It was time to update the site with relevant information and details.
Author: C.M. Sheely
And So This is Christmas …
It is now two years since the devastating bush fires that ran through the East Coast of Australia causing so much damage and heartache. Two years ago we were suffering from the daily coverage of smoke of fires that would eventually come to lick our house and completely destroy others. It is a time for reflection on what has changed and what has stayed the same.
What has most obviously changed is that this Christmas it will be cool and wet. Early December and I am wearing a vest to keep warm. Qld and north western NSW are flooded and expecting more rain. Crops are drowned and again farmers are losing out on income. And still the leader of our country is turning a blind eye to climate change and working to keep coal and gas at the forefront of economic policy.
Not to mention Covid and it’s new variants. The old Chinese curse about ‘living in exciting times’ is coming home to roost. Vaccines are being rolled out but, like the flu vaccine, you can still get it but are a great deal less likely to die from it unless you have underlying issues.
And so it is Christmas, the shops are full of gifts and decorations, Christmas music is all around and what have we learned. Another year older and the ground swell of change is happening in the community, even in big business who can see their organisations suffering big losses if they don’t change. And yet we are the worst country for dealing with climate action in the western world. So sad.
Therefore, this Christmas I chose to focus on my family – enjoy their company and the company of friends. I will pick up the cudgel of trying to get climate and biodiversity action again in the New Year. But I’m tired of feeling sad and upset by politics and people thinking they are different and refusing to be vaccinated. Tired of people thinking about themselves only. I can love and provide support for my family – something positive and that will be my Christmas gift to myself and my family.
I hope this end of a strange year finds you well and that 2022 will be safe and happy for you.
This Gardian article, Capitalism Is Killing the Planet, says it better than I ever could. It is something we should all take in, understand and act upon.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word Languish as an intransitive verb
1a : to be or become feeble, weak, or enervated – “Plants languish in the drought. “
b : to be or live in a state of depression or decreasing vitality – ” languished in prison for ten years “
2a : to become dispirited
b : to suffer neglect “the bill languished in the Senate for eight months”
3 : to assume an expression of grief or emotion appealing for sympathy “languished at him through screwed-up eyes”— Edith Wharton
So here I am with vaccination rates in our area over 70% fully vaccinated and 95% with the first dose and we are coming out of strict lockdown. That the Eurobodalla Shire (Hobbitsville to us) where we live has not suffered as long a lockdown as Sydney or Melbourne but, nevertheless, it has had an impact on everyone. This includes being cranky that people from the same household cannot accompany one another to stores i.e. supermarkets etc to getting absolutely bored with loved hobbies.
I love to read, crochet, knit, do jigsaw puzzles and play computer games. But after nearly 6 weeks of having nothing but these, they are becoming less enticing.
The house maintenance is so up to scratch hubby is looking for stuff to do and is now on hands and knees sweeping special sand between concrete tiles to get a good seal so that no mold or weeds grow. Everything around us is tickety-boo.
And yet, with the prospect of visiting friends, having morning tea at coffee shops and getting to see family again, I find myself tired and listless. I don’t want to go out or make an effort to host visitors. My body feels tired all the time even though I walk every day and do Pilates twice a week via Zoom.
So I’m languishing as per 2a in the definition. And, from what I read, I am not alone. We have wound down so much that our bodies and minds have gotten into a rut that will take effort to get out of. A psychological rut it seems.
But I miss my kids and grandkids and I miss getting out and about in our little caravan and seeing other people. So I will get of my slightly rounder rear end and take my languishing brain and get out and about as of next Monday. I will hope with all my might that no numbty will come down here with Covid-19 so that, even though vaccinated, I get a mild dose. Although I feel it is not a matter of if, but when for this to happen. A bit like the flu. I get a vaccination for it every year and still, every 3-5 years, I will get a dose. Although not a bad one and no need for doctors or hospitals. I guess that is living with Covid.
The past two years, as it is coming up to the 2nd anniversary of Black Summer, have been something quite different. I believe our lives from here on in will have to become different too. We will have to make lifestyle sacrifices to overcome the forecast dastardly effects of climate change and we will have to live with Covid and we will have to change.
We will have to change how we view our current economic model of constant growth. In nature and humans constant growth is totally devastating and so it is with economic growth. We have wrecked our planet and as so many signs say, “There IS NO planet B”.
With the lockdowns we have all had time to think and, hopefully, have seen what our politicians are doing to us and can see what has to happen. In the next few months we will have local, State by-elections and a Federal election. I sincerely hope we can get it right and get people in power that will see the need for change, and are brave enough to enact the required changes.
But, unfortuately, I think our political scene is languishing as per 2a and 2b above.
Okay, I have to buck up now, find my natural optimism and keep going.
If you want to show your colours about climate action, go to CANsign and get a sign and put it in your front yard or window. Tell the world you want change, you want a world our children and grandchildren can survive in.
PS CANSign is a not-for-profit organisation that is purely set up to allow individuals and organisations to show their colours and buy/design/produce signs for Climate Action Now (CAN).
You would think with the various lockdowns and other restrictions of the Covid-19 world I would have had time to add more posts to this blog. But there you go, I didn’t. Time to fix that.
The world is not all doom and gloom for my husband and I. We did manage to get away in our caravan in mid-April and travel for 3 months through Victoria, South Australia and up the centre. I finally got to see Wilpena Pound in South Australia and walked into the homestead. We stayed at Willow Springs Station and loved it there. Then on to Blinman and the old copper mines. After stopping and reprovisioning at Port Augusta, we headed up the Stuart Highway via Womera and Coober Pedy to Uluru and Kata Tjutu (The Olga’s). So that was at least one thing off my bucket list. Fabulous places, wonderful people.
Sunset at Willow Creek Station
Next we headed to Kings Canyon and, having worked on my fitness for several years, was able to undertake the whole rim walk. What an experience!
Underground at Coober Pedy
Then we spent some time in Alice Springs and went out to Palm Valley where ancient parlm trees from the time of the dinasaurs still grow. After Alice, we walked through the spectacular boulders of The Devils Marbles before turning east and back through Camooweal and into Queensland.
Kings Canyon Rim
We spent a month travelling through north western Queensland and loved a little place in the channel country called Boulia. After Winton, we stopped at Longreach where we spent a lovely day going through the Stockman’s Hall of Fame. Then on to Barcaldine (prounounced Bark-olden would you believe). Rubyvale and then Theresa Creek Dam near Cleremont and on to Biggenden where we spent a 12 days resting and recuperating.
Palm Valley, Finke River, Namatjira, Northern Territory.
Finally we turned for home via the hot springs at Boomi and Moree. And sadly, returned in early July to the cold on the South Coast. Just a few weeks prior to the lockdown.
How lucky were we!
Now I’m working on getting our latest Secret Society of Words Publications book online with Smashwords and into their premium catalogue so it can be found on Kobo, Barns and Noble, Booktopia and other ebook retailers. A chore but worth it to get our works out there.
A New Year about to Begin
Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the bushfire that hit Broulee. Today, instead of dark and ominous smoke clouds and heat there are grey rain clouds and a cool breeze. It could not be more different.
We all have gone through a strange year of downs and ups. The news feeds on all media are full of this year’s happenings; mostly of the catastrophic kind. But it was all predicted and, worse, could have been avoided if we, and especially world governments, had listened to the scientists.
So for me here are some of the other things besides fires, floods and Covid-19 that occurred during 2020:
: I had three short stories published – two about the fires and one fantasy story.
: Our little Jack Russell/Irish Terrier cross Russell died at age 15 and 1 month. He was a lovely fellow and is sorely missed by my husband and I as well as his litter make Jack.
: I started a new not-for-profit with friends to sell Climate Action Signs. This will allow CAN groups and individuals to buy signs at next to cost price.
: I learned how to use Adobe Illustrator and reacquainted myself with Adobe Photoshop. As a result I have obtained editorial work and found a new skill in book cover design.
: Friends and we managed to get away during September to tour outback NSW. We saw places we would not have otherwise seen as our cancelled trip had us going to Uluru and Kings Canyon.
: All our friends and family have so far avoided the dreaded Covid-19.
: Finally, I have become an active member of several climate action groups.
Considering the time we have all had to reflect on our life’s journey, this year has had it challenges but also benefits. And yes, I’m definitely a glass nearly full girl!
I wish all who read this a safe and happy future and hope that our governments will see the light, as even large corporations are doing, that the future lies in working together to save this planet, and the human race, from destruction and extinction.
To Engage or Not to Engage …
The last six months have been, not to put a fine point to it, extremely strange. And things are still not looking to get too much better. Each morning as my online news notifications arrive and I click on the various items, (yet, I no longer read printed news … sadly), I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or just bury my head in the sand. Although the latter is very tempting.
We will pass right by the bushfires, although they are still heavily impacting our local area, and the luck Australia has had with the Covid-19 pandemic, and go to two things that are currently causing much debate; Black Lives Matter and Economic recovery.
When the posts began after the death of George Floyd, I remember my first FB comment was to suggest we should also look at Australia because we had a terrible record with deaths in custody. Four days later that issue flared up here as a result of the US demonstrations. And rightly so. It’s time we forgot about the colour of skin, whether people move about with the same agility or need assistance, their age or religion, or whether they have the same inherent skills or not either mentally or physically … They Are People and they deserve an equal share of everything; respect, access to education, health and a fair go by those in power like police and, dare I say it, politicians and governments.
I believe myself to be unbiased. I have very close friends and family who could be put in the categories above but I simply don’t see it that way. They are friends and family, people I care about and I hate it when they tell me they are being bullied, or held back or not listened to because of some perceived negative characteristic. I read the stories of FB about ordinary Americans suddenly thinking to ask a person of colour what it is like for them and finding they are horrified at what they hear. It is good this is happening yet it is 2020 – I remember the Black Panthers and hearing Martin Luther King and the LA riots in the 70’s and 80’s and here we are again after nearly half a century. Are we able to do something about it now? And here, in Australia with our First Nation people? Death in Custody Royal Commission is more than 30 years ago too. It Is TIME!
And then the next thing I’m reading in the news here in Australia is that the Federal and State governments are working to get the economy going again. But the Federal government is giving money to those who already have it. WTF!!! Instead of building public housing for the underprivilaged, insuring they get access to education and child care so they CAN find jobs and keep them and thus pay tax to the government – no they give money to those who are already extending and who are earning over $70,000 per annum. Really??? What about public building project that enhance the nation, getting the TAFE systems going again properly, working to get this country going on renewables which, it is estimated, will create nearly 300,000 jobs – Nah! we will give money to the gas and coal industries and kill the planet some more.
I’m sure you are getting a sense of my frustration. And if you are reading this, I don’t think I’m Robinson Crusoe either.
I have written emails to Members of both State and Federal Parliaments to see if they will listen to reason, and as soon as possible, I will be back standing on street corners with a placard asking for Climate Action.
Here we have, due to the pandemic, a once is a livetime opportunity to change things and do it right, and the duds in charge are going back to their old ways.
I’m still waiting for the revolution and a leader. And I have a deep suspicion, one, or maybe both, are on the way. I can only hope (as I don’t pray).
So, to answer my question in the heading to this tirade – I will engage. Not to do so, despite the overload of frustration and anger, would be against all my principles. I will not stick my head in the sand and delete the daily news emails. I will do what I can because otherwise how could I call myself a caring human.
Reflections on Hope
Here it is, Sunday 31 May 2020. The last six months have been testing for everyone, worldwide. Most years in this lucky country of Australia where most of us are free from war and famine, I have friends or acquaintances noting around the start of a new year what short of year it has been – good or bad. Last New Year several of my friends said that 2019 was their “annis horribilis.” Looking back on the last six months I feel safe to say 2020 is going to be that way for most of us and to varying degrees. Too many friends and acquaintances have lost homes and livelihoods.
Emotionally, I suspect most of us have been on a bit of a roller coaster – some on steeper curves and swirls than others. I, like many, have had to get on top of Zoom and then help out friends after a writer friend of mine gave me a start (thanks Laura!). Also, again I’m lucky because, being retired, being home everyday was not unusual. What I missed most were my grand-kids, hugs and face to face time with friends.
Technology certainly made this lockdown easier. Facetime and Zoom were useful and the mobile phone calls were much more than usual. But there is nothing like seeing people you care about in the flesh, shaking their hand, hugging. That physical presence and touching was something I missed more than anything.
Personally, between the events in the USA where racism is being stoked by it’s leader and people dying of Covid-19 because of political indifference, Europe where things started out a bit late, now in the less well-off countries where there is little people can do to avoid the epidemic, I’ve had to stop reading each news item. Even here in Australia, where we have an opportunity to make a real change and lead the way in world events on climate and economic change that is desperately required, we have a government that is still in the grip of the coal and big business lobby. Yet they managed the Covid-19 with quick response and some success. They are able, just not willing if it is not in their interest.
I watched a move with Ethan Hawk called “First Reformed,” in which he plays a pastor who is confronted by the precarious state of the Earth when ministering to a parishioner. His reactions to that and to facing his own mortality, made me think. The concerns outlined in the script are those that are increasingly with us today – pollution of the seas, death and extinction of many species and deadly weather events. And this was made in 2017. Now we add pandemic to the list.
It is true to say that I have been on the verge of depression. The feeling that there are these huge issues that MUST be addressed and yet here I am, along with many, many others, knowing this needs to be done and seeing those who CAN do something, so focused on their own wealth and well-being instead.
I can understand when people opt out. It’s too hard. I’m only one person and I don’t make an iota of difference. Then you see the African Americans rioting for rights they should have had all along, which were given and are now being ignored and taken away. They’ve lived as second class citizens in their own country for hundreds of years. It’s too much to have the white President egging on hate. No wonder they are taking to the streets. They have been left no choice if they are to survive.
So maybe we, the silent majority in Australia, should take to the streets – join in peaceful protest now that we can congregate even in small numbers. But who will organise this? Do I have the energy left to do it? Probably not, to my eternal disappointment. I endlessly hope that is someone out there with the energy, like Greta Thunberg, will get up and start a movement here in Oz. I will go out and stand on street corners, in front of council or parliament buildings with signs and protest. I will subscribe to civil disobedience and take the consequences. But I have no idea of how to begin setting this up nor do I have the personality and drive to make it a success. I know my limitations unfortunately.
I remember the Vietnam protests in the 70’s and how successful the moratorium was. It was spearheaded by Jim Cairns, a charismatic politician of the left, as well as high profile journalists and musicians across Australia. We need another to rally behind so we can again lead the way in climate action, environmental protection and human rights.
I believe the “silent majority” in Australia are waiting for a real leader. But there is no-one brave enough or committed enough to put their head above the parapet, to take a stand that the average Australian can rally behind.
After six months of disasters with more in our future, with extinction of species in Australia reaching beyond crisis point, with the Great Barrier Reef dying, with a severe economic downturn and depression in our very near future, our current processes and so-called leaders are incapable of doing the right thing. They make photo ops to make themselves look good then pander the the coal and gas lobby.
I hope beyond hope, that there is someone out there who is willing, and more importantly, able, to stand up and be seen: to lead in the Earth’s time of need here in Australia. The Climate Council and Emergency Leaders for Bushfire Response are working hard to achieve a positive result. There are people out there. But we don’t have a focal point … yet.
It’s a Strange World
Last year my husband and I were lucky enough to spend several months travelling Australia. Although many places, nearly all should I say, were drought stricken, the small towns we stopped at all through Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland were still making a go of things. Australian’s always seem to find somthing to be positive about.
For example, in Boomi, NSW, about 728 kms north west of Sydney, just below the Queensland border was as dry as the proverbial camel’s backside. Yet it has the most delightful artesian spa. Many travellers stop for several days at a time to partake of the hot springs, taking at least one dinner at the pub and enjoying lots of chats in the spa. The community of Boomi own and run the spa and it keeps the town on the map and viable even during the driest of droughts.
We also trekked to Streaky Bay on the western side of the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. After a delightful week fishing and catching up with family, we returned via Port Augusta. There we were camped next to a couple from Dortmund in Germany who had just completed the trip from Darwin via Uluru and Kings Canyon. We chatted as everyone does and the following day we went on our way.
Ten days later, in the Clare Valley wine region of South Australia, in a delightful town of Auburn, we again came across our German tourists. This time we got to know eachother better. They advised they would be back in 2020 and coming up the east coast of Australia. They would drop in. Great we replied.
And you guessed it, they arrived the day before lockdown. It was already clear that things were taking a turn for the worst with Covid-19 outbreaks in Sydney and Melbourne. Our guests now had nowhere to go as campsites were closed and they, initially headed for Cairns, could not take their camper further.
So, what for everyone else was a bit of a shock and horror, here we were, with guests who had no idea when or even if, they could get back to Germany.
As the first week eventuated and things got tighter and tighter, yet we were still able to walk along our local beach, over local headlands and get takeaway coffee’s from the Boatshed (exercise of course). They had to go to Canberra to the German embassy, (which turned out to be closed when we got there) so we took the scenic route via Larry’s Mountain road and Araluen. As we were technically a family living in one house, we thought it legit.
We all remained well but the pressure to get back to Germany began to increase during the second week for our guests. The Australian Govenrment wasn’t having anything to do with repatriation flights and it took the German Government a while to get things organised. There were thousands of German tourists all over Australia and New Zealand. Eventually our guests got away very early last Monday (6 April 2020) and arrived back in Dortmund, very tired and jet lagged, some 40 hours later. Their flight hand no entertainment, no coffee or tea and only minimal rations. Luckily they packed a bag with goodies before they left.
So, we have been so busy during the first two weeks of lockdown, we’ve hardly noticed it. Not out much except to get excercise, yet still being able to show off our lovely coastline with exercise walks in the sun and wind.
As soon as we were again alone, hubby and I began the erection of the new shed, the replacement for the one we lost in the fires. Three days of manhandling sheets of thin metal and luckily, excellent instructions, and we got it up. Hubby spent the next two days putting in screws and making it watertight. Now he is out there hooking up the new water tank (another fire loss).
I think our house is like many others in this odd and troublesome time; getting all the long outstanding jobs done and dusted. I even had a short story published in a local online newspaper. https://www.beagleweekly.com.au/post/the-beagle-covid-19-lockdown-writing-competition-christmas-comes-but-once-a-year
For our little household, now just the two of us and our two old rough coated Jack Russell/Iris Terrier crosses, Jack and Russell, it is very quiet. Our German friends advised they are fine with no nasty symptoms now they are home in Germany. They are also in lockdown there but can find forrest walks that are nearly deserted to maintain their exercise regime. We maintain our Pilates, do odd jobs, housework and I am writing more than ever.
There is a bright side to being kept in lockdown. We just have to look for it. I feel for all those parents who are having to keep kids entertained without parks, outside friends and entertainment venues.
For any of you who might read this, I hope you are all finding ways to get through this strange time. It is clear our world won’t be the same one we left on New Year’s Eve 2019. The drought, the fires, now Covid-19 and possibly a depression after all this and 2020 is ‘Annis Horriblis’ for every single one of us.
Diseases/Epidemics – Then and Now
It’s official, the world has turned upside down.
I’m a baby boomer. Over my lifetime I have often pondered how lucky I’ve been. History has always facinated me and I tend to look back at previous era’s and identify the living conditions – some good but more often less than I’ve become used to – city fires always a threat, plagues and simple colds that could kill. I’ve seen articles by an academic suggesting Shakespear wrote King Lear while self-isolating from the plague. There was cholera and disentry from water and food contamination and tetanus etc etc. Most of these are unknown by 1st world countries like Australia during my lifetime.
As a child in Europe I survived chicken pox, whooping cough, both types of measled before the age of five. When I arrived in Australia I was unlucky enough to catch viral meningitis. My Dad managed to save me by lugging huge ice block from the factory three streets away and chipping them in the bath tub. Then he would carry me into it and keep my temperature down. It took three days. I survived with no brain damage (although some might dispute that *chuckle*)
In a mere sixty years, better science and health care, antibiotics and, most importantly, vaccinations, could and have kept children safe from many of those diseases. Colds and other upper respiratory infections are common and we live with them. Influenza is around but with vaccinations is generally of mild concern only.
We have been lucky. Up until now.
It is significant how much we feel protected in that, even this morning, people were still socialising – kids swimming and adults having coffee. Most managed a bit of distance but not the 1.5 – 2 meters recommended. The shop provided hand sanitiser and I noted excellent cleanliness. Still, with no cases locally identified yet, I think it is a false safety. I stayed the required distance, smiled and used the sanitiser. I felt a bit out of place doing that.
But all this talk of keeping safe set off a few memories from childhood; things long burried. As an only child I had several friends in the street I played with often. Everytime any one of us got sick, I clearly remember my mother keeping me at home and making time to play with me. In hindsight, most kids were also kept home as these illnesses spread like wildfire. Mum, who worked and had to take leave, kept me entertained while I was infectious, until I was free of symptoms. I learned basic knitting and crochet skills by the age of five and could play a mean game of 7’s – a canasta type of card game.
We didn’t have television but we did listen to the radio. Otherwise it was what you could manufacture for fun yourself. Building blocks, dolls, reading and story telling all were exciting things to do. I was allowed to help cook (peel potato’s and carrots), help wring the washing (no machines then). I had my own broom and dust pan and would help Mum clean. Can’t imagine now why I found that so much fun, but I did.
And I remember seeing several childhood friends who’d died from various diseases. Everyone, including children, went to a viewing before the funeral. Death was part of life. It stood me in good stead all these years.
It’s so different now. I understood at an early age that life was fleeting. I worry at how my grandchildren are going to cope as they rarely have anything to do with death – it’s kept from them for it might frighten them. They suffer from glue ear and have to have grommets put in under anesthetic but they don’t see friends die from illness – most have been vaccinated. Of course, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. It’s just different. But I don’t know how they will cope. All I can say is that children understand more than parents think they will. The truth is always best. Kids worry if they feel they’re being lied to but if you give them the facts – even 3-4 year olds will understand.
So the world has turned. A nasty virus is on it’s way to very many of us. Most of us will survive – some of us won’t.
Despite all the above, I count myself lucky to have lived for so many years in peace and safety. That I have a wonderful family who now have to come to terms with this virus and all it entails is saddening.
And then I get a telephone call from my daughter, an email from close friends and a request for a Skype chat from another friend. We can stay in contact so much better now. Isolation is only physical – unlike when I was small because it meant no contact whatsoever for Mum and me – with the exception of Dad of course. And they had already been throught the illnesses and had immunity.
Despite everything, I’m still feeling lucky. Even though the world has gone a little crazy.
PHOTO FROM: https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3101/3093761613_26eed9eacf_z.jpg?zz=1