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Take a Stance On: TONY ABBOTT’s CHARACTER (By Request) and FEMINISM and POLITICS (By Compulsion)

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Meg Bignell:

I’m re posting this piece because I feel very cross with our Prime Sinister. Too many short sighted cunding futs you silly man.

Originally posted on megoracle:

I have an automatic aversion to Tony Abbott. However I’m concerned that this is a product of successful political mud slinging spin. I would prefer to think that my opinion is immune to spin but I think that’s pretty unrealistic (actually I know it is – last week I bought wrinkle cream with Kakadu plum in it because it is a fair dinkum miracle cream never mind I have observed no change whatsoever except maybe deeper wrinkles where my annoyed expression happens). Anyway, when it comes down to brass tacks (whatever that means), I actually don’t know what to think of TA, even though the sisterhood keeps calling him an aggressive misogynist (more spin?) and hooray-ing Julia Gillard for her dressing down of him the other day.

I should know what to think though because one day everybody might stop flinging mud and start running the country a bit and…

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Super Loon

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You know the holidays have been a bit shit when the highlight has been a trip to the dentist and by the end of week one you wish someone would send you to your room.

Actually that’s not strictly true. The dentist was a highlight only because I managed to get the whole family seen to in one go and I could tick an overdue box. We had two lots of houseguests and they were a pleasure. They were too good though, which excludes them from the highlights list. Their children were gorgeous and polite, they ate all their dinners and went to bed when told and were imaginative in their play.

When they left, my children were almost instantly fighting, asking for telly, popping out of bed and picking the salad out of their rolls. I sent them out to prove to me they could manage Proper Play on their own. They found a can of cow tail paint in the farm ute and sprayed their bikes orange. And their boots, and their hands. When I put a stop to it before the dog copped an Armani style spray tan, they ran up onto the roof and cracked a skylight in two places.

The Proper Play I was hoping for was mud pies, garden potions, bike races, wounded soldiers, picnics, beach combers smugglers… thing like that. Things that the Secret Seven or the Mitford sisters might have played. Ripping things. They have, after all, a whole farm and beach at their disposal. I felt cross and disappointed. I yelled. They screeched about it all being someone else’s fault. I yelled a bit more and considered having 4 more children to bring out the sense of adventure. Then I’d have an excuse not to give any of the little buggers attention at all.

Anyway, we tried a mini break instead. A get-away-from-it-all-appreciate-our-homestate trip to the wilds of Tasmania’s West Coast. And to celebrate the twin’s birthday. The 4 to 5 hour drive would ensure closeness and bonding, maybe even a bit of maths practice and a singalong. I was excited. I packed my wholesome enthusiasm in with the beanies and bed socks. But the 5 and a half hour drive had about 15,000 bends in it and on about bend number 478, just beside the hydro pipe at Taraleah, smallest child sicked up her breakfast orange. None of us felt like discussing the history of Hydro in Tasmania or putting our ear on the pipe to hear the water rush, as planned.

In hindsight , Taraleah is utterly intriguing. I wish we'd had thebinclination to look around. I'd like to shoot a film there.

Spot the orange. Actually, in hindsight , Taraleah is utterly intriguing. I wish we’d had the inclination to look around. I’d like to shoot a film there.

At about bend number 1000 a twin turned green, cried and said it was the worst birthday of her life, the small one whimpered that she didn’t like being “in the bushes” (wilderness)… and on went the chundering. I started to question my wisdom. In Queenstown we had a reviving run around on a gravel footy oval and a sit down on a concrete grandstand on which someone had spray painted “Cunts R Us”. I would have instagrammed it had my sense of humour not blown out the car window somewhere around Wayatinah.

On day 2 of the trip (we only went for three), smallest developed croup. She and I spent a sleepless night in and out of the bathroom for steam fixes and the next morning at the local medical centre where the man next to us in the waiting room had a heart attack.

The next day we went back home along the same bends, stopping on about every 10th to avoid the waste of more oranges. I succumbed to carsickness myself while the well children clobbered each other and squawked. Husband went rigid and unsmiling in the driver’s seat and by the time we got out of the ‘bushes’, the atmosphere in the car was so tense a massage and a valium wouldn’t have fixed it.

I’m trying to recover my enthusiasm, but to be frank, I’m struggling. It was super-wonderful to be home but my patience is stretched to it’s limits (which aren’t that extensive at the best of times) and I wonder, am I doing something wrong? None of our houseguests appear to take voice-raising measures with their lovely children. I talked to a friend today who is having a wonderfully relaxing holiday at home, glad to be spending time with her two well behaved children. In “Miffy’s 3 wishes” a book that I read to my youngest tonight, Miffy’s mother wishes that her “dear litle Miffy will always stay as sweet as she is”. I felt emotional, because I would wish that my children never stay as horrible as they’ve been and because maybe I should have called one of them Miffy.

Or maybe, thinks I - as I listen to another grizzle about boredom and wanting an i-pad – I am trying too hard. I so want imaginative children and brilliant adventure with my children with belly laughs and Brady Bunch lessons-learnt endings (an Alice would be great too), but each time I try, something goes awry – someone cheats at monopoly or breaks the ukulele strings or has lost the last few bits of the puzzle. Someone cries, someone else stomps out and I – despite my best efforts not to – end up yelling and slamming a door or two. Never mind the Angry Song, a few times these holidays I could have sung the Fucking Furious song.

Should I just make life easier for everyone, give in and let them watch the movie/play the computer game/eat the tim tams until they get sick of those and say, “Hey Mum, can we read a book/take the dog for a walk/have some carrot sticks please?” Would that ever happen? Would they still be sitting their fat tim-tam arses in front of the telly at age 18? (gosh I would have got a lot done by then).

As I reach the end of another conclusion-less post, I wonder too whether I’ll ever be able to write another informative, brain-progressive Megoracle post for your all. I mean while my children push each other onto couch corners and throw putty at one another, missiles are blowing stuff up in Israel (read this wonderful post for some thoughtful insight into that) and some fuckwit threatens to chuck out the carbon tax (or did he do that already? I wouldn’t know).

For now, because I’m overwrought and irritated and possibly a bit hormonal*. There was a supermoon this month, which is said to induce super PMS episodes, think lunatic, you will have to put up with my grumbly talk. Hey, maybe I should do an offshoot blog called Grumblemum. Actually, that supermoon thing was just a glib comment, but maybe there’s something in that; maybe it’s not them but me. Maybe I’m the horrible one.

Dude I'd be running too.

Dude I’d be running too.

Anway, if anyone else isn’t sunning it up in tropics or doesn’t have lovely children or is feeling like a superloon these school holidays, I’d like to hear from you.

*speaking of hormones, this Friday my short musical film, “Hormones The Musical” will be broadcast on ABC2 at 9:15, just before Ladyboys. So if you’re wild like me and stay in most Friday nights, please watch. Or you can catch it on i-view for a week or so afterward.

 

 

NATIVE HEN and NAVEL GAZING

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I think there’s a lot to be learned from Tasmania’s endemic chookie, the Native Hen (Tribonyx mortierii). They have increased in number around my home in the last year or so, to the point that I see them pretty much every day as they dart across the road near one of our dams.

I’ve lived around native hens all my life and I’ve never paid them much thought until one morning a few weeks ago. We were on the way to the bus stop when  one particular hen got confused and forgot to cross the road, instead running in front of my car, swerving all over the road and throwing a panicked look over its shoulder (if it had one) at regular intervals. It ran faster and faster and eventually flapped his wings desperately in an effort to speed up. And speed up it did. The speed limit on our dirt roads is 60 (I think) and I swear that determined hen was almost breaking it.

native hen

My four year old yelled, “Oh Mum, his wings won’t work!” with concern that was genuine until her brother and sister laughed hysterically and she reverted to a clown-like imitation of the hen’s flapping.

“Yes they do, look how fast he is”, I said, “He’s running but he’s flying along.” And he was. The children laughed at him anyway. He did look kind of dorky, which endeared him to me. I stopped the car so he could regain some dignity and get off the road and into recovery mode. And so we could get to the bus on time. He disappeared into the grass, we got to the bus, but I’ve thought a bit about him ever since, that dorky hen.

I have read that native hens – despite their flightless status – can reach speeds up to 50 km per hour (ok so it looked 60 on the day) using their strong but skinny (and scaly) legs. It all felt strangely familiar and heart-warming at the same time. Here’s why:

I am native Tasmanian, have lived most of my life near water and grassland and I have skinny legs that go scaly without daily QV cream application (this is not a sponsored post). And – like many other average human beings – I was born without any particular talent that would see me really fly.

I have often lamented the fact that I don’t have the ability to knock the socks off anyone with something, anything. I wasn’t born with a gift, nor the personality to stick at anything long enough to make a gift happen. I am easily bored, impatient and naturally restless. If I was poverty stricken and had to take a gift to the baby in the manger, I’d be – having given up the drum after a lesson or two – hard pressed.

(This is also not a fishing-for-compliments post, bear with me but) I am varying degrees of average – I have never amazed anyone with my looks or style but I get by; I write ok but have had far more rejection letters than acceptances and more work in drawers than in print; I like to act but have a track record of being cast as a dead person; I like to sing but my vocal range is as short as my temper, which leads me trying my best to be a good mother but often failing.

I am fit-ish and strong-ish but will never win a race. I understand a bit of Shakespeare and most of Austen but can’t get through Middlemarch. I can drive a car ok but not a tractor; swim freestyle but not butterfly, run a half marathon but never a full.  I can keep bits of houses clean but never the whole lot at one time; I can decorate a house and fill a wardrobe but something about it will always be slightly dorky.

I buy stuff from Ezibuy. Native hens, being sedentary creatures, would shop using Ezibuy. The only thing I’m not average at is cooking. I’m shit at cooking.

Do I care? Yes I do actually, I really do. Not in an agonising, debilitating, ‘I-am-nobody-why-do-I-bother’ way, just in a vague, wistful sort of way. A background lament that increases in volume in a certain breeze.

Women’s Weekly et al publish articles about women turning forty and being ‘the happiest they’ve ever been because finally they’ve learnt how to love themselves’. These are women who have kicked all sorts of wonderful goals and probably haven’t sunbaked. I sunbaked all through my teens (of course I did – I’m Tasmanian, if the sun comes out here of course I’m going to get in it, wrinkle warnings or no). And after 10 years of forward line hockey I might have hit 3 goals.

I am 40 next year (average age) and while I think I’m not a bad old stick, I don’t love myself – well not often, I do when all the washing is in, folded and put away, I love myself sick then, but most often I sort of put up with myself. I mean every day there is a new and wondrous talent being wheeled out for all to behold and revel in. And revel I do – I love to see human achievement and creative beauty and success, even if it’s tinged with green. But I’m not yet content to leave it all to them, settle in with myself, declare the current me ‘the one’ and kiss the dreams goodbye. Not without a little bit of flight.

I might not yet have invented my aircraft; and people might laugh at me or feel annoyed as I hold them up or make them feel uncomfortable. But maybe I might make people laugh. Or think. Maybe I’ll pump my skinny old legs and flap my useless wings and in the kerfuffle leave at least an impression of having a go. Maybe I’ll give other average people – the ones without youth, expertise or the gift of flight on their side – a little bit of inspiration. Maybe I won’t.

If my scaly feet never leave the ground or I never reach speeds extreme for my stature, I’ll love myself fondly, in the end, for trying.

The Native Hen

Oh look, mummy look, 

It’s a funny black chook

With little beady red eyes.

He gives us a laugh

But he makes us all gasp

‘Cos his wings never work but he flies.

~

And hark mummy, when,

You go near to this hen,

He’ll call like a see-saw to you,

No grace is he blest,

But the down on his breast

Is a beautiful shade of dark blue.

babyhen

 

 

The Business of Busyness

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I’ve been really busy lately, I’m building a house, so yep, busy. Brain progress is brilliant on door furniture (knobs), painting, cornice etc, but current events extend as far as, “Cement truck visits Bream Creek”. So Megoracle is failing in its function of late. Sorry for that. But when I’m done I’ll publish a list of tips for home builders. It’ll be a biggie.

Anyway, so in amongst the overwhelmed-ness I’ve been thinking about the business of business and how it’s evolved. I used to feel swamped by uni work and hours working as a barmaid but now I long for those days – relaxing in comparison, and heady with the arrogance of youth and all the time in the world. These days I feel rushed to cram stuff in because the middle age mark is here and the years pass by like Sir Jack Brabham (rest his soul). I shouldn’t even be sitting here writing – I should be painting. Everything’s on borrowed time. The school day is too bloody short but I need more time with my kids, bed time’s too early for all the stuff we have to do yet it can’t come soon enough. Arrrrrrgggghhhh! Overwhelmed. Due for a bit of whelmed.

I’m reading a novel* (which I have to do to put my brain to rest at night) set in poverty-stricken early 19th century Iceland. Shudder. It is based on a true story and the hardship within the pages has got me thinking (not very coherently I’m afraid, but thinking all the same).

2009-02-25-ISLENSKFJOLSKYLDA1880S

Icelandic Family, 1882.

Those Icelandic women really knew about busyness, proper busyness; they knew how to endure. We grumble about frost on the windscreen, they couldn’t set foot outside their mouldy crofts for large chunks of very long winters. I grizzle about the weeds in the garden, they harvested the hay with scythes. They likely scrubbed the stairs and beat the rugs and sewed their own clothes. I grumble if Country Road doesn’t have my size and I have to nip over to their other store.

The children in the book were expected to work; they walked miles to meet friends. Our children won’t pick up their towels and are amazed by the thought of a communal phone that is attached to the wall by a cord.

Of course, the woman of darkest Iceland didn’t have to endure school runs, clogged dishwasher filters or device-related tantrums. No one expected them to own their own home, have their careers on track, their roots done or their bikini lines sorted. So that explains their lack of complaint.

While we’re on bikini lines, here’s a thought – maybe us ‘modern women’ don’t have enough trauma in our lives, so we book a regular appointment that involves showing our nether regions to a stranger and having our pubic hair ripped out. Perhaps all those shiny pink vajayjays are our nod to the suffering of women past. Perhaps we could take the martyrdom further and make hair shirts out of our thwarted pubes.

Seriously, we’re soft aren’t we? We have it too good. Sometimes I feel panicky about the advance of technology – some of it for greater good but much of it for greater greed, laziness, anxiety, weakness and general dumbing down (I mean playing tennis with a telly screen – wtf?). Sometimes I feel as though the whole world is striving for convenience and ways to survive their busy lives. Convenience is a multi-multi-billion dollar industry. My gut tells me that this doesn’t say much for our priorities.

Other times I slip my Jamie Oliver pre-made meal into the oven (don’t get the meatball one, it’s shite), check the day’s headlines on the interwebs and thank the Lord for modern inventions (is the word modern outdated? I feel like I should be saying ‘current’ or ‘the latest’. Things move too quickly for anything to be modern).

Everything seems so complicated and rushed these days – despite automatic washing machines and microwaves and emails. Are the handy, speedy conveniences of today just making us cram more into our lives, inciting hurry? Whatever happened to wash days? Trips to the post office? “Whatever happened to that old dance we used to do?”

I feel nostalgic for drawn out tasks, family dish washing, toast on the fire, the wireless. And I wasn’t even born in wireless days. It’s all so irreversible though. Unless I turn into a hermit or an Aamish person, I just have to embrace progress. Well, give it a little hug at least. There are moments and days when switching off is good. Everything in moderation. Or until you have to check your facebook feed.

Last weekend we went wood-hooking like families might have done in Iceland in 1829 except with a chainsaw and fruit-boxes. I love a spot of wood hooking. Makes me feel self sufficient, plus there’s no phone signal and my husband is so strong and spunky when he’s felling large (dead) trees.

When we got home, on account for all the wood work and fresh air (and me needing kid free time due to newly spunky husband), I let the children watch Frozen, which is Iceland appropriate but will not help to strengthen any developing characters. It will, however, bring on more wobbly renditions of “Let It Go” (which actually I don’t mind, I sing it the wobbliest and loudest in the car, sometimes on my own). And there’s nothing like a good old family singalong.

There’s no real conclusion to this rant, it’s part of an ongoing conundrum, but in the spirit of the singalong, and the strange compulsion the ‘modern’ woman feels to get waxed when they could be ticking other less painful things off their to-do list (or indeed scything the hay) here is my version of Frozen’s Let it Go…(I didn’t mean for this post to go all singalong and below the belt but somehow, of course, it has, sorry Dad).

Youtube view.

*The book, by the way, is called, “Burial Rites” by Hannah Kent. I haven’t finished it yet but can already recommend it.

burial rites

 

 

RANDOM RHUBARB

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It’s been a long week and I’ve had two large drinks so now is probably not the time for a post. But bugger it sometimes I just need to chatter. I’m not grizzling, I’ve done enough of that via this little old bloggie portal of mine and no doubt there’ll be more grizzling to come. No this is just a little bit of random rhubarb involving things I’ve thought about this week and would like to share.

But actually I advise you to tune out now. I just helped myself to another small (ish) drink. Which reminds me, I need to have a big night soon to guarantee a good succession of alcohol free days. I’m joking. Ish. Anyway, random shares, ready set GO.

My children broke my heart this week (they will do that at times won’t they).

Firstly my little boy got punched in the nose when tussling over a ball and then hit in his little nuts in the school playground. Same day, two separate incidents, two different perpetrators. He was – apart from a nose that bled spectacularly on the day and on and off ever since – actually fine. He wasn’t afraid to go back to school or bitter toward the boys who had hit him and he didn’t make a thing of it at home. I did though. I felt sick.

Initially I was worried that perhaps he had provoked the attack (I mean let’s face it, sometimes he annoys the hell out of me) or that he was indulging in a bit of diving (simulated injury as per soccer fields – he has been known to try it on). Then, when both those concerns were disproved, I felt guilty for doubting him and then horrified that my son might be the target of bullies. I am reassured that he’s not, that both incidents were of the spur of the moment, give me the ball, kind. But I still feel horrified. I wished that I was there when it happened but actually perhaps it’s best I wasn’t. I might have set a very bad example by calling the puncher a LITTLE SHIT and dragging him by the ear to the head master. One doesn’t drag children by the ear anymore. Which may or may not be a bit of a shame.

The thing is though, I don’t want my children to face animosity and pain and violence, but odds are they will, and probably worse than a snotted nose. Perhaps a bit of early roughing up is all part of important life learning. It hurts though. Him, but mostly me.

Then my daughter was involved into a protracted investigation into the drawing of penises. To her horror she was summonsed to the head master’s office a few times over it. She has long taken pride in being a good girl, having a clean slate insofar as head master summonses go. Turns out she didn’t draw a penis, she just drew a bottom, and then threw the drawing in the bin. No crime there. But she is still smarting over the indignity of public scandal. I feel her pain acutely; she is me all over as a child so I can slip with ease into her frame of mind. At the moment it’s not so peaceful. And when she cried in my arms last night over the trauma of it all (for stronger people it would be water off a duck, for us it’s trauma), I cried too. I have a little tear now. Tomorrow, I told her, we are to have forgotten about it all. And tomorrow she is allowed to draw my bottom.

Then my four year old, when I was driving her home from swimming, announced matter of factly that she felt weird and that she thought she might die this week. WHAAAAAAAAT? I had to stop the car and check her all over for lumps or occult bleeding. She was bewildered enough by my panic to say she’d said it “accidentally”. Too late, I am superstitious and officially had the creeps. Saying she might die is bad enough, but to add, “this week” just sent me into panic. I resolved to keep her within my sights at all times. The next morning I forgot in the midst of the school chaos and popped her on the bus, then remembered half way through the morning and had to listen to a bit of Dolly Parton to stop myself barging into

Those waistlines, those layers. Sigh.

Those waistlines, those layers. Sigh.

school with a large bag of cotton wool. The week is not out yet, and today she has developed a cough. I’m still worried and will be so until Monday. On and off. There is, however, drama in her genes.

I wish we all wore clothes like the ones in “The Belle of New York”. I’d feel like dancing too.

I am superstitious though. I’m always on the look out for synchronicity and have an affiliation with Carl Jung. Today I was making a cake and there happened to be EXACTLY the right amount of butter (115g to be precise) left of the butter block and EXACTLY the right amount of brown sugar left in the jar. I mean it, barely a scrape or a grain above the weights required bycelestine the recipe. I exclaimed, “That’s so weird, isn’t that weird?” to my husband. He raised an eyebrow that said, “There’s only one weird thing in this room and it’s not ingredients”. He’s used to my synchronicity hunting. I blame The Celestine Prophecy. Who remembers that?

Does anyone else get excited when they see their birthday on the milk carton? I do, then I remember that I don’t want anymore birthdays and just feel sad that another year has gone by and go and buy myself an early birthday present in the magazine aisle.

I am overloaded with ideas at the moment. Can you tell? Have you ever felt like that? Where everything that happens in your day feels like a slippery opportunity that must be grasped or forever lost? The notebook I carry with me everywhere has in the last few days been harassed more than usual and the writing in it appears kind of desperate. Am I on the verge of an epiphany? Or just a jumbly mess on the verge of panic attack?

I’ve never had a panic attack but almost did the other day when choosing door knobs (I mean door hardware, no one says knob these days). Suddenly I felt that the whole aesthetic of my new house (being built) hangs on what door hardware I chose. The wall of knobs swayed before me and I had to call my cousin-interiors-genius to come and rescue me. She valiantly swooped in, chose the hardware I would have chosen myself had I been of sound mind, and even called them knobs like a normal person. And laughed just I I did when we’d said ‘knob’  enough for it to be funny. Knob.

Maybe it’s the house build thing that has overloaded me – I feel another scrapbook session coming on. Here’s where I call on the dear friend with the organisational skills that would impress Barack Obama’s PA. She coming to stay ASAP.

What would I do without family and friends?

At the same time as all the ideas, I’m fast feeling the slip of the years as my children grow up (and get in punch ups and draw bottoms and stuff). Sometimes I think I’ll take them out of school and immerse myself in them and their learning and make the very most of every minute. Then I have a second though that involves me in a constant state of irritation and turning into a shouty shrew-mother lamenting lost me-time. So I decide that school is the place for them.

Speaking of irritation, gosh I get a lot of chores done when I’m in a huff. 

And finally, the word nincompoop is definitely not used enough. Nor is splendid. The origin of nincompoop is unknown. Shame, I would like to meet the person who invented such a word.

Anyway that’s quite enough. Thank you for listening. What would this nincompoop do without you splendid people?

M xxx

 

 

A FEW THINGS THAT AMAZE ME

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Sometimes I hear or see little snippets of things that are really amazing and I think I want to follow that up and find out more but I just get busy and forget again and another amazing fact has disappeared, possibly forever. So lately I’ve been noting down keywords to remind myself of what I can go back an investigate. Today I have managed to sit down and inflate a few of the key words into their stories and here, with pleasure, I present them to you:

Dinosaur Demise

I must have skipped out on this class at school or something and I am now ashamed to say that I did not know that a large asteroid probably wiped out the dinosaurs. How did I not know that? As a child I could have put asteroid attack alongside the cold war to fuel my nightmares. I just thought the dinosaurs kind of petered out, evolved away, got frozen in the ice age or something. Did all of you out there know about this devastating asteroid? Why haven’t you all been asking whether there might be another one that will wipe us out too? I mean, if woolly mammoths and T-rex’s can’t survive then there’s no hope for puny little beings like humans. I was all a-panic for a while until I discovered that astrologists have cleared at least the next 100 years of any asteroid attack. Phew, because I reckon Bruce Willis is getting a bit long in the tooth for flying planes into asteroid cores.

Site of the Yucatan Crater

Site of the Yucatan Crater

Anyway, the asteroid buggering the dinosaurs theory is in part still a theory and it does have it’s opposition, but it’s pretty fascinating so I’ll run with it anyway. K-T is the common term for the main contributing event that likely caused the mass extinction of the dinosaurs. It is thought to have happened about 65 million years ago when a giant (10km across) asteroid hit the Earth at Chicxulub in Mexico. It caused a crater 180 km from rim to rim, now known as the Yucatan Crater. Geological evidence suggests that K-T caused climate change, dust clouds, tsunamis, earthquakes and other disasters (not to mention the impact itself, thought to have been a billion times greater than the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki) that all culminated in the extinction of around 70% of life on Earth. Today the only disaster we can blame for climate change is humans.

Anyway, recent studies show that while we’re not in the immediate line of

The Tunguska Event in Siberia, 1908.

The Tunguska Event in Siberia, 1908.

fire from an asteroid of this scope, dangerous asteroids – of the size that could wipe out whole metropolitan areas – actually do impact the Earth around every 6 months. 26 of the buggers hit Earth between 2000 and 2013. In February last year, a meteorite smashed into Central Russia and killed up to 500 people. Shame it didn’t get pervy Putin.

In 1908, an asteroid exploded over Siberia and wiped out 80 million trees. Crikey peeps, life’s short and unpredictable. Make the best of it.

Japanese Stragglers

On September the 2nd 1945, as World War Two approached it’s end, the Japanese Empire surrendered. Some Japanese soldiers, as a result of their extreme militaristic background and determined faith in their empire, refused to believe the news of surrender. Others just didn’t hear of it at all. They became the stragglers, or the holdouts; waiting for a superior officer to relieve them of their duty. Without such orders, they continued to fight enemy forces and when the enemy had all departed, they fought local police. They were still doggedly fighting years after the war had ended.

Teruo Nakamura surrenders

Teruo Nakamura surrenders

In 1972, almost 30 years since the war ended, an intelligence officer stationed in the Philippines, Hiroo Onoda, was at long last relieved of duty by his commanding officer. And in 1974, Teruo Nakamura, a soldier in Indonesia who had been declared dead in 1945, emerged from the Island jungles where he had set up a one man camp, and finally surrendered.

In May 2005, it was reported that two elderly Japanese soldiers – Yoshio Yamakawa and Tsuzuki Nakauchi – emerged from the jungle of a remote Philippine Island, finally convinced that they wouldn’t face court martial. However the two disappeared again, allegedly scared off by the media frenzy. Whether the story is true remains a mystery, but further reports suggest that the elderly holdouts were invented as a guise by local gangs to bring potential hostage targets to the island.

I think they’re still there, still hiding, possibly with some thylacine and a lyrebird*.

The Brewarrina Fish Traps

Those ancient tribes sure knew how to build things to last.

Those ancient tribes sure knew how to build things to last.

One of the oldest man-made structures on Earth is in Australia – it really is. The Brewarrina Fish Traps (or Ngunnhu to the local Ngemba people) are estimated to be over 40,000 years old. To put this in context a bit, Stone Henge is about 3,800 years old.

You can go and visit them anytime you are passing through Brewarrina, not far from Lightening Ridge in New South Wales (I love those names, they somehow make me hear cooees and taste red dust).

The fish traps are an elaborate network of rock weirs and pools that stretch for about half a kilometre along a section of the Darling River. They were built by ancient tribes – well versed in fish habits and river flows and other impressive science – to catch fish as they swam upstream.

And while we’re on an indigenous subject, HAPPY RECONCILIATION WEEK EVERYONE! Everything about our Indigenous Australians is amazing I reckon.

And here’s something almost as amazing – our constitution doesn’t recognise Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islanders. In fact, section 127 of the constitution used to state that: “In reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth, or of a State or other part of the Commonwealth, aboriginal natives shall not be counted.”  This section was wholly removed, but not until 1967! That’s the year my husband was born and he’s really young. Incredible.

A group called “Recognise” are working hard to get Indigenous Australians recognised in the constitution. This week, the AFL announced their support of the group and the amendments they recommend. I think everyone should get behind this cause.

Monkeys

Monkeys – those cheeky buggers never cease to amaze me. Ever since I lived in Launceston, a kilometre or two from City Park where there’s a monkey enclosure (I know, random, but when you live there it’s not considered weird), I have had some sort of attachment to monkeys of all shapes and sizes. Those Launceston monkeys were diagnosed with herpes some years ago and they have the ugliest pink bottoms you’ve ever seen, but still I used to visit them regularly.

Vang

Vang

Last weekend my fascination with monkeys sparked up again at the Melbourne Zoo when I was reunited with my friend Vang, a dear little gibbon I met last year. Back then, Vang hang by her arms against the viewing widow and stared at us. I gazed into her little heart shaped face and fell in love. This time, she was still there by the window. I fancied she’d been waiting for me and I put my face against the window too. We stared into each other’s eyes and I wanted to take her home.

When we walked away my husband said, “I think you just had a moment with a monkey”. I thought I did too. Until I googled Vang and found her in various photos giving others the benefit of her up-close gaze. Little tart.

Later, the gorillas shagged right in front of us and the bloke next to us muttered kind of wistfully, “He’s onto a good thing.” His wife wasn’t amused. I laughed for a good few days.

Thanks monkeys

Mandarin Duck

Thanks again to the zoo, I discovered that Mandarin Duck isn’t a duck dish featuring small orange citrus fruit, but a very beautiful, slightly weird looking duck species peculiar to Asia.

Perhaps that one’s not so amazing, just me being a dumbo.

mandarin duck

But oh what a world is ours.

*Lyrebirds are not extinct by any means, just very hard to spot. I spent a childhood trying to find a lyrebird and never did. Did you know they can mimic a huge variety of sounds including other songbirds, koalas, chain saws, camera clicks and baby cries. More amazement.

 

WORKING MUMS ARE INCREDIBLE

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So my brain almost exploded yesterday. Honestly, it did. There was almost a terrible mess in the kitchen and all over three traumatised children. I had to have a little head-down moment in the plastics cupboard and let loose a few tears in order to relieve the potentially fatal pressure in my head.

It wasn’t a particularly hard day; I did a 9 til 4 work day with some good people, not too taxing, nothing physical, nothing too heavy on the synapses. That was the easy bit. I liked that bit. It was the last of three work days this week if I include a professional development day last Sunday. This is unusual for me. I usually work to my own schedule, depending on what needs to be done and mostly from home. This week, I was a working mum. A part time worker but a worker all the same.

But it wasn’t the work that built up the pressure in my brain, it was the other bits that surround a Mother Who Works, they are the explodey brain bits. Stuff like:

- A child gets sick and the entire week’s schedule had to be rejigged. Everything gets thrown out of whack, other people are inconvenienced and there is another black mark against another my otherwise reliable name.

- I have to scrabble around for childcare for said sick child (well again but with no where to go on account of said schedule rejig). She is outraged by the unexpected change to routine, which leads to me having to prise her off me like a little koala and then close a door on her wailing, thereby unleashing that ol’ motherguilt beast, which niggles and nips variously for the rest of the day.

- I spend workday breaks phoning the plumber to arrange delivery of a new toilet, buying children’s ibuprofen, returning the wrong toilet seats and making a quick happy birthday phone call to my husband’s Godchild.

- The home commute requires more stops than a Melbourne tram – including a last minute and desperate swerve into the Kid’s Fat Clinic (KFC) drive through. I pray that no one I know will see me but the wholesome vegetarian from up the road drives by and waves. And even though I’m in a queue of other shamefaced mothers, I know about the thermomix ones with who’ve had the week’s dinners planned and prepared since Sunday. And the guilt beast will start to snarl.

- On arrival back home, no one give a cat’s wrinkled arsehole what kind of day I had or what I did, they just care about where their lunch order money is, who moved their library book and why the insurance forms haven’t been signed. The dishwasher needs unpacking, uniforms are strewn about the house and a not-fully-thought-out holiday needs to be booked RIGHT NOW for 50% off.

- The washing, owing to neglect, is emitting a musty protest smell – even from the clean pile. I realise that all the knickers in the house are now in the laundry and there’s been a maelstrom of bare bottoms searching for coverage each morning. And I’m not sure how well the children’s teeth have been brushed or whether hair wash night happened.

- The grocery shopping is overdue and the freezer’s at a three year low (I know because two frozen nappies and a small container of breast milk has been uncovered. And my youngest is four).

- There are overdue invitations to respond to and I didn’t get to the bank or phone grannies and there’s home reading and eyebrows that need a pluck but how can I put eyebrows and other shallow needs before my children’s spelling words and nutritional well being? This reminds me that I haven’t exercised in weeks and my jeans feel a little tight. And I haven’t even looked at my bikini line (is there a line at all?). And amongst it all is the inner pester of a writing addiction left unsatisfied for days.

And then someone spills their milk and blames someone else and an argument breaks out and suddenly I don’t know what to do first because there’s too much. It’s just all too much for one medium sized person with medium sized brain. Too. Much.

So – for want of a better solution – I scrabble about in the chaos that is the plastics cupboard, rest my head in it for a minute and sob a bit. And decide that expectations of the working woman are too damn high and that perhaps it would be better for everyone if I just put on a housecoat, polish the teapot and call, “Surrender!”.

Let’s face it, unless you’re supremely rich or have invented a secret clone-yourself mechanism, there’s no magic fairy person doing your household management while you’re out extending yourself and bettering your prospects (not to mention bringing home some bacon); there’s just stuff piling up – to be done on the weekend if you’re not running around to sports grounds and dance classes. You can have a soaring career but only at the expense of time with family, an organised household and inner peace.funny-mom-ecard

Who’s the fucker who said we can have it all?

And yes, this has been just three days for me. I know, pathetic. Some women do this for their whole lives, like my Mum – I don’t remember her blubbering over the tupperware. Some do indeed have it all. Am I soft? Incapable? Or have expectations of mothers changed? Or are my expectations of myself too high?

Whatever, frankly I’m too tired to answer that and anyway, what I really want to say is LET’S GET AROUND WORKING MOTHERS BECAUSE THEY ARE AMAZINGLY INCREDIBLE - they really, truly are. I take my hat off to every one of you. Actually I don’t do hats so I take off my house socks to every one of you, and my trackies, you are DEAD. SET. AWE. SOME. because you do it all and I never hear anything on the news about your brains exploding.

And by the way, it was just a weak moment. I will only surrender a little bit, on certain days.

 

 

 

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