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

Shades of green….

Copied from the song written by Johnny Cash. And I recall that in some Amazonian languages there are forty different words to describe 'green' in all its shades!

Again I want to see and do
The things we've done and seen
Where the breeze is sweet as Shalimar
And there's forty shades of green
A view of countryside Ehiopia.
Looking from our front door. I miss those two dogs so so much!
Green in the evening
Our bamboo is beautiful, but needs trimming de temps en temps.
Green in the sunset, which is always a magnificent background.
A place for a real special holiday!
And there is a lake next to the holiday house above!
I love this view, and have so many happy memories of sitting at the front of the hotel with friends for a marchiato.
Green wall, green shirt and green eyes!
I’m not sure who caught it!
Green in the middle of high rise Melbourne.
Humans are capable of messing up most things!
Sheer beauty.
Looking at our home town through a screen of green.
Green water.
I love the colour.
Green waiting for green.
It will rain some time, soon I hope.

Dominic Cartier.

Do you ever feel sorry for yourself?

To answer the question above, sometimes I do. My knees are giving me ‘hell’ today. I had my knee surgery a good few years ago and they were good for a while.

This was the first day the dressings were taken down. They healed well and I was able to be on a plane back to Ethiopia within a couple of months to help with the first group of year 4 medical students as they came into our hospital there.

They were good for a couple of years then something went wrong and although I am constantly reassured that it has nothing to do with the prostheses going bad, now every step hurts. So today I was feeling a bit sorry for myself. and decided to look at a few photos of those who really did have something to complain about.

I have chosen a handful from more than a hundred leg shots, and cut out the really nasty ones but you choose if you want to read on.

Continue reading “Do you ever feel sorry for yourself?”

Surprise problems.

I’ve written before about our sheep. During WWII I, while dad was away at the war, I lived with my mother and brother with our grandparents on a sheep farm. So we often had bottle fed pet lambs which had been orphaned or were neglected by their mothers. So, I’m comfortable with sheep. The soil where we now live is not excellent and the weather is pretty warm, with long, sometimes up to nine months, without rain. 

But we are trying to get a hobby farm with dorper sheep off the ground. The advantages of dorper sheep are that you don’t need to shear them, they lamb twice a year, and they produce good meat.

In some ways we are trying to convert a small property which we bought on the edge of the city hoping to subdivide it, as it was gazetted in the city planning office. But the rules were changed and that is no longer possible.

We planned to have small paddocks to rotate the animals and hopefully allow re-growth if/when it rains. But we now have an extra reason to keep them in small areas. We have to put them into a secure high walled area every night.

Our temporary dingo proof shelter

In the last few days between us and our two neighbours we have lost 27 sheep and 2 goats to dingoes. Bad for all of us but, fortunately for us, we only lost two sheep and our first lamb of the season. Sunday after church we took a trip to Bunnings and bought sheets of 2.4 X 1.2 metre ply wood and now, as a temporary measure, there is a high fence around the yards. Using sheep nuts as bribery our sheep are now putting themselves under lockdown every evening. We’ve had to extend the small lock up for our 8 lambs from last breeding season. It is near our home so is not as extensive or in fact not as dingo proof, but they haven’t come that close.

It is no problems getting the lambs in by rattling a container with sheep nuts in it!

Our other problem animal is the wallaby. There are literally hundreds in the area and they are protected. They dig up the roots of the grass. Annoyingly they prefer green grass, which is around the house where we water. This frustrates the gardening member of our family, my wife.

Some of last night’s holes in our lawn.

I can’t get an exact figure but in my reading I conclude that three wallabies eat about as much as one sheep, so they numerically but not practically increase the size of our flock.

Dominic Cartier

Taking things out of context.

I don’t know if you know much about the Bible, but there was once a man, so the story goes, who used to daily read some of it. (Apparently G K Chesterton did,) One morning the reader in the possibly apocryphal story was in a hurry and he said ‘today I’m just going to, with my eyes closed, open the book and point with my finger to a spot’. He had thought that this would be God’s word to him for the day. Opening his eyes he read ‘Judas went out and hanged himself’. ‘God would never say that to me’, so he did the same thing a second time, only to read ‘Go thou and do likewise’.

He learnt to look at things in context after that.

I have often heard the saying ‘Jack of all trades, but master of none.’ It apparently came initially from Italy, but was made popular in English in the days when you had to be a member of a guild to get a position. Often very capable people were not admitted to the appropriate guild because of lack of family connections etc. There is another third phrase to the above. Maybe, it be would be better fully quoted with the third line. I like that very much but I couldn’t find who added it.

‘Jack of all trades, but master of none, yet often better than the master of one!’

The third phrase gives the saying a very different meaning. I knew several teachers who were doing an excellent job teaching in a primary school in Ethiopia. The requirement was put out from the USA’s Education committee, that if American teachers, teaching at a foreign school, were to maintain their USA accreditation all teachers in the school had to be accredited in an appropriate country. Three of their teachers, some of whom I knew personally, and were extremely good and loved by their pupils lost their jobs. Not to deny the need of accreditation, but…. maybe experience and even ‘grandparent’ clauses should be listened to, obviously with good backing evidence.

Several times I have had patients on whom I operated upon tell me that after I had spoken with them in a preoperative consultation they came into the hospital very happy for surgery. I always used to end my talk about potential complications by saying this occurs (for example) once in every five hundred operations but you realize that in your case it is either zero or one hundred percent of a chance. I can only assure you that I will seek for it not to happen to you. Postoperatively they occasionally told me that after a particular anaesthetist had spoken to them they almost cancelled and went home. Obviously he was not my favourite anaesthetist, but the way things are said makes a whole difference.

Just last week I had someone tell me that he had changed from surgery to radiotherapy, because some one told him that the operation was a lot of blood in a dark deep hole. His radiotherapy (which was a reasonable choice) left him with four years of a very significant complication. There is excellent lighting in Australian operating rooms. Blood loss is manageable by auto transfusion or simple transfusion. So I’m not saying that he made the wrong choice, but he made it on the wrong evidence and suffered one of those 1% or 100% complications. For him 100%.

Dominic Cartier.