blogging, environment, health, home

Friendly Friday Challenge – Morning Rituals on the Beach

Although I may be in the minority, I have to say that I love getting up in the mornings. No, I am not masochistic. I live by the sea and the mornings there are so joyous, it makes me want to get up early just to see the very best of the day.

Furthermore, I am now retired so I don’t need to be functioning all day, but can take it at an easier slower pace. To which, I am rapidly becoming accustomed. And, I love it.

The mornings are no time to sit and drink a hot cuppa. It is time to move – after sleeping all night.

I like to take a walk, after a morning routine of Yoga exercises, right on the beach if possible.

As you get older and more sedentary, the joints and muscles stiffen up and it is so vital that we keep them functioning for as long as possible. What good is it living to a ripe old age if you can’t enjoy it? Right?

Yoga Sun salutations are best performed facing east. Because that is where you will see the sunrise, of course.

Even better if you can do it on the beach.

A walk with the dog is next on the agenda.

Right on the beach if possible.

See what you are missing all you people who like a sleep in?

Linking to Sandy’s theme for Friendly Friday. I will be back at my main blog, StPA, next week with a new theme. You are welcome to join in with the Friendly Friday Challenge anytime.

See you then.

blogging, environment, writing

Climate Change is not in Quarantine

Winter is Over for 2020

That is it. Winter is done and dusted in this, the so-called Sunshine State.

Nature knows. The signs are there, for anyone who cares to look.

Clear blue skies and gardens sporting new foliage and flowers, (well some never stopped). All doubt were washed away when I spotted the first insect swanning around my Dining room, just before lunch.

Darn.

Even that fly knows that warmth is on its way.

Whilst Blogger Snow over in Finland, laments how the first day of August heralds the end of her all too short, warm summer weather, I can empathise with her, for all the opposite reasons. The southern hemisphere is already warming up for its hottest season yet.

The earth has turned and so must the weather. It is the Yin and the Yang of life.

Technically there is still one more month of winter – August and yet the cool crisp mornings are receeding far too quickly for me. Living here in August means you can be caught wearing one layer of clothing too many, or a cardigan/jumper at 10 am in the morning. The body screams in response: “Take this hot thing darn well off!”

Even though the public seems to have forgotten about it – climate change isn’t in quarantine from Covid-19 and is real. Evidence is here for all to see.

At 11 am today, I had a moment. For me, this moment happens every year.

No matter how cold the winter is, the realization that we are close to the start of a lengthy, hot summer causes this winter-loving bunny to have a personal crisis. The endless glare of the ultra-hot Australian summer sun and the eternal sweaty, smelly bodies that are consistent with subtropical life in Queensland, make hibernating in air-conditioning as essential as oxygen itself.

Then there is the unsettling feeling that our Summer of roughly five months, now might extend to eight or nine months!

The combination of the spectre of Bushfires, soaring temperatures and months without rain are worrisome indeed.

What Everyone thinks of an Australian Summer
What I think of an Australian summer. (Source:bbci.co.uk)

I shouldn’t complain, should I? There are worse things in life. And yet, everyone whinges about the weather no matter what kind of weather they have, nor no matter where they live, don’t they?

Is the weather turning in your part of the world?

Are you a winter or summer person?

A Home by the Sea

blogging, environment, writing

Good Morning

It is the start of a new day.

sunrise on the lake


When you are in the midst of your working life,  the morning can be rushed. 
Not so, in retirement.


I delight in a stroll towards the lake at sunrise, watching for the old man fish Sir Mullet, jumping high above the water.

Why?

To show off his physical prowess like a maritime body builder or as a way to energize himself for the day’s forage feast for food.

On the banks and weedy littoral zone, algae trails dance rhythmically with the tidal ebb and flow of the waters. Always moving, always dynamic.

Meanwhile, triggered by the sun’s first rays, the Willy Wagtail frolicks and flits back and forth up and around on the grassy lawn, in a courtship dance sure to impress a mate.


Me with my dogs alongside of me, skirt the lake’s perimeter, soaking in the natural forces of sun, earth and wind about me.

This place energizes me, urging me to rise with the light and optimistic for the day ahead. Something not felt in my previous chapter.


A meditative time for newly retired me.

tree lined road
blogging, environment, writing

Sunrise and Sunset at the Beach

The morning sun rising over water can be one of the most invigorating feelings for the spirit and the body. Stimulating, within us, a bundle of potential energy to begin our day.

Sunrise is a time to bear witness to the opening of the universe’s portal to eternity. Untouchable and surreal.

When the sun breaks over the low, scudding clouds that persistently hang on the horizon, we are blessed with a fleeting splendour of golden rays that nourish in our spirit endless possibilities.

After hours of restful slumber, being present and mindful during a sunrise brings feelings of anticipation and promise: a myriad of potentials for a day we have yet to explore.

Sunsets

The amazing thing, about where I live, is the experience of both sunrise and sunset over the water. This is the beauty of living on a peninsula, with sea water on three sides.

The evening light show that Mother nature provides, is more often subdued than her morning counterpart.

More mellow, the tones of sunset can be at times be ever so thrilling, so excitable you cannot look away, lest the magic of what you are seeing, disappears.

Mostly laid back energy, the sunset is evocative of our time to chill out, to prepare for the evening and its accompanying slower pace. The light show nature lays out for us in a glorious sunset such as this, changes from a deep luminescent orange and gold, to a deep purple and hot pink.

The artist that is our Mother Nature is the consummate colour harmonizer. Sunset colours blend seamlessly. She never gets it wrong!

Life at my Home by the Sea is always satisfying.

Reaffirming something I have been waiting my whole life to experience.

I breathe a deep breath of satisfaction.

Sunrise
seachange sunrise
blogging, environment

Is Gratitude Enough of a Gift?

When the sun set on another Mother’s Day, I thought more about what is important to me and what I am grateful for. My kids are now all adults so gifts are unimportant and somewhat redundant.

Is Mothering itself a gift?

Why do we give gifts on Mother’s day?

I had to question hard the motivation behind this tradition and ask why we continue to give gifts as a social convention, in an affluent society.

Traditions of Mothers Day

A visit to or from family is more and more a tradition on Mothers day.

It has become even more of a social event this year as the lifting of Covid restrictions coincided with weekend of Mother’s Day.

Is the spirit of Mother’s Day encapsulated in a friendly smile or gesture from a family member, friend or neighbour?

It might be one or all of those things, but the most important thing is to feel healthy and content on mind and spirit.

Gifts then, do seem redundant and more of a symbol than a necessary purchase.

Gratitude in 2020

I am blessed that I have had a comfortable life. This is not to say I have not been without quite a bit of heartache, bad luck or troubles in my life and despite these matters, I cannot say that I have not been comfortable, for the most part.

In hindsight, many of my problems are just inconveniences or issues that must be solved, or persevered with, until they sort. I have been lucky, and pushed through until the sadness passed to find resilience and maintain hope.

I have hope.

I have freedom.

I have achieved certain goals and have new challenges ahead that I am enthusiastic about.

I have job satisfaction. I have a job and income, although for how long is never guaranteed, anymore, especially at my age. For that, I am grateful. Work can be a privilege we might take for granted.

I have the bountiful emotional returns of raising children, with all its fatigue, responsibilities and worries, but moreover, the joys and pride of raising three little people on this planet.

I got to travel to some pretty special places and spend times with many different people from all over the world.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to learn a language other than English.

I was lucky enough to be in a postiion to design a beautiful home and live by the sea.

This was my morning view.

How can one not feel in awe of nature’s magnificence?

I have a home and family.

And this is the place where I chose to spend this year’s Mother’s Day and the rest of my life.

animals, environment, home

Birds and Sports

I walk daily to the beautiful lake near our home by the sea.

plastic contamination

There are many new homes being constructed in this area at present, thus there is always something new to see along the way. But the real attraction is the birdlife in this area, such as this Heron.

As a Chinese symbol, the Heron represents strength, purity, patience and long life.”

I hope this might mean that both the Heron and I have a long life!!

Sometimes we even see the local kangaroos and their joeys in this area. Meanwhile, the Heron continues stamping the slightly soggy ground on the street’s verges looking for some food.

Today, however, we took a long walk in the opposite direction to the roos and away from the foraging Heron.

A new sports facility has opened up. In the current environment, this means that the ground is open, but as the football competition has been closed for the season, I am not sure if you could call it open, but officially it is.

We continue walking from the main road towards the “basin,” or pond. This is a mini wetland area that has attracted a variety of birdlife.

With a larger wetland environmental area opposite, the birds have plenty of food sources.

On closer inspection we could see cormorants, drying their wings in their familiar crucifix-like gesture, welcoming the morning rays of sunlight as well as a Black swan and the odd Ibis. A Willy Wagtail pair tweeting their way along the path in front of us, danced lightly on the ground. They were gone before I could photograph them.

We saw Moorhens chicks stepping their way through the waterlily pads, a perfect adaptation to the watery environment.

This Mother was calling her wayward adventurous chick, and had to chase after her to give her some food.

The cutest of all were these little ducklings. Covered with down, they dipped their heads under the water, but never really that far from Mother Duck.


New Sports Facility for Australian Rules Football

This football field will be a training ground for the local Australian Rules Football club. If you are not Australian, you might not know of this game. Developed as a way for the cricket players to maintain their fitness in the off-season, ‘Aussie Rules,’ is played on a large oval with four posts at either end. It is basically a kick and catch type of game, with elements of basketball thrown in for good measure and a few penalties along the way to add excitement. The players are tall and lean, and very muscular, and I might add, very highly paid.

The Football Clubhouse looks forlorn and vacant and I think of the term ‘white elephant’ when I look at it. It awaits the demise of Corona as we all do.

A storm was heard in the distance, towards the Northern coast. Highly unusual for this time of year, it did not threaten us, but we did get to see some gorgeous coloured sky and cloud formations.

The simple pleasures of life.

Some days I feel that the lockdown won’t ever be over. I push that thought aside and continue my walk from the ground back towards the estate.

Just before we hit suburbia again, there is an Eco-corridor. The Magpies are up early hunting for their breakfast and I am getting pretty peckish too.

The early bird gets the worm, I hope. Can you see four birds in these pictures? Three were magpies and the fourth, an Indian Myna bird.

That completes Monday’s Walk at the Home by the Sea. Thanks for walking along with me in the virtual sense.

Breakfast awaits.

environment

“You’ll be okay for the first hour”

A Ferry Crossing from Hell

Wellington to Picton

wind turbine
Wellington, New Zealand

4am; 5am; 6.30am.

I checked the clock at every one of those hours.

How could I not? It would soon be time to leave and the Wellington wind wasn’t giving up, no matter how hard I wished it would stop. Gusting at around 48 knots, it had been howling for most of the night, breaking my sleep and leaving me anxious for the day ahead. Adding to my anxiety was the knowledge that I had to catch the morning ferry across the notorious Cook Strait, to the South Island of New Zealand.

We were due to sail on Arahura Inter-islander, from Wellington to Picton, that takes passengers from the bottom of the North Island of New Zealand to the tip of the South Island. Not that far, in terms of distance, but far enough given the awful weather and a ferry crossing synonymous with wild seas.

The first ferry of the morning had been completely cancelled, due to the deteriorating weather conditions, so when I arrived at the Aotea Quay, I glanced at the sign describing the 10 am sailing conditions, as ‘HEAVY,’ and gulped.

Wellington ferry

Would we survive this, I pondered as we loaded our bags onto the check-in counter? Was it too late to change our minds?

The weather seemed okay for the minute, moored in the protected expanse of Wellington’s harbour, but the foreboding words of my cousin’s husband, rang loudly in my ears, “You’ll be okay for the first hour!” he’d declared, the previous night.

Eek! It was a three hour journey.

South Island Ferry
ferry to Picton

Nevertheless, we headed on board and explored a bit of the boat; the apparently jovial mood of the fellow passengers, infectious. None appeared overly worried about sailing conditions. As I perused the various seating areas, keen to find a seat with views of the ocean, I spotted a bar, several bars in fact, and noted it was well patronised by various male patrons.

Did people really drink alcohol, when the sea promised to get rough? I thought.

The ferry wasn’t a small boat; in fact, it housed a large cafeteria style kiosk, souvenir shop and a full scale cinema. The thought of watching a movie in the dark, whilst the ship was being tossed around in Neptune’s domain like a top, was more terrifying for me than being thrown overboard! Instead, we settled on a window seat, on the lower passenger deck, watching the cars and trucks drive nonchalantly into the vessel’s nether regions.

I noticed the build sign informed all, who took interest, that the ferry had been built in the Danish town of Aalborg. Good Danish design was reassuring. The Vikings were used to storms at sea, weren’t they? Even so, I couldn’t help but check the state of the weather, again, and how many life rafts the ship had – just in case. I tried to avoid looking to the horizon which still confirmed a bad storm was approaching. Darn.

But the little girl was happy. What an adventure, she innocently thought posing for the camera. Unfortunately, she was about to change her mind.

When the Captain’s voice crackled over the loud speaker, welcoming passengers aboard, he warned us our crossing would get, “a bit rough out there,” once we were in the open sea. In fact, he said, it was “blowing a gale and we should expect 8 – 10 metre waves.”

Good Lord, I thought, muffling a gasp, this was a bit different to an afternoon outing on the bay, home in Australia.

The swell became heavier, waves crashing over the bow, winds had increased and the boat started listing to and fro like a inflatable toy in a baby’s bath. At times, the hull would rise up in to the air before slamming down hard, against the waves so loudly I feared it would surely break in two. Terrifying.

The passengers who had been enjoying a tipple at the bar filed hurriedly past us towards the rear of the boat, looking a tad green around the gills.

Glass and bottles crashed to the floor while the crew stumbled around handing out ice chips to anxious passengers, including said daughter. She was terrified, vowing never ever to go on a boat again. I decided to move upstairs with her. A dangerous move I would not repeat again.

Have you ever tried to climb the metal stairs of a ship, holding a seven year old securely around the waist, a heavy back pack strapped to your back, (which changes one’s centre of gravity completely), whilst simultaneously opening one of those heavy metal doors the ships have to hold back the water, in the event the boat sinks. You know the ones with the metal ring you turn on them? What are they called?

All this and also protect your daughter from being squashed in said door, as the boat listed to and fro, swinging the heavy door open and shut. I had no wish to have my fingers and toes severed by the wildly swinging chunk of metal.

I daren’t go out on deck to take a photo, as I was fearful I’d be thrown overboard by the violent metronome like lurches of the vessel. In those seas, I would not stand a chance of survival.

This was the last photos I snapped through a crack in the outside door. It was a difficult job to hold the door open and not be slammed in the back with it when the boat listed in the opposite direction. I would not be taking any more photos.

Taking the photo did however, momentarily take my mind off my stomach which was doing its best impression of a cirque de soleil trampoline specialist.

IWith no more photos to take and my time spent reassuring my daughter it was all fine and dandy, I phoned my husband, (the Moth), back in Australia, to say goodbye, in case we didn’t make it to the South Island. He laughed at me over the phone – encouragingly so though, as he was positive that we would prevail.

I reminded him of the Wahine disaster. He scoffed. It would have been quite a different matter, if he was in situ beside me on that ferry, I assure you!

Queen Charlotte Sound

Just when I thought I was going to have to re-visit those eggs I’d eaten for breakfast, a second time around, I spotted the heads of Queen Charlotte Sound and the angry sea began to simmer considerably, the closer we got. We were going to make it.

I had never been so glad to see land.

Queen Charlotte Sound

Amazingly so – it was completely calm on the other side of the heads!

And the two sounds are really stunning.

Our disembarkation port of Picton, was in sight. We had survived a horror ferry ride.

Picton

To this day, I cannot watch a movie with a plot centered around a ship capsizing or battling stormy seas. I just cannot.

Next time I would fly into the South Island.

Have you ever experienced a frightening ride, where you feared for your life?

How did you cope with the fears?

building, environment

Romancing with Plastics

I imagine it started off so well.

lakes
Saturday evening by the lake

There you were, sitting by the side of the lake, on a saturday night, admiring the moon reflecting on the water, the tide gently lapping a romantic lullaby in your ears.

The night was young and you got carried away in the moment, perhaps with your loved one by your side?

But did you remember to take your rubbish with you, when you left?

plastic contamination

This sight greeted me on my walk this morning at 6am.

plastics

An almost empty can of whisky, a plastic bottle half filled with juice, and some leftover food in a single-use plastic bag.

Dear Litterbug:

If I knew where you lived,

I would gladly return your left belongings to your door.

Did you not realize perhaps that this lake opens out to the sea? A sea where marine animals and fish live? Someone’s else’s home?

When you finished eating your take out meal, (or take away, if you are an Australian), did you not walk directly past the bin? It takes but a second, to look and check for a nearby rubbish bin/trash can and dispose of your waste in a bin that waits there just for that sole purpose. A bin, which has been put there for your convenience. A bin which you might even pay for, with your taxes, or as part of your council rates.

Did you not see the location of the bin was a mere 10 – 20 steps behind you, depending on your height, of course?

Your thoughtless act of carelessness contributes to contamination of our waterways with plastic wastes.

Thanks to you, it will take 20 years for that one plastic bag to break down in the environment and even after that, will still pose a threat to fish and other aquatic life, entering their bodies in the form of micro-plastics.

Fish or aquatic animals, that you, yourself, might eat one day. This means you will also ingest micro plastics in to your gut. Just like this whale. Plastic didn’t do him any good.

If you are a turtle, whale, dugong, or larger marine animal, you might ingest the whole plastic bag, and who could blame you, as bags do look like jelly fish. For these creatures, the consequences are fatal.

All because you forgot or couldn’t care, to dispose of your leftover waste in a responsible manner.

Plastic Waste:

According to an estimate, every year Americans use approximately 1.6 million barrels of oil just for producing plastic bottled water. Plastic waste is one of many types of wastes that take up to 1000 years to decompose in landfills.

Plastic bags take 10-20 years to decompose, while plastic bottles take 450 years.

Aluminum Cans:

Every minute, every day, more than 120,000 aluminum cans are recycled only in America. But, at the same time, every three-months, enough aluminum cans are thrown away in America that can rebuild the entire American commercial air fleet.

Aluminum cans take 80-200 years in landfills to get completely decomposed.

environment.about.com

Be a responsible citizen, your planet needs you to be one.

My 2020 plastic audit for the lake near my home continues.

Do you want to conduct your own plastic audit?

Join me in documenting the amount of waste you find in your local environment.

Make people take notice.

Take a Helping Hand Grabber Tool, (so that you don’t have to touch the rubbish), and dispose of it responsibly, for the folks who haven’t yet developed that level of thoughtfulness.

More Ideas to Reduce Plastic Use

building, environment, home

Teflon and Non Stick Cookware

Building a new house last year, meant that I had the opportunity to purchase the latest and greatest cooktop and oven.

My new Kitchen

I was lucky that the builder had a 90 cm oven as standard equipment and I do love it. I do like to bake a lovely morning tea so the oven get used a lot.

The cooktop in the house design, was gas as a standard addition, and I fondly remembered the teenage days of cooking on an ancient ‘Kooka’ gas stove, in my ‘haunted’ house – highly efficient and reliable. However….

Kooka Stove

I worked out pretty quickly that gas wasn’t great for someone living in the tropics. The phrase sweating away over a hot stove, was more real than I would care to admit, when I discovered the open flame of the gas cooktop, I was cooking with in my rental accommodation, caused the ambient temperature in the kitchen on a 36 degree celsius, overly humid, day to ignite to levels bordering on purgatory.

Thus, an upgrade to induction cooking seemed like a sensible move than a gas stove.

The new induction cooktop

The trouble is I had to purchase all new cookware as not all saucepans operate with the induction technology, which requires saucepans to be magnetic, to work.

I splurged a little and purchased two new non stick Induction friendly frypans, one a Raco and the second a Tefal Jamie Oliver style pan, as well as three beautiful induction freindly, non-stick saucepans, a lovely set made in France by Ingenio, with a detachable handle that could be used in the oven or cooktop, or served at the table.

So versatile, I thought.

Imagine my schock when I read that there was a problem with non-stick cookware.

A big problem….

Someone in the Estate by the Sea, where I live, had three parrots that lived inside their home. The owner was cleaning his self-cleaning oven, last week, which requires turning it to its maximum heat for an extended time in order to self clean the interior walls, of the oven.

Suddenly all three of his large parrots, including an African Grey parrot, (which can live to 200 years), developed breathing problems and died within 20 minutes of each other, ostensibly from the polytetrafluoroethylen fumes, emitted from the oven in its self-cleaning mode.

To back up his claim I did a little research:

…. the material used in most nonstick cookware, …the polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) coating on the pans turns into toxic Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) at high heat, making it dangerous both for the cook and for diners.

It was in 2004 that the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discovered the potential cancer-causing chemical used in the production of Teflon and filed complaints against the maker, DuPont

http://www.goodfood.com.au/good-living/whats-deal-with-nonstick-cookware-are-they-safe-20160801-gqitvd

At that time, a synthetic chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid, known as PFOA or C8 for short was used in the production of Teflon, however, it was phased out in the USA, in 2013 as PFAS chemicals, which includes PFOA and PFOS, had been linked to cancer and numerous other health concerns.

Despite DuPont completely eliminating the use of PFOA from use in their products, according to a spokesperson for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), there is a wide range of products supplied in Australia that still include the related chemicals.

http://www.goodfood.com.au/good-living/whats-deal-with-nonstick-cookware-are-they-safe-20160801-gqitvd

A very concerning revelation.

This week, I purchased a PFOA free frypan and worryingly note the Ingenio saucepans are now a discontinued product, in the larger retail stores. I shall have to ensure these saucepans are never used on high heat or should I ditch them and get stainless steel, all over again, for the Home by the Sea?

Do you use Non stick cookware, or use water resistant, stain resistant products?