Saturday, 21 January 2017


“Sin lies only in hurting others unnecessarily. All other "sins" are invented nonsense.” - Robert A. Heinlein 

Five people, including a 3-month-old baby and a 10-year-old child, were killed, with at least 20 people injured after a man deliberately mowed his car into terrified pedestrians in Melbourne's Bourke Street Pedestrian Mall last Friday. This was an incident nobody expected and most of us could hardly believe when the news first broke. Our beautiful, welcoming and quiet city was shattered by the heinous act of a murderous madman.

In the wake of the carnage doctors are still trying to save the lives of others hospitalised and who are critically injured. Eye-witnesses are seeking to come to terms with what happened when the 26-year-old driver ploughed his maroon Commodore at high speed into terrified shoppers, tourists and families, as he recklessly drove at speed through the pedestrian mall. Police had earlier called off a pursuit of the car in suburban Melbourne on safety grounds. At the mall, they rammed his vehicle and shot him after the carnage in the City. He has been arrested and is under guard in hospital.

The man, identified as Dimitrios Gargasoulas, was wanted for allegedly stabbing his brother before the mall murders, and for taking a woman hostage (she luckily escaped). He is believed to have been bailed last week for the assault of his mother's partner. Victorian Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said the man had no links to terrorism but an extensive criminal history linked to family violence. He also had mental health and drug-related issues.

At this point, the murderer is still in hospital and has not been interviewed by police; thirty-seven people have been treated in Melbourne hospitals after the attack and four remain in a critical condition. Five families are mourning the loss of their loved ones: A 3-month-old baby, a 10-year-old girl, two men, aged 25 and 33, and a woman, 32. The grief of the families is inconsolable, the murderer's action indefensible, the public outcry unable to be quelled and our bail laws in question.

While we all wish suspected criminals to be treated humanely and all suspects to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, common sense and a criminal history dictates that those who are a high risk for repeat offences should not be bailed. Had this murderer not been let out on bail, we would not now be mourning innocent lives unjustly taken.

Bach's “Agnus Dei” from the B Minor Mass sung by Andreas Scholl and accompanied by Collegium Vocale Gent, Conducted by Philippe Herreweghe is the only tribute I can pay to the lives lost in vain. May their souls rest in peace, may the grief of their families be lessened by time, may those who suffer from their injuries be healed. And may our society find some solutions to the increasing problems that our lifestyle and our augmenting urbanisation are creating.

Friday, 20 January 2017


“You don’t want to work so hard that you can’t enjoy your guests.” - Letitia Baldrige

We had a guest today and at the drop of a hat we made some scones for a quick afternoon tea. The unusual ingredient in this recipe is the lemonade that provides an extra lift for a lighter dough.

Unusual Scones
1 cup light cream
1 cup lemonade
3 cups SR flour.
a pinch of salt
Strawberry jam and whipped cream to serve.

Mix the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. You should end up with a very light dough that you can gently press out flat on the bench (make sure it isn’t too sticky). Using a cookie cutter, press out the scones until all the dough is used, placing them snuggly up against each other on the baking tray. Bake for 12 minutes or until brown. You can brush some milk on the top to make them go brown, if you like them that way. Bake at 220˚C until double in size and golden brown.

This post is part of the Food Friday meme.


“Ounce for ounce, herbs and spices have more antioxidants than any other food group.” - Michael Greger

Marjoram (Origanum majorana, syn. Majorana hortensis Moench, Majorana majorana (L.) H. Karst) is a somewhat cold-sensitive perennial herb or undershrub with sweet pine and citrus flavours. In some Middle Eastern countries, marjoram is synonymous with oregano, and there the names sweet marjoram and knotted marjoram are used to distinguish it from other plants of the genus Origanum. It is also called pot marjoram, although this name is also used for other cultivated species of Origanum. Marjoram has a sweeter, more aromatic aroma than oregano, which tends to be more pungent and robust.

The name marjoram (Old French majorane, Medieval Latin majorana) does not directly derive from the Latin word maior (major), its ultimate etymology being unknown. In Modern Greek, the herb is called μαντζουράνα (majurana), derived from the Venetian mazorana in turn derived from the Latin λατινική amaracus and the ancient Greek ἀμάρακος (amarakos). Marjoram is indigenous to Cyprus and southern Turkey, and was known to the Greeks and Romans as a symbol of happiness.

Leaves are smooth, simple, petiolated, ovate to oblong-ovate, 0.5–1.5 cm long, 0.2–0.8 cm wide, with obtuse apex, entire margin, symmetrical but tapering base, and reticulate venation. The texture is extremely smooth due to the presence of numerous hairs. The tiny white, pink, or purple flowers are knotlike and shaped before blooming in spherical clusters on spikes or corymbs. The seed is a tiny light brown nutlet. Considered a tender perennial (USDA Zones 7-9), marjoram can sometimes prove hardy even in zone 5.

Marjoram is cultivated for its aromatic leaves, either green or dry, for culinary purposes; the tops are cut as the plants begin to flower and are dried slowly in the shade. It is often used in herb combinations such as herbes de Provence and za’atar. The flowering leaves and tops of marjoram are steam-distilled to produce an essential oil that is yellowish in color (darkening to brown as it ages). It has many chemical components, some of which are borneol, camphor, and pinene.

Cretan oregano (Origanum onites) has similar uses to marjoram. Hardy marjoram or French marjoram, a cross of marjoram with oregano, is much more resistant to cold, but is slightly less sweet. Origanum pulchellum is known as showy marjoram or showy oregano.

In the language of flowers, a sprig of non-flowering marjoram signifies “comfort and consolation”, if the sprig is in flower, the message is: “I wish you happiness and joy”.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017


“Unity can only be manifested by the Binary. Unity itself and the idea of Unity are already two.” - Buddha 

This week, the theme at Poets United is “Unity”. Unity can mean the number one, or it can mean the many joined into one harmonious whole. Unity can be composed of many or it can be singular. A paradoxical entity, as paradoxical as love can be…
Here is my poem: 


“We are one”, you had said right after we kissed,
And we held hands, our earthly fleshes melting into each other.
Our unity axiomatic, mathematically proven,
As it were – “1+1 = 2 = 1”.

“We are one”, I said right after we embraced,
Our breaths mingling, our limbs melding into spiralling helices.
Our unity a postulate, an incontrovertible truth,
As it were – “In necessariis unitas”.

“We are one”, we each said, echoing each other’s voice,
Our songs in glorious harmony merging as the octaves converged.
Our unity a doubling of parts, a blending of tones,
As it were – “Canon ad unum

“We are one”, we said in unison right before we broke up –
And then each one of us cried: “I am one, single, alone…” –

Each to his unity condemned, a unit each,
As it were – “Our dual unity demolished into unity, singular”

Tuesday, 17 January 2017


“There’s an expression in Australia that's called ‘Go Bush’, which means to get out of the city and relax. I try and ‘go bush’ to places where there’s no cell reception. But, I don’t get to do that often, so for the most part, it’s just a state of mind.” - Cate Blanchett

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel!

There is only one simple rule: Link your own creative work about some aspect of travel and share it with the rest of us!

Please use this meme for your creative endeavours only. Do not use this meme to advertise your products or services as any links or comments by advertisers will be removed immediately.
Kakadu National Park is in the Northern Territory of Australia, 171 km southeast of Darwin. Kakadu National Park is located within the Alligator Rivers Region and covers an area of 19,804 square km (7,646 square miles), extending nearly 200 kilometres from north to south and over 100 kilometres from east to west. It is the size of Slovenia, about one-third the size of Tasmania, or nearly half the size of Switzerland.

The Ranger Uranium Mine, one of the most productive Uranium mines in the world, is contained within the park. The name Kakadu comes from the mispronunciation of Gaagudju, which is the name of an Aboriginal language formerly spoken in the northern part of the Park. Kakadu is ecologically and biologically diverse. The main natural features protected within the National Park include: Four major rivers, six diverse geographical landforms and a huge variety of native flora and fauna.

Aboriginal people have occupied the Kakadu area continuously for at least 40,000 years. Kakadu National Park is renowned for the richness of its Aboriginal cultural sites. There are more than 5000 recorded art sites illustrating Aboriginal culture over thousands of years. The archaeological sites demonstrate Aboriginal occupation for at least 20 000 and possibly up to 40 000 years. The cultural and natural values of Kakadu National Park were recognised internationally when the Park was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This is an international register of properties that are recognised as having outstanding cultural or natural values of international significance.

Approximately half of the land in Kakadu is aboriginal land under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 and most of the remaining land is currently under claim by Aboriginal people. The areas of the Park that are owned by Aboriginal people are leased by the traditional owners to the Director of National Parks to be managed as a national park. The remaining area is Commonwealth land vested under the Director of National Parks. All of Kakadu is declared a national park under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Add your own travel posts using the Linky tool below, and don't forget to be nice and leave a comment here, and link back to this page from your own post:

Monday, 16 January 2017


“Those with dementia are still people and they still have stories and they still have character and they're all individuals and they're all unique. And they just need to be interacted with on a human level.” - Carey Mulligan 

At the weekend we watched the excellent  Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland 2014 movie “Still Alice” starring  Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Hunter Parrish and Kate Bosworth. This was a touching and emotionally charged movie that despite its melancholy topic somehow made its point without excesses of emotion and without cheap and maudlin appeals to shallow empathy.

Alice Howland (Moore) is a renowned linguistics professor happily married to John (Baldwin) with three grown children, Anna (Bosworth), Lydia (Stewart) and Tom (Parrish). All that begins to change when Alice starts to forget words (the bane of a linguistics professor!) and then much more… When her doctor diagnoses her with early-onset Alzheimer's Disease, Alice and her family’s lives face a harrowing challenge as this terminal degenerative neurological ailment slowly progresses to an inevitable conclusion they all dread. Along the way, Alice struggles to not only to fight the inner decay, but to make the most of her remaining time to find the love and peace to make simply living worthwhile.

The cast is excellent, especially Julieanne Moore who gives a stellar performance. I also enjoyed the supporting role of Lydia, played by Kristen Stewart. I don’t like Baldwin much as an actor, but in this film he plays the role of Alice’s rather “neutral” husband quite well.

Richard Glatzer, one of the directors and co-screenplay writer suffers from ASL himself (ASL = Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles). It is no surprise then, that the film gives such sympathetic and amazingly accurate portrayal of a person suffering from a progressive nervous system illness.

This is a wonderful film to watch, somehow uplifting (Alices speech at the conference about her personal experience with dementia is brilliant!), even though it deals with one of the most dreaded diseases of our society. A must-watch movie!

Sunday, 15 January 2017


“Symbols are the imaginative signposts of life.” - Margot Asquith 

Léon Frédéric (August 26, 1856 – January 27, 1940) was a Belgian Symbolist painter. His earlier paintings embraced Christian mysticism, pantheistic, and natural themes, while his later works increasingly reflected social themes. Frédéric’s work reflects influences of fifteenth and sixteenth century Flemish, as well as Renaissance painting styles.

Frédéric attended the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels from 1871 to 1878, and was a pupil of the Neo-Classicist Jean-François Portaels. While attending the academy Frédéric made long trips to Italy from 1876 to 1878 to study with the Belgian sculptor Julien Dillens. While in Italy (Venice, Florence Naples and Rome) he studied the works of Botticelli and Ghirlandaio, reinforcing his linear technique.

In 1879, on his return from Italy, he made his debut at the Brussels Salon and became a member of the artist group L’Essor (The Soaring). In 1883, he moved to Nafraiture, in the Belgian Ardennes, and traveled extensively to England, Germany and the Netherlands. He moved to his final home in Schaerbeek in 1899, and continue to travel and show his work in international exhibitions.

Despite achieving recognition and honours in Germany and the United States, as well as winning several gold and bronze medals for his work, Frédéric did not receive official approval in his native country until later in his life. He was awarded gold medals for painting at the Exposition Universelle of 1889 and 1900. Between 1889 and 1900, Frédéric was awarded gold and bronze medals in the United States. In 1904, he was appointed member of the Royal Academy of Belgium. In 1891, he was awarded a gold medal in Berlin. In 1929 Frédéric was created a Baron and Knight of the order of King Leopold.

Leon Frédéric drew on contemporary and centuries-old influences as well as on his very personal spiritual views of life and nature to evolve his unique artistic style. Working during a period when Impressionism and its offspring Divisionism and Post-Impressionism were the mainstay of avant-garde art, Frédéric’s supra-realism came as a considerable and impressive surprise.

Nature is omnipresent in the work of this artist, both in his landscapes and in his social works, where he paints realistically the life of the peasants of Flanders or the Ardennes workers, as well as in his allegorical paintings. A humanitarian ideal, almost anarchic, characterises his compositions with a social message, for example “Les ages de l’ouvrier” (1895-1897, Paris, Mus. D'Orsay). From 1890, he produced a number of large-scale works, still naturalistic, but well grounded in the symbolist ideals, such as the triptych "Le ruisseau" (1890-1899, Brussels, M.R.B.A.B.).

The painting above is one of a triptych he painted of chalk workers, showing them going to work (Morning), having a meal (Midday) and returning home (Evening). This is a detail from the middle panel “The Chalk Sellers - Midday” (1882) and depicts them at their humble meal while they are on a break from their back-breaking labour. Child labour was something that was common in Frédéric’s time and his painting shows the pitiful lot of small children that have been forced by poverty to work long hours in a hard and harsh job.