Who the hell is Frank Green and the Gaia Challenge.

I was amused last week to read an article by a journalist specialising in pop culture with the by line ” What makes you rich in Australia during a cost of living crisis.”

I’m not going to repeat figures quoted in the media on a daily basis about interest rates, inflation, and the number of people who are homeless. It’s too depressing. What I will share is that according to the article if you “buy a daily take-away coffee, add extras to your brunch at a cafe, and own a Frank Green water bottle that puts you in camp wealthy.”

This led to considerable distress as I had never heard of a Frank Green water bottle. Who is Frank Green anyway? And how hard is it to design a water bottle, especially one that elevates your social and economic status. What special features has old Frank included in the design process to make these such lauded water bottles?

This blew my mind having come from a generation that recycled Vegemite jars for juice and milk glasses and the re-use of honey jars with handles which made practical beer steins. There were never any tears if you chipped a glass in the kitchen sink as they were so easily replaced.

I’m all for being aware of the environment and do not purchase bottled water unless dying of thirst. (And let me assure you that thirst quenching – preferably with a crisp, dry white- is a priority.) Tap water is fine served in a recycled plastic bottle.

So this week in the mail I received my very own Frank Green water bottle. Thank you daughters of mine – my life is now complete. It is so exciting to be at long last living in Camp Wealthy.

The Cow That Swam Out To Sea” is based on the true story of a cow that was washed 95 kilometres down the Brisbane River during the 2011 Brisbane floods. These floods attributed to the deaths of 33 people with 3 people still missing, presumed dead. 

In the book Matilda the cow is curious and by mishap lands in the raging river. Although she is unable to swim to safety she finds a log which gives her something to hang onto as she is washed downstream and finally escapes via mangroves. The illustrations make it quite clear that poor Matilda has no idea what is submerged under the water in which she is floating – logs, building material, and even sharks.

Although this book is aimed at the very young it contains gentle lessons about the dangers of floodwaters and the environment which means it meets the Gaia Challenge brief. It also appealed to me because it documents a slice of recent Brisbane history.

Meet the real flood survivor, Red Gum Danette.

May Update

I’m over May already. April was a busy and fun month during which I soared, though back down like a cow pat in an empty paddock this month. Mercury in retrograde? Delivery of this years fiscal budget? The increase in the cost of living? Or did we merely hit the new year running too hard and have crashed months too soon?

Anyway, May is just not working for me and I am retreating.

The books beside my bed (27 at the beginning of the year) are starting to breed again. I’ve been putting off Daniel O’Malleys 650 page “Blitz” which was signed and gifted to me for Christmas and I am honestly dreading opening its pages. Blaming the May vibes, not the book. Young Dan plays Wednesday night trivia with my youngest daughter, and his debut novel “The Rook” started up a bidding war and was snapped up for an American tv series. ( When I asked if this meant Dan was now a multimillionaire I was told that indeed he was no longer working in the public sector but had moved back in with his parents. Make of that what you will.)

I read some great books last month and even though some of them may not have been structurally sound, the subject matter had me down that blessed “rabbit hole” searching for more. The Crimson Thread by Kate Forsyth and the Battle For Crete, The Bookbinders of Jericho by Pip Williams a companion to The Dictionary Of Lost Words, Anxious People by Frederik Backman, and Jo Jo Moyes’ The Giver of Stars about the women who delivered books by packhorse during the Depression.

Funny story : during the pandemic there was a book launch in Brisbane for Silk Clouds and Olive Trees – Tales from the Battle of Crete by Deborah Wheeler featuring 103 year old ANZAC, Alf Carpenter. Covered in masks and disinfectant I trained it in to obtain a signed copy for the military son-in-law. Hid it somewhere. Hid it so well that two years later it still has not been located. 

Hoping May redeems itself by disclosing the books whereabouts. I’m really keen to read it now.

X is for eXpletives, Y is for dunnY, and Z is for zzzzzz : Australian Lingo

Saturday 29th of April is the last day of the A-Z Challenge and as I’m a little behind this will be a Triple Treat.

I hope we have all gained something, anything, from this series of posts and I apologise for the brevity of some. Several books have been devoured in the early hours of the morning to provide a better understanding of Aussie lingo though as always Life gets in the way and I haven’t been able to focus as much as I had initially planned. Admittedly I’m also slowing down as I slink gingerly into old age.


X is for Expletives : If nothing else you’ve learned that Aussies are loud, colourful and inventive. I’m not going to delve into the world of profanities, at which we as a nation excel, but refer you once again to ” Rooted, An Australian History of Bad Language” by Amanda Laugesen. Bad language has been used in all sort of ways in our history : to defy authority, as a form of liberation and subversion, and as a source of humour and creativity.

Just take my word for it….or read the book.

Y is for dunnY ( Allow me some poetic licence please)

The word “Dunny” is Australian slang for toilet or outhouse. 

My favourite Aussie insult has to be ” I hope all your chooks turn into emus and kick your dunny down”.

Z is for zzzzzz.

It’s been a long month and I’m retiring. Good night.

Demystifying Australian Language

W is for They’re Are Weird Mob by John O’Grady : Australian Lingo

Who knew you’de get a book review as part of my entry into the A – Z Challenge. Yes, it’s a tenuous connection to the Letter W, but the alternative was an explanation of one of Australia’s favourite slang words, Wanker, so I’ve opted for the lesser of two evils.

They’re A Weird Mob was released in 1957 and was a big deal in its day.It was also required reading for the New South Wales High School Certificate ten years later – adding to the reasons why even the most attentive senior school students wag class.

O’Grady wrote under the pseudonym Nino Culotta, who is the lead character in the novel. Giovanni ‘Nino’ Culotta is an Italian who comes to Australia as a journalist, employed by an Italian publishing house, to write articles about Australians and their way of life for those Italians who might want to emigrate to Australia. Unfortunately, the job falls through and Nino accepts a position as a labourer on a construction site and is introduced to hard yakka(work) and all that entails : cups of tea, swearing, and a lot of beer.

The book was made into a movie in 1966 and the narrator begins with ” Australians live down under. Like flies on the ceiling they never fall off.” Some of it is funny, some of it makes you cringe. I wasn’t a fan in 1976 and my view hasn’t changed, although critics tend to think otherwise.

Both the book and the movie focus on the misunderstandings caused by miscommunication. Nino’s English is learnt from text books, the Australians’ not so. I like to think it is a story about an Australia long since gone….

Demystifying Australian Language.

A is for Abbreviations : Australian Lingo


For the purpose of this exercise I will rely on my own understanding of the misuse of language gleaned from working alongside people from all walks of life over a 40 year period – including 5 years working with military veterans – and greatly peppered by two old reprobates close to me, with their different backgrounds and life experiences, as well as the following publications:

The Essential Lingo Dictionary of Australian Words and Phrases.

    By John Miller

Rooted, An Australian History of Bad Language 

     By Amanda Laugesen

A is for Abbreviations

As stated in my Theme Reveal post Aussies are notorious for speaking fast and dropping letters from words. It’s simply because we’re a lazy lot.

To assist you on your travels Down Under here are my Top 10 abbreviated words used on  a regular basis:


Short for aggressive/aggression

eg. As soon as you leave the airport the aggro will set in because of the traffic.


Short for breakfast.

eg. You’ll feel calmer once you’ve had some brekky


Short for sandwich

eg. Feeling peckish at lunchtime calls for a sanga.


Short for cup of tea

Eg. Because who can eat a sanga without a cuppa?


Short for avocado.

Eg. Smashed avo with feta on Lebanese bread is Australia’s most popular brekky available at Cafes.


Short for devastated.

Eg. I was devo when I ordered smashed avo for brekky but the Cafe was out.


Short for ambulance.

Eg. Things could have gotten aggro because of the lack of avo requiring an ambo, but luckily the Cafe provided an alternative sanga with a cuppa. 


Short for pavlova.

Eg. The Cafe also had pav for sale


Short for barbeque

Eg. I had been invited to a friend’s barbie so ordered a pav from the Cafe to take for dessert.


Short for Cabernet Sauvignon

e.g  You don’t expect a girl to attend a weekend barbie without a bottle of cab sav, do you?


Have you been paying attention?

Where does a girl buy her Cab Sav from? What is the abbreviation for liquor store, more commonly known as a bottle shop?

Demystifying Australian Language

My Polar Dream by Jade Hameister: Gaia Reading Challenge

I recently read My Polar Dream, the autobiography of Jade Hameister who at 16 years of age became the youngest person in history to pull off the “polar hat-trick”. That is, she skied to the North and South Poles, and across the second largest polar icecap on the planet: Greenland. Hameister travelled over 1,300 km on these three missions, which totalled almost four months on ice.

Originally my interest lay in what made a 14 year old girl from Australia want to undertake such an expedition and what motivated her to commit to two years of rigorous  training in preparation. At 14 I was being screamed at to get out of bed in time to catch the school bus each morning.

This is a rather simplistic read but that’s okay because Hameister admits that her target audience is young women and “trying to shift the focus from how we appear to the possibilities of what we can do.” She includes several lists in bullet point form detailing facts and figures about the environment (such as if just the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melts it is estimated that global sea levels will rise by 5 metres), as well as the logistics of her expeditions.

This was fascinating as everything taken onto the ice must be brought back out. This means all things. I loved a young person’s perspective of what was important to pack for these travels; how many pairs of underpants, how many clothing changes. ( Tip: this is information to avoid with regards to male wardrobe requirements. It will make you run for the shower).

Hameister was awarded the Australian Geographic Society‘s Young Adventurer of the Year for her 2016 North Pole expedition, which was captured in the National Geographic documentary On Thin Ice: Jade’s Polar Dream that aired in 170 countries and included a strong environmental message. In 2019 she was awarded Medal of the Order of Australia for her “service to polar exploration”.

It will be interesting to watch what this courageous young women turns her hand too on the completion of her tertiary studies.

February Books

I was going to list all the books that I read throughout February but thought “who gives a rats?” So I will share a book update instead.

The Little Community Library has been in existence now for four years, coinciding with my retirement, and is self managing other than a weekly visit for a quick tidy up. It is well supported by locals although the demand for children’s books continues to outstrip supply.

Some of the books that have been through the Little Library over the past few months are tagging along on a short road trip we are taking to the Western Downs area of Queensland where they will join some of their country cousin Little Libraries along the way. A local Charity Store also provides books to recycle across Little Libraries as does a national service organisation. It is amazing how a handful of fresh titles can add to a Free Library in a rural setting that has been doing it tough given recent floods, bushfires, and kennel cough. Lookout south coast of New South Wales : a delivery is coming your way too.

I picked up some cheap reading material at a car boot sale last week : $2.50. Bargain!

Although this was a stupid move when you consider the pile of books by my bed that I haven’t as yet touched.

A member of our Book Club recently recommended “The Underground Railway” by Colson Whitehead which I saw this week made the New York Times’ 25 Best Historical Fiction Books of All Time List. As a newcomer to our reading circle as well as to our shores it is interesting that this lass is introducing us to a wider circle of books. Indeed, this one is a five star read.

Another recommendation by a group committed to expanding the practise of letter writing which I recently joined is “The Little French Bookshop” by Cecile Pivot. This is a nice little book – yes, I have been lectured about the use of nice – about a woman who runs a french bookshop who instigates a letter writing workshop.

Life Lesson :

Books can have more than one life. Share, Give, Recycle.

We don’t need a list of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and don’ts: We need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever.” – Philip Pullman

Farewell February

February was a fun month providing plenty to do and temperatures not too hot to do them in. 

The frangipanis are in flower and this month I’ve picked pumpkins, capsicums, and passionfruit from the handkerchief vege patch. I’ve learned how to make tomato relish and pineapple marmalade, and picked up a few new projects. Here’s a hint :

Which takes me back many years to my mother-in-law, a delightful woman with a wicked sense of fun. However, she didn’t like my friend, Cherie, a beautiful creative lass whose babies were leaving the nest at the time when mine were just joining. Cherie was returning to the workforce as an Arts Teacher, was writing books of poetry, exhibiting art work and running workshops. Loved her to bits. 

MIL’s response to all this was that my friend was “scared of dying” and “trying to fill up with living”. I never gave this further thought until recently, as I admired my MIL for having various opinions despite being from a generation when women generally didn’t flaunt them.

Now older than my friend ever was I find myself always trying to learn new things and discover different places. Is this because I’m scared of dying?

No way, Jose. This is because I finally have the time. Time to focus on me – what fulfills me. I’ve played the good daughter, sister, wife, mother, and business partner. Now it’s my turn. 

Today I’m researching glow in the dark paint for fabric art so I can paint underpants to go with Part 3 and the conclusion of the story of Harry’s All Singing, All Dancing Underpants, listening to music from a shoe box of CDs I picked up mid week for $5, and booking accomodation for a short road trip. ( Let’s not mention the bag of books  I picked up yesterday for $4. Woops.)

See you next February, touch wood.

A Rant With Some Romance

Very excited to receive a package in the mail this week. The daughter has been busy divesting herself of surplus possessions and is returning all the DVDs and books she has borrowed over the past ten years. Unpacking the gift box was more exciting than Christmas, I have to tell you, except for the Eucalyptus flavoured fudge made in her home town. It was just as I imagined Vicks Vaporub, a topical ointment made of eucalyptus, camphor, and menthol,   designed to unblock sinus passages, would taste. Though not a fan of fudge – hurts the teeth and the sugar surge produces headaches – it was a lovely thought, Cat Balou. Anyway, it feels good to have my Errol Flynns back in the fold. 

Included in the parcel were a few recent novels to add to the Little Library for Valentines Day. Said child has been contributing to Blind Date With A Book for several years.

The Book Ninja” by Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus has an interesting back story.

In real life these lasses instigated Books On The Rail, a movement whereby books are left  on public transport services around Melbourne and beyond to be shared time and time again amongst commuters. They call themselves Book Ninjas.

The novel, first published in 2018, is set in a bookshop in Melbourne where one of the employees, a woeful book snob with a penchant for the classics, plants books on trains in her search for love. Towards the end of each book she writes a pithy comment and includes her email address with the assumption that any single young man worth his salt will make contact. Thus, her dating experiences become the fodder for her popular blog. However, it is a young man who only reads YA Fiction who wins her heart – with all the tears, angst and drama you expect.

It is an easy read which includes blog posts, emails and text messages. I guess that makes it a young persons read though it does include book quotes and references which makes it an interesting book for all ages.

I finished it whilst overseeing pineapple and lime marmalade production on the stove top.

By the way, I’m no fan of pineapples – same tooth and sugar issue- and I have a pineapple story from years back not fit for public consumption. But our Australian pineapple farmers are currently doing it tough and opting to plough their crops in rather than harvest. There is something intrinsically wrong with this, so buy a couple of pineapples and help a farmer. End of rant.

Curlews on Vulture Street by Darryl Jones


Darryl Jones is a Professor of Ecology at Griffith University in Brisbane. He has been researching the ways that people and wildlife interact in an urban environment for thirty odd years focusing on why some bird species are extremely successful in an urban landscape, whilst others less so. He describes his book as ” a memoir of an urban ecologist”  beginning his story by revisiting his childhood in rural New South Wales.

I found this an interesting read on two levels. Firstly, his investigation findings about magpies, lorikeets, ibis and crows – all familiar to urban Brisbane where I reside – are fascinating. Don’t get me started on the sex lives of brush (scrub) turkeys!

Secondly, its not that long ago when the house was full of teenage angst caused by not knowing where life was headed after High School. It was a repeat cycle from 40 years previous when it was entrenched that the Higher School Certificate was the “be all, end all”. This memoir is a reminder that life generally falls into place.

It was not that long ago that feeding birds in the back garden was considered a big No No. Neighbours reported local residents to Council for doing so. Since then, the public has been advised by ecologists the right and wrong way to interact with local wildlife, such as planting native trees and providing the correct foodstuff. It has been estimated that one in four houses in Brisbane has a bird feeder of sorts in the back yard. Research has shown that people genuinely like interaction with the wildlife in their neighbourhood but also see it as a form of atonement ie making up for humanity’s destruction of the natural environment. ( Interesting concept to think about?)

Guilty as charged…….

Incidentally, the title “Curlews on Vulture Street” relates to an incident where the good Professor was pulled up by a police person for holding up traffic in inner city Brisbane whilst awaiting for a Stone Curlew with chicks to cross busy Vulture Street. 

Well worth the read although I’ll never look at a scrub turkey in quite the same way.