Things Change


DSC_8390

In October 2014 I travelled to Borneo to witness firsthand what is happening to the rainforests that support these fragile animals. My tour was short and encompassed only a portion of the story. There is much yet to be learned. The incredible respect and hospitality of the lovely people we met will remain in my heart for the rest of my life. Dayak people and the Orangutans that live amongst them fill me with hope as do the “warriors” striving to create change. Like koalas, they make me want to continue in my efforts to speak up for the voiceless in this life.

Orang-utans are hanging by a delicate thread of imbalance and are threatened in the wild forests they call home. Over 80% of the rainforests in which they live have been destroyed. Their needs to be greater accountability for the decline in Orang utans within these forests. The Dayak people are working to do something different and they are fighting back with ingenuity and permaculture principals. There is a line of disagreement between  groups as to “sustainable” Palm Oil and many arrows have been shot in these polarities. Can there really be such a thing as “sustainable” palm oil? Or not?? There seems to be a very distinct polar divide between the two ideas and yet can there not be a compromise and an ability to forgive and move forward creating solutions together? Through the efforts of a few, may these efforts become many and may we see the change that we need to see for the future of a species. There is no time to point fingers and there is no time to waste. There is time to work together.

I accompanied the “Rise of the Eco-Warriors” team and photographed and witnessed the workings of the small villages of the Dayak people in West Kalimantan, Borneo. We lived in a Long House. We shared time and meals and there were challenges to be faced. I was challenged with equipment issues. My camera lens broke. My computer stuffed up and tiny little ants crawled out of the laptop which led to hard-drive failure. Perhaps there was a message in this!  When I returned, I was not sure if I could recover my photos, but thankfully, I did and I am grateful for the smiles these images bring today. I had no idea how this experience would affect my life, or how profound it would be. It is only now, when I put together the puzzle of this past year, that I can see. For me, Borneo was an escape and yet also a reminder of what is truly important.

As you fly over hectares and hectares of rainforest destroyed, you see the wake of dead and degraded soil unable to sustain life, human or animal alike. Waters:poisoned! Trees: burnt and Co2 waste escaping into the atmosphere! Climate change is profoundly impacted by this destructive process to produce cheap oil for human consumption. Do we “need” these products that are contributing to this destruction? I think not,as I line my shelves with products that do no harm but many do not even understand the impact of their decisions as a consumer in today’s modern world. I live with less as did the people in these villages. Through their simplicity and their way of life, I listened and I learned. We swam in the cool rushing river with the children. There was a great rhythm and flow to every day. There was also spontaneity and joy in shared value without any language necessary to comprehend. We waded and played in the waters after the rain. We laughed. We cried. We connected. We lived!

When we left the village of Tembak, we were able to give.One of the women’s tribal leaders, “Imu” Florentina, was very ill with the devastating effects of cancer. We were able to give her transport and help to raise funds to ensure the surgery she required. It is though such efforts that Countries connect and a shared journey becomes one.

I see parallels in my work in Australia with koalas. In order to be a part of speaking out for our wildlife, we must be brave and bold and this can be difficult. I rebel against the protocols and procedure and bureaucratic regulations that prevent change. We can only see effective change when we look for new ways with respect to “old” values. Our fast paced world has often forgotten these as we are a world out of balance. With each new government change, we must start again and look to be better. As time is ticking, there is no better time than the present to stand up and be heard!  We are all connected and the only way forward is to collectively make a difference. Let’s take “ego” out of the equation and do better in Conservation Circles. This chance will be had as we meet this week to discuss a “Koala Protection Act”. I look forward to meeting with others that care “doing what is best for koalas”. I can only hope that these collective ideas formed and efforts made will lead to a better future. Hope, Truth and Belief are the keys.

On November 28th 2014, everything changed in our family in a way that we had not imagined.  Through tragedy and trauma and blunt awareness, we all realise that the only time is now! In an instant, everything can change forever. That is for next time….

In the meantime, you may enjoy reading more about this amazing trip below from fellow travellers or contribute just $1 to help support one of my friends that is going back! The choice is yours!

http://www.youcaring.com/mission-trip-fundraiser/help-save-the-orangutans-for-as-little-as-1-00/292585

http://www.ecowarriorsrise.com

http://blog.cifor.org/2607/could-orangutan-conservation-be-helped-by-the-heavens#.VPz9QkK6jEY

http://www.bendessen.com.au/uncategorized/back-to-borneo/

http://alushforest.blogspot.com.au

Advertisements

Muse of Spring in WInter


Image

When I was 12, every day was exciting yet simple! I couldn’t wait to go to school and see Bill every day. I thought I was in love yet the love was the muse of a young girl waiting to escape. Escape what, you ask? The perceived pain of the unknown in our family was what I feared.

My father was very ill and I felt this deep within long before the crisis hit. I just chose to ignore it. I lived the life of a teenager filled with angst and trepidation. Only my closest friends knew. My confidence hid the mask of fear I didn’t acknowledge. Perhaps I am just beginning to understand this now.

 

Our garden sloped down to the Niagara River. It actually just dropped! A rope swing hung in the precarious branches that stretched over the swift waters eddying and pooling beneath the lone rope. The river represented life and danger and my playground. No matter the season, it was magic! The rock on the riverbank was my safe place and I found myself often perched upon it, dreaming of love and security and attachment. It was a place for reflection.

 

The house itself had large picture windows that opened to a stunning view of the oak trees and the river. Cardinals, Blue-jays, Eagles and critters that frequented their hollows and branches were my friends. I never felt alone as I would study them for hours and tell them my secrets through whispers. I dreamt of being a vet one day.

Within the rock wall beside our kitchen scurried chipmunks. Squirrels and raccoons visited and set up home in the hollows of the shed at the base of the slope and amongst the trees. The raccoons even had a little family and they would curiously sneak up on us when we were down on that rock only to scurry back to safety once discovered.

 

I was an only child adopted by a loving couple in Western NY in the USA. We lived simply in a small town and I could walk just about anywhere. I longed for something but rarely knew what that was. I spent my time drawing, running, singing or riding horses with Jackie who was Bill’s twin sister and a close friend. I longed to own a horse of my own but we couldn’t afford it. My first kiss was in the old barn so in my angst, I would count the days between riding sessions. Although I saw Bill in school, it was the time spent in the woods and at the barn that were what I waited for. We experimented and danced close to slow music. We held hands when we skated. We sped down the country paths on a snowmobile in winter. In summer, it was a bicycle. He loved animals but he loved cars and engines more. It was Jackie and I who shared the rest.

 

If I could do it all over again, I would return to the place where I grew up and spend more time. I would share it all with my grown up kids.

Today, their dreams are just beginning and I return to mine with vivid memories. The stone cobbled house along the river represents a piece of me that lay dormant waiting for spring.

Morning Animal Antics and Nightly New Insects




There is never a dull moment in my house with the new and exciting adventures that occur nearly on a daily basis. Whether a new and exciting bug, a creepy arachnid or a small green tree snake, after 3 years in Australia, I am continually fascinated with the wildlife that greets me night and day. Sometimes that wildlife is also my own domestic animals and the interaction between the two worlds makes life very interesting.

Two nights ago I was lying in bed browsing new and interesting articles and connecting with friends through facebook. I lay there and suddenly a loud buzzing startled me and there was a great deal of commotion in my bedside lantern. A flying winged creature dropped down and hung from the lampshade and I quickly took a photo! Hmm. Haven’t see that one before. Then it dropped down to the bedside table and didn’t move again. Bug suicide! Tragic but true! Within minutes, another buzzing and humming caught my attention and a tiny green bug walked behind my head and sat there reading over my shoulder perhaps. I took his photo too. I got sleepy and turned off the light. The buzzing continued as I drifted off to sleep.

It was 430am and wide awake I was, so I had a walk around the house, pet the cats and then lay down next to Sarah who was sleeping quietly as dawn lulled me back to sleep. It wasn’t for long though because soon the chickens were clucking loudly. I assumed they wanted out and as Sarah stirred, I asked her to go and let them out of the coop for their free-ranging day. It was earlier than their usual 6am wake up call but so be it, she let them out. Normally this leads to a quiet time in bed slowly waking to the day and the sounds of lorikeets and parrots and kookaburras rising and creating a crescendo of lyrical bird symphony. It is my favorite alarm clock.  Not today though. Today was different and our eldest chicken, “Cotton Top”, clucked to her hearts content very loudly and incessantly! I thought it was early to be laying an egg but attributed it to that and attempted to fall back asleep. She continued to cluck loudly as did her mate “Bobby”. Sarah again rose to go investigate and I stroked Angel (the cat) whilst she did. “Mum,” she called, “Midnight just came in from outside! No wonder the chickens are so loud!” Midnight is my other cat and neither of them are allowed outside so it was quite puzzling to find him out and quite a surprise to my frightened chickens! They were all huddled by their coop but no worse for wear. We went on a house search to find the open window and discovered the escape route in the lounge and closed it tightly. Naughty kitty! All was well and he slinked under the desk most likely even more frightened than the chickens as they are no longer tiny but bigger than him.

It was not the first time Midnight has had an experience with a bird in this house or out and I surmise it won’t be his last. Since we moved into this beautiful house  in Buderim, Queensland, nestled next to the bush, he has had quite a few interesting encounters. I attempt to do what is right and not let him out day or night. This is what is best for the eco-system in which we live in. I respect this and know that since cats are not native, it is my responsibility to keep wildlife safe by doing the right thing. After all, we don’t want Australia to mean “Cats and Cane Toads.” (more of this later) However, my plan is not full proof and occasionally, wildlife finds it ‘s way to us indoors and it creates quite a stir!

A few months ago, we had a pale headed rosella show up in our bedroom. We were just coming home from a theatre rehearsal and there he was perched boldly above my cats in the bedroom. He created quite a ruckus attmpting to fly out a closed window so we caught him and had him checked at the wildlife hospital and no harm done, he was released into the bush behind us. He now watches us from the trees. Not too long after this, a King Parrot showed up indoors and flew around and around while the cats sat below mesmerised. Josh did some interesting acrobatics to try and get him down from the rafters and then we were able to coax him out an open window in the loft. Beautiful and majestic he flew out and the cats sat stunned for some time before they realised he was gone!

Another interesting wake up call came the day that we encountered a snake in the pantry. Again it was “Midnight” who had him cornered and quite defensive as he struck rapidly at anything that moved before him. Unsure of his venomous nature because he was a juvenile, I called on a snake expert who informed us at 530am that he was just a juvenile tree snake. I was able to get the privelege of his release and hopefully he is growing big in the bush behind us.

Spiders are no stranger either but these I leave to my brave Rachel to catch. If I have to, I do but after nearly 50 years of arachnaphobia, it is not my strength to be the resccuer of these fascinating and necessary creepy crawlies that we live with.

I respect them all and know they all have a place in this “wild” tropical paradise we live in. My hope is that through respect and care, many generations will get to continue to experience the priveleges that I do, living in this ever crowded and diminishing wild world.

My kids value this as well and there is room for nature and humanity to live in balance. If I can cope with those massive spiders, then can’t we all do our part to appreciate and value the wild world we live in and stop the planet’s destruction? It may take some creativity but what better than that, a creative community to live in harmony with the wildness that is a very important part of it’s heritage.

My wild wake up call this morning was “Cookie” the dog,  but that in itself is another story.

Everyday Welcome from Australia


Hi,

I am beginning a blog to discuss the issues that concern me and to share a bit of my world. Feel free to comment and become a part of the conversation!

Those of you who know me, know that I am passionate about family, healthy living, sustainability and conservation. My energy is focused on the koalas of SE Queensland, Australia and beyond as I have been working with these amazing marsupials since 2009.

EVERYTIME I say or do something, I want this word or action to speak the truth and be valuable to those I come in contact with.

I wake up every DAY and I think what can I do today to help make the world a better place to be. I greet my animals and my family and we begin our day.

FOREVER, let my work become an example to those around me. Let it inspire the children and their future. Let it serve the animals and the planet we live on together.