This journey of Violets continues with shy Clivias.

October 16, 2017

IMG_1163Violets etc

Creating secret areas in a small garden is very possible. Just allow growing things to go their own way. We rarely take plants out, instead provide freedom for whatever might want to grow.  The background of the bay trees against the paling fence at the back of our garden is being utilised to provide shelter and shade to many plants, especially many Clivias that are now flowering so generously.

The bay trees have just finished flowering and we continue to sweep up the debris. It is odd, but I can’t remember actually using the plethora of bay leaves in any of our cooking nor putting them in my sock drawer. Heaven knows my socks can do with bay-leaves.

In my mother’s cooking, bay leaves were often the main course, or at least I seem to still recall the taste and smell of them, especially in her roasts. She might well have over-used bay leaves in her cooking. It’s odd how even smells from decades ago, one can still recall. I don’t think bay leaves were used to ward of moths in the wardrobes of my childhood. I think she used those white moth balls.  I discovered rummaging through those mothball laden wardrobes a secret hoard of coins in a wooden box. The coins were all in separate divisions with the names of my brothers all neatly written on them.

My dad did not like eating shoulder of sheep/lamb and it could well be that the excess use of the bay leaves were cunningly used to hide my mother’s ploy to dish up sheep disguised as roast beef. My mother was very thrifty and sheep was cheaper. In any case, rummaging through those wardrobes and finding the coins I used to pilfer my brothers’ hoard of coins  to occasionally buy an ice-cream. Oh, how they tasted so wonderful and without guilt. The benefits of a still uncorrupted childhood.

Kalanchoe

Here is a rather haughty Kalanchoe. It had to be elevated so it is perched on top of the Mexican Chimeney in which we sometimes light a fire during a chilly winter’s afternoon. Isn’t it beautiful?

Both the light ceramic blue and white pot in the first picture and the dish below the Kalanchoe are from the same before mentioned pottery friend. The little white flowering bush on the left side is a Hebe.

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The violets have it.

October 15, 2017

IMG_20171013_172328~2 The pansies.jpg

We might have to leave  Weinstein to his sex rehabilitation clinic and move back to the world of contemplating worthier subjects. How does one rehabilitate sex addicts-fiends? Do they get told to think of Ireland at the feet of Mother England, or stare for days on end at cabbages?

I know the above picture is out of focus, but no wonder, Violets do get frightened and sometimes shrink, as we are so often told.  Even so, it is a rare but at times quite a perfect world, if only we get to take the time and look around.

The basket in which those violets are at present living was getting past their ability to carry fruit with the plaited rattan fraying at the edges. Helvi who is a master in rescuing things  before the final day of castaway arrives, felt she could eek some more time out of it by planting those violas in them. The Irish forget-me-nots came up as an extra reward from nowhere for her gallant efforts.

The azure-blue pot with the cyclamen was made by a potter friend whom we knew from the days our children were still in prams and nappies. As far as we know she might still do pottery. She had a rather unique way of throwing her pots, with dabbing the different colours around in a kind of haphazard way which makes her pottery so outstanding. We have many of her works and going back in the photo gallery much of our containers, vases, dishes bearing fruit, pencils and keys, or other odds and ends are her art works.

The plate on which the cyclamen pot resides is from the Finnish ‘Arabia’ collection. Many of the Arabia ceramic plates survive. They are more than just beautiful but also because fired to a high temperature making them very durable. In a second hand or junk shop one sometimes sees them displayed for a price that it is obvious the owners are not aware of their beauty let alone of their value.  One has to be generous though, it could also be a case whereby they come to rest in a junk shop because of a ‘Deceased Estate.’

I just thought to let you share  in this rather lovely floral scene. The glass of wine is almost an obligatory part of many afternoons when we sit outside and feel a real and better world.  Just sitting there it seemed the violets were looking at me directly. Perhaps they wanted to be noticed and that’s (perhaps) why this picture was taken.

Is the world becoming irrational or is it us?

October 11, 2017

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It just doesn’t let up. As each day passes the madness grows. A perfectly normal day brings news that would normally be seen as grotesquely unbelievable if not untrue as well.  The latest is that in order for Australia to pass the expected summer heatwave the Australian Government urges us we should think of saving energy by switching off our air-conditioning cooling systems or anything else that might save electricity. The Government will subsidise the customers by paying those willing to save energy handsomely with $ 250.-, and could even include tickets to the cinema or visits to Dreamworld with free water- slides as an extra bonus.

With Australia having the world’s largest reserves of gas, coal  solar, wind and everything else to produce energy, it has all been sold overseas and we are now  running short of electricity. That is the sort of ‘freedom’ the market gives when given unfettered reign. We can buy back our exported energy cheaper overseas than locally! The Government is in a blind and groping around like an amok running Weinstein in a hotel corridor.

Pensioners who want to stay cool could do so by gathering in the coolness of air-conditioned shopping-centres. Others are provided with handy hints on how to stay cool. Included in the list is using wet sheets before retiring to bed. It is suggested in real scout-master science that with the open windows, an air flow over the wet sheets might blissfully give some cool relief to the hot, bothered, and profusely perspiring resident.

It looks totally mad to me but then so much is madness. We have a ‘normal’ man going through a terrible killing spree for which a motive has yet to be found.  Apparently gambling on a daily basis is seen as ‘normal’ now. A President who is  unpredictable, irrational and impulsive and like madman throws tweets about, risking fire storms and annihilation in order to appease his own monstrous need for grandiosity. Not a day goes by without another show of madness on the news.

A film producer who made brilliant movies, has five children, and has now locked himself up in a sanatorium for sex-addicts. As if it wasn’t his doing, raping and groping around the corridors of power!  Mr Harvey Weinstein promises to come good and repair the damage after being healed of his addiction. A true to form trick of wanton Psychiatry giving an escape from taking responsibility by blaming a ‘condition’ over which they have no control.  The poor man!~

We have almost reached the stage of watching re-runs of Seargent  Bilko or Steptoe and Son, The Flintstones.  At least it was a real world.

Is US democracy disabled?

October 5, 2017

Image result for Bump stock rifles

The appalling killing of so many in Las Vegas still shocks even to those that are hard-core believers in owning killer guns. At least 10000 American citizens are killed by guns yearly. Another 59 victims hardly makes a difference to the yearly statistics. What baffles many who stand away from this strange behaviour, is a law (constitution) actually allowing this murderous killing to continue with nauseating regularity. They all know the mass killing will continue and in fact condone it by not altering this silly law of everyone allowed to own and carry guns.

The answer seems to be that the action of a lone madman should not hinder owning guns. It seems that the gun lobby, the NRA overrules the majority of US citizens who do want to limit and change the constitution. They, the NRA, are so powerful and continue to cower behind this constitution rule as if set in concrete. Is America so powerless that changing a bad law can’t be achieved?

The Second Amendment declares:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”.[5][6]” 1689

The assertion that those mass killing are done by madmen seems to have struck a barrier. So far the killer seems to not conform to ‘madman’ diagnoses. His girlfriend and family members describe the man as a ‘normal caring guy’. He did love gambling, but in the US gambling is almost seen as a sport practiced by many  virtuous  people, the same like going to a church.

The only facts that have been established is his sanity. Throughout his life Stephan Paddock collected guns but that is a practise that millions of people do. This is normal. Everyone has the freedom to do that with little restrictions. In some states kids can buy guns. Mums take children to shooting ranges, teaching the little ones to shoot.

The only certainty we have is that the killer had total freedom to do what he did.

The guns gave him that freedom.

The abnormality and madness is within a society whereby a minority, albeit powerful can dictate , not allowing changing the constitution by a majority of law abiding citizens, for those dreadful bump-stock  improved machine guns and rifles to be taken out of society.

It is killing US society, and it is NOT normal.

Doing a ‘Proust.’

October 2, 2017

new cover 1704 front big Book cover 18april

I can’t say I was ever spell-bound reading the works of Marcel Proust. This has more to do with my own preferences or lack of them, than Proust. Perhaps I should have another go at coming to grips with his words. One of the disadvantages of not having had the benefits of a university education which perhaps stilted or delayed my literary knowledge. Who knows? It did not stifle my curiosity.

André Gide was another one of those philosophical writers I read and struggled with. He featured during Proust’s time and was highly regarded by him. If there is a writer that I keenly read at earlier times it is Albert Camus. I could not get enough of his books and the magic of his writing still lives on in my mind. What a pity he died riding a motorbike.

Apparently, Proust’s voluminous works were avoided by most during his life, and he is now known for having written his own critiques. The worlds most prestigious Newspapers were full of his own written lofty praise. He shamelessly wrote them and paid the Newspapers handsomely for their troubles. The publishers avoided his work as unintelligible babble but this too was overcome by Proust by paying for the publishing the books himself. He came from a wealthy family but was plagued by asthma and lung problems right from birth which killed him still comparatively young at fifty one years of age.

We are fortunate that Proust had the money to pay and get at least good self-written reviews and self publish his work. I believe his brother after his death also helped to get his large volume of work published. He sure had the mettle to keep going even with the state of precarious health and times of hospitalisation.

Of course, and I don’t even pretend to stand within cooee of Proust’s literary calibre,  but at least my own adventures in self publication and self promotion of my two books, do in a rather modest way, copy that of Proust. It was the main reason what attracted me to this article by the Guardian which was pointed out by a tweet from Roderick Hart.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/sep/28/marcel-proust-paid-for-reviews-praising-his-work-to-go-into-newspapers?CMP=share_btn_tw

It is now more the norm than not, to self-publish and at no time have there been so many writers getting to see their work in print. However, to get the books sold and on bookshelves is another matter. One has to enjoy writing as the main and perhaps only reason and hope that somehow the work will stand the test of time. If not, no sour grapes and somewhat futile to worry about. With one’s birth comes a guarantee of mortality. In between that, it is just marvellous to be able to enjoy putting things down either in words or by painting, sculpting or whatever else that gives vent to creativity.

I was overjoyed by the state of NSW Library and also the Federal Library in Canberra requesting my books to be included in their vast arsenal of literature. Who could have hoped for that to happen? It will be there permanently after I have gone. How good is that?

In the future I imagine someone with perhaps the same habit I had many years ago by running my hand over the rows of books resting on the shelves at Sydney library. I always picked the dustiest book. They were always books worthy of reading. I loved that habit.  Could my books end up with someone doing the same and get picked by a reader? It could happen, just imagine.

The loneliness of the texting phenomenon.

September 27, 2017

 

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There could not be a greater investment than holding shares in a phone and internet company. No matter where one travels or where one finds themselves, the intense look of people staring at their hand-held phones is everywhere. It surpasses all boundaries, nationalities and world’s oceans.  And all this hand-held staring is costing money which rolls into the lucky shareholders pockets. It would have to be a win-win for those canny enough to see the benefits of exploiting one of the most baffling kinds of human behaviour; all this staring and clicking away spending money all so pervasively and mainly in utter silence. Sometimes the hapless hand-held instrument holder speaks a few words into it, but most of it is done in lonely silence. Who would have thought this habit becoming an unstoppable world-wide obsession?  It is named ‘texting.’

Phone and internet companies are spending big on advertising with all sorts of tempting offers. “Unlimited data”, one company advertises with another company screaming free “12gegabites of free downloads.” The language is becoming so much enriched with so many new techno words that it must be a boon to the ambitious lexicographic expert.

Even TV crime movies now have to include endless scenes whereby the mobile cell phone almost plays as big a role as the main actor-criminals in mortal combat with those detecting sleuths whose job it is to decipher text messages implicated in all sorts of murders and late evening’s mayhem. Have you noticed that on the TV during a particular heinous crime scene,  a mobile phone goes off with a spine chilling ring tone that sends shivers across the room. The ring-tone itself has a most fearful and dire tone. Who designs all that stuff? Are they employing musical deviant composers? It doesn’t really go well with hoping to enjoy a good sleep afterward. One reason we watch less TV and spend more time on the divan just talking nonsense to each other.

Helvi asked me last night; ‘Did you notice that our Parisian daisy is now looking so wonderful?’ ‘Yes dear, and so are our Clivias, I answered. ‘Aren’t things getting dry though’ I said, followed by , ‘we need rain very badly.’ She followed this latest observation up by, ‘we should water the garden tomorrow, you do the front and I will do the back yard.’

Only yesterday I noticed that even when people are together they often avoid speaking to one another and are just staring at their texting equipment. It reminds me of the last time we were in Bali where a café invited customers by, “For those who don’t want to talk to each other we offer free Wi_Fi.”

It is a strange world out there.

Renewables, Wars, and Same Sex Marriage.

September 25, 2017
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Indeed

Isn’t it amazing that no matter what the science is telling us, there will be people denying the truth that coal fired power is now as outdated as the horse and buggy were in earlier days? The Australian government is beholden to some that just will not budge and will stick to the past, forcing up the cost of energy. They do this with the fervour of an 1810 Leicestershire luddite destroying anything and everything progressive or forward looking in their paths.

Just read this latest from ABC News; http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-25/the-truth-about-soaring-power-prices/8979860

We live in a townhouse sharing a joint roof but are considering going the whole hog and install solar panels with the Tesla battery back-up. The cost of doing that will go down as time passes. My guess is that with power bills reaching stratospheric heights there will be a tsunami of home-owners doing the same. It just doesn’t make any sense not to do this. The energy companies are shunning coal power stations like the plague and no one wants to invest nor spend money on maintaining the old ones except our Government staunchly defending anything that doesn’t move forward.

With a keener more forward Government the renewable technology could be hurried along by local shires to install complete off-grid power stations on vacant land that Australia has so much of, and bring affordable cheap energy to those in units or apartment blocks without roof space for solar panelling.

The transition period between the old and new technology could have been made   easier and economically more efficient if we were not burdened by the Neanderthal fogeys in our present Government. Where do they come from and who puts them there?

It is the same with this referendums on SSM. Some of the same parliamentarians taking great delight in venting their hate and torture on refugees are now venting their rage on those who want the chance for love to stand a chance, and pass laws making choice of marriage equal to all, no matter what orientation. They twist and turn to try and prevent the law from becoming kinder and more just towards those who might be different.

Some of those same Parliamentarians take great pride in the bombing of foreign countries where we have no right to be involved in, and do so without asking permission from its citizens by holding referendums or postal polls. Billions of dollars spend on keeping a few thousands refugees in jail, billions on fighting in stupid wars, and now even more billions in propping up old coal powered technology. Were any of us asked our opinion or approval to do so?

So why the idiocy of holding referendums on SSM in the first place? Is SSM more dangerous than fighting wars or holding refugees in jails. Sorry, to be meandering so long about this SSM subject but rest assured I am just as keen to write about much more positive stuff. I suppose the return of Germany’s Angela Merkel is something to celebrate but…, the extreme right has also done well which is not so positive.

Was our previous PM Paul Keating right, when he predicted Australia could end up a ‘Banana Republic? I need a good carpet bowling session at the local RSL club.

 

Watch the Matildas wipe AFL and Rugby out of the sporting pages and (lack) marriage equality.

September 21, 2017
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                          Sam Kerr doing the backflip

Move over boys, the women are coming! Nothing has been more exciting than watching women take over the back-page sporting pages away from the men, and not before time. The on-field backflips of Sam Kerr are sweeping the world.

I am normally not interested much in sport and find it a great pity that one is forced to endure sport before the  weather forecast. I often forego the weather report in order to miss a particularly ear-grating sport commentator. The horror of discovering, after our arrival in 1956, that a sport was being played in Australia with a ball that wasn’t round has never really left.

The Australian all girl soccer team of the Matildas is now winning over the admiration of many if not all. The reluctance of allowing women sport to be equal to that of men isn’t yet totally won over, but it is happening. They still play in lesser stadiums and earning lesser pay but the enthusiasm of the crowds are rising rapidly. The Matildas thrice win against Brazil was the clincher. A full proof sign that it is gaining momentum is the fact that our grandsons and their mates are now watching the women soccer games being played on TV.

The spectacular backflips of the main striker Sam Kerr after scoring her goals, are shown world-wide and grabbing attention that could not be improved upon no matter how well the advertising of sponsors.

It’s almost pushing the Same Sex Marriage debate off the news.

Last week on Q&A ( question and answer)  the Israeli politician Merav Michaeli was on the panel who  was sceptical of all marriages and concerned about the effects of break-up marriages on children, the equal rights of property division etc.

“Israeli parliament Merav Michaeli, whose reaction to Seselja’s meandering celebration of heterosexual marriage alongside his scaremongering over the school curriculum was best captured by guest host Virginia Trioli.Trioli to Michaeli: “You didn’t let Zed Seselja get through that answer without lowering your eyes. You have a jaundiced view of this institution?”

Jaundiced isn’t the half of it: “It was created back at the time when we women were commodities, as were children, as were men without property and of other colours. This is not something that we should maintain in the world when we realise all of us are human beings. It is not about love. 

“I realise the campaign says that love is equal. Love is definitely equal. It’s got nothing to do with this institution. This was a tool that was made to dominate women for the sake of reproduction. For men to have legal custody over children which are to the largest I would say chance of certainty their own flesh and blood. This is not something we should sustain.”

The best answer for the ‘yes’ vote was giving by a member of the audience who stated that a ‘no’ vote meant that the marriage between heterosexual people was the only moral right way, and that the ‘yes’ vote was  wrong denying the rights of marriage between people born with different orientations, implying that being different was inherently wrong and of a lesser value.

Of course, no one is obliged to marry, no matter how equal it hopefully might become.

My ‘yes’ vote is in the post.

 

Is the end Nigh for Real Estate and Education?

September 19, 2017

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The news that the clearance rates at Real Estate auctions in the major Australian cities are dropping might well be welcomed by many. All bubbles burst and why not in housing? What should be of greater concern is that our education system keeps on failing our children. Language and numeracy results are lagging badly behind most developed nations.

Eminent educational expert keep on popping up on our TV screens  urging yet more tests. They go to American or UK  educational institutions trying to get inspiration in devising plots that will make a difference to the way we educate our young. At the same time our Government is twisting and turning in making permanent citizenship harder to obtain by devising English language tests for migrants and extending  years of waiting. We should really test our politicians instead of our school children or migrants.

Australia has this conundrum of many professional positions being unable to get filled by our own (badly) educated, and rely on Syrians , Iraqis, Indian, and many other well educated foreign professional experts to fill those positions. We often get experts on so many fields appearing on our TV with foreign accents. There are a dearth of highly professional positions that can only get filled by trying to attract overseas educated people. It seems the Government’s contempt for lack of migrant’s language skills ought to be sheeted home to themselves. It is embarrassing watching our deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce painfully searching for the words to express himself. Take out the verb ‘ensuring’ from our Prime Minister (A mere lawyer) and he too would have trouble getting his message across. Talk about painting the kettle black! Do your own English testing in Canberra!

 

Please, take the time and read this link which shows how education works:

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/why-are-finlands-schools-successful-49859555/

“There are no mandated standardized tests in Finland, apart from one exam at the end of students’ senior year in high school. There are no rankings, no comparisons or competition between students, schools or regions. Finland’s schools are publicly funded. The people in the government agencies running them, from national officials to local authorities, are educators, not business people, military leaders or career politicians. Every school has the same national goals and draws from the same pool of university-trained educators. The result is that a Finnish child has a good shot at getting the same quality education no matter whether he or she lives in a rural village or a university town.”

I don’t think that the apocalyptical predictions associated with ‘the end is nigh’ will eventuate but,  isn’t it about time we do things better?

 

 

No tulips with Octane 95 or Ethanol.

September 14, 2017

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With our ‘almost’ new car came a 300 page manual. We are faced with having to make a choice of fuel. Throughout life I never gave buying petrol much thought.  Petrol would be last on the list of urgent considerations. One pays for it after studiously watching the bowser tick over to the exact cent. A boring unavoidable duty sometimes made better by watching others going through the same ordeal.

Some petrol stations now are like supermarkets. One sees people coming out with both arms laden with mainly sugary or salty items. Huge quantities of food. Sometimes the arms are so full that car keys are held between their teeth. Heaven knows what it does to their health.  It annoys the shit out of us. Yet, the bowser has a strict notification not to move the car before paying for the fuel.  There is no option but to grit teeth and hope the owners of the car queueing in front isn’t on an eating while shopping expedition.

The 308  petrol Peugeot we bought makes a recommendation on the inside of the fuel cap not to use fuel less than 95 Octane. I might be skating on scientific thin ice here, but I assume, the higher the octane level, the lower its needed temperature for combustibility. In other words, the higher the octane,  the lesser temperature is needed for the fuel to ignite/explode driving the engine.

In the handbook it also approves of a fuel with an ethanol (alcohol) component of not higher than 10%. This fuel E10, is less polluting and cheaper, more environmentally friendly. However, this ethanol added fuel seems to be confusing. It doesn’t come with an octane level at most petrol oulets. Researching the issue the Government gives a list of cars and models that can safely be driven on this better and cheaper fuel. At the risk of boring the faithful readers so bravely following this blog, I give you the site;

https://www.fcai.com.au/environment/can-my-vehicle-operate-on-ethanol-blend-petrol

The manual that came with this car does also approve the cheaper E10 fuels with a proviso it is at least rated at 95 octane.

I filled up with the E10 fuel and the car drives well, and without any difference. Mind you, I drive slowly in direct proportion to my ageing.  The older I get, the slower I drive. If you see a stationary car sometime in the future, take a peak inside, in case I have carked it! My last will is in the glove box underneath the manual!

Another perplexing issue that has also now popped up is that of tulips. One of the main yearly tourist attraction’s of our town of Bowral in the Highlands, is the yearly tulip festival held in a local park. It attracts tens of thousands of locals but many too from all over the world. This year it is not any different. Busload after busload it disgorges loads of tulip aficionados.  Many Chinese, Indians, Japanese and Europeans. Many decked out with cameras and held on the end of selfie sticks at the ready.

Except…there are hardly any tulips. Someone must have done a terrible miscalculation in the timing. We had some unusual warm weather, yet the tulips are just not there in flower. This has now become a calamity. All those people who pre-paid to come here to admire tulips are now faced with just a conventional municipal park with many venues set up for tourists to buy hats, or jumpers, scarfs ,belts meat pies and other products.  But…no tulips. The music is louder than normal I suppose to compensate for the lack of tulips. Counsel has put a large notification that entrance fees have been waived. “FREE” in large lettering. But what about the overseas visitors who pre-paid their flight and entrance tickets? What about all the busloads of Sydney pensioners looking forward to tulips?

I reckon someone will get an ear-bashing over this. It can’t be all that difficult to have bulbs coming out in time for the yearly fortnightly tulip festival.

Ah well, we can listen to Tiny Tim once again.