Some days the world seems to have exploded with craziness. Who would have thought the man now in the office, often referred to as the most powerful in the world, would spend his days watching cable TV and tweeting?
Every time I think of Donald Trump as President of America – especially in light of his derogatory remarks about, and to women, I shake my head in disbelief. But there are many other failings that worry me more including the fact he has the power to start a war and has access to the nuclear codes!
I’m part of the generation born in the decade after World War Two in the shadow of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan and the development and proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Three Wise Monkeys
Mizaru, Kikazaru and Iwazaru sit on the mantlepiece:
seeing no evil, hearing no evil, and speaking no evil.
A Japanese pictorial maxim transplanted to Scotland;
brought home by a great uncle, a ship’s captain,
these wise monkeys an added admonishment
to a childhood steeped in Presbyterian rules.
Yet, the shadow of evil an unseen cloak
as we lived in the tatters of World War Two.
Crowded cemeteries, buildings awaiting demolition,
food rationing…crippling austerity
shattered families struggling to find meaning,
shuddering when ambulance and police sirens wail.
Speak no evil an achievable rule perhaps
hearing no evil more difficult
and what of seeing evil or evil seen?
The brass monkeys cold. A chilly weight
in my child’s hand, etching a mystic message
of aspirations difficult to achieve.
Born in Scotland I lived not far from the Holy Loch where American submarines were first based in 1960. People in the peace movement (CND), including my father, protested this base made Scotland a first strike nuclear target.
This was the era of ‘The Cold War‘ and Russia was the enemy to fear, the people and country to demonise.
However, many people who survived WW2 were shocked at the devastation caused by the atomic bombs and believed the only way to safeguard the world was to ban nuclear weapons. CICD, the Campaign for International Cooperation and Disarmament became a part of a worldwide movement.
Fears were realised when interference in Cuba escalated into what became known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Polaris submarines were deployed from Scotland but hostile contact averted.
“By midOctober six of the Navy’s new Polaris submarines, based at Holy Loch Scotland had deployed to their battle stations deep under the sea. USS Abraham Lincoln (SSBN 602), in upkeep at Holy Loch, and two other submarines that had just completed shakedown cruises were also prepared on short notice to add their firepower to the nuclear equation.”. . . “ On October 22 at 1900 at DEFCON 3 “Polaris submarines moved to their launch points.”
Cuban Missile Crisis paper from Wilson Center
My mother told me about the day news came of the movements at Holy Loch, after days of tensions being reported on the radio.
A neighbour rushed into our house in Scotland crying hysterically, ‘we’re all going to die!’ She had young children like Mum, had survived the Greenock blitz and horrible memories had been triggered by the threat of another war – this time one that would wipe out sizeable chunks of countries simultaneously.
Perhaps it is the story from Scotland and recalling other stories my parents shared about the war that feeds an almost morbid fascination with President Trump’s cavalier attitude to the power he has, where he seems more enthralled with his signature than what he is signing.
I’ve had to make a conscious effort to switch off and try and actively look for peace of mind. Luckily, living where I do and working where I do, it has been fairly easy.
Bird Tweets Trump Donald’s
Mother Nature has given us wonderful birds who tweet because it’s their natural way of communicating. Their tweets more inspiring than those from you know who!
The rainbow lorikeet (Trichoglossus moluccanus) is a species of parrot common along the eastern seaboard, from northern Queensland to South Australia and Tasmania. Its habitat is rainforest, woodland and coastal bush, hence its attraction to Mordialloc!
Limerick for the Birds
Australia has parrots galore
feathered wonders love to soar
with squeals and tweets
the Rainbow Lorikeets
brighten our Mordy foreshore.
I spotted a rainbow lorikeet one evening when I was out for a walk with my friend Jillian. Usually, they are in pairs or a cluster but this one sat on the electric wires observing us. Not sure if he was as enamoured with me as I was with him! They really are pretty birds.
This little fellow that I think is a Thornbill entertains me every morning and early evening. He and a couple of mates flitter in and out the vines outside my kitchen window, moving so fast it is difficult to take a picture. I’m sure they sense me hiding behind the net curtains.
Focused and persistent, they chat to each other as they forage for insects. Their antics make me happy and I look forward to catching a glimpse of their fluttering feathers.
Haiku – Mairi Neil
Hides the promise of springtime
And the buzz of life
One day recently, having coffee with my friend Lesley in Mentone, a tiny House Sparrow decided to join us and we had a lovely conversation. Although, we were never in any doubt of what he was really after!
One reason for the successful establishment of the House Sparrow in Australia and, indeed, all over the world, is its ability to feed on a wide range of foodstuffs. Birds eat insects, spiders, berries, seeds, flower buds and scraps of food discarded by humans. There are many reports of birds entering canteens in buildings to feed, with birds even learning to activate automatic doors in order to gain entry.
Walks with friends around my neighbourhood of Mordialloc, Parkdale and Mentone, a welcome distraction to current political shenanigans dominating the news and even birds regarded as pests are more appealing than many of those who claim to be leaders.
The day is calm. Tranquil. A great-to-be-alive day.
Eucalypts and pine compete with salty air and
the whiff of abandoned seaweed.
The blue-green sea a mirror for fluffy clouds of whipped cream.
Dainty dollops on a pale blue plate.
Gulls sit or glide atop this glassy sea.
Bathed in white sunlight I imagine I too drift and dream.
In the distance, palm tree fronds tremble casting lacy shadows on hot sand. The clink of moorings and masts drifts from the creek
and a sudden gust of wind whips sand to sting legs and face.
Airborne seagulls now screeching origami kites.
A dark veil unfurls from the horizon, shattering the grey-green mirror
and peaceful contemplation. Waves lap and soap around feet.
I retreat to the shelter of eucalypts and pine,
the taste of salt bittersweet.
The current state of politics and events are repugnant yet there is a fascinating compulsion to follow the relentless shocks – that’s where playing with words relieves the tension.
Limerick for the Times
President 45 an aggressive male
as a leader, he’s destined to fail
dividing his nation
‘Trumplethinskin’ is no fairy tale.
Of course, what passes for Australia’s political leadership is not much better. Some Australian MPs adopting the style, policies, and even similar slogans to Donald Trump.
Limerick for the LNP
Cory Bernardi is making news
he’s given PM Turnbull the blues
South Australian Bernardi
now has his own party
being ‘Liberal’ exposed as a ruse!
And then we had the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull attacking the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten in a most unbecoming personal rant while those on the government benches laughed like hyenas savaging prey.
The face of the leader of the National Party and Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce dark red like an apoplectic fit in progress, albeit driven by laughter, not anger.
Although apoplexy as a specific medical term is not such a common term now, the word apoplectic certainly is, meaning furious and red-faced with uncontrollable rage (so called because its symptoms of flushed red face and loss of bodily control mimic those of apoplexy).
When Treasurer, Scott Morrison brandished a lump of coal and the Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg championed ‘clean coal’ WA (usually hot in summer) flooded, NSW and Queensland faced the hottest days ever recorded and bushfires destroyed homes and farmlands. SA faced extreme weather conditions and power blackouts. We in Melbourne had four seasons in one day as usual but on steroids as summer temperatures fluctuated more than normal.
Time for harsh words to be written.
Dear Federal Parliament –
You laugh as Australia burns
the LNP MPs taking turns
to promote dirty coal
cut pensions and the dole –
dear PM where’s your soul?
Barnaby’s red face a disgrace
and vitriol sprayed like mace
Appalling barefaced liars,
all justify influence buyers!
Halt the wheeling and dealing –
it’s our kids future you are stealing
the Antarctic ice cracking
yet you consider fracking!
Show leadership, please
wind turbines need a breeze
the sun doesn’t always shine
all adjustment takes time…
So, instead of point scoring,
lying, bluster, and theatrics
parliamentarians must sit down
to discuss the energy mix.
The public wants clarity
Extreme weather our reality!
From Mordialloc where even a small rise in sea level threatens homes!
Thank Goodness For Distractions
I’m lucky classes have resumed, limiting the time I have available to check on the latest scandals, shocks, and silly decisions from those who are supposed to lead.
I’ll get more writing done if I ignore social media – yet switching off or ignoring the news at this critical point in history, seems an impossible task – especially when social justice is at stake.
It’s a bit late for New Year Resolutions but I’ve decided to follow the advice I’m always giving my writing students – ‘write every day’. My lack of output directly related to allowing myself to be distracted and become obsessed with ‘the News’, ‘fake news’, ‘alternative facts’ and worrying – which as the quote above implies, is a waste of energy.
My daughter Mary Jane made me a lovely gift at Christmas with a quote from my favourite character, Jo March, from one of my favourite books, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
Jo wanted to be a writer and as a nine-year-old reading about her made me determined to be a writer too.
I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle, something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it and mean to astonish you all some day.
I’m grateful for having parents who valued books. When I was ten I received Jo’s Boys, and the following Christmas my aunt gave me Little Men – I treasure these books.
I’m not sure I’ll ever achieve something heroic or wonderful but perhaps some of my writing will remain and be read after I’m dead. It may not astonish but it will reflect me and the times I lived.
During the week I received a lovely card (with a bird on it!) and thoughtful presents from a student who said, “thank you for mentoring me so well with my writing.” I’ll treasure these too.
We may live in tumultuous times where there is much to criticise and feel uneasy about, but with a purpose and job I enjoy, wonderful friends and family and surroundings that provide constant delight, I know I’m privileged.
The mantra ‘one day at a time’ and a conscious effort to stay positive will keep me focused.