Saturday, February 25, 2012


Today, I have the great pleasure of introducing the very talented Pauline Howard as my guest author. She is not only a prolific writer, naturopath, a carer for animals but also a fierce campaigner for a greener environment. Here is her message for us!


We all have heard about the plastic debate especially Bisphenol-A (BPA). A chemical banned in many countries but not Australia. BPA is an endocrine disrupter and found in soft drink, beer cans, canned food and baby food. Then there are preservatives and residuals of pesticides and fertilizers used on crops when growing that end up in our food. The chemicals used on farming animals and for growing crops end up in waste water via farm run-off.
Did you know there is a soup-island in the pacific that is comprised of plastic rubbish, known as the Pacific Garbage Patch? It’s a swirling plastic soup in the north pacific gyre. A gyre is an area in the ocean where all currents meet. The garbage patch in the north pacific is the size of Texas.
Did you know that a third of the sea turtles die from rubbish dumped in the oceans? Sea turtles don’t have the ability to vomit. They ingest soft plastic as it looks like jelly fish. As they can’t vomit it stays in their bodies and kills them. Do we really understand the degree of damage rubbish is doing to our planet, our health and the impact on generations to come?
Then there are chemicals that we ingest for pain relief, cholesterol control, maintaining blood pressure diabetes and chemotherapy drugs. All of which are literally flushed out of our bodies and down the toilet.
These drugs even though currently in microscopically proportions are increasing along with the increase in the world’s population. There is close on 300 million community prescriptions a year in Australia, add on top of that the drugs from supermarkets and those brought over the counter. This doesn’t include the thousands of Australians on chemotherapy at any one time.
Apparently there are 4,000 pharmaceuticals used worldwide. Some of these are manufactured in third world countries. This brings another problem from the refuse produced by these manufacturing plants.
Then there are the cleaning products we use to disinfect and clean and bleach and remove stains. These also go down the drain.So what can we do about it? David Suzuki coined the phrase think globally act locally. I believe by giving thought to the impact on our planet from what we do daily will create a collective consciousness. Then as a group we become mindful that for every action there is a reaction.
It’s comforting to know organisations such as The Algalita Marine Research Foundation, offers tickets to see the Pacific Plastic Island for $10,000. An innovative way to raise money for research and clean up.
There is Take 3, an organisation asking beach users to pick up three pieces of rubbish when they leave the beach, which is not theirs. Their slogan is, Take 3 for the Sea.
And let’s not forget Clean Up Australia that happens every year and this year is on the 4th of March 2012.
Making this topic common dialogue and thought is the only way change will constantly occur. If we are not thinking about it then rest assured we will not act on it. Most like to believe they will leave behind a legacy. Let’s not our legacy be pollution. Lets us aspire to be considerate consumers continuously.



As usual, Megan visited Grandma Brown in her well cared-for garden with a bunch of flowers. This may seem to be a contradiction in itself as the garden was in full bloom with bees busily collecting the pollen and the birds in the trees twittering a welcome. For Megan, this gesture was an expression that went beyond the actual handing over some creations of nature. It was the sign of their intensive love for each other, a certain understanding and caring, that went beyond ordinary relationships.

After all, Grandma Brown has a large family with lots of grandchildren who visited her regularly at her mountainside blossoming and perfumed paradise. Especially the lilac bushes, when heavily in blossom, exude their heavy and intoxicating aroma like incense in a religious celebration.

At Granny’s wrought-iron garden door, sometimes a sign was affixed with a message for the postman not to put any mail in the letterbox as it is occupied – again – by a loving family of birds that, too, wishes to pursue their tranquil family life undisturbed.
Many was the time when Megan and her family of one brother and three sisters had sat on garden benches outside the wooden home, where thick green bushes formed an alcove, secluded and in happiness! Sometimes other members of the family visited Granny, as she was very popular, and joined the cheery gathering. Percolated coffee was then enjoyed by the grown-ups and lemonade for the children was served in long cool glasses. Worries of daily life were discussed and in doing so, they seem to diminish.

Children, too, spoke freely of their school days and problems with their friends, especially Megan, who tended to sit right beside Grandma, slightly leaning against her in closeness and unison.
Megan grew into a tall and beautiful young lady with a wide smile and flashing eyes. Especially, when she visited her Grandma, who never seemed to change in appearance, except perhaps for a few more wrinkles in her friendly face. Megan always sat beside her, in unison and protection.

One day, Megan’s visit to Grandma was different. She had her usual flowers, and the same loving smile but when they sat down, she placed herself opposite her and reaching out to hold Grandma’s hands, she said these cataclysmic worlds that would change the live for both of them. 

‘Nana, I have to tell you something..,…I am going overseas, to Europe, only for two years.’ Nana’s loving face betrayed nothing, so Megan continued: ‘I just want to see the world, Nana, I shall always write to you and, as I said, two years will quickly go by, Nana and I will be back with you again.’ Saying that with confidence, she pressed her grandma’s hands with extra firmness – it sounded like a solemn vow!

Grandma felt an icy grip on her heart and she felt Megan’s hands shaking despite keeping her pretty face bravely under control. Was there moisture welling up in her big brown eyes and forming a tear in a corner?

Grandma thin lips became thinner as she tried to assure Megan and, perhaps herself, ‘I’ll wait for you!’

Megan did not stay for a while, not as usual, but bid her adieu to Grandma with a warm and intensive kiss on her careworn cheek, for the last time.
‘May God protect you!’ Granny whispered.

The leaving was very difficult for Megan and this time she walked without her usual spring in her steps and swaying hips. Rather than a condemned person she dragged herself away – as if to her own execution. Why did she feel no relief for having got it ‘over with’ as she intended? She felt her heart heavy and hurting.

For her family and relations, Megan’s departure was quick – she was gone far too suddenly and an icy, empty, void seemed to be present at home and at family meetings. At the latter, there was always the inevitable question ‘How is Megan?’ or ‘Have you heard from Megan?’

It was mostly Grandma who raised the question first, but she did not betray any further emotions about her favourite grandchild. Megan’s parents shook their head dejectedly and looked downwards with a worrying frowning. But soon the subject of their conversation changed to everyday occurrences and the children in the family circles were too young to understand this situation.

Finally, a postcard arrived, by airmail and from a far- away place in Europe, in Megan’s familiar writing. She was all right was her assurance and that there was no reason to worry. Her promise was to write again very soon.

Grandma held this postcard in her hands for a long time, and with a loving look took in the hand writing of a person so dear to her. If she only could see once more the hand that wrote these lines! Despite Megan’s promise to write again soon, it took a long time before the next postcard arrived, too long and painful for everybody.

But Megan was far away and caught up in different worlds and situations. She worked hard in casual jobs, whatever she could find. Her natural friendliness and smile made her popular wherever she went.

Naturally, she was caught up in love affairs and met a family that took her in like her own daughter. Going out with new-found friends, having parties and fun, fun, fun, her young heart did not seem to notice that time was flying as it did not mean anything to her young heart.

Only sometimes, when moments stood still, her mind wandered ‘back home’. And in these moments her soul mate, her beloved Grandma appeared and her warm eyes looked into hers and her lips moved ‘I wait for you!’
Is she all right? What was she doing right now? Was she missing her?
And then in her thoughts her parents appeared, her brother and sisters, and the other members of the family who used to meet so regularly at Grandma’s. The warm feeling of cosy comfort then welled over her and she could almost feel the love they felt for each other. And the laughter and singing when uncle Paul played his guitar. They were cheerful songs she has not heard since and thinking of all this a painful longing awoke and began to tuck her heart.

Naturally, everyday worries and struggle to make ends meet became too familiar to her but her proud and determined personality did not allow her to confide to anybody.

‘How is Megan, have you heard from her?’ Back at Granny’s place these questions kept being asked, any scant information was eagerly shared and wistful sigh’s were heard.

Years were going by………..

Megan sometimes looked up at the sky – the sky in her part of the world – and noticed that it was not as blue as at home. There were more clouds, many more formations, and very little sunshine. How would it be, she thought, to be ‘back home’ sitting again in the warm circle of her family and if she could only hold her grandma’s hands once more and look into her loving face and tell her what she had been through! It would be so wonderful to let her know how much she missed her.
She did not have the money to fly back home and she was too proud to ask her parents for help. In this stalemate of suffering, she managed a brave face and tried to live an everyday life.

One day, her Grandma was no more. On her death bed, she had asked for Megan and how she was and she seemed to be praying for her.

Twenty years had gone past when Megan returned. This time with her family, a handsome husband and two lovely daughters and her first questions were for details about her Grandma. She visited her grave, cried bitterly into her cupped hands and had a long, mental, conversation to her Nana. Weeping uncontrollably, she also prayed, seemingly forever.

If she only could turn back the clock - vainly did she try to will this. And, kneeling by the graveside, she suddenly heard Nana’s familiar voice: ‘I wait for you!’

Monday, February 20, 2012



Friday, February 17, 2012


The large assembly of travellers gathered outside the London railway station seemed to be stunned: they had just heard the announcement of a strike at British railways and that they will be taken to Dover coast by bus, to be ferried across the channel and there, at Oostend, their connecting train will be waiting for them.
The whole replacement schedule seemed a bit ad hoc to them and while they are still shocked about the news of the strike, everybody doubted that it will be possible to reach the connecting train on the continent on schedule. The dreary thought sunk into their brain: What if we miss this connecting train on the continent? How will we get across Europe to our distant point of destination?
The mass of desperate people got bigger all the time as new fellow travellers kept arriving.
Despair started to sink-in and spread. People from all parts of the world started to find each other by their mother tongue or the nearest common language they could speak. Together they chatted in highly alarmed voices and exchanged their thoughts about British Railways, England in general and the cheek of having a strike at the travellers’ most inconvenient time.
What if the busses had a strike as well? There is no such transport in sight and it’s already time to depart for the coast. Rumours had it that one such bus was already on the way, that it had left very early with the first batch of tourists. Do they have only one bus working? That would be nowhere enough to solve the travellers’ needs.
The international crowd is still growing with new arriving tourists being informed of the strike whilst their faces dropped.
It was a misery day, there was fog in the morning and it had barely lifted when it started to drizzle. The crowd huddled together under a shelter of a large bus station, muttering to each other and some to themselves. The few railway workers that still had the nerve to show themselves, seem to sense the people’s desperation and tried to cheer them up.
Somebody with a heavy Welsh accent called out: ’Come out in the rain – I will sing for you!’
This attempt at humour failed miserably and something like a dog-like growl emanated from the mass of desperados and words like ‘bloody jokes’ in various accents could be heard.
Now, a new sound emerged: that of travellers who were freezing by now and with their feet scraping the concrete floor of the large bus depot where they huddled together.
Suddenly their mood changed: A bus was arriving and pulling up into the depot. It was very dirty and really looked like having done a long trip in inclement weather. Grime and dirt was thickly around the wheels and the tyres were covered thickly with mud.
Whilst everybody grabbed their luggage in order to storm into this bus – nothing happened. That behemoth of a vehicle stood silent for a seemingly long while. Then it slowly opened and the driver stepped out with some paperwork and disappeared into an office.
All this went on far too slowly for the masses and loud protest could be heard from the irate masses. Especially a women with a heavy German accent – very Prussian, actually – became increasingly vociferous. Probably being unaccustomed to train strikes in her native Berlin, people could only agree with her loud exclamation about the prevailing situation: ‘Zis iss impossiple!’
After a perceived eternity, the office door opened and the bus driver came out, carefully carrying a cup of tea in this hands. Leasurely, he went to his bus and luxuriously eased himself into his drivers seat.
Now, the passengers had their tickets checked – with unnerving calmness - by a mate of the driver – same uniform and detached attitude - and there was a quick storming of the bus. Some lucky ones seated themselves and held expectantly their breath, however, nothing happened as the driver appeared to be oblivious to the necessity of speeding off to the coast.
Slowly, he took his sips of tea, luxuriously enjoying it’s flavour before swallowing.
Enraged cries could now be heard: first the strike and now the bus is not moving! Especially the German woman could not control herself any longer. Rushing through the bus to the driver, she bent towards him and hissed menacingly at him: ’Vat iss dis? First zer iss a strike and ve vere told zat ze busses vill take us to ze coast but zer vas no bus anyvere. Finally you come mit ze bus, but now, you are not moving but go zip zip zip…….’
It was suddenly very quiet in the bus and the prevalent atmosphere was that of complete solidarity with the German woman. They nodded to each other in agreement and their expression seem to say: ’Trust the Germans to put things succinctly. Bless her for speaking up for all of us!’
The bus driver pulled in his neck slightly at hearing his mother tongue spoken in such a fashion. However, he took another ‘zip’ from his cup after which he slowly and placidly addressed her: ’Madam! I have just been to the coast and back, a two-hour-trip each way. Which means that I have been four hours on the road. Now, I have another four hour trip in front of me – I am surely entitled to a cup of tea!’
Whilst this was spoken with a calm conviction, with a Cockney accent and reaffirmed with a nod, it had a devastating effect on the passengers. Suddenly, as the woman made her way back to her seat everybody backed away from her, seemingly not wanting to have anything to do with her. Again, they nodded to each other and their expression seem to betray their thoughts:  ‘Bloddy Germans! Nothing but trouble makers. Let the poor man have his well earned cuppa – he is hard working!
Finally, the bus moved out of the depot and started its long journey through London city and towards the coast. The German woman faced a very isolated trip as nobody wanted to speak with her……..