It has been many years since libraries have only been about books – and some would argue that’s never been the sole aim of public libraries. Rather they are important community assets, providing critical services and transforming lives.
My local library is at Parkdale – a 3-minute train ride or 15 minutes walk away from where I live in Mordialloc and part of a network of libraries in the City of Kingston.
We are lucky because years ago with the onslaught of computer technology and digital books and proponents of neoliberalism’s desire to privatise and ‘monetise’ there were plenty of people murmuring about whether libraries were worth funding.
Like many public facilities and services, they came under pressure to justify their existence.
‘Books are outdated,’ a common enough catch cry…
InThe New Penguin Compact English dictionary (updated 2000) the definition of Library is:
1. a room, building or other place in which books, periodicals, CDs, videos etc are kept for reference or borrowing by the public
2. A collection resembling or suggesting a library
3. A series of related books issued by a publisher
Kingston libraries offer:
books in large and regular print, audio books, eAudiobooks &eBooks
magazines, music CD, DVDs, BluRays & Wi games
Wi-Fi and computers with internet access
computer & internet classes
programs for children – storytime tiny tots, book bugs & school holiday programs
Readz teen book club
author talks and workshops
items in community languages
comprehensive genealogy collection & computers for research
local history resources
Moving with the times…
3D Printing is an emerging technology and libraries and schools are investing in printers. When I saw these free workshops advertised I booked myself in.
I’d seen a 3D printer in action in 2014 when I spent a long weekend in Ballarat at Easter time and there was a festival happening. The Ballarat Mechanics Institute had a demonstration of a 3D printer but the room was crowded and the queue to get near the machine long, so I didn’t really learn anything except that someone had printed a row of green plastic figurines to amuse any children who’d turn up – and they were the majority of the audience.
My brother-in-law was in St Vincent’s at the time recovering from having several toes amputated because of his diabetes so the world first operation at the hospital was the main topic of conversation!
The opportunity to learn how to use the technology too good to miss.
An Introduction by Alan, the Librarian
3D printers are commonly associated with plastic – the same substance used to make Lego is the most common plastic used.
It is a filament – a thread fed through a tube into an extruder. The plastic gets hot – 240’ centigrade, the melting temperature required to take the plastic off when dried.
PLA also common with the melting temperature cooler at 190’ centigrade. It gives a more polished finish but a lot harder to take off the machine because more brittle.
ABS and other plastic easier to take off when dried.
More Than Just Plastic
3D printers also use metal and at an industrial level, they use layers.
3D printers also use paper in layers.
3D printers also use food – This developed with the idea of addressing malnutrition and/or feeding the military, making edible objects; a mini-ecosystem
3D printers used in medicine – making copies of hearts to see if there are holes and also making prosthetics.
A Parkdale Library customer printed a prosthetic hand for his grandfather.
3D Printing in the news…
Innovations in 3D printing technology could make it possible to ‘manufacture’ living organs, skin, tissue and bone rather than relying on transplants and artificial materials. Scientists are already creating bio-compatible prosthetics as well as lightweight exoskeletons, 3D models that aid in education and research, and even cool customizable limbs.
The printers enable cheap production and easy design method. Many of the designs available are free under a Creative Common License.
Select how your design will be printed remembering to factor in how much strength may be required to support whatever you are printing to get the shape and proportion you want. A lot depends on the thickness and weight of your object.
The time it takes to print will depend on the size and thickness – a thin bookmark may take a half hour to print, thicker objects 48 hours. Fluffy the three-headed pet of Hagrid in Harry Potter took two days. It was a 6-inch solid object and took less than a reel of the plastic thread, which costs $25 a reel.
The printer the library owns only prints objects in a single colour and the reels of thread we could choose from were primary colours. (I chose green for my object.)
After a look through the designs available, you load a design from the software already on the computer.
Follow digital track (data loaded) and save on an SD card like a camera.
Think of a design and imagine it in 3D – as a solid cube
The software doesn’t tell you when support is needed – you have to factor that in when you design. eg, if printing a drawer you have to remember there needs to be a space
Objects are printed on a raft – this supports the object and helps with removal from the heat platform.
Designs using software .spl and .obj are compatible with the library computer. The printer is Duratrax bought for $3000 two years ago.
Customers have found it useful – a man needed a plastic component to fix a window blind but the component was unavailable in Australia and out of date with the product no longer made. He asked the European company to send a file compatible with Parkdale’s 3D printer and he printed off the part!
Kids have completed projects too using the printer.
We were all encouraged to design and print an object – the first 3 hours of printing free, $5.00 for every hour of printing after that, with a maximum of $25.00 (the cost of a reel of the thread).
There will be a failure to print if the power supply is interrupted while the object is being printed.
Once cleaners pulled out the plug so the print had to be started again!
I chose a ‘Celtic’ bookmark, the design quite intricate. It was calculated to take 1hr and 26 minutes to print.
I picked it up yesterday and my daughter, Mary Jane removed the backing raft.
Sharing information about a delightful weekend where I caught the last day of the Gandhi Exhibition at the Immigration Museum and the Barangaroo Ngangamay celebration for NAIDOC in the Community Gallery
The first assignment for a MOOC I’ve enrolled in at the University of Iowa on Moving the Margins: Fiction & Inclusion
Plus poems and short stories to finish, revisit and edit…
Help, I need another holiday or to go on a retreat…
A Moment of Joy…
However, all plans disappeared when I drew back the curtains and noticed my Bird of Paradisehad started blooming – one of the most colourful and striking plants in the world it belongs to the plant family Strelitziaceae and I just love it.
The plant was in the garden when we bought the house in 1984 and has survived droughts, renovations, a flood, and thrip invasion.
This winter has been particularly cold – everyone I speak to agrees so it is not just grouchy arthritic me – and saying it’s cold means something considering I’m from Scotland!
But being greeted by my delightful Bird of Paradise almost in full flower warmed me up from the inside out!
In pyjamas, I rushed out to take a few photos.
Inspired, I even wrote a poem – nothing like attempting a bit of poetry (even if it is twee) to get the brain in gear on a chilly morning after a turn around the garden checking what else is in bloom.
Mid Winter Morn in Mordialloc
Sunlight struggles to glimmer
in the dull convict-grey sky
any warmth still chained to
clumps of cloud drifting by
A faint frost skins patchy grass
soon to be melted or crunched away,
the day frozen – not quite five degrees
oh, winter please disappear today!
Imagine soft, distant, mauve clouds
hovering over a smooth, azure sea
farewelling the night edging inland
the tired fishing boats now work-free.
Birds scrabble nearby for scarce crumbs
nectar hard to find this time of year
they flap, swoop, chitter and chatter
loud demands still music to the ear.
Winter time a challenge for us all –
come on, spring, make life brighter
when flowers bloom in rainbows
our hearts and steps much lighter.
Red and pink geraniums smile amid
myriad green leaves begging for room –
daisies dance a welcome at the gate
rosemary always remembers to bloom
The beautiful Bird of Paradise flowers,
to hint that mythical Eden does exist
its orange and blue finery ready to fly
to tropical garden and romantic tryst.
Nature’s beauty a welcome surprise
even in winter. Each splendid new day
bulbs grow and blossom without fanfare
a reminder the spring’s never far away!
Welcome Signs of Spring
Looking closely at the plants the signs of spring are there. Buds beginning to form on the camellia –
but later it was the behaviour of a Magpie I spied out of the window that fascinated me.
I’ve written about the dislocation of many of the local birds because so many trees (their homes) have been removed as Mordialloc’s housing boom continues. The changes have disoriented several magpie families who have been living in the area.
Magpies build large, domed nests in thorny bushes or high up in tall trees using found objects and whatever they can collect for their nests.
They are a protected species under Australian law and it is illegal to kill them but destroying their homes is obviously not considered illegal – yet the quickest way to destroy a species is to get rid of their habitat!
Magpies mate for life and normally stay together for their entire lives. They mate during springtime when the weather begins to get warmer. That’s usually when they build their large nests.
However, I watched as an industrious Magpie tore strips off an old coir mat and gathered as much material as possible in his/her beak before flying off to distant trees.
The spectacle totally engrossing for several minutes – how he/she managed to keep collecting more material in its beak without losing any amazing.
When I think how I fumble to pick up and grip stuff with hands and fingers yet birds make the most intricate of nests, woven out of a range of natural or man-made materials with mainly their beaks.
They truly are amazing creatures!
I’m sure Mr/s Magpie was gathering for a nest and not food although in winter they eat more plant material, wild fruits, berries and grains, supplemented with household scraps and food scavenged from bird tables, chicken runs, even pet food bowls.
But all bird experts say we should not feed them – especially not bread – no doubt I will do penance in the afterlife for those years of throwing out breadcrumbs when I first moved here!
Like Australian Ravens, Magpies also eat carrion and catch small mammals and birds. In the wild, Magpies prey on larger animals such as young rabbits but with urbanisation despite the destruction of habitat I don’t think they’ll go hungry and so won’t be hunting pet rabbits.
Delights, Distractions but now must ‘Do’…
While exotic plants and paving stones might make gardens appear neat and tidy, scientific advisors suggest cultivating a wilder and more natural environment benefits birds and butterflies.
This appeals to me. I try to plant as many indigenous trees and plants as possible – less maintenance and figure they’ll survive the vagaries of the weather better and hopefully help and encourage native birds.
I have very Noisy Minors who visit daily and manage to drown out the Magpies carolling. The Noisy Minors raid the Bottlebrushes vacuuming up what’s left of the nectar or any insect foolish enough to be caught.
Loss of habitat through global warming is also posing a major threat to wildlife around the world, with some studies predicting that every 1C rise will cause the eventual loss of 10 per cent of all species. (Hard to believe colder winters are in fact probably indicative of global warming as the seasons change…)
Anyway, no apologies for pausing and capturing my garden and the antics of birds on film or in words.
We writers must take inspiration where we find it and nurture the muse, especially when it is as lethargic as mine – or maybe the word is lazy!
On Tuesday morning, in a buoyant mood, I set off for work – my last class for the term – and mind already turning over a list of appointments, events, ideas for lessons, and a list of catch-up household chores to be squeezed into the winter break.
In a folder ready for photocopying and collating, the prepared anthology of the writing students of Godfrey Street’s Writing Creatively Class.
I had burned the metaphorical midnight oil for several nights but tiredness banished when I organised the wonderful work produced this semester. The cliched spring in my step real because a task satisfactorily completed – a job well done.
Pride Comes Before A Fall
However, life has a way of reminding me never to be too comfortable or smug!
I’d only strode a few yards from home when I was flying through the air before landing with a thud on the concrete path.
Wings definitely clipped!
Three days later, beautiful bruises reveal themselves in places well-hidden but still painful, I reflect on how lucky I am (no broken bones just sore muscles) and I now obey (within reason) both my daughters’ exhortations, ‘Can you just sit and do nothing – pleeease!’
I’m trying to ‘go with the flow!
Déjà vu or Ground Hog Day?
While sitting in Frankston Hospital’s Accident & Emergency, Facebook reminded me of my travels last year and yes, unbelievably, it was this time last year when I was limping through the last leg of the big overseas adventure because I’d tripped in the hallway at my cousin’s house in Renton near Glasgow.
Despite my lovely cousin’s pleas, I didn’t get checked out by a doctor and ‘walked through the pain,’ which led to all sorts of complications when I returned home.
My daughters were most insistent I didn’t repeat any stoicism.
I reluctantly agreed, despite feeling like one of the guest speakers at a Women’s Hospital function who said once she retired ‘a trip’ became ‘a fall’ and she was sent off to a Fall Clinic as if she had a chronic problem.
My accidents were both unexpected trips, but landing on concrete is more likely to do damage than a floor – and it felt decidedly more painful!
I can laugh about Tuesday now, but the audience of half-a-dozen workers were not laughing when I landed beside them. Several strong pairs of arms hoisted me to my feet when I told them I was ready to stand and prove I didn’t need an ambulance.
At another time I might have revelled being fussed over by a batch of young men but I just wanted to return the few yards home and ‘have a Bex and a good lie down!’
A young man escorted me the 100 feet and carried my bag. He returned a few minutes later to check I was okay but I told him my daughters were on their way.
The cavalry arrived to greet a crying mess sitting draped in a bath towel toga with a large icepack on both knees and double-checking fingers, wrists, elbows, neck and all the other places that hurt.
Maybe it is a sign of age but the pain was excruciating. Shock set in and I started to shake – the girls were decisive.
A cup of tea and a couple of Panadol and we headed for Frankston Hospital.
Mobile phones a godsend that day. They had tried for an appointment with our local doctor when I first rang them but the clinic was booked out. They’d also rang my manager and cancelled the class.
While Mary played nurse and found some looser pants for me to wear that wouldn’t pressure my knees, Anne marched down to the worksite introduced herself and recorded the company’s details. She got a contact name of a supervisor because I’d caught my foot on the corner of a manhole cover they’d removed but left jutting out from the area of pavement blocked off.
Distracted and curious by the activity I tripped, but maybe the whole path should have been closed. Lessons to be learned all round!
The day became surreal and emotions ran high – suffice to say various temperaments exposed and moments bordered on slapstick, television soapie, Grey’s Anatomy, Brooklyn 99 and then an unexpected lovely moment…
We arrived home from Frankston to find a huge box of fruit on the doorstep and a handwritten note from one of the workers hoping I am okay and wishing me well.
I really appreciated their kindness.
I also appreciated my daughters’ devotion and decisiveness – they proved themselves capable and caring adults and in all the drama I had a moment of parental pride and joy – they will survive, perhaps thrive – without me and have obviously discussed and thought about ‘the ageing me’ with one of them declaring at one stage, ‘You are not superwoman and don’t have to be supermum anymore.’
And so for a few days, I am ‘taking it easy’ factoring in Panamax and Voltaren Emulgel with the vitamins and blood pressure tablets!
I’ve been touched by visits and phone calls from friends and I’m blessed that injuries don’t seem to be too drastic and the holidays will be great recuperation time.
And Today is Poet’s Day
POETS day is a term used by workers in the United Kingdom to refer jocularly to Friday as the last day of the work week. The word “POETS” is an acronym for “Piss off early, tomorrow’s Saturday”: hence Friday becomes “Poets day“.
With ‘enforced’ leisure I’ve started going through notebooks and extracting the ideas jotted down – maybe I’ll get some creative writing done!
I came upon this poem – apt because it was Tuesday Class I was heading to when I tripped so here’s ‘the postcard’ I ‘didn’t send’.
Remember the perennial joke from primary school if you witnessed somebody tripping?
Oops, I tripped.
You didn’t send me a postcard!
An Acrostic Tuesday
Tuesdays during school term, I teach in Bentleigh
Up the line from Mordialloc towards the city
Easy to get to by public transport, especially trains
So convenient! And I love it! I know I am lucky, even on
Days when inclement weather suggests
A day in bed or seat by the fireside…
Yet, I‘d never use bad weather as an excuse. Unless
On Tuesday night, Environment Victoria and the Alternative Technology Association presented a seminar called Repower Your Home – one of the most informative events I’ve attended regarding the cost and value of ‘going solar’, and how renewable energy can help reduce energy costs and make Victoria, and indeed the world, a cleaner and more sustainable place to live.
Climate Change a huge issue, and in Victoria, as we head towards a state election in November, the production and consumption of energy and its cost a hot topic.
The 150 people present at the seminar were concerned about power prices but many also wanted to participate as a community to ensure whatever sustainable energy is produced, it is distributed fast, safe, and as fair as possible.
There were representatives from companies expert in providing advice and products to make homes more energy efficient. I came home with business cards and brochures plus memories of helpful, friendly conversations!
There is a lot of confusing and conflicting advice circulating, plus charlatans and cowboys prepared to take advantage of the gullible and ill-informed – more seminars like this are needed.
Alternative Technology Association
I have been a member of this organisation for over a decade because I wanted to support scientists, engineers and environmentalists who cared about a sustainable future – their magazine ReNew, one of the first I received digitally.
They have always been ‘looking to the future’ and their work on improving electric vehicles fascinating and persistent.
Years ago, recently widowed and facing the replacement of an old hot water system, I decided to go solar but was misled and ripped off by a company blanket marketing at the time and purporting to be experts. The installation of a solar powered hot water system became a nightmare of shoddiness and I eventually sought and achieved redress through the government ombudsman.
My ‘baptism by fire’ led me to join the ATA, do a lot more research about who to trust in this growth industry. The company that installed my main solar panels was recommended by the ATA and were reliable, efficient, and competitively priced.
For me, trust is always the key.
The Alternative Technology Association (ATA) is a not-for-profit organisation that enables, represents and inspires people to live sustainably in their homes and communities. Established in 1980, the ATA provides expert, independent advice on sustainable solutions for the home to households, government, industry and corporate clients.
The ATA has more than 6650 members across Australia walking the talk in their own homes. We have helped thousands of households save money and reduce their environmental footprint with information on energy efficiency, solar power, rainwater tanks, materials reuse and waste.
The ATA influences government policy by drawing on our technical expertise and members’ experiences. The ATA advocates in government and industry arenas for easy access to sustainable solutions as well as continual improvement of the technology, information and products needed to change the way we live. The ATA also provides consultancy services based on our technical expertise in energy, water and communications.
The ATA publishes two market-leading sustainable living magazines, Sanctuary: modern green homes and ReNew: technology for a sustainable future. The magazines have a combined readership of over 120,000.
The ATA has 14 active branches across Australia that meet regularly, holding informative seminars and workshops, sustainable house tours and attending fairs and events. We also provide an online and phone advice service for members.
Guest Speaker, Keiran Price – Energy Analyst
Keiran is an energy analyst with the ATA who has worked on numerous projects assessing the benefits of solar installations for residents, businesses and local governments. Prior to joining the ATA, Keiran lived in London for four years and worked at the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets and the UK Energy Market Regulator, where he was involved in the development and administration of a number of renewable energy and energy efficiency schemes. Before moving to London, Keiran was a political staffer in South Australia, a position which inspired his passion for policies that support renewable energy, sustainability and the environment.
What Are You using Electricity For?
Keiran advised we should all check our bills and look at the retail tariff we are paying – all of us are probably being ripped off.
Choice magazine did a survey recently and reached the conclusion that to get the best tariff, you need to change your retailer every three months! Most people will not do that!
However, Keiran suggested we must shop around and the best place to look first is the Victorian Government’s website: Victorian Energy Compare a trustworthy site kept up-to-date.
Is There An Energy Crisis & How Do We Cope?
Keiran referred to a recent article in The Age about soaring power bills for a pub in Mordialloc.
(Of course, the owner just happened to be a member of the Liberal Party and the informant Matthew Guy, the Opposition Leader, who might have just shot himself in the foot if you read the comments on the article.)
After suggesting, the pub’s owner could and should reduce consumption, Keiran explained how this can be done in most households.
6 Ways To Reduce Consumption
Keiran listed items in the order of those that consume the most energy:
Install reverse cycle air conditioners – they are the most efficient for providing heating and cooling – the biggest consumers of electricity
Install an efficient hot water system – shop around for a replacement before it is needed to get the best deal. Go electric with a heat pump hot water system being the most efficient.
Appliances like dishwashers and washing machines can have a timer so they are used during the day and you get maximum benefit from solar panels. Avoid having a clothes dryer.
Cooking – if you must cook with gas because you feel more comfortable then consider using portable bottles rather than mains gas because then you don’t pay supply charge of hundreds of dollars a year.
Check your refrigerator is efficient – star rating on appliances important. Don’t have a second fridge in the garage ‘for beer’. Keep that second fridge turned off with the door slightly open, and only put it on before your party or the weekend or whenever the beer is going to be consumed.
Lighting consumes electricity too – replace inefficient incandescent and halogen bulbs with LED. Turn screens off at powerpoint when not in use – television, laptops, desktop computers, phone battery chargers. Standby mode still uses power! Phone and tablet chargers referred to as ‘vampire load’ using just a little bit of power but if on all the time it still consumes energy!
How Do you Make your Home More Efficient?
** Minimise heating and cooling.
Roof and walls need insulation – a no-brainer.
Keiran advised checking the insulation is still in the roof if you had workmen come for any reason, especially electricians, because they often disturb insulation to get access to wiring and then forget to return insulation to correct place.
Pop your head up into the roof cavity and check your insulation is where it should be.
Floorboards, windows and doors – retrofitting floors can be complicated but worth sealing or covering with carpet.
There can be gaps and airflow and these should be minimised to stop draughts, also around windows and doors.
Windows can be shaded – external in summer because on a hot day one square metre of warmed glass is the equivalent to running a bar heater!
There are numerous ways of stopping direct sunlight onto glass in summer: plants, trees, blinds, sails, shutters…
In winter you need good curtains to keep the heat in. No airflow over top and back out the bottom – install pelmets, they are important.
Honeycomb blinds are the most efficient but any blinds are better than exposed windows.
Run energy efficient appliances.
Check the star rating – the number of stars important with up to $200 a year difference in usage.
Eg, Even if an appliance with high star rating costs $500 more to buy than one that uses higher energy, remember that in a little over 2 years you will have saved that difference in energy costs.
Having solar panels on your roof converts sunlight into direct current (DC), an inverter converts it into alternate current (AC) to power your home and appliances.
Any excess solar power is exported to the grid and you will be paid a feed-in tariff.
Some facts – In Australia March 2018:
1.8 million homes have rooftop solar
That’s 20% of homes
Or 4.7 million Australians living under solar
Most get a good return for their investment
Very few have battery storage but numbers are rising – 12% at the moment.
Rooftop panels need space and access to the sun
The standard system size is 5kw
Steps Towards Solar
Get your home assessed for suitability
Speak to your energy retailer and find out about tariff charges
Find a solar retailer and installer
Maintain the system
Keiran emphasised that the industry is not boom or bust anymore, the market is more mature and a lot of the cowboys in earlier days have been weeded out. (Hallelujah!)
However there are still some shockers out there so don’t be ripped off.
If you know people who have solar – listen to their experience because word of mouth recommendations can also be good indicators on who to avoid or employ.
Get multiple quotes and check warranties There are 50 good solar companies in Victoria but get at least three quotes.
If installed properly, solar panels need little maintenance, usually, the rain cleans any dust or grime. Don’t be ripped off by ‘professional maintenance’ companies – this appears to be the latest marketing/moneymaking ploy.
Your investment is usually paid off in 4-6 years regardless of the size of the system you install.
Average feed-in tariff is 11.3 cents but this reducing to 9 cents in July.
** People are now encouraged to put more panels on their roof so better to install a bigger system at the beginning.
There is an economic and environmental benefit to solar panels.
Environmentally – a 5kw system in Bayside is equal to saving 6.6 tonnes of CO2 annually and taking 2.2 cars off the road!
A Myth Exploded
It is untrue that the amount of energy to make solar panels costs more than what is saved.
In 1-2 years they pay back all energy used in their creation from mining, making, transporting to installing!!
Economic and Environmental benefits are there!!
People ask why are we only paid 11 cents for power when we put into the grid and yet we must buy at 25 cents?
The retail tariff includes:
The companies generation costs at the power plant
Transmission costs to network to various suburbs
Distribution costs to maintain poles and wires
Administration costs when retailers bundle the lot together
Your feed-in tariff does not offset distribution and transmission costs.
15-19 cent feed-in tariff is probably the highest you will get – unless you were among the lucky early takers on premium feed-in tariffs of 60 and 25 cents. These rates not available now.
There has been fluctuation over the years – dropped as low as 5 – 8, up to 11-12, will be down again to 9 cents in July.
Some retailers have introduced time-varying feed-in tariffs because electricity is worth more depending on the time of day.
In the early morning and overnight little demand so off-peak. Early evening it is peak period.
What has Changed In Victoria?
There has been more demand because Hazelwood Coal Powered Station closed but also there is more solar going into the market.
Peak time is getting later and shorter.
Off-peak shoulder peak evening rates
7.1 10.3 29
Solar panels peak period for generating is morning to the middle of the day when sun is hottest – to get an advantage of the movement of the sun, panels are now being aimed west as well as north because you want to generate power in the evenings.
Because of when most solar power is produced, it is not a good fit for time-varying feeds so make sure you
Become an all-electric home – disconnect from gas!
Set appliances like washing machines and dishwashers on timers
Install an electric hot water system, set the timer or make sure it runs during the day from solar
Reverse cycle air conditioners – set them to come on to heat or cool just before you come home – spread out their use
Batteries, Panels, Inverters
If you have a hybrid system you can charge a battery and leftover electricity is stored for reuse later in the day when the sun is not charging panels. A battery stores the excess generation from midday.
Why Add A Battery?
Store and reuse electricity
A back-up in case power goes out
Gives you energy independence
Supporting development of new technology
A typical battery that has a rated capacity of 10kw will always have 20% retained so usable capacity will be 8kw.
You must first charge the battery to have at least 8.9kw to get the 8kw and it is better to use the electricity from the panels when first generated.
A battery should pay for itself in 10 years or it is not worth the investment.
Different types of batteries:
1. Lead acid – 40% usable capacity – 10-year life like a car battery
Lithium iron – type you get in phones/tablets etc. discharge quicker but like the lead acid, capacity still degrades over time.
(The above two have the more proven technology.)
Flow battery sodium ion – 100% usable capacity and more environmentally friendly.
Go for smaller battery – one that is filled up every day and emptied overnight.
Retrofitting a battery onto an older system is always terrible payback and not economical yet.
Batteries are only economical if installed at same time as solar panels and you get ‘a deal’.
**However battery prices are coming down. It depends a lot on your usage and consumption and there are some good deals – shop around!
Batteries don’t have great benefit to the environment.
Long term it does benefit the grid and development of the technology and less money is needed for poles and wires.
Going Off The Grid-
For the average household, it is unlikely to be economic for decades. It will cost about $50,000.
You still need a petrol or diesel generator as back-up.
If $2000 annual bills – 25 years to pay going off the grid.
It is much better to increase your solar system and export to the grid.
Add more panels on the west facing roof to shift generator arc and it will be better payback than a battery. It may require a new or additional inverter.
install a hybrid inverter and get battery ready.
There will be new options to sell excess energy :
Reposit – sell to wholesale market via Diamond Energy
Smart Homes – energy management systems directing solar to where it is needed: diverters (hot water), charging electric cars where solar generating
Renters will have options too
Solar financing – through council rates, negotiating good deals.
Question Time was Interesting
I love question time at events – hearing the thoughts and ideas of the audience, learning how much they have absorbed or what opinions they bring to an event…
In question time on Tuesday, a good point was made about the language we use – why talk about “payback” – we don’t use that term when we furnish our homes, renovate or decide to invest in having children!
Investing in solar panels should be regarded as an economic and environmentally sensible decision!
Another question raised the issue of quality of panels on the market – is German made best? (A few years ago German engineering and innovation considered the best, and in some people’s eyes, the only system to buy.)
Keirain said most German companies have moved operations to China and the majority of solar panel are made there now. He advised if you go with a good installer you will find they use good quality solar panel brand!
Environment Victoria’s Efficiency Officer, Anne Martinelli
Environment Victoria want to encourage more solar and renewables. In Victoria,
our energy system already transforming – Hazelwood closed in 2017 – the 9th large power station in Australia to close in 5 years.
Renewable energy – large scale and household scale – transition inevitable as cost reduces.
How it is managed and who benefits is not guaranteed.
20% of Victorian climate pollution comes from our homes so upgrading efficiency is important.
Many households face significant barriers:
Access to accurate information – it is technically complex, the renewable sector changing rapidly, lots of misinformation around
Cost – hurdles to bill saving – those who need it the most can’t afford upfront costs.
Some people are locked out of rooftop solar for various reasons: they are renting, they live in an apartment block, the roof is unsuitable or not in right situation
Environment Victoria is focusing on making political parties have good policies for the coming November election.
Home energy hubs like Scotland. A network of regional one-stop advisory service like what the old SEC Home Advisory Service used to be over 30 years ago!
Tariffs efficiency assessments, retrofit organisations, access to financial assistance. One stop shop for information from trusted sources. Scale up existing council community sector services.
Lots of organisations like ATA offer free advice but who knows they exist?
No interest, rates-based financing through councils of efficiency and solar upgrades. Currently, the Victorian Government has a pilot scheme with 22 councils helping aged pensioners and low-income households upgrade to solar. They aim to have 1000 participants and are monitoring daytime consumption. This should be scaled statewide.
Virtual Power Plant – a partnership between government, industry and retailers that will finance solar and battery upgrades for low-income households, including those in social housing.
No upfront costs, guaranteed household bills savings
Maximise wider market benefits of solar and batteries
EG. South Australia Tesla batteries – company still owns battery but connecting 50,000 households in SA. Victoria could do three times that number – maybe scope with the election coming…
Energy efficiency (not necessarily solar) standards for rental homes. The Residential Tenancies Act renewal a great opportunity to set standards at a basic achievable level to keep affordable.
Make landlords invest in bill saving appliances, keep wiring and plugs efficient, LED lights.
Evidence suggests: 50% homes for sale rated 5 stars or greater
40% rental houses = zero efficiency rating
We must set standards so rental properties have insulation etc – perhaps help landlords so they are not putting the costs on renters.
There are 600,000 rental homes in Victoria.
Climate Change Is Real.
Working towards a sustainable lifestyle in our cities and countryside must be a priority. This November use your voting power wisely – ask your local candidate
In Main Street, Mordialloc
the lull of evening signalled
by oh, so familiar sounds…
the birds begin to jostle and joust
for palm tree frond, gum-leafed house.
Dusk descends into twilight glow
the tweets and squeals
now a deafening crescendo –
a cacophony of conversation:
‘Time for bed.’
‘That’s my branch…’
‘Move over magpies!’
All must know their station
In life, there’s a sense of place
chatter, bargain, even squabble
but eventually, share the space.
‘Stop skylarking about!’
‘You lorikeet lout!’
‘Squeeze over sparrows.’
‘How precious are parrots?’
‘Pigeons! The rooftops are home for you
go mutter your usual “coo coo”…’
And in the gloaming, shadows
of building construction loom,
mounds of dirt inhabit lonely gloom.
A treeless landscape, evictions rife
Mordi’s birds facing a new life.
I remember a bloody chainsaw day
shake my head, and turn away…
Continue to walk by Mordi Creek
watch the ducks silently glide,
a gannet rest in contemplation
this beautiful tranquillity
a sanctuary from conurbation.
How lovely the shimmering ripples
of boats tethered for the night, as
feathered friends dive and feed
in the quickly fading light.
A familiar outline against the sky
silhouettes of ancient trees
reminding us of when this creek
hosted Bunurong corroborees.
The path peopled by dog walkers,
and school children hurrying home
joggers and health fanatics – all
grateful for the space to roam.
In the eucalyptus evening hush
this precious part of the day, my
Mordialloc meditative therapy
designed to keep the doldrums at bay.
I received a couple of emails today from newsletters and blogs I subscribe to wishing me “Happy Earth Day.”
I’m ashamed to say, I didn’t know much about this celebration despite the fact it’s been happening for 48 years and is celebrated every year by more than a billion people in 180 nations around the world!
A Plea for Earth Day 2018
Earth, our planet, may be unique in this vast universe
And yet, we take its bounty for granted
Really, we are running out of time
To heal and save this damaged miracle
How foolish we are to ignore the signs
‘Do nothing’ is not an option… Reduce Reuse Recycle
Act now to save ecosystems like the Great Barrier Reef or
Year in year out, climate change will wreak havoc
What Is Earth Day?
In 1969, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, recruited activist Denis Hayes to organize a teach-in on April 22, 1970, a day chosen to raise awareness among the American public of an environment many thought was in ‘visible ruins’ and to put green issues on the political agenda.
It wasn’t uncommon in some cities during rush hour to be standing on a street corner and not be able to see across the street because of pollution.
Nelson and others decided to use the consciousness-raising awareness methods from the anti-Vietnam Movement and organised protests and teach-ins, which today some people credit for launching the modern environmental movement.
“The American people finally had a forum to express its concern about what was happening to the land, rivers, lakes, and air—and they did so with spectacular exuberance.”
The day still provides a benchmark for reflection among people in the environmental community although the movement now involves many other special days focusing on different aspects of “being green” and is not just USA-centric.
For me, every day is Earth Day and I really do try and limit my environmental footprint. My garden is a work in progress. I try and choose trees and plants that are indigenous to the area, although I do have ornamental and introduced flowers, but always I consider the birds, bees and butterflies!
We can all plant trees and flowers or encourage our local authorities to do so.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species was drafted for signatures in 1973 and went into effect in 1975. Signatory countries agree to ban or restrict trade in endangered species and their body parts. Although black markets arose for such products as tiger skins and elephant tusks, countries have also worked together to combat such trafficking.
1982 Saving More Whales
In 1982, the International Whaling Commission finally adopted a moratorium on commercial whaling around the world, in response to more than a decade of protests and pressure from scientists. Although pirate and controversial “scientific” whale hunts continue, the end of large-scale whaling marked a big turning point for the animals, and most species began a slow recovery from the brink of extinction.
1986 McPackaging Improves
In 1986, McDonalds started using biodegradable packaging, in response to criticism from environmentalists over mountains of Styrofoam containers littering roadways and choking landfills. Campaigners declared a major win, and the effort helped usher in a new era of companies both working with advocacy groups and acting on their own to reduce their environmental impact. The effort also helped raise consumer awareness about the impact of their own daily choices.
1987 Plugging the Ozone Hole
In 1987, many of the world’s nations came together to agree on the Montreal Protocol, which outlawed a series of chemicals that had been destroying the Earth’s protective ozone layer. Most famous among these were chlorofluorocarbons. Scientists were concerned that the loss of the ozone layer could lead to blistering rates of skin cancer and other problems. The ozone hole is now healing.
Thank goodness for that piece of news because Los Angeles has some of the most contaminated air in the country. … In 2013, the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside area ranked the 1st most ozone-polluted city, the 4th most polluted city by annual particle pollution, and the 4th most polluted city by 24-hour particle pollution…the American Lung Association’s recent “State of the Air 2017” report, has labelled the state and region a leader in air pollution, with the highest ozone levels.
Here is a poem I wrote when visiting the USA in 1997 when the emissions from cars and industry were choking the cities and I read in the newspaper that it was “marine layer”:
The Veil Lifted on L.A, USA 1997
It was like peering through a veil
each day –
not a pea-souper London fog,
nor a Melbourne winter smog,
no this was California, USA,
El Nino blamed for the
atmosphere being grey
and so, we peered through this veil
The citizens of Los Angeles
told it was the marine layer…
We breathed much easier knowing
government statistics kept showing
that in 1985 over 200 days
Los Angeles spent in ‘marine layer’ haze,
yet in 1997 there were only
twelve such days!
Some misguided tourists
(me included – and called deluded)
thought that veil each day
may be poisonous air pollution,
authorities struggling for a solution,
but no, ‘they’ said not so
and it’s so good to know
L.A.’s twenty-two lanes of traffic flow
only produces marine layer.
Tourists can breathe much easier knowing
that government statistics are showing…
since then Climate Change revealed
and what big business and governments concealed…
1992 Rio Earth Summit
The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development was a major event in Rio de Janeiro that helped focus the world’s attention on big environmental problems. It spurred all kinds of solutions, from government to civil society and business. It was there that countries agreed to start working together to address climate change. Countries also committed to increasing their use of renewable energy and to respecting the needs of indigenous people, efforts that were amplified when the UN met again in Rio 20 years later.
1993 Protecting Biodiversity
In 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity went into effect after being ratified by enough countries. Nations pledged to work to protect biodiversity around the world, in a decision that is often seen as the foundation for sustainable development.
1997 Early Climate Agreement
In 1997 the Kyoto Protocol was adopted by some countries (although not the U.S). It marked an early serious attempt by world leaders to address global warming in a coordinated way.
2002 Cradle to Cradle Is Published
The book Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart helped introduce their concept of biomimetic, clean design to the public. This helped kick off a new movement to rethink all manmade processes to be more in-line with nature, including the idea of ending the concept of waste and replacing it with the idea that everything can have a use as a material for something else.
2003 Electric Cars Get Cool
Tesla Motors was founded by Elon Musk in 2003, helping make electric cars cutting-edge again (after they languished in obscurity for a century). Other manufacturers also pushed forward with a new round of innovation, helping ramp up a technology that many pundits think will be a boon for the environment.
2006 Al Gore’s Movie
Love it or hate it, the documentary An Inconvenient Truth helped raise public awareness around the threat of climate change.
2007 Rise of Walking
Walk Score was founded in 2007, rating cities, neighbourhoods, and more for how pedestrian friendly they are. The company helped raise awareness of the growing walking and biking movements, which aim to get people out of cars and into more liveable communities.
In late 2015, nations came together in Paris and agreed to a new plan to limit global warming. The deal opens for formal signatures on Earth Day, and it will require countries to reduce emissions according to their pledges. Environmentalists are cautiously optimistic that the agreement represents a global turning point.
2018 Species Show Recovery
In April, the lesser long-nosed bat became the first bat to be taken off the Endangered Species List. After decades of conservation work, including working with agave growers to harvest tequila in a manner more friendly to the bats, the species has recovered its numbers to an estimated 200,000, up from just a few thousand. In June 2017, Yellowstone’s grizzly bears were removed from the endangered list, while the American wood stork was removed in 2014. These examples show that the Endangered Species Act is working, conservationists say.
The Earth is fragile and many parts need healing but Mother Nature is resilient and with our help we may not need to find planet B!
Thank goodness there are people prepared to put expertise, effort and resources into saving species. (Too late unfortunately for the white rhino...)
Environmental change can be rapid but also less obvious and often public policy plays catch up. It was 1972 before I read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, an environmental science book published on 27 September 1962 when I was only nine years old.
The book had a profound effect on me because it documented the adverse effects on the environment of the indiscriminate use of pesticides.
In 1972, I was involved with the Aboriginal Embassy protest in Canberra and for the first time had deep and meaningful conversations with Indigenous Australians, learning about their country and how the importance for culture and survival depended on their (and ultimately our) relationship with the land.
The other day, I received an email from a young man who wanted to write – not a book or novel but ‘perhaps for the screen‘. He believed his future was to write stories and present them in a way people understand just ‘not in paper format‘…
Unfortunately, Mordialloc Writers’ Group is no more but his desire to tell stories and write made him seek guidance from other writers.
His request rekindled memories of why I founded the local writers’ group in 1995 and maybe he and several others who have contacted me will be motivated to establish their own support group.
I remember that ache to be with people who understand the desire to write.
I remember wanting to not feel isolated or alone; needing to be with others who understand the fascination with words.
Sometimes I wonder where that eager, passionate writer has gone.
It’s Easy to Become Jaded
Over the years, through my involvement with the group and my teaching, I’ve managed to keep writing, but not always, writing what I want – and sometimes not from the heart. There have been periods of avoidance or dissatisfaction with whatever I’ve written. Periods of feeling overwhelmed by the expectations of others.
At times it took a conscious effort to remember and appreciate the sheer joy of stringing words together into a meaningful sentence, a memorable metaphor, a funny rhyme, an interesting character or setting…
When there are workshops to organise, deadlines to meet, lessons to plan, and editing of other people’s writing, the passion and pleasure, spark of imagination and fun are often smothered, spontaneity lost.
I’ve never had ‘making money’ as the main aim or motivation for writing – just as well because few writers ever become wealthy like JK Rowling.
My ego has never been so demanding that celebrity status or becoming famous kept me motivated to write.
And unlike George Orwell, I have never been so driven that I could neglect family responsibilities or my friends.
However, I do want to be able to respond proudly and without hesitation, to the questions, ‘What are you?‘ or ‘What do you do?’
I want to respond with, ‘I am a writer.’
I believe I am, and I do – even if not as successful as many others in the field.
I still want to record my own stories and help others record theirs. Let their voices be heard regardless of whether they have a university degree or dropped out of high school.
I want to meet anyone who enjoys playing around with and understanding the power of words, whether it be writing ditties, letters to ‘the editor’, romantic and creative cards, bookmarks, popular or literary short stories, healing personal stories, or the ‘one novel everyone has inside them’.
I have pages of imaginative, poignant, amusing and serious poems and prose from so many different writers.
What a privilege to share their stories, poems, plays, songs – even an opera – as they delighted in being with like-minded people with a passion for words.
Writing groups and classes bring together people from all walks of life writing what they want to write, but also valuing the techniques and tools of the craft.
Some write as part of a healing process, recovering from accident, illness or grief. Exercising their imagination not just therapy but a glorious release of ideas perhaps not revealed before.
Some write with the aim of helping others recover or learn from their journey, or impart knowledge and ideas they care about.
Some write because at long last they have the time or the courage to nurture their desire to write that novel, or book of poems, or rhymes for children, memoir, autobiography, family history or screenplay for Television, Holywood, or the Web!
Digital technology opening up choices not dreamt about when I first started writing creatively.
The young man who wants to tell stories by writing but not on paper an example of the digital revolution and the future. Maybe he’ll find an online group…
What Am I?
Mairi Neil 2004
I’m a writer.
A phrase with connotations galore –
author, biographer, journalist, poet,
columnist, editor, dramatist, copyist,
novelist, playwright, reporter,
essayist, wordsmith, hack ––
Need I name more?
Unless up against the dreaded block.
They author, communicate, compose, pen,
scratch, sign, autograph, indite,
correspond, create, draft, inscribe,
note, pencil, record, scrawl ––
Scribble frantically around the clock!
The literatiboast lucubration at escritoire,
manuscripts cause graphospasm,
and corpus oeuvre fill posterity’s chasm,
from palaeography to grammatology,
stenography preparing bibliography ––
Pseudonyms detected by graphology!
Whether freelance or fabulist using nom de plumes, ghostwriters or epistolary,
thank goodness people of letters
still continue orthography.
Scriveners scribble in scriptoriums
producing poetry and prose to fascinate,
enlighten, entertain and have their say!
Words that uplift, educate –– or challenge,
even offend –– to promote a cause célèbre!
5 Ways to Rediscover or Retain Writing Mojo & Spirit…
Write something for fun or like me vent your frustration. Form poetry is a good place to start – maybe a limerick or two.
Current Affairs But Who Cares?
Barnaby’s no longer Deputy PM
No longer the National’s gem
But tone-deaf Tony
And Bernardi the phoney
Both agree he’s not one of them!
Meanwhile, Malcolm’s losing the polls
Trying to dodge social media trolls
Tony keeps sniping
Ol’ Barnaby’s griping
Mal’s struggling to hold the controls.
Yet, who wants Bill as the boss?
Both the left and the right are cross
Bill tried to be canny
Lying about Adani
Now Labor may face electoral loss.
Aussie politics seems such a joke
Weekly stuff ups by bloke after bloke
Time for the choice
Of a strong female voice
The glass ceiling again must be broke.
Keep a journal or maybe a blog – experiment with poetry, flash fiction, citizen journalism…
Searching for Words and Meaning…
In writing class
we explore language
seek living words
sentencing each other
to work it out
or perhaps not
just listen, absorb and be
explore the language
search for words
taught in childhood
read in books
overheard on the train…
volume doesn’t matter
one sentence or two
from me or you
research for a living
search for meaning
out-search a life
writing in class…
Make the time to read a book or see a film, visit an art gallery or a museum – it may inspire you to write a review.
Haiku Book Review by Mairi Neil
Crime and Punishment
Be creative – sew, knit, garden, paint, take photographs – find pleasure and satisfaction in other projects and free your mind to return to writing.
Dance, listen to music, walk, meditate, enjoy the silence of nature. Nurture your inner self, the words will come when you are ready and your creative energy returns.
Lying on the beach
waves roll over me,
the warm waves
caress and massage
until colder waves
carve and chip,
with each sharp
intake of breath
a new shape emerges
I am reborn.
Chris met me at Edithvale Station and we walked to the Seabreeze Cafe, our usual coffee place that has reopened at the request of Kingston Council, albeit briefly because plans to build a new surf lifesaving clubhouse are delayed and forcing the cafe to close at the end of last year was premature.
Thank goodness the proprietor who is opting to retire, is good-natured enough to take the upheaval in his stride. He had let staff go but hadn’t sold off all the equipment and can still serve his loyal customers and occasional passersby, like me!
I couldn’t resist a delicious savoury scone – spinach and cheese – and succumbed to the begging of little sparrows who sat on the sea wall beside our table.
I know there will be intakes of breath and frowns of disapproval from friends, “You don’t feed birds crumbs,” and even Chris said, ‘Oh, no, you’ve done it now!’ as a watchful seagull swooped closer.
However, the sparrows were there because it was their ‘hunting ground’ and were not going to be intimidated, understood tactics, and gathered with the bravado of safety in numbers!
I was so focused on trying to just scatter a few crumbs at my feet for the sparrows while excluding the bullying seagulls that my scone crumbled. A larger piece than intended fell to the ground.
The sparrows multiplied and so did the seagulls.
Some may say… ‘Poetic justice’, ‘Serves you right’, ‘That should teach you not to interfere with nature’ ‘Don’t do it again’…
But, sorry, can’t promise, I won’t…
In recent times, the birds I come into contact with on a daily basis are coping with the loss of their habitat due to increasing property development and people. I have installed a bird feeder with wild birdseed at home because several large gums and other trees have disappeared from the neighbourhood.
I haven’t felt so concerned for the birdlife since the extended drought years ago.
For better or worse these sparrows (and the seagulls) are probably still adjusting to the removal and then reopening of Seabreeze Cafe too. They’ve probably had to go further afield or do without as beach traffic fluctuates.
Yesterday, they shared the spoils – what little there was – before Chris and I went for a walk to share the matters causing dislocation or joy in our lives.
We spotted a pair of birds uninterested in hanging around the cafe for crumbs, preferring to enjoy the spirited breeze by the water’s edge. They were not seagulls or sparrows often considered scavengers and pests at the seaside but terns.
Terns are long-lived birds and are relatively free from natural predators and parasites; most species are declining in numbers due directly or indirectly to human activities, including habitat loss, pollution, disturbance, and predation by introduced mammals.
The Wild Sea
The sea is wild today
the wind robust and strong
blowing water onto land
and pushing me along.
Bruised and grey it mirrors
the storm clouds above
I’m buffeted and battered
by the huge waves, I love.
I’m awed at its power
the force of the sea
Like flotsam it tosses
Flying high as a bird I glide
swirl, splash in downward slide
arriving breathlessly ashore
Invigorated to run
freely seaward for more.
In the shallows with
white foam bubbling
a gentler touch craved
to stormy sea pummelling.
Each wave demands a dance
sudsy fingers snatch and lift
with energetic sighs
atop tickling, teasing rollers
where saltwater stings eyes.
The surf’s determined to perform
and deposit me ashore
but the wind suddenly drops…
The wild sea is no more.
Chris is sole carer for her 91-year-old mother and I confided that another dear friend was enduring the bedside vigil of an elderly uncle farewelling this world.
We agreed that we’ve reached ‘that age’ where Advanced Care Planning is important as well as acknowledging that we don’t live forever, no matter how healthy our lifestyle is!
I’ve survived the final hours of my beloved husband John, my Mum and Dad and appreciate every death is different and life is indeed fleeting. My brush with aggressive breast cancer showed me how we can be buffeted by changes that come too fast.
It’s not surprising conversations with close friends are often philosophical and always meaningful. We discuss the ‘big stuff’ laugh over the ‘small stuff’ and share information if we think it is of value.
Yesterday was no exception.
Chris recommended a book she has finished reading: Letting Go: How to Plan for a Good Death by Charlie Corke and as the sun played hide and seek with thickening clouds, and the wind and waves harmonised, I recalled how comforting the sea had been to me the day John died.
We both loved Mordialloc and John’s years in the Royal Navy meant he had a special affinity with the sea. I was born in a ship-building town, felt the sea was in my blood.
John died early in the morning and that evening a dear friend asked was there anything I wanted, anything she could do…
“I saw the sunrise with John, I’d like to see the sunset on our favourite spot at the beach.”
“I’ll pick you up in five minutes.”
In the last few months of John’s life, we would take a glass of chardonnay or a cup of tea into the conservatory to catch the last of the sun and together sit in harmony with ourselves, each other, and our world. The girls engrossed in teenage activity, the dog curled at our feet, and the familiar soothing sounds of the sea in the distance, the occasional rumbling train, and birds nesting in the trees.
John always believed that death was a matter of going to sleep as if a dark velvet rug had been placed over you. There is no more pain – a nothingness. He was undecided about the Hereafter and like many others Faith eluded him – and me…
But sitting with my back to the bluestone sea wall, sipping from the bottle of champagne my friend had brought, I watched the sunset on Mordialloc foreshore.
Enthralled by Mother nature’s beauty, I listened to the gentle lapping of the evening sea caressing the sand. As the water sparkled before darkening, I felt immense peace. I felt the pressure of John’s arms around me and the weight of his last gesture of tenderness…and knew he was at peace too.
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 whipped cream clouds. Dainty dollops on a pale blue plate. Gulls sit or glide atop a sea bathed in white sunlight.
I too drift and dream.
In the distance, palm tree fronds tremble casting lacy shadows on the hot sand. The clink of moorings and masts floats from the creek and a sudden gust of wind whips sand to sting legs and faces. Airborne the seagulls transform to screeching origami kites.
A dark veil unfurls from the horizon shattering the grey-green mirror and peaceful contemplation. Waves lap and soap around feet and as I retreat to the shelter of eucalypts and pine, the taste of salt bittersweet.
Mordialloc Beach looking towards pier
Metaphorically speaking …
Ideas are fleeting like a butterfly
my mind flits from one thought to another,
but occasionally focuses to write
or to finish a project.
Life is the sea, stormy or smooth
I roll with the waves
prepare for a tsunami
but pray for calm waters.
Happiness is a kite, elation as
the wind blows steadily
until the unexpected breeze
brings me crashing
to the ground.
Hope is a candle flame
showing the way
from the darkness
can be smothered
but always relit
John was my rock,
Mum, a safe harbour,
Dad, a shield
Education, a panacea,
but also a lantern
shining on the path
as I stumble through life.
Life is a speeding train
sometimes out of control,
but heading straight
until I reach a destination
a little late
perhaps too soon…
Death is a sunset
inevitable but beautiful
if I die of old age –
the closing of my day.
There has been so much shocking news this week I feel like screaming or crying – not writing.
I’m impotent about yet another mass shooting in the USA when so many people in that country still defend the NRA’s position on gun ownership.
I’m devastated and impotent too about the continued tragedy that is Syria and other international war zones – declared and undeclared.
And the refugee and asylum seeker cause remains heart-breaking and seemingly unsolvable.
However, the story and shocking pictures of the plastic pollution washing ashore in Indonesia and other countries – even my lovely Mordialloc beach after a storm – is something I am qualified to speak and write about – and perhaps make a difference.
There Is no Planet B
I’m not alone worrying about the environment especially our waterways, and increasingly people living near and/or operating seaside small businesses are motivating others to combat the litter problem by inviting visitors to collect a bucket of rubbish in return for a free coffee.
The initiative started in England after a cafe owner watched the BBC’s Blue Planet programme and was so appalled he knew he had to do something.
Social media has done the rest with the latest reports coming from a small town in New Zealand encouraging people to clean up.
It’s ugly, dirty – and costing us tens of thousands of dollars a year across the Western Bay. In a special series on illegal rubbish dumping, we examine how our councils are trying to fight illegal tipping – and meet good people aiming to help clean up our region.
Mount Maunganui businesses are offering people free coffee for a bucket of rubbish.
Change Habits To Save Habitats
Bali’s beaches are drowning in litter
Debris piles so no butterflies flitter
Apocalypse fed –
But the solution’s not storming Twitter.
The main culprit named as plastic
A product we embrace as fantastic
But it resists decay
And won’t go away
The destruction of marine life is tragic!
Fast food a convenience we craved
Marketing gurus constantly raved
Junk created ignored
As rubbish was poured
Into the environment, we should’ve saved.
Who profits from accumulated trash?
Is life on Earth worth less than cash?
Consumers fed lies
While pollution spreads like a rash.
What species destroys its own nest
Where standards should be the best?
‘Away’ doesn’t exist
Rubbish isn’t a mist
We create it so must produce less!
‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ a catch cry
This must be reality before we all die
The coral withers
Our PM dithers
Climate change deniers watch Earth fry.
To the tourists who boast loving Bali –
Has your behaviour increased the tally?
Of beach debris
Polluting the sea
Leave only footprints when you dally!!
Bali’s problem is really worldwide
From culpability, no one can hide
It starts with a ‘me’
I hope becomes ‘we’
From today let’s take the Earth’s side.
Take Only Photographs, Leave Only Footprints
We are fortunate in Australia.
We live in a country where there are regular rubbish collections and slogans like Keep Australia Beautiful and Clean Up Australia translate into education programs and public campaigns and there are fines for littering.
Yet we still have people who are too lazy to find a bin or take their rubbish home!
But we often export our rubbish and China’s refusal to accept the West’s trash emphasises how we need to recycle and repurpose our own rubbish, especially plastics, but more importantly we have to reduce and PRODUCE LESS rubbish!
It takes a long time for rubbish to decompose – and some never does. The damage to wildlife and sea life horrendous.
Take Your Rubbish Home Or bin It
This needs to be the mantra for all of us – whether visiting a local park or a foreign country!
And we could tackle it with humour as this sign in Orkney outside a club did
It is easy to forget how big our environmental footprint becomes when we travel and already many tourist destinations are groaning under the cost of cleaning up after visitors, festivals, special events and the expectations of certain tourists.
Some cruise ships hold thousands of passengers. Can you imagine the rubbish to be disposed of – serviettes, straws, plus bottle and cans…?
Not surprisingly, some communities now regard those huge ships with dread!
I live some distance from the foreshore but close to the railway station and Main Street shops – every day I find discarded rubbish in my garden!
Multiply that problem in places where hundreds and thousands of people live or pass through and we definitely need to remind people of the message I remember from the 70s – POLLUTE AND PERISH…
We don’t have to wait for governments to legislate –
demand less packaging,
take your own bags when shopping
take a reusable mug if you buy a cuppa on the way to work