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.

Life is but Ginger and Dates.

April 1, 2014
Ginger and date cake

Ginger and date cake

As the the overall economy edges down, patronage of cafés and eating out are going up. Economists point this out and the stats proved that the change in our consuming habits were in equal proportion. You wonder what the connection is. Here, where we live, dress shops are closing down or if not, the owners look forlornly towards the street hoping for customers. The customers however are next door sipping a short black or a macchiato before sauntering off to the charity shops that sell second-hand top brand names at $ 5.50 a pop or $12.50 the max. Money saved is spent sipping coffee or munching on deep fried salt & pepper calamari with fashionable red and greed lettuce leaves and chopped Spanish onion. Happy dogs are tied to the tables forever hopeful of a spare piece of Apfel-kuchen or beer battered squid.

We walk past one such café almost daily with our JRT ‘the incorrigible Milo’. Today, while waiting for the traffic light to turn green, H pointed out a man deeply immersed in his food. The immersed in his food man was sitting directly next to where the cars were driving. The patrons in this café are seated inside as well as on the footpath. The outside patrons are shielded from the sun by white umbrellas. The traffic separated from the diners by heavy concrete barriers and some greenery.

I noticed him, the enthusiastic eater, as well. His jaws were firmly locked on whatever he had partially managed to stow inside his mouth. In between he managed to masticate, eyes manically focussed on his plate. His wife/partner or girlfriend looked on in amazement. Such was his level of concentration.

I was in awe.

“That’s how you eat too”, I was told after we reached the other side of the intersection. “Like an animal”, she added. The walk was taking a nasty turn. Milo sensed it and looked up. He is acutely attuned to our marital squabbling while crossing streets.

I have to admit; my eating habits sometimes include an unnecessary concentration on the plate directly below my chin. H often asks me; “can you look up a bit and converse with me.” “I am your wife.” I then stop eating and rack my brains off in finding something amusing to say. I am overwrought with guilt and that’s not helpful in steering the lunch or dinner into something in a more entertaining direction than just the forking in of mouthfuls of squid or potato wedges.

Our dietary habits are different. I eat as if in an emergency. H has more of a slimming or keeping slim attitude towards food intake. She maintains and remains a svelte figure much admired by many but achieved by few in our age group. My problem has always been putting and keeping weight on, no matter how much I ate, I remained somewhat slim. As a child, but after the war, when food once again reached our tables, I used to skim cream from the bucket filled with milk. In those days milk was delivered by a person called ‘the milkman’. He had a horse and carriage. He would go from door to door selling just milk by the litre. My mum used to shout down the stairs “4 litres today please milkman”. The milkman had a long handled steel scoop which held exactly a litre which he used to fill our green enamelled bucket with.

When the accusation of my animalistic eating habits had calmed and cooled a bit, I offered to have a latte with a ginger and date cake. “We can share the cake”, I added, always considering her keenness in remaining svelte. “Yes, that would be nice”, she smiled happily.

All was well.

A ban on Australia for hounding refugees.

April 1, 2014

Boat people

Boat people

With piracy stopped on the high seas against whales by Japan. Can The Hague make a ruling on refugees being hounded by Australia?

Le ” Week-end.”

March 31, 2014



Yet another storm was predicted for this Sunday. Over the last week or so we kept emptying flower pots that had filled up with water. I like rain, especially if it pelts down and makes a roar on the iron roof. I feel things are on the move with weather showing of its dominance over what we are doing. Let’s hope weather will continue to do so and that mankind will fail in changing its power.

In the morning I just had the urge to make a curry. I bought stewing steak and snow peas. We still had onions, red capsicums, kipfler potatoes, carrots and all the spices needed for a curry, including the essential turmeric, fresh chillies, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves and limes. Curries are best made in ‘le creuset’ or cast iron saucepan. Slowly cooked till the meat falls apart.

We thought is best to let it simmer while seeing a movie at the local cinema. Le Week-end was what we decided on. A film about an ageing British couple on a week-end in Paris. I could not hear the dialogue very well. Lately I have found that it is almost obligatory in modern films to have the audio part as incomprehensible and difficult as possible. Perhaps it adds an edge to it. Perhaps it also forces the patrons to pay extra attention to an otherwise lukewarm movie. We found ‘le week-end’ to be lukewarm. It seemed a bit disjointed at times.

The husband was a university lecturer and the wife a teacher. Inexplicably, this English couple in Paris did a few runners from a restaurant and the very chic hotel they were staying in without paying. We could not see the humour in it. Perhaps it was just us. Was their marriage perhaps a bit in need of stealing? Who knows.

The best part, perhaps the reason for the dialogue’s vagueness, was that a storm was lashing on the tin roof of the cinema. Thunderclaps and hail almost broke through the roof. At least, that’s what it felt like. Another spectacular thunderclap and the movie’s visual dropped out while the sound kept going. It is credit to the Australian laconic easy going-ness that not a word of protest was uttered. Calmly and ever so acceptingly the audience kept on sitting sweetly in their seats, some munching their popcorn or licking the obligatory choc-tops. (It must be a harrowing experience to go the whole one and half hour without food)

Finally someone in the audience and near the door went out and must have notified the staff. A couple of young attendants ran up the cinema’s stairs and fiddled with something. The cinematic visuals were restored. Never mind an important part of the dialogue was missing. Everyone was happy. We sauntered out but felt the adventure of the storm and the visuals dropping out more entertaining than the movie. I loved how everyone took the breakdown in good spirits. No one asked for a refund. Smiles all around.

We walked to our car still pouring rain. We switched off the curry and I chucked in some snow peas wishing them to turn bright green but remaining snappy. Un peu de vin rouge, et voila; a perfect week-end.


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