The Grey Currawong

Photo Geoff Park WordPress


The Grey Currawong

Cementing the reason the holy scriptures

Say hungry birds need not plant or harvest

Despite knowing them as such efficient killers

We reason they are not your everyday evangelists

From my front car seat and – putting to the proof

I paused and marvelled at the beauty of the smoky plumed bird

Ignoring me as it stood proudly on the corduroy rolled iron roof

Like an impatient smorgasbord diner – mark my word

It twisted and speared its beak under the ridge cap

To sample the delicacy presented gracelessly in situ

Savouring the food – tossing it around in its widening gap

Before devouring the arachnids meal – hidden hitherto

Unaware it demonstrated the killer’s act of slaughter

It hopped on two legs over the roof ridge out of sight

The presence of this bird explains the absence of twitter

Or buzz in our garden – trees, shrubs – so quiet

I G Y

Author supplied photograph

During the Cold War over seventy nations put their political differences aside and planned a series of eleven major scientific studies of the globe in 1957/58. Those eighteen months were called the International Geophysical Year. From that Australian scientists played a major role in the advancements of knowledge of the globe. Specifically our work was perhaps more successful than the six nations that joined with us to study Antartica. The success was due in a large part to our foreign affairs department. It agreed for our scientists to set up bases in the country in the years before to trial equipment and materials. In those years our scientists were able to refine their knowledge to work in such an inhospitable region. (Post that period other countries have perhaps fared better.)

I have several reasons for retelling this story. The first is it is a reminder of Vic. ( I don’t remember his full name) but he was a young fellow Rev George Mutten mentored. The young man was an infrequent visitor to the vicarage and I met him only a handful of times. George took pride in saying he had spent time at Antartica during the IGY. I learned he was tragically killed a short while later in a car accident on a notorious bend in the Stoney Risers. His leader in the year he spent at Casey Base was Dr Phillip Law.

Phillip Law was a very respected Australian who made academic contributions to the growth of this country. He was born in 1912 ( a year before my mother). His is the second reason I recall this time. He led an interesting life, that has been documented in at least six books – including three autobiographies. The few pararagaphs I give to him relate to his adventures in Antartica. Where he first visited in 1949.

Law was born in Tallangatta. He grew up in Hamilton and went to the Ballarat Teachers College. He taught at secondary schools in Hamilton, Geelong and Melbourne Boys High School before he gained an MSc in Physics at Melbourne University. During WW11 he was involved with war projects at the University. ( I had my own time working in some of the same localities but that is as far as the similarities go.)

After the war Law gave up his secure job at the University and was appointed leader of ANARE (Australian National Antarctic Research Exhibition) by the Department of External Affairs. He was the leader in charge of bases at Macquarie Island and Antartica from 1949. He held that position until 1977 by which time he had personally led exhibitions to Antartica twenty three times.

Consequently he was leader in the years of planing leading up to the International Geophysical Year.

The learnings that came from the eleven major studies of the globe in those eighteen months have had a profound influence of our understanding of the universe. For instance, in the years leading to the study period America announced it would launch a satellite into space. The intensity of achievement was ramped up to such an extent America was beaten in the space race. They did not launch their rocket until the USSR had startled the world with Sputnik one , in 1957,, and Sputnik two. In all, over seventy countries had tens of scientists study the globe in wonderful cooperation.

If there is a good sign we are prepared to listen to scientists. It is now. This the first time in three generations science, and the word of scientists are being sought out.

Which brings me to another reason for tapping away at this screen and recording my thoughts. Some years from now people will ask those living today, what was Covid 19 like? What did you do?

I am not a diarist but here are some thoughts on the matter. The most astonishing thing is the virus quickly developed across the globe in three months. The lives of most people have been turned upside down. Millions of people are sick with a disease for which there is no cure. As a result thousands have lost their lives. Millions that were employed one day are unemployed the next. All over the world people have been affected. For example, our Government realised our hospital system was inadequate to manage an influx of desperately ill people, and its usual workload as well. so all but the most urgent operations were cancelled to free up hospital beds.

Initially one of the obvious signs was, the messages were confused, and people panicked. Supermarket shelves were emptied of basic necessities. People sought out information on self management skills that were almost forgotten: How to cook bread, How to grow vegetables, How to husband poultry. They did these things because they were unsure the state would be able to look after them. The government loosened spending and made available unparalleled government aid. Much of this aid was directed at business in the hope that life would “spring back” to normal when the initial panic subsided.

Now here we are three months down the track. Business people are arguing commerce will never recover unless the chains of lockdown are loosened. Immediately forgetting of course there is no cure. The Advance Australia group and the IPA are applying pressure on the Morrison government to lift the Lockdown and get back to business

This new pandemic age is certain to provide scope for dozens of future PHDs to study how it should have been approached, as every day we hear new reasons for and against social distancing. President Trump says America is not supposed to be closed to business at a time when many of his people are dropping dead like flies. He has also withdrawn funding from the World Health Organisation to take attention away from his own inadequacies

The truth is business is not going to bounce back as some businesses may never recover. Today Virgin Air excused itself from stock trading while the debt burdened company looks for a white knight to bail them out of trouble. Failing that aide it is just one of many.businesses unlikely to live on.

The evidence each country is fighting Covid 19 in its own way has made life more uncertain. Government’s around the world are making knee jerk responses to this hidden deadly threat. Many health officers are reporting progress is being made in treating it while they struggle behind the scenes to make beds and ventilators available for their sick.

It is not as if administrators were unaware a pandemic threatened mankind. In recent years we have had several near misses with SARS, and Ebola, but is the madness of mankind not to worry about future threats until we have to deal with them. Right now we can see the foolishness of this behaviour. Yet we procrastinate soothed by the words of business lobbyists.

How have we denied the warnings about global warming from similar learned people is beyond comprehension. This is yet another reason for speaking out. In my mouselike way my words are silenced except for recording , “What is happening is not happening in my name”. Perhaps it his is more difficult until one has lived through many awful life events and observed it hasn’t always been so easy. My hope remains world leaders will put aside the nonsense industry people spread and instruct their scientists to advise them.

My last point is contentious. I want billionaires to donate all but their pocket money to science. If I pick just one I will start with Bill Gates. I cannot decide whether he is a saint or sinner. His charities do such a lot of good yet the question remains, was his wealth legitimate from the beginning? Leaving that question aside.

I want him to abandon the idea that big business will help agriculture and global food supply. I think water and soil and seed, that isn’t owned by business, and organic fertiliser, again unowned by business, is all farmers need to produce food locally. Food has been produced that way forever. Monoculture is not good for the planet. If you are unsure of this get the scientists of the world to study food production with no thought of patents and licences. Just do it for the hell of it like was done in the IGY back in 1957/58.

Here is an interview with a very old Phillip Law. (He was 97 when he died)

https://www.science.org.au/learning/general-audience/history/interviews-australian-scientists/dr-phillip-law-1912-2010

Nonet

Author supplied

Lockdown and a certain age of folk

Ensues it is safer indoors.

The sun shines over the yard arm

The whisky bottle’s empty.

Get another one.

No luck. Humbug!

Pandemic

The trap.

Blah!


These are words. They do not represent my thoughts at this terrible time. The only way they do is it is hard to understand the mind set of the people rushing liquor outlets and gun shops now they have emptied grocery stores of food.

My thoughts are with those who have lost their jobs due to enforced business shut downs. They are also with the families grieving loved ones lost to Covid 19. I am grateful to all the responders and all those still turning the wheels of society. Thank you. Stay safe everyone.


Passion Fruit

Image courtesy Author


Passion Fruit

We are in mid autumn and the passion fruit is flowering as if it was spring time.

As far as I am concerned this it great, but I am prepared to be disappointed as the days get colder as the fruit might not fully ripen. We have two grafted Nellie Kelly variety plants growing over our rainwater tank on a rustic trellis I have constructed.

In spring we has a fabulous display of flowers. Traditionally our spring days are just below twenty degrees and summer average is perhaps twenty three. In the summer just past the passion vine had lots of fruit as summer approached. As this was the second season I was excited at how prolific the crop looked and then we had a day of 40 degrees and the fruit cooked on the vine.

When the temperature was nearing its peak I thought of cooling it down but changed my mind when I thought it might actually make it worse for the plant. It was even hotter on the second day and third day. A heatwave of days in a row of excessively hot days is unusual in early summer. Last year it ensured the crop was lost.

In January we had another couple of very hot days and this plant drank all the water I could give it just to stay alive. The old fruit turned black as it is supposed to when it is ripe. For a day or so it looked lush but when I cut a sample fruit it was hollow inside. Since then I have watched each week as the fruit on the vine shrank into smaller and smaller crumpled black dots among the green leaves. The fruit that grew after those hot days was sparse but now we have a new unseasonal feast growing on the plant.

Nellie Kellie is reminding me not to give up on her. In a week or so I will give her a pre-winter feed of pelletised fertiliser as a reward for perseverance over the dreadful summer and the late flowering she is exciting me with now.

The other fruit that struggled at the beginning of summer was the raspberry. Our spring was chillier than usual. The bees struggled to find a time in the day when they felt comfortable leaving their hive. Consequently many of the plants relying on bees were left un-pollinated. The raspberry was one such plant so we had no early fruit.

In February we had the first regular rainfall for months and the plants have responded beautifully. Throughout March we have had regular picking from our small clump of raspberries. What a treat is is to pick from our garden. When a fruit is picked fresh from the plant the taste is extraordinarily special. The quantity is relatively unimportant as our fruiterer sells excellent produce to top up what we need.

In the days before supermarkets we had specialist shops that sold: fruit, meat, bread, fish and groceries. Each shopkeeper was a specialist in his field. If one wanted apples, mangoes and grapes likely as not you were unable to buy them on the same day. What these specialists did was stock only what was in season. For instance, the summer fruit started with fruit with pips like plumbs and cherries. When they were finished we bought apricots and nectarines. Peaches, pears and apples came into the shops in the following months.

Long before these shops proliferated people grew their own fruit and vegetables in kitchen gardens. At least they did where I grew up. Each of the big estates like Renny Hill had excellent kitchen gardens. It had had a well cultivated garden of about one acre. But by the time I got to haunt the property it had become over- grown. The fruit trees almost made a continuous canopy over the area that once grew patches of potatoes, leeks, lettuce, or whatever.

The orchard included fruit trees once considered exotic. Persimmons, medlars, crab apples and cumquats grew among the vegetables. My favourite was the fig tree. At the time I first knew the garden it must have been sixty or seventy years old. It had wide spreading limbs like the chestnut, and the walnut, but twice a year without fail it produced the most succulent fruit. The tree had so much fruit there was enough on it for the family, their friends, and the possums.

I so loved the sweet fruit I remember picking it straight from the tree as we played under it. As a result I have often planted one in the gardens we have created. My latest little back yard has not got much space but I am training a fig to grow along the fence. Currently the young tree has about half a dozen figs. I know I have too few at present to share them with my neighbours and I have no intention at all to share them with the possums, so I am protecting them, and checking on them every day.

Prologue.

Image Author

The old photos you find in a box in the attic might be rubbish. You will only know if you take a look. You know what I mean I hope. The fuzzy black and white ones, the faded colour ones, came from long ago. The machinery you see in them seems unbelievable, yet it was as new as fresh paint when the photographer took the picture. The same can be said about the people. The clothes they wore, and the hair styles are different to yours. So much so everything looks old.

In another place you might find a book with old photos stuck to the pages. That is how people kept in touch with their past before the digital age. (You might have to look up the meaning of the digital age – things seem to change so fast). At first it might seem hard to see anything you recognise in the scenes, for example, if there is a photograph of your house – take it outside and compare the scene with your surroundings today, it is likely as not much will appear the same..

The children you see in the photographs grew up. Luckily most of them lived long lives. You know that because the photo of that girl “Grace”, that boy “Albert” are the same people we can see in this thirtieth birthday snap, see Grace here, and the old fellow with the walking stick is Albert. We know that because his name is on the reverse. (The names in your photos will be different. The challenge is to find their names, it might be fun).

This could become a little history game. You could try and guess what work they did just by looking at your photos. That would become a sociology game. You can learn some science, or some geography just from photos. If you take this far enough you can learn about obsolescence and how Kodak, the name most people used to capture their photos, died in capitalism’s nirvana.

My writing is like that box of old photos. Some ideas are stuck together. In other essays the point of the story is lost. I am hoping you might find a glint of something before it is trashed.

She wrests rusty orb

Forgotten in lost concepts

Detected treasures


I am gathering some of my writing into a book to be released in 2021. I imagine the readers of my book are as yet unborn. Here is my proposed prologue. The reason for writing the prologue is to explain Cassandra’s prophecies are minute, like diamonds..

Sunday drivers

Photo 1947 film. The egg and I

A trip to Clifton Springs is usually just a short dash along the highway. Today though it was hot, and all the Sunday drivers seemed lost, or unwilling to get a move on. All they could do was tootle along – one foot poised over the brake pedal – ready to stop in case road workers were actually at work. Too often, in the rush to finish work on Friday, signs – warning construction is underway – are left in-situ instead of being locked away at the end of the last shift. What happened today was an example of worker laxity. Unnecessarily signs were left out. This is just another reason to avoid the people who timidly drive one day in the week.

Fire warnings today

Sunlit dried silver grass lies flat

No snowflakes in sight


Basho haibun poem. ( saekaeru) Definitely not celebrating a return to icy weather, but what can you write on this topic at the beginning of autumn? A paragraph of prose, finished with a haiku with a hint of the same theme.


Perhaps you will pause and comment. I will thank you.

For Frank Tassone’s haikai challenge.

https://www.blenza.com/linkies/links.php?owner=fjtassone2&postid=15Feb2020&meme=12860

Take a seat.


Image courtesy SMT

Living with good genes you visit your doctor only to replace the medications he has prescribed for daily use, when you have run out. You trust your GP – the pills prescribed; will reduce your cholesterol, replace the hormones your absent thyroid cannot produce, or lower your blood pressure. The proof all is well is revealed with a regular blood pressure check – 120/73 at 59 heart beats a minute. Excellent result. Even for a person a quarter of your age. It is all you need to hear before you exchange pleasantries and leave to go about your daily business.

With no comprehension of Greys Anatomy, or understanding of pharmacology, you trust the diagnosis your GP advises. Even he may not decide your the treatment for every ailment from a conversation. Most likely your GP will order blood tests to confirm the diagnosis gleaned from careful questioning. She may recommend you visit a specialist before ever a diagnosis is reached.

Not every visit is conducted with such routine rhythm – but you hear things.

Today your primary carer will reserve opinion until all channels are exhausted. This is as good – as it is bad. Specialisation can become misleading unless the specialist keeps a clear mind – the whole person needs treatment, and not just a specific disease found in part of the body.

The life of the doctor is most certainly fraught. This is especially so in this Internet age. Lots of people visit a doctor after first making inquiry of Dr Google. Your friends are often more knowing (not knowledgeable) than the doctor, and hypochondria is very common among those friends who make weekly visits with yet another complaint.

This is not to condemn them. How one feels can be misleading. Too often an acquaintance has died because they ignored symptoms other people acknowledged. One person says “I feel this,” The other says nothing. The first has a diagnosis, a treatment, a short, or a long painful – convalesce, and they are cured. The second, dies, or worse – is given a prognosis and dies shortly afterwards. The difference in their lives is sometimes a matter of how they think of the medical profession.

Currently the conversation is about pain. The press is full of the dangers of opioid and other drugs prescribed for pain. Codeine, Fentanyl, OxyContin form part of the list of products which pain sufferers are very familiar. Word has it that these drugs can be habit forming, just as morphine – first discovered in 1803, is known to be.

Tragically many lives have been lost by sufferers of long term pain. Their treatment caused them to become addicted to their treatment. In time the drug becomes more necessary to them than the pain it was prescribed to aid. It has reached a stage of alarm across the developed world.

The level of pain individuals can accommodate varies from person to person. The truth is few men would be able to live with the pain of child birth. It remains one life’s mysteries how women naturally live through confinement. But not all pain is equal.

From my own experience I have learned how easy it could be to slip into addiction. Many decades ago I visited Dr Bill Davies, (the doctor that was present at the birth of out children). On this occasion I had to wait for a long time outside his rooms. Every minute I waited the second hand of the clock scraped against its body on its journey and it screeched at the five o’clock mark. “Screech screech”.

I do not remember why I had made the appointment, just the noise the clock made every sixty seconds. perhaps I talked about to him about my jumpy legs. (My wife will tell of how I kick her nightly as I am going off to sleep. I have done this for years). Anyway, when I got to see him I said I couldn’t live with such an irritating clock. He looked quizzically at me and wrote out a prescription. This I took to the chemist, and in time I started taking Valium.

The prescription had five repeats. After about the third I mentioned I was taking diazepam, and the listener said it was addictive. Instead of taking pills I should read Dr Ainsley Meares 1968 book, Relief without drugs. I did. However I had a strong feeling of wanting something despite knowing the drowsiness I felt from was caused by the Valium. So I read it again and practiced what it said.

Fortunately I persevered with the techniques recommended by the book and I stopped taking Valium before I fell into its grip. The technique explained in the book is now recommended as Mindfulness training by professional groups. This is not news to Buddhists of course. It is just one of the practical parts of their practice.

Another aspect of the “Relief without drugs” book is the knowledge it is possible to retrain the brain to think differently. Interestingly this is now a recommended pain relief action. This has lead to whole new field of pain management. One I am convinced I must turn to with renewed energy and retrain my brain for practical reasons.

One grapples with pain. When, like now, I have remained in one position too long. One winches with the odd ache before moving freely. The relative influence of pain comes and goes. The arthritis that was causing pain in my finger knuckles a few months ago is now so bad my right hand constantly aches. The truth is I am losing the use of my right hand because of pain. To the point I try to avoid using it. Past experience has taught me not to rely on medication for things you can set aside with training. My brain is being retrained not to complain about an aching hand.

My message from all this? What happens next is up to me.


What is said today about opioids

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/medication-treatments-led-to-80-percent-lower-risk-of-fatal-overdose-for-patients-with-opioid-use-disorder-than-medication-free-treatments-301011220.html


Dr Ainsley Meares was a Melbourne psychiatrist. He learned about pain and how injured soldiers reacted to it in WW11. The photo is of a memorial to him. Co SMT

I don’t mind if you pause before you leave and read some more, or you make a comment. Thank you for reading this.

Prompted response


My work is as scrambled as my brain according to Faerie. My written words are no different. This entry is prompted by “Almost” an article a new reader has posted on WordPress. I was prompted to write a response to him when I read this quote of his just after R visited. Here is his quote and my response to his article.

“The artist’s main goal is to create.

The craftsman wants a finished product”.

Cristian Mihal. Irevuo WordPress.

To “Almost” I responded.

This quote from your post explains to me why I have half finished projects everywhere and why I felt put out when a friend came over. He was in my shed and he found a piece of wood he had given me 2 years ago. I have almost finished carving a figurine but I reached that stage months ago and it lies unfinished. He said, It’s time to get out the Dremmel to get rid of these marks, as he rubbed at my chisel marks. I do have work to do certainly. Yet I want to show how the figure was made so the marks will stay.


The photo is of detail from my unfinished work.

Chip, chip. Please leave your mark before you leave, or stay to read more. Chip, chip.

The Refugee


The embarking passengers ran to the taxi rank and opened the door pausing just long enough to flick water from the rain soaked umbrella before they climbed into the cab. The driver, wearing a checked shirt embossed with the logo “13 cabs” on the collar asked, “Where to”? “Recital Centre Kavanagh Street South Melbourne”. The reply was sufficient information for the driver to perform a quick U -turn, taking advantage of the sudden break in the traffic. In the first two hundred metres the wheels bottomed out of every water filled pothole on the city road. Suddenly the female passenger cried, “Stop! I have lost Il Cannone Guarnerius. I thought you had it”, she wept to her male companion. “I have”, he calmly replied, as he flicked aside his overcoat and showed her the violin case resting on his lap. “That was close. Ok you can keep going”. The diver turned to her and asked, “When we get there can I play with you? You play? “First Violin in my homeland orchestra. I always have my Stradivarius with me, but since I came here as a refugee I have to drive this taxi”.


Image ref. Nanooze.com

No sound was made recording this scene. Tell me, what music best suits this scenario?

If you liked this piece then I hope you can find something else to like before you leave.