night, 11th July I submitted a 1st draft manuscript as part of the 12 month Write your Novel course I joined in October 2020, with Australian Writers Centre. Other students in the class and my tutor will read this draft and feedback to me.

It was a requirement to have a manuscript of 10,000 to 20,000 words, and be seeking a process to get yourself moving toward a finished manuscript.

This week, I feel free. Vulnerable and nervous that my readers will tell me it is a crock of sh*#, but relieved.

I wasn’t looking for how to write lessons. I was happy for writing to remain a natural, calm, almost stream of consciousness activity that I undertake, because I enjoy stories.

I’ve always dreamed of being an author. As 60 inexorably approaches it seemed a good time to seriously pursue that goal.

Sixty years old. It doesn’t seem possible that I’m coming up on old age. At what point do we cling to the froth of 40 is the new 30, 50 the new 40, etc? All I know is that generally I feel about 26, which probably also goes for level of maturity [LOL]. I’m supposed to be in an amazing place in my life where I know myself, have confidence in my strengths and abilities. Funny that.

My background is secretarial and I believe that things would fall apart if you didn’t have hardworking administrators. But have you heard of the Golgafrinchans? Their story resonated with me from the get go, particularly on the many days that I’m down on myself.

If you’ve read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series of books, you would know about the Golgafrinchans. On their planet, I would fall into the class of ‘middle-men’  – people like hairdressers, consultants, marketers, insurance salespeople, telephone sanitisers. In other words, the people the world can do without.

The remaining two-thirds of Golgafrinchans were considered the thinkers and the doers and they fooled the middle men into departing the planet for places unknown with various ruses. The planet would soon crash into the sun, a swarm of 12 foot high killer bees was about to attack, or the planet was soon to be eaten by some sort of mutant goat. This two-thirds promised, we’ll be right behind you, and of course, the idiots departed.

It might sound harsh that I include myself in a fictional group of people described as the worthless ones, but often I feel it describes me. Lost, at a time of life when I’m supposed to have come into my own. 

What I looked for in a 12 month WYN course was feedback and deadlines. Because at work, I’m a robot slave but in my downtime, I’m a sloth. I work well to a deadline. Busy beaver, busy bee, take your pick. A course that says ‘here, and here, and here you will delver 5,000 words and at this point, a final draft’ worked for me.

However, for most the last few months I wrote to deadlines, and not a word more. Since October I’ve barely participated in the writing prompts I like to follow, the flash fiction. These great creative challenges hone your ability to say quite a lot, with few words. I missed it. But as queen procrastinator I didn’t allow myself that treat, because if I’m writing it should be on the blasted manuscript. 

For most of those months, I was barely writing.

With regard to this blog, somehow this last couple of years of COVID and Trump-related angst discouraged me from writing opinion. I’ve felt paralysed, as if what has been going on is too big. Add in the social media world of fake news, and I seem to have lost the ability to offer my naive thoughts.

If you want to be considered a writer, you need to write. Thinking about writing, dreaming about it doesn’t qualify you. I don’t have that many strings to my bow, but like to think of myself as a writer. But am I?

When I’m in the flow of participating in flash fiction, I write and enjoy it. I like to read (55 to 65 books a year). I’ve always wanted to be a writer, as in published author. 

But I’m not passionate, about anything. I’m not very emotional. There has never been a muse in my life. My characters don’t talk to me or follow me around looking for attention. Doesn’t a writer, any kind of creative actually, need to be passionate; emotional. 

I’m just practical, pragmatic, pedantic, process driven – workmanlike. 

Good news. I completed the draft and met the deadline. Good news. There is another MS with more words that called to me while working on the other. 

Bad news. I want to write fresh, alive stories – so flash fiction calls. I don’t want to rewrite and rewrite until the words turn into something the publisher wants. That part is boring. And I only have so many more years to waste.

BTW the exiled Golgafrinchans landed on planet earth and after eliminating the existing humanoid species, became our ancestors. Those who remained on Golgafrinchan enjoyed their lives without the middle men, until the day they all died of a disease contracted from dirty telephones. Irony upon irony.

A Christmas Letter

Bollocks to 2020, said everyone to anyone they met during the Christmas season. Or whoever they spoke to by phone or via internet connection because their town, locality, region, country was in lockdown – again! Or still.

Before we could get around to smelling the roses, seeking the silver lining, gilding some lily, we had to get past the bah humbugging of the year that was.

January brought trickling news of a mystery virus within  China. For some, antennae were raised, radars began to scan, and higher senses engaged in keeping an eye on things.

For others, it was something happening to somebody else. In China, no less. Who cared!

By March, if you lived in New Zealand or Australia (to name only two such countries) you were locked in – and everybody else was locked out.

And that has been a triumph! Yes, we have sick. Yes, we’ve had dead. But on such a small scale, it has barely blotted the landscape compared to the rest of the world.

From the microcosm of Australia, it has been an anxious year for many reasons. We walked into the pandemic from the terrible stress of a traumatic (for many) bushfire season. Even those of us who weren’t in the line of fire, didn’t have homes destroyed, lives threatened, livelihoods erased – we lived with constant smoke, sometimes from fires several hundreds of kilometres away. The fires were close enough that if your house was older and therefore more flammable,embers floating into town were a perceived danger, even in large regional centres.

In the relative safety of a city or large town, you still felt for everybody else. How could you not, and be a thoughtful human being. If you were financially able, you donated. If you were physically and personally able, you volunteered. In our large town, we weren’t in any real danger but we had a go-bag packed, the car fuelled up, ample spare water, devices always charged, and important papers or valuables to hand.

From her Facebook account, Celeste Barber (Australian comedian) managed to raise over $51 billion from approximately 1.3 million donors from around the world. Huge sums came from those celebrities who could afford it.

What a triumph of human spirit and goodwill.

But as Celeste nominated the NSW Rural Fire Service as the recipient and their Trust Deed limits what donated funds can be spent on, the money couldn’t be used to help those who had lost everything – for relief, rebuilding and to help injured wildlife; a particular image that captured hearts around the world.

The NSW RFS can only use the funds for machinery and training (and as decided through court action) to assist injured firefighters, to support families of the injured (or killed) firefighters and trauma counselling.

The funds can’t even be used for other state firefighting services (only NSW). And definitely can’t be used to help the everyday people in the community who had lost so much, as was the intention.

To me, the inability to overcome the legal limits of the Trust Deed even though pursued in court (it requires NSW government legislation to overcome) highlights the craziness of 2020. We had deadly bushfires (Australia and the US) Brexit, Trump, that explosion in Lebanon and the Covid-19 pandemic. And I’m only naming some ones obvious to me. Depending on who you are and where you live, there will have been other priorities.

For a moment, the world came together. Strangers reached out with a helping hand. And the aid was caught up in bloody red tape and bureaucracy. What a tragedy.

And so to a degree, we were already in ’emergency mode’ when the pandemic triggered panic buying and hoarding. We were already plenty stressed and ready to react to this perceived (and ultimately real) threat.

DO NOT HOARD, said the government. DO NOT PANIC, they cried. WHATEVER. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE JOKING, decried the people.

People were scared and it makes sense that the poorest and most marginalised people in the population were not going to listen to that patronising advice. They live in fear and stress all the time. They know to react to real danger. They know not to wait. People used to security, even if only modest wealth, might take longer to react and perhaps look down on those poor fools buying up toilet paper, pasta, rice and sugar. Those people who could least afford to be lost reacted to survive, as they knew to. In a very real catastrophe, they at least would have supplies to keep them for a while, as businesses closed, jobs were lost, people began to sicken and die.

Typical Christmas family gatherings include hopping from home to home, sharing food and anecdotes. Cheerful one-upmanship. The sharing of successes and ordinary disappointments. Shared food, shared hugs, shared kisses, hand shaking, leave taking, memory making.

Inevitably (of course) there are the years when people suffer serious losses that lead more to reflection and inflict unnatural darkness upon the event.

A normal Christmas for us is to share our travel adventures, to connect with our family around Australia, to rejoice at the births, weddings, graduations and new opportunities of friends around the world. Covid spread its evil shade over everything and tainted the seasonal celebration of life, love and the joy of giving.

I assume the majority of us were tired and dispirited by Christmas 2020, praying for miracles, wishing for a Happy New Year and a return to ‘normal’. The new ‘Covid-normal’ we’re getting used to saying.

While my husband and I celebrated a quiet and safe Christmas, without our children who live in another state, we remembered those in the world who can’t celebrate anything like a normal Christmas season. People who are still locked down, afraid and threatened by the invisible enemy, and by those who won’t harken the call to unselfishness. To listen to the guidelines, to stay indoors, to mask up and take it all seriously.

We all imagine and pray that 2021 will bring an ease, an erasure of the virus, a return to normal-normal. Unfortunately, at the time of writing 2021 is only days away and although vaccines are now in the wider community, and promised here in Australia by March, I don’t see them  as golden tickets out of the pandemic.

So …. I normally write a happy Christmas letter to my family and friends – but what was there to write about that hasn’t already been said BY EVERYBODY! There was nothing fresh, no particularly joyful anecdotes. For us, our children didn’t marry, have babies or celebrate milestone birthdays. Our nephew’s planned wedding became a covid-closure event.

We continued to work (often from home) and watched too much TV. I read even more books than usual. For the first five months, my husband and I walked heaps but somehow, by July, fell out of the habit. We spent too much time in front of the computer, particularly with the upsurge of Zoom and Team meetings.

On the bright side … I’ve worked on my writing dream. Enrolled in writing courses, attempted to participate in more flash fiction opportunities, and seriously tackled one of my work-in-progress novels.

I woke up post-Christmas and decided that 2021 was the year I would present a finished and polished manuscript to publishers. Publication is not a given, of course, but I’ve been inspired by feedback so far given in the Write Your Novel course I’m involved in. So, bring it on.

Note: Apologies for the dreariness and overall depressing nuance of this article.

Cheeriness in photos!

Fibbing Friday 18th September 2020

New to this challenge … so here I go!

  1. What exactly is Yorkshire pudding?

A rotund young man from Yorkshire.

  1. What is treacle, and why do people make tarts out of it?

Treacle is that bitingly sarcastic ‘thank you’ offered to one of the ‘Happy Friday’ crowd, as you hand them a sharply sticky (sugar free) apple pastry; also known as tart.

  1. What is the key ingredient of haggis?

Ground up old mother-in-law (of the unfriendly kind only).

  1. How is toffee made?

You get a toff …. And go for it!

  1. How did pound cake get its name?

One day a virtuous nutritionist, realising that sugar in the form of cake was detrimental to waistlines everywhere, tried to change mindsets by putting a negative name on to a cake. Good luck with that one!

  1. Why is candy corn so named?

I believe the name derives from the Dentists of America Association, who believe candy shaped like teeth (aka Oompa Loompa candy in the trade) will:
a) bring them more clients or at the very least
b) discourage people from eating the candy corn

  1. What is marzipan?

A mad hatter who has run out of hats; therefore, pans.

  1. Why is a baker’s dozen so named?

Originally, bakers were notoriously bad at addition and so in the early days, a baker’s dozen just meant ‘quite a lot’. Over time, they settled amicably on a true number.

  1. What is meant by the idiom, “Too many cooks spoil the pot”?

Well, when brewing a batch of marijuana, one needs to keep ones wits about one. And therefore if there is more than one, and one is ‘wired’ it just doesn’t work – and the pot may well blacken.

  1. What is meant by the idiom, “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander”?

Sauce isn’t gender biased and currently enjoying a surge in popularity.

I am woman

I had a work teleconference to attend this afternoon, but as I’ve effectively had a panic attack and am full of anxiety, I sent in my apologies. And while eating my late lunch, I jumped on to one of the news sites I follow and read this headline –

‘JK Rowling’s career declared ‘dead’ via #RIPJKRowling hashtag’.

I knew immediately that this would be about her position and comments on transgenders (and other such things) on the day that her latest book is published. You may not be aware that JK Rowling has expressed opinions (via Twitter) over recent times about transgenders (and other things) that has caused lots of negative and angry reaction. It just so happens that:

  1. I’ve recently been thinking a lot about how people can’t take a contrary position on transgenders (or make any kind of comment that is not immediately supportive) without being judged harshly and condemned.
    This could also be true of taking a position on black matters if you’re white, police matters if you’re black or a criminal, white matters if you’re black (or a white idiot, supporting black matters to the point where you’re rejecting your whiteness), First Nations if you’re from a long line of colonials, or white, etc and so forth and so on!
  2. I picked up the latest Cormoran Strike book this morning (JK writes this series as Robert Galbraith). Apparently (I haven’t read the book yet) there is a ‘male’ transvestite serial killer. Oh no!
  3. And of course, the world has gone crazy and you can’t possibly suggest that a transvestite could be a serial killer – especially if we suspect that you are against transgenders (even though I understand that a transvestite is a person who enjoys cross-dressing and is not necessarily a transgender; who is a person with a gender identity different to their gender at birth).

What has happened to it being okay to hold an opposing opinion? JK Rowling and some of her contemporaries express this as the intolerance of opposing views. A link to a letter shared in Harper’s magazine in July 2020 is here. I have pulled out some of the phrases and declarations that jumped out at me:

  • The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted.
  • … spreading more widely in our culture is … an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.
  • We uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters.
  • … the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal.
  • We are already paying the price in greater risk aversion among writers, artists, and journalists who fear for their livelihoods if they depart from the consensus, or even lack sufficient zeal in agreement.
  • This stifling atmosphere will ultimately harm the most vital causes of our time.
  • The restriction of debate …. invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation.
  • We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other.
  • … we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk taking, and even mistakes.
  • We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement …

I’ve read several articles that discuss the position and comments that JK has made, and it seems to me that she is being quite reasonable. But in the cancel culture we currently inhabit, it is almost impossible to speak against any of the current trends and alternate lifestyle positions (I didn’t say ‘choices) without being harshly judged and vilified.

It is quite helpful for me to have access to this letter because it helps me present to you snippets of somebody else’s word explanations for the feelings I’m trying to express. And as a writer in a writing community here on WordPress, a cancel culture impinges on my ability to express myself and my thoughts, and have open debate and conversation.

I am a white, middle-aged woman whose husband earns a good living and the pressure has been off me to reciprocate in the financial sphere. I have been extremely lucky. Therefore (apparently) it seems that I am not allowed any opinion on anything or anybody else, because ‘who am I to talk’?

I’ve an almost guaranteed freedom of movement and safety just because of who I am, barring the standard risk of accident, home invasion, or visitor of the murderous persuasion.

But, I’m also in a perfect situation to be an avid observer of the world. Through listening, watching news programs, following social commentary, interacting in my community and above all – reading; I get to see things and hear things from a stand-off position that allows me some understanding of things, without having to live it. In fact, having to live things can close you off to other possibilities and opinions, because you are in fact living it.

My observation is that JK Rowling and others aren’t saying it is wrong to be transgender. She has expressed concern at the large numbers of very young people showing a desire to transition – where has it come from, has it been pushed on them? People who feel lost and don’t know where they fit look to popular culture, and aspire to what seems the surest way to be loved and accepted. Being transgender could be perceived as trendy, and if you’ve uncertainty about your sexual identify, perhaps transitioning could seem like the way to go.

People arguing against the prevalence of transitioning are asking ‘has the right decision been made for this person? Is it being made for the right reason? Were there other alternatives. And in a society where support, support, support seems to be the creed – don’t ever suggest that somebody cannot  – it is important to be able to say that the decision to transition is by true definition ‘life changing’ and to be undertaken carefully.

And here I clumsily interject as an example; look at the overuse and prevalence of Ritalin and other amphetamine type drugs administered to a generation of children unnecessarily. Dare I compare?

I do feel bamboozled by all the changes in society. The idealism about rights, the bombardment and intensity of expression about wants, needs, rights. What we used to think of as minority groups (and I’m not talking black people) have such loud voices and the platform now – that they are disallowing the rest of us to have or express a contrary opinion. They want to disallow me to identify as a woman and a mother as per the most base definition. A woman bleeds, gives birth, marries a man (if that is her choice). She is the feminine parallel to man. I have absolutely no problem accepting all the different types and ways of being in this world.

I don’t want to be identified as cisgender, because you want to be labelled as ‘across/other’, you want me to be labelled as ‘same as’.

I am a woman; don’t cancel me out. And, don’t cancel my right to voice.

Friday Fictioneers – Blue

Wilmington

Photo Prompt by Rochelle

It hasn’t changed. I quietly weep.

If I waited for another five minutes, I swear dad would come through that glass paned door.

In standard heavy work boot clad feet, deep blue denim shirt, with his darkly tanned and leathered skin and bright dazzling smile. He’d push his way out, full of enthusiasm for the day.

With Bluey, his faithful Beagle leading the way.

What a team. Full of love. Inseparable. Friends for life.

And death.

Daddy died in a site accident, timber crushing his strong body.

Bluey dug desperately, for hours.

Then pined away; succumbing to heartbreak. (98 words)

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a story in response to a photo prompt – in 100 words or less. You can find other stories here.

Death of the brick and mortar store

Once upon a time, I was a retail store owner – operator of a brick and mortar bookshop. It was a labour of love for this book tragic!

The Australian Booksellers Association doesn’t consider an independent bookshop viable in a town whose population is approximately 5,000. Our town was the regional centre for up to 15,000 people; but that was still considered a challenge.

I continued to work part-time with my husband in our Farm Management Advisory business, while working full-time in the bookshop. Usually, I employed one other staff member for Saturdays and occasional backup – but unless I was out of town or on holidays you would find me at the bookshop.

I didn’t take a salary. I did buy a lot of books at cost price. So many books came across my counter that it was irresistible!

I loved that shop! So did the town, my kids and my husband. We only ran it for five years, with a stock turnover goal of three to four times a year. Annual turnover grew from $80,000 in Year 1 to $250,000 in Year 5.

There are many ways to measure success in business – and I guess No. 1 would be profit. Because why else are you in business? Otherwise, it eats into funds available to you and your family. And our children were still young enough that every cent counted.

My husband was making a good living and the bookshop met its own costs, provided a welcome service to the town, employment for one other person – and I was in heaven!

That is a success story to me!

Since that experience, I’ve had a hyper-awareness (particularly around Christmas) of the stresses and pressures that retailers face. I feel it in my heart as I observe the ebb and flow, comings and goings of retail business around me.

Take a moment yourself to notice and sympathise amid your Christmas retail splurge. See the shops that are rocking it? There are many people browsing or queuing; overwhelmed staff tending to urgent and often impatient customers.

But at the end of the day, there is satisfaction. Sales are up, wages and overheads covered, and perhaps there’s a profit. They haven’t overstocked but stocked enough. Another Christmas survived; perhaps another to look forward to.

Now take a 360 degree look around the mall, arcade or high street you’re standing in. How many other shops can you see that are quiet? I don’t know why they’re quieter; perhaps it is just that they’ve a niche market. Maybe their product isn’t the current fashion.

Perhaps, Christmas is not their season to shine.

How have they marketed? Do they present in an appealing way? Is there enough stock, offering the abundance of choice we all expect and demand?

Are these businesses just tired and can’t find the juice to work at it anymore?

In retail, the need to earn your big bucks at seasonal times, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, mother and father days to name some – and the abundance of choice we now have and expect – have lead to the demise of the retail specialist. In my opinion.

We need more reasons nowadays to give a storefront retailer our attention and they need our business, more and more.

Giving ‘added value’ can be a winner for the business and a welcome draw for the customer. Done well!

Think books and chocolates; and book lights, bookmarks, book bean bags, audio books, tv tie-in products, stationery! Behold, budding author; notebooks!

For a bookshop, all these products add to the book experience – reading, writing, comfort, enjoyment and relevancy. Still specialists, but adding value for the customer, with more reasons for us to enter the store, stick around and buy.

When done badly though, it can be too confusing. Something in the window draws your attention, but when you scan it seems there’s no continuity or consistency. Lack of a clear theme can be straight up off-putting. Do you even bother to enter.

If you do, try asking a question about or around that product. Chances are that the salesperson doesn’t know anything past the price, what they have in stock and whether they can order more. They won’t be able to engage much deeper than that, or promise anything else.

A good bookshop, however, with the right tools can really connect with you over that book, or author. How many books has that author written, and in what format? The due date of his next novel might already be in the system. The salesperson may also be able to tell you if the wholesaler still has stock and how many; yes, tools can be that good!

Somebody on the staff will enthuse with you about the author or the book itself. They’ll introduce you to other authors that you may enjoy, based on this one purchase. And they could set you on the path to a heavenly journey of years duration with somebody new.

If they’re a quality specialist bookshop. You won’t have this experience with a Target or Kmart store, you can be sure of that; on any product.

I would caution you though. However good your bookshop is – don’t expect too much extra engagement with staff in the week leading up to Christmas. They are exhausted, they are pulling their hair out, they’ve had too many negative experiences already to even face the good customer, and they just plain don’t have time! 😊

I have digressed.

I personally see those empty, quieter shops and I feel for them. Imagine them watching all the flowing traffic passing them by into competitor stores, and their hearts breaking.

Imagine, spirits lifting at footsteps, at bodies heading their way, only for their spirits to drop when the steps stop short; or walk right on by.

For a while, shops open with excitement and hope; but as the weeks go by and the time opportunity winds down, despondency sets in. The shopkeeper will either hang on longer each day hoping to catch the late shopper or will begin to close early and give up.

Come the New Year, there are now a few empty spaces in your mall, arcade or high street. Come the next Christmas season there is less competition, fewer brick and mortar stores, fewer opportunities to be tactile with your product choice, less human interaction, reduced liveliness in your mall, arcade or high street of choice.

My heart hurts as I observe the shops in my wanderings. Consumerism is not good for the soul. But it does give livelihood and meaning to the modern retail business and employment to many – especially the young and under skilled.

One day, the consumer of my generation and older will look around and miss the days when we could touch that dress, pick up that book, spray on the sample perfume – and talk to someone.

In another generation, shopping online will be the norm! And only the oldies will remember how it used to be. Another generation of the young ‘won’t get it’. They won’t understand what the fuss was about; won’t know what they’re missing.

For all that there must be positives to a total consumer market operating in the cloud, the heart and soul connection will be lost.

Okay; we can buy what we want in one million different colours, at great prices, in a speedy and convenient manner. A drone will deliver and ‘happily’ collect and return the product when it is not quite what you expected.

But at what cost to the spirit of humanity.

AND at what expense to the environment. Packaging!

Greta Thunberg – modern Joan of Arc

We have all by now heard of Greta Thunberg, a Swedish schoolgirl who made headlines around the world in August 2018 by refusing to attend school in the face of climate devastation, and the severe ramifications for humanity.

The simplicity of her stance in striking inspired school children around the world to emulate her, to call out government and declare that ‘enough is enough’.

This girl and her journey should be an inspirational one for us all. Her actions represent the quality and bravery of the upcoming generations – our children and grandchildren.

Greta’s message resonates with her own generation. School children continue to take action, skip school and protest. I assume that these children have been supported by their parents and schools. Some children would not have been supported in this action and just ‘wagged’ school. Perhaps others have not participated, whether by their own choice, or because they haven’t been allowed.

To see a variety of stories around the topic of Greta, climate change strikes and our reactions to this, check out The Guardian.

This month, Greta travelled to New York to attend a UN summit on climate change. She brought attention to her quest by travelling via yacht, instead of flying and contributing to the carbon load. Then we heard her speak.

It is surprising (and embarrassing) the vitriol pouring from so many after listening to Greta. Some of the people commenting in the negative do not surprise. They have almost nurtured an expectation as people that are behind the times, misogynistic, unsympathetic about difference and climate change deniers. Even those that may have some sympathy and awareness of the climate fiasco, aren’t prepared to hear a 16-year-old girl ‘tell them off’. And unfortunately, her presentation style grates.

Have you heard the slang sayings ‘fish wife’ or ‘harpy’? Derogatory terms for ‘a course scolding woman’ and ‘a very unpleasant female person’. These hateful descriptions could be applied to the presentation style.

Let’s be honest here. In marketing, beauty sells, sexy sells, a honey toned voice sells. Promises of success, wealth, love, safety and longevity – for ourselves and our children – sell. A message of doom, coming from a red faced and screeching teenager, that does not sell.

People also question who is feeding her the agenda? She has presented fact-based, scientific reports to support her case. But who is feeding her the line?

Does it matter where she is getting it from, if the information is accurate, science based and might help to create a required shift in consciousness? But of course, one socially awkward 16-year-old girl can’t be allowed to just stand up for her beliefs, with passion. Because it makes the rest of us look bad. Lazy, selfish and apathetic. Really, it comes down to selfishness!

I have at least one friend on Facebook who has not been shy to share phrasing such as “irritating and annoying”, but who at the same time announces that “we are too stupid and selfish to do anything significant until it’s too late, so (I’m) just counting down the clock until we are engulfed in war and natural disasters of our own making.” This is one specific person, but I feel it covers a gamut of feeling from people. And many people will hold back from saying the negatives, because in a PC world we aren’t encouraged to express the unpopular majority viewpoint; otherwise, we become the monster. That new term for favouring one group or thing over another  – reverse discrimination.

I personally, passively worry and acknowledge that whatever I do will make little to no difference, with regard to anything, but especially to climate change. I also don’t have confidence to take a stance on something if I don’t personally understand every detail behind the issue. Basically, I’m not a scientist, and throw my hands in the air.

I have, however, for many years now boycotted the cheap product (discount) retail stores – the one buck shops, two buck shops, euro shops, reject shops – even KMart or WalMart or Target. Stores that sell a lot of crap that won’t last long, with a high proportion of plastic.

Plastic that not only litters and doesn’t decompose, but (I believe) wastes fossil fuel (oil) both as an ingredient and of course in the manufacture process itself.

I also actively try to not just collect stuff. Except books. I have to admit. And I’ll continue to buy books until the day it is legislated that we are no longer able to use trees to create paper.

Generally, I pay the carbon tax on airfares too. Not every time.

Now, if every single person in the world followed or performed even these small steps – it would make some difference. Every single person.

But:

  • This doesn’t apply to desperately poor people; they can’t afford to collect crap.
  • Developing countries want what we have, aspire to it, and why not?
  • Each generation engages in the notion of the next generation being better off, it is what they’ve worked for. This really peaks with ownership and wealth.
  • Two buck shops allow us to buy whatever piece of rubbish that appeals, allowing us to feel we’ve some say, some power, some ability to beautify ourselves and our homes.
  • Comfortable people – those at any level of the wealth spectrum that fools us into thinking we’re safe – don’t want to change.
  • Somebody else will sort it out.
  • It isn’t real.
  • It is somebody else’s problem. AKA some future generation.

One of Michael Moore’s books, and I can’t remember the name at the moment, has a scene where his granddaughter lends him a pencil to write something. There is some sort of disagreement where he uses it too quickly, or wants another, and she scolds him because pencils are rationed – all due to how his generation wasted resources and ruined the world. I’ve googled it and found it is Dude, where’s my country? Click to read an extract. Published in 2004.

My point is, Michael Moore was referencing climate devastation in one of his books in the late nineties, early noughties.

It is now 2019.

Another very scary book I have read in the last 15 years is the Chaos Point, which clearly identified a tipping point as the end of 2012. That after this point, it was too late. Published in 2006. This book did become a bit weird for me, as it moved into talking about ‘expanded consciousness’, and so I didn’t finish it. But the ‘facts’ described early on were frightening.

It is now 2019.

I’ve been a science fiction reader all my life. And so many other speculative fiction novels (let alone non-fiction offerings) have addressed the potential devastation of climate change. As in so many areas of science, these fiction authors have predicted what has become truth.

Somebody has to jump up and down about important things. On a smaller scale, mothers and fathers do this! How else do we learn to grow into good and responsible humans? Your teachers do it. Bosses do it. Doctors try to come down hard about your health. Scientists have been trying for years to wake us up. The Michael Moore’s, the Al Gore’s, the Bill Gates’ – to name some – have all cried ‘open your eyes, we can make a difference, we can make a change’. And, now Greta.

These people are unfortunately trying to sell us inconvenient truths. We don’t want to hear them. It is easier for us to scoff, and find reasons to denigrate the message and the messenger!

I haven’t heard Greta’s full speech. I switched web pages. I don’t think I thought negatively about the message – but I did react to the delivery. I was immature. I was being self serving; selfish.

Good on you Greta Thunberg, and your support team. Thank you for trying. You are making a difference. I don’t want to hear the message. I am concerned about the impact the pressure will have on you. But I do, applaud your dogged perseverance.

FAREWELL, YE OLD COCK!

As a family, we’ve come to the agreement that our old cat, Jesse, is about 17 or 18 years old. Our youngest child (22) would have been about 5 years old when Jesse and his brother James joined us.

David, Mathew & Jess

Jesse with his ‘bros’ in his middle age

James was lost during a thunderstorm, quite early on. Both cats ran away, but we found Jesse in the end. He’s always been a wild and tough old tabby. Even though domesticated and sterilized, for his first 10 years he had a large territory – a neighbour theorised it was as much as 5km and couldn’t believe we’d had him fixed.

It wasn’t until we moved to Esperance though in December 2007 that I began to connect to Jesse. Previously, he was ‘something I put up with’ and this was because he was always away from home, at one of the neighbours and I felt he only came home to see if it was dinner time.

When you move to a new place, it is recommended that you keep your cat inside for some weeks – 2 to 4 weeks, perhaps. I decided that to be sure, we’d keep him in for 3 weeks. And surprise, surprise! By the end of this, that darned cat was sleeping at the end of our bed.

At first, of course, he’d settle where he wanted to and was very stubborn when asked to ‘move along please’. However, with some perseverance on my behalf and gentle nudges, he learned that he was allowed only at the end of the bed, on one of the corners and on the towel provided.

And then he was moved along to NSW, across the Nullabor from Western Australia, in Eric’s car with our other, younger cat. He handled that very well. And he settled into his new home in NSW, becoming even more domesticated. He didn’t create a large territory for himself, just visiting across the road occasionally. And luckily we live in a cul-de-sac, so he wasn’t in too much traffic danger.

Eric (my husband) comes from a farming / country background and therefore ever since we’ve had cats – if they were sick or injured – he’d make comments like ‘I can always take him down the back of the garden!’ 🙂

Of course, he never did. I didn’t want to visualise my lovely and gentle husband ‘knocking off the cat, with his bare hands’.  And Jesse and Eric grew even closer, with Eric’s lap being the preferred place to hang. And, just recently (for some unknown reason) Eric began to address Jesse as ‘me old cock!’. 😀

We grew sentimental in our old age!!

So, this brings me to the sad ending that Jesse died last night. He had been physically deteriorating for a couple of years. He was skinnier, too many bones showing through. He was hungry and thirsty all the time. And when he wasn’t hungry, he was asleep. Even more than cats usually sleep – which is like 16 out of 24 hours every day! He wasn’t complaining though, didn’t seem to be in pain – apart from arthritis. And we decided that everyone gets old and unless he was obviously suffering, then we wouldn’t be seeking out drugs or other treatment.

It happened so fast. About 8.30pm he gave a cry when he was gently moved off a lap. About 11.45pm he dragged himself out of his cat bed and staggered across the floor, falling and clearly not able to keep upright. He defecated. We put him into his cat bed, with water nearby and extra towels and went to bed. He wasn’t complaining.

A couple of hours later, I heard the tinkle of his collar bells indicating he’d moved and listened for his footsteps down the hall. But they didn’t come. After a while I went to check and he was sprawled on the floor just outside of his bed and miaowed to me as I approached.

We brought Jesse to bed. Our other cat was on the end – in her corner. But we broke the rules and placed Jesse between us, on top of the doona, but with towels under and over him to keep him comfortable. He started out in his cat bed on top of the doona, between us, but soon crawled out and crawled as far up as he could – seemed he wanted to be close.

Eric tried hard to sleep – he had an early meeting. But I lay ‘drowsing’ with one hand in his basket, which he kept nudging. Then when he was out on the doona, I kept talking to him and patting him. He kept trying to purr between his gasps for breath. By this time, he did have some pain. He’d occasionally throw a 180° as he tried to get away from something. But otherwise, he breathed heavily and miaowed occasionally.

Eventually, I woke up with a hand on him and could feel he was no longer breathing.

I didn’t think I’d be sentimental about this, but it was clear that he wanted to be near us and we obviously cared about him. He has gone from us now, but will be remembered with love by his family.

Farewell, ye old cock! xx

20160501_164604

In old age

 

Jesse 1

 

Millionaire Hot Seat – Dreaming

When I wrote this item, I’d recently applied for ‘Millionaire Hot Seat, Australia’.

Clearly, the audition was on my mind and I had a crazy dream about it.

The main crux of the dream is that I sat down (at a long meeting table) with the other wannabe contestants. We were presented with a written test AND I COULDN’T DO IT!

There were random and wild reasons why I couldn’t …. and from there came this story 😁

An assistant to the show gathered us up, led us to a meeting room and placed a sheet of questions in front of each participant. Then left the room.

I looked down at the first page – and it was blank. A grey page, not white – and empty. I looked around at the others. They’re all heads down, working away. I made a disgruntled noise, translated as ‘I don’t get it!”

Funnily enough, even though it was an exam situation, they all engaged with me. And they’re asking ‘what’s wrong?’.

“There’s nothing on any of my pages!” I said. I look over at the pages of the people closest to me, and their pages are also blank – but these guys are answering questions. The assistant comes in and asks what’s going on. And I show her my page!

“There are questions on there, Trish” she said.

“No there aren’t!” I’ve become quite cranky and flustered by now. “Um, maybe you could turn on the lights?” I asked.

“The lights? It’s bright enough in here,” huffed the assistant.

“Well, I have terrible eyesight, so maybe that’s it,” I answered. One of the contestants gets up and finds the light switch. Voila! I can see. Thank God!

And then, WTF. The questions don’t make ANY SENSE. First of all this should be a multiple choice exam, like the show format. What I see are columns of letters and blanks. On a further page, numbers and blanks. Further along still, there are random questions but no multiple choice.

I stare (blindly) at the letters and blanks. It’s like on the show Pointless, where they offer a category say ‘Famous Musicians named Eric’ and then give letters and blanks and you have to work out the names of their bands, or songs or their surnames – yeah? But these are letters and blanks – without context.

I tell you, I’m pulling my hair out now – and there’s a lot of hair to pull out! I’m freaking out and EFFing and carrying on. I grab my exam paper and dash out of that meeting room. As an aside, by now we aren’t the only ones at the table. There are people gathered at the other end – famous people like Mark ‘The Beast’ and Anne Hagerty ‘The Governess’ from The Chase. They’re talking loudly and laughing and creating a HUGE distraction.

I rushed out to another room close by and I plonk down on a table. Directly in front of where I’m sitting, there are curtains or sheets or something dumped there, like they’ve come in from the clothesline. And within seconds, OMG, I’ve got my paperwork tangled up in them. For fuck sake! I’m standing there shaking out these EFFing sheets and the assistant comes up “What are you doing, Trish?”.

“I’ve got my EFFing exam lost in these EFFing sheets,” I’ve yelled, tears pouring down
my face. I’m almost bald by now. Then, a most amazingly transcendent thing happens …

David Duchovny appeared at my side! He is the host of my Millionaire Hot Seat dream and he asked ‘What is wrong here?” After that first lustful, breath of air, I reverted to the screaming harridan and got stuck into Mr Duchovny about the absurdity of this audition process.

“It doesn’t even make sense!” I cried, waving the (now recovered) papers about. “What the fuck are all these As and Bs about – random letters with no context? What have they got to do with your show format? It’s a lot of bulldust and I’m over it. Leaving now!”

David spoke calmly to me, in his lovely Duchovny voice and I’m momentarily distracted by that …. then I turn and leave.

I find myself outside with a long bridge to cross and I began to run across it. I’m running, forever running. David has chased me with long, loping, sexy action movie type running – and I stop. Suddenly. Shit! I drove the other contestants here. We car pooled. (I know it doesn’t make sense. It’s a dream! I don’t know any of the other contestants!) 😀

I can’t run out on them; that’s not fair. So I turn and start back, head down, fists clenched and breathing hard. David talked to me as we walked. He began by telling me I’m lazy. “You’re giving up. What a loser!” Ha! My inner demons haunting me in my dream.

Then it comes up that perhaps someone could read the questions to me aloud, because clearly my problem is bad eyesight. If the questions are read out, I’ll be able to complete the test! You beauty! For a few seconds … and then it hit me. I still have to deal with all those EFFing letters and blanks, which don’t make any sense at all.

The dream ended. Sorry folks. Clearly, I had entered panic mode! I thought I was only worried about my appearance and how to sound interesting when speaking into a camera for a minute (part of the audition, if I made it past the test). But no, no, no.

Well, bring it on is about all I can say. Fingers crossed. I could use $1M, or $250,000, $100,000 – I’d settle for $10,000.

Ciao, Trish

[Post note: I made it through the audition, camera test and onto the shortlist – but I never heard back! Was it my personality? That wouldn’t surprise me. I’m not articulate in-person. They said “don’t call us, we’ll call you”. And so I continue to wait. But won’t hold my breath too long!