Visions of Australia

Australia, you're standing in it!

Marie-Celeste de Villentroy in Australian flag, ca. 1920 photograph by Albert de Villentroy

First Miss Australia Beryl Mills of WA, 1927 photographed by Sam Hood

woman feeds a koala, kangaroo and emu

Flamingo Files Australian style

Tomorrow is Australia Day and in good Australian style we have chosen a man that most people have never heard of.  I am not saying that Simon McKeon is not a good man, or a great choice, I am just saying that most of the Australian population would not have ever heard his name until today.  Who would have ever thought that a banker could have a heart!

 One of the library assistants is a short, plump woman. Her adult daughter came in today and I was introduced to her. She was a plump little woman too. Then the daughter’s two school age children came in, and they had the same round faces and plump bodies. My mouth wanted to exclaim, “You look like a tray of chipolatas” (in Australia chipolata sausages are short and thick), but I knew they were inside words and so said “hello” instead. Self-control is a constant battle.

 GOF and Snowy : Short and thick and does the trick, are inside words, not outside words, so control yourselves

 I taught my first class in library skills today – year 8. They were so cute. I fell in love with them straight away. I asked them to write something about books they either loved or hated. One little girl couldn’t control herself and burst out “Twilight confuses me!” I asked her to explain and she said she couldn’t understand how Bella declares she loves Edward so much that she wants to be a vampire, but at the same time she is carrying on with Jacob. Wise kid that one, the student, not stupid Bella.

 Discovered one of the school’s cameras had gone missing, last seen just before end of the previous school year! I sent an email out asking for reports of any sighting, in captivity or the wild. I ended by writing, “someone is going to the top of my stick list!” I had several phone calls about last sightings, and a half hour later one of the secretaries arrived carrying the camera. She had been sent “anonymously” to return it, without naming names. We suspected it was from the head of school, so I sent out an email calling off the hunt. A foundling was left on the doorstep at the library. We are thinking of calling it Michael”. Michael is the name of the head of school. All must obey.

 Libraries are reportedly one of the workplaces with the highest levels of conflict. My ladies are proof positive of it. They snipe at each other all the time. “I had to help her with something and then I couldn’t do my own work.” The helping her was a task I had set all three, and her “work” was covering books with contact. Guess which wins? I have scheduled all four for individual meetings with me on Thursday (one is only 18 and a lovely girl and no trouble at all) and after that the riot act may be read. Luckily one is leaving in 8 weeks, so just have to sort out the other two. Sigh. I always like a work place to have a couple of males to balance out the bitchiness. We are all female in the library. Given a chance to replace staff, I will certainly look for a male if at all possible.

 Went to the movie on the weekend to view Morning Glory with Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton. Highly predictable but enjoyable romantic comedy. Probably best to save money and wait for the DVD.

 2011 is a month old, and frankly as a year it has been a real disappointment. The only good point is that it appears to be flying by jus as fast, if not faster, than 2010 which was pretty hohum.

 Do you ever sit in public meetings, such as, say, school assemblies, and wish you could just scream “will you shut up and let us get on with the rest of our lives!” No? Me either. I mean everyone should sit and listen to why they should wear a hat for 22 minutes straight, shouldn’t they? Of course, they should… sigh.

 Cognitive enhancer.  Think about it. Cognitive enhancer. No reason, just think about it.

 I get really annoyed when I say “I love a good cup of tea” and someone replies “Oh yes, I love my camomile, peppermint, nettle, lucerne, tea.” Those are not teas, people, they are weeds and animal fodder. Tea is TEA. Tea with meat on its bones. Tea with a reason for being – caffeine! Not pretend tea for sissies. Next time someone says it I may stick a teaspoon where the sun don’t shine and turn them into a weed popsicle.

 So, if they are now using arsenic as a treatment for leukaemia, does that mean if some accidentally ended up in Mr FD’s dinner, one could, if one hypothetically mind you, claim that one thought he was looking a bit pale and use a defence of warding off leukaemia? What do you think, my, one’s chances would be of full acquittal? Hypothetically of course.

 Every Australia Day the old “we should be a republic” debate raises its dusty head, as it did tonight on the news. Mr FD suggested that the campaign jingle for the pro republican side should be “Camilla is going to be your queen, yes she is!  Camilla is going to be the queen, yes indeed”, sung to the tune of “She’s coming run the mountain”.  I think we would get a 100% vote for the republic if they did! Charles is more frightening that Camilla though I must admit. Cousins should never marry and he is proof of why!

 And so to bed, I go

the questions of an ordinary woman

We had a four generation Flamingo Dancer shin ding get together at the weekend; destressing after the recent flood dramas. Wine and tea flowed in equal proportions. As well as raspberry soft drink (soda). We covered all the bases!

 The nice thing was that it was at Mr and Mrs Boy’s (aka Daughter1) home and so I got to be a guest for a change. The bonus to that was that I got to spend more time talking with my Mum.

 The recent floods have really upset her, as she knew so many of the people involved,  so many of the victims. We were having a serious moment where we were doing the usual gratitude exchange that we were thankful we had all escaped in one piece, except for Niece2 who has of course been left with a gutted home at Fernvale, when Mum said that she no longer believed that there was a God.

 We all attended catholic schools growing up (I went to a state high school, because the catholic high school closed) and usually attended Sunday mass. My Dad was perhaps the most religious of us all, perhaps due to a youthful friendship with the parish priest. They would play football and go hunting together. Dad would even attend mass solo if Mum declined to go for “social” reasons (a better invitation elsewhere!). So religion was in our lives as a constant, but was never a thing discussed at home. Whether we said prayers at night was up to us, and so like most children we only did when we wanted something!

 So I was a little surprised that Mum declared so openly that she no longer believed in God. Thinking back over her 84 years though I can understand why she has come to feel that way.

 She has seen baby siblings die, parents of young families die, friends die in horrific accidents, two of her own children suffer with serious medical problems on more than one occasion, her husband die a long, sad death that robbed us of his spirit long before his body, and now the knowledge that ordinary people, with no great expectations for their lives, who are going about their daily lives, to be so cruelly taken from those lives. She cannot reconcile why bad things happen to basically good people, if there is a God.  I challenge anyone to continue to believe that there is a God after all that.

 I understand the role that God plays in society. I believe that we all need a set of values to live our lives by such as honesty, compassion, integrity, love, or society ceases to function as a coherent, democratic whole.

  I have never, ever understood however how anyone could ever say that the horrible things that happen to people, and I am not speaking of war, for we do that to ourselves, but the natural disasters that happen every day to peoples all over the world, that it is the will of God. Any concept of God that I have is centred on a benevolent God, not one who punishes or hurts. I can not just say what has happened in the last few weeks in Australia, and Brazil is due to the hand of a God. To me that is a cop out, it takes our own role out of the sequence of things out of the picture, so we don’t have to look at out own condition.

 One only has to look at the town of Grantham, a known flood prone area. It has a history of flooding and in 1974 was completely flooded. Why did authorities allow people to build right on the creek bank knowing that it flooded? Why didn’t authorities regulate to make people build new homes on higher ground? I believe that only in recent weeks a brand new home was completed in Grantham, on the creek bank, right next to a home where a family had to be rescued from their roof (and that family has been through the 1974 flood before building their house there also!). What the hell are we thinking?

 I myself have been guilty of quipping the old cliché, “every drought is ended by a flood” but that is a glib response. What are we doing about it? Why aren’t we building buffer zones around flood prone areas and not just falling to whims of developers and builders? And then laying the blame at the feet of some God!

 I have rambled between subjects I know, but to me they are connected, our concept of God, whatever that may or may not be, and taking responsibility for our own actions and stupidity. In my opinion, creating a God to be a boogie monster under the bed (or up in the sky!) just to escape responsibility for our own lives is one of our great human failings and a large contributor to humankind’s inhumanity to humankind.

invasion of the little people

First day of classes!

The little people are coming, the little people are coming!

School starts tomorrow and great-nephew is to start year 2 and great-niece1 is into first grade. The usual road they take to school is still cut, and the other alertnative could take up to two hours, one way. So they are coming to stay with us for a couple of days.

Their Mum (Niece1), their Grandma (my Sister) and baby sister (great-niece2) are also coming along. It was all arranged late this afternoon, so there has been some fast airing of unused bedrooms and child proofing areas.

That is a lot of being nice for me. Plus a new job. More nice. Luckily Wednesday is a holiday, however some friends are calling in, which is more nice.  A lot of nice for a self-absorbed, egotistical but fabulous goddess.  Hope my  delicate system can cope with the strain. I may need to double the strengt of my tea.

you won’t need no camel

I'll be your belly dancer, prancer. And you can be my sheik.

I was cautiously making my way to the ensuite bathroom in the dark of the night when Mr FD spoke.

“Why are you setting off  into the desert like that? Totally unprepared, no hat or water and wearing thongs (flip-flops),” he asked.

“But I have a parasol,” I argued in turn.

“Do you think that will be enough?”

“It is midnight at the oasis,” I replied, closing the bathroom door behind me.

I regretted my reply instantly, as Mr FD started to sing his falsetto version of the 1970s tune “Midnight at the Oasis”, or in his words, “Midnight at the Oasis, even my camel has gone to bed.”

It was a very high falsetto, which would have made even poor Minnie Riperton (Nov 8, 1947 – Jul 12, 1979) turn over in her grave. However, it was proof positive of two things.

One, that Mr FD had finally and completely lost his grip on reality, and two, that I may have also finally and totally emasculated him.

My work here is done.

Midnight at the Oasis – lyrics by Minnie Riperton

Midnight at the oasis
Send your camel to bed
Shadows paintin’ our faces
Traces of romance in our heads
Heaven’s holdin’ a half-moon
Shinin’ just for us
Let’s slip off to a sand dune, real soon
And kick up a little dust
Come on, Cactus is our friend
He’ll point out the way
Come on, till the evenin’ ends
Till the evenin’ ends
You don’t have to answer
There’s no need to speak
I’ll be your belly dancer, prancer
And you can be my sheik
—— guitar solo ——
I know your Daddy’s a sultan
A nomad known to all With fifty girls to attend him, they all send him , Jump at his beck and call
But you won’t need no harem, honey When I’m by your side
And you won’t need no camel, no no When I take you for a ride,
Come on,
Cactus is our friend He’ll point out the way
Come on, till the evenin’ ends Till the evenin’ ends
Midnight at the oasis Send your camel to bed
Got shadows paintin’ our faces And traces of romance in our heads

read my lips

I gave a short presentation to the teaching staff on Friday. I finished by eye balling the audience and saying :

I don’t like a lot of nasty rules and regulations, I want our library to be organic and a happy place for our students and ourselves, so whatever policies  or procedures we have, we have them for a reason, not because we spend our days thinking up ways of making your life hard. Though it may come to that if you cease following the very simple policies and procedures. Remember it isn’t just about YOU, it is a level playing field and we all need to play fair.

However, may I just mention at this point that though I am 4th generation Australian, my gene pool is pure Germanic (I grew up in the Lockyer Valley and as many of you know cousins like to marry cousins there!)  So I can claim the blood of Huns in my veins and so break the rules and I will hunt you down. In fact I will add you to my stick list, which is the list of people that I am going to hunt down on my last day and hit with a stick.

It would appear that my reputation had not preceeded me, and the audience laughed thinking that I was being amusing. Little did they know that I was utterly serious. They will soon know I always speak the truth and I always follow through on my word.

Even more strangely, everyone was much more open and friendly after my presentation. The head of senior school pulled me aside to say “well done”. I however, sensed that they had failed to understand my main point – cross me and I will ruin your life.

Some people just have to learn the hard way, don’t they?

the cat’s meow

We have a school cat. His name is Tea Bag. He hangs around the admin building all day. Apparently he loves the students and they love him.

Every day I have to step over him when I go into admin to check on paperwork for the library. He has ignored me ever day, despite my cheery greeting and calling him a lovely boy. I thought I was going to be the only person he doesn’t like at school, but this morning he jumped to his feet and meowed as he eye balled me.

I ignored him. I am not going to let a cat on a power trip have the upper hand in any relationship.

There is also a white school duck wandering the grounds. We have only exchanged a passing  nod. I don’t see a firm friendship developing.