Catching Up With Life

It’s been a busy few weeks!

Summer holidays are only a memory now but it’s been great to be back at Oak, with the added bonus of a belated present from one of the Superstars. Kathryn, who is a very artistic young woman and becoming a capable songwriter, presented me with this gorgeous portrait she did when we had a morning tea break on Friday.

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Naturally, everyone knew all about it except me, and I confess I was incredibly thrilled and deeply touched by such an honour. Also,¬†I’m involved in a very exciting new program at Oak – teaching folks how to build a food garden! There’ll be photos and posts in the ensuing weeks but I’ve got some very enthusiastic gardeners on my team and a lovely space to work in ūüėÄ

Meanwhile, it’s bedlam here at my place – the house has become a fully fledged work site, with scaffolding surrounding the building in readiness for a new roof and after that, the demolition of an old disused (and potentially dangerous) shed and eradication of many Tasmanian gardeners’ bane – English Ivy. I can’t even park in the driveway at present, let alone think about getting in a load of mushroom compost for the garden beds!

Fortunately, the bulk of the yard has been spared too much disruption, though the rabbits had to be moved away from the ivy infested shed. It’s the start of the annual food glut and I’ve been drying herbs to make my own Tuscan seasoning and I’m starting to be inundated with beans, chilies, basil, shiso, cucumbers, zucchinis and potatoes.

Tuscan Mix

Tuscan Mix

Today I picked more zucchini and discovered some of the “volunteer” Roma tomatoes from the worm farm already had ripe fruit. Because I’m the only one in the house who really likes zucchini, I’ve only got two plants this year, and I think it might be one plant too many! I didn’t pick for two days and discovered a yellow monster this morning! (Don’t be fooled, the tomatoes below are really very ripe but I think the yellow beast made most of them fade in the photo!)

 

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And today is Australia Day. Over the years, this has become a very¬†fraught event for many indigenous people as it really only commemorates the arrival of the British and has been renamed by some people Invasion Day. There is a suggestion that the date be changed and I think it has merit. I think this is an ongoing conversation that we, as a country really need to have. There’s no doubt in my mind that we as a nation are losing much of what my parents and grandparents worked incredibly hard to attain. That is, an egalitarian society that welcomes new voices and a fair go for all.

As a white Australian (and therefore a descendant of immigrants), I don’t particularly like what the day has come to represent, with a lot of incredibly racist slurs aimed at marginalising recent immigrants and people of colour ranging around social media. And our politicians are certainly forgetting about the “fair go for all” aspect that I was brought up to cherish and respect, with increasingly draconian measures to further marginalise this country’s poorest people.

This saddens me so much. Having traveled a little, I know how wonderful this country can be and how grateful I am to live here. So, today I made it my business to think of the original inhabitants while working the soil, the dirt I am steward of. To contemplate the incredibly rich heritage our indigenous brothers and sisters have given us in sight of glorious kunanyi that calmly overlooks all of Hobart Рand thank my lucky stars that my forebears (boat people) came to such a beautiful country.

Tread gently friends and have a wonderful day ‚̧

Telling the Truth – Why Racism is Alive and Well in Australia

Recently, a writer friend Nikki McWatters (author of One Way or Another and other books) poured out her shock on social media about a blatantly racist attack on a Korean-born couple who run a much-loved local store in the New South Wales central coast town of Terrigal.

Paul and Isobella, after months of vandalism and racist slurs decided to sell the business. They also decided not to press charges against the teenagers who attacked them – something I’m not sure I could do if I were in their shoes.

Things got much worse sadly, with local media¬†writing what Nikki described as “the worst piece of newsprint I have ever had the misfortune of reading”, in effect enabling the racist attack and praising the main attacker for apologising.

You can read Nikki’s full story here, and I recommend it.

It got me thinking, particularly as the attack against Paul and Isobella happened the first day of the Australia Day long weekend at the end of January.

For those of you who follow my blog from overseas, Australia Day is an incredibly divisive event – most people seem to love it or hate it. I confess, I increasingly have problems with it and the sentiments some of my fellow Australians spout each year.

Essentially, it commemorates the landing and raising of the Union Jack at Sydney Cove by Captain Arthur Phillip in 1788, on a land that (to colonial English eyes) appeared barren and unoccupied. They didn’t consider the local inhabitants, who had been living there for some 40,000 years, counted or mattered. The English even called it Terra Nullius. And the irony that Captain Phillip was leading a fleet of eleven¬†ships, full of convicts is not lost on me or many others.

Some¬†of my aboriginal friends are pretty ambivalent about it, while others¬†find it incredibly difficult and call it Invasion Day . On the other hand, many of my immigrant friends see it as a celebration of their¬†new country – and good on them. As a white Australian, the third generation of free immigrants (read boat people!), I’d like to see the date moved, perhaps to January 1st to celebrate federation.

The thing is, we all need to have a serious conversation about how we treat each other, irrespective of where we originally came from, the colour of our skin and what god we do or don’t believe in. I’ve noticed especially the last few years, really insidious racist views paraded on television, print and especially online media. And it makes me fearful.

I’ve been abused on social media for not celebrating what I see as a colonial takeover of a¬†country. It’s my choice not to do so but I don’t want to stop anyone else from partying. There’s room for different views but it needs to be offered with respect, not absolutes – and never with violence.

Australia’s a big country – my hope is we can all be big enough to live in it peacefully together. To do that, I think we have to be like Paul and Isobella – gracious and forgiving. And like Nikki – brave enough to call out racism when we see it.