All posts tagged: Australia

And now for something completely different: my Top Five Tips for trapping a feral cat

It started innocently enough: I borrowed two 24-hr wildlife cameras, and set them up on my 2-acre rainforest retreat on the East coast of Australia. Can you imagine my horror when amongst the cute snaps of pademelons, the lace monitor, wallaby mums with joeys in the pouch, and yes, a hurrying koala, I saw a big tabby cat? I was shocked to say the least. Then the other camera revealed a second fat brindle cat, and even a fox! My image of our property as a wildlife sanctuary crumbled. Feral cats cover 99% of Australia, and are the Number One threat to our native wildlife (foxes are 2nd). “On average, each feral cat in the bush kills a whopping 740 animals per year.  In a year with average conditions there are about 2.8 million feral cats, but that figure can double when good rain leads to an abundance of prey animals. “On average each pet cat kills about 75 animals per year, but many of these kills are never witnessed by their owners.” – Professor Sarah …

Six weeks since Mum died: letting go and setting free

No one really wants to organise a funeral celebration. No one wants to go to one. And of course, none of us are ready for it to be our own. But when it IS my turn, I’m having a Humanist one, which is what I created for Mum’s send off last month. She wasn’t religious, and the rest of the family certainly isn’t; a church service would be an uncomfortable nightmare for everyone… so I decided a quiet beach in Wales would be perfect. But I’m in Australia, my brother and children in Norway, various family friends around the UK, Canada, and USA: thank goodness for Zoom! By luck (or divine intervention?), the first celebrant I emailed to ask if she was free in 3 weeks to conduct an international online ashes scattering ceremony said yes. As I sat with the reality of needing to organise this farewell, despite my tiredness and grief, I gave thanks for being exposed to ‘unusual’ send offs and life celebrations where I live in Northern NSW, such as same …

Losing my Mum to dementia at 85: the terribly sad yet sweet relief

The 2nd last time I saw her, it was her birthday July 4th, & I video called. She was in a Home in Wales, and I’m here in Australia, where I’ve lived for 35 years. Mum was kinda asleep, though it was 11am, but muttering to herself. The staff held the phone, and tickled her chin to wake her, but no success. I kept wishing her Happy Birthday, singing that damn song, but she only stirred and seemed to smile when I teased her for being so old now. It was a sad experience. Then 2 days later the Home Manager emailed to ask me to call her. “I’m sorry to say this over the phone, but I think your Mum is coming to the end of her life- we’ve seen this before- she’s stopped eating and drinking, and won’t open her mouth.” Oh Mum! Our adult relationship hadn’t been easy– I was a rebellious teenager, then emigrated to Australia when I was 20, so rarely saw her over the years before Skype and mobile …

How a silent walk made me delete the Candy Crush app (Part One)

Admit it: do you have a game on your phone you love unwinding with? Scrabble with friends? Chess? Candy Crush? A few years ago- I can’t remember why- my son and I both downloaded Candy Crush, and became a little competitive. Of course, he streaked ahead in levels, then quickly bored of it and never played again. I stoically continued, and got myself slowly but surely up to Level 691. Then 2 months ago, I had to get a new phone… and somehow, all my apps froze as I transferred the old info, so I found myself back at the beginning of the Candy Crush map again. What’s all this got to do with a silent walk you wonder? Well, last month I had the privilege of going on a 9-day Yatra, which is a Buddhist-based bushwalking adventure, filled with daily meditations, talks on Buddhist philosophies and practices, plus walks and meals in ‘noble silence’. 30 of us (mainly aged over 50) travelled to the South Coast of Sydney, which had been ravaged by bushfires …

Why my obsession with this spoon is re-wiring my brain

Hi Everyone, from cool Autumn days in Australia that make it worth putting up with the dreadful heat of summer. How are you all? I keep finding myself sitting on my deck, surrounded by the rainforest, staring at this spoon. Not just staring: stroking, smelling, turning and touching. Is it a magic spoon you ask? Well yes, in some ways it is. Because I carved it, from White Beech. OK, so for some of you ‘handy/crafty’ folks, this may not seem like a big deal. Or for those of you who know that spoon-carving is a bit of a ‘hipster’ fad at the moment, perhaps you’re rolling your eyes? But I don’t care. Because I’m the girl who hated sewing at school; who wasn’t allowed to do woodwork classes (because of being a girl), and who has spent 5 decades baulking at using tools/drills/saws because of an assumed ‘hopelessness’ with them. How did this change happen? It was my darling cousin’s idea: “Try this workshop with me G, it will be fun, and a bonding …

15 weeks since the car crash- how am I doing? Pretty great!

December 3 2020 was a bad day for me, when I had my first car accident in 37 years of driving. Life seems to have become BA & AA now: Before & After Accident. I think it’s a common reaction, and certainly understandable. I so could have died. Or had internal injuries/broken neck/punctured a lung etc. But I didn’t. For which I thank my guardian angels, who felt like my dear departed Dad… I came home with whiplash and concussion though, so walked around like a zombie for a month, cautious of my ‘frozen’ upper back and neck. I did no dancing, minimal walking, barely any Pilates, and an awful lot of lying on the couch or bed feeling a bit miserable. I utterly lost my joy. So I’m delighted to announce that it’s back! I’m laughing, dancing, making plans, having adventures, getting a groovy haircut as suggested by my son (“Get a mullet Mum, you’d rock it”), and most importantly, feeling fully alive again, at home in my body. I’m so happy and grateful. …

My 2 top alternatives to avoid Valentine’s Day pressure

Make no mistake, I love Love. Whether happily single, sadly recovering from a break-up, or delighting in new fields of play, I have never given up on Love for long. I believe this is healthy, that I am a healthy human, and that we all deserve love. However, what I absolutely don’t need is a dumb card and cheap chocolates. Or even a smart card and expensive chocolates. So if any human out there felt a little blue they had no Valentine, or was let down by an unsatisfactory experience, let me inspire you: why not organize a Galentine’s Day, or a V-Day flash mob? What are these 2 curious offerings you wonder? My favourite Australian feminist writer Clementine Ford drew me to the first one, when she recently offered a picnic in the park experience for 100 women, bringing gals together. It’s been around for a decade or so, and is about celebrating female sister-like connections; it’s so easy to let friendships slip by when we’re busy with work/kids/household chores/ageing parents etc. But who …

Chewing slowly: who knew it would change my life?

Hi there! 10 weeks since my car accident, and I’m slowly but surely feeling like my old self again. Just with a stiff neck, and a little more anxiety in vehicles generally, especially going round corners. But I’m getting some style of healing treatment every week (Osteo/physio/Kinesiology/Cranio-Sacral/massage), so I’m blessed to be recovering my physicality. I had a very quiet New Year’s Eve, as it was only 3 weeks since the crash then, and wondered about my new resolutions? To be honest, I just wanted to feel well again, without a permanent headache, and the disconcerting sense of a hand gripping my throat… So no one was more surprised than me when on New Year’s Day I suddenly announced I was going to eat more mindfully. Specifically: to count my chews, and do at least 25-30 per mouthful. First I conducted controlled research on how many times I usually masticate my food: 5 to 10 chews before I swallow. How many do you do? Then I practiced how many I could get comfortable with, which …

My car crash to end the car crash that was 2020

It’s OK: I’m OK! It’s been a month, and I’ve been waiting to feel better before posting. Happy New Year everyone, especially ME, because I am literally glad to be alive… [Content warning: images of crashed car coming up.] I’d left home at 5.45am, in a light drizzle after a great night’s sleep, keen to drive the one hour trip to teach my Pilates class. I definitely drove more slowly than usual because of the newly-wet roads, up and down through the winding hilly rainforest, listening to the radio, looking forward to my horse ride later that morning. I came round the last big corner before town, no other cars on the road, driving 10kms below the 80km speed limit, when suddenly my back end began to slide out. I corrected a bit but didn’t brake, just took my foot off the accelerator, but kept fish-tailing… then realised I was heading for the grass bank looming in front of me. “This is like a bumper car/dodgem car game, but a bad one!” I thought, struggling …

Mushroom growing update: me vs every forest creature. But I won!

Remember when I said I was making a Wine Cap mushroom bed under my old lime tree? Well little did I know, as I toiled to layer the cardboard, bark chips, and compost, but I was being watched by a number of excited forest crittters, waiting to see what gifts I was bringing them. I very quickly found little scratch marks and tiny holes dug out all along the sides of the bed… “No way buddies! I’ve worked too hard for this!” So as you can see, I went back to the hardware store, and bought metal stakes and netting to protect my magical mushies. Determination can be my middle name, and hang the extra expense. Didn’t work. Damn critters just dug in under the netting, even though I’d then weighed the sides down with rocks, boulders, and thick branches. I felt a little disheartened, and stopped checking every day, wondering if I should transfer the bed to my fully-fenced secure veggie garden… Can one dig up mushrooms and just shift them I wondered? But …