Bill

Photo: Ghostbusters

The Bill Ryan I knew was a dairy farmer. His dairy was on a hill. The paddocks his cows fed upon were all on lower ground than where he milked them. As king of all he surveyed you could expect him to be the ruler of his mob. (He was married to Helen (Ella) and he was Jennie’s uncle.)

It is not unkind to record he did not rule over this land. Instead he was one with it. He accepted the challenges it gave him. A major challenge was the way the ground he bought to farm shrank under his ownership.

Logically it makes no sense. How did his land shrink? The reality was the perversity of the weather. Throughout the 1950s it rained. Rainy months were followed by more rain. In that rain Bill trained his dog to fetch the cows feeding on the abundant grass growing on the productive grassy banks of his property. It was no mistake when he called his land Lovely Banks. The ground was Lovely.

By the time I got to know Bill he had reared his family on that land. The rain that fell in the wet years filled the lake. Lake Corangamite flowed over the flat area at western foot of his land. By the time of my first visit, the lake surface was punctuated by fence posts that once defined the border of his property.

Bill may may have felt aggrieved by the loss of land yet he retained a stoic attitude to the hand he was dealt and he farmed the remaining ground as best he could. His farming, like many agriculturalists of the time, followed a simple routine dictated by the seasons. The busy fertile spring determined the size of the summer harvest. The dry days of autumn were punctuated by the returning wet days of winter.

Twice a day, Bill tended his herd of cows in a life lived without fuss. He made one concession to a macho image. He always had a hand rolled cigarette hanging from his lower lip. As he talked the smoke flipped up a down in fascinating rhythm to his utterances. That fag was a fixture. At some stage of the day the exposed end had been burnt – however all these years later – I don’t think he ever smoked that thing because I never saw it alight.

I remember Bill at this time in my life because he was a born philosopher, and I turn to philosophy to wrest reason where none exists. Like the rest of the family he was a Catholic from birth and a man disinclined to sin in any way the church enumerated, yet I have to say philosophy determined his attitude to life. I have written he was stoic. (The Ancient Greek Stoics accepted the hand they were dealt with – with resilience. They were confident and calm.) Bill never said things that were better left unsaid because kindness was also a feature of stoical lives. Of course his training in the field of philosophy was never formal – it came from the simple way he lived.

Another natural philosophy Bill lived sprang from a saying he frequently voiced. He had a habit of saying, “The faster I go, the behind-er I get.” I could have learned sooner in life many things if I had thought more on this saying. To live life purposely you don’t have to be ambitious. You don’t have to please everyone. You don’t have to do too much. I have found when you study “isms” , and look at the work of philosophers, none gives an infallible road map of how to live your life. Just find something you must do and do it as well as you can.

Better to be like Bill – keep busy but not so busy as to lose a way to make your life meaningful. And ponder on my experience. It seems true enough. When you wondered aimlessly about the Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris, and stood beside the grave of Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, was it serendipity alone it took to remind you of existentialism?

The Girl With The Golden Hair

The girl with the golden hair

Rode horses in her youth

They carried Joy and she

In equine bliss

Round the rocky rises

Until

Struck by the arrow of Eros,

She abandoned stirrups

For home keeping

The girl with the golden hair

Meticulously lives to rules

Even the most trivial ones

Sworn in the springtime of life

The paean of love

Melded

Rock and sand

Every which way to

Ramble as one beachhead around the globe

The girl with the golden hair

Matriarch of the family

Treasures moments of service

To others near and far

Puzzles over oblique words

Or pictures

To marvel in nature

Methodically organised as

Botanical wonders and tendered anew

The girl with the golden hair

PDQ senescent

Weaves knits crochets

Us together as one

The sewing mistress

Of unity

Is well capable of

Measuring the blessed

Ingredients of the evening light.

One point five

Ref. Clinicadvisor.com
Cough
Cough, cough,
Is it your throat? Or
Have you caught a viral load?
Rasped by a thousand vibrating files
The vile Bastards of the sloyd shop
Whose job it is to smooth dry surfaces
Saw back and forth in unison
Attacking your ruby larynx
Until soothed by a nameless elixir
You gag and rest upon The Test
To await the day
The text arrives to say
You have what -
Is but a common cold
Cough, cough,

In relief you wash your
Well washed hands.
And praise the advice -
Keep one point five metres
Apart and stay safe.

Distinguishing Marks


Distinguishing marks were recorded on the admission forms of all enlisting soldiers in WW1. Herbert Laurence Nicholson , my future father-in-law, was seventeen when he was discharged from the Australian Army, when after 158 days of service, it was accepted he was under age for war service. His records show he had some moles on his forehead. Anyone wanting to find him could start by searching for these marks even in a crowd of 1,000 men.

Marks and scars on our face, or other regions occur, or not, on our life’s journey. We slip or fall. We cut or scratch an area on our body and our unblemished skin is marked. I have a litany of like marks myself each with its own story of how it got there.

The first I remember is a scar on my stomach. It was boldly won. I will have to take you back to when I was nine. My playground was the acres of public land dad managed as curator at the Camperdown Botanical Gardens. I spent my free time in this idyllic place whereas other children got to visit perhaps only once a year.

Most often these visits occurred before Christmas. Nearly every church group, and nearly every rural school in a fifteen mile radius booked a visit with dad so they could reserve one of picnic shelters for their annual party. When they arrived by car, truck, or utility many more people alighted from the vehicles than they were registered to carry. (Imagine the fuss today if people were transported, standing up, in the tray of a utility). They came like this in their Sunday best clothing because not every family owned a car.

Prior to their visit Dad had a busy week preparing for them. One thing he did was roughly cut the grass on a flat area they used as a running track. On this day they would have novelty events: the egg and spoon race,and the Siamese race (couples would race each other with left and right legs alternately tied together – you might know the race as a three legged race, but this was before political correctness). Another race people looked forward to was the women’s race. These women kicked off their high heels, tucked their wide skirts or dresses into their underwear and ran 50 yards as fast as they could.

The novelty was women generally did not run any where. They did not have exercise wear. Sneakers hadn’t even been invented. (Perhaps they might have played netball or tennis before they married – however few ever played sport after marriage.)

I used to look forward to the flat races. I liked watching them and became more excited the nearer the next race was for boys in my age group. I didn’t know the people, yet I fell in with them because it was a picnic and because they were generous. I would line up for a drink of their raspberry cordial and eat their Dixie ice cream. And when it came time for the race for nine year old boys I was by their sides.

The starter called go, and I ran. (Perhaps this was the fourth picnic I had muscled in on that year so I ran as fast as I could and I crossed the line first). I won. Unlike the sports events of today the line was actual. On this day it was a thin rope. I hit the line. One of the judges let go the rope, the other kept hold of it. I kept running and the rope ran across my lower stomach. It burned me as I ran and today I have a very faded scar on my skin under (my now large) belly.

That is how I got one of my distinguishing marks. I have a couple of others caused by carelessness. One on my left ankle is a reminder of a very painful scolding I received when I pulled a boiling kettle off the stove and the water ran into my shoe, pooling in the sock I had rolled around my ankle. The worst part of this came from the medical treatment I was given. Every day for weeks I had to visit a surgery and watch the nurse peel back the growing new skin and dress it. The pain has dulled but the memory has not.

I don’t intend to tell of all my careless injuries but as I write I recall it was an injury that gave me the opportunity to meet Sir Dallas Brookes the Governor of Victoria, I was a young scout. Scouts were frequently chosen to officially open the regal vehicle when it visited town, on the day he was due to arrive I could not stand because I had run across a cattle pit a few days beforehand and misstepped.

(Johnson’s lived opposite us. To keep out wandering cattle and to save the time of opening a gate, Mr Johnson had a cattle pit made at his roadway entrance. He had a deep hole made across his driveway, over this he had used some old rail lines to keep animals out of his garden. These were placed in rows across the hole 6 inches apart. People could step across, one to another, but cattle could not. If they put their foot on the rail it would slip off. Over the ages they had learned not to cross these obstacles. I had walked across it several times yet on that fateful evening I learned never to run across damp rail lines. As I ran my left leg slipped off a rail and I tumbled over leaving my leg caught in the grid. The deep wound on my left shin deserved stiches. Instead it was bound up in an old sheet torn into bandage strips to heal at my leisure).

When the Governor stepped out of his car to meet the dignitaries of the town I was sitting on a chair in pride of place. As Governor he was the titular leader of the scout movement, and given this role, he took a moment to shake my hand and exchange a word or two with me. It was an insignificant moment to him – but I was filled with pride.

Pride is my chosen word to describe another distinguishing mark we have. It is unseen and it not incautious to write it is dangerous. It is no wonder the truism, Pride comes before a fall, finds a place in our language. Take, for example the most recent example of the meaning of this, here in Australia we are all a-chatter. This week we read at least one of seven of the judges of the Australian High Court has been accused of sexual harassment. Although he denies it, the court has accepted the changes six women have accused of him and apologised. He has not.

To reach the lofty bench of the High Court, and be the last arbiter of right and wrong in the country, is to reach the dizzying heights of distinction. Yet it seems that distinction was insufficient to ground the man with the humility of decency. Fortunately the Me too movement is able to right the wrongs of any misogynistic people in our midst.

I acknowledge decency is a very thin veneer. I have my own scars certainly, yet it is with thanks I appreciate the times my family and friends have grounded me. I will ever be ashamed of those marks you cannot see. If it must be known – even to myself – I am unwilling to acknowledge my every distinguishing feature,


Let the final word on this matter be from a woman.

“The prolonged slavery of women is the darkest page in human history.”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

American suffragist, social activist

Inshore Lady

Author supplied images

Yesterday, Roger and I had a dress rehearsal for our first dry sail of Inshore Lady. Her companion, Micro Scoot, has been fishing already and proved she is a good tender vehicle. She too has a Spritsail as opposed to the Gaff Sail the plans call for.

The larger sail may make for better sailing but we figure the Spritsail will be a safer boat for our grandchildren to manage. Principally this is because it does not need a boom. (Many sailors will tell how they have been hit on the head by the boom as a yacht tacked starboard to port, or vice versa. Maybe they will not tell you – few admit a mistake of this kind.)

I have some minor finishing to do and our chilly winter water is uninviting so she will remain indoors for a while yet. However she is ready for a dip.

Roger made the sail from a small tarp as the designer John Bell suggests. This is a useful repurpose of the fabric.

In case my use of sail names is confusing the photo below is of a model we made beforehand. The sail is a gaff sail. It has a boom. The boom holds the sail firmly – just above the head of the sailor – and when the boat changes direction (tacks) the boom swings across the boat to catch the wind as it turns.

Repost: Sunday Book Review – Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl – #Memoir, Nonfiction

Sunday Book Review – Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl – #Memoir, Nonfiction

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2020/06/15/sunday-book-review-mans-search-for-meaning-by-viktor-e-frankl-memoir-nonfiction/
— Read on smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2020/06/15/sunday-book-review-mans-search-for-meaning-by-viktor-e-frankl-memoir-nonfiction/

I am sharing this review because of my previous reference to the work of Frankl.

The answer to the question.

WordPress blogs have lots to read from authors worldwide.

My Box Brownie could do that.

Photo EBay

Talk of

Artificial Intelligence

Prompted me to read


The programmer

Obviously pressed a button

That spat out art


The work emerged

By … mathematical formula

Was named Le Comte de Belamy


Auctioneer Criristies

Listed it among the works of fifty famous artists

Proclaiming the work as new


Based as it was

On 1,500 scanned portraits

Of actual works by paint masters


Nicolas Laugero-Lasserre

Purchaser proclaimed it

“grotesque and amazing at the same time.”


Estimated to sell

As it cost time to produce

At ten thousand


It sold

With one in the room and one on the phone

In twenty eighteen


It’s Obvious

Pierre Fautrel, Gauthier Vernier, and Hugo Caselles-Dupré.

And GAN are names to watch


After all

They trousered

Four hundred and thirty-two thousand


Just think

If my little Box Brownie had taken colour prints

Before A.I. ………………My art could have made me rich.

AI was used to replicate poetry at last year’s poetry day (21 March 2019.) The photo below is one of five poems generated by artificial Intelligence to be read that day. Here is Various Weathers.

Co Plaith.com

Cash is King


I have a friend who has a dollar note, sitting in a frame on his wall.

When asked. “

Why do you keep this note?”

His answer is, “It was part of my first ever pay packet.”


My experience with money has been different. For a start the first money I saw as coming from my job, as opposed to payment I received in exchange for my time helping out as I grew up, was given to me – or so it seemed. My first payment wasn’t even cash. It was a paper cheque with my name on it. As payment it was practically useless because I couldn’t buy anything with it until I had paid it into a bank account.

I was handed my cheque on a Thursday morning. The nearest bank was about 2 kilometres from the college I attended. The bank would be closed by the time I finished lectures if I did not rush off to the bank at lunchtime. So, at lunch time I scarpered off to the bank. And so did my class mates. (All accept John who always had a £10 note (our largest note at that time). John got so used to flashing his £10 note – only to be told – “It’s too big for me to cash luv. Have you got anything smaller?” He made money out of having too much. When going to a dance – it might have cost 2/3d to gain entry – he would say, “ I have only got £10 can you pay for me?”)

I chose the Commonwealth bank in Moorabool St Geelong as my bank because it was the nearest bank I knew of in this new city. (To start an account today you have to provide a list of items that certify you are who you are.) I had none of those hassles. I had the cheque. I knew my name – possibly I had my driver’s licence. Within a few minutes all my money was in the bank. But I needed some of that money to buy the things I needed for the next 14 days. How much?

I had no idea. (My accommodation and my food was paid. It formed part of the allowance I was paid, but it was never shown as a separate amount. My cheque was for approximately £11. 4. 6p ((I am only certain of the £s I was paid a fortnight after expenses.))

How much. I didn’t need much. I didn’t drink. I had no transport costs to pay. I didn’t have to pay for utilities. Perhaps I could go to the cinema, treat myself to a coffee, buy other treats.

“ I will need £2.”

So I withdrew £2 in cash. (Within a year or so the banks insisted the cheque clear – at least 3 working days – before I got access to the money the government paid me to learn.)

I left the bank with a bank passport in my name. It showed how much I deposited and another entry showed how much I had withdrawn. The final column showed how much money I had in the bank. Any money I had, apart from the cash in hand was always in the bank. Once I had spent my £2 if I wanted more I could only get more going back to the bank between 9 am and 3pm on a Monday to Friday (excluding holidays). What a pain that became.

I have always hated carrying cash around. Yet if anything was needed the only way to buy it was to have cash at hand. If I wanted to go home (I didn’t) I needed cash to buy a train ticket. I attended church. To give to the service of the church I needed cash. Fortunately I was well, but if I needed a visit to the doctor, or dentist I had to have cash with me. The money in the bank didn’t count because unless you planned beforehand how much you might need you couldn’t get access to it after banking hours.

So I soon discovered the benefit of having a personal cheque account of my own. This meant people would trust your signature scratched on a piece of paper was worth what you said it was.

Cash was needed to go to a dance, or pay for a meal, but visits to the doctor, or dentist – when you were unsure how much they charged could be paid by cheque. Providing you had sufficient credit in your bank account. Sometimes you would read about a person who had deceived another by passing a worthless cheque to them. You would read stories like that in the newspaper yet it possibly happened only once to me – if it happened at all.

The truth is no one but a crook would pass a worthless cheque because no one used credit to buy things. They used their own money, or they borrowed money from their bank – knowing they would have to pay it back £ by £ each month as the agreement stated. Or they did as most people did and they went without until they could buy what they wanted for cash.

In 1966 Australia adopted a whole new currency. In time we got used to handling our new cash. In 1969 the banks introduced instant credit. Anyone could go to their bank and the bank would give them a Bankcard with up to $500 of credit. We didn’t because we were accustomed to paying by cash,or cheque, for the things we wanted.

The banks were on to a good thing. They continued to profit from Bankcard until Visa Card and MasterCard took over their business. Interest rates on credit cards rise, even in these days of near zero interest charges. Pay day lending, and other forms of instant credit, are available almost everywhere. People are addicted to credit.


The Covid 19 crises has now almost killed cash. Many stores now require people to use plastic cards to pay for their purchases. People with cash complain their money is legal tender and must be accepted as fair exchange, but in fact the stores have the upper hand. It turns out – so long as they display their terms of trade – they need only accept electronic forms of payment. The purchaser cannot insist they accept cash. Go figure.


That chap with the first $1 he saved now finds we have moved from paper$1 . As if nothing will ever change. It does. Cash is no longer king.

Morpheus


Fifty-eight years ago I bought Mortheus. (It would be a neater tale if this was the sixtieth year but I have no control when these stories emerge from my subconscious mind). The original Morpheus was the son of the mythical Greek God Hypnos – the god of dreams. Like the drug morphine – driving him induced a dreamy slowness. Hence the name I gave him was obviously relevant as he was a sleepy Ford.

It was fifty-eight years ago, in 1962, when I walked into Ansett Motors in Hamilton and asked if I could take a test drive in the old banger they had on their second hand car yard advertised for sale at £80. The 1950 Ford Prefect was painted in a slow green colour – lighter than the colour used in the attachment. This colour meant it was camouflaged wherever it went. This green machine was the fast back model. (Most Australian motorists preferred the model with the short boot.)

The car was higher that it was wide. It was blessed with a tiny motor to drive its rear wheels from a three speed manual great box. (As only my brother-in-law Bill Woods could say, “it couldn’t pull the skin off a custard.” In fact it was more like a green box with wheels than a sleek motor. Yet he was mine. (He was the first car I owned outright. And according to the registration papers, he came with, I was the third owner.)

Ford boasted the post war Prefect had a top speed of 60 mph. I preferred to dive it at 35 mph (just under 60 kph – oh on the odd occasion I might have forced it to race along at 80 kph. ) I never drove it any faster than this even, in top gear, I was fearful it would break. The good news for me was, I rarely had to slow to the 30 mph speed limit in built-up-areas when driving.

Like many cars its age it was mechanically basic. For instance when driving at night one had to go to the back of the car, and pull on the taillight switch – to turn the single tail light on. When it came time to park the car, it meant one had to take the return trip, and push in the button to switch off the light. All too frequently I left the taillight blazing and when I returned the battery was too flat to turn the starter motor. Fortunately the car came with a crank handle one turned by hand. (The motor compression was so poor it was not too hard to crank it a couple of times to get it going. It only became a nuisance if I left the light on the whole weekend and I drained the battery.)

The car also had very poor headlights. This meant it was hard to see the edge of road on low beam. Reflectors and blinkers had not made their way to cars of this age. Some cars had a car radio but Morpheus was not into that sort of thing. No heater. No seat belts. No electric windows. No GPS. Nothing but a very basic set of wheels.

Common to all driving back then, one used hand signals to indicate a change in direction, or to stop. To do this you wound down the driver’s window and popped your arm into the traffic in all weather and signalled your intention. (The car had little arms fitted to each front door column so it was possible to indicate a directional change without doing this – but they were illegal to use here in Australia. They were of no use when you planned to stop and therefore you still had to indicate whenever you stopped so I suppose the reason these little wings were illegal made sense.)

I did have trouble with the narrow body of the tall car in the first couple of weeks I owned it. I was driving on a corrugated gravel road in some forested area and the car was hard to control so I gently slowed. The car was still bucking about on the rough road when I came to a sharp bend. The car started around the bend and then it fell over. I was on a road I didn’t know in a forest and the car was on its side. I climbed out, unhurt, and lifted it back on its four wheels.

The car seemed undamaged except for a dent on the rear top corner of the body that I latter attacked with a hammer to attempt to straighten it out. I didn’t, but I lived with the damage while ever I kept the car. After the weekend I took it back to Ansett Motors . They diagnosed the front end had worn bearings and the front wheels acted independently on the rough road. (Today it would not have passed the safety check required in a road worthy test. Therefore no fault of theirs was accepted and I paid for the refurbishment of the bearings.) After that experience the car drove well on gravel, however I was aware the car was top heavy and too narrow to ever turn too sharply.

As if driving a car until it flipped on its side was bad – I found the windscreen wipers on this car it’s worst feature. Rain was a constant companion on the western district roads that first winter. Unless I was cruising along on a straight stretch of road the windscreen wipers could not keep up with the rain. (All cars had to wait some time before they had multi speed wipers). In the Ford Prefect they were one speed -except and until – the vacuum pump that drove them ran out of vacuum as it did when accelerating. So if you had to change up the gear range and accelerate the vacuum driven wipers slowed, or they stopped until vacuum built up in the exhaust system again.

Fortunately I was smart enough to get a girlfriend. Jennie was her name. With her help I never had wiper trouble. If they began to slow down she reached under the dashboard and grabbed hold of the wiper linkage and moved her hand back and forth under the dashboard and maintained the rhythm. In time I thought she needed some recognition and I found the right thing.

Next time Roy Lewis, a salesman of millinery products visited her family – as he often did. (His sideline was to on-sell the cigarette allowance the company gave him as part payment, to family members at a discount to the retail price. He sold so much I doubt they were all part of his salary package) Among the feathery treasures Roy carried he had a case of imitation birds. (Difficult to describe a fake cotton wool bird as a bird – sufficient to say they were lifelike.)

I got one for Jen and fixed it to the dashboard just in front of where she would sit. I called it Evol much to the dislike of Aunt Gertrude, but Jennie and I shared the meaning hidden in the name Evol as an innocent joke.

The thrift of my Scottish blood determined my choice of Morpheus because I couldn’t afford anything better and it was cheap to run. The car, at its peak, would drive thirty-five miles to a gallon of fuel. I drove her a long way in the months I had her without the trouble previously mentioned.

I think we were better organised in those days. If we wanted fuel we had to buy it before 5pm Monday to Friday, or on Saturday mornings. All other times if you ran out of fuel it was your bad luck. The only exception I can think of when maverick businessman Ian Sykes started his own petroleum company. XL petroleum. ( in my haste to complete this article I cannot find a easy reference to his company) XL had an after hours automatic bowser on Highway 1, just west of Colac. Here you could buy petrol in 2 shilling amounts. One gallon of fuel was around 3 shillings in 1964.

Morpheus was my other companion for the next eight months or so until I upgraded to a 1956 Hillman Minx.