The Grass is NOT Always Greener on the Other Side

I need to have a rant! With much fanfare it’s recently been announced that NASA is to begin more exploration of Mars. You can see some images of this planet here:

Now that you’ve undoubtedly been wowed by those images think of some earthly  places you’ve seen. Just in Australia I’ve seen tropical rainforests, snow covered mountains, stony deserts, amazing  coral reefs and beaches with kilometres of golden sands. I’ve seen giant Eucalyptus trees, tiny orchids and wonderful little insectivorous Sundews.

In my backyard I’ve seen Springtails so tiny you’d fit a dozen on a pinhead, absolutely beautiful rainbow coloured beetles and an hours drive away giant Southern Right Whales playing with their young off Middleton Beach.

Earth is home to millions of different species of plants and animals BUT the species which claims to be the cleverest is the one fouling it for everything else. People have caused the creation of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch but it’s apparently “too difficult and too expensive” to clean it up. Not as expensive though as a little trip to Mars!

https://response.restoration.noaa.gov/about/media/how-much-would-it-cost-clean-pacific-garbage-patches.html

One country is prepared to spend over  $2.47 billion on an expedition to Mars, a planet that to me is less appealing than the most inhospitable place on Earth I’ve ever been. I wish that the billions being spent on nuclear weapons and space exploration was instead used to remediate the damage done to this incredible planet we live on now.

 

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New Meets Old

These days it’s proved impossible for me to resist the tidal wave of the mobile phone. A big issue for me has been the “always available” aspect but currently the most annoying feature relates to fashion. Yes, the fashion of bigger and bigger screen sizes but also the fashion for false pockets or sagging pockets in clothes. It’s summer now and hot so wearing nice loose clothes keeps me comfortable, I don’t often wear dresses but those I do wear don’t have functioning pockets. The lovely, loose, soft pants which are currently fashionable have equally soft, loose pockets which means that every time I sit down the phone silently slips out and often disappears into the side of the seat cushions. If I keep the phone in a bag when I go out I become all thumbs when I try to retrieve it to answer a call. Frustrating.

I’ve discovered a solution at least to the soft pants, a press stud midway on the pocket edge and that’s where new meets old. The mobile phone and soft, loose pants are the new while the press studs I found were definitely old. The one I used today was the last on a card I found in my grandmother’s sewing basket. She died in 1959!

Christmas Cards –life stories

Another Christmas has come and gone and with it the latest round of cards but this time it’s left me wishing I’d actually kept some over the years. Last year I was shocked to learn that a friend’s husband had died just a month before Christmas, this year I read that another friend’s husband is now on oxygen 24/7 and my brother-in-law is in end stage respiratory failure. It was very confronting, there’s no ignoring the fact my friends and I are now nearing the ends of our lives. If I think back over the years and the Christmas cards we shared, they covered all the significant events in our lifetimes.

I probably started sending Christmas cards when I left Australia on the almost obligatory backpacking jaunt to Europe in the 1970s. Although I wrote weekly to my parents it was the annual Christmas cards that shared my travel experiences with my friends. Some were married before I left but the news of other engagements and marriages  came in Christmas cards. Babies arrived so then photos were often enclosed in the Christmas cards.

Other significant happy events like buying a home, children starting school or holiday news were shared. As time went on the news changed to include the graduations, employment, engagements, marriages etc of children usually followed by the births of grandchildren.

For many years I received lovely hand made cards from a friend’s mother then she sent commercially produced ones until finally there was no card and I read in her daughter’s Christmas card that she’d died.

As I think back over all the years and all the information we’ve shared about our lives I wish I still had the written record. Postage has become more expensive, two cards that came this year from overseas had stamps on them worth £1.30 or $2.65 AUD so even people like me who’ve been sending Christmas cards for years are actually reconsidering.

I doubt that my grandchildren will ever send Christmas cards, emails and social media are the current communication methods and they’re free.  I could say they’re usually deleted and lost forever but so are all the cards and stories I’ve thrown away over the last 46 years.  If only I’d understood how important they really were.

Instead of two like this only one came this year, another leaf has fallen from the tree.

Instead of two like this only one came this year, another leaf has fallen from the tree.

Names

With the birth of a new grandchild coming up in a few months the subject of names has come up again. I started to wonder if the name given to a child makes them more likely to develop certain characteristics.

I’m sure Mum had most say in naming us and I was registered, “Rosemary Sue” but to Dad that was too fancy and I was always called, “Sue”. I wasn’t Suzanne, Suzanna or Susan, just Sue and I was used to that. When I went to a private secondary school Mum convinced me to let them all think I used my first name. It never sat well with me and as soon as I left school I always introduced myself as “Sue”. I’m not someone who likes to stand out, I don’t like parties and big celebrations much preferring smaller family get togethers. If I’d been called “Rosemary” all my life would I have been different? Would I have seen myself as someone much more complex and interesting? If I’d chosen my own name it would probably have been something like “Josie “ or Rebecca” to me they’re nice to say, they have a bit of mystery to them, I wouldn’t have been one of six in a class but nor would I have been constantly explaining my name or spelling it out for people.

My own children seem to suit their names perfectly and because the names have been around for hundreds of years people can’t tell their ages just by hearing their names. When I hear the names “Summer, Rainbow and River” I always think they’re children of 1970s “Flower Power” parents. Some children are lumbered with names from TV series and others share names with offspring of famous parents. I think it’s lucky for baby girls that no-one famous has decided Gertrude, Ethel, Myrtle or Gladys are the way to go.

Now, back to my original point. If my next grandchild is named  Sebastian or Clementine will they be flamboyant, spirited and artistic? Would a Bruce or Sam be down to earth, thoughtful and athletic? Stephen or Alice, would they be a good communicator, self assured and academic?

Choosing a name is such an important task for new parents, names come ready loaded with associations and expectations. I guess that’s why some people prefer their nicknames.

Life on Mars

OK, I’m wound up again. Recently there has been great excitement about the possibility of water on Mars. Scientists all over the world can barely contain their enthusiasm about the potential for life in some form, if there is indeed water. Images have been shown at every news broadcast and what do they look like? Well in my opinion they are almost identical to Australian landscapes ravaged by mining. Great cliffs of waste rock and dirt with deep gullies gouged out by the infrequent rainstorms. Not a blade of grass grows.

Our Earth has absolutely wondrous environments, tropical rainforests, vast grasslands, temperate forests and even exciting deserts where, if you look closely, you can see fascinating plants and creatures living in harmony with the tough environment. We have amazing water courses, lakes, rivers and seas teeming with a myriad of different life forms. It seems to me that Mining Companies are being allowed to take this amazing place and turn it into another Martian landscape. Is history just repeating itself? Did man live on Mars long ago?

I really can’t get my head around the fact that at the same time we’re destroying our own amazing environment so many people are excited by what they see on Mars. They obviously don’t know they can see the very same thing if they just take a trip to any one of the mine sites in their own state.

A West Australian mine

A West Australian mine

My Town

I live in Adelaide, South Australia a city of just over 1 million people. People often say it’s so small if you go into the city centre you’re bound to bump into someone you know. The city centre is 1 square mile bordered by parklands on all sides.  Our state “leaders” seem intent on trying to make Adelaide like Sydney or Melbourne but I think that’s a big mistake, small places have their own appeal. I like Adelaide because it’s small for a city, you can travel from one side to the other in about an hour, it’s half an hour west to the beach and the same east to the hills. It suits me, it’s my town.

You can see a larger photo if you click on an image.

Not the 6 o’clock News

During the late 1970s and early 1980s there was a TV programme called, “Not The 9 o’clock News”, it was a comedy sketch programme. I don’t want to plagiarise the show but I do want to bring in, “Not the 6 o’clock News”.

When I was a child I wasn’t interested in reading the paper or listening to the radio to find out what was happening in the wider world, that was for the adults to deal with. One afternoon coming home from school in a crowded bus a newspaper advertising poster with the headline “WORLD WAR 3 IMMINENT” certainly grabbed my attention though. I believed it 100% and was terrified, it had to be true, it was in the newspaper! Happily it didn’t eventuate.

When I was a teenager TV came to our area and it took over news broadcasting for most people.  As technology and communications have improved I’ve seen things from all over the world often happening in real time. Broadcasters choose to report the most dramatic happenings and usually fit them all into a 30 min time slot. What this means for me is a barrage of wars, murders, robberies, flesh eating diseases, catastrophic cyclones, earthquakes, bushfires, droughts or floods causing misery all over the world. Then the ads come on for charities which use this prime time to beg me to PLEASE HELP. The overwhelmingly sad thing is, if I give my last cent it won’t stop the misery and it won’t stop the ad coming on to plead for more.

What’s the solution? For me, since I can’t watch, “Not the 6 o’clock News”,  I’m  choosing not to watch any News, I look on my computer and choose the articles I want to read. I do have a big concern though, about the impact this type of reporting might be having on children. There were terrible things going on in the world when I grew up but I was happily ignorant. I learnt to deal with issues in my little world, a brother who hated me and punched me each time we passed. Tough? Not when compared with a sniper taking potshots at you if you dare peek out your door! Being fed quinces and rice. Yuck? An absolute banquet if there’s no food in your Refugee Village but I didn’t even know those things existed.

How do today’s kids cope when it’s in their faces day in and day out? We don’t want to create a society of people who simply don’t care what happens to others but nor do we want a society of people who are so overwhelmed by world misery that they sink into despair. Maybe someone will produce, “Not the 6 o’clock News”, it will have interesting, varied  segments and every day it will end on a positive note.

Here’s hoping!