Germaine Greer is a legend in her own time, a leading feminist in the ‘burn the bra,’ era, yet Germaine has something to say about security.
“Security is when everything is settled, when nothing can happen to you; security is the denial of life.”
– Germaine Greer
If we think about those words, to live life we have to face risks. The trick is to balance that risk with practical common sense and find that happy medium between living and managing risk.
Recently I attended an Adventure Climbing Park. At my age, it is an unusual thing to do and I have not done it before. But it was now or never, I thought. Last Chance station. So I gave it a go.
The task was to climb trees, harnessed in for safety about 20 metres up a tall tree, and walk across progressively more difficult and wobbly bridges and ropes from platform to platform suspended high above the ground, with no exit until the end of the course.
I was keen yet I was terrified. Terrified of falling off the bridge and hanging in my harness mid-air 20 metres up, until some 20 something park attendant could rescue me. How he would rescue me, I did not know and that was even more terrifying! This single thought propelled me onwards when I doubted my ability to continue.
This task that I was so keen to undertake was way out of my usual comfort zone and was designed to test your physical strength and mental resilience. After several reasonably easy initial steps climbing nets that gradually took us higher and higher into the trees, I faced walking across a tightrope – still harnessed in.
This was a real challenge balancing and stepping carefully and I balked at it, thinking there was no way I could do it, but as there was no way down, I inched across sideways, little by little, hanging on to the harness for grim life, until I made it safely to the other side.
Over at The Sandy Chronicles, my Friendly Friday co-host Sandy has thrown out the challenge for me to participate in the themeRoad Trip. Not just with the usual written post, but with a custom video presentation via Canva.
So, I know a little about Canva, but I’ve only used the trial version. Ah! This was a challenge. However, with a little bit of time invested, I have pulled it off, I hope.
Thanks Sandy for stretching my IT skills a little wider!
Unlike a lot of Europe, dogs are not welcome at all eating venues around Australia. The select ones that do welcome dogs, were so few a decade ago that I started a social media group to identify and share information about their location. It now has almost 9000 members. That is a lot of folks wanting to take their doggy with them to eat/have coffee.
Mostly the allocated dog friendly space at an Australian Dog Friendly Cafe is outdoors, without a fixed roof, if the venue is serving any kind of food. I do understand that dogs are unpredictable and can bark or become a nuisance. If this is the sort of dog you have, you probably would hang out at a park instead of a cafe.
Bearing this in mind, it was with much excitement that I attended Dalgety Public House located on the riverside fringe of the CBD. Not only did this Gastropub welcome dogs, they offered wide range of events, lunchs dinners, and weekend breakfasts. The meal we had was scrumptious and the Barista was a talented coffee artist who decorated our coffee crema with our own pet or animal of choice.
Here is some of her creations. Guess which one is my pup?
Getting engaged six months before a Covid pandemic begins was always going to get complicated.
Choosing a wedding date back then, (before Covid), seemed so simple, as long as this particular engaged couple gave both sets of parents enough notice to organise travel to Australia, from their home in Malaysia.
Perhaps it isn’t widely known that Australia has had a pro-active policy of shutting borders to most overseas visitors since early in the pandemic and because of this, my dear friend’s wedding had to be postponed. The Bride was an only child and rightfully couldn’t bear the thought of getting married without her parents seeing it happening irl.
A twelve-month postponement of the wedding seemed reasonable in early 2020, but as we know, Covid has a longer lifespan than anyone thought. Going ahead with a wedding in 2021, meant neither of the couple’s parent would likely be able to attend.
Sad and courageous, but a wise decision was made to get married as this couple had wanted long enough to start their life as husband and wife together. They love each other, right?
Fast forward to three weeks before the wedding date.
We had hen’s and buck’s nights, dinners out with friends, life was resuming normality and then, suddenly, another problem!
Two weeks before the proposed wedding day, our state authority imposed a snap Covid lockdown. The virus was loose in the community! Medical staff treating Covid patients in quarantine had inadvertently transmitted the UK variant of the virus to our community. It was out there.
Gatherings of any type including weddings were instantly restricted to 10 people. Oops!!! Ten people at a wedding? Not fun when you have paid and prepared for 80 +.
Queenslanders and the wedding couple went into panic mode.
One of the medical staff in question had even attended my local restaurant, the local Sunday markets and the hardware store during the virus incubation period for Covid 19. News of this raised an alarm at the Home by the Sea, as the Moth’s second home is the same hardware store!
Frantically checking the contact tracing information on the Government website and liberal splashings of same across social media, we determined the Moth was at the same location, but four hours after the infected man attended.
Folks living outside Australia and New Zealand might find this concern ridiculous, given the level of Covid infections they deal with every day. Here, two community cases caused societal pandemonium.
We saw protests of lockdown measures, many others complaining stores should remain open or unhappy to wear masks; some were irate at shoppers at the supermarket spotted wearing mask pulled down with nose protruding.
Within minutes of the lockdown announcement being broadcast on media channels, toilet paper, paper towel, disinfectant, rice and pasta disappeared from store shelves and queues were a mile long at the supermarket checkouts. It was crazy.
After a very tense week which was by then, less than one week out from the wedding date, we all breathed a sigh of relief when gatherings over 30 people were once again permitted to resume and non-essential shops could re-open. The Wedding could go ahead!
A huge sigh of relief.
The wedding ceremony was a beautiful and very happy ceremony to remember, even with us all wearing masks and or socially distancing for most of the night.
Both sets of parents of the bridal couple connected via Zoom and Skype thereby being able to witness the ceremony and reception. Other guests connected from Canada and South Africa. A truly international affair.
“So I woke up and my beautiful Schnauzer pup is laying on the back patio covered in dirt with a rabbit in his mouth. The rabbit’s not bloody, just dirty. My neighbor’s kids raise blue ribbon rabbits. I instantly knew it was one of theirs. 😢
I took the rabbit away from my dog, rushed inside, and brushed all the dirt off it before my neighbors could come home. It was stiff but I heard some animals play dead when they are afraid, but I couldn’t remember which ones.
I quickly took it and placed it back in one of the cages in their back yard then I ZOOMED back home. (Don’t judge me 😒)
Not 30 minutes later, I heard my neighbour screaming like she’s seen a ghost, so I go out and innocently ask them what’s wrong?
They tell me their rabbit died three days ago and they buried it, but now it’s back in the cage.” 😳
Found on social media, this was not my story. It just might be a work of fiction, or an old joke, but I wouldn’t put it past a Schnauzer to go after a rabbit!
Apparently this very thing DID happen with another Schnauzer, their owner and a guinea pig. I am giving this author, (Kathy W.), the benefit of the doubt, but it is April Fools Day, isn’t it?
Not many folks have pet rabbits in Australia. Keeping them is illegal and there are fines unless you have a special permit. Without a natural predator to control numbers, introduced Rabbits decimated Australia’s bush in the early 20th century reaching plague proportions and thus were banned.
It is legal to keep the following variety, and give them to your Schnauzer!
I never thought I’d be confirming an urban myth – that kangaroos hop down Australian streets.
Australia’s a first world country, (with a few exceptions), with over 22 million occupants, clustered in a few sprawling metropolises hugging the east coast. Noone still believes kangaroos hop along our city streets, do they?
It seems I was wrong.
Walking the dog around our new Home by the Sea, yesterday, I wasn’t quick enough to snag a photo of the Eastern Grey Male Kangaroo hopping down this street between the rows of newly built homes.
(I did get a video of the sweet creature, as you will see below).
What he hoped to find to eat along the street, I wasn’t sure. Kangaroos eat a range of grasses, herbs and shrubs. Perhaps Mrs Baldry’s lavender was to his liking?
The roo was headed in the wrong direction for grass, so I tried to shoo it back towards the Eco Corridor and wetland areas to the west and away from the traffic as you will see in the following video.
(Hopefully the embedded video works. Let me know if you can’t see it or it says unsupported which can happen on mobile phones).
Kangaroo in the Suburbs
We all know that rain can make the grass grow, while you are watching it. During rains, the water that runs off from the road surface collects in the verges along the edge of the streets and roads, resulting in a flush of lush, green grassy growth. Grass that many Australian herbivorous animals enjoy eating. Especially Kangaroos, wallabies and wombats.
I think you can guess what happens when they feed on these verges, after rain. Roadkill stats rise, not just in the wake of floodwaters ravaging their habitat, but also the lush growth that entices the animals out towards the roadside verges to feed.
Then this happened on my way home yesterday. Apologies for the poor quality of the dashcam footage.
Sliding Kangaroos on a Wet Road
There might just be another explanation for the sliding kangaroos, which from my perspective appear unhurt by the incident and hop away okay.
As I discovered, reading an ABC article, kangaroos can become slightly drunk or disorientated on eating too much lush new grass, (which we have plenty of at the moment), and especially so, if a particular form of pasture grass has been consumed.
This can be known as Philaris poisioning syndrome, making kangaroos disoriented, clumsy and loose balance. Which is fairly critical when jumping if you are a roo!
Michelle Mead, from Central Victoria’s Wildlife Rescue and Information Network, said the ailing kangaroos resembled someone who was under the influence of alcohol. The wildlife worker said the animals were indeed intoxicated and that it was likely a type of grass that was to blame. Known as phalaris or bulbous-canary grass, the introduced plant species is a common pasture crop grown to feed livestock.
The syndrome was more common in areas with limestone soils, which contained less cobalt than basalt soils, Dr Rendell said. Dr Rendell said Phalaris staggers were also more common when lush grass growth occurred, because animals digested less soil, and therefore less cobalt, in those areas.
Kangaroos have all kinds of fascinating physical adaptations for existing in dry country, including suspending pregnancies and foetal growth in drier weather, inducing them to coincide with the grass growth after rainfall, as well as methods for keeping themselves cool in intense heat.
They are not usually active in the middle of the day, conserving their energy. Seeing them jump around at 1pm on some idle Tuesday was unsual.
For several years, Australia has languished under extreme drought and water was severely rationed; last year we experienced bushfires on an epic scale that decimated the countryside. A year later, extreme rainfall and flooding on a Noah’s Ark scale!
This is the Australian climate.
Six months of rain fell in just one day and a half. Even by Australian standards, this is severe.
10 million Australians currently under a weather warning as two major systems collide.There have been hundreds of rescues and thousands across the state have faced evacuation orders as huge downfalls have caused rivers to overflow in recent days.The BOM said every mainland state and territory except Western Australia is impacted by the weather event.
Streets in Brisbane city regularly go under with each and every summer storm, and housing close to riverfronts may be picturesque in the drier times, but remain extremely vulnerable in summer rains and excessive rainfall, such as we are experiencing now.
This is my former local shopping centre car park. Cars floated away with the water.
In the country, the land is extremely low and flat. The floodplain for a river can be a kilometre or more wide. So there will be problems. Emergency services are busy.
Around 15,000 people have been evacuated on the Mid North Coast
3,000 people evacuated in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley region
Up to 38 regions have been declared natural disaster areas
Severe weather warnings issued for southern and western Queensland
Heavy rainfall is expected to continue
The equivalent of all the water contained in Sydney Harbour is pouring out the country’s rivers each day.
Luckily, we are safe, good rainfall is welcome, for the minute, because all too soon it will be dry again, Very dry.
Further south, particularly in New South Wales, they are in trouble. Big trouble. There are landslips, severed flooding and roads have been cut. Communities have been declared disaster zones and are isolated by floodwater. Farm animals left to fend for themselves as people have no alternative but to leave their homes.
Event the insects are evacuating seeking higher ground.
Another one in 100 year event, is a term I am hearing on an all too regular basis.
Yet another indication of the effects of climate change. Our planet needs help again.
Sometimes, Australian Slang causes problems. Every Aussie uses it. When you’re born here, the meaning of those strange, shortened words are absorbed by osmosis. We are hardly even cognizant we’re saying them. We assume everyone understands what we mean.
However, being so different to standard English words, the Australian Vernacular makes it difficult for non-native English speakers to understand, especially for those whose exposure to English has only been within the classroom, or via TV sit-coms. The full meaning of slang is often lost.
Mail Order Brides in Australia
Before the days of Tinder and dating agencies becoming mainstream, older single or widowed Aussie men might meet a prospective wife via a newspaper ad and through letters from The Philippines. Mail Order Brides wasn’t a nice social practice, but this story is not so much about that issue, as it is about the language barrier where slang is concerned.
The Moth’s (Man of the House), elderly Aunt had been divorced from her husband, Bob for some time, even though he still attended family gatherings. As Bob aged, he longed for company, so no one was particularly surprised when a delightful older lady, named Mary, accepted his offer to leave the Philippines, marry him and live in Australia.
Australia Day Family Barbeque
One Australia Day, Mary and Bob attended a family barbeque not far from their new home. Most of the farmers in the area were also extended family members, so Bob introduced his new wife to the family and also to country hospitality: ie barbeque food: meat, sausages, pavlova and loads of Beer. Very traditional, if you are Australian.
A few hours later, it was clear to all that Mary’s new husband had consumed far too many beers to drive either of them home.
Lost in Translation
As Mary was impatient to leave, she started walking home along the long, dusty road, herself. As she went to leave, an approaching car pulled over. Leaning out the car window, a neighbouring farmer shouted:
“Where ya headed, luv?”
“I go home,” Mary answered, eyes a little downcast. Guessing she was the newcomer who lived at least a half hour’s walk away, the old farmer flashed a big grin and said:
“Come with me, luv. I’ll run you over.”
Terrified, with eyes as big as saucers, Mary turned around and dashed back to her husband’s side, crying,
“I not want to die. He kill me.”
Aghast and confused, Bob stuttered, “Steady on, luvie ….Whad, whadya mean?“
Christmas has been and gone and with it the traditionally festive dessert of choice in Australia, (with its warm weather), the humble ‘Pavlova.’ This ubiquitous dessert really needs no introduction and not wishing to trigger my New Zealand counterparts, I won’t mention its origins, but will note the recipe has Australian variations!
Discussions around this dessert led to a four way cooking challenge which I will explain further in the post.
My take on the Traditional Pavlova Recipe, is mainly decorative but it works well to add to the festive appearance for a special occasion or to spoil a family member.
Still piled high with a delicious marshmallow centre and surrounded by the crunchy meringue shell that we all know and love, this pavlova is topped high with seasonal fruits, whipped cream, or custard as well as cream, (depending on your cholesterol level).
As Pavlova is generally Gluten-free, (omit the cornflour), you can serve this to sensitive tummies as well! Just check the chocolate you use is gluten-free too, if you have Coeliac guests.
Topping of seasonal fruits: eg. cherries, mangoes, raspberries or kiwifruit
N.B. Undecorated pavlova can be made several days ahead; store in an airtight container, prior to decoration.
Method – Making a Chocolate Dome
Spray a 12″ or 28cm plastic or pyrex bowl lightly with oil and place in the freezer. Melt chocolate on low heat on the stove in a double boiler or in the microwave if you prefer.
Remove the bowl from the freezer and pour in half of the melted chocolate. Rotate the bowl to cover as much of the inside surface as possible, using a pastry brush to push the chocolate out to the rim. Place back in the freezer for 15 minutes.
To finish the chocolate dome, use a pastry brush to brush remaining melted chocolate over existing layer, ensuring any thin areas are touched up. Place back in the freezer for 15 minutes or until set.
Remove the bowl from the freezer. Trim the chocolate on the lip of the bowl to create an even base line and then gently rotate and tap the sides of the bowl to release the dome with a rolling pin. Run a knife along the sides of the bowl to release the dome slightly. Once chocolate comes away from the edge on all sides of the bowl the dome is ready.
3. Meanwhile, top the pavlova with cream and decorate with mango slices, cherries and raspberries. Carefully cover finished pavlova with the chocolate dome. Serve immediately.
Tip: use a wooden rolling pin or similar utensil to “smash” the chocolate casing when serving and prior to slicing.
Sometimes a word or two can spark an outrage or can offer comfort. Other times words might even be prophetic.
Unfortunately, it seems the later is the case. I write about Australia’s Covid-free bubble and cautioned that weshouldn’t become too complacent and forget hygiene measures.
At New Year’s Eve, I noticed people were fast getting a too cocky with life, resuming normal practices like hugging and kissing, even though there were still a few isolated Covid cases in a few states, including ours. All cases were in hotel quarantine and out of public access, until now. Then:
New Covid Outbreak in Queensland, Australia
A cleaner in hotel quarantine has come down with the highly infectious UK strain of the virus. The cleaner was catching public transport for a week prior to detection.
The region is now in lockdown from 6pm tonight and masks are mandatory. [You might remember I was prevented from wearing masks, last year in my workplace].
The announcement came at 8.30 am today, but at 8.20 am people were already out and about panic buying.
Toilet paper supplies, I suspect.
The lockdown is only until Monday morning, but they suspect it could last a week.
Has the public forgotten shops were once closed all weekend? Are we not able to survive more than one day without shopping? Are toilet paper supplies that thin? (Excuse the pun).
One Covid case; (no new cases today) and wholesale chaos reigns at the stores. Think of the UK – or other states and countries that have been in lockdown for months.
The hotel staff in the quarantine hotels, are now going to be tested daily. I wonder why this wasn’t previously instituted?
So much for social distancing, I thought. Notwithstanding our relative safety here in Australia, we are still in the midst of a global pandemic.
We’re allowed to attend social events again and in my state in Australia, we’re even permitted to sing, (something not all states, are allowed to do as yet).
How fortunate are we? Believe me, I do not take this for granted.
Apart from providing our contact details at all venues, society here has, by and large resumed to B.C. levels, [i.e. – before Covid]. Just in time for all that Christmas and New Year’s Eve revelry.
Until now, people were still hesitant to get close to one another. Would social distancing and clean hygiene practices be ditched for the sake of socializing and enjoyment in 2020, now a vaccine was on the horizon?
Being one of the unlucky ones with a respiratory system prone to serious illness, I was more than happy to continue to ‘elbow pump’ people, in the greeting that Covid made fashionable, until the ends of time. Hugging friends had become a thing of the past for me.
The 2020 pandemic, as well as my recent retirement, has meant that I’ve escaped the annual torture of suffering with each year’s strain of ‘Influenza’, as well as various bugs and infections that are an occupational hazard of working, as I did, with young children. 2020 was, for me, far healthier than previous years.
In fact, I’ve not seen a Doctor all year. Yay for me!
Fast forward to this year’s New Years Eve. Much of Australian society is back to normal, except for bans on large gatherings, as in city fireworks displays. *[Mind you, I still can’t fathom why Cricket and football matches in stadiums are exempt from this ban. Is there an invisible force field that protects sports spectators from the pandemic?]
My plan for celebrating 2020 NYE at the Home by the Sea, involved attending a Karaoke Dinner at a local restaurant, with around 8 of my neighbours and friends. Dutifully, all of us scanned in our particulars, using the QR code on the table, upon arrival, for the purposes of contact tracing should anyone come down with the dreaded ‘Corona’ virus. We then looked forward to an evening of singing, good food and company. And it was indeed a fun night.
Yet, my heart did skip a beat as the waiter removed our individual plates after the first course, stating that the rest of the seven courses, would be served from disposable paper boats. Therefore, we should hang on to our cutlery, for the duration of the evening. Share plates of cheese and crackers and dessert had my hygiene radar twerking mildly, as did my wonderment at our used knives and forks scattered ominously across the table between courses.
Was I being a little paranoid about germs?
Singing into the Karaoke microphone, shared with 30 or so other drunken folk, was not encouraging for hygiene either. I couldn’t find a disinfectant wipe for the mic, anywhere on site, although there was plenty of hand sanitiser at the bar, which was well utilised. After my allotted drink or two, I relaxed, as did many others and begun to really enjoy the evening.
Abba, Shania Twain, Queen and Pink tunes were an absolute hoot to sing and really got everyone joining in with gusto. It was as if the floodgates of pent-up social energy had opened, energy they’d been harbouring for much of 2020.
Around Midnight, whilst our table was chinking glasses at a socially approved distance, a recent acquaintance I knew sitting at an adjacent table walked straight over to me, hugged me and without any warning landed a big sloppy, slightly drunken kiss, on my cheek.
“Eek! What if she has Covid?” was my very first thought.
To say the kiss felt strange, was an understatement. Something quite natural a year ago, now felt like a personal violation!
To put this into context, I haven’t kissed anyone other the ‘Moth‘, since the pandemic began! The legacy of Covid means I’ve not even kissed my elderly parents and now, this felt so – weird and wrong! Quickly noticing my shell-shocked response, the lady did offer a swift and heartfelt apology. But the damage was already done. A day later, I had my head perched over the toilet bowl/bucket, throwing up. The usual New Year’s Eve ‘Gastro’ Virus had found me. For many years, it appears regular as clockwork, in that first week of January after the New Year’s Eve parties. Was it the kiss, the unsanitised microphone, or just coincidence? Surely not the alcohol?
The silver lining, I could say was this 24 hour ‘wog,’ helped me lose some of those extra pounds I’d gained over Christmas. However, the dynamics of physical contact with friends has now completely changed in society.
Now recovered and back at the keyboard, I pondered the events as they unfolded. More worrying for me than getting a mild case of ‘gastro,’ was that folks are so quick to abandon safe hygiene practices and social distancingin the name of fun.
As far as the pandemic goes, we are not out of the woods in Australia, yet.
It was almost a perfect summer’s day. That interlude of lazy days between Christmas and New Year.
The waves gently caressing the shore and the tourists out on stand-up paddleboards, kayaks or paddle boats. The number of pink inflatable ponies bobbing around in the water adorned with small children, an indication of what was on sale at the retail stores prior to Christmas. It was idyllic.
The Moth broke the comfy serenity by saying:
“This looks just like that scene from Jaws.”
Only of course, thankfully there was no shark reeking havoc amongst the bathers. But it did bring to mind what many friends from overseas have told me. They live in fear of a shark attack if they go swimming in Australia. Some refuse to even paddle in the shallows for this reason.
Yet if truth be told, you are much more likely to drown than be attacked by a shark in Australian waters. You only have to watch a few episodes of Bondi Rescue if you don’t believe me.
On average, 87 people drown at Australian beaches each year, (SLSA 2010), yet there have been, on average, only 1.1 fatalities per year from shark attack over the past two decades. It is clear that the risk of being bitten or dying from an unprovoked shark attack in Australia remains extremely low.
Shark attacks, in Australia, has been well documented since colonial times and the number of reported attacks during the 20th century seem to fluctuate in line with changing patterns of water-based recreational activities, (such as swimming, surfing and sailboarding), public awareness and shark netting operations.
We will never completely eliminate shark attacks, unless the species most likely to attack humans in Australian waters: ie.the White, Tiger and Bull sharks disappear from our waters. Extinction of animal species is never a preferred option.