Chopping down the tall poppy.

It is often said of Australians that we try and diminish people who stand metaphorically head and shoulders above the crowd. We cut off the tall poppy.

We recently had to get some trees lopped to allow the sunshine onto our solar system!

Today I want to build up one considered a short weed. Physically he is not big, except in his heart! I met him about 28 or 29 years ago, when he was a teenager. He was a double orphan but in the government hospital where I was working as an astermame (like a carer) for another teenager with whom he had grown up. His friend was also a double orphan. He slept under his ‘brother’s’ bed, emptying bedpans and feeding him because the other boy had very nasty infections in both elbows.

The hospital staff were angry at me because I had increased the occupancy rate of the hospital from 5 when I arrived to about 120. It was a 120 bed hospital. They invited me to go home because they only got the same government wage for doing a lot more work. In addition to verbalizing their discontent they were very uncooperative. I had to wheel the trolley to collect patients for their operations, load them on myself and push them to the operating room and lift them onto the table. I organized a highly intelligent young man (employed as a cleaner) to watch over the anaesthetics after I had put the person to sleep. Two nurses worked in the operating room and were on the whole cooperative. But after recovery I would have to repeat the process in reverse.

As soon as he heard the wheels of the patient’s trolley moving, the young boy of whom I am writing, would run to help me push the trolley. Eventually we adopted him and that in itself is quite a story. There were many hoops to hop through to get him to Australia. At High School he had his zygomatic arch in the side of his face broken because a lot of the other coloured girls thought him very handsome and some of the other coloured boys beat him up! He couldn’t open his lower jaw. Just as well his father was a surgeon!

He was never a good student but he stuck with it and eventually obtained a diploma in aged care. In the interval before getting his diploma he was never without a job. He is a terrible speller; his grammar is at best basic but he copes very well at a conversational level and does his job well.

I think in many senses he is a tall poppy.

Dominic Cartier

A Day Out.

My orthopaedic surgeon allows me to take, once every few months, a high dose three day course of prednisolone to allow me to have a pretty pain free couple of days. I use his permission for special events. I used it this week.

In retirement my wife and I live with two of our sons on a small 100 acre (40Hac) property. About 40% of it is taken up with 2 hills steep and covered with my enemy the Chonkee Apple. That leaves us about 60 useful acres. One of my sons is adopted and younger than many of our grandchildren. He is an apprentice mechanic. The other much older has a part time job as pastor of a small church, and makes caring for us and the farm the rest of his job.

So what do we do on the 60 acres? We are developing, I guess you would call it a hobby farm, with Dorper sheep. Initially we bought 12 ewes and a ram. We got 11 lambs, sadly one of which was stillborn and the dogs got at two of them. The dogs have since gone to dogs’ heaven even though we loved them very much. A farmer cannot tolerate that behaviour, and I refused to see them chained up all the time.

So we have 8 lambs nearly ready for market (males) or putting back into the breeding flock (females).

Here the lambs are separated in a small paddock to finish fattening them.

As we separated them from the small flock we counted 8 of them. I think if you try you can count 8 heads. The brown in their ears makes counting a bit difficult. But there were 8. Yesterday there were 9!

Now if you count correctly there are 9!

All our ewes have ear tags. None of these have. The 2 uncastrated ram lambs are easily identified and there are still only 2. So How? I don’t have an answer except maybe our neighbour who has a few now has one less. Something about grass on the other side of the fence being greener! At any rate they are looking in good nic.

But what has that got to do with my use of prednisolone? Nothing! We decided to buy some more ewes. Hopefully by getting a good percentage of ewe lambs we hope to run a breeding stock of about 50. The only place we have been able to get them is a round trip of about 1,200Km. This area around us is a cattle area, so there aren’t many sheep, and not many have dorper sheep. (These don’t need shearing, they shed their wool.) So I, usually limited to small trips and often in a wheelchair these days, wanted to go with my son. Hence the three day course.

This son, whom I think is extraordinarily capable, has built two crates to fit a ute and a trailer plus a ramp

So setting out at about 10 in the morning, we arrived back and by midnight had unloaded the extra 15 ewes and were in bed by midnight. I thoroughly enjoyed the outing.

Sunset on the way home over the long Western Queensland plains. It has been a good season.
The new sheep waiting in the yard the next morning. They are a pretty colourful group.

Now we’ll have to wait and see how many lambs we get. They’re all supposed to be pregnant.

Dominic Cartier.

Ghosts, ghoulies etc….

I never thought that I would see a ghost but recently I’ve begun seeing them. Later I’ll explain it – but it’s a bit of a delicate subject so I’ll approach it delicately and indirectly.

I don’t know if you believe in ghosts – from the above you know that I do now in reality. But seriously people look at you escance if you talk about seeing a ghost. We usually have a short Bible reading around the table after the evening meal and it often leads into a bit of discussion. At that time we were reading slowly through the book of Ecclesiastes and if you know the book at all you probably remember the word ‘vanity’. It occurs five times in the second short verse and another 29 times in the book. So you wonder what it can be talking about. Maybe it’s talking about the shadowy shades of life after death. But no it is talking about the life we all live every day, this side of any shadowy existence. Thus as one of our sons who still lives at home, is a linguist we started looking at how it was translated in some other languages and then looked up the meaning of the Hebrew word ‘Hebel’, like many words in various languages, a word has to be seen in context and has many shades of meaning. The word seems to mean without substance, vapourish, ghostly and things like that. Interestly the Preacher in Ecclesiastes says that life on this planet is the shadowy, passing, ghostly one – the reality is with God!

Most people would say they don’t believe in that rubbish and would even scoff at the reality of life beyond the grave. And then I hear a cricketer say that they are playing this match dedicating it to their friend Phil who died recently. But when they are running up the pitch for their hundredth run they look heavenward and signal to their friend. To be honest I do believe in persons whom I cannot see, and the reality of what is to come. But this isn’t a sermon, it is to tell you about my real contact with ‘ghosts’.

I’m on a new long acting, slow-release medication which I swallow twice a day. After a successful sit in the loo, you can imagine my surprise on looking into the bowl and seeing the same tablet which I had swallowed earlier. When this happened several other times I wondered how much good the tablets could be doing me. No recovery of them was even contemplated. So I started crushing them and swallowing them crushed in jam. They tasted terrible and gave me a very troubled stomach. So a look in Dr Google explained that I was looking at a ‘ghost’ tablet. The medication had been extracted and the frame into which it had been embodied only remained as a ghost. From now on I’ll swallow it whole! If I’d been a physician instead of a surgeon I’d probably have known.

Dominic Cartier

Jimma – a city of Ethiopia

The road which we walked from our home to town or to the hospital. Before we got onto the asphalt there was about 400 metres of dirt or mud depending on the season
Our little local shop. Muhammad was a lovely guy and became a friend.

The administrative parts of the University were well built. The hospital was an old Mission Hospital and not up to date or adequate.
The tea room for the University staff was very pleasant. The one for hospital workers was very different!
The hospital doctors tea area, as seen from sitting at one of the chairs.
There was much building being undertaken, including a new hospital. It is now, about 12 years after its planned opening, being used. There were many large hurdles which had to be surmounted..
While we were in Jimma there was a period of Christian persecution. About 90 Orthodox or Protestant churches and many of the Christians’ homes were burnt down. We were living in a rented home on the town church compound and hundreds of people fled and were housed on the compound.
At Jimma we found and adopted our seventh child! He’s now much taller than Robin.
This was taken the day the first 4 doctors were granted their postgraduate surgical certification. From left to right : One of the graduating surgeons – he was very capable but very hot-tempered and the last I knew he had be ‘shifted sideways’ for threatening to kill the medical director; An Egyptian surgeon on staff; another of the graduates – after further training he is now a pediatric cardiac surgeon in Addis Ababa (he did further training in Israel and Melbourne); a graduate who with further training is now a plastic surgeon in Jimma; a girlfriend; a graduate who has worked in Africa but outside Ethiopia; me; a doctor in postgraduate training who has now his certificate and has started his own private hospital; a hanger-onerer!

Dominic Cartier