Thursday, 14 November 2013

A Cry for Help

 

Too late for Bastion Point? I hope not. The bulldozers moved in on Remembrance Day, but the breakwall's not built yet - it takes more than 3 days to build a
 
3 metre high, 130 metre long breakwall,
a road ON THE BEACH and a
200-car carpark
in a wilderness area
 - so there's still time.

Please PLEASE sign this petition if you haven't already.
https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Save_democracy_the_environment_public_amenity_and_the_wilderness_of_Bastion_Pt_Mallacoota_Stop_boat_ramp_Option_3b/?fbss

This very dodgy piece of environmental vandalism came close to murder the other day, when earthmoving machines came within metres of a very brave, very passionate protester, and refused to stop. Here's the footage:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KQGk4dPhUM&feature=youtu.be

It remains a mystery how Option 3b (the most environmentally destructive) option of those tabled, was ever given approval. It smells, people - it smells very bad.

Mallacoota is a beautiful place - a tiny town on the wilderness coast of Victoria. A town where 88% of the community oppose the project.

Have a look at the Save Bastion Point website - read the story of the protracted battle for Bastion Point, and PLEASE - sign the petition before yet another piece of wilderness is destroyed forever in the interests of the mighty dollar.

http://savebastionpoint.org/


Monday, 11 November 2013

What's in a name? Everything, apparently. Why I will not call VLAD an ‘anti-bikie law’


When I was a teacher, I always stressed how important it was to understand the ways language can be used, and the power that a skilled user of language can wield. I often started with that passage about Newspeak from George Orwell's 1984. Syme tells Winston that “the whole aim of newspeak is to narrow the range of thought.”

The idea is that if you have no word for ‘rebellion’, it’s a bit hard to talk about it or foment it - or even to imagine it. He who controls language can therefore control thought – and behaviour. Language is powerful.

Politicians evidently understand Orwell only too well. 

Scott Morrison, Australia’s new federal Immigration Minister, clearly understands that by changing the name of something, you can change the way it is perceived. Not for him Shakespeare’s wisdom: 
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.      (Romeo & Juliet Act II sc.ii) 
Mr Morrison’s linguistic practice is more Orwellian. Staff in his department were recently instructed to change the label given to asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat. They are no longer ‘asylum seekers’ – they are ‘illegal maritime arrivals’. They have been dehumanised and transmogrified. Now they sound rather nasty and criminal, deserving of contempt, not compassion. Sneaky move, Mr Morrison - but you don't fool me with your wordplay.

Warwick McFadyen, a senior writer with the Age, put it beautifully in this article:  http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-minister-for-debasing-the-language-20131025-2w794.html ‘Say a phrase often enough and it attains a patina of truth’, he says.

That is why I will not now and not ever call Campbell Newman’s VLAD ‘anti-bikie law’. The media does us no favours by consistently calling VLAD ‘anti-bikie law’. It's dishonest. It's shamelessly misrepresenting something reprehensible as something desirable, and using the general public's antipathy towards 'outlaw' bikies to get support for an oppressive law. 

‘About time somebody stood up to those scumbag bikies’.
‘I’m not a bikie so I’m ok.’
‘If you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.’

WRONG!
The dishonest labelling and marketing of VLAD as ‘anti-bikie law’ encourages public support for a law which actually has very little to do with bikies and everything to do with a power-crazy government wielding a sledgehammer, clumsily smoke-screened by the 'anti-bikie' tag – and besides, motorcyclists are a convenient target at the moment. 

VLAD is ultimately oppressive, and a potential weapon against ANY organisation that the government doesn’t particularly like. Today, bikies; tomorrow, soccer clubs/greenies/unionists or whoever happens to be on the Hit List du jour.

 ‘Anti-bikie law’ as a synonym for VLAD is a disgraceful and frightening example of linguistic legerdemain, and I will not have it in my vocabulary.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Queensland – beautiful one day...: a Rant

This is quite a horror story. Except it’s true.


Once upon a time, a little man called Campbell Newman became Premier of Queensland (a state with a colourful history of, erm, characters in its political sphere). The little man, with a zealot’s gleam in his eye, declared that he was going to address the ‘bikie threat’ in his state after a brawl on the Gold Coast one day.

By ‘bikies’, of course, he was referring to approximately one percent of motorcyclists. In the blink of an eye, henchman VLAD hit the front pages. Does Little Campbell have an ad-man giving legislation cool and punchy names that can be turned into cool and punchy acronyms? Vlad the Impaler, another colourful historical character, would be proud. Anyway - the Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Bill 2013 (which makes no mention of bikies per se – remember that, coz it could attack an 'Association' near you any time it wants) is a scary bit of legislative kit that attacks basic freedoms that Aussies hold dear.

Little Campbell, in a shameless grab for the approval of the Common Voter (who we know must be a bit dim, given the fact that they voted the fascist in in the first place), declared there would be a special hell for bikies – their own uber-tough gaol and extra-special sentencing rules for bikies for the crimes they commit.

Now, I’m all for criminals being punished for their crimes. What I’m NOT for is ill-conceived legislation pushed onto an ignorant public and supported by an ignorant police force who can’t tell one bloody motorcyclist from the next.

Things have snowballed, as they tend to do.
  • Queensland police have been harassing ordinary recreational motorcyclists on their group rides, and now – unbelievably – there’s talk of setting up a police hotline that ‘law-abiding’ motorcyclists can call to register their rides and thus avoid harassment for riding their perfectly legal modes of transportation, paid for and registered to ride on the roads they’ve paid taxes for.  
  • A bloke wearing a Sons of Anarchy t-shirt was questioned by police, who thought the guy was an outlaw bikie, rather than a fan of a television show. (!!!???)
  • Police RAIDED a meeting of the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club and a police spin-doctor (probably the cousin of the VLAD acronym guy) said that the raid was part of a strategy to BUILD RAPPORT with decent law-abiding motorcyclists.
  • If interstate service stations etc could kindly provide Little Campbell’s stormtroopers with video footage of naughty Qld bikies associating interstate, aforementioned bikies could still be ‘done’ in Queensland for illegal behaviour (presumably, going for a ride together and stopping for petrol.) The long arm of VLAD could stretch forever, really.
 If this isn’t scaring you yet – it’s not a story. It’s real, it’s true, it’s happening right now. What follows, however, is pure imagination:

Little Campbell was well pleased with the effect VLAD was having. Motorcyclists were fleeing Queensland in droves. Small towns all over the place were going broke because the streams of touring motorcyclists – who tend to shun highways for quieter, more scenic, more ENJOYABLE roads and out-of-the-way locations – were no longer visiting and boosting local economies. You know, all those cafes, bakeries, pubs and motels in all those interesting little places that get-there-fast motorists can’t be bothered going to…

But it wasn’t enough. There was still crime in Queensland. Little Campbell wondered why - after all, he’d got rid of the bikies. VLAD would have to work harder. Little Campbell sent him forth, into ethnic communities, which everybody knows are seething hotbeds of terrorism, organised crime and soccer. And VLAD also went into the universities, where dissent is traditionally seeded by the wicked intelligentsia. Schools, as the breeding grounds for universities, were not impervious to the long arm of VLAD (Schoolies Week on the Gold Coast got special attention, and not just because of the hordes of drunken nubile girls who attended it every year). Oh, and workers’ unions - they came in for super-scrutiny, because they’re full of bolshie bastards. Even the churches were not immune (well, some of them, anyway, especially if they wore identifying outfits/headgear).

Meanwhile, the corporate fraudsters, crooked pollies and other real criminals were having a field day. Everybody else in Queensland had a yellow star and was under constant surveillance by VLAD’s stormtroopers (who were not averse to taking a kickback or two themselves, if history has taught us anything). And Little Campbell saw the fruits of his labours and, well, that was that really. Queensland – beautiful one day, police-state the next.

When other premiers in other states saw what fun Little Campbell was having, they decided to join in. ‘Ban the bikies!’ replaced ‘Advance Australia Fair’ and that, my dears, is how the whole beautiful country went to hell in a handbasket. A select few lived happily ever after. 

Shades of Europe, circa 1935? You bet. Be afraid. Don’t let it happen here – PLEASE!

I’ll end this rant with a poem I scribbled, because I need to lower my blood pressure now, and fiddling about with rhyme and metre always calms me down.

A southern biker contemplates the Queensland ‘anti-bikie’ law

There was trouble up in Queensland for the word had passed around
That new laws regarding bikies would be tight
So a simple threesome riding all together could be stopped
By a roadside copper looking for a fight.

‘Outlaw’ bikers started squirming, some were fired from their jobs
Many quit their outlaw gangs in abject fear
Coz a charge that gets a normal bloke banged up for eighteen months
For an outlaw bikie could be fifteen years

So they chucked away their colours and they looked like all of us
Who go riding just for pleasure on weekends
But the cops can’t tell the diff between one biker and the next
And they started hassling me and all my friends.

To those who say that innocence should mean no need to fear
I suggest you take your heads out of the sand
Coz today it’s only bikies, just the thin end of the wedge
But tomorrow YOU might cop the heavy hand
Of the lawman on a power trip, a government regime
Bent on plundering the freedoms that we treasure
And the coppers could be hassling you for being with your mates
Protest NOW before the law curtails your leisure!

For more perspective and news on this scary development, go to:
http://motorbikewriter.com/2013/10/28/popular-anti-bikie-laws-lead-to-harassment
and a new one:
http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/human-rights-lawyers-slam-queensland-bikie-laws-20131027-2w9c6.html

Explanatory notes attached to VLAD:
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/qld/bill_en/vladb2013483/vladb2013483.html This is extremely interesting. I especially like this paragraph (my italics) for what it says about justification of the "jackboot-method" with which VLAD was inflicted upon Queensland.
"Consultation
Consultation has occurred within Government. Wider consultation has not been
possible because of the need to respond urgently
to the significant public threat these
associations pose in Queensland."



 


Thursday, 17 October 2013

Spring!


Spring has sprung! Willy wagtail nest  at the Post Office
Despite the weirdest spring weather ever (it swings from heatwave to cold snap in the space of a working day) Mother Nature is working her magic in the garden and all around me. The fan-tailed cuckoos have been trilling ceaselessly in their quest for a nest; the willy wagtails at the Post Office have built a daring home on the (very exposed) stairs of the Postmistress’ residence. Birds of all sorts are travelling in pairs – from mighty wedge-tailed eagles to tiny superb fairy wrens… Galahs canoodle on the telephone wires and at the top of my weather-vane. Love is definitely in the air.

Duck family at the main wharf - Daddy Duck is striding ahead to shoo away the seagulls
 Over the back fence, kangaroos graze peacefully. Tiny joeys lean from the pouch to peer at the new world all around them. Sometimes, when mum bends low to nibble at the grass, joey leans out too, giving the very comical impression of a two-headed kangaroo. Sometimes, a little joey forepaw sneaks out of the pouch, and the baby roo appears to be slouching against the lip of the pouch, much like a teenage boy slouches elbow-first against the wound-down window of his first car. Very cool.

And my garden is flowering. Oh, how it is flowering! Waratahs, azaleas, roses, my one and only rhododendron… the clematis I planted earlier this year.. the grapefruit tree…


 
Some of the many roses that, pruned in winter by my sister in-law, Jayne, have gone absolutely berserk!

 
two different types of waratah

I must say that the scent of grapefruit blossom is one of the most exquisite garden scents ever! I don’t have words to describe that heavy heady perfume – it smells clean and clear, creamy golden and velvety smooth, sort of syrupy and perfectly round, if that makes any sense at all. If it were music, it would be probably be that purring flute music towards the bottom of the instrument’s range – or perhaps the clear sweet notes of a clarinet.

I wish you could smell these grapefruit blossoms!
 I have come back to life after a winter of pain. Doing less cleaning has given my aching joints a bit of respite. After several years of exhaustion and debilitating stress, I’m getting healthy again. I sleep well(!) am losing weight and feel FABULOUS. Oh, and I’ve started writing again; nothing much – just a dabble now and then – but it feels so good. Crikey, at this rate I’ll be back on the Harley soon as well – wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Betty goes postal!

My extended absence from the blogosphere may have been mistakenly interpreted to mean that I had nothing to write about – wrong!!! I’ve been frantically engaged in developing ‘income streams’ (what a wanky term that is!) earning a living, socialising and trying to relax when I can.

Reality check time. There are some rather creaky limbs in my family tree and I think that’s the root of my problems, dammit. All my other systems are disgustingly healthy, but my joints have let me down rather badly. BIG SIGH.

Many weeks back, in my role as Faithful Sidekick to TJ (a local cleaning contractor) I took over so that TJ could have a well-earned break for the first time in a year. Coincidentally, I’d just scored a casual gig at the local Post Office, sorting mail. Oops! All of a sudden I spent the mornings at the Post Office and the remaining daylight hours (yes, all of them!) cleaning holiday houses, cabins and commercial premises.

The consequence? Exhaustion and cripplitude. Not that I’m complaining. This is the time of year in Mallacoota when employment is hard to come by, and I was embarrassingly over-employed. I even had to knock back a couple of days of teaching!

The toll on my ageing body, however, has been a bit dramatic. Sleepless hours of agonising aches really suck elephant bums. So…. After TJ returned, I pulled back a bit from the unrelenting dunny-cleaning/shower-scrubbing/floor-mopping/bed-changing treadmill. After a few days I could sleep properly and walk normally again, and hold a knife and fork without experiencing electric shocks sizzling up and down my arms (YARK!!!)

So…. I’ve had to be sensible, and limit the amount of cleaning work I do. Of course, I can’t possibly live on the earnings from 3 or 4 hours of cleaning each week, so……


Betty’s gone postal! *maniacal laughter* Look out, world! My steady work at the moment is at the Post Office, and I’m loving it. I'm working the counter as well as mail-sorting - a very steep learning-curve. Post Offices do so many different things. I’m getting to know the people around town, I don’t have to take work home and it’s a steady income. I work with lovely people and I knock off around the middle of the day – and I don’t have to make bloody BUNK BEDS all the time! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The view from the office...

Armed and dangerous, and ready for the best views from whichever 'office'
I happen to be calling home for a couple of hours. So - why so serious??? 

I used to think I had a fabulous view from Level 6 in Infrastructure House in Canberra. I did. The Canberra skyline gave way to a view of the Brindabellas that was quite a restorative when I got into wrist-slashing mode during weekly reporting time. It was pretty damned good, I have to say.As lovely as it was, though, it was the same view every day, even allowing for variations in the time of day/season/weather.

My view from work these days, however, leaves that view  (those views???) for dead. As pictures speak louder than words, this will be a pictorial post. Try not to be too envious!

The view of the back yard at Bruce's 'Fisherman's Cottage'.
This is what I see if I look up from cleaning the dunny.  Noice.

Flat 6, Bruce's Waterside Flats

'Raheen'

'Oli's'

'Coota Views' (downstairs)
'Coota Views' (downstairs)

'Coota Views' (upstairs kitchen) Imagine seeing this every time you put the kettle on!

'Chez Tredgold'
'Chez Tredgold' again

'Tangara'

'Sylvan Waters'


Adobe Mudbrick Holiday Fats

Adobe Mudbrick Flats again
 So anyway - my extremely hard life is probably making you cry into your coffee, so I'll stop now. Sorry folks... Have a good one! 


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

In which Betty gets out and about in the bush, and finds POO!




Oh, communing with nature – there’s nothing like it. Well, perhaps there is. I suppose the inner-city hipster version is having a killer coffee in a cafĂ© with a killer barista and great art on the walls. I suppose both of these take you out of your home-world to a degree, but I prefer mine - and it's caffeine-free! Look at this:


I wandered lonely as a cloud…

The sign on the main road said ‘Sandy Point 3km’. I drove my low-slung little Hyundai about 300m along the trail before I got a bit nervous, and found a spot to pull over.

The (at times) steepish trail was pretty ordinary, and after half an hour of trudging along and sweating in the autumnal semi-warmth, I must confess to muttering under my breath: ‘This’d better be worth it!’

Of course it was! This is Croajingalong National Park, after all.



 The view was amazing –and (surprise surprise!) Sandy Point had a gorgeous little sandy beach! It was (mostly) soooo quiet there – would love to take a tent and spend a night or two there in warmer weather. A houseboat across the lake proved to be the source of the incongruous raucous laughter – someone was clearly having a fab time over there.

The walk back is never as long as the walk there, I reckon, because you have a vague idea of how far your destination is. Therefore, I didn’t rush, and enjoyed the flora:



 
Not sure whether fungus counts as flora.... but anyway...
the fauna (I wasn’t quick enough on the draw with the camera, and the wallaby sharing the path hopped away, dammit!) I spent a lot of time scanning the treetops for koalas, but to no avail…


And then there was the poo. Yes, the poo.  I’m no expert on critter poop. Growing up in suburbia I’m all too-familiar with those disgusting doggie leavings on the nature strips of local streets. I’ve been a bird-poop victim on occasions, and I’m all too-familiar with the awful stuff that appears in the kitty litter on a regular basis.

I discovered some interesting poop today though. While I can’t be certain, I think it’s wombat poop. Here, have a look:


The thing is, this poop appeared every few metres along the trail, some of it fairly new, some old, and in various stages of breakdown. Oh, look – here’s another one!


 Are wombats so incontinent? Or is there perhaps a population explosion of wombats around Mallacoota? Are they just exhibitionists? (What the heck is so attractive about the track as a pooping place???) I noticed lots of potential wombat hideyholes by the sides of the track (although why ANYTHING with a bumhole big enough to produce monster turds like this would need a hideyhole, I’m not sure!) I am now intrigued, and plotting a way to find out who/what is producing these massive piles of poo that make Rottweiler poop look like icky brown tic-tacs.

I’m really loving this bushwalking lark. My feetses, in their fabulous Redback safety boots, were a little tired by the end of it all - and my horrid arthritic bits were whining at me (bloody nuisances!) but my spirit felt renewed and recharged, so *two finger salute to arthritis!* Wheeeeeeeeee!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Basil is GROUNDED!



I don’t know how he did it, the little shit, but he did. So now he’s grounded, pending the arrival of a collar with BELLS.

 I took the car into town to have the power steering belt fitted, and wandered about while I was waiting. Had some hot choc, did a bit of writing, got rained on, watched some birds, took some nice pics of the inlet under a very gloomy sky - you know, the sort of stuff you do when you’re waiting for your car to be fixed.


 Anyway – after a couple of hours I picked up my car and came home.  I opened my front door to find a feathered floor, and the sound of frantic flapping coming from the bathroom.

Basil, the little sod, had somehow caught what I think was a brush wattlebird (far too big to get through the palace’s ceiling mesh, I’d have thought) and had been having a right old game with it. I can only imagine its terror. There were feathers near the gate in the cat palace - is it possible he grabbed it and somehow dragged it in? I can't figure it out.



It was minus some tail feathers, not to mention quite a few other feathers, but it was full of fight when I finally managed to catch it and calm it down a little before liberating it. Birds 1, Basil nil, Betty cross. And Basil grounded. Grrrrr. Back to supervised walks on the lead until his bells arrive.

In the meantime, Georgie (pictured below) is keeping watch and hopefully discouraging the feathered beasties from getting too close. Georgie is made by a local lady who sells them at the hardware shop. Oaklands in Pambula also has them.


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Dunnies are my currency

At Betka Beach just after first light. Stunning.
Sitting here in front of a roaring fire, kitten on my lap, Emma Kirkby singing Hildegard of Bingen’s greatest hits on the cd player, it’s hard to remember that times are a bit tough. I'm having far too much fun.

My meditation on money the other day was a little unsettling, but I live in Paradise, and I guess that’s the trade-off. Traffic jams/stress/no time to think vs bliss/no money. A no-brainer really. So, to stop myself thinking in dollars and getting all agitated, I think in dunnies now, and that is far more fun and less scary. Here in the Republic of Betty, dunnies have become my currency, and of course that makes me giggle. 

***For non-Aussies, ‘dunny’ is a slang term for toilet, specifically the long-drop or can-type affair that stands in a vine-covered shed in old-style Aussie back yards, and hosts redback spiders beneath its seat. That’s not the sort of dunny I’m referring to here. My dunnies are more modern and less spiderous. Made of gleaming porcelain or ceramic goodness, my dunnies half-flush or full-flush. This is quite a relief, as I clean several of them each week.

A load of firewood is a 5 dunny expense, but will last almost half the winter if I’m careful. So really, a winter of glowing warmth is about a dozen dunnies’ worth. Not bad. A bottle of gas for cooking that will probably last a year? 5 dunnies.

A bottle of wine is around half a dunny, unless I go for the expensive full-dunny quality stuff (which I don’t). It’s still a kind of expensive purchase though.

A trip to the doctor is about 2 ½  dunnies, and Medicare refunds one of them. A kilo of chicken breast fillets will set me back about two-thirds of a dunny (i.e., I have to clean for about 40 minutes). 5-6 weeks worth of cat bickies for Basil is a 2 ½ dunny purchase. (Perhaps I could save on that if I let him catch his own dinner….. *slapping self*) A tank of petrol? Two dunnies, but it’ll last me for weeks around Mallacoota.

A not-too-flash entry-level DSLR camera with a couple of lenses is roughly a three dozen dunny purchase, and won’t be happening in the foreseeable future.  Why would I bother, though, when my humble phone (bought in the old currency when I was still a half-mad fulltime teacher) takes photos like these:





*sigh* I LOVE this place so so much!
My friend Deb was here over the Anzac weekend, and we went to Betka Beach for some beautiful free sunrise viewing. We arrived a little after first light and stayed a couple of hours, and played photographers with our phones. What fabulous dunny-free chicken soup for the soul it was!

Of course, with the amount of free time I have complementing my cleaning gigs, I probably have time to write a best-seller that will earn me mega-dunnies – in which case I’ll get one of those snazzy cameras to capture some really good pics of the birds around here.

Life is good.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

In which Betty’s day swings like a pendulum


View Larger Map

A trip to Cann River turned into quite the adventure today. For those not in the know, Cann River is a tiny town (population 223) in north-eastern Victoria where there’s a big T-junction between two main roads – the one that comes south from Canberra and Bombala and the one that goes across Victoria from east to west.

I was going to meet the principal of the school to discuss relief teaching, and had some car issues about 20kms from Cann River when something under the bonnet seemed to come adrift and my steering suddenly became rather heavy. Great. So I limped it along to Cann River and the car repair workshop. But today the mechanic was elsewhere for the day. Great again. A quick look under the bonnet revealed this:

Broken power steering belt. Fantastic. Oh, and the repair shop didn’t have a spare one. The day just keeps getting better and better.

Not wanting to be late for my appointment at the school, I pressed on, beltless and a little disconcerted, (not to mention concerned about how much it was going to cost to fix it, and where the $$$ would come from!) but developing some Schwarzenegger biceps and deltoids every time I turned the car. I was not late, and oh, what a lovely little school it is, too. The entire student body from Prep to Year 12 is only about 50 kids.

Even better - in amongst those kids is an automotive class. Are you seeing lightbulbs yet? I bought some pantyhose from the General Store, which was an adventure in itself.…The shop lady showed me where their remaining stock of pantyhose was – half a dozen forlorn and dusty packs on a bottom shelf.

“What colour are you after?” she said.

“Doesn’t matter”, says I, “I won’t be wearing them! They’re to replace a belt in my car.”

She picked herself up off the floor, where she’d been rolling laughing, and handed me some nice black ones. “Best laugh I’ve had all day,” she said, chuckling away.

So the principal took me to the tiny (and I do mean TINY!) annexe school a couple of kilometres up the road, where – lo and behold – I will have two days’ work next week, in charge of SIX students from Year 1 to Year 5, and I can hardly wait! A whole new world, it’ll be.

Meanwhile, the pantyhose were handed over to the automotive class and they played bush mechanics for a while. I got my car back to beautiful Mallacoota without incident and found no proper power steering belt here either. I never EVER thought I'd say this (and nor did you, I'm sure), but Thank goodness for pantyhose, ha ha ha. From now on I shall carry them in the car with me, along with the kitty litter, spare oil, cleaning products, cat-cage - all those other essentials.




Oh what a fabulous day it’s been!