Saturday, December 31

The Lucky Country

It was David Horne who coined the words "the lucky country" way back in the 1970's I think.  One only has to pick up a newspaper, or read news on the internet to see that we are well away from the wars and conflicts around the world.  

Anyone who has travelled, and compared Australia with other countries can see why we often feel we are the luckiest in the world.  Weather, scenery, business successes, development, sporting successes and a lot more contribute to this feeling that we are fortunate.

One of the things that resonates with me is the wonderful weather and fresh air.  Having spent time teaching and travelling in China, the fresh air is always high on my lit of things to appreciate about Australia.  We certainly don't have the smog of China.  

In the last couple of weeks, this article appeared about children sitting exams in smog.  It is unbelievable really.  Read about it here.

Today's China Daily has an article about the smog over the new year celebrations.  Article here.   (Above photos from that article.)

I recall in the days that we lived there, we got excited when we would see blue sky.  Such was the excitement that we often would text friends with the news.  I have been held up at airports waiting for the smog to disappear, and I have driven through foggy streets.  All a bit of a worry.

When some Chinese friends visited me in February 2016, they ran around with excitement at the sight of all the blue sky.  And the gentleman saw stars. He circled with his hands in the air, shouting excitedly.  Stars.  Stars.  He didn't recall seeing any before.

We certainly are lucky that we do not have the pollution problem of China and some other countries of the world!!!

It is not all doom and gloom in China though they have some current issues.  Click here to see photos taken in the last week in China.  

Thursday, December 29

At the Movies - Red Dog True Blue

I am staying at my daughter's home in Brisbane.  Her husband and children are in Rockhampton with his parents - and after collecting her at Brisbane Airport on Tuesday night I have stayed.  She is working - yesterday working at home, and today she is in the office.

Last night we went to the movies.  We set off to Bulimba to see Red Dog:True Blue.  I had read a review on the movie - I can't recall where, but I felt a little disappointed and not as enthusiastic as I should have been.  

Oxford St Bulimba was busy, but we found a park and after a short walk to the theatre, armed with drinks and popcorn we ventured into Theatre 3.  Cineplex. 

We both loved the movie.  It was a great movie.  I know it was a "sequel" though it really showed the story of Red Dog from his discovery as a pup after a cyclone in the north of WA.  The scenery was amazing.   

The storyline was excellent too.  Though it left me with some unanswered questions. 

It is a movie for all the family!  Everyone would enjoy it.  The Bullen family were involved in the training of the dog/s, and the horse I think too - they are incredible!

Another great movie.  Thank you, Screen Australia and everyone involved in the production of the movie.

Wednesday, December 28

Goodbye 2016

I enjoy this time of the year.  Not just the parties, the family get togethers and the feasting, but the idea that a new year is about to start.  I like making plans for the new year, and I enjoy the few days between Christmas and New Year Celebrations where I can do a lot of things while watching the Cricket.

At the same time I like to "say goodbye" to the old year and plan the new year.  I have some BIG plans for 2017 - and am excited.  Will be co-housing project come to fruition or at least go forward during the year?  Will I get to London and Europe on my search for more information about co-housing?  Will I make a move to go to university again?  What will my housing plans for me, be?  Will I lose weight?  Will I be slimmer at the end of 2017?

Many Australians are cricket tragics.  We love sitting in the loungeroom in the heat of summer, and watching the events of this amazing sport.  Read the history of cricket here.

When many families get together over the Christmas-New Year, "backyard cricket" is played.  Most of the family will participate and it can be a lot of fun.  I can remember playing that over the years.  I can remember the family Christmas get-togethers with my Aunts, Uncles and cousins  Adelaide,  We didn't play much backyard cricket with them.  Perhaps because there were more girls than boys amongst the cousins!  Still, we all think of cricket at this time of year.

Above photo from here.

Cricket can be boring. I find that I can watch as I go about other duties at home.  I  can do a range of things because I know that I miss any major event, it will be replayed.

I recall being the scorer at Cricket matches when my son played.  He was quite a good player but after he left that school, he didn't play again.

Not so long ago I went to the 'Gabba (Brisbane's major football and cricket stadium) to watch the England vs Queensland match.  I read a book.  I would watch much of the game and read at the same time.

If I had my head down reading when something BIG happened, I knew that it would be replayed on the big screen.

Summer can be very hot here in Australia, and it suits me these days to watch the cricket on television and do what I wish.  I manage a lot of catch up things at this time.

Saturday, December 24

Christmas Lights in Beachmere

It does look wonderful when you drive around your neighbourhood and many of the houses are decorated with lights to celebrate the Christmas Season!!

I live in what is described as a village, just some 50 kms north of the city of Brisbane.  A sleepy village sometimes, with not a lot of the modern facilities most suburbs have, but we like it like that.  It's usually quiet.  It's near a river and the sea, semi rural.  But it has a great sense of community.

In 2015, a couple of members of a local community group "judged" the few places that had amazing lights and awarded prizes on Christmas Eve, thankfully donated by people of substance in the community.

In 2016, we had an official competition - and many more people got into the swing of it all and though not all entered the competition, we found that the village was much more colourful than the year before.  What will 2017 bring????

These are just some of the beautiful decorations for Christmas 2016!

Friday, December 23

Chinese Culture and it's Challenges

People ask me why I seem to "love" China!  I often reply that I have a "love-hate" relationship with the country that I lived in for 2008 and half of 2010.  It is very heard to comprehend life there.  It often takes a long time, and perhaps living with a Chinese family to understand what is happening.

I continue to learn.  I have visited China several times since my teaching days at the university, and I have former students visit me from time to time. In fact it has been three times that I have had house guests from China.

Just a week ago I received an email from one of my students - it was a Thursday night, and while I had some inkling that she wanted to come to Australia I was rather surprised at the email.  She had a couple of weeks earlier asked if she could come and stay with me at Christmas.  It was awkward.  I was going to be away - am going to the Gold Coast tomorrow to spend a couple of days with family.  Accommodating my young friend would have been impossible and besides I wanted to spend time with my family - I don't see them a lot.

The email that Thursday night said "I am arriving on Saturday December 17th at 11 am, can you pick me up".  Mmmm.   I already had had a house guest for nearly a week, I was so far behind with my Christmas planning, and my writing commitments, and it really didn't suit.  However, I said I would.

When I arrived at the airport, she had just walked into the Arrival Hall.  Our first task was to go to the shops - she had not brought any summer clothes with her, so we spent the next few hours wandering around the fashion shops of the Brisbane Mall.  Zara, H & M, but it was Country Road that she spent her money.

The next stop was a discount pharmacy - a place that I was to spend many hours over the following days.  And spend many dollars.  She filled her 2 suitcases with items to sell back in China.

Rubbish Man

I do know that the Chinese continually eat.  They never seem to stop.  And they are so skinny so there is a message there I think.  I cooked one evening and put the "leftovers" in a plastic container in the fridge.  My guest watched me to it and asked what I was doing.  It seems that no "leftovers" are kept in China, which is why there is so much wastage and rubbish.  I learned that the rubbish man comes daily to houses in China.  Here it is weekly as we have less rubbish!!!

Farm behind the river

When my guest arrives she asks me for a toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, soap etc.  We Australians take many of these things with us when we travel, but not the Chinese!

In a Museum at Ningbo
My guest also likes to wash her clothes daily.  She did it in the bathroom - until I realised what she was doing and offered her the use of the washing machine and laundry.  She does not peg her clothes on the line - just throws her garments over the line.  She also expects the washing to be dry in the morning - taking no consideration of the weather.  Luckily bats and birds did not defaecate on her clothes overnight!

In the Museum

Bananas.  I remember when I was in China I could not find bananas that suited me.  I like them perhaps slightly on the "green" side.  I don't like them brown and squashy, but that is the way the Chinese like it.

I did get some very ripe ones for her - but the smell of them nearly made me sick.  She didn't eat them quickly so the smell lingered.  Thankfully she looked at the remaining one and said it was too ripe and threw it in the bin, which I quickly emptied.

When will I ever learn everything I need to know for my guest.  I am always learning!