I invite you to visit also my literary blog: Journeys in Creative Writing where I post original fiction including short stories, poetry and 'Paternity', a full length mystery novel.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Red Skies - are we looking at the future?

What did the kookaburras think of this lot?

While the world's leaders were ducking and weaving about climate change solutions in New York this week, Australia saw a real live demonstration of what our future could be if we don't act with speed on this front.

My brother lives just outside Sydney and woke up at dawn on Wednesday to see that the sky was what he described as 'fire engine red'.  It was 'the day the outback dropped in'.

A gigantic dust storm had picked up many many tonnes of our precious outback topsoil and flung it, willy-nilly, 1500km across the country and out to sea.  The air pollution was 1500 times as bad it would have been on a normal day - the highest since such records began here.

This is how it looked soon after dawn from beneath the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

Peer through the haze to the majestic sails of the Opera House ...

As my brother said, the sky changed from fire engine red at dawn to bright orange and gradually, over some hours, to yellow and to grey.  This image would have been taken around mid morning. 

Young people made their way to school in an orange glow. 

People put handkerchiefs to their noses and unwise joggers, fit and young, ended up in hospital emergency departments struggling for breath. 

This amazing image is Luna Park, a fun fair on Sydney's northern shore.

How eerie and frightening it must have been ...

This householder/photographer wouldn't have kept the laundry door open for long.  Everything is too clean. Cars, houses and plants were swamped with the clinging dust.

The images above were from websites of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sydney Telegraph, some taken by staff, but many sent in by readers.  

Results of the dust storm reached the coast and spread more than 2,000km from Sydney to the Gulf of Carpentaria not far from the northernmost tip of the land.  

The dust struck my home 900km north of Sydney late in the morning.  I was speaking to my sister on the phone and looking out of the window at the same time.  I became mesmerised when the landscape began to disappear.

Five minutes later a whoosh of wind changed the world.  I could see no further than houses 200m away.  Everything beyond that disappeared: the trees, cars, high rises on the border, houses.  

I could taste dust on my tongue.  I had no shoes on and the ceramic floor tiles felt gritty. I was frightened because I am an asthmatic.  

I'd closed down hours before thinking the dust might reach us, but left one door open for fresh air.  I shut it quickly and all doors and windows at my place remained tightly closed for the rest of the day, and throughout the night.

So you see, I took no photographs of our dust.  By the time it reached northern NSW the sun was high in the sky, and the dust had taken on a grey hue. No outdoor photography for me!

Next morning though the skies were blue, but so was I, feeling much like a dishrag, needing a good clean out.  I went for a long bike ride to get rid of the grit.  

Today the dust is back in a reduced way, bringing only a haze on our horizon, and leaving the high rises as so many ghosts in the distance.  Even so, I won't be going outside today ...  

Ben Cubby, an environment reporter on the Sydney Morning Herald said the dust storm on Wednesday was 'consistent with what we know about the effects of climate change'.  

Those politicians had better get cracking!

Melbourne Age website - images of the Sydney dust storm set against an excerpt from John Steinbeck's 'Grapes of Wrath'. 

As a little lamented Prime Minister of Australia once said 'we should be alert but not alarmed'.  He was talking about terrorism, not our environment. But my goodness we MUST surely be more alert than we've been when such signs of climate change become ever more relentless. 

Have you signed petitions or other ways acted on the climate change front? 

Do you try to do your little personal bit towards easing this problem - eg using less water or installing a solar panel on the roof? Add such individual efforts together and it will mean something.  

Please tell me in a comment. 

Friday, 18 September 2009

Just the Best Fish n Chips!

The pelicans and seagulls think they sell just the best     fish n chips around, and so do I! This small boat harbour restaurant has tables set out on a wharf at Tweed Heads near my home in Australia.

Dress code is the ultimate in casual. Fingers are definitely de rigeur. Food is served in polystyrene boxes to keep in the heat, and the taste is scrumptious! 

I dropped in yesterday on my latest bicycle ride. Here, for $A8.50 I enjoyed a meal of about eight little whiting fillets (cooked in crumbs after coming straight off the boat) together with a huge serve of potato chips and a couple of lemon wedges. 

No need to cook when I got home.

These days the sea birds seem to have got the message that they must wait to be fed, and show manners. 

Some time ago they thought they could fight humans for the food they'd purchased and squabble and flap around, making the experience somewhat marginal.  That's a battle surely fought in most seaside towns at some time or another. 

Not only is the food good at this little cafe, but there's a lot to watch while you eat. 

The boat harbour is home to yachts large and small, house boats and craft that ply the nearby river taking tourists and even wedding parties on trips that can include music and refreshments. 

The local fishing fleet - source of my fish meal - drops anchor around the corner ...

I took this photograph on a Sunday - otherwise all of the boats would have been out about their business.  

Why do most fishing boats seemed to bear a woman's name? 

Who was Sarah Jane?

The 'NessaJane' was receiving some TLC from her crew.

And then there was the 'Coralynne' ... 

I REALLY like my bicycle.  I notice so much more when I'm travelling that way. 

Where will you head next time you ride your bicycle?

Where would you like to go if you had one? 

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Hearing Voices 24/7

Bloggy mates, I promise to post something bright and cheery soon - but this won't be it! However, I suggest that this will be an experience you won't forget.  

Unless you, your family or your friends are among the one in four of those who have had a bout of mental illness in their lives, you won't know much about it.  Or, at least you won't be able to fully empathise with a person who has had a brush with psychosis.

Mel is a young Australian girl who was dux of her school until psychosis struck seven years ago. Since then, her life has never been the same.  

A little while ago Mel met a presenter from the Australian Broadcasting Commission's youth radio station Triple J and told her story on video.  It's an absolute blow-out. 

Judge for yourself:  

Come back after you watch and leave a comment on your feelings ...

Also, bloggy mates, please spare a thought for Mel's parents and all of those families confronted by these problems.  

And if you know anyone affected personally, you may like to contact the Hearing Voices Network website.  

The head office is in Manchester England: The NSW Australia group established by Mel's father also has a site:

How did you feel after this experience?
You may feel a little hollow right now, but I'd wager that you feel, as I do, that we understand many of our fellow human beings a lot better now.