Ok. The standard Blog, because I want to remember these rains when the fires come later in the year. I want to remember a week of rain filled windy nights, trees soughing like a mad sea. Dams on Cooleman Ridge are full. Brilliant. The last time they were full was in 2014. Beanies, gloves and thermal for my morning walk against the snow sharp winds. Exhilarating!
Meanwhile Aussie fire fighters are off to California to assist with the fight over there. A reciprocal arrangement which sadly resulted in the death of two from the USA earlier this year when their water bomber crashed.
How are we coping with the pandemic? So far ok. It's very frustrating not to able to visit our daughter and family in Bali or our son and partner in Melbourne. But hopefully things will change once a vaccine is available. Well the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney has 'ethical concerns' with the Oxford vaccine because of its development using an aborted fetus. You think a new 'enlightened' Pope might make a difference, but nope, it's the same old Middle Age's hidebound beliefs. You might think the Archbishop would have ethical concerns about putting so many Catholics at risk. This is an organisation which enjoys tax free status, which is worth at least 30 BILLION dollars HERE in Australia. An organisation which fought tooth and nail by paying for the best legal bazookas, in order to minimise sexual abuse compensation payments. Ethical concerns?? Business is booming. https://www.smh.com.au/national/catholic-church-s-massive-wealth-revealed-20180209-p4yzus.html#:~:text=The%20Catholic%20Church%20owns%20property,taxation%2C%20and%20minimal%20public%20accountability.
Here in Upper Holder aka Number 9 Place we have been having regular gatherings of our neighbours which has helped us cope with the restrictions of COVID 19. On average it has been about one night every three weeks. Some nights have been chilly mid Winter weather but this has been alleviated by a converted heater shell belonging to good neighbour Geordie in which the wood burns like a cracker. A wine or two further insulates against the elements. Another wine or two and you don't feel anything really except love for your neighbour. Yes, we've become biblical. May the chat and laughter continue, it has brought the neighbourhood closer.
At last night's meeting we had a new heater courtesy of good neighbour Bryn who converted an old heater provided by Denise and I. Denise spotted it outside a house in Heysen St and we zoomed over and relieved them of it. Midnight Heaters. Oh, also last night we enjoyed Bryn's slow roasted pork, pork knuckle and chicken. Beautiful. Denise provided rolls and a salad of cabbage, mint, apple, shallot with a dressing of sour cream, lemon and olive oil. A perfect accompaniment.
I just finished Dissolution by C.J. Sansome, the first in his Shardlake series. A hunchback lawyer who solves crimes in Tudor times, the time of dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell. It was engrossing and of course begs comparison with the Cromwell books by Hilary Mantel, particularly as one reviewer rated Sansome as the better writer. He isn't, Mantel is poetic, she bedazzles and draws you into her warmth, but he is very good. I'm just about to start The Mirror and The Light, the third and final in the series.
Also by Sansome was his reconstruction of WW2 whereby England surrendered to Hitler. Called Dominion I found it a fascinating and compelling read.
Haruki is a Japanese novelist who is an institution in his own country. He is described by The Times as 'one of the most important contemporary novelists.' All of his books have been translated and are readily available – Harry Hartog's in Woden has a selection, or your local library. I have found some at Canty's in Fyshwick.
The novels are compelling in plot, well written and almost casual in style, but allegorical perhaps, existential questions loom. He uses magic realism in some, and things may not be as they seem. Aphorisms pop up here and there, hidden truths to assist you in your journey. Delving into will take you on a unique journey quite unlike anything you have read previously.
I bought Paul Kelly's Love Is Strong As Death, his choice of poetry. I just love compilations. You can always find a gem in there. Paul Kelly is very well read, as you'd expect for such a prolific song writer. Almost everyone is within, from The Bible, Sappho, Homer, Shakespeare to Blake, Whitman, Plath, Hughes, but no D.H. Lawrence. All the major Aussies. Everyone you might expect. No Lawrence! He did live a couple of months at Thirroul down in The Gong and we've claimed him, as you do. D.H. Lawrence from The Gong.
I found Sharon Olds, now 77, ripper. Very good, sexual and sensuous with humour and bite. And Hera Lindsay Bird, the young New Zealand poet with her raunchy 'Keats Is Dead So Fuck Me From Behind.' Seize the day indeed...
Another poetry collection I bought is Poems That Make Grown Men Cry by Anthony and Ben Holden. The second one of the 100 listed was 'Elegy' by Tidiock Tichborne which was written in 1586 on the eve of the poet's execution. I was astounded. The poem is perfect, and I wondered how he could produce such a gem and be so reflective in the face of the morrow's coming brutality? More than that, it opened so many questions, but principally how a person who was surrounded by the love of his wife and his five sisters and the love for his young child could risk everything to murder another woman, his monarch? I will put up a blog about this soon. The poem also appears in the Paul Kelly book.
Our U3A short story group has been tasked with compiling a list of our ten most memorable books. Now that is a task I will enjoy! I'll add them to this post once I've worked it out. Or maybe the following one.
Music on the speakers.
A variety, it depends on the mood and whether listening in the car or on the home speakers. At home I enjoy classical and jazz, Bach's violin concertos with their deep cello sounds, Miles Davis – I found a remastered version of Bitches Brew recently, such a mighty album. Any of Patricia Barber's albums. I'm surprised she's not more well known. A great composer, pianist and vocalist who uses poetic lyrics and a fusion of jazz and rock, and chooses the best accompanists – she deserves more acclaim.
I've always admired Malian Rokia Traore and found her album Beautiful Africa at the last Lifeline bookfair – a happy find, it's up with her best. Great composer, sublime singer and good guitarist who incorporates Malian sounds with rock - though note that there are many styles in Mali.
Nick Cave's recent Ghosteen follows on from Skeleton Tree as a meditation on the tragic death of his son. An amazing album and is possibly to rock music what Ulysses was to literature. Achingly beautiful, it's not background music. I'm hoping for a return to raw rock, maybe a stripped down Seeds in the form of a third Grinderman album.
Simple raw rock is what you get with the now finally released Creedence Clearwater Rivival Live At Woodstock. John Fogarty initially opposed the release – he wasn't happy with it for some reason, but it's prime CCR with tracks from the first three albums including fabulous extended versions of I Put A Spell On You, Chooglin' and Suzie Q.
The tragic death of Justin Townes Earle last week lead me to check out his last album, The Saint Of Lost Causes. It is a knockout for my taste. He has eight albums I think of which I've heard maybe three others. I need to check out more. He was here at the Byron Bay Bluesfest in 2010 and 2012.
There's a photo in the 2012 blog of old pal Len with Justin.
We have a government that has no real climate change policy, that discourages alternative energy, that even now is proposing to build coal fired power stations, that has done nothing to encourage electric vehicles, that supports fossil fuel to the hilt, all this despite the recent fires which are of course a state responsibility... oh yes, blame it on the states, along with Corona virus health care, aged care, the Murray Darling etc.
LNP government is responsible to a large extent for the aged care crisis and associated deaths, the careless robo debt debacle (and associated deaths...), the under powered NBN, the cuts to our national broadcaster, work choices and associated breakdown of salaries and conditions, the sports rort corruption, the wreck that is the Murray Darling river system, among other incompetencies.
When our family arrived in this country we were welcomed. Australia was known as a friendly, welcoming country. Not so much now. We lock up bone fide refugees in concentration camps for years. Lately Commandant Dutton has sought to take away their mobile phones, lifelines to their families. It is cruel and inhumane. Like his treatment of the Sri Lankan family who lived in Biloela, Queensland and were supported by that community. Their two girls were born in Australia. They have been moved to Christmas Island, the sole detainees.
The LNP, principally Dutton supported by Morrison, reopened Christmas Island at a cost of tens of millions. One estimation was 130 million. Then 30 million since reopening. They put 130 Serco employees on the island initially, now down to 104, in expectation of an influx, but in reality to guard the family of four.
This is a bloody minded mean spirited vindictive government. The ex ASIS whistle blower Witness K has pleaded guilty to spilling the beans on a deed which was illegal, unethical and an act of pure bastardy on a poor, friendly neighbour. His lawyer Bernard Collaery is to be prosecuted. These two are regarded as heroes in Timor-Leste. Howard and Downer should hang their heads in shame for approving the bugging of the offices of the Timor-Leste government. They should be prosecuted for bringing the reputation of Australia into disrepute.
Recently PM Morrison blindly acceded to a request from the US President Trump to blame the Chinese for the virus. Note that the virus could have started anywhere, the Chinese didn't manufacture it, and they put in immediate measures to contain it which have worked well domestically. Regardless, it is not Australia's place to criticise, nor to blindly follow a faulty wired President who may be ousted soon. I mean seriously, why would you criticise when so much of our economy relies on Chinese trade? It shows an appalling lack of foresight. It was amazingly ill judged, even for the LNP. And where are the National Party, champions of the farmers? You'd think they would be honking like the geese they are. Too busy dining with mining giants you think?
Australia was one of the first friends of China thanks to Goff Whitlam. Both Morrison and Trump will soon be gone, sluiced down the 'S' bend of history where they belong. Goff Whitlam is, and will continue to be remembered as a PM with vision, courage and integrity, both here and in China.