A Cautionary Christmas Poem

Summer’s here again
Beach towels and bikinis
It’s that time of year
In the Southern Hemisphere
If you live elsewhere though
It’s a different story
There Winter is settling in
Expect snow flurries and storms
Make sure your home is insulated

The countdown to Christmas
Begins in October for many folks
But in our home the tree
Only goes up the week before
And the presents are useful,
Informative or educational
Or all of the above
We do not consume
For consumerism’s sake alone

Santa in the Land Down Under
Prances in a singlet and thongs
His presents are in a drinks cooler
– called an “Esky” in these parts
His sleigh is a Utility Vehicle
– here it’s called a “Ute”
A Santa in traditional garb
Would be a prime candidate
At the ER for heat exhaustion

Tis the Silly Season
Let the games begin
Tis sad how the true Spirit
Of Christmas has changed
When I was growing up
It was a religious celebration
But now it’s just yet another holiday
A reason to binge buy and
Punish the credit card

Load it up, folks
You know you want it
So get it now, why don’t you
– after all, you have all year next year
To try and pay it off
Let’s all live in the future
Paying an eternity of tomorrows
For the dubious pleasures
Of today

Christmas – what does it mean?
A store Santa, hired to drive a
Sled filled with presents
Pulled by fake reindeer
Along a track high in the atrium
Of a shopping mall
Gets derailed and falls
Three storeys down
Splat! Sled, presents, reindeer and all

And what do people do?
Some film the entire thing
On their new mobile phones
– Santa’s about to go viral
Some take selfies
Others stand and stare
But the rest will scramble and
Fight each other
For Santa’s presents on the floor

My dearest wish is that this scenario
Is not the norm of our Society today
– but look at the evidence
As seen in the snaking queues
For the latest iPhones
And in America, Black Friday
The Spirit of Christmas today
Is very much that fat Coca Cola guy
In the red suit Ho Ho Ho!

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Today, the 21st of December, is traditionally the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere (Winter Solstice) and the longest day in the Southern Hemisphere (Summer Solstice). Because we use the Gregorian calendar, the actual day can vary, from 21-23 December each year. This year, the 2014 Summer Solstice for Perth, Western Australia is 22nd December. Today (or, if you’re pedantic, tomorrow), people near the North Pole will see hardly any sun at all, while people near the South Pole will experience nearly 24 hours of daylight.

Here’s some information on the Solstice, if you’re interested:

http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/december-solstice.html

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Summer/Winter Solstice

Today, the 21st of December, is traditionally the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere (Winter Solstice) and the longest day in the Southern Hemisphere (Summer Solstice). Because we use the Gregorian calendar, the actual day can vary, from 21-23 December each year. This year, the 2014 Summer Solstice for Perth, Western Australia is 22nd December. Today (or, if you’re pedantic, tomorrow), people near the North Pole will see hardly any sun at all, while people near the South Pole will experience nearly 24 hours of daylight.

Here’s some information on the Solstice, if you’re interested:

http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/december-solstice.html

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And here’s what Wikipedia says about the Solstice:

The summer solstice occurs when the tilt of a planet’s semi-axis, in either the northern or the southern hemisphere, is most inclined toward the star (sun) that it orbits. Earth’s maximum axial tilt toward the sun is 23° 26′. This happens twice each year, at which times the sun reaches its highest position in the sky as seen from the north or the south pole.

The summer solstice occurs during a hemisphere’s summer. This is the northern solstice in the northern hemisphere and the southern solstice in the southern hemisphere. Depending on the shift of the calendar, the summer solstice occurs some time between June 20 and June 22 in the northern hemisphere and between December 20 and December 23 each year in the southern hemisphere.

Small wonder then, that so many religious holidays and rituals are celebrated around this time of year. Past civilizations revered Mother Nature and her wonders, and celebrated birth and fertility based around this natural twice-yearly phenomenon.

If you’re lucky enough to be in Ireland for the Winter Solstice (Northern Hemisphere), as in right now, head to Newgrange in Co.Meath, where you can witness the light of the Sun travelling up the passageway to the inner chamber of the mound. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newgrange

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To join in the Summer Solstice (Northern Hemisphere) celebrations at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom, you’ll have to wait til June next year.
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For us folks living in the Land Down Under, sorry, there are no monuments celebrating the Solstices. Christmas is perhaps the closest thing to it. And it’s not so much a case of Ho Ho Ho, as Hot Hot Hot!

The Cycle Of Life

I watched a video online the other day, and the message was this: why fear Death, when it’s just another step in our evolution? We lived for 9 months in our mother’s womb, then we were “born” into this world. To all the other citizens of the Womb Universe, though, we essentially “died” and passed from that world into this. Now we live in this world, for who knows however many years, but eventually we all die and pass from this world into the next. Who’s to say that this death and the death we went through as we passed from our mother’s womb into this world, are not the same thing? Perhaps as we die in this world, we are merely passing through yet another stage in our lives. We did not fear our death in the womb, neither should we be afraid of our death in this world.

As for what the next world is like, there are plenty of “near-death experience” accounts, with varying degrees of concurrence and also divergence. I’m no expert of any religion or spiritual belief, so I won’t even try to talk about the philosophy behind ideas like karma and reincarnation. It might well be that we are born, we live, we die, and we are reborn, to repeat the same cycle over and over again. Or that we are born, we live, we die, we move on to a different plane, and go on in a linear fashion from there. Certainly there are as many beliefs about this as there are religions, and schisms within schisms. This is just one idea in a vast ocean of ideas.

Have a think about this:
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The Smell of Books

I’ve always loved books, ever since I picked my first one up at the age of two. I still remember that book, it was a “Dick and Jane” phonetic storybook, back when Dick was still an acceptable boy’s name. (Hehe, I just looked up “Dick and Jane” on Amazon, just to make sure my memory was accurate, and the books are still going strong!)

Since then, I’ve read and re-read countless books, fiction and non-fiction. Being a believer of total immersion, I read up on obscure and not so obscure subjects such as teddy bears, keeping angora goats, recycling and upcycling, cheesemaking, handbags, felting, needle-felting, beading, handmade books, paper-making, Origami, motorcycling, Freemasonry, perfumes, macarons, French patisserie etc. What can I say, I’m an eclectic magpie.

The rise of e-technology has seen a decline in real books and a phenomenal increase in virtual books. Hardly anyone carries around a book anymore, they’re more likely to be reading an e-book on their smartphone, tablet or e-reader. My Kindle Library has hundreds of titles. But still I buy books for my shelves, even though these days I don’t have the time to read them. My excuse is that I’ll have more than enough time to read them when I’m old and my legs have given up on me. Hopefully by then my eyesight will still be good enough to read with.

And hopefully by that time my nose would still be working. Because, you see, I just love the smell of books.

New books, old books, it doesn’t matter. When I open up a new book, the first thing I do is to bury my nose into the pages and inhale their perfume. How can I describe the smell of a new book? Crisp, clean, with a whiff of vanilla, slightly sweet,
slightly metallic.

I’ve to be more careful with old books. They have their own distinctive smell, but there’s an underlying mustiness, a mouldy, damp, mushroomy scent. I’m paranoid that I might accidentally inhale some spores that may make me ill. With brand new books my nose is right up to the pages; with old books it’s a good 6 inches away.

If I were a parfumier, I’d describe new books as having a fresh, floral base, and old books as having an earthy, mushroom base.

There’s a word that beautifully describes the smell of rain as it hits the earth – Petrichor. I haven’t found one yet that describes the smell of books. Someone please make one (or two) up!

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Here’s a snapshot of the books on my top shelf, which will give you an idea what I’m currently into. Yes, I occasionally take them down for a good sniff or two! Glue-sniffing at its best, I say, and totally harmless.

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And if that’s not enough, for those of you who miss smelling real books because you’ve digitised your entire library, fear not, help is at hand. This blog lists the top 25 paper-scented perfumes and candles. Indulge your senses!

The World Is Coming To An End

I must admit I’ve never been a great fan of rap. Eminem spoiled it for me, with his messages of crime, violence and drugs. But having said that, I guess I haven’t heard enough rap to really form an opinion. Because now, after watching this video, I realise rap can be a powerful way to convey positive messages of Hope and Love too. I stand happily corrected.

Please take the time to watch this very powerful video by rapper and activist Richard Williams aka Prince Ea. Listen to the words, and Be The Change. Share it! Namasté.🙇

http://youtu.be/BzV1FzixSmw

And even if you haven’t got time to watch the video, at least pay heed to the very meaningful words. Here’s the transcript of the lyrics, from Prince Ea’s website:

The world is coming to an end
The air is polluted, the oceans contaminated
The animals are going extinct, the economy’s collapsed
Education is shot, police are corrupt
Intelligence is shunned and ignorance rewarded
The people are depressed and angry
We can’t live with each other and we can’t live with ourselves
So everyone’s medicated
We pass each other on the streets
And if we do speak it’s meaningless robotic communication
More people want 15 seconds of fame
Than a lifetime of meaning and purpose
Because what’s popular is more important than what’s right
Ratings are more important than the truth
Our government builds twice as many prisons than schools
It’s easier to find a Big Mac than an apple
And when you find the apple
It’s been genetically processed and modified
Presidents lie, politicians trick us
Race is still an issue and so is religion
Your God doesn’t exist, my God does and he is All-Loving
If you disagree with me I’ll kill you
Or even worse argue you to death
92% of songs on the radio are about sex
Kids don’t play tag, they play twerk videos
The average person watches 5 hours of television a day
And it’s more violence on the screen than ever before
Technology has given us everything we could ever want
And at the same time stolen everything we really need
Pride is at an all time high, humility, an all time low
Everybody knows everything, everybody’s going somewhere
Ignoring someone, blaming somebody
Not many human beings left anymore, a lot of human doings
Plenty of human lingerings in the past, not many human beings
Money is still the root of all evil
Yet we tell our kids don’t get that degree
The jobs don’t pay enough
Good deeds are only done when there’s a profit margin
Videos of the misfortunes of others go viral
We laugh and share them with our friends to laugh with us
Our role models today
60 years ago would have been examples of what not to be
There are states where people can legally be discriminated against Because they were born a certain way
Companies invest millions of dollars hiring specialists to make Little girls feel like they need “make up” to be beautiful Permanently lowering their self esteem
Because they will never be pretty enough
To meet those impossible standards
Corporations tell us buy, buy, buy, get this, get that
You must keep up, you must fit in
This will make you happy, but it never does for long
So what can we do in the face of all of this madness and chaos?
What is the solution? We can love
Not the love you hear in your favorite song on the radio
I mean real love, true love, boundless love
You can love, love each other
From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed
Perform an act of kindness because that is contagious
We can be mindful during every interaction
Planting seeds of goodness
Showing a little more compassion than usual
We can forgive
Because 300 years from now will that grudge you hold against Your friend, your mother, your father have been worth it?
Instead of trying to change others we can change ourselves
We can change our hearts
We have been sold lies
Brainwashed by our leaders and those we trust
To not recognize our brothers and sisters
And to exhibit anger, hatred and cruelty
But once we truly love we will meet anger with sympathy
Hatred with compassion, cruelty with kindness
Love is the most powerful weapon on the face of the Earth
Robert Kennedy once said that
Few will have the greatness to bend history
But each of us can work to change a small portion of events
And in the total of all those acts
Will be written in the history of a generation
So yes, the world is coming to an end
And the path towards a new beginning starts within you

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Nightcrawlers, Ambulance chasers, Storm Chasers…

…and me and my kid. We interrupt our regular programme to bring you the latest excitement to hit our sleepy town of Rockingham, Western Australia.

It was the sound of helicopters flying over our house that first alerted me that something was afoot. On looking to the skies, I saw not just 1 but 2 helicopters circling about. Then I saw a big yellow helicopter, the type with a large snorkel and water bucket (“Bambi Bucket”) attached. And another. And I realised there must be a bushfire nearby.

So when the Kid came home from school we saddled up yeehah! got on our bikes and headed in the general direction of where the water-bombing helicopters seemed to be dumping their loads. It was only a 5 minute ride, then we came to The Anchorage Estate (a new housing estate worth further investigation, note to self). And 2 manmade lakes, where the 2 water-bombing helicopters were busy at work. At this stage we could only see dark smoke nearby and didn’t know how close the bushfire was.

As luck would have it, yours truly was able to video helicopter No.1 at work. Video follows hot off the press. I must apologise in advance for the shoddy camerawork after the helicopter takes off after filling. The spray from the helicopter went everywhere – my camera lens was splashed, my shirt and shorts got drenched. My glasses were completely covered, leaving me essentially blind. Hence you’ll see the camera struggling to even find, much less track, the movements of the helicopter. Incidentally, this is my Samsung Galaxy Note 4’s virgin video – a baptism of water, fire and wind, if you like. The wind churned up by the helicopter was like a mini tornado.

Anyhow, here is said video. Try not to laugh too much.

http://youtu.be/Pgm4aD3-FlU

Afterwards, we realised that the bushfire was literally only 1 street away. So here are some photos of the scene, taken before someone noticed and waved us away.

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FREEBIES! When PicsArt met Pixlr Express

I’d originally intended to use some geometrical backgrounds found in the app PicsArt, along with geometrical effects found in the app Pixlr Express, as the backdrop of a new Lenormand project. However, these backgrounds took on a life of their own and proved too distracting and so that idea had to be shelved.

Not wanting to just let the images go to waste, though, I’ve decided to share them here with you. All I’ve done is blend the PicsArt backgrounds with some colourfield backgrounds I created, or with other random images I’d created in the past. Remember, these were just building blocks for a project that got shelved.

Feel free to save them perhaps as your smartphone’s wallpaper. Enjoy!

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P/s: I’ve since created my Le Geometrical Lenormand deck, however utilising only the effects found in Pixlr Express.

Artsy Quails

Just messing around with an App called Photomania. It’s a very simple App, with set filters, no way of modifying anything, no undo or redo buttons. Handy for on-the-fly photo editing, but not for any “serious” mobile photography art. Some of the effects are quite good, I must say.

I’d taken some photos of a few of my Japanese Quail today, in preparation for them going to a new home. The lady meant to collect them let me down, so I’ve still got them in my aviary. I did get some pretty good close-ups, though, so I thought I might as well put Photomania through its paces and see what the results might look like.

Here they are:

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I must be (Dough)nuts

Krispy Kreme aka KK has been an American institution for many, many years. I remember it being featured on an episode of The Simpsons, way back when. I even remember having a KK doughnut and coffee at Heathrow airport in the UK.

In Australia, there are dozens of KK outlets in the Eastern States. KK doughnuts can be purchased at petrol stations and at 7-Eleven convenience stores, where the doughnuts are delivered there fresh every day. It’s part of a normal way of life over there.

It’s a different story here in Western Australia. But before I go into details, here’s a potted history of KK in Australia.

The first Australian KK opened up in Penrith near Sydney in the early noughties, followed swiftly by a staggering 53 other outlets on the eastern seaboard (and NONE in Western Australia). However, the company may have misjudged its niche as it became a matter of too much, too soon. In 2010 KK Australia went into voluntary administration and pared its number of outlets right down. Luckily for us sugar addicts, KK managed to return triumphantly from the brink. Most Australians are used to buying 1 or 2 doughnuts at a time, not by the dozen…and that fact may have needed time to digest, literally.

Here is an interesting blog about why KK Australia failed in 2010.
http://startupblog.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/why-krispy-kreme-failed-in-australia/

Western Australia, often regarded as the “poor brother” of the Eastern States, has until very recently relied on an informal and quirky system to get its supplies of KK. Many families in WA have FIFO (Fly-In-Fly-Out) workers in the burgeoning mining services industry. These men and women often use airports in the Eastern States that have KK outlets, Brisbane airport being one example. Yours truly has a husband that used to FIFO to and from Brisbane airport, and that is how I was getting my sugar fix until recently. For years it has been a very common sight to see workers in their yellow/orange high visibility jackets emerging from Perth’s domestic terminal lugging boxes of KK doughnuts along with their luggage.

In my last place of employment in Perth we could place special orders for KK doughnuts twice a year. Yes, really. Someone in Melbourne would place the order at the airport’s KK outlet, then make sure all the boxes were loaded onto the right flight, and then someone else at our side would drive over to Perth airport with a van, to collect the doughnuts. No, as silly as this may sound, this was actually a way of life here.

For years West Australians had been clamouring for KK to go west. But for some reason (I haven’t been able to find out what) KK outlets have never made it to these shores. Until 26th November 2014, when Perth got its very first KK outlet at Whitford City shopping centre.

I heard there were queues forming outside the store already days before it opened its doors. The store operates a 24/7 drive-thru, with a limit of 2 dozen doughnuts per vehicle. During the first few days the drive-thru often had queues of up to 100 cars at any time. There were so many people queuing up outside that the KK management had to employ crowd control people and set up a separate marquee to contain the outside queues. Once inside, there was yet another queue that snaked around to where you could watch the doughnuts being made, as entertainment while you waited.

Yesterday the Kid and I decided to go and see what all this fuss was all about. And so here are some photos of our “WA KK Experience:

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The queue in the marquee before the queue in the KK store.

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First step into Perth KK.

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Look at that conveyor belt with all those doughnuts!

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Trays of goodies mmmmm!

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The Loop. The queue takes you to a big glass window through which you can watch doughnuts in production.

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Cleaning the equipment, getting ready to switch to making a different doughnut. These had glazed doughnuts before, so the worker is washing off any traces of sugar glazing.

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Busy hands behind the counter. All hands on deck!

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So we got 2 dozen doughnuts (a dozen glazed and a dozen assorted). And a choc milkshake + 2 doughnuts each, as our “lunch”. I know, I know, I’m a terrible mother! ;)

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The reason our doughnuts were packed in 4 boxes of 6 instead of 2 boxes of 12 – so they could fit in my bike’s basket!

So, why did I queue up for 45 minutes just for some doughnuts? I can see parallels between this queue and the one I saw for the iPhone 6 just a few months ago. Yes, it’s all completely bonkers and utterly unneccessary. I could never justify blowing $1000 on 1 iGadget. But $50 for 2 dozen doughnuts, 2 yummy chocolate milkshakes and 4 extra doughnuts, a sit-down in the KK store, plus a good friendly natter with some total strangers in the queue, and the look of bliss on my kid’s face as he nibbled his choc doughnut? And also giving away 2 glazed doughnuts to a friendly pregnant woman and her boyfriend that we chatted with at the bus stop? Priceless.

Was it worth a 7 hour round trip, and a bike ride + train + bus, and the same for the return journey? Hell yeah, and I’m (dough)nuts. 😆

Spelling & Grammar

One of my pet peeves is the plethora of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors that abound on the internet these days. Or should that read as Two of my pet peeves?
Whatever the case, I just wish people would learn to read and write English correctly. It beggars belief that even teachers are getting it wrong…if They don’t know the difference between its and it’s, to and too, were and where, etc then how the hell are our children expected to get that right?

Here are just some of the biggest and funniest bloopers I’ve culled from Google Images.

image …Must have skipped Spelling classes a lot.

image And he strikes again!

image Will someone please sack him already?!

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Damn you, Autocorrect!

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She’ll never live it down…

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A great example of how effective spelling or, in this case, mis-spelling, can be.

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Whoever wrote this is clearly very confused.

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Copy that.

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I shudder at the image forming in my mind. Those thongs…whether European as in teeny tiny ladies underwear or Australian as in flip flop slippers, either are just as bad.

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Identity crisis.

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Bovine or Equine?

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I doubt the examiner passed his or her own exams.

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Oh, really, no regrets??

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Well, I’ll be a Frog Prince!

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I wonder what that would be like to use as toilet paper…

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Teachers FAIL.

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Wow, how does porn even happen by accident?

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Nope, they really won’t know.

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I guess Customers will just have to find parking elsewhere.

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No doubt the Moran family will feel insulted.

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Dont evan go their. 😂

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…because here is an example of their handiwork.

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Only in America…

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Keep your children well away from these cowboy messers.

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And I wonder why…

So, please..
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Take a couple of minutes to digest this, for your own sake. It might save your life someday.