AUSTRALIA DAY

Having grown up in  Africa with its history of different loyalties, ethnicities, languages and monarchs, it is refreshing to experience the casual pride and almost universal pleasure of Australians on the national holiday.oz-flops

The weather is invariably hot, so outdoor visits to bodies of water are mandatory. Beaches, rivers and pools are soon surrounded by near naked flesh and flimsy gazebos.

Childreniced beer.jpeg frolic and squirm away from suncream lotions and sun hats; adults expose their tattoos and drink beer from as soon as the tent is up.

Even the roads are relaxed and festive with a number of cars festooned with national flags, fluttering in the slipstream.

prawn ice bucket.jpeg
XXXX, Jimmy Barnes and iced prawns are the iconic choices of the majority.

The day is probably the best part of Straylya!

Goodonyer!

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Trump: week one

Personally I think he’s a pig: big, orange, clever and dangerous.

trump-finger

But he has generated thoughts and movement and stirred outrage – which I am glad to see.

My first thought is: why do so many find solace in his offerings?

My second thought relates to the stridency of the relatively newly anointed disadvantaged groups, particularly black people and women – that’s what I want to take a dab at.

As historical barriers are removed and cultural confines lifted, black people and women have stepped forward and taken the lead in many enterprises.

Numbering their advances and expecting some sort of parity with historically more numerous white males in leadership roles is not a justifiable measure, it’s a political club to be wielded by the strident.

This very stridency may explain some of the support for Trump: people who feel threatened by the increasing anti-discrimination actions, which frequently enshrine the premise that if a person feels unfairly discriminated against, then that feeling is de facto discrimination.

What has happened of course, is that the stridency of those recently empowered groups has increased and there has been a new cohesion and legitimacy attached to their ccat-fightauses.

Protests in such large numbers such as the women’s anti-Trump marches have thrown up some bitter antagonism seen in blog- attacks on the lack of harassment experienced by the mainly white women marchers compared to past protests by black people.

Talk about losing the plot!

The orange Donald will relish the in-fighting between the two biggest discrimination claimant groups.

orange-donald

If I was King of Australia

… I would decree that all homeowners would be required to have rainwater tanks, solar energy, groparsley sage.jpgw vegetables and fruit in their garden and keep chickens.

In this little garden, we have a few basic herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (I feel a song coming on)  as well as chives, lavender, garlic and turmeric.

We will soon have a sufficiency of lemons and the yellow guava tree has a score of fruit. I cut down my first paw-paws for not producing enough fruit, but one has re-sprouted and the sprout has two fruit. Hopefully, it will be a lesson for my two new-fangled, self-pollinating red papayas, which are really shooting up. Our fig tree should bear next summer and our solitary pineapple is nearing fruition.

Our raised-from-seed granadillas gave us a score of fruit in their first year; if we are lucky we will get a second harvest.

The chubby maroon cherry guava looks likguava-cherrye it’s perfect for harvest. Sadly, it’s too late – it is already over-ripe and will have a rotten, fermented fruit taste and smell and likely a number of lively fat grubs.

I have never seen such a bountiful crop. I munch one or two green-yellow skin ones which are at the safely edible stage of ripeness; I don’t see any worms, but then I don’t look.

The rainbow lorikeets add their greens, reds and yellows to the tree and at night the flying foxes squabble over them. I bet they can smell the fruit from a mile away.

I think of my grandmother, who we called Gogo (pr: gawkaw) in the Swazi way. She would boil them up and strain them through muslin to make guava jelly – the perfect accompaniment for the impala roasts of the winter to come. We got to lick the wooden spoon and the bowl.

Now that I have become old and fat, I have become an anti-sugar Nazi, so can’t make the jelly which requires pounds of the sweet poison. But it saddens me. I am happy when my friend Grant comes and noshes a few of the fruit, recalling his childhood too.

tamarillosWould you like some tree tomatoes! Called tamarillos here, they are bountiful on my tree and I can’t eat them all. Flying foxes and possums find their smooth waxy skin too difficult, so I have to dispose of the whole crop. Lots of giveaways, to protect me from gout, caused by too much tomato. (Definitely not beer!). What will I do when the second tree comes into fruit? – I may have to go commercial!

Our bountiful garden gives me great joy. A hydroponic system is under consideration but may be too finicky; chickens have been vetoed. I am not yet King of Australia.

Nevertheless, go forth and cultivate!

What makes me happy?

jumping-for-joy

The casual affection of a grandchild

The crooning of our puppy

Picking fruit from my fruit trees

My wife’s smile

The chatter of family at a braaivleis cold-beer

Songs that snare memories

The colours of new leaves … old leaves … most leaves

Condensation on a glass of cold beer

Chewing biltong

The call of the Piet-my-vrou

take-a-smile

 

What am I grateful for today?

The just enough breezebee-happy

The blossom bending under a bee’s knees

Our solitary pineapple

Doves cooing

The yellow green of leaves on the unidentified trees against the ever so slightly faded blue sky

The droop of the fuchsia

That I am far away enough not to smell the rotting fruit of the cherry guava tree.

The relative silence of obscure suburbia.

The pelargonium red that almost pierces my eye

The fat smile of the Buddha my son gave me

 

There are more – these are some I perceive from where I sit on my verandah at home.

choose-happy

The numbness of numbers

probability found-wanting
There is a view that:

  • If it can’t be measured it doesn’t exist
  • Reality is a number

 

Some people (mostly rich) believe numbers tell you all you need to know.

Well, the buck stops here, with me!eat-your-pheasant

I reject the tyranny of numbers. I reject their posture as the only truth and sole ownership of reality.

Numbers don’t count when you talk about the real things in life:

  • Do you know how much I love you?number-on-scale
  • How hungry are you?
  • Are we happy enough?

 

Numbers are man-made symbols and thus controllable, changeable and malleable; they are powerful propaganda and eminently susceptible to corruption. Despite this, they are used to predict the future and define the past.

Numbers dominate our lives and rule what, when, where and how we live: the budget, the speed limit, age, school grades, wage levels, taxes, social benefits, account numbers, pin numbers, street numbers, profit and loss…

The problem is that numberspeople extend number logic to dealing with people, but people never add up.

They look elsewhere and jump on different horses that pass by; they get bored and seek variety. The main thing about people is that they are wired to take shortcuts. Even though most shortcuts end up in thorn patches and the way back seems different… so they take time (another domineering number) to get home.

But getting lost is an adventure with new experiences, trials and people – horizons are broadened; America could be discovered – ask Columbus!

Do everyday people really need to know how many miles it is to too-many-numbersPluto? Or how long it would take to get there?

Can we not survive on:

  • very far (the number of miles to Pluto)
  • quite a while (how long it will take to get there)
  • more than I can imagine or more and more each day (that’s how much I love you)

 

Let us practice the avoidance of numbers:

  • describe goals and ideals without recourse to numbers;
  • use words that are meaningful and emotive, passionate and powerful
  • break away from the sterility and bondage of exactness!

So try a little absence of exactitude, bask in a bit of vagueness.

We can dream, can’t we?  you-are-beautiful