Autumn and Pilates

April 23, 2014

Autumn is now in mid-flight. The Manchurian Pears put on their royal show with their auburn burnished leaves dropping like tarnished silver littering the streets and footpaths. Children are on Easter holiday full of chocolate and loud matinee movies. The mothers already counting the days before a return to school. Our own grandkids now grown into having better things to do than visit old fogeys, especially when urged to read a good book or even just lift eyes up and away from their hand held nervous electronica! I read a sign yesterday at a hotel in Mittagong placed outside on the footpath, ‘No Wi Fi here’ followed by a stern ‘talk to each other’! Most surprising and enlightened publican there. There is hope yet in this world so obsessing with all that instant gratification from swiping and downloading gibberish. They text; “I am in Auburn Rd, shopping”, “where are you”? Text back; “I am near my door, leaving for my Pilates”.Mr Joseph Pilates from Mönchengladbach has a lot to answer for. Millions of followers. It combines both mental and physical exercises. It made me wonder how the mental exercise had enlightened the texting practitioner? She answered; I have lost 6 kilos!

My grandkids would probably admonish me for my hypocritical stance and say; you are always on the computer too, what’s the difference? Rightly so! It must be sign of ageing or at best being, ‘an oft repeated saying slung at me; ‘you are just a curmudgeon.’ Of course I wear this badge with honour. Anyone who know a good curmudgeon knows they are enlightened truth tellers possessing great wit and sharpness of mind. It is a peculiar trait reserved for few men. Oft desired by many but seldom attained. Many believe they are old men, cranky and impatient, loaded up with chagrin till finally finding a fiery end in a glazed urn. With some luck they might get scattered around Parramatta Rd, or ,God forgive along the M5. Their grey ash flung out of the moving car’s window. ‘Good riddance you cranky-pot’ as a final goodbye and wind blown powdery epitaph.
This is what I gleaned from WiKi about curmudgeons and how to become one.

1. curmudgeons are not pleasers! You must not care about being popular or liked. If that matters to you, go to therapy!
2. Curmudgeons are not crabby – that is a myth. We tell the truth, and some people don’t like that. Tell Junior what you really think of his writing. Tell Aunt Ida that she’s got bad breath. Don’t be mean about it, but don’t try to make everything sound pretty!
3. Curmudgeons do not follow ‘trends’! You must learn to think for yourself! If a popular media figure says something is great, you don’t care for it. If most of the people around you like a TV show, gadget or movie, it makes you yawn. You may need to try forcing yourself not to like what’s popular until you learn to think independently.
4. Curmudgeons do not shop! Find something else to do with your time, like go for walks, garden, or take up a craft (it does not need to be a good or useful craft – it’s the process that counts).
5. Curmudgeons do not like new things. Poke around the attic, garage or basement until you find that old thing you used to use, rather than buy something new. Or borrow it!

In the meantime the autumnal season marches on and right now is so beautiful it makes everything worth hanging onto for a while longer. The rain over the last few weeks have been plentiful and this must have giving all trees a final spurt of growth with the foliage blowing out but now relinquishing all that in a glorious final crescendo of warm colours and golden glow. It is Vivaldi at his best and heavenly. You can tell that the trees are listening too.

Good Friday and Valparaiso.

April 19, 2014
Fire at Valparaiso

Fire at Valparaiso

Yesterday things were so quiet you could hear a sole pigeon flapping its wings on the main street. Good Friday is seen as a day of mourning and the usual clamour of shoppers and their trolleys had ceased. W.H Auden’s muffled drums were tolling, even dogs did not bark. Cars were driven in reverse gear only. Later on the TV, a procession was seen showing a man struggling with a heavy wooden cross barefooted through a main street somewhere. A small crowd was lining the pavement. Children were confused. Should they cheer him on with little flags or cry? If he thought he was on his way to Mount Calvary, what was he doing on the Sydney M5 overpass near Liverpool? That same man, still barefooted and wearing his crown of thorns was interviewed later on ABC TV.

It is all so confusing but at least he had his moment of fame. The day remained terribly silent. All was closed and barred up. Remarkably, the one shop that was open were selling croissants, Vienna sour dough crusty bread and whole fish including giant trouts and snappers, prawns, lobsters, head and all. (no crowns). I was feeling a resurgence of spirits and decided to add some colour to this grey and sombre day. Many customers were pushing and shoving for food proving that the closure of shops did not lesson customers on and about wanting to buy items for later digestion. I recklessly splurged out on a whole snapper and a sour dough crusty bread. It is not as if Good Friday is a day of obligatory mourning for everyone. Once I learnt that my hobby of masturbation was a serious offence with a special place for the serial offender reserved in the hottest of hells, I tossed the whole lot overboard and joined that army of un-repenting onanists and hopeful fornicators. I am not surprised that that poor man was reduced to carrying that cross around barefooted. Further footage on the ABC news showed men self flagellating in Chile or was it Peru? Seeing that, my thoughts went back when we were in Chile many years ago during the Pinochet reign of terror. He was a very good and devout Catholic. Margaret Thatcher remembered him fondly.

We landed in Argentina and after some time in Buenos Aires took a flight to Mendoza and from there a bus over the Andean mountains to Santiago in Chile. The capitol was tense and even though lots of people were about and cafes doing well, the sight of armed soldiers with machine guns at the ready did not make for a relaxed atmosphere. Every time we thought things were quiet and relaxed a mass of people would be running through the streets and a tank would appear. Shops had their shutters pulled down in seconds and the streets became eerily quiet. ( Not unlike Good Friday in Bowral). This happened also during one evening when we went out to have a meal. A disturbance somewhere and again all people rushed away or went indoors. Within minutes the shops were deserted with shutters pulled down. All was now barred and hidden. We had no clear recognisable street signs or beacons to guide us back to the house were we were staying. A soldier with a gun stopped us as were about the only ones still defying the impromptu curfew. We showed him the address where we were lodging and he showed us the way back. It was all a bit sinister and dangerous. We were younger then and the adrenalin made us take risks we would not take now. Today we feel we take lives in our hands shopping for giant Marigolds at the local nursery or a bolt cutter spanner at Bunnings-Hardware or even queuing at the local ATM.

After a week or two in Santiago we went to coastal Valparaiso. Valparaiso was again in the news last week. A dreadful fire had consumed a suburb of that glorious city. It was on that same steep hill consumed by that recent fire that we walked up all those years ago to have some lunch. We were told that Valparaiso had a large second hand book market. We walked around it for a couple of hours. I have never seen a book market like it. A bit like the Hermitage but for books only. Millions of them and in all languages. As we walked up that steeped hill we noticed the tightly packed houses had many trees. Especially the Australian Casuarina and Eucalyptus. Sadly it must have been those very flammable trees that added to the devastation in Valparaiso last week.

Vale Maria Garcia Marquez

April 18, 2014
Maria Garcia Marquez

Maria Garcia Marquez

Vale Maria Garcia Marquez.
One of the best.
“I grew up in a country were magic and dreams are everyday possibilities”.
The epic novels including ,’One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera’.
Is Australia also a country of magic and dreams or more of country of real estate dreams with acres of colour-bond and endless ribbons of bitumen Rosella Circuits lined with McMansions?

Maria Garcia Marquez: From ‘Love in the time of Cholera’.
“One night, Fermina is awakened by the music of a lone violin playing the same waltz over and over again. The following morning, Lorenzo Daza expresses curiosity about the violin music; he could not tell for which house it had been intended, nor what the same piece repeated symbolizes. Aunt Escolástica explains that she had seen a solo violinist standing on the opposite side of the park, and that a single piece repeated indicates severed relations. Florentino explains in that day’s letter that he had in fact been the musician, and that he had written the waltz, which he titled Crowned Goddess, for Fermina. He and Fermina arrange for him to play in other locations where she can hear him without fear of exposure. On one occasion, Florentino is arrested after he is accused of being a spy who sends messages via his serenades. He spends three nights in jail, and feels martyred because he has suffered for love.”

Australian Liberals; A Broad Church?

April 17, 2014

NSW….43 premiers
QLD….38 premiers
SA…..45 premiers
TAS….45 premiers
VIC….36 premiers
WA…..29 premiers

236 premiers.
Not one female Liberal premier… ever…
Clearly a boys club denying females the same status.

etching 'couple'

etching ‘couple’

The irrestible Jack.

April 16, 2014


Good boy Milo, good boy. Now do the shopping

Our groaning world.

April 12, 2014

Our Farm "Rivendell"

Our Farm “Rivendell”

This article was first published some years ago (perhaps around 2009.)

Let me first give some details about Australia’s lust for ‘crop and weed spraying’. BY 2006 our annual use of herbicides was over 18 000 tonnes and for insecticides over 8000 tonnes, fungicides another 3000 tonnes. This is the un-adulterated product. At a generally advised mix of 200 mls of the herbicide or insecticide per 100 litre of water that then gives every person (20.000.000 people) more than 600 litres of chemicals in which to spray crops, weeds. You could happily spray a litre per day and have plenty left at the end of the year. You can understand why we are leaving such an enormous ecological hoof/footprint every time when leaving the rural produce store. We are fond of chemicals.

Check it;

So, once a year the farmer receives a letter with a date whereupon a ‘Noxious Weed Inspector’ will come out to inspect weeds. He arrives in a large 4W drive car with a Shire logo painted on its doors and will ask how the poisoning of weeds is progressing. I generally act evasive and vague which is my nature and easy to comply with. He soon picks up on my lack of enthusiasm for spraying and killing dreaded weeds. After ten minutes or so of country banter we start on a walk towards the infestation of weeds along the river that might have survived or overcome the latest spraying of toxic poisons. I try and bring the conversation over to the subject of herbicide resistance. There is now a slight change in the demeanour of the Noxious Weed Inspector.

What makes a good Noxious Weed Inspector anyway? Do burning desires and ambitions lay dormant for years in a person before breaking out in an all consuming drive to become one? Is a fixation with weeds something one is born with, genetic predisposition perhaps? Are now, after all those years of study and hard work the essence of Weed Extermination in danger of being thwarted by “herbicide resistance”? How fickle life can be for Noxious Weed Inspectors.

We now have the world’s second largest list of herbicide resistant weeds, 53 listed weeds resistant to herbicide, including the Serrated Tussock. Herbicide resistance is, simply put, the ability for plants to develop genetic change and become resistant to the poisons. Nature has this amazing ability and iron will to survive. It only takes mankind to really defeat them.



The problem is that most weeds thrive in areas that have been over-stocked, over cropped, over fertilized and generally exploited for too long a period. Weeds are taking their revenge. The battle between farmers and weeds is not being won by the farmers it seems.

Our paddocks just have a very common but very invasive weed, Serrated Tussock. It is an escaped little plant from South America but the focus of much scorn and debate amongst Weed Inspector socials. It is invasive but allowing paddocks to lay fallow and allow native vegetation to restore a balance again seems a better option than spraying.

We don’t make a living at all from farming, so for real farmers weeds are taking away part of their income. Certainly letting land fallow seems a luxury that not many can afford. However, the enormous cost of fighting weeds chemically might well become a worse option now. About 2.5 % percent of total farm cost in use of chemicals in 1988 has risen to 9% of total farm cost in 2006.

Monsanto is looking smug here.

Our weed inspector is not too keen on talk about herbicide resistance and quite rightly sees this as another attempt and an inroad on his authority to order killing weeds. He increases the speed of walking and furrows are now on his forehead. I appease and talk a little about the high cost of the chemicals recommended for killing weeds. The cost of those chemicals is between $350. – And $550. – Per twenty litres.

Wollondilly river at Rivendell

Wollondilly river at Rivendell

He tells me he will impose an inspection cost/ fine of $110. – For any non compliance, he emphasises. Years of study, experience and inspectorial knowhow now come to the fore.

I casually tell him of NSW Water Catchment Authority and their concern of flow on of toxins in the river that at the end flows into the Warragamba Dam. That water will eventually be consumed by the people of Sydney. Never mind that. Just think of the platypuses. They get a direct king hit as soon as the herbicide washes into the river. Our small acreage has almost two kilometres frontage to a river, hence another reason for us not to be keen with spraying Glyphosate, Flupropanate or other chemicals with even more sinister names.

From our perspective and experience over the last fourteen years, it has shown that weeds will thrive under stressed conditions. Spraying with chemicals has often marginal results. They come up even more and stronger next time around. In any case, the weeds now have’ heroically,’ developed herbicide resistance.

Our former farm's kitchen

Our former farm’s kitchen

Our Weed inspector has now finished his tour of duty and has given me the option of getting a contractor out who will spray, not just the weeds by spot spraying, but do the job by boom spray. A boom spray is a contraption of a series of spraying nozzles on a five or six metre boom towed behind a tractor that will spray a swath of weed killers over the lot. The weed killer is ‘selective’ and will have a fantastic ‘residual’ quality, he enthuses. He is throwing everything at me now but somehow senses my sullen reluctance to weed killing and toxic mixtures. He again mentions the ‘$110. – Inspection/fine.

The advice of chemical suppression is against the latest science. Problem is that the Noxious Weed Act is from 1993 (Section 18) and that Australia’s worst weed, the Serrated Tussock, has started to morph into a most resisting little weed. Herbicide spraying only gives it even more room next time around as native competing vegetation has been removed as well. Its dormant seed bank just sprouts up with even more chemical resistant tussock babies.

I tell him I will consider, but quietly reckon the inspection fee will be the preferred option, especially for the weeds. The platypuses have been giving a reprieve. The wombats are having a ripping time building and manning the ramparts. The blackberries continue with their impenetrable wall for future defence.

The Noxious Weed Inspector drives off.

Romantic notions in vain.

April 10, 2014
Gustav Aschenbach

Gustav Aschenbach

I have been fortunate that a Jack Russell attracts the attention more than I. It leaves me free to enjoy in observing the people squatting down while patting Milo. I would be lying in denying that at times I also get drawn into looking at attractive ladies. The drawing down includes, especially in summer, a peek inside their blouse. What sort of etiquette would be expected to be observed? What can I do? Should I glance at the passing traffic or upwards towards the sun, start reading a good book? No, I feign compassion towards Milo as well and partake in making comments about his age and other general chit chat.

In fact, last week I lamented again to a nice lady that a dog gets patted so much…and left the obvious answer ..why not the owner?; to be contemplated by the patter. She just gave me a lovely smile and I knew she took the hint. She understood, which was nice. It doesn’t take a lot to get a friendly exchange. Thank you Milo, you make an old man happy.

I have always thought ‘happiness’ was over-rated. Mainly by the west and especially by the US. Many make millions by writing books about how to attain ‘happiness’. Advertisers really know and understand the dichotomy of the aim for happiness and the reality of life’s struggles and pain. They cleverly exploit this endless and utterly futile aim by linking happiness with a product. We queue up to buy the product because we seek ‘happy’.

I do like tranquillity and I suppose it is really a balance between both happiness and sadness. They are like the ocean’s waves. They come and go. It is like breathing and the reason for our existence.

Would endless ‘happy’ not be very boring? I like experiencing and growing towards finding some truth or reason why we live. That includes a lot of joy including laughter and a lot of pain or sadness which includes tears.

In my new resolution to seek more tranquillity and joy than pain (and save money) I decided to cancel my teeth implants. It wasn’t that difficult. Those graphic photos of jaws being drilled into with screws inserted in the holes was all the incentive needed to cancel the appointment. The secretary was somewhat miffed. It was still over a week for the appointment and I fibbed in telling her I was going overseas. I always had trouble cancelling promises. It must date to childhood. I so much wanted to please my parents, especially my mother. Kids are different now. They say ‘get fucked’ easily to their peers, including even their parents.

My vanity in providing a better smile to the public bending to pat Milo is now taking a step back, I know. But in my seventies, and considering the missing two teeth are downstairs in my lower jaw and generally not visible when smiling with lips closed, I am willing to forego the perceived uptick in my visual public persona.

I so remember Gustav Aschenbach ( Gustav Mahler) in Thomas Mann’s filmed version of ‘Death in Venice’ dyeing his hair black in his pityfull attempt to still be found attractive to the young Polish boy Tadzio. That scene on the beach with the dying Aschenbach, sunk in his deckchair, while Tadzio, wading in the water with his hand raised, as if to say goodbye. Unforgettable scene. His blackened hair finally did not help or save him.

The agitated heart

April 7, 2014


Just when I thought a measure of equilibrium had returned to life a program popped up on TV mucking it all up. It made a mockery of modern life and its conveniences. Plastic and PCBs are the bane of our health.
I am not aware we can still buy food that hasn’t been encased in plastic wrappings. Its a wonder wine hasn’t appeared in plastic bottles, but there is still time. Perhaps the acidity of it attacks the plastic, that’s why. I don’t know why I bother worrying.

Better just keep looking at the sky or watch raindrops clinging onto the edge of a roof. Far more inspirational than staring at packs of meat from which all oxygen seems to have been extracted. The revolution on selling meats with almost infinite days of expiration has now arrived. We are now planning to buy our meat direct from a normal butcher. A normal butcher who takes cuts direct from the carcass hanging from the back of the shop. Those shops used to have wood shavings on the floor and the children would be give a slice of delicious sausage. I am not sure if today’s children would not turn up their noses to that past delight.

Last night I watched an SBS program on ‘Breasts’.

Documentaries rarely are uplifting. They either touch on histories of the past with corpses littering the screen or deal with catastrophes of the present with dire predictions of future corpses. Last night’s documentary was no exception with almost total predictions now available which woman is likely to get breast cancer and what to do to limit it or even prevent it. Breast feeding is one of them. However, a study of human milk discovered in eight mother volunteers high levels of toxins. The implication wasn’t clear on the contamination of human milk causal in cancer but neither was it dismissed.

Breasts can now develop and appear on girls as young as seven. Boys show equal signs with sprouting of pubic hair and early maturation. No one is sure that this plague of unusual early maturation of girls and boys is not to blame on a frightening amount of toxins now entering our bodies from our daily environs but perhaps most of all from our ingestion of pre-packaged food. This program pointed out the possibility of that. Not a good viewing for a Sunday evening. The other choices on TV were even worse. Endless Sunday night sport result with men grappling on the ground manically fighting over an oblong shaped ball or details of a political defeat in a West Australian by-election.

Going back to the meat packaging. The latest is the vacuum packet meat. The plastic that encases the cryonic meat is so tight it needs a scene from an Edward Scissorhand movie to release the meat. One can clearly hear suction noise as the meat is finally freed from its plastic and allowed some oxygen. The information on the packaging advices to wait for some colour to return to the meat before eating. Who would not want to mature earlier faced with a future of more and more vandalism going on within the food industry?

This from Wikipedia; “Cryovac meats will last between four to six weeks in the refrigerator, assuming they were properly sealed. They can last nearly indefinitely in the freezer.” Yuk, I’ll be a wild carrot in my next life with a friendly horse as best friend.

Cheese, at least good cheese, we buy as is. Cut straight from the block. I know there is pre-packaged with slices individually wrapped in the dreaded toxic plastic, but we take a wide walk around that part of the small-goods division. We have strict Dutch inherited rules on cheese. It has to be pure! No nonsense with cheese and plastic, please. And nicely matured.

I had a few slices of nice mature Swiss cheese before going to bed.

The love of Jack Russells.

April 6, 2014

Live’s golden Syrup in lieu of matings.

April 4, 2014
pancakes with golden syrup

pancakes with golden syrup

If life gets to you, try pancakes with golden syrup. If sweets are not your choice, there is a special on crocodile tail-fillets and emu cheeks at a butcher here in Bowral.

I remember years ago buying crocodile fillets but ended up stowing it in the deepfreeze. The grey look of it together with a vision of swishing tails with murderous intend towards tourists, made me finally feed it to the cat. It is supposed to taste like chicken. Thanks for that, but give me the golden crispy look of a well baked chook.

Even in that area I have never been able to eat our own faithful Rhode Island reds. It is no wonder we failed our farming venture in making a living from chickens. The idea of wringing a chicken’s neck after it has laid numerous eggs is something I felt akin to murder. There is a bit of hypocrisy in that stance, I know. I should really not eat chicken at all nor sleep under blankets filled with geese down or wear leather shoes.

I love animals but also used our stud male alpaca ‘Ruffo’ to provide an income through making him work ‘hard.’ By working ‘hard’ in farm parlance means stud males being used for matings to females. All the male gets for his work is a handful of Lucerne hay. Many males would not even get this while their heartless owners would just pocket the money.

We never made Ruffo do more than two matings a day and generally allowed generous post-coital naps of at least two hours in between. Alpacas are exotic animals, very gentle and loving. Females only ovulate through mating (induced ovulating) so as they don’t ovulate normally it is hard to pick a time when they are in the mood. Our macho Ruffo though was always successful in bringing them in the mood and through his sheer masculine, chivalrous, noble, valiant and gentlemanly behaviour they would soon sit down expecting and even welcoming Ruffo to mount them.

The mating itself is loving and gentle but an arduous procedure lasting sometimes an hour or more. After a week or more, the female will spit at the male if pregnant. I often thought it might be an idea for human females to take a leaf out of this delightful cultural alpaca mien. Why go on with a mere male after that? Just give them a handful of Lucerne hay as well.

It is such an ambiguous world. It is no wonder some of us fall into buckets of grey gloom at times. On the other hand, what could be worse than for the male human to be led around with a halter around his neck expecting to be taken around and used for just sex matings. Be honest boys, it would be dreadful, would it not? Just imagine it!

It is no wonder some of us also resort to pancakes with golden syrup to lift our spirits.


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