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.

 

Advertisements

Times Past – Horses

Irene at  Reflections and Nightmares asked for input from fellow horse tragics.

A Baby Boomer I grew up in an Australian city but our suburb and others nearby included some swampy areas where horses were kept.

I’m about 3 in this photo, big brother seems to be in control.

I loved horses and occasionally I was able to go on trail rides through the swampland in an area which is now totally reclaimed and the site of fancy houses, businesses and a large shopping centre. On some of the swampy ground an old man, “Mr Gray”, used to live in a caravan, not the modern type but more like a gypsy caravan, an old wooden one with steps up to it. In a circle around his caravan were low corrugated iron stables, not at all fancy, I think probably cobbled together from second hand sheets of iron.  There must have been about 10 horses. Nowadays,  if kids were going off to such a place alone everyone would be suspicious of the old man’s motives but as far as I know there was absolutely nothing untoward about it. We paid to go on a trail ride which he led and I suppose he and his horses were able to live on the meagre proceeds.

While I was at Primary School every weekend I used to hang around another place with horses, that was near the Breakout at West Beach. People agisted horses on the Breakout and on weekends girls would gather with their horses. I still remember some of the horses. Tiny was 16 hands high, an ex-racehorse and Rita (named after an actress, Rita Hayworth, a redhead) was a chestnut ex-trotter and once I was doubled up on her as her owner tried desperately to get her to break into a canter. It didn’t happen that day, she just trotted faster and faster! There was an old shaggy horse someone owned and you could hire it for the day, 10/-, I think.  One day I was lucky enough to be given the money to hire it and I had a lovely day with it. I snuggled up to its old neck and felt wonderful having a horse all to myself.

After my day hiring the shaggy, old horse I went home happy but later that night I was scratching and scratching. Mum checked my head and said it was full of bugs, I had to get into the bath and have my head scrubbed then submerge myself under the water. It must have been powerful soap because it dealt a killer blow to the lice or whatever they were! After that I never felt tempted to snuggle up to that old horse again.

When I was about 13 I regularly went on trail rides with a girl from school, her mother would drive us across town to the stables. I remember one day being happy to be able to ride, “Ginger” because she wasn’t an old plodder but I discovered she did know when we turned for home. When we reached a straight, dirt road she took off, I had no control over her at all. Luckily there was no traffic on the main road as we bolted across it and I was still in the saddle when we came to a stop. I think terror kept me stuck there because I know I often fell off for no apparent reason.

I only recall one boy having a horse but he wasn’t a regular at The Breakout.

This photo was taken at Uncle Geoff’s  farm, Trixie was his stock horse. Little sister is on board. I remember getting big bruises from that knee pad when I fell off.

Graduations

Thanks Irene for another suggestion. I’m a Baby Boomer and grew up in an Australian capital city.

Graduating or marking a significant milestone has become commonplace now. Last year I attended a grandchild’s Kindy Graduation evening but I don’t think anything was done to mark early progressions to higher grades when I was a child. At the end of Primary School we were awarded the, “Progress Certificate” if we passed. My report cards show marks so I suppose we must have been tested.

When I was attending Secondary School  the final Assembly for the year was a marathon event with the best reader in the class reading out the best essay and the person deemed the best at reciting her chosen poem performed that too. Every class at every year level was represented.

The third, fourth and fifth years of Secondary School were called, “Intermediate, Leaving and Leaving Honours”.  At the end of each year a dance was held for each of these year levels and as far as I remember that was the only “celebration” of another year being completed.  Being shy I didn’t enjoy the occasions at all.

The first actual Graduation  Ceremony of my own was when I received my Diploma of Teaching. All the girls had to wear white dresses and I guess the boys wore suits.  The ceremony was held at Bonython Hall on North Terrace, Adelaide. My parents would have attended but I don’t have any photos.

 

My next two awards I had posted to me and I didn’t attend the presentations but when I graduated again I wanted to inspire my children so I decided to attend the ceremony. They came to the Festival Theatre to watch, I think what they actually felt was that graduating ceremonies involve lots of speeches and hours of standing around!

 

 

 

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!

Times Past: The Show

Theme for this month’s “Times Past”

Royal Adelaide Show

When we were kids I think this rated just below Christmas for excitement. We always went to The Show which was held in the September school holidays. I remember being there when it was hot but it was only Spring. Mum always arranged for my older brothers to meet up with us at the Penfolds wine bottle. The bottle was enormous and the “wine” flowed continuously.

Mum liked to check out the flower displays which we found boring. I don’t remember Dad being with us, but we did always check out the animals and I can’t imagine Mum ever choosing to do that.

We were allowed to get a Showbag and the 4Square ones kept us happy for days afterwards as we played shops with the little boxes of Rice Bubbles etc. They always had a comic in them and apart from any we managed to get at the church fair those were the only comics we ever had.

No plastic showbags back then

Our family was never one for sideshows, we went on the big Merry-Go-Round but I was a teenager before I tried out the Dodgem Cars, Mad Mouse and Ghost Train. Each year there was some kind of gimmick toy and I loved the slide whistles that meant you could imitate a “Wolf Whistle”. One year fluffy, brightly coloured chickens were on sale and going home on the tram I saw kids with them and was jealous. Now I cringe at the thought that most of the poor things probably died.

Slide Whistle

The log chopping and tree felling was always good to watch. I remember going to the Show by myself when I was about 13 and spent all day sitting in a grandstand watching the ring events. My favourite was the Tent Pegging. One at a time a team of horse riders had to gallop towards a series of small wooden targets which they tried to collect on their lance and carry to the finish line. The team with the most “carries” won the event.

Log Chopping 1950s

The only time we saw Fairy Floss was at the Show and it was a treat, that and Toffee Apples.

I’m not sure when fireworks became a feature of The Show certainly I don’t remember them as a child, they  were only available for Guy Fawkes night, 5th of November. Even if they were on I’m sure by night time Mum would have been worn to a frazzle so we would have been back home and probably in bed!

Toffee Apples

Times Past: Remembered Plants

Irene Waters has taken up another blogger’s suggestion, plants and gardens, for this month’s memoirs.

I’m an Australian, city raised, Baby Boomer.

As I look around my garden now I see things I’ve planted because they bring back happy memories of time spent with my grandparents. I planted a Mulberry Tree because they always remind me of climbing high up the massive one they had in their backyard. I have “Lamb’s Ears” in a pot, I discovered the velvety texture of their leaves where they were growing around the border of Nana’s fish pond. I have a lush fern garden which I always associate with Nana. The path meandered around their backyard with shrubs and trees creating lots of secluded little places.

At home we had a very long lawn along the side of the house, it had been used for playing Bowls and we made good use of it, running through sprinklers in the summer, upending bikes to fix tyres, playing on the swing and rocker as well as doing gymnastics.

Mum worked on the flower beds out the front and along the side while Dad took on all the vegies and fruit trees out the back.

The house was old and for a long time there was a Wisteria covered arch out the front, in September it was wonderful walking under the perfumed, blue flower sprays. Plants I remember Mum growing were Geraniums, Pelargoniums, Coleus, Cinerarias and Dahlias. She always fussed about with Dahlias she cut, singeing the ends before putting them in water. Lilies, including black ones, appeared each year and a Japonica bush with it’s bright flowers on almost bare stems. I loved it when the Guelder Rose bush flowered with its big, white pompom blooms. We kids had fun with the fruit from an old wild peach tree, lining the peaches across the road then waiting for a car to come and squash them.

When we first moved to the house in 1953 the back yard was full of fig trees, all but one were bulldozed and a variety of fruit trees took their places. We ate apricots, almonds, peaches, nectarines, oranges and mandarins, whatever was in season. There seemed to be lemons at any time of year. Grape vines grew along a wire trellis and I loathed coming home at night when spiders would be hanging from the vines and I’d invariably walk face first into a sticky web. Dad also grew tomatoes, sweetcorn and different melons. I lived overseas for seven years and received a letter from Dad once a year, I guess seeing the almond tree in bloom reminded him I wasn’t there because each time his letter told me the tree was in blossom.

In my garden I have Grape Vines, a Lemon Tree, two Fig Trees and a Hibiscus all grown from cuttings taken from the old house. The Snowflakes and Grape Hyacinths which are shooting up now also came from there. I didn’t realize just how many memories were linked to my plants and garden.

 

 

 

 

 

Times Past: Weather

Irene Waters has suggested “weather” as a topic.

Australian city, Baby Boomer

I grew up in South Australia, a place with a temperate climate, no snow, no cyclones. That means when I’m home I call a 12C day bitterly cold!

Every Christmas as kids we used to get new “bathers” and often a beach towel so we always hoped for hot weather then but I never liked extremely hot days. I remember staying at an auntie’s home one summer and she got sick of me being under her feet and insisted I go outside. I found a shady spot under a grape vine and stayed there. No one had air conditioning and heat waves were bad for me. Sprinklers gave us wonderful relief and at home we would play on the lawn running in and out of the long, bar sprinkler. In the evenings Dad would often take us to the beach. We also slept outside on the hottest nights.

I don’t remember rainy days though I do remember picking oranges covered in raindrops. In 1956 the River Murray flooded and we helped Dad fold empty hessian bags that were sent to be filled with sand to protect homes along the river. Once when I went down to the horse yards at West Beach the water trough was completely iced over. That amazed me so it must have been a rare thing. Hailstorms sometimes happened and seeing the ground covered in white always made us imagine it was snow.

During one of our caravan holidays we were at Merrimbula when there was a hailstrorm with hailstones the size of golfballs pelting down. I’d never seen any bigger than peas before.

Thunderstorms always caused a mixture of wonder and fear but I don’t remember anything dramatic resulting from one.

Probably the thing that stuns me most about the weather is the way we’ve come to respond to it. I don’t know anyone who’s car doesn’t have air conditioning. People move from air conditioned homes to air conditioned cars to air conditioned shops etc. Primary School children are kept inside if the weather forecast is over 36 deg C, they don’t have a shady hat or if it’s raining. Schools all have air conditioning, when I was at school that took the form of an open window in summer and a wood burning fire in winter.