Staying Connected Despite Distances

My daughter gave birth to my first (human) grandchild over 3700 kms or 2300 miles away.  I know, I should be able to use metric measurements by now as Australia converted from imperial in 1974 but not happening Jan. When the media puts out a bulletin warning about an escaped convict who is 164 cms I’m clueless. And when the weather man reports the daily rainfall in mms I still have to convert to the imperial, or if I’m totally honest, get someone to do it for me.

Back to bub who was born in a rural and remote community during the middle of a Pandemic when State borders were closed. As I was unable to visit during those months I did what every self respecting mother would do : posted Red Cross parcels full of treats for the parents-to-be and for our bub, and organised a couple of Zoom birthing hypnotherapy sessions for Pocohontas.

This little family have relocated since then, and we have enjoyed a few catch-ups, but they are still in another part of the country approximately 20 hours driving time away.

So how do I maintain contact and build a bond with the little fella? 

Here are a few of my suggestions. Please feel free to add any of your own recommendations ūüôā

  1. FaceTime or Skype

        Harry can’t talk yet, but seeing each others expressions and surroundings can often make you feel like you’ve actually been together. I have no doubt he recognises my face and voice ( saying to his mumma in his head ” who is this woman that wont shut up?”)

2. Send Snail Mail. 

          At the previous abode there was no Postman, but now Harry is excited to greet the Postie on a regular basis. Not only is it fun for him to receive something in the mail, but his mother is using this as training – checking the letterbox is a chore he must do, just like filling the dog’s water bowl- as well as a social activity.

           Harry is too little for letters so I went through a period of sending him a post card each week that featured an Australian animal.

3.   Create a Project.

           I recently purchased a $6 picture book about Dinosaurs which I posted to Harry. He can’t read but he loves the pictures. Each week I have also been bundling up 2 or 3 plastic dinosaurs and putting those in the mail. He has connected the figurines to the book and goes searching for them amongst the pages.

            He had a trip with his Playgroup to the local Museum last week and apparently went wild with the dinosaur statues.

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†Next project? I’ll be sending a felt board with a farm scene ( fences, farmer, chook, pigs, horses). Do you remember these back in the day? In the early 60’s I loved school just because of felt board play…….And I’ll be posting farm animals.

       4.    Talking About Things We Can Do Together On The Phone.

               Again, I am not sure what the little fella does or does not understand but he seems to listen when I talk about going on a picnic or cooking pancakes together.

I’m disappearing next week and travelling north. I’ll be armed with dinosaur figurines, a tee shirt featuring a dinosaur, and his mother’s 30 year old Beatrix Potter apron so we can stir bowls whilst cooking without getting into a complete mess.¬†I hope we can go on walks, eat ice creams and pancakes and maybe even plant a few vege seeds together. He’s still a bit young to sit through an Errol Flynn movie but that is on next years Must Do List.

And don’t worry; I do have treats for the grand furbaby too.


See you soon HB.

Mee Maw xxx


Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children” – Alex Haley

Plantastic! A to Z of Australian Plants

During a recent wander around the local environmental centre, Indigiscapes, with the Tuesday walking group I came across this book in the Gift Shop. (So now you also know I’m a sucker for Gift Shops, especially ones that carry jams and condiments made from local products. And children’s books. Children’s Books make me weak at the knees.)

Plantastic! A to Z of Australian Plants written by Catherine Clowes is exactly as the name suggests: an Australian Native for each letter of the alphabet. Clowes is a botanist and a teacher with a love of sharing knowledge which she does so well in this book which would have been an absolute Godsend to homeschooling mums and dads during periods of Lockdown.

Why?

Each double page is dedicated to a designated native. Those pages contain a concise description without getting over technical and losing the kiddies’ interest and illustrations by Rachel Gyan which are clear and easily identifiable. But the thing I really found both fun and inspirational is that each plant description includes a task to encourage our Little People to immerse themselves and engage in Nature.

For example, under L for the Lilly Pilly is a description, an illustration, and a task. In this case the task is to pick a berry from the Lilly Pilly and to plant it in potting mix and to nurture it with water and sunshine. Will it grow? I don’t know but I’m sure as hell going to experiment once the local Lilly Pillys start fruiting.

At the back of the book is a map of Australia which highlights where each of the 26 selected natives are found. So much information so simply presented.

I purchased several copies because I know several young mums who will find this book a huge help during the next school holidays.

April Update

Retired coming up to three and a half years ago and I still have a need to “achieve”. Small achievements are quite acceptable, but I don’t sleep well if there hasn’t been something successfully completed throughout each day. Mopping floors does not count yet mowing lawns does. Strange, isn’t it?

So where did April go?

Successful completion of #A-ZChallenge. Look out for Errol Flynn Trivia in 2023.

Attended a Soap Making Workshop. Attempted to repeat my efforts at home and nearly blew the house up. (Does that count ?)

Attended theatrical performance, a cabaret about Depression which was littered with humour.

Completed Harry’s Book Cart though after a few heated discussions it evolved from a bus to a fire engine. I just need to paint ladders on the sides.

Successfully mastered scones. Only took 45 years. Rosemary, Pecan Nut and Parmesan Cheese – to die for…….

Attended a concert : Troy Cassar-Daly and Ian Moss. Loved the former, the latter thinks he’s Brian May. Still, soaking up live music was wonderful, especially without a mask.

Mastered Egg Plant Lasagne. Still picking 6 or 7 aubergines a week so all new recipes are welcome.

Finished 2 books for the Gaia Reading Challenge, 2 for the Books That Made Us List, and 3 for Book Club. Reviews to come.

Planted pumpkins and tomatoes in vege garden. Bonus points because they are ALL still alive.

Painted patio and fence without any paint splatter on brickwork. Now that deserves a Gold Star!ūüĆü


Most importantly, enjoyed my pots of tea watching those around me go to work. Boy, do I love retirement……


Zelda¬†¬†D’Aprano –¬†¬†1928 – 2018

Zelda D’Aprano (nee Orloff) grew up in a two-bedroom house in Carlton, Victoria, in an Orthodox Jewish household, with two siblings and working class, migrant parents.

She left school before she was 14 to work in various factories to support her family. Married at 16 to Charlie D’Aprano, who left her 21 years later, Zelda had a daughter at 17. In 1961 she fully qualified as a dental nurse and completed her Leaving Certificate in 1965, at the same time as her daughter. She attended night school for two years graduating in 1967 as a qualified chiropodist.

It was whilst employed in factory jobs that Zelda first started to notice the inequalities that female workers faced, especially related to the pay gap. 

Whilst working at a Psychiatric Hospital as a dental nurse Zelda joined the Hospital Employees’ Federation No.2 Branch, where she was made shop steward in charge of all female dental nurses, though she had little support due to her gender. In 1969 she went to join the Australasian Meat Industry Employees’ Union (AMIEU), to work in a clerical position where she was appalled by the conditions in the office, and even more so after discovering that there was nowhere to air her grievances.

During that year the AMIEU was being used as a test case for the Equal Pay Case  and Zelda and several other women waited as the case was being decided in the Arbitration Court. In October 1969, after the case failed, she chained herself to the doors of the Commonwealth Building alongside women who worked in the building supporting her, eventually being cut free by police. Ten days later, she was joined by Alva Geikie and Thelma Solomon, and they chained themselves to the doors of the Arbitration Court, the one which had dismissed the Equal Pay Case. For this activism Zelda was dismissed from the AMIEU.

The next year, these three women founded the Women’s Action Committee to jump start the Women’s Liberation Movement in Melbourne, encouraging women to become more involved in activism.

Zelda said “we had passed the stage of caring about a “lady-like” image because women had for too long been polite and ladylike and were still being ignored”.

This led the women to take more militant action on their path to equal pay. The Women’s Action Committee continued to grow and Zelda travelled around Melbourne paying only 75% of the fares, because women were only given 75% of the wage of men at the time. Because women weren’t allowed to drink in bars, only in lounges, they did pub crawls across Melbourne.

In 1972 the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission finally extended the equal pay concept to ‘equal pay for work of equal value’, and subsequent revisions have made sure that women in Victoria retain this hard-won right.

Zelda was awarded a degree in Law honoris causa by Macquarie University in 2000, and was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2001. She was awarded the Order of Australia in 2004.

……………….We owe much to women such as Zelda, Alva and Thelma for their courage and perseverance.

NOTE

That concludes the #A-Z Challenge. Thank you so much for your patience and for sticking with me during this time. I hope you have enjoyed meeting some of Australia’s amazing and courageous women past and present.

Simone Young¬†¬† ¬†¬†(1961 – )

Simone Young studied composition, piano and conducting at the Conservation of Music in Sydney. Commencing in 1983, she worked at Opera Australia gaining experience from accomplished conductors and in 1985 started her operatic conducting career at the Sydney Opera House

In 1986 Simone was the first woman and youngest person to be appointed a resident conductor with Opera Australia and was named Young Australian of the Year.

She travelled overseas as an assistant to well known conductors at both the Cologne Opera and the Berlin State Opera and from 1998 until 2002 was principal conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in Norway.

Young was the first female conductor at the Vienna State Opera in 1993 and in 2005 was the first female conductor to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic. In March 2016, Young was appointed a member of the board of the European Academy of Music Theatre. In December 2019, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra announced the appointment of Young as its next chief conductor, effective in 2022, with an initial contract of 3 years, its first female conductor.

This is a woman who certainly knows her music……

AWARDS

-Appointed a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres of France. 

-2001 Young was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women 

-2004 in the Australia Day Honours, Young was named a Member of the Order of Australia “for service to the arts as a conductor with major opera companies and orchestras in Australia and internationally”. 

-2011 recipient of the Sir Bernard Heinze Memorial Award 

-2021 Young was named the Advance Awards Global Icon.

Celebrating the women from our past to the present who have helped shape Australia.
#AtoZChallenge

An Excellent Group Of Women.


Some of you would know of Terrigal on the Central Coast of New South Wales with its beautiful beaches making it popular with locals and tourists alike. Back in the 1940’s it was a sleepy fishing village with a population of less than 500.

During World War 2 the Surf Lifesaving Association of Australia (SLSA) was stretched to provide rescue services along the beaches anywhere along the Australian Coast. From the Surf Club at Terrigal only four men were available to patrol the beaches when 72 men went off to war.

This led the female members of the club – mostly wives, sweethearts and sisters – to ask permission to become lifesavers. Their application to the controlling body failed though this did not deter them.

They were trained in surf lifesaving skills by chief instructor Harry Vickery and were assessed by Central Coast Life Saving’s inaugural president Dr E.A. Martin. In two exams some 30 women qualified for the equivalent of the bronze medallion, receiving certificates on Terrigal beach and going on to volunteer to patrol the area over the summer seasons.

These young women undertook their duties with enthusiasm and passion. They even made their own swimming costumes and uniforms out of sheets, curtains and the odd parachute­ despite not having been awarded their bronze medallions.

At wars end 70 men returned and resumed lifesaving duties with the women being relegated to their previous tasks.

It wasn‚Äôt until 75 years later in 2017 that the women who patrolled the beaches of Terrigal during World War 2 , those “peaches of the beaches”, were finally recognised. They were awarded their Bronze Medallions, most posthumously to the families, as well as a special Terrigal Parliamentary Award to acknowledge their contribution to the community.

The Surf Life Saving Association finally admitted women as full members in 1980 and now benefit from more than 80,000 dedicated female members of all ages across Australia contributing in activities from active patrolling, to surf sports, education and everything in between.

Celebrating the women from our past to the present who have helped shape Australia.
#AtoZChallenge

Nancy Wake (1912- 2011)

AKA -The White Mouse

Born in New Zealand Nancy relocated to Sydney, Australia, as a child along with the rest of her family. She trained as a nurse and a journalist and moved to Paris in the 1930’s.

When World War 2 commenced she was living in Marseille with her French husband. When France fell to Nazi Germany in 1940, Wake became a courier for an established escape network where she helped Allied airmen evade capture by the Germans and escape to Spain which was neutral. She herself fled to Spain in 1943 and continued on to the United Kingdom when the Germans became aware of her activities, calling her The White Mouse. Her husband was captured and executed.

In Britain, Wake joined the Special Operations Executive (SOE) under the code name”Helene”. In April 1944 as a member of a three-person SOE team code-named “Freelance”, she parachuted into occupied France to liaise between the SOE and several Maquis groups, participating in a battle between the Maquis and a large German force weeks later. At the aftermath of the battle, a defeat for the maquis, she claimed to have bicycled 500 kilometers to send a situation report to SOE in London.

Immediately after the war, Wake was awarded the George Medal,[36] the United States Medal of Freedom, the M√©daille de la R√©sistance, and thrice, the Croix de Guerre. She worked for the intelligence department at the British Air Ministry, attached to embassies in Paris and Prague.

It was not until February 2004 that Wake was made a¬†Companion of the Order of Australia.In April 2006, she was awarded the¬†Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association‘s highest honour, the RSA Badge in Gold. Wake’s medals are on display in the Second World War gallery at the¬†Australian War Memorial¬†in Canberra.

Wake remarried in 1957 and returned to Australia with her husband.

Her autobiography is a fascinating read and numerous other books have been written ( as well as movie scripts) about her courageous deeds.

“I don‚Äôt see why we women should just wave our men a proud goodbye and then knit them balaclavas.” – Nancy Wake

Celebrating the women from our past to the present who have helped shape Australia.
#AtoZChallenge


NOTE:

When my daughters were in Primary School all those years ago there was an occasion where they celebrated famous Australians. Each child had to do a presentation about their favourite Australian.

There were talks about pop stars, cricket players – especially Shane Warne, and celebrities such as Steve Irwin, Wildlife Warrior.

When it was Pocahontas’ turn she did a flawless presentation on The White Mouse. God love her……

.

             

Veena Sahajwalla

Veena Sahajwalla was named one of Australia’s 100 most influential engineers as well as one of Australia’s most innovative engineers by Engineers Australia 2015 and 2016 respectively. She is Professor of Materials Science in the Faculty of Science at UNSW Australia and also the Director of the UNSW SM@RT Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology and an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow. She also runs a mentoring program for women in science called Science 50:50 with the Australian Research Council which aims to inspire Australian women to pursue degrees and careers in science and technology. In 2022 Veena was recognised as the NSW Australian of the Year.

Before we share what this trailblazer has achieved – and boy, has she achieved- a little about Veena’s motivation :

Born in Mumbai, India, Veena saw first hand the piles of waste and the “pickers” who went through it on a daily basis looking for something reusable. This sparked her interest in saving waste from landfill.

She was one of a handful of women in India to study Engineering and gained a Material Science doctorate from the United States before relocating to Australia and is known internationally as the Inventor of ‘green steel’.  Essentially that means that recycled truck tires are a sustainable alternative to using coal as an environmentally friendly process that could prevent over 2 million tires from being diverted to landfills each year while simultaneously creating a renewable energy source. Tires can be ground into pellets and be used instead of coal as they release fewer greenhouse gases.

She also launched the first e-waste microfactory, which processes metal alloys from old laptops, circuit boards and smartphones in 2020. At the height of the pandemic,¬†Professor Sahajwalla’s team turned the plastics from old printers into face shields for health workers at Port Macquarie Hospital. Her most recent success has been using old beer bottles and ageing mattresses, breaking them down and turning them into ceramic tiles for use in buildings.

What a woman!

Celebrating the women from our past to the present who have helped shape Australia.
#AtoZChallenge

UNITED

The Country Women’s Association of Australia , more commonly known as the CWA , is the largest women’s organisation in Australia. It has 44,000 members across 1855 branches. Its aims are to improve the conditions for country women and children and to try to make life better for women and their families, especially those women living in rural and remote Australia. The organisation is self-funded, nonpartisan and nonsectarian.

Formed in 1922 Australia Post is acknowledging the centenary of the CWA and all the good it has achieved in keeping rural women connected, and advocating on key issues such as access to medical and education services.

I think it fair to say that there is no such thing as an Aussie who hasn’t enjoyed a scone cooked from a recipe from the CWA (fundraising) Cook Book. 

The Water Book – Review

Alok Jha is science and technology correspondent at The Economist and the author of The Water Book.

The blurb on the back cover made it sound fascinating. ” Water seems ordinary – it pours from our taps and falls from the sky. But you would be surprised at what a profoundly strange substance it is. It defies the normal rules of chemistry, it has shaped the Earth, its¬†life and our civilisation.¬†Without it, none of us would exist.” And ” The Water Book will change the way you look at this ordinary substance. Afterwards, you will¬†hold a glass of water up to the light and see within it the¬†strangest chemical, something that¬†connects you to everything and¬†everyone else in the universe.”

The Water Book begins with a quote from chemist Felix Franks, ” Of all known liquids water is probably the most studied and least understood.”

Page by page I started keeping notes. On his way to Antartica, the author tells us ” in those frozen lakes and rivers, the ice does more than decorate the surface; it insulates the water underneath keeping it a few degrees above freezing point – and crucially liquid – even in the harshest of winters”.

After pondering this information one night – because doesn’t that nullify what we’ve been told about the effects of climate change in respect to choral bleaching? – and having read that water comes from outer space I abandoned this book at Page 50. Not the author’s fault : Science was just never my forte and I need my 8 hours sleep.

The L.O.M.L has a brain that functions that way having worked in the field of hospital equipment. He kindly offered to review The Water Book on my behalf and said he loved it.

I know: ain’t love grand‚Ķ‚Ķ‚Ķ..

The Water Book, by Alok Jha. ( Review by LOML)

The story of a voyage on Academik Shokalskiy, a 70 metre long  ice-strengthened Russian Polar vessel, on a trip to Antarctica, following in the footsteps of Douglas Mawson, a British-Australian explorer and Geologist, who went there in 1912 and 1929.  Alok was part of a private science expedition, and he tells us what happened from the time they left New Zealand on their journey south, to being stuck in ice for a fortnight, to their rescue in January 2014. 
 He treats us to descriptions of daily happenings aboard ship, then diverts to scientific observations on everything about water, really! From its occurence in the universe from molecular to galaxy size. The people who made discoveries about water, and any of its alternate states. From snowflakes to icebergs, to underground oceans, consisting of ..not only water, but other chemicals, ie, liquid ammonia, close to absolute zero in temperature terms, in our local universe. He explores the relationship between life as we know it, and water in depth..so to speak.
The subjects he discusses never ceases to amaze, and the book as a whole is at once educational and a throughly good read.