Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Who is in charge?

Worried about Trump? Don't be. He's not really in charge. You'd think though that the good citizens of the USA would have made sure such a tyrant was not elected. But that's what you get for living in a real-life episode of The Truman Show.

It's quite like a giant car wreck isn't it? Two weeks ago the world was as it should be and now we have the carrot top signing executive orders and berating members of the press and sacking officials. Imagine working for him. I've seen people in offices behave like him, but on a smaller scale.

Behaviour like his leaves people dumbfounded. The victims are incredulous that anyone with such a personality can get to any level of managing others and disbelieving that someone can actually wake up in the morning, look at themselves in the mirror and declare that they will go out and wreak havoc on people who are actually there trying to work with them.

I'm not sure how this is going to end, but there will be carnage and broken bodies and minds left strewn in ruins, like the contents of a giant pinata. Only this is not a lolly folly. It's the future of the world.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Does it bring me joy, Part 2

The culling continues. It has shifted from the material objects to the human. I've just unfriended a whole bunch of people on FB. I doubt any of them will care.

Why do we make electronic connections with people we knew in person years ago? Is it to feel a part of something, a group that exists now only in the wisps of oxygen and carbon dioxide, but not in real life like it may have once upon a time. If you have nothing but a few FB posts a year in common, you really do not need to be "friends", because you are not.

The youngest began her Year 11 adventure today. For the first time in her life she can WALK TO SCHOOL. She needs a computer and it should have been bought weeks ago but it wasn't so we did the trawl to the fruit shop and the mega store (neither of which had what she wanted, the fruit store had s**t customer service, the mega store tried to help) and then I remembered the other megastore. We arrived late in the day, flustered, tired, in need of a solution.

Chris helped us. He was so pumped about helping us that I bought a laptop for the youngest and a printer for home and a little thing that is now required for laptops and USBs to talk to each other. It was all over within about 15 minutes. Given that we had previously expended two hours of precious energy on a 38-degree-Celsius day on trying to buy what we eventually bought, it was a good outcome. But where the hell is customer service?

I help out in a friend's shop and my motto is the "the customer is always right". My job is to help people spend money, so I will engage in conversation, advise them on products and listen to their stories. I expect the same service, but it is not always forthcoming.

We're almost one month in to 2017. Trump is outrageous and we should be in fear.

PS: The printer has ink tanks. None of this cartridge business. One printer company has listened to customer complaints. Well done.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

All by myself

The youngest teenager has been at the beach for the past few nights and the oldest teenager is back at work so it's me and the cat at home.

I don't mind spending time by myself, I've been doing a fair bit of it lately. But in the interests of human interaction I thought it best if I left the premises today and went to the mart of the 11th letter and bought some stuff. At least I could have an inane conversation with the checkout person about the weather.

But no. There is no checkout person. The store is entirely "self serve". On this same outing I filled up the car with petrol and the only exchange with the checkout person was to confirm the number of the bowser I had used.

What has happened to us? All the jobs that used to exist have been automated, we have to do the tasks ourselves and there is no or little human interaction.

Australia has some real social problems developing yet we have senior politicians telling people to move to the regions if they want to buy a house. I grew up in the regions and they are farked for services and employment opportunities. I live in Australia's capital city and it's farked for anyone over 50 looking for a job. Trust me.

I saw on Twitter today that there were still tickets to the Women's Final at the Australian Open which is currently being  played  dragged out on the telly. The international tennis press wondered why there were still tickets available on the afternoon of the match. I checked, tickets were priced from $199.00.

Who has a spare $199, whoever is playing in the final? The rich and the employed do and the pollies probably get their tickets donated by a rich benefactor because they always talk business at sporting events don't they?

As the workforce shrinks, people are confined to quarters and have little money to participate in events that require an admittance fee. In the past few years I have attended sporting and musical performances that can be counted on one hand, because there is no excess income to buy tickets. Food and shelter come first.

And as for Trump. Someone seriously needs to pull that man aside and tell him he is acting like a despot. I bet our PM won't in his morning phone call tomorrow. If he had any balls he would.

Friday, January 27, 2017

It's so hot, I blame Trump

This summer has been too hot. It's over 30 degrees every day and this weekend we're going for gold with 36 tomorrow and I think 39 on Monday.

I've been at home in front of a fan for most of the week but I had some chores to attend to today. Amazing how much running around you have to do for two teenagers when they are not even home.

I also took the opportunity to get a few items of clothing on sale. Buying clothes is incredibly difficult. Everything is made for short people. I suppose it saves on the cost of fabric.

I succumbed last week and bought a pant that is about 3/4 length. I've always thought it looks as though my clothes shrank, but these are nice and I wore them today.

I felt sick when I got home. It could have been a case of Trumpitis but I lay down under a fan and felt better after a while. It's the heat. It's unrelenting.

Oh for a house near a beach and a southerly most afternoons.

Thursday, January 26, 2017


Happy Straya Day Mate. It would be unAustralian not to drink this beer, so I'm drinking it. Hopefully it will reduce my core temperature a few degrees.

I have mixed feelings about Australia Day. It was never "celebrated" when I was a youngster and the date changed so that the "day" fell on the Monday allowing for a public holiday. The Bicentennial fervour in 1988 sparked something and before we knew it, supermarkets were selling cheap "Aussie" merch and everyone was expected to wrap themselves in a Lamington cape and have a barbie.

It marks the day the First Fleet set foot on this land. It marked the start of the brutalisation of the Indigenous people and it's no wonder there are calls for "Australia Day" to be celebrated on any other day but this one.

My Grandmother spoke of her ancestors who arrived on the First and Third Fleets and I really must do some research and find out about them. She never said much because in her lifetime it was not cool to have had convict ancestors. Now, of course, it's great, mate.

Lucky I didn't need to have anyone around me today because I've been at home all day, sorting out my fabric stash. For those of you who do not quilt, a fabric stash is a most important requirement. There are a few rules. You may use any or all of your stash, but you must keep adding to it.

Mine was stored in plastic boxes and I'm sick of the sight of them, so I've sorted by colour and placed them all in "project bags". The reconfiguration of the house is continuing but it is so damned hot, I've stopped for today.

Old Mate, in case you are wondering, is the name we give everyone who is a dickhead. It's nicer than calling people "dickhead". The beer, Old Mate, is made by Moon Dog Craft Brewery and is a delicious Pale Ale, so the brewers obviously have a different interpretation of "Old Mate" than this family.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

This is me

This is me, at half the age I am now. What a stunner I was. What a stunner I still am. The nice man at the house of Dan this evening swiped five bottles of wine and gave me the sixth for free, because he was so dazzled and kept wanting to talk, even though there was a queue. He was quite nice, I may have to go back there. If only for the wine ...

The house rearrangement is coming along tickety-boo and is how I found this photograph of the young me. 

I've figured out in my head where everything is moving to, it's just a matter of making it happen. I took myself off to the Swedish house today to get more storage boxes, but these are for the sheets and towels. This house has no linen cupboard and there is a certain amount of linen you need to have so that your house actually functions, so the linen has a new home (instead of being piled up here and there) and the fabric stash will be moved from the "sewing room".

My Marrickville days, with so many beautiful nationalities living side by side, taught me that a huge house clean before the Chinese New Year is a good thing. No one built any walls there to keep people out. It was more like open the gates and let everyone in. Isn't the DJT presidency turning into a fustercluck early? The wall!

Bring on the Year of the Rooster. Previous Rooster years for me have centred around school and work and beginnings. That makes sense. I'm about to begin a whole new phase of my life. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Does it bring you joy?

It's been hard sometimes to know what brings me joy over the upheavals of recent years but I am now well on the way to my new life and a big part of this means decluttering.

A couple of my neighbours have the minimalist furnishing style down pat and I'm inspired every time I visit.

In the past few months many books and items of clothing have been donated to charity. There is more to go but now I'm at the pointy end of the house witchery. Three rooms are having a total makeover and that means furniture has to go. The "sewing room" is reverting to its proper role as a bedroom, but this means all the stuff that has been piled up in there has to either find a new place or go, and much of it will go. The fabric stash will remain, but old paintings and books and a whole load of stuff are going.

Trying to find somewhere to donate furniture is proving difficult but the Universe will deliver a solution, the way it always does.

As part of the reconfiguration I moved the piano today. My beautiful piano that sits neglected because I think I'm not a good enough player. It's stupid because if I played more, I'd be a better piano player.

Anyway, it was stinking hot, again, and I sweated about 10L of sweat so a beer from my favourite brewer was just reward for a fair effort. See, Canberra isn't all politicians and bluster. There's beer as well. And a beer on a hot day is a joyful thing.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Two steps forward, 100 steps back

The great state of New South Wales has a new Premier, Gladys Berejiklian. Go Gladys. A woman Premier, the second in NSW.

We all gain something when another crack appears in the glass dome.

And then we go to the supermarket to stock up on food and drink and possibly a lunchbox as I am going to "school" this year.

These lunchboxes were clearly marked so the wrong gender did not get confused over which was the appropriate choice.

I may have bought the "girl" bag if had been more pinkly.


Sunday, January 22, 2017


David Rowe, Australian Financial Review

I thought, for about five minutes, about marching in the local event yesterday. Then I thought surely in 2017 women do not need to march to highlight basic human rights? Haven't we come a long way since the days when women were paid less and didn't have access to birth control and had to stay in a terrible relationship because they had nowhere else to go or no means of support?

So I blithely drove off to see the sea and returned home to watch tennis. Then today I saw the amazing turnout in many cities, but most particularly in Washington DC and Los Angeles. Because women do not have the same basic human rights as men and a man who has been elected as President of the United States is probably going to take away some of what they have.

In recent months I have met two women who are trailblazers for women in the ADF. They are the "firsts" in their fields and I am stunned by their achievements. I'm also impressed with the young men who work with them and treat them as equals. So yes, there are still opportunities for firsts, but we should not be regressing 100 years.

Donald Trump campaigned to make America great again and I think he may have done so on his second day. His visit to CIA HQ and the press briefing conducted by Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary and Communications Director, on the size of President's penis inauguration crowd were sights to behold. Trump casually throwing it out there in front of a memorial wall to CIA agents who had given their lives in service to their country that the US may well go to war in Iraq and then Spicer's blatant lies about the size of the crowd to the White House Press Corps. Enough disinformation to feed the frenzy of "fake news" so they will be quoted by supporters/media/and others for a few hours or days.

What a fiasco the US and the World has got itself into. How did someone like DJT become president? People watch reality TV and think they have real power. You have to admire him for having the smarts to take advantage of the times and get himself elected to power as if he was still hosting The Apprentice but it leaves all of us poorer on a social and political level.

In Australia, there are a few politicians who think if they jump on the Trump bandwagon they will win the highest office in various states or nationally.

That's a really simplistic reaction to what has turned out to be a very poor government with Malcolm Turnbull in the role of PM. Picking on the sick and poor is never a good way to take the population with you.

We are all members of what should be a civil society but sometimes stuff happens that makes you question that.

Maybe the world needed Trump. Maybe we all need to collectively get off our bums and be involved in the democratic process, at least those of us lucky enough to live in a democracy, apart from showing up and voting. Couldn't hurt.

During the working-with-politicians phase a few years ago I would tell as many people as possible how they could effectively engage with policy and parliament. Everything from petitions to writing to local MPs and Senators to making submissions to parliamentary inquiries. I was surprised how many people were unaware of these opportunities. But I guess you have little dissent if you don't invite it.

I used to have my political views on FB as "stand and be counted". Let's do this.

Yes we can.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Inauguration Day

All over the Internet people have been losing their shit over Donald Trump becoming the 45th President of the USA.

Today, I wore my Presidential shirt, which has now lived through three Presidents, and went for a long drive to see the sea.

We are currently reorganising the house and I needed to get away for a few hours to plan the next week's activities and work out a timetable of removing, moving and replacing. I even happened to find an art gallery by the sea to visit.

The sea was angry today, roiling and smashing and keeping most sensible people on the sand. Maybe it felt like it had been Trumped.

I've signed up to the Obama Foundation and Barack sent me an email today. It really is going to be OK. Trump is an old man, his ideas are old. There are plenty of people to hold him to account. We were all going to die of a nuclear holocaust in the 1980s and it didn't happen. I don't think it will happen now. I think many people will be terrified and upset and angry, but if my shirt can outlive three presidential incumbents, there's hope for the world.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The 45th President

Overnight (Australian time) Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America.

Whatever happens in the US is reported in Australia endlessly, breathlessly, sometimes with thought. I thought Donald Trump would win the election, for many reasons. Some of them included that he was a reality TV star and any nation that can make Kim K a "star" for doing nothing but appearing in sex tapes and posting nude selfies and marrying Kanye, deserves to have someone like Trump as president.

So they will and the rest of the world will watch in a wave of horror, incredulity, anger and disbelief.

We all need to adopt coping mechanisms to get us through the next four years. One of mine is a subscription to Alien Side Boob, by the amazing John Birmingham. For less than the price of a coffee, JB draws together terrible thoughts and smart retorts and pulls the scab off the political week.

He has a lot of material to work with.

There are two emails a week. He's writing about our leaders. Here's an extract for you:

The imperial bellends who actually reign over you did much worse things this week than pathetically bigging up their sixth degree of separation from Baron von Clownstick. They moved to widen the search for people who didn’t owe them any money from the mentally handicapped and unemployed to the nation’s millions of pensioners. Why? Because those greedy old fuckers have been living the honkey rich life on the premium tins of dog food and store brand colostomy bags at Aldi while our poor and hungry fucking trough monsters in Canberra have had to travel business class to each other’s wedding and polo orgies.
Business class!

Go here:  https://gumroad.com/l/aliensideboob

I don't subscribe to much but I think this will get me through the Conflagration of Trump.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Flat packs

We have a plan this year to transform the house and it involves donating a number of furniture items (if I can find a worthy and willing charity) and reorganising the rooms.

With study on the agenda for both of us, Miss B and I needed new desks. Funny how "kitchen" tables are sturdier and way cheaper than desks. We also decided to get a shelving unit to place between the desks.

Almost everything comes in flat-packs these days and the shelves took Miss B a few hours to assemble.

She is organised and methodical and all she required was sustenance. Certain people I know measure self-assembly of flat-pack furniture in the number of "f" words that are muttered/shouted. None of that for us.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A day of milestones

Mother would have been 84 today, if she hadn't died at the age of 59. It's such a long time ago. I marked the occasion with a swim in the ocean at a most beautiful bay on the South Coast of NSW. I shall not tell you its name as one of the locals was mightily peeved that there were five other people in the water. Nobody normally comes here, she told us.

We had a beautiful swim until we saw two bluebottles and then Miss B and I hightailed it out of the water.

Way back in time I was stung by a bluebottle when we lived at Byron Bay. Those were the days when the lifesavers would "treat" the sting with wet sand. Years later I was stung at Newcastle and the "treatment" had advanced to vinegar.

The NSW Ambulance Service now has some sensible advice and putting sand or vinegar on the site of the sting are forbidden. Probably because thousands of Aussie kids proved that neither treatment worked.

Back to Mother. She hated that the Granville Train Disaster happened at all and especially on her birthday, but she was quite OK with sharing her day with Paul Keating.

Oh and on this day in 2003 the children and I were in Canberra when the bushfires struck. Being new to town I had no idea what I was supposed to do to be safe, the local ABC radio took hours to broadcast emergency information and the other half was out of town to cover a different bushfire.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

There is a beach

One of the joys of my life are some truly wonderful people who are my friends. One of them has a little place by the beach.

Apart from having the perfect ocean dip I gathered pictures and inspiration for my upcoming studies.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Rice paper rolls and other adventures

Today I deposited seven large bags of clothing, scarves and handbags to my local Anglicare shop. I took to the wardrobe with a vengeance, cleared the clothes pegs near the front door and scooped up all the clothes Miss B had culled.

Minimalism and me have not been friends, or even neighbours, but recently there has been an overwhelming urge to declutter, remove stuff, have spare space.

Why do we hold on to things that are no longer needed, clothes that are no longer worn? I haven't been a big shopper in recent years but I have still managed to own too much stuff. There's some pretty good items amongst what we donated so I hope whoever buys it gets a bargain and enjoys their find.

The summer is hot and the flies are numerous. I do not like an inland summer. It has nothing to do with climate change, it has to do with growing up on the coast. I've never adjusted to the inland heat or cold. Funny how our bodies are programmed.

In view of the 33.9 C temperature at present, we had rice paper rolls tonight, with prawns, cucumber, carrot, rice noodles and hoisin sauce. So easy to prepare and no cooking required.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sun shines on a new day

Sunrise and I have not been speaking for a few weeks/months but this morning I needed to be up early and watched a new day dawn as someone quite special left on a plane to go back to work.

Planes and work have been quite the news item du jour, mostly because our rulers have been flying around the country, meeting with constituents, real estate agents, family members, job network suppliers, who knows who else...

A few years ago I worked for politicians and the travel was relentless. One week I went to four different cities in four days. By the time I got to the fourth city my credit card went into meltdown and I wasn't far behind. Another time it was four towns in one day. At the fourth I had to ask people in the room where I was, even though I had prepared the meeting briefs and had the itinerary in front of me. Wherever you went you had to be on high alert and attentive as the people who attended the meeting or dinner or breakfast or morning tea may never have met a politician and every vote counts. Years before that it was the same on a newspaper where our editor told us to be nice and help every caller as it may be the only time they ever called the newspaper, and however they were treated would be broadcast to the caller's friends and family. Every caller was a reader.

It is why my father, the Anglican minister, ministered to those who darkened the doors of the church and those who didn't. Everyone could do with some spiritual guidance, he believed.

It's hard to know who is attracted to politics and what motivates them. I would ask any politician I could why they were in Federal Parliament. The most common response was they wanted to "make a difference" for people. From what I saw, most of them did that or made a massive effort to do so, all the while seeing little of their families or their own bed.

The problem was and is the "entitlements" are open to wide interpretation. If you had to be at "A" why wouldn't you organise a meeting with "Z" to justify the travel? There was always a bulging folder of meeting requests and invitations relating to electorate or portfolio matters. It wasn't as if you had to invent a reason to go anywhere. Make the most of your 6 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours somewhere. That's the rules. And yes the rules may stink but you work with what you've got. Until the Government devises a program that appears to prey on the most vulnerable, with many thousands of people receiving letters from Centrelink questioning benefits that were paid, in some cases, up to six years ago. People are asked to produce pay slips and other evidence that what they told Centrelink initially was correct. This infers that most people are dishonest, which, and I have no scientific basis for this, but have been shown through decades of journalism and contact with thousands of people, they are not.

I've been decluttering my house over the past few months and there is so much crap and paperwork and clothes I never wear and other stuff that is sucking the oxygen out of me, that it is all going. I hope I never have to prove anything to anyone with a bit of paper because I will not have it.

As for those political types. I'm sure there is a PhD there for someone who wants to investigate if politics attract a certain personality type, or does being in the business of politics bring out certain behavioural characteristics.

From what I could see it was a fair dose of dog-eat-dog, bullying and threats. A bit like the three ladies in white on commercial television.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Mid Jan

Have had a real taste of summer this year with crazy hot days and wild winds and a few storms, but that is summer in Australia. Not sure why any of us are surprised.

It always gets hot in summer. It's Austraya. The inland summer is more severe than the coastal experience and I've never got used to it.

This evening it is pleasant to sit outside, inspecting the storm damage and having a drink and reading. There's a little girl who lives close and she has some friends over so they have all patted the cat, who wasn't so keen ...

Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday 13th

We had a black Friday this afternoon when the sky darkened and a storm hit and in five minutes a tree on the golf course fell over and a branch from another tree sheared off in front of my neighbour's door. Then the storm was over.

All that wind and fury caused a blackout that lasted for about three hours. I have no idea what caused the power to be lost but it doesn't take much for the power to go off here. I know that is a first world problem but it's 2017 and if the power supply is so fragile, imagine what could happen if someone nasty took control of it...like when the Internet dies or Trump becomes President of the USA...

Prior to the storm we had lunch with two of the gorgeous people, Simone and Ruby. So nice to catch up with such good friends.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A home by the beach

I'm not the biggest fan of where I live. Canberra is too hot in summer and too cold in winter. Most of my friends do not live here, although many visit, so that is good.

The dream that sustains me through it is living by the sea when it's time to leave here.

I have a look at coastal real estate from time to time and today I discovered that the house that was built to replace the dump we lived in at Byron Bay is for auction. We lived in The Bay, as it was known by the locals - none of this Byron nonsense - in the 1960s.

The older I get the more I yearn for the beach and the ocean.

Perfectly positioned in the centre of town, this substantial family home, formerly known as "The Rectory" offers the best of positions with potential.

Perhaps with some divine intervention I will be able to buy it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

In the blink of an eye

Four years ago the teenagers and I took possession of our new house. I would need three thousand hours to write about everything that has happened since then.

While we put our heads down and got on with things for most of that time, in recent months there has been occasion to reflect on exactly what happened and where we are headed.

The changes to family, life, every day, work have been beyond enormous. We've had a houseguest for the past few days and it has been a joy to have her here. This place is like our little sanctuary.

I was dealing with a multinational corporation today and the helper said she couldn't believe it was already the 11th of January and it was too scary that the year was going so fast.

Oh I love 2017, I told her, because it is not 2016. I don't think I've experienced a change of year like it. It was as if the door really did close on calendar year 2016, one of the most trying and difficult of my life.

Looking forward to the full moon and Friday 13th.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Truly, madly, deeply

I've taken up reading again. The past few months I have decided that I must read and so I have been. I started truly, madly, guilty by Liane Moriarty a few months ago and did not warm to it.

Yes, she is a New York Times bestseller and has sold more books than just about anyone, but surely it is OK to say, yeah, nah.

Anyway, today I sat down and thought I would re-read what I had read and see if things worked out.

I've read past where I was up to and I'm still intrigued so I guess it is working out.

Had a drink with my fabulous neighbour, for new year, new week, this year, whatever reason...love it, love him for being there ...

Monday, January 9, 2017

Art from the heart

Meryl Streep was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes today.

She made a great speech which ended this way: "As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once: 'Take your broken heart, and make it into art'."

Let me tell you, it works.

I read Zayn today. It was written by Zayn Malik who was a member of One Direction. He doesn't want to just be known as the person who left 1D and I'm sure he won't. We enjoy his Mind of Mine album, his first solo work since leaving the band, which is nothing like 1D.

He has anxiety issues and good on him for talking about it.

It's wonderful to see creative people produce exceptional work, whatever their age and wherever they are in their career.

That 9 to 5 business model sure doesn't work for everyone, does it?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

De Nile is a river in Egypt

Many years ago my mother saw a marble table in a shop during one of our visits to Sydney from our home on the North Coast of NSW. We were staying with her mother, who was the most judgemental mother in the history of time. My mother loved that table and wanted to buy it, but she didn't. She went back to her parents' house and told her mother about the table and how much she loved it, and her mother gave her every reason in the world not to buy it. We even went back to the shop a few days later but again her mother did everything she could to stop the purchase.

I always remember that. I was really young, younger than 10. My mother was upset about that incident for years. When her mother died many years later I asked her how she felt. "Relieved," was her response. (The table was one of many, many reasons).

At that moment I thought to myself that if I ever had children I didn't want that to be their response to my death. I want them to be able to say something like: she may have been a bit mad but we had a great time. And that is coming along nicely.

Then today I had a mother moment when I saw a handbag I really liked. I need a new handbag and have been looking for months and months. I've had a few interim cheapies over the years and a real/fake "brand name" and they are crap. But today I went past Oroton and they had a sale and it was 20% off the sale price ... and the bag I bought was 70% off its original price.

I've bought many handbags in my life but only three times have I bought quality (plus the beautiful leather briefcase I bought myself after my mother died).

Then when I got home I saw this on FB:

I'm not normally a big fan of positive affirmations made for the masses but I've been so bloody serious for so bloody long that today I appreciated the sentiment and I'm glad I bought the handbag. It's going to carry my essential stuff through what is going to be an extraordinary year.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Anti-vampire strategy

One of the joys of living in #CBR is leaving town, if only for a few hours as I did today.

I had to pick up Miss B from her seaside sojourn and on the way home we called in to the lovely town of Exeter.

I had no idea Exeter had markets until about 10 minutes before I left home today but had a feeling it did and Dr Google confirmed that they were on today. Great to use my psychic powers for shopping convenience ...

The Exeter market was quite the place to be with its selection of fresh food and produce, plants, home goods, bric-a-brac and clothing.

We got a thyme plant to replace the one that has mysteriously withered when all other herbs around it have sprung back to life some homemade pepperoni, some seriously groovy trousers, a necklace and a cupcake, but best of all: half a kilogram of homegrown garlic. Oh my goodness I love fresh garlic, for cooking and to keep the vampires away. There have been more than enough vampires in recent years ...

It is so hard to find fresh garlic around here and I refuse to buy imported garlic (or any imported food) but now I have half a kilogram plus an extra bulb for which I paid $15. I didn't ask the lovely men (father and son?) selling the garlic their names as I'm in a bit of hermit-mode at present and not telling my life story to everyone, nor asking them theirs, but I know where they live and they told me all the markets where they sell and I can get some much closer to home when this is all used.

I love markets. I enjoy meeting the makers and the growers and supporting people in their home businesses. It may be convenient to shop at large stores or online but we need human interaction and people need an income. And the planet needs saving, one garlic plant at a time.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Hell in a handbasket

Got to have faith: in PJK. Now there was a leader.

If you have had half an eye open in recent days you may - and should - have noticed that Centrelink is in meltdown. It's been sending letters to tens of thousands of people who received benefits but is questioning them whether they were eligible, because it is matching income data with data collected by the ATO but it's like comparing apples and oranges and nothing is adding up.

So in its wisdom the Federal Government thinks this is a great way to improve its bottom line - by clawing back money from those least able to pay, even if they owed it, which they mostly do not.

Twitter has gone into meltdown but the only response from our Government appears to be that everything is working well. It's actually been mesmerising to watch, because having worked in media and politics I keep expecting someone to own this problem, explain it and let everything return to normal. But no one has. Can you imagine getting an official letter from Centrelink a few days before Christmas stating that you need to prove that you were eligible for the benefits paid, sometimes up to six years ago? And then not being able to get through to Centrelink to explain your side of the matter.

Even if you didn't keep the paperwork, the Christmas/New Year break is no time to be doing official government business. Hell, I live in Canberra and the city is asleep between Christmas and Australia Day. Same every year.

The only other political headlines today were about a Minister buying an investment property - on impulse - but while in another state on official business and then an announcement by the Agriculture Minister to ban the importation of green prawns, something that the prawn industry has been seeking for a long time, but only happened today in the middle of two rather big crises/own goals.

I've been in the position for the past 14 months of probably being able to get assistance from Centrelink but every time I looked at its website I recoiled in horror as I knew my spirit would be crushed by doing business with this department. I feel for those suffering this immense strain. Wouldn't it be good to have some leadership on this rather than platitudes about how great it all is?

Do you think the PM is making sure all his MPs and Senators are having health check-ups?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Fruit loops

Went to the fruit shop today to buy a new charger for the laptop. $129.00 and please don't mind waiting while the two sales staff faff about with people's new phones, attaching screen protectors and generally taking up time. Oh they'll be with you when they can.

No, sorry, I had what I wanted and needed to pay and go and get on with the rest of my life for today and forever after.

I had a bit of a rant at two staff to say I was there with the item I needed and needed to pay for it. The trouble with fruit computers is that you cannot buy parts anywhere else so you have no choice but to stand there like a shag on a rock, waiting, waiting, waiting for Godot or at least someone with half an idea about "customer service". They told me they were "so busy" ...

The Australian Government is having a bit of a lesson about customer service as it sends "debt letters, not debt letters" from Centrelink to its customers, demanding the repayment of, in some instances, many thousands of dollars.

Thanks to changed employment circumstances in more recent times I have been advised by a few people to contact Centrelink. When I read the onerous rules and the huge hoops that people have to jump through I wonder how anyone plugged into this regime can remain sane and haven't gone near it.

Obviously this latest clawback of "overpaid" funds is likely to drive people to despair as CL is advising people to call Lifeline.

Yeah, well that will work when Lifeline cannot answer all the calls it receives. Watching this debacle play out on Twitter makes me wonder if anyone in the Federal Government has any real clue about how ordinary Australians live. It appears not, especially when Ministers earning hundreds of thousands of dollars per year go to the media and say everything is ticketyboo. Heaven help us.

Maybe we should all move to NZ where this gem of a statement from one MP about another (an Australian Senator) arose today: "I read his press release yesterday and I suspected the guy was a bit simple and listening to that interview then, I think that has confirmed it," he said.
"He's a climate-change conspiracies' theorist; he's a racist and probably the saddest thing about his entry into Australia politics, spending so much time in Canberra, is he has denied a village somewhere in Australia of its idiot."

There's an outbreak of that at the present moment.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

On holidays?

I have one child away and the other has returned to the nest for a few weeks so they are on holidays. I'm living the dream with my self-employment so I'm not really on holidays. I've been trying to finish a painting these past few days and I stood back and looked at it just now and hate it. Loathe it. The idea was good, but the execution has not resulted in anything near what was planned.

The painting can sit for a day or two until I figure out how to do something else with it.

The tomatoes have been repotted because I got a drill for my birthday last year so I can drill holes in anything whenever I want to and a big red pot was sitting around asking for a job, but needed drainage holes. Hopefully the tomatoes will have a growth spurt over the next few weeks and produce some fruit before it gets cold on Anzac Day (you can set your clock to it in #CBR).

There was a ripe smell outside for the past few days and close inspection of the worm farm revealed the source of the stink. Normally the worms and I get along fine but with being away a bit in recent months and being sick lately I hadn't kept up with the cycle of worm life ... all resolved now and the postage stamp garden has been lathered in worm juice.

I miss my previous garden. I've brought cuttings of a rose (originally planted by my mother in her last garden), some violets, lamb's ears and geraniums from it and plonked them in this tiny patch of dirt. It's "cottage" meets "a mad mix". One of the joys of living in the last house was the 1/2 acre it sat on. I've been here four years next week. The golf course is lovely as a front yard, but I need to dig and plant and reap what I sow.

Next house will have a bigger garden and a view of the sea.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A toast to 2017

I'm liking 2017. This afternoon the firstborn and I went and had a drink with one of my beautiful friends. We went to my "local" which I only go to when someone special, or from out of town or overseas is visiting. I love going out but became something of a hermit last year. I need to get out more and intend to do that.

We talked art and work and the future and family dynamics.

All good fun and all beautiful. If anyone is visiting #CBR this year, let me know so we can go have a drink.

Monday, January 2, 2017

On this day

On this day in 1981 I walked through the doors of The Nambucca Guardian News for the first day of my journalism cadetship.

It seemed like a good career at the time. I had a plan to be working at The Sydney Morning Herald 10 years later.

My first assignment was the local cattle sales at the Macksville Showground. I would go there every fortnight to report on the prices achieved by local auctioneer John Beaney.

I covered courts and council, road accidents, strange animal tales (including snakes on car engines, mouse-eating spiders), weddings and births. Sexism was everywhere.

We took our own photos and developed the film in the make-shift darkroom of the sink area of the women's toilet. You always had to check with the women in the office before you went in to develop rolls of film, in case anyone was busting.

It was a great initiation into journalism and I moved to The Newcastle Herald three-and-a-half years later and The Sydney Morning Herald four-and-a-half years after that (I resigned from the NH when they wanted me to do a job previously done by a man, but for less pay. But he had a family to support, I was told).

My career has taken many twists and turns, including stints on the dark side. I love writing and I love journalism but there are few jobs these days and the standard is quite appalling now, apart from that being practised by the old hands.

Time to do something different, which is what I will be doing this year. Looking forward to it.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Sunflower madness

I know why Vincent Van Gogh shot himself. It was the sunflowers. I am working on a painting that features three large sunflower blooms, inspired by the great artist himself, of course.

I have painted and added texture and added colour and detail and I am not happy with the sunflowers. They are dull, when they should be full of life and light and brightness.

There are four yellows on the canvas plus many variations and still the sunflowers are not right. Maybe the petals are not the problem. Maybe it is the centres.