Monday, 3 August 2015

Lexi

Our beloved cat Lexi has passed away.
She was very ill.
We gave her the very best care that we could, but
This photo was taken quite a long time back, when she was healthy.
Lexi was actually our son's cat but she had lived with us for eleven years.
Our's is officially a pet-free building so Lexi was supposedly only visiting.
Lexi brought us much love and companionship. We were indeed lucky to have had her in our family.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Anzac Day 2015

It's Anzac Day.

We have all been a little cautious. So far so good. Guards everywhere through the night and today. Alert but not alarmed, I suppose. We have a big military presence here, including about a thousand US Marines at present.

I was up early to be part of the dawn service at our local cenotaph. This photo was snapped by Fiona just before the choir began singing. The Army band is behind Nora.


This photo of a US Marine is from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-25/darwin-dawn-service-draws-crowd-us-marines-attend/6420882

There was a huge crowd and many stood under the trees, estimated at 10 000 people. Maybe more.
Afterwards Mary took this photo of the display of handmade poppies that decorated the area. Later this will be part of a War Museum exhibit.


In Melbourne the display of handmade poppies is staggering. It covers Federation Square.


This photo is from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-24/federation-square-taken-over-by-a-sea-of-handmade-poppies/6419068

I watched a wonderful parade through the centre of Darwin this morning. So big and impressive. It took 40 minutes for everyone to march past us. That is BIG. A tiger moth flew over, and a harvard. And three fighter jets. Two big Army helicopters patrolled above us throughout the parade. At the conclusion the New Zealand sailors did a fantastic haka right in front of the official dais. I wish I had a photo of that! Awesome.

My friend Mick took the following photos of the parade.


Two of these tiger helicopters flew over.


Now there is a cheerful party at the RSL about 200 metres away. It sounds like a lot of fun.

Tonight is our concert. A very full day.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

2015 Bombing of Darwin ceremony

Old soldiers
Such a lot has been happening that I have not made time to post here.

A few weeks ago we had the Bombing of Darwin ceremonies. This is a National Day of Significance and marks the first time, on 19 February 1942, that Australian soil was ever bombed by an enemy. The ceremony is a major event in Darwin and visitors come from far away to attend. It is extremely moving.

This is the Peary memorial. The gun points to the wreck.
I am sure you know that the enemy was the same squadron that had earlier bombed Pearl Harbour. The difference was that in the instance of Pearl Harbour the US Government had been warned by New Zealand that the attack was imminent, but there was no intelligence to indicate that northern Australia was the next target. When a warning was sent to Darwin from the Tiwi Islands early on the day it was not believed. This is the way of war.

Soloists entertaining the crowd.
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
The band played wonderfully well.
The choir is at the back of the tent.
Before our ceremony at the cenotaph there was another ceremony at the Peary memorial in honour of the 88 US servicemen who lost their lives in the first raid. The USS Peary remains at the bottom of the harbour and is clearly marked by a yellow buoy. This is a registered War Grave. I see this buoy every day from my home.

Few of us are able to take time off work for this ceremony.
It is not a public holiday.
The music for the ceremony was played by the Australian Army Band supplemented by the Arafura Wind Ensemble. My choir sang. A trio of singers entertained the crowd prior to the commencement of the ceremony.

Another ceremony was held down at the wharf where many workers and sailors lost their lives. One of the casualties was the hospital ship Manunda; no survivors. Captain William Michie, a relative of my husband, died on the MV Neptuna that day. It was carrying munitions.

The vintage plane
that flew over
We had a huge crowd. Soldiers old and new wore their medals proudly. Solemn speeches brought tears to the eye. Many wreaths were laid. School children took part. A vintage plane flew over followed by fighter jets from the Australian Air Force. The Army provided a re-enactment of a scene from that dreadful day.

The photos above are not mine. The big ones are from Eleanor Wilks a local professional photographer. The small photos are from the NT News our local newspaper. (I was at the back of the tent during the ceremony of course.)
This was taken before the ceremony.
It just shows part of the preparation for the re-enactment.
The cenotaph is on the left where you see flags.
Beyond the fence is a cliff and the harbour.

There were two huge pavilions like this and some smaller tents.
After they were filled the crowd stood under the trees.
It had been raining quite a lot and the ground was boggy.
These two photos are mine and were taken while we waited for everything to be ready. It was extremely hot and humid. Perspiration dripped from our chins. But the officers and military personnel in uniform and guests in suits never indicated they were uncomfortable.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Anzac Day 2014

This was taken after the wreath laying. There is a huge screen
showing what is happening for those who can not see very well.
Over on the left you can just make out some of our choir in turquoise shirts.
Last Friday was Anzac Day and we celebrated it magnificently here in Darwin.
What is Anzac Day about? It is a day when Australians acknowledge effort, mateship, loyalty, courage, and the sacrifices made by our servicemen in times of war. On the original day troops landed at Gallipoli during World War 1. Thousands of men died on too many battlefields and from disease. Probably other wars were just as bad but we do not have records of that. But now we know.

Here in Darwin I sang with my choir at the Dawn Service. It was very well organised and the speeches were both inspiring and touching. The Army Band played extremely well. Thousands were at the cenotaph for the ceremony. Seating was provided but lots of people chose to stand by the trees. It is always a difficult time as tears roll down the cheeks of so many. Not as many wreaths as in previous years. Hundreds of poppies afterwards though.

The Dawn Service was followed by a special church service at St Mary's Cathedral.

Then the parade. Wow! What a parade! We actually had the biggest military parade in the country.
This photo was taken later, at morning tea time.
This is the riderless horse, now waiting patiently.
Leading the parade was the riderless horse. How do you stop the tears when you see that? For those unfamiliar with the idea, the riderless horse shows us that the rider has been killed in battle. All the equipment is still on the horse. Someone walks along leading him and there is always a big space in front and behind. Silent. Solemn.
Three tiger helicopters flew over at least five times. Incredible. Low. Noisy. Probably quite an expensive show of strength. Definitely worth it.
There were two military bands. The Army Band and the Navy Drum Corps. The drum corps stayed at one of the intersections and kept playing the entire time, except for a few minutes while the Army band went past.
Who marched? The veterans, of course, with most of the older ones riding in Army vehicles. Wheelchair veterans with their carers had a place. The dog squad. The scouts and guides. Veterans from PNG. Vietnam Vets. All the various cadet groups such as Air Force Cadets. Every sailor in the region was there in their whites. All the Air Force personnel looked wonderful in their blue uniforms. The Army was there. Definitely. They all marched. And they brought their big boys' toys! Two huge canon, maybe howitzers, formed an arch over the parade at the main intersection in the city. The Army showed off their tanks and a selection of armoured vehicles. And then there were the US Marines who are training here. One feature of their display was that someone marches along calling out a rhyme to help everyone stay in step. Different.
Three hornets flew over in formation. Just fabulous. It felt so close. The noise and the sight of these planes brought a huge cheer from the crowd.
The tanks could not fit along the last street so had to exit the parade at an intersection.
See the Navy Drum Corps in their whites who have stepped to one side for this.
The parade was the biggest and most spectacular I have ever seen. So much effort went into it.

After the parade the servicemen went to the RSL for the party. Always a big noisy party for Anzac Day. And they did not let the side down.

There were other ceremonies in Darwin and the surrounding area. There were other celebrations too. But only one parade.

All these photos are from our local newspaper, the NT News. They were posted on facebook.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Cranky again. Efudix time.

Cranky again, day after day. But in just one more week things should improve. Really looking forward to that improvement.

It is just the area where the collar and neckline
let the light hit my skin.
In a hot climate a little space around the neck feels cooler.
I have been using Efudix again, treating more sunspots. I went to a new skin specialist. She comes to town every few months, and was recommended to me by one of the local doctors. I do not think she is quite as good as he thinks she is. But anyway, I am following her plan and treating one side of my upper chest first.

So her plan is to use Efudix once a day for one week, followed by twice a day for two weeks. I am now well into the third week.

Yes, I am a neat freak about some things. I drew a table on the computer and listed the areas needing treatment. The printout sits beside the bed with the tube of cream and the pen. No excuses. One tick in the box for each application of cream.

The Efudix melts during the night and spreads up the neck area as I lie in bed. You can see in this photo how it has spread beyond the area where I applied it. It is not my intention to treat the neck at this time. Each red dot is a sun spot. I counted 80 and then stopped. Red. Ugly. Sore. Ready to bite heads off. Taking painkillers. Gritting teeth. Looking forward to the end of the week.

You can see how normal clothing stops the sun from reaching the skin most of the time. And how the neckline lets some sunlight onto the skin.

Lucky me. I am to do the other side later in the year. And a few other areas too.

After your bath this evening spread some soft night cream on your d├ęcolletage and notice how lovely it feels. And in the day time, use some sunscreen or this horrible experience could be yours.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Anzac Day 2013

I was up early this morning to be at the cenotaph by 5.30 for the Dawn Service.
Thousands and thousands of people. The Army Band played and I sang with the Darwin Chorale. Very moving speeches. Lots of wreaths. Wonderful bugler. Tears. Poppies.

This is part of the crowd at the cenotaph after the ceremony.
It is about seven o'clock.
Students had trays of red poppies and
members of the public could choose one and lay it on the steps.

I think this poster really points out just how fragile the Diggers were
compared to today's defence personnel.
What is ANZAC Day? The letters stand for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Troops landed at Gallipoli and fought bravely in a desperate situation during World War I in a huge battle against the Turks. Eventually the survivors were evacuated. Many had died. We remember their bravery in adverse conditions. We remember that Australians band together and help each other. We remember the fallen and the injured. We remember how fortunate we are.

Both my parents were soldiers in World War II. Both suffered injuries.

I know that soldiers on both sides do as they are ordered. They are all brave. Their job is to kill and they do their best. Torture, injury, napalm, land mines, bombs, IEDs, terrorism, guerrillas, bullets that cause the most injury. To me it is not right, but I do understand why. The UN does its best. The rest is up to us.

I know what the soldier lives with later, because our family lived with it too.

Anzac Day helps a little.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Time out

Tropical beach at East Point. Rocky. Isolated. Gentle breeze.
No, you should not really go in the water yet.
The marine stingers can be fatal.
We went for a short walk at East Point Reserve. Time out but not time wasted. Time to rejuvenate. Time to breathe.

East Point is a large reserve of 200 hectares in the midst of the suburbs. During World War II there were over 250 thousand troops stationed in that area, mainly at Dudley Point. Times were grim indeed. A few gun emplacements and other structures remain and there is a modern Military Museum.

Our City Council maintains this reserve which has mixed use. There is a Model Aero Club with a big oval for flying undisturbed. The pony club has been there for about fifty years. We have been to the restaurant, Peewee's at the Point, several times for super special occasions.

The area is a mixture of monsoon vine forest, trimmed and tended picnic areas, parkland, mangroves, cliffs, sandy beaches, native vegetation, and more. At the moment the vegetation is still lush and green, but as the months pass the grass will turn brown and the vines will die back.
Pony club horses in one of the paddocks.

We walked past the Fannie Bay Equestrian Club. Look at these lovely animals grazing so peacefully in one of the paddocks. Later I saw a girl preparing to ride one. A perfect home for horses.

From time to time the population of wallabies grows too large, requiring relocation and other interventions. At present there are about 600 wallabies living in the area, but they stay hidden during most of the day.

Always something interesting to see and do. As we strolled along there were families cycling, walkers on fitness programs, and picnickers.

We saw two northern kingfishers, startlingly blue. They flew away before I managed a photo. A cormorant was perched atop a cliff. I heard some cockatoos but could not see them. Falcons and kites are returning and we saw some soaring on the currents.

These tiny white flowers were about 1 cm across.
The vine was at the edge of the walking path
getting plenty of light.
The Wet Season has cleaned and freshened everything. Trees have grown. Vines have tangled here and there. Branches have fallen, providing a home for small animals. Now the seasons are changing and many of the plants are in flower. East Point Reserve is peaceful because it is so large. We are so lucky to have this place available, right within the city limits.

Is it always hot here, so close to the equator? No. The daily maximum here is the same year round, between 30 and 34 degrees Celsius. Not hot. The humidity changes a lot though. During the Wet it can often be 95%. During the Dry as low as 30%. The Dry is often windy, but that can depend on the location. Being on the coast means that our weather is mild and comfortable.

I really enjoy reading about the places other bloggers live. And their weather. What they find hot or cold. Their storms. Sometimes it is very different from the life I know.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Judi Dench

A young Judi Dench.
I must admit that I am a fan of Judi Dench. I think in the UK she is referred to as an actress; In Australia she is described as an actor.
She is not a very tall person, only 155cm, shorter than me, but she seems to be a giant in the theatre world.

I had not seen or heard her sing until I saw this clip. After I read a bit I found out that she has done a few musicals, using a style of singing that really engages the audience. She performs a song really, using her acting skills.

This song, Send In The Clowns, always grabs me. I hope you enjoy seeing and hearing Judi Dench give it a wonderful treatment. I watched Glenn Close perform the same piece, but it was nothing.

Now she has matured and
looks interesting rather than pretty.

Why is she Dame ... ? Judi Dench was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1970. Then she became Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1988. She was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) in 2005. These honours are a public reward and recognition for her contribution to the life of her nation.

How do you address a Dame in conversation? It is correct to say 'Dame Judith' or 'Dame Judi'. She is not an Honourable or a Lady. Then she would tell you if she wishes to be addressed in some other way, such as, "For goodness sake, Freddy, call me Grandma." Or not.

Here is a very comprehensive biography of Judi Dench. You can see that she has not sat around doing nothing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judi_Dench

Where would we be without Wikipedia, I wonder.

One interesting fact I noticed is that she has developed an eye disorder and now relies on an assistant to read the script to her. Right. So do I think I could listen to a reading of a script and then act that for the camera without making any mistakes?

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Teenager with ambitions

The following article is worth reading, especially if you or anyone in your family struggled to get into university. It is about entry to university and was written by Suzy Lee Weiss, a year 12 student at Taylor Allerdice High School in the USA.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324000704578390340064578654.html?goback=%2Egde_4322397_member_229980780#articleTabs%3Darticle

Unfortunately there are a few hidden facts.

  • The sister of this teenage girl is an associate editor on the Wall Street Journal. 
  • The article has been widely reprinted. 
  • The writer did get into a very good university. Apparently she applied to more than 20 universities and was accepted by 10 of them. She did get to choose.

Nevertheless I think she makes some very sound points.

            I get sick to the teeth of people who set up charities which are actually only established to enhance them and not the recipients. There is one particular potential politician around here who plays that game often. And then there are the Foundations that are only for taxation purposes.

            Studious people are frequently overlooked in favour of wanna-be celebrities. University is supposed to be about learning not personality. It is the quiet achiever who helps the world the most. The high-flyers are not always the long term success stories.

            You can not judge a book by its cover. The CV may be overstating some work. The manager of household services may actually have been the person who phoned for a cleaner. The volunteering may have been only once a month, not twice a week. And more.

            The students, the course, and the university must be matched carefully. A degree in English literature from Cambridge is not very useful if you live in Alice Springs. A PhD in astrophysics from Beijing is wonderful if it helps you contribute to the world, but not much use if you end up unemployed in Nigeria.

            Some teenagers are mini versions of parents acting out their own fantasies. Is it the parent or the child who has done the work? The training schedule? The motivating?

Read it. Watch the video clip. Think about people you know.