Cruising Granny

February 26, 2011

Who is this Cruising Granny of whom they speak?

Is she standing in slippers and a floral frock

Stirring the stew or knitting sox?

Is her face a dull tone and hair faded grey?

Just going about the house day after day.

 

Is she at bingo or bowls on Tuesdays?

Taking a nap to recharge for more of the same?

Does she read “Take 5” or “That’s Life”

Doing the puzzles from cover to cover?

Or is she just a homely grandmother?

 

Oh no she is not!  She’s not lost the plot.

She raised her family alone and worked hard

To give them a home within a safe yard.

She loves her girls with all of her heart

Although not always together, they are never apart.

 

Her life like others was not always ideal,

And although sometimes frustrated

It was love she would feel

When things didn’t go the way that they should,

And when the girls were sometimes bad, and sometimes good.

 

But this granny was not to be harnessed.

Despite relationship false starts

She was never embarrassed.

She’d just hold her head high after a heart-broken cry,

Pick up where she left off and move on with pride.

 

 

She wasn’t arrogant or boastful about her achievements.

She was humble and believed

She didn’t deserve the credits

Bestowed upon her by friends and admirers,

Even strangers who learned of her efforts and failures.

 

This granny had a thirty-year dream to travel

Towing a caravan to destinations

Over black top and gravel.

To the outback, the rainforest, to the coast and the mountains.

She had done some, but there was more to these dreams.

 

To write stories and poems to heart’s content

While others sat home stuck in the cement

Of apprehension, indecision and perceived fear

Of what could be waiting for them out there,

And miss out on a lifestyle and the country we live in.

 

Meeting happy people who have adventure in common.

No this granny isn’t wearing her slippers and frock

She’s out in the bush wearing shorts, work boots and thick sox

Or sandals or thongs on a beach on the coast

Enjoying her life of which she’s making the most.

Advertisements

I Feel Honoured

June 8, 2010

I FEE HONOURED

I feel so lucky and honoured to share this world with the creatures of land and sea.  The birds, the lizards and thunderstorms generate an overwhelming feelings of excitement, love and joy.

I feel so lucky and honoured to be able to share this world with the creatures of land and sea.  The birds, the storms, the lizards generate an overwhelming feeling of love and joy.

As a gardener I felt honoured the birds chose my gardens to play, feed and bathe.  Whether it was in the bird bath I provided, or under the sprinklers or among the dripping foliage, I received so much enjoyment from just watching.

Finches grazed on the grass seeds at ground level.  Honey eaters drank nectar from the flowers, especially the canna lilies.  Friar birds drank and bathed in the bird bath, and found insects.

The TA Ta Lizards or Gilberts Dragons would warm themselves on rocks warmed by the morning sun.  They waved “tat a” as they darted around the shrubs and ferns.  They fed on insects.  If they were lucky I’d throw some chips of fresh apple.

In one patch of garden a very small, young ta ta used to sit quite close to me as I weeded.  At times she would sit on my left hand which was supporting me on the ground.  Or she’d sit on my foot, apparently in anticipation of my disturbing morsels in the ground.  She’d feed on seeds and tiny, microscopic insects.  Watching her as I worked gave me much pleasure, and I felt honoured this wild creature of prehistoric genealogy chose to share her world with me.  When the sprinklers were turned on she would wallow in the spray, and drink by sliding her tongue over her face to lap the water which ran all over her.

One day I had the honour of sharing the ocean, and the experiences with fellow cruise passengers, young to older.  I’d paid to view the reef off Exmouth township, in the Exmouth Gulf through a glass-bottom boat.

We were all in awe of the size and placid demeanor of two humpback whales as they slid through the water, no more than 10 metres from the boat.

We all witnessed a display of whale play as they appeared to frolic, leap, tail slap and splash a short distance away from us.

The boat’s skipper slowed and quietly eased the boat to drift closer to cause the least disturbance to the playing pair,.  The whales appeared undaunted by our presence, and our good manners were rewarded by a smooth cruise past, and “that look” only whales give, by rolling slightly to one side and offering an approving glance toward the admiring group.

I felt honoured to be able to share their world for the short time.

The boat was eased over the reef, allowing us to observe the life beneath us.  Old and new corals abounded with life – a testament to the pristine environment.  Numerous fish species ranging in size from a few centimeters to larger fish, all forming the food chain in their underwater world.  A cream coloured sea snake weaved its way slowly to the ocean floor, allowing us to enjoy the graceful movement of this placid creature from a safe distance.

The fish also came in a wide variety of colours – striped, bright yellow, iridescent blue, grey – such variety.  Even the clown fish, a larger relative of “Nemo” played among the corals and anemone.

While out on the boat, a family of dolphins also cruised by.

The world I was witnessing beneath the boat appeared to be untouched by all the turmoils of the world above.

I still feel privileged to see things in their natural environment.  The birds singing in the trees around me, or the cheeky miners squabbling with the top knot doves over a few bread crumbs.  The correllas performing comical acrobatic antics around their perches above, amusing all who witness it.

During eleven years in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia, I became more aware of nature around me.

I have always respected and appreciated the wild life and vegetation, but somehow the Kimberley experience brought my awareness to a new conscious level.  It’s a wilderness only slightly affected by the cattle station and tourism activities hidden from open view by the vastness and rugged terrain.

Not just sitting on the outside looking in, catching the occasional glimpse of nature’s offerings and wonders, but actually living amongst it.

Sitting on the cattle station verandah I observed frogs, lizards, birds and even snakes.

Going out in the paddock wondering at the life of the ants and termites building huge, hard mounds of mud.  Even the thunderstorms and tropical squalls seemed to come in at a personal level.  I could literally feel them.  Even my ears popped when the barometric pressure rapidly dropped.

The power, the electricity, the energy of all the power passing overhead and surrounding the immediate area, with cracking thunder, blinding lightning, and torrential downpours which flooded the area in minutes.

Frightening, yet wonderful.  I’d sit in the house to watch, with my fingers in my ears.  More afraid of the noise than the threat the lightning presented.

And the lightning could do some serious damage.  Blow up electricity transformers or power poles, transform an airconditioner into a molten mass, while rendering other nearby electrical equipment totally useless.  Even an internet modem two hundred metres away, was incapacitated by the storm.

Tropical cyclones are another effect of nature which can cause massive destruction and take lives, while bringing life-giving rain to the parched, arid desert.

Such contrasts, all serving their purpose in nature’s scheme of things.

Yes, it’s an honour to be on this earth, and to be able to enjoy the wonders it presents.

Tagalong Concept

June 8, 2010

TAGALONG CONCEPT ©

 I was overtaken by the urge to spend my retirement years travelling with a caravan in tow, to fulfill a thirty year dream.

The reality of doing it alone led me to the concept of seeking tag along travelling friends to share the road and the experience. 

I didn’t want to join a high-priced travel club or organised group, tied to a set route, and a tight pre-set schedule.

I wanted the freedom to go when it suited me

  1. The freedom to do as many kilometres per day, to the destination of my choice
  2. The freedom to set up camp in free overnight locations by rivers, lakes and beaches, in the safe company of trusted companions.
  3. I also realised there were thousands out there on the road, just like me.   Not just solo singles, but couples who were “spending the kids inheritance”, “seeking adventure before dementia”.

While we would all be doing it our way, I was sure we would sometimes tire of motoring the day away alone.  There was also the element of safety to consider. 

I wanted a means of finding like-minded travellers, or having camp fire companions at the end of a stretch on the road, with whom to share the day’s adventures.

There was always the chance chat in the caravan park laundry, or in the bathroom, but it would be like winning the lottery to find the compatible company.

This prompted me to initiate a web site, where travellers could seek travelling pals to share the road for a day or two, or however long, to the next overnight parking spot.

Hence ozcaravantagalong.com was born. 

Any travellers and campers, whether they were driving motor homes or camper vans, towing caravans or camper trailers, could register and search for free. 

The site was created by an elderly acquaintance with had an uncanny skill with the depths of computer technology.  Des worked very hard to find a site host, and set it up to make it user-friendly for every grey nomad with a computer. 

Ozcaravantagalong.com wishes you safe and happy travel.

Australiana Work Experience – Changing Stations

April 22, 2010

Chapter 8

CHANGING STATIONS

Flood waters surrounded the homestead the day I left Meda Station to begin work at Anna Plains Station, two hundred and fifty kilometres south west of Broome.

To meet the manager of the station we drove through red, muddy, side-step depth floodwater to get into Derby.

Water washed across every floodway on the Great Northern Highway, from the station yard and Sandfire Roadhouse.  Roads continued to be cut or awash until the end of July, when the big wet finally dried up.

The stinking, stagnant water changed the lives and work practices of many in the region, especially at Anna Plains Station.

What was normally a twenty kilometre drive on station roads, became a journey of more than sixty kilomtres along the Great Northern highway and across drier paddocks.

The station covered almost three hundred and eighty thousand hectares between the Indian Ocean in the west, and the Great Sandy Desert to the east.  Much of the country west of the highway was flat grassland on white, silty clay.  This soil was either powdery bull dust when dry, or slimy, impassable mud when it was wet.

The red, sandy pindan country was more accessible, and was the only reprieve from the mud for almost six months.

The pumps still needed to be refueled and serviced, and it meant the boreman often had to walk one or two kilometres, through the mud, carrying twenty litres of diesel, or risk being bogged in the four wheel drive, again.  The weight of the “fourby” couldn’t be moved through the sticky slime, no matter what tyres had been fitted.

The boreman had to  do this every second day to keep the pumps operating.

The cattle couldn’t drink the sour, stagnant water, and botulism became a constant threat.

Thousands of pelicans died after eating contaminated fish in the flood waters and seasonal lakes.

The big wet also delayed normal station work which meant mustering cattle across the soggy flats, and diverting them around floodwaters by way of the highway.

The country eventually dried out, the trees and other vegetation bloomed, and the frantic cattle work resumed.  The cattle had been ordered to go on a ship, so there was much to be done to muster them into the yards for drafting, and loading the selected stock on to the road train.

The wet also created more work for the station’s grader driver who had the huge task of restoring rutted roads and drainage channels, as well as grading fire breaks.

The mustering was done with horses and a small helicopter skillfully manoeuvred by a Vietnam Veteran who was a master of the machine and the task.

There were hundreds of mustering pilots across Australia’s cattle country, who used the versatile aircraft to flush the mobs out of the scrub, and drive them to the cattle yards.

Some had taken unnecessary and stupid risks to gain control over the beasts,  which resulted in crashes, destroying man and machine.  Sometimes the lucky pilot survived to fly another day, in another machine.

……………………….

Anna Plains Station was an absolutely fabulous oasis between the Great Sandy Desert and Eighty Mile Beach. 

The homestead grounds were green, treed and beautiful.  It was a pleasant improvement on Meda’s dusty, scrubby surroundings.

We had endured about fourteen nights of a midgee plague.  The tiny black bug fitted on a pin’s head with room to spare.   Clouds of them besieged every area where the lights shone.  They caused a large, sticky, stinking mass on the verandah floors.  The most I swept up was six kilograms of live, minute, crawling bugs.  They eventually abated to less than a dust pan full over the last three mornings.  What a relief!  It got very depressing to wake up to the irritating little pests each morning.

Information from the Department of Agriculture revealed they were Rove Beetles.  They feasted on mosquito larvae.  Obviously they were in Rove Beetle heaven in the wriggler infested flood waters which surrounded the homestead.  However they couldn’t keep up.  The mosquito mass tormented everyone for weeks, long after the rain stopped.  Slap!  Slap!  Slap!  This became a very familiar sound around the house and the yard.

About ten percent of the station property was still flooded – some places more than a metre deep, and a few troughs and bores were under water.

There were always mozzies of course, and the frogs, geckos, and various other creepy crawlies.  It made the place sound terrible, but we learned to live with these little critters as part of everyday life in the tropics. 

On a stores trip into town the stationhand and I spotted a small crocodile on the edge of the floodwaters which fringed the highway on Roebuck Flat.  I was sure it was an estuarine crocodile, but we didn’t stop to paddle in the water to ask it.

……………………………..

The station hands were mustering cattle for a live shipment to Indonesia.  They used a helicopter, horses and a four wheel drive vehicle which had been reinforced to be a “bull buggy”.  The pilot was one of the best in this region, and it was a privilege to watch him at his craft.  He just manipulated the little chopper around in the air to round up the cattle, but they were never really startled. 

Some of the younger cattle had never seen people, let alone vehicles or helicopters. Others clean skins which looked to be about three years old, had never been mustered. 

There were bulls, cows and calves heading for the yards.  They weren’t all shipped, but they had to be drafted into herds.  The young weaners were branded and tagged.  The bulls were separated from the heifers and cows. They were only sending young steers this time.

Apart from cleaning up bugs, I was cooking for the gang because the last elderly cook didn’t return from his days off. 

The former British Navy pastry chef made the job hard for himself.  He’d start his day at about four o’clock to bake bread.  The freezers were well-stocked with fresh, sliced bread, but he insisted.

He continued to challenge himself by making everything into pies.  Not a large pan of meat and vegetables covered in a nice crispy crust, but dozens of small pie tins lined with thick pastry, filled with some sort of meat and covered with thicker, greasier pastry.

He also managed to mutilate cabbage.  He’d start it cooking mid-afternoon for a seven o’clock tea, by which time it was just a soggy grey mass in the bottom of the pot.

No one enjoyed anything he cooked.  The crew wasn’t sorry to see him leave.  It was about two weeks before they recovered from pastry-induced constipation.

 In the mean time I was the cook while we waited for the cook’s replacement to arrive.  Once again I was the most popular woman in camp – well at least for my cooking.  Nothing special – just nutritious, hot, home-cooked meals, including a roast, corned beef or steak, all accompanied by fresh salads or vegetables. 

I helped the new, young cook settle in.  He seemed to be competent initially. 

Some of my regular duties included maintaining the three, twin guest house rooms and bathroom.

Staff from the Australian Defence Forces, NASA and the United States were based at the station for some missile tracking experiments to take place on Anna Plains Station later in the year.

One weekend the station also played host and refueling station for the Perth-based pilot and co-pilot of a vintage Cessna aircraft re-enacting the seventy fifth anniversary of Australia’s longest passenger flight of the day – Port Hedland to Derby, about nine hundred kilometres.

The station Manager hosted a dinner party at the main house, wining and dining, typical of the Anna Plain’s hospitality.  I cooked the main course, and the boss did the sweets.  He was very creative with home-made ice cream and liqueurs.  He also had a great wine collection and a wide variety of liqueurs to keep his guests refreshed and entertained.

The station staff worked hard, but there were fun times as well.  We often went to Sandfire Roadhouse for a “night out”.  The neighbours about 50kms north, came over for meals sometimes, and the boss went over there for a reciprocal visits.  A few months before I arrived, the boss rolled the Hilux and on the way home from the neighbour’s hospitality.

He didn’t realize how injured he was until he got out of the ute to open the gate, and collapsed to the ground.  When he failed to come to breakfast the “boys” went looking for him.  He’d broken his hip in the roll over.  It could have been much worse.

I had my first week off after five months at the station.  I went into Broome to enjoy the town as a tourist.  I’d been into town before but usually to stock up with stores and drums of aviation fuel.

I went to the Chiropractor to straighten up some of my over-worked bones.  I had to go shopping, but not for anything feminine and fashionable.  I went shopping for work clothes and boots.  I also did a few “touristy” things and caught up with some friends from Port Lincoln who were living and working in Broome.

The weather had been very hot and dry, but relief came from the sea breeze which blew across the grassy plain.  It hadn’t rained for five months, but the ground was still very wet from the last wet season, and it was very humid when the wind dropped out.

The beach was beautiful, although it was very murky with white mud which was stirred up by the tidal movement.  After a high tide, the shell collecting was endless.  There were some of the most beautiful shells on Australia’s western beaches, right on the station doorstep.  I collected a few, but if I didn’t stop myself I would have filled my room with huge bailers, cones, small scallops, pearl shells and corals. 

The tide went out beyond the sight of land, and in again, twice a day.  I didn’t think swimming there would be in my best interest because of the sharks, jelly fish and the occasional passing estuarine crocodile, but I did paddle in the Indian Ocean.

I was happy, well, busy, and I enjoyed life at Anna Plains.  It wasn’t always heaven, with about a dozen station hands – young men trying to prove they were big enough for this rugged life.

Then there was the one we lost.  Unfortunately he left horizontal, not upright.  He was an old cowboy who applied for a job, and after a meeting with the Head Stockman in Perth, he arrived on the bus.  He seemed a bit shy, but sociable enough. 

On his third day he went out on horseback with the other ringers to do the mustering.  The boys said he didn’t eat or drink much water during the day, which caused him to collapse.

The mustering helicopter dropped him back at the homestead suffering from dehydration and heat exhaustion.  The young cook was left to care for the old cowboy.  He died just before tea time that evening, from what was believed to be a heart attack. 

“Wow!  They worked ’em hard out there!”

No, it wasn’t work related.  It seemed there was a family history of heart disease.  The old fellow’s personal circumstances remained something of a mystery. 

The Broome Police came out and interviewed the cook, and the Overseer’s wife who attended to him out at the yards.  The Police took the body and his personal effects back to town that night. 

After he was gone the guys wouldn’t go near his room, or the room he died in.  To make matters worse, he died in another man’s room, an Aboriginal man’s room.  Death to them makes the room a “sorry place”.  It really shook everyone up. 

Another guy and I had been in Broome to pick up stores and supplies of aviation fuel.

I had the job of cleaning up the rooms.  The other blokes burnt the old fellow’s sheets.

It was just another day in the life on a Kimberley cattle station. 

……………………………..

The day began at four thirty during the muster.  The workers had to travel about sixty kilometres around the flooded areas, to get to the yards.  Normally it was only about ten kilometres.

I was in bed by eight thirty.  We had two hours off at lunch time during the heat of the day.  I’d take the midday spell as an opportunity to have a “nana nap”.  It was a long, hot day. 

It was also my job to set up the irrigation system in the new vegetable garden.  The hot, red sand burnt my feet through my boots, and the black pipes were so hot I  sometimes wore leather riggers’ gloves to avoid being burnt.  If it wasn’t for the life-saving breeze, it would have been unbearable.  If all the perspiration I lost added up to kilo’s, I would have been very skinny.  I was quite fit from all the walking and working, and the tan was impressive. 

My hat was my constant companion, and I always wore cotton, covering clothing.

A holiday at a tropical resort it was not.

Stories & Poetry – The Milk Crate

April 19, 2010

THE MILK CRATE

 It turned up everywhere, anywhere the humble, plastic milk crate.

 “You have to have a milk crate”, declared the man I bought my caravan from.

 When I thought about it, for about a minute, I realised he was quite right.  I could use a milk crate as a sturdy, stable step.  I could sit on a milk crate, and get strange, diamond patterns on my bum.

 It was just the right height for almost every job around my van.  I could colour co-ordinate my milk crates if I have more than one.  Crates came in a range of colours – blue, red, orange, black, yellow, and probably others I hadn’t come across yet.

 I had seen crates on the backs and fronts of push bikes to carry the shopping or to take the dog for ride.  I’d seen milk crates used as a stand for the boat trailer tow hitch instead of a jockey wheel.  Milk crates have been used as a saw horse or trestle.  Flipped over it could be a useful storage crate.

 Gardening tools, cleaning gear, in the back of the car for odds and ends.  Car polishes, spare oil and radiator coolant, rags – well, you get the idea.

 The barbecue gas bottle – the crate made it easy to carry, and more stable in the station wagon.

 I had been wondering if milk crates had a society of their own.  Maybe they even a travel club.  Perhaps they performed community service.  I knew they were already very handy.  Perhaps they were already being utilised in places as yet unseen.

 I had seen milk crates in the most bizarre places.  At roadside parking bays, way out in the outback desert, in the mangroves, floating, rising and falling on the tide.  In sheds, of course.  Some people even have a collection of milk crates.

 Where did it all start?  When did it start?

 Well, they were molded in a factory, distributed to the milk factories to store and transport milk to supermarkets, the corner deli, and roadhouses in the outback.

 The crates could accommodate one, two, four-litre bottles of milk – plastic or cardboard packs, and at one time, glass bottles.  Some bottles were round, but mostly square or oblong.  Milk hadn’t been delivered in glass since the nineteen sixties, but it used to arrive in one pint, glass bottles in days gone by.

 The supermarket, deli or roadhouse paid deposits for the crates.  It was part of the supply arrangement. 

 So how did these milk crates escape?

 I had one because a well-meaning man told me I needed one.  Needed one?

How did he decide I needed one?  From his own experience?  Maybe.  An interesting concept.  Of all the things I needed in life, the milk crate didn’t rate as a priority, but from that day on it was to be included in the long list of “essentials”.

 I’d seen collections of milk crates around campfires.  I’d never seen anyone fight while sitting around a campfire while sitting on milk crates.

 Perhaps, if all the world leaders had a milk crate, there would be peace.

 If the United Nations met around a campfire, and all the delegates sat on milk crates, they would all be equal.

 As each delegate shared his “yarn”, the other delegates would stare into the dancing flames and glowing coals of the camp fire as they listened intently, under the starry sky.  All would be right with the World.

 Imagine if the warring countries of the World did the same. The American President, the leaders of the Middle Eastern and Asian countries, and the Australian Prime Minister negotiating World peace on a milk crate.

 Maybe the troops currently attempting to “keep peace” could sit around the campfire on milk crates, instead of sitting around on tanks.  No one would dare fire a shot and disturb “milk-crate” peace. 

 There was no prestige attached to possessing a milk crate, but the custodian of a milk crate protected it with their life.  If anyone lent a milk crate, they didn’t take their eyes off it as it moved off in the hands of the borrower.  If the loan extended beyond an agreed period, the lender enquired about the welfare of “his” milk crate.  There was almost a celebration of reunion when the milk crate was returned.  At the very least a sigh of relief would have been uttered by the crate’s owner on its return.

 Just what is the bond people, especially men have with the milk crate?  Where did it start?

 What about the people who originally acquired the crate with, would you believe, containers of milk in it?

 How did they account for the missing crates?  Did they ever have to account for the milk crate to the milk supplier?  Have the milk factories, the owners of the crates, ever issued a bounty on the return of wayward milk crates?

 It’ was one of life’s mysteries.

 A little similarity to the shopping trolley, but easier to control.

 That’s another story.

Stories & Poetry – My Luck Is Changing

April 15, 2010

MY IS LUCK CHANGING ©

Have I changed my perspective on the world?  Maybe so.

Life shouldn’t be any harder than anyone can cope with.  So it seems I’m on the downward slope, on the easy side of life.  Not self-absorbed with depression and regrets.  Mind you, life is as hard as you make it.

If you go through life with blinkers, only seeing what’s immediately in front of you, the only obstacle or distraction is right there.

If you look around, to the side and behind, you see all aspects and perspectives of life and surroundings.

Then, do you move on and ignore all you see, or do you soak it in, get involved, and even offer assistance, if it looks like it’s required.  How or who decides if it’s required?

Is it my place to take more than a passing interest, or any interest at all?

When is it none of my business?

Is it when it doesn’t affect or involve me?  What if others are affected or hurt?

If it’s within my ability, I see the need to help.  That’s just the way I am.

I can’t stand by to see others hurt or endangered by the actions of others, who may be taking advantage of naivety or ignorance.

We all learn as we experience life.  No one goes through their entire life with ear plugs and blinkers.  We learn, we absorb, we observe, and we live.

Do I think too fast and too deep?  Who decides?

How do I control that?  Should I control that?  Who decides?

I’m feeling a fresh enthusiasm for life.  It feels good.  Positive!

My park political issues have hurt me as much as I’m going to let them.  No more victim!  A fighter I will stay.  I’m not going to change, but I have learnt.  I have modified my attitude.

It’s about time I focused on me and my life, now and in the future.

The park will remain in the hands of two control freaks, whether I’m there or not.  People can deal with it however they will.  I can’t be responsible to all of them.  I can’t protect them, and I can’t make excuses for the park because of the managers’ business practices.

I can’t keep the park gardens looking good forever, or anymore.  They’ve taken that role away from me.  I took responsibility for the gardens in the absence of anyone else doing it.  I am proud of the place I live, and want to see it at its best.

That has been taken away from me.  I have to detach.  I just live on one site.  I’ll look after it and the immediate surrounds as I always have.  The rest of the gardens can now rot and die.  Not my problem anymore.  I did my best.  My best was acknowledged and appreciated by most.  The ones who count the least don’t appreciate it anyway. 

Some guys would stifle my life, my thoughts, my lifestyle.  I need stimulation, new information, encouragement, understanding, motivation, support.  Not criticism or opposition.  I need more positive input to grow, not negative criticism to bring me down.  Stay up, up, up!

What do I portray as a person?

I want the world to see I’m a naturally loving, compassionate, affectionate, sharing person.  I don’t want to be selfish, but I must be self-award, and take care of myself.  No one can do it for me.  I must do it by myself.  I must portray and present the best, positive me I can, at all times.

I MUST PORTRAY AND PRESENT THE BEST, POSITIVE ME THAT I CAN, AT ALL TIMES.

People are different, I must accept the difference.  I don’t have to approve or like it – just accept it.

If it doesn’t impact directly on me, I must leave it alone.  I must not criticise unless it impacts on me.  Only criticise if there’s a more appropriate alternative.  Don’t criticise if it doesn’t impact on me.  Only suggest change if the unacceptable action affects me.

Accept if the change isn’t accepted.  Move on.  Remove myself if I don’t accept the action, or if I am in danger, physically at risk, mentally at risk.  Learn by it.  Move on.  Remove myself from any risk.

I’m smart enough to put it down to experience, accept it for what it’s worth, learn by it, grow from it and move on.  Leave it behind.  Don’t drag it along with me, and don’t let it drag me down.  Leave it behind.  Take a big, deep breath to exhale the negative impact on me, and move on.

But does it mean I’m running away?  Am I escaping instead of standing up to the challenge?  Where’s the boundary between digging in to confront the challenge, and running away from the responsibility?  Is it my responsibility anyway?  Is it, isn’t it?

Is it my business or responsibility?

Can I just see something which offends or upsets me, without jumping up and down, and fighting?  Should I even be affected or upset at all?  Why should I be affected or upset?  Why indeed.

Idiot drivers, bullying park managers, foolish people, selfish people.  Can I do anything to change it?  Should I do anything to change it?  Why should I do anything to change it?

Would the idiot driver understand what he’d done others at risk?  Would he understand that he’d put himself and his passengers at risk?

Do selfish people realise how much their actions affect other people?  Do they care?  Probably not.  Will they change if someone pointed it out to them?  Probably not.

The message is, “Watch out for selfish people”, and adjust.  They’ll never change because they’re too selfish to see the need to change their behaviour, unless it put them at risk.  Then it would be the other person’s fault.  They’d blame the victim of their selfish behaviour, for their own consequences.

Am I selfish, or arrogant and self-righteous?

Probably all of the above.  Survival requires some of these qualities, but not to the detriment of others and their well-being.

My philosophy has always been to put others first.  But does that mean I keep making sacrifices at the expense of my own comfort and well-being?  It has done in the past, but I think I’ve moved on, and will keep moving on.

So where does selfishness and survival kick in?  There has to be a balance.  I’ll aim to find the balance.

Short Stories & Poetry – That’s Life

April 7, 2010

THAT’S LIFE

It’s good, it’s bad, it’s happy and it’s sad.

It leaves us wondering about ourselves, and those around us.

Where we go and what we do is up to us, and if we choose to do it with someone else.

We make choices about the direction our lives will take.  What careers we choose, if we marry, if we have a family, buy a house or a car.

Then we have to choose if we use solar and natural fuels, or electricity and gas.

That’s life!

The cat gets run over, the child falls off the bike, the bills come in.

Families are important, to support each other, but even large and busy families have times of sadness and loneliness.

When we need to be alone we can’t.  When we don’t want to be alone we often are, even at a crowded dinner table.  That’s life!

Productivity is the satisfaction of knowing we are doing something useful which is of benefit to ourselves, or others.

Caring and sharing are vital for the survival of society.  It is necessary to work together as a family or community.

That’s life!

Stories & Poetry

April 3, 2010

THE TROUBLE WITH WOMEN  

“A Fair Go For Women” was the message of the 1985 National Agenda for Women, issued by the Federal Office of the Status of Women.

 There is a controversy whether women deny themselves a fair go, or if men deny women a fair go.  Women are apt to judge themselves too harshly, thereby forfeiting many opportunities available to them.

 Centuries of traditional conditioning have convinced women their place is in the home – “barefoot and pregnant”.  If we dare to rebel or defend our individuality, we attract the wrath of the male population.

Women are individuals, with specific needs and ambitions.  What is domestic bliss and contentment to one, can be a drudge to another.  It is vital the values of women are recognised on their own merits, whether employed outside the home, or within.

 If a man is unemployed for whatever reason, he is entitled to the dole.  If a woman loses her job and returns to the role of full-time housewife and/or mother, she does not qualify for the dole as an individual.

The dignity of women is overlooked, but is an important issue to those who wish to maintain their status and identity.

 To relinquish her “maiden name” when marrying, does not degrade a woman.  There is no shame to have the title “Mrs”.

 We are titled “Miss” before we marry, but if our career requires us to remain “Miss”, then it should be explained.  To keep a “maiden name” after marriage for any other reason, appears self-centred and egotistical.

 Tensions are created between the couple if the husband feels unworthy and inadequate. 

The title “Ms” is apt for women who are no longer married.  They are no longer “Miss” nor “Mrs”.  The most important issue is to be recognised as an equal individual person.

The workforce and its male employers’ sexism create tensions and animosity. 

Women have been expected to perform menial tasks for minimal wages.  The physical strength and stature differences have influenced these duties in the past.  Technology and machinery have reduced the need for brute-strength in many, previously male dominated occupations.

Executive positions and decision-making careers were also dominated by males.  Women have recently been “discovered”, and deemed to be more than capable of fulfilling these roles.  We now have women in politics, on all levels – except Prime Minister.  They are however still under the close scrutiny of their male counterparts, until they have been seen to “prove” themselves.  We know we are equal as people – now let’s educate the men.

When is a working woman not a working woman?  Never!

Whether she is married or single, a mother or not, she is always working. 

Men often have the misconception they have “knocked off” and their responsibilities stop at the end of their working day, and when they have brought the pay home.

The woman is expected, and feels the necessitiy to maintain the home and tend to the children.

Some men believe it is their right to go to the pub after work to “relax” from the pressures of the day. 

Many working mothers don’t have this opportunity, or the right to “relax”.  Parenting is a twenty four hour responsibility, and both men and women need to be educated to accept this.

Shorter hours and labour-saving devices have given us more leisure time to pursue outside interest, or to enroll in a tertiary education course.

There are a vast range of courses available, creating opportunities for career advancement or just to improve academic status.  External studies are available for women who find it difficult to get to classes, or who live in isolated areas.  There are educational opportunities for anyone wishing to take advantage of the services.

Many women believe they are to conform to society’s expectations to conform  and keep a low profile once they have passed a “certain age”.   If memory serves me correctly, it’s somewhere over 30.

I have a new-found freedom in my “mature” approach to study, people, home and employment.  We are never too old to learn, thereby improving our standard of life.  It’s very exciting ot have, and express an opinion – whether a popular opinion or not popular.  Someone, somewhere will be listening, and hearing.  Not to patronise, but to actually hear YOU.

Anger is not the answer if you fail.  Feminists let anger override practicality.  Quiet achievers eventually attain a long-term, positive response.  Outspoken activists attract an immediate reaction and even aggression and opposition.  A reaction, but negative and short lived.

Women in the workforce, regardless of career, often feel the necessity to justify the need for their own income and independence.  They are defensive when challenged, and guilt feelings are inflicted on them.  They are accused of child dumping, bad house keeping, greed, selfishness, irresponsibility and ambitiousness  Not always from men.  Women are women’s harshest judges.  That’s the trouble with women.

There are standards to maintain in fashion, morals, ethics, careers and home.  The strong attack the weak, and men attack women, generally – emotionally as well as physically.

If a woman takes care with her appearance and is attractive she is “rape bait” or a “tart”.  If she dressed conservatively with her budget in mind, she is a dowdy frump.  The severity of judgement varies according to the age groups, social classes and education levels.  If a man admires the appearance of a woman, he is a hero to his peers, and she’s a bitch, especially if his wife catches him.

If we dare to be different or attempt to improve our “lot”, we are labelled radical.  I have been deemed radical and find it flattering.  It’s an indication I am being observed attempting to keep up with the times, and express my opinions, tactfully and respectfully.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion – but let’s keep our eyes and minds open, and remain flexible.

Although we are responsible to others as well as ourselves, above all, we must be confident we have made the most of the resources available to us.

Short Stories & Poetry

April 2, 2010

WHAT AUSTRALIA MEANS TO ME ©

 To me Australia is freedom – to be myself, within the law, with no pressure to conform either in may way of life, or fashion, to travel its fast distances at leisure, by air, rain, road or sea.

Australia also means awesome intrigue.  The contrast between our cities, and the extremes of the outback, from the coast to the inland deserts.

Long flat beaches of white sand with surf pounding, or the tide peacefully ebbing and flowing.  Rugged rocky cliffs which drop off our shores into the seas surrounding our land.

The brilliant colours – white, oranges, yellows, reds, browns, greys, greens and blues of our native flora and fauna, reflect the varieties of animals, birds, trees, shrubs and flowers.

 To me, Australia is unique.  There are features which are ours and ours alone.  The animals such as the platypus, koala, kangaroos, wombat, goanna, emus, cassowary, and the bilby and Tassie devil.  The flora like the blue bush, mulga, wattle, spinifex, salt bush, eucalypt trees, paper barks, banksias, and numerous wildflower species.

Our uniqueness also extends to the numerous, compatible ethnic groups within our nation.  These all contribute to the contrasts and varieties of lifestyle we enjoy.

 To me Australia is pride.  We are a proud nation, and rightfully so.  Following a dubious beginning, endurance prevailed, against all odds, to create a population which has earned its right to be proud of all it has achieved.

Finally, Australia means home to me.  I was born here and have travelled many miles of it, and although international travel has become more accessible, I will always call Australia home.