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.

Galway Street Music AKA Buskers 2019

Busking is what I’m talking aboot!

I’ll begin with a contemporary, bleeding obviously famous ex-Galway busker – AKA Ed Sheeran! Now, I didn’t know until I’d been in Galway a while, but apparently Ed busked in the streets of Galway before fame found him. And Galway (seems) to claim him as their own. And of course, he’s reciprocated with his song Galway Girl and by filming his famous video here – even if he used a Dublin Girl, Saoirse Ronan, in the clip.

I’ve paused to listen to many buskers while in Galway and have been blown away by the quality and youth of some musician buskers. Children, and I’m not talking teenagers or young adults, but children. Two or three of them, most likely siblings, I’d say. You know how siblings have a special complementary sound in their tone and harmony? Well, it seems obvious to me 🙂 But these kids are not only singers. They’re playing multiple instruments, with skill and passion. It is amazing and what a great training ground for them.

Not only do they get performance practice, they get to experience some adversity too! I’d guess at a few – weather, getting to their spot, rejection (no coins) elation (crowd loves them), weather, internal issues (having a bad day,, one of them doesn’t want to play, got colds, mum and dad are over it) weather, hecklers (hopefully not too many of those for the children) and even, red tape.

Wouldn’t anyone hearing angelic harmonies out of the mouths of babes stop in their tracks, amazed, dumbfounded and proud for them? Anybody with an appreciation for music – and a soul – would.

There are of course lower quality performers. They may be desperately having a go, because why? Well, I can only imagine. I’m not in their shoes. I’d assume their first impetus is earning some coin. And it would only be coin, because I’m talking about the ones who just aren’t any good. I’ve seen and heard a few older people especially and wondered “do they think they’re playing well?” In fairness, I think to myself, perhaps they used to be good. Maybe it is that their style has had its day, or it would hold up if they were part of an ensemble. Did their mothers always tell them they were brilliant? Do they know that they’re only mediocre, but stuff it; they love what they’re doing and they could use the extra coin.

Who am I to judge? And I only am judging because they’re forcing it on me by playing in the street. Everybody, anybody, should sing, play, dance like nobody’s watching. Full of joy and free of judgement. Unless you insist on sharing it with me 😀

There are some bloody brilliant ensembles and bands busking in Galway. To name two that I’ve really enjoyed are the Galway Street Club and Dead Letter Devils.

I’d describe the first as grunge, exuberant, loud, authentic, Irish and explicit. They’re on Spotify if you’re interested in looking them up. I love how their drummer uses a tea carton! I love to tap out a beat – I think I’m very good at it and keep thinking I should get drumming lessons. The musicality of banging out a beat on a wooden box blows me away. It puts a smile on my face.

Dead Letter Devils‘ Facebook page describes them as a foot stamping mix of bluegrass, swing, old timey and just a dash of folk-punk. Another loud and out there, enthusiastic band. Love it. Looks like I can only find their music by buying a CD off them on the street. But I never stay to the end to find out how much they cost. I’m also too self-conscious to sneak in and check their collection box 😀

That’s another thing I personally have trouble with – the donation. There are so many buskers and you can’t tip them all. And I haven’t necessarily heard the entire song / performance, just appreciated what I heard as I walked by. So, what’s the etiquette?

I find it easy enough if there isn’t a crowd around the performer. But for those amazing groups mentioned above, the crowd is big. And I come along, don’t know how much longer the performance will go on for, and really want to ask how much their CD is, but don’t want to a) wait or b) interrupt the performance – or c) bring attention to myself 🙂

I really hope that for these guys it is about the exposure and not (at least in this performance) about the money. Because there are a number of them in the group – seven or eight? And the money being offered has to be shared around them all. So, this is when it comes down to the opportunity to busk – the ability to gain attention and reputation, spread through word of mouth or by the serendipity of an event manager of some sort also passing by.

Last weekend I was wandering around and came upon the Galway Busker Community group in Eyre Square. Some of their members were performing, but their purpose was to entertain while bringing our attention to new by-laws about to be put through Galway Council, ‘seriously restricting’ busker rights in Galway.

Most of the contention was about lack of consultation with the busking community, and also that busking was a grassroots way for performers to be discovered. Galway Street Club shared on their Facebook page that because of the ‘platform of Shop Street in Galway, they and other performers have had the opportunity to perform across Ireland and Europe’. And that the Galway Council has seen this and ‘used their image and reputation in advertising in their bid for Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture’ (which they’ve won!).

The by-laws include such rules as – short version:

  • Crowd Size. Must immediately cease performing if public access to or from any premises is restricted, due to a crowd gathering. So, if people have stopped to enjoy their music the band would have to stop playing – because a crowd has gathered! 😛
  • Amplification, backing tracks and use of drum kits are expressly forbidden. Amplification is needed due to the background noise of busy streets, and use of drums is an integral part of most band music
  • Censorship. ‘ … act, say, do or sing anything that may cause alarm, distress or offense …’. As the band says, this means that anybody even having a bad day who takes offence can complain and the band would be fined up to 1500 euros at any time.

Now, you can see some sense in what the Galway Council is trying to achieve. And although I, like so many others, love the expressionism, musicality and pure entertainment of street buskers, if you’re in business in such a tourist-centric town, you’d feel the need to be heard.

But ‘hello business’ – what is your main focus. That you need tourists in your city, in your street and then in your door. Well don’t these entertaining buskers help attract the tourist? Or are they just a pain in the butt with their noise, crowd pulling (interfering with access) and (potential) bawdiness.

I’ve twice been inside a retail business and had a conversation with staff about how awful a particular performer was on the day, with their comment being “yes, he’s always out there!”. So, if the businessman is also afflicted with a shite performer, then that’s a relevant point in the conversation.

I don’t know if Galway buskers have to audition before gaining a permit, whether they even have to apply for a permit. But there are areas in the world, including Australia, where this is a requirement and at least then you would expect an enjoyable standard.

I’m not a journalist and I don’t do real research for my light and observational writing. And so, I haven’t looked closely at the full detail of the by-laws. The Galway busking community cries ‘highly restrictive’.

At a glance, what I’ve seen looks sensible. There’s a balance to be found between creative license and practical reality. And if the busking community is correct, then perhaps the problem is really the lack of consultation and collaboration writing these by-laws, rather than the fact that they’ve come into being at all.

As a visitor to this medieval city, buskers add a festival element and entertainment value that seem to me, worth bottling. Galway City Council and the Galway Busking Community working together would be music to the ear of business, community and visitor alike.

Further reading

https://www.joe.ie/music/galway-music-irish-591663

#galwaystreetclub #thisisgalway.ie #galwaybuskers

Galway Street Club – image is not my own. Taken from thisisgalway.ie event page

Treasured Ladies, for comfort

I am a lone wolf! No, really, I am 🙂

I know, this is being said from the comfort and confidence of a long marriage. I’m part of team Eric and Trish, in life and work. So what’s this about a ‘lone wolf’?

Apart from the partnership of my marriage, I regularly say ‘I’m not a people person’ or ‘I don’t do people’. Lots of my friends would confirm that.

I have friendships. Carol B and I. Bobbie and I. Sally and I. Tash and I. Deb and I. Judy and I. I’m friends with the committee team I volunteer with at Vision Australia radio. Sometimes, Heather and I get coffee. There are people that I consider friends from the olden days, but we don’t hang out anymore, so I guess they’re acquaintances now. But in the day, these were strong friendships. Maire and I. Sandra and I. Sandra was there for me when it really counted.

The only bunch, group, gang of women I’ve hung out with in recent times is my Esperance friend group – Wednesday card ladies. Jan, Joy, Lorraine, Margaret, Michelle, Julie and Yvonne to name some. The connection began at Curves, which is a women’s exercise club. And through Curves, I found the card ladies. And I’ve loved card days, but I’ve honestly thought that it was really about the ‘doing’ of card playing, and not really the relationship with these ladies. But I’m thinking differently. 😀

Now as I’ve said in a previous post, while in Galway for an extended period, I thought it a good idea to find a community group of some sort. Whether that was volunteering, or a doing activity, it didn’t matter. Just a way to connect in Ireland outside of the passive interactions with shop assistants, ticket sellers, tourist operators.

Recently I had my fifth Saturday morning coffee with a beaut bunch of ladies. And I celebrated my birthday in Galway, away from home, my husband, my children. Murphy’s Law too, I had my first emotional/lonely moments this week. I changed apartments, and was disappointed with the quality and facilities of this one. Also, the location, while probably brilliant for a family on a summer beach holiday, didn’t seem to meet what I needed. It was stark and soulless. The continuing miserable weather probably wasn’t helping. And maybe it was just the right stage of the journey to experience loneliness. For a while, the novelty of the sabbatical holds sway and then at some point you realise you’re human!

Now, it’s not like I celebrate my birthday at home. It’s really another day. If I’m lucky, my husband and kids remember. I’ll get a text or phone call from the children who are all interstate. My sisters usually remember and give me a call. Mum usually calls.

I definitely haven’t had a party since my 21st. Sandra, remember my 21st? I’d had my first child exactly one week before. This was during my first marriage and my then husband Mark, a couple of friends from the Army Reserve, Sandra and her parents, and I think my then mother-in-law gathered at our apartment. I was estranged from my own family for a little while there and so this bunch of friends insisted that I had to celebrate.

Well, this lone wolf keeps reaching out. It is an anomaly that I don’t understand. But I sent the message out to my Treasured Ladies and said “If you’d like to join me for coffee and cake on Wednesday afternoon between 2 and 4, please do. You have to leave by 4 because I’m going out that night.” 😀

Clear direction there 🙂 I am very direct, honest and forthright. It gets me into trouble. And is part of why I think I don’t do people and I particularly don’t do women. Maybe I’ve distanced myself too much from the experience of women friendships, but I’ve believed that, in general, women are annoying.

In my experience, which is mainly in the workplace, women could concentrate on doing their job more and leave their emotional baggage at the door. It would make life at work so much easier. It is difficult for me to pinpoint what it is that bothers me about encouraging friendships with women – but the emotional neediness and territorialism that I’ve experienced means I retreat from them.

I find men a lot simpler to deal with. Frustrating at times, of course, but I like their directness and (usually) lack of guile.

Now, have I lost a bunch of you, because I sound harder than you thought I was? Or because I’m not doing the solidarity with women thing? I hope not, because I’m sharing what I feel honestly and coming to a realisation that maybe I’ve been missing out. In the spirit of protecting myself.

At the same time that I’ve said all of the above, remember that my feelings and observations are subjective. I am not a confident woman. I’m afraid to open up to other women in fear that I’ll be judged and found wanting. I measure myself against these other women and find myself lacking. If I keep away from them, then I don’t have to worry. Don’t have to put myself out there and risk heartache.

Yet, I reached out to the Treasured Ladies – again. We only had a small turnout. It was spontaneous and they all have lives, some of them still work. But these so very generous ladies said yes and came to my place for coffee and cake. And it was lovely. I don’t have the words for how lovely it was.  I’m really amazed that I appreciated it so much. And you know what? They keep saying ‘thank you’ for inviting them and how they really enjoyed it. Genuinely!

This is a real eye-opener for me. Have I missed out on something special? I’m a reader and of course I’ve read a lot about women and their friendships. But it did seem that this was something that ‘other’ women did.

So, the lovely Treasured Ladies were there for me. And the following weekend, it became clear that I was there for some of these ladies. We all have stories. We all have things going on that affect us, and our interpersonal relationships. Being there for somebody to talk to, to share their concerns, to confirm that they’re not alone or crazy. To empathize with their feelings. That is something worth embracing and encouraging.

Sugar is not my friend

March 2018 and I had gastric sleeve surgery. I’ve lost 32 kg or approximately 5 stone.

Initially, 3 major things happen with sleeve surgery.

  1. You lose 60% to 80% of your stomach
  2. You can’t eat more than one cup of food at a sitting
  3. You lose the hunger hormone (Ghrelin) and (apparently) the hormone that helps you to crave sugar (this only lasts for up to 18 months)

After surgery, you spend some time getting used to the new condition. You spend up to 2 weeks on liquids. 2 weeks on pureed food. 2 weeks on soft food. Then you can move on to real food – 1 cup at a time.

I’m on a three month ‘sabbatical’ in Ireland. Leading up to the trip I had concerns about how to enjoy an extended time on holiday without eating. Because a huge part of holidaying is enjoying the food. Perhaps, somebody else cooks it.  The day seems punctuated by food stops. There is different food to try. In Ireland, it might be delicious sausages, black and white pudding, scones (with jam and cream) soda bread – lots of bread – and potatoes!

For a sugar girl, there is also a huge range of new and delicious bakeries! There is a tourist store called Butlers, who are mainly about chocolate, but it is their toffees that call to me.

Two or three months before leaving for Ireland, my sugar need returned. It calls to me. I eat mindlessly. I think to myself, ‘I didn’t enjoy that’. Regularly, I’ll buy what it is that I want and eat a small amount and throw the rest away. A waste of money and world resources (that were required to produce the sugar product) and an addition to landfill. But personally, it is better in the rubbish, then inside me.

It is easy for some to say ‘just don’t eat it’, ‘don’t buy it’. I lost my weight all on my own. Just do it. Well, all I have to say to you is ‘blah, blah, di, blah, blah’! Put some real words into that, whatever floats your boat, that mean ‘piss off’!

Sugar is the devil for me. And I’m actually intelligent enough to know that I don’t need to eat it. My surgeon confirmed that ‘it is a disease’. Both the sugar craving AND the inclination to put on weight. It could have been alcohol, cigarettes, drugs or sex. Take your pick. Mine is sugar.

I have been eating sugar. So far, I’m not putting on weight. The size 10 jeans are still loose. It isn’t just about weight gain for me though. There is a connection between sugar intake and inflammation and my joints struggle.

We have guidelines for eating after gastric sleeve surgery.

  1. Fluids. Last drink 30 minutes before eating. Don’t drink for 60 minutes after eating. I use this rule to ensure that when I eat the proper food – breakfast, lunch and dinner – I don’t lose the nutritional benefit. Because you see, the stomach is small. You can only eat small amounts. So make them nutrient dense (protein first).
  2. Because the stomach is small, the food isn’t going to be there for long before it is time to evacuate to the intestines. If you drink while the food is in the stomach, you a) dilute the nutritional benefit and b) wash the food out of the stomach before your body has had time to absorb the nutrients.
  3. Nutrients. Your body will struggle to absorb enough nutrition. So choose well. Give it time to be absorbed. Take multi-vitamins forever!!!
  4. Sugar. Don’t eat it. Most people will suffer (and not just about putting weight back on). Most likely your body won’t like it and you’ll suffer ‘dumping syndrome’. What is that?

Dumping syndrome is the reaction of your body to either:

a)  Food having progressed too fast from your stomach into your intestines; or

b) You had a meal heavy in sugars/starch.

Dumping syndrome can result in bloating, lower abdominal cramps, diarrhea, lightheadedness or fainting.  Pretty uncomfortable, but your body’s way of yelling “WHAT THE HELL!”

I’ve been either amazingly lucky, or pretty well behaved, because I just haven’t had much trouble. I have had some occasional lower abdominal pain – and I’ve been able to immediately say ‘I pushed that meal a little. It was a little big.” If I eat a little too much sugar I feel hot and bothered. Waving a piece of paper in front of my face. Just like in menopause! 🙂

But really, I just haven’t had much trouble. I’ve breezed through it. I haven’t felt too deprived. Eric and I share most meals out. And at home, my meals fit very easily on a side plate.

I’m travelling on my own. I’m eating out. There is no such thing as a small meal at restaurants. Even entrees can be pretty big. Even though I know better, I feel guilty or wrong if I Order a meal without a drink. I can’t drink and eat for the nutritional reasons mentioned above. But I also can’t eat and drink, because I don’t have enough room! One or the other!

There are so many good sweet options all around me. I’m buying something every single day. The Gourmet Tart Co is too close to me and sells nice homemade biscuits, small (luckily) chocolate eclairs, scones. They also luckily sell beautiful wraps and reheat meals, like chicken pasta or beef bourguignon.

Butlers – fuck off!

Marmalades (small bakery) – actually, the only two times I bought their delicious looking desserts, I discovered they aren’t sweet enough. But their coffee is the nicest so far. YAY coffee!

Cocktails – my special treat when Eric and I go out (which is rare) – has to go back into the box of ‘very special treat’. Not, you’re on holiday for three months, so you can have cocktails whenever you go somewhere 😀

Six small meals, with a focus on protein, supported by vegetables.

There is no room in there for sugar. But I’m finding the room. I don’t eat all that I buy. I drink my water or berocca all around that sugar, to hurry it out of my system. I hope that’s doing the trick.

So, I’m owning up. This continues to be my struggle.

I don’t need any lectures, or helpful advice. Because I’ve been here for a long long time. I know that I should avoid sugar, but it is everywhere. And I’m not good at saying ‘no’. Even though, most of the time, I don’t even enjoy it!!

SUGAR I made myself at a baking class

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

 

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

nano-by-the-numbers

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

emergencies2

* * * *

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.

Murder & Mayhem Part 2 – and the Winners are!

Not me! Original image via Lucy Downey from Flickr Creative Commons

Oh well – I had high hopes. I was so excited to see my ‘name in lights’ after entering my first ever writing competition – however small the competition was.

Why did I think I had a hope in hell of winning, or running up or shortlisting? Who knows? It comes to mind, that this is somewhat how the contestants in X Factor or Pop Idol, Australia’s Got Talent and so forth, feel. Somebody has told them they’re great singers, dancers, comedians, etc and they believed it. They’re good! More than good; they’re sensational! 🙂

And while I didn’t necessarily have a posse of arse-lickers telling me how wonderful my fiction writing was – I was happily confident that they were great! 😀

Anyhoo (as my daughter would say) I didn’t make the short-list and upon reading the winning entries, I can see why. I write plain.

And coincidentally, in the last few days I’d been thinking that already – I dream in full technicolour, with fantastical story lines and characters, and movement between worlds and bigger than life adventures. Yes, they generally present in logical order too; which isn’t the case for everyone, as I understand it.

However, when I write – I write as my personality is; plain, straightforward, logical and pedantic (?). Yes, the stories make sense; yes they have a beginning, middle and end and spelling is excellent and the characters believable. But is there ‘life’ to the stories? Are they too much ‘in the box’ and not ‘outside the square’?

I can see upon re-reading of my two short stories where I lacked. And number 1 was that I wrote them and sent them off, without editing/rewriting! 🙂

So, congratulations to the two winners! See the link below to read the winning stories and the 10 shortlisted items also and see which ones you liked the best. I enjoyed the 2nd winner AND the story about the engineer and the swimming pool tickled my quirky bone! 😀

http://www.writerscentre.com.au/top-10-crime-thriller-comp-winners-and-notables/

Remember the rules were: Character of your own creation, using the words umbrella, softly and birthday with fewer than 149 words. And crime themed; the character had to have committed some sort of crime (big or small). Read my previous article Murder & Mayhem, to read my entries.

smily-thumbs-up