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

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In old age

 

Jesse 1

 

GIDGET GLAMPING – Retro Camper

(original post)

Hello friends, since we are feeling poor at the moment (new location, building client base) we don’t have any holidays planned. Which is very, boo hoo, for us! 🙂

But, we do have on order a custom-made Gidget Retro Camper. The idea is that now we are in the eastern states of Australia, there’s plenty of opportunity for us to travel around and explore, because we are veteran West Australians and haven’t seen much of the east coast. And when you come over from WA to visit, it is a week or two around Sydney, Melbourne or visiting parents in Tassie.

So, buying the Gidget is the money outlay and exploring with it should be the money saving part – campsites, caravan parks – all a hell of a lot cheaper than hotel accommodation and flying to places.

Bondi Gidget

But the dream of the Glamper is taking a seriously long time. We finally got around to placing our order and putting down a deposit in September 2016. All communication until then (and reading between lines on their website) indicated that 6 months was the expected wait. And days before we placed the order, we had a message through Facebook that with their new and improved, expanded factory and new processes it could even be within 4 months.

Funny story that! Because now it is early April 2017 and we don’t even have a scheduled delivery date.

We have spent some time angsting about this order. Is it a scam, whatever? But they have continued to communicate and if they were running away with all our money, we’d never hear from them, I guess.

Their Gidget Glamper Facebook page is very active. There are so many of us with the ‘glamping dream – and people who ordered a couple of years ago.

Gidget’s story is that they’d only made 3 Gidgets when the video they created describing all the beauty of the camper went (essentially) viral. That’s when I saw the camper for the first time, and fell in love! That was about 2014/2015, I can’t remember. So there was a couple of years while I had it in my mind that I’d like to buy one. And all along I had the idea in my head that it was about 6 months for manufacturing.

But they were caught seriously by surprise! They were effectively a start-up company at that point – as I said, they’d only made 3 Gidgets. But that video made them famous and the orders began to pour in.

I think it was at a Brisbane Camping Show in late 2015 or during 2016 that they became even more famous – as far away as the USA. And the orders continued to come in, but they weren’t prepared to handle it. (They now have a US-based franchisee selling Gidget).

About October / November 2016 they offered a crowd funding program – if you paid for your camper up-front you’d get to the top of the queue. They needed the funding to expand and improve processing and many (I believe) have taken them up on this. We didn’t. We felt it was enough of a commitment to put down the best part of $11,000 for something we hadn’t even seen yet.

It is getting closer – I can feel it in my water! 😀 We’ve chosen a cream-coloured body, with viper red wheel guards, and Tasmanian oak woodwork.

At the moment, their Brumby version is full steam ahead in its own factory. This is their 4WD off-road version. The Noosa campers are being manufactured quickly in their own factory. But the Bondi version is waiting for the new ‘Grand Tourer’ suspension system – and they are just waiting for the parts to come from Vehicle Components, which won’t commit to providing the parts until they have a certain amount in stock.

This suspension system replaces the leaf springs suspension previous utilised by the Gidget company. Supposed to be an amazingly good thing!

A few weeks ago (in March) Gidget informed us that they were on the brink of setting the schedule, at which point we’d know our expected delivery date. They’re just waiting on confirmation of parts from the supplier.

So, perhaps by September 2017? Before it gets too hot – because our Gidget Retro Camper won’t be used by us in the summer – I can’t handle the heat. Spring, Autumn – yep. Winter – possibly. Summer – nuh uh!

Bring it on. And enjoy the pictures above and enjoy visiting their website. 😀

Sorry Mark, it means Spain isn’t on our agenda any time soon. However, when I win Lotto or Millionaire Hot Seat – and I plonk myself down in Ireland for 6 months to a year – I’ll come visit you guys in Alora! 😀

https://www.thegidget.com.au/#welcome-section

MILLIONAIRE HOT SEAT – DREAMING

If you didn’t know already you’re about to hear that I’ve made it to an audition for Hot Seat. In Melbourne, this coming Tuesday 11th April.

In case you don’t watch TV quiz shows – Hot Seat has evolved from ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’ and is still hosted by Eddie McGuire.

So clearly, this audition is on my mind and I had a crazy dream last night.

The main crux of this dream is that I sat down (at a long meeting table) with the other wanna-be contestants and we were presented with our written test. AND I COULDN’T DO IT!

There were random and wild reasons why I couldn’t do it …. and here goes the story 🙂

An assistant to the show gathered us up and lead us to this meeting room, and then put a sheet of questions (the exam) in front of each of us, and left the room.

I look down at the first page – and can’t see anything on it! It was blank – a grey page, not white – and empty. I look around at the others and they’re all heads down and working away. I make a disgruntled noise, like ‘I don’t get it!” 🙂

Funnily enough in this dream, even though it is an exam situation, they all engage with me. And they’re going ‘what’s wrong?’.

“There’s nothing on any of my pages!” I say, and I then 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 says.

“No there aren’t,” I’m becoming quite cranky and flustered by now. “Um, maybe you could turn the lights on,” I say.

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

“Well, I have terrible eyesight, so maybe that’s it,” I answer and one of the contestants gets up and finds the lights. 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 and on a further page, numbers and blanks, and further along still there are random questions – but no multiple choice.

I stare (blindly) at the letters and blanks – it’s like on Pointless, where they offer a category, say ‘Famous Musician Eric’s’ 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 – with no 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 – and I grab up my exam 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 Hegerty ‘The Governess’ from The Chase, and they’re all talking loudly and laughing and causing a HUGE distraction.

I rush out and find another room close by, with a large table, and I plonk down on it with my exam. 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’m yelling, tears pouring down
my face and I’m almost bald by now. And then, a most amazingly transcendent thing happens …

David Duchovny appears at my side! Ahhh, he is the host of my Millionaire Hot Seat dream and he now asks ‘What is wrong here?” And after that first lustful, breath of air, I revert back to the screaming harridan and begin to get stuck into Mr Duchovny about the absurdity of this audition exam.

“It doesn’t even make any sense!” I cry out, waving the papers (now recovered) 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 speaks to me calmly in his lovely Duchovny voice (Ahhhh) and I’m momentarily distracted by that …. but then I turn around and leave. I find myself outside with a long bridge to cross and I begin running across it. I’m running, running and David is chasing 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 around and start to walk back, head down, fists clenched and breathing hard. And David starts talking to me as we walk back. He begins by telling me I’m lazy, I’m giving up, what a loser! Ha! My inner demons haunting me in my dreams.

Then somehow it comes up between us that perhaps if someone read out the questions, because clearly my problem is that I have bad eyesight :). If the questions are read out, then I’ll be able to complete the test! You beauty! For a few seconds … and then it hits 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 have entered panic mode! I thought I was only worried about my appearance and how I could sound interesting when speaking into a camera for a minute (part of the audition, if I make it past the test). But no, no, no – arrgh.

Well, bring on Tuesday 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

[Postnote: I made it through Audition, camera test and to the shortlist – but then I never heard back again! Was my personality too boring 🙂 That wouldn’t be a surprise. 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!

NaNoWriMo 2016 – Winner

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National Novel Writing Month 2016 (NaNoWriMo) and another small novel down. Two years in a row for me – and that is the great thing about the program. A want-to-be author, who has only started blogging since 2013 and not done any creative writing since she was a teenager, has now written over 100,000 words of fiction.

When you are a wife and mother (and most often at work) you put aside all the dreams – at least I did. My desire to write is deeply buried; with my creative muse. And all things practical take precedence.

Even as things have changed, it has been hard to realise that I now have the time and my own permission to pursue this area of interest. Lee Child only wrote his first novel in his mid-40s, so a late start is not unheard of. Of course, Mr Child’s total life and career background has been fertile ground for his imaginative and action-packed thrillers. For me, a simple mummy-type background hasn’t been a breeding ground for amazing ideas!

The first WIP About Lucy sits in the romance genre; and is still in draft mode and needing beefing up. At the rewrite, it will change and not be as light, with a bleak beginning; but that will be the impetus for the rest of Lucy’s journey and there will still be room for the light and funny parts. A lot of rewriting to be done. And ironically, I only began to imagine what to do with a rewrite as NaNoWriMo 2016 approached; when I was supposed to be thinking up the next story.

The Shimmering is the 2016 WIP and is again a romance, but with a foot in the door of ancient Ireland. In fact, the novel is set in the modern age, but there are faeries living ‘almost’ among us – remnants of the Celtic Gods. And my main character, Jenny, is a direct descendant of these Celts and therefore unwillingly becomes the main attraction in a supernatural happening – called, The Shimmering.

I think this second book has more depth to it. I’m happier with the quality in this second attempt at writing a ‘novel in a month’.

I have two ideas for the next stories rumbling around in my head and while I’ve got the writing habit happening, I shall begin on them. The first is an imagining of losing a young child at the airport – and how that happens; how do we react and what happens to the child (how does the child handle it?). The second is a ‘zombies living among us’ story. I know; Zombies! I read eclectically and clearly, I’m going to be an eclectic writer!

I’ve written on this site before about NaNoWriMo and how it is a vehicle to get people to write – who otherwise mean to, but procrastinate, think they’re not good enough, it is something other people do, etc. The goal is to write 50,000 words in a month – from 1st November to (pens down) midnight 30th November. You’re a winner if you reach that 50,000‑word target.

I tell people I’m a winner, because I achieved the goal of 50,000 words. Most people go ‘oh yeah, that’s good’ or ‘good on you’; but I don’t believe that they realise – me and the other ‘winning’ participants wrote a small novel in 30 days.

Out of a beginning number of over 400,000 (I don’t know the 2016 numbers, but in 2015 there were 431,626 adult participants) only so many finished. In the entire world. And I was one of them! You can see from the graph that it is a small number of people who reach that 50,000-word goal.

I have a way to go before I’ve got something that’s publishable (basically, I’ve written two first drafts) but this is a massive achievement for me 😀

When is it okay to hunker down and look after yourself?

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated in June 2016 that ‘at the end of 2015 there were 65.3 million refugees; that is, one out of every 113 people on earth and that was an increase of 5.8 million on the previous year. This is mainly driven by the Syrian war and other protracted conflicts.’  http://www.unhcr.org/emergencies

An article by Reuters in December 2015 estimates:

  • 2 million refugees fleeing wars and persecution
  • Almost 2.5 million asylum seekers with requests pending in Germany, Russia and the United States
  • An estimated 34 million people were internally displaced – with Yemen reporting the highest number of newly uprooted people at 933,500 – after civil war erupted in March 2015
  • Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Somalia and South Sudan; as well as Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Congo and Iraq – have all lost people through displacement, due to violence.
  • Many refugees will remain in exile for many years. The chance that a refugee will make it back home (today) are lower than at any time in the last 30 years.

These figures are only those for refugees brought about through the violence of war and fighting.

This week the news is about 90% destruction in parts of Haiti through the passage of Hurricane Matthew. The numbers of dead are high, but it is the number of people who are displaced and have nothing – estimated 300,000 that is worrying. This is a country that hasn’t recovered from the earthquake of 2010.

Historically Haitians escape to the US, due to poor lifestyle and corrupt government, but are routinely returned to Haiti because it is decided the refugees ‘do not suffer reprisals when they are returned’. However, anecdotal stories would suggest this is incorrect

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* * * *

I’ve barely touched the tip of the refugee iceberg with the above notes. Let me tell you though that I worry about a world where so many people are displaced, unhappy, persecuted – with nowhere to feel safe. They need somewhere to belong and while some countries have opened their arms – such as Germany and Italy – they do so at the risk of their countrymen rebelling and at the risk of losing their own cultural identity.

Losing cultural identity doesn’t sound too bad – does it? Globalisation is the holy grail in this modern age – globalisation equals loss of cultural identity. However, I believe that there is a genuine and healthy need to nurture cultural identity – and that is for both the country that has accepted these refugees and for the refugees , within their new country.

I’d suggest that the healthiest and happiest people are those who celebrate their cultural uniqueness. They know who they are, their people, their history and where they belong.

Those who are ‘lost’, who haven’t been nurtured in the wealth of their heritage; perhaps they have moved around a lot and don’t have a sense of community. These people ‘suffer’ in their lack of identity.

* * * *

I sit here in ‘comfort’; that is, I’ve a roof over my head, food on the table, clean water. There is money for movies and a book and too much takeaway. Financially, we are in ‘start-up’ mode again, due to a recent relocation, so we feel poor. However, we have prospects and as long as we work hard and continue to have some luck, we’ll be okay; because life in Australia is safe.

Yet, I continue to despair at the plight of refugees. Previously I have written about my disgust at the way our Australian government handles our domestic refugee intake and how government and media encourage us to fear refugees. The media certainly encourages us to fear people based on religious beliefs or ethnicity.

The question remains – How do we help these people in dire need while keeping our own freedom, culture and security intact? And I still don’t know the answer.

I feel “How dare we be comfortable” when so very many people are suffering. At the same time, I’m not willing to give up my freedoms or comfortable life; so, stalemate.

Loving FREEWRITE

 

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Freewrite – pride of place on my Writing Desk

Shall I write my first blog out of my Freewrite? Well, yes, I shall. smily-thumbs-up

It is SO exciting. Ordered back in May 2015, I missed out on the first round of orders and therefore it meant a wait of more than a year. And luckily I’m a patient girl (and trusting) because when you spend several hundred dollars on an item and you don’t get your hot little hands on it for many months, it does cross your mind “Hmm, is this is a scam?” It wasn’t!

The idea of the Freewrite is that you write – without social media-type distractions, write without editing (computers allow you to edit as you go and therefore can derail you from the ‘actual’ writing). This is a modern-day ‘word processing’ tool; solely for writing.

The keyboard; ah, delight! It has those large, deep keys of olden day electronic typewriters, that tangible sensation of keying in words and the ‘click-clack’ soundtrack. Heavenly!

It sounds romantic (and actually I feel it is romantic) to say that writing on a typewriter is so much better than on a modern keyboard, with a soulless screen in front of you. There’s a sensuousness; a connection that you don’t get in front of a computer.

The Freewrite is a weighty machine for its size, but that appears to be a positive as with a rugged aluminum body, it doesn’t feel fragile.

Oh and the Freewrite has an e-ink screen (like a Kindle) so you can use in bright light – sit outside under a tree or alfresco at your favourite cafe – and clearly see what you’re writing; oh, and it is portable. Doesn’t have a carry‑case, but has a handle and off you go!

The Freewrite saves as you go – first to its own memory storage and then when you switch on the Wi-Fi – to the cloud. Freewrite uses Postbox and you can then sync your writing to any other cloud service you may be using – such as Evernote, Dropbox or Google Drive. You can be offline to write and then switch back to online to upload your work.

As I mentioned previously, this ‘writing’ tool discourages you from wasting time editing an ongoing piece of work – because you can’t edit. You can back space – but there isn’t a delete key.  There are no cursor keys, so you can’t navigate back to a mistype, spelling mistake or a sentence or paragraph you’d like to retype! You can do that later – and so your synced writing can then be downloaded to a standard word processing program and prettied up – editing and adding photos, if required.

So when the finished version of this short article is uploaded to my WordPress blog – there will be a photo of my Freewrite sitting on my writer’s desk. Right now, of course, I can only contribute the words.

It is so exciting; I can’t believe how exciting it is. I have a deadline for the coursework I’m completing at the moment – and I need to be finished in time for National Novel Writing Month #nanowrimo in November – but NO! I want to play with my new toy; I mean write!

Out go my old IBM electronic typewriters – this compact unit replaces them. Not their romanticism, but their heft, reliance on accessories (ribbons, golf balls) electricity and space – and their lack of portability. You have been replaced, my dears! smily-pink

Come National Novel Writing Month this November – my next 80,000 words will be written on this gorgeous machine.

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I’ll let you know further down the track how I’m going with it – and if the love affair continues.

Hasta pronto! Trish

 

 

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Bendigo Writers Festival – Eurocrime

I have had the most fantastic weekend, visiting the Bendigo Writers Festival, which, according to WIN Bendigo, had approximately 15,000 attendees. 😀

When my husband and I moved to the eastern states in 2015, one of the main reasons was so that we could enjoy these type of events (not on offer in country WA) and sure, I had to travel approximately 300km to attend – but it was worth it.

Books are my passion and right behind that is my aspiration to be a writer myself. To spend a weekend with like-minded people, listening to authors – mostly successful already, but also some newbies – surrounded by excitement and bustle and books was inspirational. 😀

Opening night was supposed to feature Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild – but she had illness in her family and had to postpone. With a theme of Brave Enough, the session was to discuss:

There are physical limits, and there are mental limits, both of which can stand in the way of creativity and our capacity to make the most of life.

Do you need to take risks to unlock creativity? Climb a mountain? Trek a trail? Or just force yourself to sit and think and keep your nose to that grindstone until it happens.”

The panel comprised a lighthearted crew of Ita Buttrose, Benjamin Law, David Astle and Graeme Simsion – and they were great.

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Graeme Simsion, author of the Rosie Project and Rosie Effect – and from an IT background – was funny, albeit sensible and practical.

BEN

Benjamin Law, Australian writer and broadcaster (author of Family Law) is hilarious, very articulate and relaxed.

ITA

David-Astle

Ita Buttross, Australian icon, came across as warm and generous; and then David Astle – the word nerd – was quite normal! 🙂

So, I couldn’t persuade any fellow (aspiring) writers to come to Bendigo with me – I did ask in a couple of my writer groups on Facebook. It would be interesting to know if any fellow ‘nano writers’ were among the enthusiasts at the Festival.

The very first session with Liam Pieper and Victor del Arbol entitled Eurocrime was interesting and coincidentally Victor is Spanish and needed an interpreter – I’d attended my first Spanish class the night before and it seemed serendipitous that one of the first author’s I listened to was Spanish. A charming, funny and handsome Spaniard too, I must say! Even though we didn’t understand what he was saying – we were spellbound!

The ToymakerThe Heart Tastes Bitter

I’ve purchased the two books they were touting – The Toymaker (Liam Pieper) and The Heart Tastes Bitter (Victor). [Update: In July 2020, I’ve recently read his latest book Sweetness & Light) which is worth a go.

Liam says his book is about ‘a Russian doctor, imprisoned by the Nazi and sent to Auschwitz and forced to work with Josef Mengele in order to survive; but how can he help perpetuate evil and continue life after war as a good man?

Victor’s three main characters face ‘the one thing that we as humans can’t experience – only face – death. They all lose someone and as a result do terrible things; can they find redemption? Victor believes that ‘self-redemption lies in not denying your own actions or mistakes. He also says that an American author would have (in this instance) all the characters forgiven by the end of the book, but he is Spanish; they have a more tragic sense of life.’

I read The Toymaker over the weekend – and it is a good read – it’s a ‘literary’ read; but I wouldn’t have called it a crime novel (at least in my interpretation of what I enjoy as a crime novel. War crimes are more political / historical concepts.

Over the next few days I’ll write up some of the other sessions – and I hope you’ll enjoy them. If you get the opportunity to visit Writers Festivals around you, go for it! There’s a lot to be learned and enjoyed; if you’re a booklover, simply being surrounded by fellow weirdos makes a nice change!

I’ve got Write about the Murray to look forward to here in Albury – coming soon! 😀Save

Australia has gun control? Tell me another one!

I began writing this post before I noticed that it was 20 years since the Port Arthur massacre and then we had a few weeks of follow-up stories and remembering that terrible day; so I held off finishing this gun control article.

The news about guns still remains scary, so I’ll continue where I left off.

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It is often heard around the world – and President Obama has mentioned this several times – that Australia has achieved the impossible (as far as America is concerned). We have legally controlled use and ownership of guns.

And of course this means (ideally) that we have fewer random shootings, homicides and massacres. Yes, we don’t have mass gun deaths along the lines of those suffered by the USA and frustrating the hell out of Mr Obama.

Every day now though it is reported in the news, online or TV and in print media; another Australian gun death.

In this last week, a gunman shot and killed a ‘well known underworld figure’ and an innocent mother – drinking coffee nearby – was injured in a shopping centre in Bankstown, outside Sydney.

Remember the days, fellow Australians, when this was unheard of? I definitely remember one day suddenly (about the 80s) noticing that police were carrying guns and going “WOAH, when did that happen?”

And (after living in WA for the last 30 years) only noticing in the last five to 10 years that there was a more than occasional gun crime news report.

What I would like to know is – where are the guns coming from, if we have successful gun control laws in Australia?

After the Port Arthur massacre where 35 people were killed and 23 wounded – John Howard stood up and made it clear that this was intolerable and Australia backed him. National laws were created that banned certain automatic and semi-automatic weapons and required license applicants to have genuine reasons for owning guns. And he raised a tax to pay for a ‘buyback’ initiative to get as many guns off the streets and out of households as possible.

Gun crime and deaths did decrease after this initiative – and there is debate about whether this was going to happen anyway (as there was somewhat of a worldwide trend) or if it was a direct result of the new gun laws.

In any case, we don’t experience gun-related massacres on the scale that the US does, which is a blessing and kudos to John Howard and his government of the day.

Here is a demonstrative graph, borrowed from a Business Insider article online (http://www.businessinsider.com.au/australia-gun-control-shootings-2015-10)

Gun deaths in Australia

In red, before 1996 gun law enacted – 20 years ago this month that Port Arthur massacre occurred – and in blue after gun law introduced. Can’t be all coincidence, surely?

You can clearly see that there are still gun deaths, but apparently ‘mass’ shootings or ‘massacres’ technically mean four or more deaths in one event.

How then do we explain the regular occurrences of gun crimes reported in Australia every day? It worries me.

My husband and I have spent all of our married life in country Western Australia. I could see from news stories that gun crime occurred and was saddened that this seemed more of a regular occurrence than I remember it had ever been.

I felt safe in country WA though – from being randomly killed!

Now we are living on the NSW/Victoria border and the number of gun crimes I hear reported every day is scary! It does feel that I’m in more danger of accidentally being killed because of where I live. Just by moving interstate, I’m living dangerously.

I have even found myself in a coffee shop and looking around for the exits and wondering where I could hide, if a gunman walked in and resigning myself to the fact that under the table doesn’t work!

Sound like a drama queen, hey? Feel like a drama queen 🙂 The reality is that there are gun-death stories every day – and I don’t believe that should be right.

The link below is to an online article written in March 2016. It discusses the apparent rising trend in Australian gun crime

http://www.news.com.au/national/crime/scary-trend-in-australian-gun-crime-with-more-than-200-shooting-deaths-a-year/news-story/374b4e55fdbb1718079c36979245d50c

Violent crime; yes. We are human and humans are violent and that is damning enough. Why do guns come into it? They should only come into the picture for the following citizens:

  • Defense forces and nowadays, the police force; to do their job.
  • Farmers, perhaps. They occasionally need to knock off wildlife – destroying crops, carrying away chickens and sheep, etc. Sometimes, they need to put down an animal. City folk take the creature to a vet.
  • Recreational shooters; because yes. It is actually a hobby/sport and in Australia these recreational shooters have to go through very vigorous legislated steps before being allowed to own and shoot a weapon.

Who else NEEDS a gun?

In Australia, it would be pretty useful to have a gun for self-defense or to keep marauders away, but only in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse.

However, in America everyone NEEDS a gun and more to the point have THE RIGHT to own a gun. Due to some wording in their REALLY OLD constitution, that talks about the ‘right to bear arms’, which was highly relevant in a time when there were no regulated protection forces and citizens were often expected to form militia units to protect themselves, or fight for their government.

If you own a gun there is a higher chance that you are going to be involved in a gun related incident.

If a police officer approaches a criminal and has his gun out, there is a greater opportunity for a) the criminal to be shot b) the criminal to pull out their gun and shoot the officer and c) for the gun to be taken from the officer, and either he is shot or the gun is used somewhere else.

And it does seem to be that more people are killed by police officers, because the gun is available. If in doubt, shoot the perp; would be a natural instinct (whatever their guidelines might advise) particularly in countries like America were gun ownership is high and therefore the chances of coming upon an armed criminal are higher.

Just having the gun is upping the odds of a gun related incident. In the day-to-day duties of a policeman and ‘walking the beat’ wearing a gun is asking for trouble.Sorry police-people. I have great respect for you and don’t have to do your job!

Special police squads that typically carry; yes, I agree with that. Called on in particular circumstances. Or every officer having gun availability at the station, under lock and key. Okay, yes. If a major event occurs – such as said Zombie Apocalypse – then easier access to weaponry can be justified. Especially in Australia, where there must be a much lower expectation that you are going to come upon a gun-wielding criminal.

In Australia, at the moment, most gun deaths are suicides (see article link above) but the occurrence of gun-related crime is definitely increasing; as I said, I see it in the news everyday.

WE ARE STILL NOT COMPARABLE to gun deaths in America yet. We don’t want to get there. It is not something to aspire to.

However, on a rather cynical note, our government has plenty enough to worry about. Like not changing over Prime Minister again, in a hurry! 😛

AND on a lighter note, Port Arthur Historical Siteis an amazing and spooky place to visit, if you’re in Tasmania.

Growlers – and a Modest Woman

Lucky Bay Brewery

Do you know what a Growler is? Well, I thought I did – and it was embarrassing for this ‘modest conservative lady’ to think about.

Growler

Growler 😀

In Australia, colloquially a ‘Growler’ is a very hairy bush. And if you still don’t know what I’m talking about – a very hairy bush on a lady! Got it now? No? Hmmm – lady parts, that are very hairy! I will go no further ….

A friend of ours has dreamed big and made his dream come true by opening his own Brewery in Esperance, Western Australia – Lucky Bay Brewery. You have to be impressed with this fellow – one day it was a dream and (seemingly) the next it was reality – simple beer from local barley. And it seems to be really ticking along – and is well supported by the locals.

Anyway, there are many types of beers (says I, ‘guru’ that I am not!) and different ways of drinking and Lucky Bay Brewery Growlerscarrying it – glass, bottle, keg and growlers.

I heard about these ‘beer’ growlers from my lovely husband who has taken to buying these 2L steel canisters to give as gifts – particularly to clients that he is saying goodbye to, as we have recently moved from Esperance, WA to NSW.

Anyway, one day he’s talking on the phone to me and suddenly he keeps saying ‘growlers’! I’m sure that I’m mishearing him. And I’m giggling … like a girl! Like, hee hee! What are you saying? 😀

Eventually, I get it, but I’m not comfortable. I’m home alone (as he’s in WA) but I’m blushing anyway. And in all future conversations, I can only refer to them as ’growlies’ 😛

As I said, modest! And clearly, adolescent. It’s okay; I can take it!

Where did the name ‘Growler’ come from?
Well, I’ve stolen the following words from the article The Growler: Beer-to-Go! on the website The Beer Advocate, for some background. (See: http://www.beeradvocate.com).

  • In the late 1800s and early 1900s, fresh beer was carried from the local pub to one’s home by means of a small-galvanized pail. Rumor has it that when the beer sloshed around the pail, it created a rumbling sound as the CO2 escaped through the lid, thus the term “growler” was coined.
  • OR
  • George Bulvas III, brewmaster at Water Street Lake County Brewery, WI, suggests that growlers are named for the buckets of beer once given to factory workers before their stomachs began to “growl” from hunger.

So, I guess my husband will continue to buy Lucky Bay Brewery growlers – and eventually one might find its way home. They do seem a great idea and look very spick. And how does the beer taste? Well, next time you’re Esperance way – go and try for yourself.

Lucky Bay Brewery at Esperance Stonehenge

Beware the Clowns – Donald Trump

[Update July 2020] And now we have COVID-19 Trump and it just looks like such a mess in America. The man talks foolish every day. He does himself no favours in the wider world. And while I know that he will have his supporters in the US, because we are all different and entitled to our opinions, hopefully many are ready for change – and that change may be Joe Biden. In my opinion, that seems like a bloody good idea!

{Update 1 September 2020} And the race is on to see whether America will vote Donald Trump back in – or take on someone in a new costume; statesman, not clown! I am always wary of commenting on the politics or culture of somebody else’s country, as I don’t have to live it. But as raised in the original article above, the POTUS is a world leader and therefore the rest of us have expectations. And the look for America is bad with Donald Trump at the top. 
Good luck to America and my friends in the American writing community. I hope you get who you vote for in November 2020.

{Original Post}
I’ve just finished reading All the Stars in the Heavens, by Adriana Trigiani and while reading it there was a scene where the protagonist (Loretta) and her friend were visiting Italy. This was in the 30s and Mussolini was the leader. Loretta, an American, asked the family what they thought of Mussolini? The reply was that the mother thought him ‘a braggart and no one takes him too seriously.’

Loretta said she’d been at a dinner party and a famous author she met said “Beware the Clowns.” The leaders who start out as jokes – people make fun of them, they’re caricatures, cartoons in newspapers and people decide they are harmless. Those men are the most dangerous. The day comes when they use their power against their own people.

Well, that struck a chord. I’ve been wondering for weeks what America (the few who come out to vote anyway) see in Donald Trump as a potential POTUS. It is okay that he’s a successful businessman – if it works for him whatever he does – then okay. Do they seriously think he’s the man they want to represent them to the world?

I first began to worry when he came out with his infamous comments about proposing to ban Muslims from entering the USA.

Trump Time Cover

A couple of days ago I was getting groceries and saw Time’s cover page and they used TICK boxes (see above) – bully (tick) showman (tick) party-crasher (tick) and demagogue (tick) with the box for 45th President of the United States (unticked). The man is a loose cannon and a hatemonger. The author/s of the article in Time (Australia) suggest that he is working on fear ‘… fear in the pit of millions that globalisation is a rigged game … Americans are the mark’.

He comes across as a bombastic buffoon and and a horrible person. It is unbelievable to me that he could even be a possibility to lead America and the world (because seriously, the American President does (traditionally) have that standing). Compare him to President Obama and it’s not just chalk and cheese – but I can’t think of a clearer way to express the difference here.

Obama is humble, intelligent and compassionate. He is respectable and respectful. He has ideas and ideals and seems to be a genuinely good person. He has tried very hard over his terms as POTUS to the do all he can for his country – and the reality is that he couldn’t please everyone. Also, as politics goes, to achieve much in the way of progress you need the opposite political party to be willing to cross party lines and vote for sensible policies. That is not the way of modern politics. There are so many agendas that a political leader has to try and work around, that it is amazing anything is achieved.

President Obama is a leader and a steady hand; a family man and a patriot. Mr Donald Trump ‘leads’ with bluster, babbling, bluffing, bullying and stirring the cauldron. And the mixture consists of fear, hate and intolerance. Are the people coming out in support of Trump only those that believe they are hard done by, being taken over by other countries, losing work to ‘lesser’ people, paying for the rich. He is counting on fear holding the key to his political success.It is hard to imagine that sensible and ‘sentient’ Americans are going to vote for him.

And the Republican party – in the interest of having ‘somebody/anybody’ from their party in the race – are turning a blind eye, essentially. Their lily-livered lack of action, their ‘sit back and watch’ attitude is not a party with an eye to the good of their country. They are for the good of their party – and that means their own riches and success.

It is a pity that Obama can’t be re-elected – even though he could be tiring by now and ready for a change. He’s probably devastated at the possibility that a Donald Trump would be his legacy. He would surely want to leave the White House and the most powerful leadership role in the world in ‘capable and trustworthy’ hands.

Ha! Is the nightmare of Donald Trump as leader of the Western World a real possibility? Let’s really hope not! America could never be taken seriously again. It would be close to Armageddon. In my opinion. And all of this and all my posts are only opinion – I’m not an academic.