Thursday, December 21, 2006

Reflections on Yule - a Pam Ayres lookalike

It’s here again, it’s Christmas time, that glorious event,
That brings together families and relatives and friends.
A time of cheer, of carols, and presents on the hearth.
But most of all the memories that Christmas Day imparts.

And as I sit surrounded by the children, great and small,
The mind escapes to wander through my Christmas memory haul:
To six foot drifts of icy snow on Hallowed Christmas Day,
The relatives all stranded over 60 miles away.

And Mother’s still preparing food, enough to feed an army.
Dad pours himself another beer and says he thinks she’s barmy.
And the little bells that tinkle hanging on the Christmas tree
Remind me of the Christmas that we spent in Sydney.

Mother slaving in the kitchen with a chicken not long dead.
As the temperature is rising Dad lies sweating on the bed.
But the grid, it cannot take it as the mercury explodes,
So it has to shut the power or the station will implode.

And Mum in desperation, screams, “Who turned the power off?”
“Oh God, what next!” said father, as he gets up in a huff.
“Don’t fret yourself,” said Uncle Frank. “Just leave it up to me,
I’ll fire up the Metters and we’ll have the chook for tea.”

“No, put it on the driveway,” said Dad between his beers
“And let it simmer slowly then we’ll have it for New Year’s.”
And the broken glass it tinkled, like the little Christmas bell
As the chook became a missile! “And you lot can go to hell!”
Oh Tannenbaum, Oh Christmas tree pray tell me your lament
As you stand there somewhat naked in your bucket of cement.
You’re leaning on an angle like a ship that’s going down,
With your arms held up for mercy before you finally drown.

But what of Yule-tide blessings, and the yule log on the rug,
As reflection on the Yule-time give my lonely heart a tug.
You’ll do this and you’ll do that and you’ll not answer back
You’ll not kick your cousin Rachel or I’ll promise you a wack.
You’ll say thank you for your presents. You’ll be nice to Uncle Matt.”
I think someone should take You’ll-tide and feed it to the cat!
Hey Christmas! Merry Christmas! Merry? – That’s not what I would say.
I’d say they’re all as drunk as skunks or heading on that way.
And forget the Christmas carols, Cousin Carol’s full of song
And she’ll pass out on the sofa before too very long.
And Mother’s trying very hard to dignify the scene
Announcing that we all sit down for the message from the Queen.
I know for me, the memories of Christmas linger on,
As I hear my warbled hummings of that famous Christmas song.
But Hark - not Herald Angels, that’s young Jason, I can hear,
And the piercing sound of screaming drifting loud upon the air.
And his mother’s faintly sobbing, says the trampoline was torn
And the siren bells are wailing on that joyful Christmas morn.
So to all of you at Christmas, I wish you Yule-tide cheer
As I read my Mr. Dickens there’s one true voice I hear
That dear old man, that Mr Scrooge, astute – no not a mug
He, only he, had got it right, Christmas is - Humbug!

Merry Christmas!

Poem by M Muir (2000)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

124 degrees F (54 C) in the sun

I imagine the response I will get to this post.
No on eis going to believe it - but it's true.
As it was jolly hot today and I stayed inside most of the day with the aircon on.
At 4.45 pm I ventured out to check the goat's water troughs and couldn't believe how hot it was.
It was like walking into the proverbial oven (cliche - but true).
I couldn't believe th heat so went inside and got my thermometer - old but reliable, and when I walked back into the sun the mercury just started to rise.
I know that temperatures which are officially recorded are shade temperatures, whereas I was in the garden in the sun, but it was late afternoon and the sky was hazy.
What I recorded (and photographed) was - one hundred and twenty four degrees farenheit or 54 centigrade!
Then I let the thermometer cool off and took the shade temperature under the Verhandah - a relatively cool 45 C or 112F.
I just hope this is not a sample of the summer ahead!
Photo: M Muir - Location 75 km inland from Perth, Western Australia.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Pioneer in marine photography - Douglas P. Wilson

Douglas P Wilson (1902- 1991), a marine biologist, was internationally acclaimed for his photographic studies in the field of natural history.
He was the first to photograph living plankton under the microscope.
Wilson’s work of the 1920s and 30s is highly regarded for its artistic excellence and his photographs still appears in books and journals around the world today.
Amongst the many specimens he captured on film is Noctiluca, a luminous dinoflagellate.
Wilson writes: When it is present in dense forms…when agitated by the dip of an oar or the breaking of a wave, the sea becomes brilliantly luminescent, the water glowing with light.
The phenomenon of marine luminescence is something which intrigued men for countless generations (including Robert Fitzroy, Captain of HMS Beagle).
Douglas Wilson’s interest in the photography began as a three year old when he posed for a family photo - his head fixed in a clamp so he couldn’t move during the extended exposure time required in those days.
At age 11 he bought his first cardboard box camera for a penny, took it home and successful developed his first photograph.
Wilson’s memoir, A Sea Life in Focus, edited by his daughter, biographer, Hester Davenport, is illustrated with original photographs.
It records not only of the marine specimens he photographed, but the methods he used and the specialized equipment he constructed in order to do so.
For his pioneering work in marine photography, Dr Wilson received many awards including the prestigious award of Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society (1987).
Image: Larva of Long-armed Starfish metamorphosing by D P Wilson.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Happy 96th Birthday, Mum

Today, in England, my mother celebrates her 96th birthday.
She was born, Ethel May Ettershank, on 3rd Dec 1910.
Mum married Frank Leak (died 1972) and has been able to boast three children, 7 grandsons, and 4 greatgrandsons and at last, and most recently, one great grandaughter.
Mum presently lives in a Methodist local Preachers' residential house in Woodhall Spa.
She tells me that she will be having a cake to celebrate her birthday but assures me it won't have 96 candles on it.
I wish I could be there to help her celebrate.
Happy Birthday, Mum xxx
Photo: Ethel Leak aged 16 years

Saturday, December 02, 2006

World AIDS Day - a poem

AIDS (Africa)

moist lips kiss death
in momentary bliss
black silk on blackness slides
earth’s crimson blood pulsates
through vented crust
as warm life pumps
explosive virulence
in love’s disguise

pale jacarandas
scatter in the storm
rudderless coracles
tossed on the turbid flow
ebony tears engorge
dark drowning pools
the nightmare-dreaming
masquerade of love

absent in this game
man preys on brother, wife,
woman, her son
a continent cries out to muted globe
Ngorong’s crater
muffling the sound
- the predator waits

across the plains
the human herd in flight
stalked silently by Nature’s genocide.

I wrote this poem in 2002 - little has changed since then MM