The Blue Tongue Lizard

Whilst in isolation there has been time to explore the messy areas of my garden

This day the Blue tongue was in the same patch. About 6″ long and quiet timid. Birds were diving on him and he was using his tongue to fight back.

He or she was happy to stay but has largely hibernate under pavers or in the leafy areas of my garden. Apples, pieces of meat and other fruit seem to interest him.

I have not got a name for him yet. If he stays it will be good. He enjoys lying in the sun but hides in the cold and usually is not visible of a night.

Phillip D

 

 

 

 

In

Lessons In Life Daryl Morrow

I recall some time ago,in the 20’s I was working in the city when the news was full of reports about the pandemic spread of Corona Virus here in Australia,stay at home,don’t touch your face,self isolation etc. I guess I was lucky working in an essential service industry and as such was allowed to continue travelling into the city to carry out my governmental work. Yes I got scared of what to do to stay safe and at lunchtime started by leaving the office to get fresh air and sunshine and distance myself from other commuters,I got some inspiration take my own sandwiches from home and eat in the park just at the end of the street.
The next day I brought along my corn beef and pickle sandwiches and a small thermos of black coffee. The day was sunny, no wind Autumn is like that and at lunchtime I found myself wondering through the flowers and shrubs near a small pond covered in flowering water lilies,I decided this is an ideal spot to eat lunch there was only one bench seat and to my dismay it was partly occupied by an elderly man with his rolled up blanket and a battered green bag his clothes were tidy but his old hat seemed a bit large for his head. As I approached he gathered his belongings and moved to the end of the bench, I took this it to be a kindly offer to share his seat he appeared non threatening so I sat and stared at the pond and water Lillie’s.
I poured out a coffee and whilst waiting for it to cool pulled out my sandwiches and said to the man what a lovely day he seemed pleased to be acknowledged and we chattered some more all the time his eyes travelled to the food, I offered him a coffee which he drank eagerly, time had slipped away quickly must get back to work, he looked hungry so I offered him my sandwich and I noticed he had no socks on, I asked where he lived he replied mostly here in the park these days.
My mind was full of questions about this lonely person, that night I cut extra sandwiches and more coffee to take to the park hoping he might be there and that he might share his story with me. Lunch time came very slowly that day but when it did I rushed to the pond in the park I guess we were both looking forward to each other’s company again,we quickly ate our lunch ,eager to chat. I won’t disclose his name but for the purposes of this story I will call him Sunny. He seemed keen to tell his adventures in life, he was born in the dusty northern parts of Victoria in a very small wheat belt town, six houses in total, a weatherboard one room school,four grain silos and a railway track beside a road less traveled.
He never knew his mum or dad they died in a home fire and his dads brother took him in, he never got to know him much as he travelled a lot shearing and when home he seemed very tired and slept most of the time, his wife a big woman never hugged him or even seemed to like him she was to busy washing ironing for neighbours and baking bread and cutting wood for the firebox.
School was a torment other kids teased him and told him his mum and dad ran away because he was so ugly.
He spent a lot time on his own down by the old railway dam watching the wildlife there, he tried catching the little green frogs and tadpoles, staying late till sunset he saw the kangaroos come in to drink and saw the joeys jump in and out of mothers warm pouch whilst the big bucks stood guard.
When he was 15 he left school and worked for a while on the farm just out of town but that job did not last long now with no work and the drought it forced him to jump the grain train and later he found himself in the big city with nowhere to live, he now wished he had gotten a better education but too late now.
He got some work in a factory this gave him some money and he could afford a room with an elderly couple but he had to eat alone read the old newspapers and do his own clothes washing.
He lost his job after three years and found himself on the streets again.
He started to look unkept and grubby, why couldn’t he get a good job and live like others he sees every day walking past him. Back to work for me my head still of wonderment and thirsty to learn more.
It is the end of Tuesday and we agreed to meet each day at noon.
Wednesday noon sun still blessing us both,Sunny agreed to tell me about surviving on the streets, I asked about being cold he said yes for a while you feel the cold then somehow you get accustomed to it; you can always find a corner away from the wind where the sun is shining or a doorway to shelter from the rain, see that Pandanus plant near the pond with overhanging fronds that’s where I sleep And keep my belongings, I also sleep on this bench and get warm and dry my clothes here when the suns out. Opps I am going to be late back to work, so much to hear and learn.
Thursday, Sky a little greyer to day but I have a special lunch home made meat pie and a large Apple pie, Sunny’s face lit up like a Christmas tree. He had made friends with other homeless people and learnt how to make money from passes by, some had a dog for people to pat and drop some money into a food bowl,one did chalk drawings on the concrete pavement, others recited poetry and others simply begged.
I was very good at drawing , said Sunny using a grey lead pencil on scraps of paper I loved drawing people’s faces, the Salvos gave me some pencils and a sketch pad one day and I sat in the street drawing a persons face, got quite a crowd some times I used to get a fiver from some and a couple of bob from kids, look I will show you some he opened his tattered bag and several pages fell onto the ground and I was spell bound at what I saw and asked if I could buy one.
You can get lots of food from bins late at night and wash from the garden taps he told me. Leaving a bucket of water in the sun you can get hot water to wash in. If you are quick clothes can be obtained from charity bins, shoes and socks are harder to come by. Some of the churches put on a great meal on Sundays and its there you find friends with even worse stories than mine, I think I am very lucky really.
Sunny seemed a bit ill that day feeling feverish and a dry throat so I left the last of the thermos of coffee with him hoping to comfort him during the nighttime.
Friday came and I was anxious to catch up with Sunny and lunchtime arrived I grabbed our lunch and hurried to the park, Sunny was no where to be seen his blanket and tattered bag was neatly stored on the bench, I waited for nearly half an hour where upon a parks gardener come up to me, and said I was worried I wouldn’t find you, he said he had observed Sunny and I becoming friends and having lunch together lately. Anxiously I asked had he seen Sunny he looked shaken as he told me an Ambulance came early this morning but it was to late, but he said he had found a parcel marked to me, I nervously opened it up Sunny had drawn a picture of me on a sheet of brown paper signed from “Sunny to my dearest friend”
I still ask myself.
Who was the teacher and who was the student?
Daryl Morrow 2020

Little Brown Garden Cricket

 

Sometimes when digging the garden soil preparing for the next crop of veggies
you turn over a clod to see a brown prehistoric style insect about 15 cms 
long scurry away and quickly bury itself again.

I have never been able to photograph one of these beautiful characters,
however I have managed to photograph a distant relative, the elusive Preying
Mantis.

The mystery of the insect world always fascinates me - what was he doing.
There was no apparent damage and so onwards I go, preparing and planting my
winter cabbages.
The weather had been very dry and lots of plants were starting to suffer.
I never sighted the Cricket again, thinking he may have perished. I thought
it strange how he got called a cricket. He didn't look like a bat nor like 
a ball or cricket stumps, somethings are lost in the transit of time and one
can only ponder.
Then In Autumn when the rains broke late in the afternoon I heard a high
pitched chorus of noise coming from ever corner of the veggie garden and also
from the lawn and flower patches. After listening for some time it began to
make sense; it was a symphony of music coming from under the ground. These
invisible crickets being in great numbers were giving thanks for the rain.

The next morning on inspecting the still soft soil, evidence showed the 
crickets had tunnelled just under the surface making patterns going this way
and that way, keeping out of sight searching for the mysteries of the insect
world.
This chorus of music went on day and night for days, the high pitch when
standing between the contestants was hard to endure, however if you stomped
on the ground those closest stopped only to start again when you moved on.
As the season progresses crickets seem too hard to find and the music stops.
With the large number in the garden in Autumn one could be excused for 
expecting to see many crickets when tending the various crops but rarely is
it so.
People are so busy in their walks of life they miss the mysteries of the
other world.
Remember that spiders had the first Web pages.

 Daryl Morrow
0418 376 863

Screeching Cockatoos

Screeching Cockatoos             By Daryl Morrow

 

The birds gathered overhead as dawn broke and formed a rowdy flock, then headed north.

Buses and Trains

Silence now as Ken, Lee, Kaye and Daryl studied the timetables for a mystery day on the buses and trains.  The weather looked promising after the heavy rains of the last two days.

Whilst we waited for bus 902 from Eltham a Vietnamese lady took our group photos, she was visiting her son, but could hardly speak English.

The bus arrived and the journey had started. Later we caught bus 280 and stopped at the Pines Shopping centre, boarding bus 906 to Warrandyte, there was evidence of last night’s large hailstone storm, wind and rain, the tree leaves were stripped and lifeless on the ground and roadway.

Here we boarded bus 364 to Ringwood and gazed at the high rise apartment buildings near the new railway station which is elevated like a sky rail with a bus terminus on both sides at ground level.  Then we boarded bus 380 to Croydon, then the 670 to Lilydale, which is on the outskirts of Melbourne.

Here we decided to walk the long main street, marvelling at the earl architecture, some as early as 1850.  We had lunch at a noodle shop, very large serving, and then walked down Chapple St, passing an old brick church with a weatherboard chapel still in great condition.

Nearing one o’clock now, we decided to travel by train to Box Hill, waiting at the Lilydale Station.  The train pulled up and the driver alighted and locked the train up.  We were surprised to note the driver was a lovely female; we engaged in conversation and were surprised to learn Rachael was previously the local Postie and delivered the mail on her motor bike for years, how her life has changed, now she is the Lilydale electric train driver.

The train was a much better ride than the buses, through Mooroolbark to the high rise apartment blocks of Box Hill.  What a culture experience stepping out of the train down stairs one level to a very large food market.  Box Hill seems to be the love child of China.  Kaye, who had taught in China for 6 years, explained this is a carbon copy of Chinese homes, transport, shopping and employment; perhaps this is the answer to future development.

Well, what a great day of adventure and comradeship, nearing the end of the day now, but wait there is more – onto bus 293through and past Doncaster across the Yarra River stopping at Montmorency where Lee and Kaye live, Ken and I walked down Were St Monty to the train and I disembarked at Eltham whilst Ken journeyed alone on to Diamond Creek.

In the morning, we gathered together us four and enjoyed our time together, but as the day ended we dispersed and disappeared separately as shadows do in the night.

Written and photographed by Daryl Morrow, 23 January 2020 and still going.

darylmorrow@hotmail.com

Ken’s Birthday Bash

An important event occurred on 11 June last year. Ken Ramplin turned 80 and some of his friends gathered for lunch at the Diamond Creek Tavern to help him celebrate this major milestone.

Over the last decade, Ken has been a major force in creating three OM:NI groups in the Diamond Valley area, namely Diamond Creek, Eltham and Hurstbridge. People from these groups joined him, along with members of Banyule and Greensborough groups, plus staff from the Bendigo Bank and local council, plus a few more friends he has gathered in a long life.

The lunch was good, (the usual senior’s meal, but good value), there were drinks to be consumed, there was a massive birthday cake with candles, plus more sweets. Daryl  made a touching speech outlining Ken’s life and local achievements.

Ken received a long waited for birthday present – a brand spanking super duper new electric bike, something he had wanted for a long time, so after furiously saving and with his family chipping in, the bike finally arrived.

Everyone had a great time enjoying celebrating with Ken, because along the way in his caring and kindly manner touched the lives of quite a few people.

Ken was last seen on the day, mounting his bike, complete with balloons streaming out the back.

 

Very Last Christmas 2018

Dudley Street Eltham    Story By Daryl Morrow

DARYL STORY01

Back in the 70’s I saw an ageing family home behind this entrance, it was well cared for and you could hear children playing in the large back garden , a loving family home raised their children hear no doubt.

They enhanced the front entrance, building a slate faced brick fence with a letter box slot and a rolled newspaper pigeon hole also you can see they had planted their own Christmas pine tree which has matured and survived until today.

Eltham was a sought after residential suburb with a petrol station in the main street, a hay and grain store, furniture shop, wide open roads and a balanced shopping strip. Visiting town for the weekly shop meant talking to people and getting free broken biscuits for the kids and this home was close to all Eltham had to offer and an easy walk to the city rail station, the Nillumbik Shire Council offices formed part of the town’s boundary.

We were known as the green wedge shire where artists and mud brick builders helped make this area unique and Montsalvat grew amongst the gum trees.

In the 90’s and after the turn of the century and around 2010 Eltham saw much change the shire offices moved close to Greensborough, leaving their site vacant, new shops adorned the main street the service station was demolished, new large grocery stores were built which moved businesses away from the main street and angle parking changed to parallel, shire zoning change putting pressure on residents to sell and move on as development made the township less desirable. A new type of people became interested in Eltham, in came the money hungry developers that had no interest or feeling to retain the unique lifestyle that Eltham had to offer. The council and VCAT have supported the destruction of the towns centre.

The family who lived on this site sold and now it has been sold for a high rise development of 5 stories part commercial with unit residential above. This photo is the last visual evidence of a blissful life style that soon will be gone. The trees will be removed a big hole dug and a brick or concrete bland high rise structure will evolve.

I wonder what the people and families who lived here feel about progress like this; their history and stories of joy, love, hope and successes will be gone forever.

DARYL STORY02

 

PHOTOS AND STORY **** By, Daryl Morrow. circa 2018

Christmas Reflections

             CHRISTMAS IS A SEASON NOT ONLY FOR REJOICING, BUT FOR REFLECTION’

                                                                                                – Winston Churchill

Christmas is again rushing up fast, heralding that time of year to review all that has gone before, and what is to come. A time to reflect about the meaning of this period, particularly what happened on that day a long time ago.

It’s a time when family and friends come together and have a festive and merry time. But Christmas is also for contemplating the Christmas spirit, one of giving and forgiving, a time when the love of our fellow men should prevail over hatred, bitterness and greed.

However, if the average person was asked to reflect about the essence of Christmas, there well may be an absence of these deeper thoughts. Answers may surface relating to gifts, parties, shopping, getting drunk at the office party, seeing family, the joy of going away on holidays, a break from a tedious tense job.

In today’s busy world, it’s easy to lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas. Amidst the food and drink, friends & family, how much time have we left to be more humane and kind, considering those not as fortunate as ourselves, that is the unloved, unwashed and unwanted.

Is today’s Christmas season a time of doing not thinking? Are we preoccupied with lists of presents, choosing a suitable one for ninety five year old aunt Maud, puzzling what to give a ten year old as a Kris Kringle, fuming at having to give a present to a foul mouthed uncouth in-law, toting up the massive entertaining costs, trying to find a reasonably priced gluten free plum pudding.

This is not the end. We then have to buy all this stuff. Impatiently searching for a scarce parking space, running from shop to shop, maxing out the credit card, despairing when we can’t find the present our beloved spouse really wants, being furious at missing the free two hour parking period by one minute. And so on and so forth, it’s madness with no time for quiet reflection, it’s simply survival.

Our kids do have a ball, they get lots of presents and junk food, see their cousins. Some even get carted off to see the Myer windows. But are they thinking anything spiritual? Of course not, it’s all about toys and a cool dude in a red suit. To quote one little tacker. “I learned in Sunday school today all about the very first Christmas. You see, there wasn’t a Santa way back then, so these three skinny guys on camels had to deliver all the toys! And Rudolph the reindeer with his nose so bright wasn’t there yet, so they had to have this big spotlight in the sky to find their way around.”

Yep folks, it’s all about the money. Christmas is way too commercialized. The true purpose of the holiday, once termed a holy day, has been lost. It’s crazy and crass. Any deep reflections of business are how to sneakily expand the shopping season. One study calculated that a quarter of all personal spending takes place during the Christmas shopping season.

What about when it’s finished, can we relax? No we can’t, there’s still a final task. We need to deal with the unwanted carelessly given gifts, which are returned, sold, or re-gifted. In one survey, 15% of respondents were unhappy about their gifts, 10% could not remember what they had received, 25% five percent said they had re-gifted their presents, 14% sold the items, 10% tried to return them to the store, and 5% returned the gift to the giver.

But there’s more. We spend weeks stuffing wrapping paper, packages, bottles and cans into our garbage bins. We clean up the house, scraping food muck from the grandkids off the tiles, cursing the wretched child who vomited their fourth helping of pudding over the carpet, also the same about drunken old uncle Bill who spilt a bottle of port over the rug, wishing we could thump the cousin who fired a nerf bullet into our kid’s eye, while the stupid parents simply looked on. Then we again climb in the car and go to the New Year’s sales to repeat this process.

I leave you to reflect on these reflections.

Merry Christmas.

The Ticking Clock

IMG_20180924_083232223

 

The coffee and company has been fun. It’s Thursday and I’m  pedalling up the final hill of the ride with the guys. But there is a niggling problem in that the pain is has returned. It was fine during the ride, an easy short one because I haven’t been on the bike for three weeks, having spent a fortnight travelling around the Flinders Ranges. I’m not sure whether it’s a sore throat, chest or whatever. All I know it’s a burning sensation in my chest or lungs, which gets worse as I finally puff my way to the top. Then it subsides along the level track and I slowly pedal home.

I’m thinking it’s a good thing I am seeing my doctor tomorrow. The realisation is finally sinking in that something is wrong, but I don’t know exactly what.

Two months ago I had contacted a severe cold and bronchitis, which left me with massive coughing fits and croaky vocal cords. At that time, I got the chest pains on hilly rides, but I put that down to my sore throat. I also started to get the pain and started having breathing problems each fortnight walking up from Joliment Station to the top of the city to attend a meeting, again putting this down to my throat.

I thought that a fortnight in the dry air of the Flinders Ranges would clear up my throat and I would be back to normal. But walking one day up a lookout the symptoms appear and that’s when I get nervous, because my throat is getting better, I should be cleared out by now, but I’m not.

After we return home I make the appointment, trusting that Dr Cameron will prescribe some magic potion. He listens to my story, checks my chest and blood pressure which are normal. Then he starts writing pathology scripts and prescriptions.

“I’m not quite sure, it could still be your throat, chest or maybe a virus.”

He pauses, “It could be even something to do with your heart, don’t forget you have had Type I diabetes for thirty five years.”

I quickly protest. “But Cameron, I control it really well, look at my results, my blood tests, my chlorestoral tests, my blood pressure, all within normal ranges.”

The foreboding response comes back. “Often it doesn’t matter, even well controlled diabetics are prone to heart conditions, it unfortunately comes with the territory. But don’t worry overmuch, get all the tests done, we will discuss it next week.”

I am worrying a bit thought, especially as one script he gives me is for nitroglycerine spray for under my tongue if I get a sudden chest pain. This is the sort of thing I see in movies where people suddenly reach for their pill for under the tongue before falling to the floor with a heart attack. This is maybe my ‘oh,oh, moment.’

At home I start phoning, needing to make appointments for blood tests, an ECG, a chest Xray, an MRI for my lungs, and a heart stress test. The clinic is helpful over the next couple of days, ringing through the results which are all clear, which is kind of reassuring.

The big test is on Tuesday, when I do the heart stress test on the treadmill. As I step on the machine I’m confident that this will be an easy one, after all I regularly walk the dog, go cycling and do much heavy gardening, achieving my 15,000 steps daily. I’m super fit, aren’t I?

As the treadmill picks up speed I’m not so sure. The first minute is all right, a  peaceful stroll. Then the speed picks up and I start puffing and panting, and after the five minutes is up, I am totally stuffed and collapse onto the table while the doctors take final blood pressure and heartrate readings. I suspect what they will say, because I have been looking sideways at them as they point to the screen and mutter seriously between themselves. ‘Look at his rising blood pressure, check out the curve of the graph.’

The doctor ushers me into his room, I suspect that this is when my life will change.

The verdict is pronounced. “You have a heart problem. We don’t know exactly what until we do an angiogram. An artery may just need widening, it may need a stent, if it’s bad it will need bypass surgery. I’m booking you in to Epworth in the morning.”

In a daze I wander out of the centre and adopt my usual behaviour in stressful times. Finding a coffee shop to mull over my suddenly altered situation over a mug of strong hot coffee. I urgently need to mentally process this unexpected and unwanted deluge of information, I need to think it through, I feel like an ancient computer trying to sort out this bucket of data into some sort of logical format. I’m in the middle of busy Box Hill Central, people shopping and socialising, but I’m alone with my thoughts.

My first thought is how to tell my wife, I know she has been worried. The same with my son and daughter. I will have to  ring my sisters, they both have blood pressure problems, there is a family history of heart problems, they should be warned about me increasing their risk factor. I remember the last cycling group coffee break, where in the context of our friend Nick dying we agreed that we just don’t know what is around the corner, and hence the need to make the most of every day. This conversation was somewhat theoretical at that time, now it’s uncomfortably making sense. I make a mental note to get back to Buddhist meditation classes, this always helps me to think clearly. I need to talk to my GP, to make sure that the heart surgeon I am being referred to is competent.

That afternoon I see my GP , Dr Cam, who reassures me that Dr Chris the surgeon has indeed a competent pair of hands, and he would have referred me to him. We make an appointment for next week to sort out the vast array of paperwork, he also repeats the news that at age 70 I am one of the few few fortunate long suffering diabetics who only now has developed a heart issue. I don’t know if this makes me feel happier or not.

It’s the next morning and I’m walking into the Epworth admission area to undergo the angiogram to see exactly how my arteries are pumping. I’m worried because of the uncertainty, not knowing what will be found, how long I will be there. I’m somewhat rusty at this hospital stuff, my last admission being thirty five years ago at the old Diamond Valley Hospital when I was diagnosed with diabetes. Normally I’m the one visiting friends, standing by the bed not in it. I’m hungry, not being allowed food, hoping that the long acting insulin from the previous night will keep my sugar levels stable, not wanting a hypo on the operating table. I feel vulnerable being naked under the hospital gown, not looking forward to having my groin shaved.

Dr Chris comes in, a cheerful young guy. He explains the procedure, again stating we won’t know the next step until he sees the artery blood flow. Then I’m wheeled to the operating theatre, down long corridors, marvelling at how smoothly the trolley castors roll. The operating theatre is fascinating, I’m surprised at the number of staff there,  I idly trace the power cords and connections, I marvel at the multi jointed framework holding the massive X’ray machine, trusting that the bolts are high tensile steel, I don’t fancy the thing coming down on me. I guess this is just to distract myself. Being a writer, and viewing life through a pen, I even start mentally drafting this story. The it’s game on and Dr Chris starts pumping dye into my veins, and I watch my arteries pumping away on the big screen next to the table.

Four hours later and I’m being driven home, feeling a lot happier. Dr Chris has discovered that my Left Anterior Descending artery , the one supplying most of the blood to the heart and cheerfully described by surgeons as the “widow maker” is 90% blocked. But it can be repaired with a stent, requiring only one overnight hospital stay. He will do this two days later on Saturday. I’m feeling happier now, because at least I know what is wrong and that it can be fixed. I’m keen to get home and fire up my coffee machine.

I spend the next two days taking it easy as directed, doing a lot a thinking about my new lifestyle, glad that I went to the doctor when I did, not leaving it until maybe too late. There is not a massive lifestyle change to make, I already exercise, eat healthily and control my weight. The inbuilt diabetes risk factor is an unwelcome fact of life, but one I just have to accept. I tell myself to make the most of every day, but not just think this principle, actually put it into practice.

It’s Saturday morning and I’m back at the hospital, actually looking forward to the operation as it will clear the way to get on with my life.

It all goes as planned. I’m prepped, wheeled on the smooth castors to the same operating theatre, even the same staff are attending me. Dr Chris inserts the cable containing the stent into my wrist and I watch on the screen as this wire gets poked up my arm artery, over my heart and down into the blocked part, a somewhat curious experience. But Dr Chris seems to know the way, deftly pushing the wire through my body, until he finally pops the stent in to place, withdraws the wire, and I am the dubiously proud owner of a 35 mm           . I idly consider asking him could I keep the wire as a spare brake cable, it’s most likely high quality stainless steel, but I’m not sure if this request would be complied with.

Then it’s back to my room and I spend the time reading and late into the night I start to scribble my story, thinking again how all through this time, with all the procedures, I have been planning how this bit and that would fit.

But I also realise at the end, that I have no profound words of wisdom to pass on, no shattering revelations about how my life has changed, it’s just something that happened.

Maybe it’s best summed up by a piece of a poem I wrote a couple of years ago.

Is there a purpose, any rhyme or reason?

Who cares, all end at the final portal

None can escape, like it or not

The snuff man is nigh, gently beckoning

Patiently waiting, waiting, waiting

So start the race, begin the journey

It’s the only one that counts

Life’s a bitch and don’t we know it

Way too short and way too hard

The bad is bad, but the good is good

You gotta get in to get out