It’s Earth Hour 2012 – what are you going to do about it?

In 2007, WWF-Australia inspired Sydney-siders to show their support for climate change action in the first ever Earth Hour event. It showed that everyone, from children to CEOs and politicians, has the power to change the world they live in. In Sydney, Australia, 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights out for one hour to take a stand against climate change.

In 2008, the plan was to take Earth Hour to the rest of Australia. But then the City of Toronto, Canada, signed up and it wasn’t long before 35 countries and almost 400 cities and towns were part of the event. It said something compelling to the world: that the climate challenges facing our planet are so significant that change needs to be global.

With the invitation to ‘switch off’ extended to everyone, Earth Hour quickly became an annual global event. It’s scheduled on the last Saturday of every March – closely coinciding with the equinox to ensure most cities are in darkness as it rolled out around the Earth.

In 2011, Earth Hour saw hundreds of millions of people across 135 countries switch off for an hour. But it also marked the start of something new – going Beyond the Hour to commit to lasting action on climate change. And with the power of social networks behind the Earth Hour message, we hope to attract even more participation so we can build a truly global community committed to creating a more sustainable planet.

toeing the line

Mr FD was talking, yet again, in his sleep early this morning. First it was an “Oh God!” as though he was both surprised and beseeching, but in time it became obvious that he was fighting with someone in his dream (I moved to the edge of my side of the bed, ready to hit the bunkers) “You @#^%# !” Then just as suddenly he rolled out of bed and went to the bathroom. When he returned to the bed I asked him who won and he couldn’t remember any of it. I guess it was God 1 : Mr FD 0, again.

His altercation had woken me from my own dream. I was checking messages on my mobile phone and there was one message that contained a male voice quietly and calmly reading verses from a certain middle eastern holy text. I had visions of Cat Stevens on my message bank. Hey, it was my dream!

I told Mr FD I had received the call.


“Well, that’s a cheap way to get a message out.” he replied

“Robbo calling the fallen?” I knew where I stood on the list.

“Please hold for a message from God,” he said assuming a voice several levels lower than his own.  (Why do we always assume that the Big Whatever has a deep baritone voice, when maybe BW sounds like Jerry Lewis in his hey day?)

“Oh God (unintentional witticism) what if he had an Indian accent and I hung up on him? “ (If I suspect the voice on the end of the line is a telemarketer I usually instantly hang up. One poor gentleman once called back seven times trying to get through to Mr FD on legitimate business).


Mr FD was no longer listening, too involved in his own impersonations, “God on line one… Reverse charge call from heaven.” He was having a jolly time amusing himself.


I let him enjoy himself, it’s his birthday today and he was probably having the most fun he is going to have all day.

have I got your number?

When someone makes the public announcement that they have spent the past week in bed, most people respond with the remark, “oh aren’t you the lucky one!” Explain that it was neither a matter of choice nor enjoyment, a tiny bit of them still remains unconvinced as it really is every woman’s dream to spend a week slothing in their bed. I don’t think slothing would be the male number one choice for a week in bed, but far be it for me to speak for the male of the species (well, at least this time).

Indeed, I have been slothing in bed, as the piles of empty sports drink bottles and tissues on the floor next to my bed, and mugs with the dregs of three day old instant soup on the side table testify. I could have asked for a plastic shopping bag to use as a garbage bag, but that would have taken thought and effort, both beyond me this week. (Yes, I do have enough cloth shopping bags on the floor of my pantry to give every fleeing refugee heading for the border, but come on, who remembers to take them when they are actually going to the grocery market; and there are only so many extra bags I can buy from guilt before I will be nominated to appear on one of those television hoarding programs).

Two things I did manage to achieve though: I learnt to move position every now and then to avoid bed sores while also avoiding any increase in pain, if such a thing was possible, and I also lost two kilograms from Monday to Thursday. It is called the Diverticulitis Diet, and is a marathon of intense and prolonged gut wrenching pain; and I do mean gut wrenching, sleepless days and nights, and a near liquid diet. Any pain killer stronger than paracetamol merely prolongs the fun so it is a long day’s night.  I predict that you won’t be reading about the DD in the next edition of any women’s magazines, or men’s for that matter! (My physiotherapist declares that her male colleagues are more conscious of body fat and count calories more than her female colleagues).

Mr FD has been my knight in a white coat, not. Even though he works from home, he managed to check on me with the amazing regularity of about every six hours. I think he was hoping to miss the period of rigour mortis, after which I could perhaps be posed in a more angelic position, and hair combed out of its impacted mohawk, before the hearse arrived. Then again, his rounds did seem to coincidence with amazing regularity to the exact time he thought about meals and wanted to know what there was to eat. When I complained to his hastily retreating back about his lack of the Florence Nightingale gene his solution was to suggest that I phone him in his downstairs lair should I need him. I yelled, only so he could hear me as he walked back down the staircase, that I couldn’t remember his #@$%^*# mobile number. (Who memorises phone numbers in this day and age, for heavens sake!) Ever the man for detail he turned on the landing, only so that I could hear his voice a little clearer, and recited his mobile number. Strangely enough I didn’t have a pen and notebook in my pyjama shirt pocket, as one does, and explained that I was terribly sorry but circumstances prevented me from taking full advantage of his information management.

I got my revenge though. A public pathway runs below our bedroom window, and at times I was in so much pain on Monday and Tuesday that I may have been making enough noise to equal a barrack of torture victims at Guantanamo Bay. The ensuite window was also open, just to ensure maximum neighbour effect. Having lived in suburbia my entire life I know that neighbours are never ones to let fact get in the way of a colourful and creative work of fiction, so I am sure that they have now marked Mr FD as a perpetrator of domestic violence, or that I am into sadomasochism, which after 35 years of marriage is probably nearer the mark; either way I win.

An eye on my world (9)

Waiting for my appointment with the technician who was to create my prosthetic, I watched a small boy, aged about two who was sitting playing at his father’s feet. His older brother, perhaps four years of age, sat beside his father. After they went in, the receptionist told me that the little boy had already had one eye removed due to cancer, and was in that day to allow the therapist to photograph his remaining eye as the eye was about to be removed due to another cancer. They wanted to ensure that his second prosthetic eye as a match to his natural eye colour as well.

Two years old and he was about to go blind. How would he remember colours, trees or his father’s face? The receptionist was close to tears as she continued to explain that the boys’ mother had deserted the family, and so the father was raising his sons alone.

At this time I had no guarantee that the exact same thing wouldn’t happen to me. My condition was so rare that they couldn’t say that I was clear from other complications for some years to come.

Over the years I have often wondered what happened to that small boy. Has he had a happy life? Has he had a life at all? Whenever I have felt sorry for myself and my less than perfect vision, the image of that small boy playing with his toy cars on the waiting room floor reminds me that I have much to be grateful for.

The process for creating a prosthetic eye is much the same process as they use to create a denture impression. The technician mixes a rubber cement mixture that is packed into the eye socket to set. A small dop stick is inserted and I had to sit quietly for a few minutes with the stick protruding from between my eyelids until the mould set, and it was removed from the eye socket.

I can’t say that it hurts, but it is not the most pleasant sensation. The first time, my eye socket was still a little tender, but I have to admit that it wasn’t the worst experience so far. I think I was more nervous because I didn’t know what was going to happen next, and I was so tired of being poked and prodded.

The technician then got paint and brushes and started to build up a green iris to match my remaining eye. He told me I had a very unusual green eye, but somehow it didn’t feel like a compliment.

As I mentioned much earlier in this tale, I had always been very vain about my eyes. I have very long dark eyelashes, and I frequently received compliments on my beautiful eyes. Now I felt as though God was punishing me for my vanity. I learnt the lesson not to be so vain and proud in what perhaps may have been a cruel way, but now I feel that it has made me a better person .

Humans are by nature curious creatures and in the weeks I sported my eye patch I had to tolerate many stares. I guess it was a little out of the ordinary to see a young woman sporting an eye patch, but I have never been able to understand why complete strangers think that they have the right to comment on anyone’s appearance.

Mr FD and I could not venture out anywhere without someone staring, and nine times out of ten making a comment. Poor Mr FD got accused of punching me on a regular basis usually by men.  I routinely replied that I had an eye operation and gave no further details  It wasn’t as though I looked grotesque. I was just a young woman with an eye patch. It wasn’t even a black eye patch, though a work colleague and I joked about creating a black eye patch and buying a parrot for my shoulder; it was a very discreet skin coloured patch, and as I had fairly long hair it wasn’t exactly a neon sign on my face.  I can’t help but feel empathy and sorrow for people who have major physical deformities, because people can be so cruel. You can see them stare and then turn to their companions and say something, or they make their thoughtless comments as though it is any of their business.

Mr FD was my support at this time. He never worried about my appearance, and he took the jibs, and he made me feel normal. Perhaps if he hadn’t been there I may not have handled things so well. It would have only been natural for an eighteen year old woman to feel that her attractiveness and desirability had been sorely diminished, but his comment was “I met a girl with two pretty eyes, and now I have a girl with one pretty eye.” But then again, I was Flamingo Dancer and I was comfortable in my own skin. I liked me and having one less eye was not going to make a difference to that!

In fact, the change in my appearance and the possibility of an uncertain future – would the same thing happen to the other eye was not known – worried him so little that one day when he was working on his final year project (he is an agronomist) in the college glasshouse, and I was sitting on an upturned bucket in the doorway, eye patch and all, he calmly dropped a marriage proposal into the conversation.

Life was changing in so many ways and in such a short time.

An eye on my world (8)

I returned to the Specialist’s rooms to have my stitches removed. There were only a few stitches inside the empty eye socket, but they had actually become my major irritant, itching and becoming more uncomfortable as the days passed. It was not exactly a place I could scratch, even if I had wanted too, but I did find some relief from just pressing the dressing against the area.

Up to this point in time I had never experienced stitches. My tonsils had been removed the year before, but that was of little consequence compared to what I was experiencing now.

When the dressing was removed the doctor made the kind remark “that’s an eyebrow that needs taming”. A delightful comment to remind a young woman that a monobrow was forming behind her bandage!

While the doctor worked on my wound I was making a very low sound in my throat as I exhaled. It was like a deep sigh. Over the years I have realised I make this sound whenever I experience pain, as if it is some primal gut instinct (or should I say throat instinct!). At this time I was however unaware I was even making the sound, I guess I was just trying to find a happy place.

“What are you making that noise for?” he asked, uttered less as a question and more as an irritation.

I should have replied “I don’t know, but I am eighteen, I’ve just had my eye removed, maybe I am trying to comfort myself, because you sure aren’t helping.” Instead I fell silent, feeling embarrassed and ashamed as though I had failed some test.

After the procedure we settled down to talk. Time to deal with the elephant in the room. Time stopped while he shuffled papers and prepared his performance. Hurry up, speak.


No Cancer.

No sign of anything outside of the eye.

He actually said, “We didn’t know what we had until we sent the eye to London for examination.” In lay man’s terms, I had a growth on the nerve ending of the iris and it was rare. I was the thirteen recorded case in the English speaking world to that time. There was that number thirteen again.

In time the doctors would write up my case for publication and my primary doctor over the years, received phone calls from around the world asking for information about my case and that all important question: is she still alive?

The next step for me was to wait six weeks until everything healed and then the process of life with a prosthesis would begin; as well as living with the fear that something might happen to my remaining eye.

casting my vote


Today we are voting for a new state government, in what all polls predict will be a landslide for a party led by someone that I think is an arrogant little upstart. Such is democracy.

Voting is compulsory in Australia, and individuals can be fined if they don’t have a valid reason such as illness for not voting. In my mind, if you don’t vote, then you have no right to complain!