The Murder of Hannah Baxter

hannah and her childrenAustralia is reeling from the incomprehensibly violent murder of Hannah Baxter and her three children,  Aaliyah, Lainah and Trey, by incineration this week.

To provide a bit of context, Hannah Baxter took her three children, and moved in with her parents before Christmas. This is an excerpt from Frank Chung’s coverage in https://www.news.com.au/

 

‘A friend of murdered Brisbane mum Hannah Clarke says the fitness trainer confided in her about the decade of abuse she suffered at the hands of her controlling husband.

Chillingly, Rowan Baxter allegedly warned Ms Clarke at the start of their relationship that he had told his previous partner — with whom he had a child — that if she left him, he would kill their child and himself.

On Wednesday morning, the controlling 42-year-old ambushed Ms Clarke near her parents’ house in Camp Hill, dousing his estranged wife and three kids with petrol and burning them to death in the family SUV.

A witness reported Ms Clarke jumped from the burning car and screamed, “He poured petrol on me.”

Six-year-old Aaliyah, four-year-old Laianah and three-year-old Trey died in their car seats. Baxter fatally stabbed himself at the scene, while the 31-year-old mum succumbed to her injuries in hospital later that night.’

 

How does it get to this?

How could anyone fail to see this coming?

I have said this before and I will say it again: Misogyny in this country and many others, America for example, is so deeply ingrained in our psyches that we tolerate low-grade abuse of women constantly and fail to check galloping hatred that can tragically errupt with devestating consequences. Rowan Baxter needed anger management, psychiatric help, a good kick up the arse years ago but because he was a ‘Rugby player’ his galloping uxurious hatred was excused as ‘boys will be boys’ ranting.

Whether we like to admit it or not Australia is a patriarchal society. Believing women are inferior and/or less deserving of rights or entitled to opinions is tragically part of our culture here and also in America where I lived for six years. Misogyny manifests in small barely noticed patronising remarks and behaviours that pass as flirtation, dismissal or exemption. The abuse of women starts in the home with preferential treatment of boys and higher expectations. Boys will one day be the breadwinners, the supporters of families, the protectors. There is pressure put on boys to succeed where girls are allowed to fail.

Let that sink in. GIRLS ARE ALLOWED TO FAIL.

Not only are we allowed to fail, in many cases we are expected to fail. The girl who dares outshine her brother or worse, her father or husband, is subversively attacked for showing them up. It’s a rare man who seeks out an intellectually superior woman as a partner. It’s a rare father who acknowledges the intellectual stamina and industry of a brilliant daughter and worse still, it’s a rare mother who doesn’t advise her daughter to ‘manage’ her husband, father, brothers, boyfriends, male bosses etc by pandering to his ego i.e. making him ‘feel good about himself.’

If like me, you recognise any or all of these behaviours then you, too, have experienced latent misogyny masked as ‘boys being boys.’ Don’t embarass your brother by telling him you just signed a publishing deal. He doesn’t feel good about himself right now.

When men ‘don’t feel good about themselves’ like Rowan Baxter, whose level of playing Rugby was apparently, second-rate at best, they have licence to behave with surliness and low-grade anger that manifests as misogyny and dominance over less powerful people like their wives, children or pets. These types of men take verbal swipes, deny fiscal support or demand obedience in the one domain over which they have control – the home. And if bullying the family fails to assuage their bruised egos they take their complaints to their mates who no doubt feel as inadequate as they do and in the hallowed precincts of the local they get drunk, rant and maybe hook up with a stranger who will sympathise with their ‘my wife doesn’t understand me’ bullshit.

Hannah Baxter had endured a decade of bullying and abuse.

‘Chillingly, Rowan Baxter allegedly warned Ms Clarke at the start of their relationship that he had told his previous partner — with whom he had a child — that if she left him, he would kill their child and himself.’ Frank Chung https://www.news.com.au/

So, why did Hannah marry him? It’s a reasonable question and one that can only be understood in the context of a nation that venerates sport and understands ‘real’ men as the rude, patronising, aggressive descendants of Ned Kelly. You would have to be Australian to understand how misogynists like Bob Hawke, John Singleton, Clive Palmer and the fictitious Sir Les Patterson have risen to the ranks of leadership. There is a culture of misogyny extant in Australia and Hannah Baxter could be forgiven for failing to recognise the danger lurking in the psyche of a man who felt comfortable sharing such a confidence, a statement his Rugby mates were no doubt aware of.

So, what does this acceptance of misogyny reveal? It tells us that the definition of a ‘real’ man in Australia is someone who is heavy-fisted, obsessive, perniciously entitled and emotionally immature. It also tells us that a woman has only one function: to support the man in her life and give him her undivided and enduring attention.

WOMEN WHO ENABLE MISOGYNY

Now I want to talk about the women who enable misogyny. These are the women who pride themselves on having tamed a wild animal. These are the women who keep a savage dog of a husband and feel smug that he bites everyone but her. These are the women who look down on other women who can’t ‘hold onto’ their man. These are the women who say NOTHING when their man bullies other women. These are the women who feel superior because even though their husband reduces female relatives and co-workers to tears regularly he never attacks her. She manages him. She is a ‘real’ woman who has managed to snare a ‘real’ man. She is a bullying toady who loads the bullets for him to fire and he fires them knowing she will always justify his behaviour. These are the mothers who insist that the girl their son raped ‘seduced him’ by wearing revealing clothes.

These are the women who say their violent husband didn’t mean it when he hit them.

Hannah Baxter said Rowan never hit her.

‘Ms Whaley, a domestic violence worker for 10 years, said the announcement was made just before Christmas that the gym was shutting down.

When she reached out to Ms Clarke, she told her she had left Baxter on December 5.

“You confided in me about the family violence you had experienced for the past 10 years,” she wrote, adding that at first Ms Clarke was “confused and told me that you had never thought of being in a domestic violent relationship as you explained ‘he never hit me’”. Frank Chung https://www.news.com.au/

So many women fail to understand that abuse doesn’t have one face or one manifestation. Any form of power transference is ABUSE including managing a person with a fragile ego, obeying rules that curb your expression, toadying to control freaks to glean affection, agreeing with a narcissist for the sake of peace and covering yourself up because your religion or your nation demands it.

Shaming and disempowering women has been a patriarchal practice for centuries. Women were only given the vote last century. Women have only been allowed to earn money in the workforce since the mid-twentieth century. Women are still fighting for fiscal, political, social and domestic equality and some men DON’T LIKE SHARING THE PLATFORM.

Put simply, the introduction of women into the workforce doubles the competition and some men don’t like it.

But back to Hannah Baxter and her fatal error of judgement. If Hannah had not grown up in a country that venerates men and teaches inequity she might have recognised the signs of Rowan Baxter’s exaggerated insecurity and self-righteous control. When Baxter told her he threatened his former partner: ‘if she left him, he would kill their child and himself’ Hannah may have found it disturbing but my guess is she’d heard men talk like this before. I have.

I grew up in a home dominated by men and when I developed a work ethic that shamed my brothers and my father I was the butt of their jealousy, masked to a degree, but none-the-less present in small acts of bitter rivalry.

Women like me experience daily slights and underhanded sabotage in ways that only someone who has walked a mile in our ‘heels’ can understand.

This tragedy occurred because a footballer used to getting his own way and addicted to the spotlight cracked when his wife stood up to him. Buoyed up by a misogynistic society that favours men, sympathises with the male ‘underdog’ and needs women to pander to fragile male egos this arsehole who was undeniably unhinged, was able to justify his megawatt hatred because no-one checked him at any stage. IF they did, his team and his sports-mad adopted nation told him he was a hero and therefore vaguely immune to reprimand.

Much as idiots dismiss Trump’s misogyny as ‘boys will be boys’ fun in America so Baxter’s hatred of his wife would have been supported by his mates in rants at the pub.

MISOGYNY is tragically ingrained in our cultural psyche and when incidents like this occur ALL THE WARNING SIGNS HAVE BEEN EXCUSED by like-minded sympathetic others whose hatred lies just under the surface of otherwise contained social interaction.

Until men and women become friends this will continue.

Where to find help:

 

If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual abuse or family violence contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732

Don’t go it alone. Please reach out for help by contacting Lifeline on 13 11 14

Men who have anger, relationship or parenting issues, should contact the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491

In Memory of Hannah, Aaliyah, Lainah and Trey.

hannah clarke and her kids

Review of the DIVIDE by Jason Hickel

The Divide Jason Hickell

NEW BOOK: THE DIVIDE

London: Penguin Random House, 2017
New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2018

Order your copy here:  [UK version ]   [US version]   [German version]   [Audio CD]   [Audible]   

Everybody should read this book.

Only by gaining the intelligence and hope Hickel offers can we as a people hope to address the overwhelming issue of galloping consumerism that chimes with Climate Change and the widening division between the world’s poorest and the world’s wealthiest. Hickel is a professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics and his courage in this tell-all book is only tempered by the fact that he is not, as he says, the leader of a “developing” country.

The network of corruption webbing Western governments is nothing short of sticky evil and the various attempts at disentanglement by a few brave leaders over the past seven decades have led to their untimely deaths. After reading this book I am more than ever convinced that galloping consumerism is the greatest threat to our survival. As Hickel points out if we continue to consume and produce on this scale we will run out of resources long before the end of the century. And consider the waste. Already our planet is groaning under mountains of landfill and toxic waste. Chiming with this is the ticking timebomb of Climate Change.

Our lifestyles and our insane focus on increasing GDP with no end in sight is killing us.

To quote Hickel Page 265, “If Ancient Egypt had started with one cubic metre of possessions and grew them by 4.5% per year, by the end of its 3,000-year civilisation it would have needed 2.5 billion solar systems to store all its stuff. It doesn’t take a scientist to realise that endless exponential growth is absurd, in the true sense of the word. To imagine that we can continue on this trajectory indefinitely is to disavow the most obvious truths about our planet’s material limits. As Sir David Attenborough once so eloquently put it, “Anyone who thinks you can have infinite growth on a finite planet is either a madman or an economist.”‘

Hickel also says on Page 264, “Today, nearly every government in the world, rich or poor alike, is focused obsessively on the single objective of increasing GDP growth.”

It’s a grim picture. Our world is built on an unsupportable model of greed. Only a fool would believe that nations toppling other nations in the name of industry is sane and yet we have been trained to believe that war is justifiable and accruing more money than we can spend in a lifetime is commendable and patenting healing drugs is not a crime against humanity and allowing our neighbours to starve while we glut and waste resources is fine as long as we donate our spare change to charity.

It’s madness.

Fortunately Hickel offers viable solutions: Debt Resistance, Global Democracy, Fair Trade, Just Wages and Reclaiming the Commons. All of which are doable if the will is there. And I would posit that as the climate deteriorates the will to heal our planet will strengthen.

I implore you to read this book and face the confronting truth about our current crop of leaders and the rotten-to-the-core banking system that keeps poverty firmly in place and also take heart as Hickel leaves us with the hope that awareness is approaching critical mass thinking faster than we realise, due in no small part to the efforts of Sir David Attenborough and the unique Greta Thunberg.

My own thoughts.

Imagination is a powerful ameliorative force. Let us imagine a way of life more sympathetic to the environment and healthier spiritually. The first step I believe is to SLOW DOWN. Learn to delay gratification. This means resist sating the hungers a fast-track life imposes – stop impulse buying, stop hoarding, gorging and looking for constant exogenous stimulation to allay boredom. Start finding pleasure in delayed gratification. Do things like: plant a garden, DIY renovate your home, grow your own vegetables, read a book, walk, swim, learn something new, have a real-time conversation, refuse fashion fads by developing your own style and making your own clothes or swapping clothes with friends and above all else, challenge yourself to pursue excellence. You’ll be amazed at how good achieving excellence makes you feel. It takes time to become highly proficient and its pursuit will cure you of boredom and the need for constant distraction.

Make your life meaningful. Make a difference to people. Help where you can. Get to know your neighbours and find out what they need. Challenge your mind and your spirit with meaningful relationships – with others, with yourself, with your work and with the planet.

And support the Arts.

The Arts are the soul and lifeblood of a nation, a community and a family. Artists are always in pursuit of excellence if they are true artists. If you want to understand discipline watch a dancer training, a singer doing her scales, an artist painting his canvas, a writer reworking her novel. It’s a rare artist who doesn’t care about his/her art. In fact, I wouldn’t call such a person an artist. I would call them a hack. True artists exemplify the blueprint for a new world – a world tuned to aspiration rather than gratification. A world in which excellence is the highest pursuit and I can assure you that mass production is anathema to excellence. Encourage and support producers of quality goods in your own community and eschew the cynical corporations that mass produce cookie-cutter products with built-in obsolescence.

Much of the economic dictatorship crippling the world today can be disempowered if people support each other in community solidarity. In times of strife and disasters this happens but we need to make this the norm rather than the exception. We have been taught to compete with each other and serve gluttonous corporations that operate on a principle of serfdom. If we pull together we will not be so dependent on faceless oligarchs.

To find solutions it’s imperative to think outside the square because nothing within the current paradigm is offering a solution. If we continue on this current trajectory of ever-increasing GDP and rampant consumerism we will destroy our planet and ourselves. We have been taught to value the wrong things and as Hickel points out so brilliantly much of this brainwashing is due to ADVERTISING. And I would add, celebrity-worship. Magazines feature the rich and famous and incidentally beautiful are, as Alain de Bouton says, bannering the WRONG ROLE MODELS.

These people are for the most part achieving little and earning too much and failing to show the average person what spiritual resolve and meaningful work looks like. There are people in this world whose jobs reward them with self-worth and exponential positive influence. Sir David Attenborough is one. Jason Hickel is another.

I will leave you with a final thought and I am aware that it may seem too simplistic but please consider it: If you strive to make a positive difference, all these problems – climate change, galloping consumerism, global indifference and the seemingly insuperable divisions between rich and poor – will be solved.

The New World starts with you.

The Wife of Lance Allot

450px-Shalott3 I am still thrilled that this crazy lampooning of The Lady of Shallot placed 2nd in the wonderful Wergle Flomp Humorous Poetry Comp 2010 on Winning Writers https://winningwriters.com/

Wergle Flomp Humour Poetry Contest 2010 (view all the winners)
Second Prize

The Wife of Lance Allot
Wendy Waters

On worsted lines the washing dries
Damp trails of whites, rank bales of lyes
The dross of kids, the mess of dyes
My life is crap, the lady cries
The wife of Lance Allot.
And up and down her patience goes
One minute fine, the next she blows
And through it all she cleans their clothes,
The lady scrubs a lot.

She scours his briefs and frequent quivers
When they first met he gave her shivers
Rode her till they both delivered
Cries that rent the neighbours’ livers
And had her screaming Lance a lot
Four grey socks and skid-marked boxers
Won’t respond to soap or OXOs
Silently the lady voxes
F**k you Lance Allot.

A skinny margin has her thrown
I’ll stay until the kids are grown
And when I leave I’ll call my own
The cougar cubs, the oats I’ve sown
I’ll leave you Lance Allot.
Dot next door will lend a hand
If ya ‘pendix burst or ya jugs disband
But mostly she’ll just gawk and stand
And leer at Lance a lot.

Doubray their son is fair and pearly
His sisters call him poof and girly
Lance who once was dark and curly
Swears the boy was sired by Charlie
The other half of Dot.
Heavy, she hauls the washing in
And with a curse she quiets the din
Youse kids will be the death of him
And me she cries a lot.

Lance is at the pub again
The girls are watching soap on ten
Doubray pens a poem to Ben
His new best friend the son of Glen
The man who mows their lawns.
She thought she saw what might have been
A look from Glen, a flash of keen
But then again ’twas through the screen
And Lance was on the porch.

And so she washes night and day
The whites are first, the colours lay
In piles beside Doubray’s display
Of flowers he picked to cheer her eh
Neglected Ms Allot.
Another dreary year will close
And she remains a slave to clothes
Tis nothing like the life she ‘sposed
Would come with Lance Allot.

And glancing in her mirror here
Wrinkles of the world appear
A craggy frown, devoid of cheer
She gazes at the highway near
Winding far from Lance Allot.
There a truckie trails a Ford
And here a Camry veers t’ward
A river dark that snails the yard
The lawns of spunky Glen.

Sometimes a bunch of girls go by
Their manners low their dresses high
And as she watches them she sighs
I was once like that she cries
Only I was better.
Me hair was bleached and backcombed hived
Me tits were fit to burst the sides
Of size ten Tees in smoky dives
Snogging Lance Allot.

To memories of these past delights
The lady turns her jaded sights
Replacing Glen in all their nights
And rues it p’robly isn’t right
Betraying Lance Allot.
For all his faults the man is here
And when her load is fit to rear
He lends a foot and rights the weir
The load is back on top.

The lawn looks like a craven fen
She dials the phone and speaks to Gwen
The mulish wife of hunky Glen
Who hollers it’s that broad again
Missus Lance Allot.
Glen takes the call and speaks real low
And asks if Lance would care to go
Out for the day ’tis easier so
I need to speak ta you.

On Sunday morn she rises early
Wakes the kids and washes curly
Graying locks that stay unruly
A hundred strokes and still they’re only
Shades of what she was.
Lance goes out to watch the soccer
Wishing Doubray was more ocker
Instead of being a little poofter
He glares at Charlie Pratt.

At eight o’clock Glen parks his Ute
He cuts the engine stabs his boot
Into the gravel pitted roots
Of bindi eyes and couch reshoots
And looks for Ms Allot.
The lady has just sent the kids
Off to their Gran’s with fifty quids
Of hard-won graft to tell this fib
And say they stayed at home.

Glen’s not a man who mucks around
He takes her on the porch front sound
Releasing urges long-since ground
By daily drear and washing mounds
And snoring Lance Allot.
It’s been getting bad he cries
The urge to get between ya thighs
By jeez yer easy on the eyes
Come away wiv me.

But who is this? And what is here?
Lance is home with crates of beer
And gob smacked by the unclad rear
Of gardener Glen and too-late tears
Of faithless Grace Allot.
Ya could at least have gone inside
Instead of mangling all me pride
By rooting where the neighbours spied
I’ll never live this down he cried
Ya faithless smarmy cow.

The years have passed the kids have grown
And on the porch Grace stands alone
Surveys the lawn that once was mown
The empty line where clothes once groaned
The shirts of Lance Allot.
Who died of flu in a year of drought
The day before Doubray came out
And trembling, cried with his last spout
I love ya Grace Allot.

450px-John_William_Waterhouse_-_The_Lady_of_Shalott_-_Google_Art_Project_(derivative_work_-_AutoContrast_edit_in_LCH_space)

Luck of the Irish

Irish_cloverI have a magical connection, albeit etheric, with Irish men! The covers of both my novels were gifts from talented Irishmen and one of my reviewers, Peter Donnelly, who has been incredibly supportive is also Irish.

The cover of my debut novel, CATCH THE MOON, MARY  amazon.com/dp/1700193538  was a gift from brilliant Irish photographer, Des Cannon, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRosN1xqFYs0rrGHDGOszEQ

Laura's Mary-book-piano-roses

The image is of a three-hundred-year-old angel in a Dublin Cemetery.

FIELDS OF GRACE bit.ly/WWFOG  is my second published novel and once again the stunning cover was given to me by an Irishman, Dean Michael Rochford, an artist whose amazing work can be found on Twitter @DigiluxEU

Cover FoG by Dean Michaels larger

Add to this magical mix Irish reviewer, Peter Donnelly, of The Reading Desk. TRD-Logo_Darkhttps://thereadingdesk.com/

Peter Donnelly Ireland

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley peter@thereadingdesk.com

Peter has been incredibly supportive and encouraging and I was thrilled to see Catch the Moon, Mary made it into Peter Donnelly’s faves list 2019.

Peter Donnelly's 2019 book favourites

And on a related note Laura Smith of Laura’s Books and Blogs https://laurasbooksandblogs.com/ kicked my year off to a great start with this stunning review.

Book Review: Catch The Moon, Mary by Wendy Waters

Catch the Moon Mary on a piano with roses

 “’This modern world metes out time like currency…Everybody rushing about in pursuit of nothing, producing little of lasting value.’” – Catch The Moon, Mary

There’s so much truth in this statement spoken by Gabriel, an angel and the foil of Wendy Waters’ debut romance novel, Catch The Moon, Mary. Productivity, to Gabriel, comes in the form of creativity, particularly music. In his world, music is a tangible tool, like seeds that can grow new worlds, ideas, and states of being.

It’s no surprise that the book’s author has a background in music. This Australian-born composer and lyricist uses music as the base of her debut novel about loneliness, connection, and the transformative power of music. To learn more about the author, check out my interview with Waters here!

Book Summary

Mary Granger is a young girl with an extraordinary musical talent. It has a supernatural effect on all who hear her play. The power is so strong that it catches the attention of Gabriel, an earthbound angel looking for a way to re-enter heaven. Gabriel visits Mary one night and offers to protect her from her pedophilic father and make her famous.  In return, he asks for the use of her music to recreate heaven on Earth. His intention is to rule over a new existence stripped of the flawed humanity that current inhabits the world.

As Mary grows into a young woman, Gabriel frequently visits her to protect his investment and urge her to begin her career as a musician. Their shared goal is to eventually play Carnegie Hall. Whenever life intervenes in pursuing her music, Gabriel removes her obstacles. His favorite method is to murder those who stand in her way. Torn between her love for Gabriel, her music, and the family she attains as she pursues her musical aspirations, Mary weaves through a life that is part human and part divine.

A Music Lesson

The beginning of each chapter features a piece of musical vocabulary along with its definition. Each term corresponds to the events that take place within that chapter. This is just one of the ways that music threads the story together.

Print is at a disadvantage in that the reader is bound by their limited knowledge of a subject in order to imagine it as they read. So, there is a disconnect between Mary’s music and the effect it has on the other characters in the book. But the story doesn’t rely on hearing her music in order to understand its power.

Mary is a very submissive heroine. Her inaction stems from her childhood molestation at the hands of her cold-hearted father. However, it’s her relationship with her loving mother that saves her from the bitterness and addiction that her half-siblings endure as the result of their own history with their father.

However, her goodness comes with a price. That price is the inability to defend herself from those who try to take advantage of her, starting with Gabriel. Music could be her bargaining tool. But she is just as much of a slave to it as Gabriel. As a result, she suppresses her gift in order to keep her blackmailing angel away. Her love of music gets redistributed into her love for Gabriel, despite his controlling and murderous nature.

Wendy Waters Book Review

Making a Deal with an Angel

Catch The Moon, Mary puts a spin on the classic selling your soul to the devil trope. Selling your gift to an angel should feel like a safe bet. But the angels in this story are just as flawed with jealousy, desire, and power as any human. Mary’s agreement with Gabriel, as crucial as it is in the preservation of the remainder of her childhood and the success of her future, becomes a form of mental imprisonment that puts her at his mercy.

Despite her dire situation, however, Mary lacks any emotion or personality outside of her music. She barely reacts when Gabriel kills off one friend, acquaintance, and family member after another. She also claims to not understand humor. This led me to wonder if she suffers from a personality disorder or lands on the autism spectrum. She tends to go with the flow of events, no matter how tragic. As long as the picture frames are straight and nothing is moved from its rightful place, she endures.

A Family of Misfits

“Home. A space defined by four walls, a gathering of family and friends, a place where milestones are celebrated and rooms trigger memories.” Catch The Moon, Mary

As events unfold, the people who Mary meets in her musical journey are also affected by her relationship with Gabriel. Whether it’s her long lost half-brother and sister who she connects with after the death of their father, her employers who offer her a job until her music takes off, and Gabriel’s estranged brother, Rigel, and his partner, Alfio, all have their lives altered as the result of Gabriel’s jealous nature and master plan.

Loneliness is the main motivator for Mary’s relationship with Gabriel, but as this collection of characters enter her life, his control over her is whittled down to pure romantic attachment. It’s not the selfish, divine being that saves her but the good-hearted mortals who unconditionally care for her.  But in spite of his murderous nature, his tendency to disappear when she needs him the most, and his power-hungry vision for the world, she cannot shake that longing to be with the angel who loves her music the most.

Wendy Waters with book

Recommendation

I recommend Catch The Moon, Mary to romance and fantasy readers and to those interested in music, particularly those with a background in classical music. This story is a modern spin on classic mythologies and biblical morality tales in which creativity, nature, love, and corruption entangle to form a dramatic, operatic novel about how both our divine gifts and human flaws are instrumental in shaping our lives.

Buy a copy here! CATCH THE MOON, MARY amazon.com/dp/1700193538……… 

Wendy Waters is also the Lyricist/Composer for musicals, FRED, ALEXANDER and Lyricist/Book for THE LAST TALE written with composer Shanon D. Whitelock For more information check out wendywaters.net

EH103p6U0AA7tV4

Add mock-up by Dean Michael Rochford Twitter @DigiluxEU

Life ebbs and flows like a tide and the lows that strand us in hopelessness are hard to cope with. But take a breath, the tide will rise again and for a while we will be transported above the world and its troubles. For a while we’ll be closer to the silent, solid, durable stars upon which we can map out destinies and journeys.

And remember when all we see is ocean from horizon to horizon the stars become our landmarks.

In a world that changes daily, eroding and abraded by madness and inflexible mindsets look to the stars for inspiration. Puzzle out the meaning of those alien and exquisite blimps of life removed from us by eons and lightyears and remind yourselves that you have another life apart from your gravity-constricted span on earth. You are a citizen of the expanding Universe and you have many names.

If people could understand themselves in relation to the stars they would allow both change and permanence. Change isasmuch as we are part of a greater, unknowable Universe that connects us to concepts and paradigms of life only accessed through the imagination and permanence because for millions of years the strange and infinite sky has shown us the only model of eternity we can currently conceive.

So the paradox is we must believe ourselves immortal and at the same time in a state of constant flux. Like the tide that ebbs and flows, our days become yesterdays, dying to the night and are born again with the light of each new dawn.

Live as if there is no tomorrow and dream as if there was no yesterday.

france62

Reviewing 2019

It’s been a busy year with the usual mix of highs and lows. Rather than write about it, I’m going to show you my year in pictures.

The highlight was my daughter’s wedding to a Frenchman called Louis in Provence 20th July. A fabulous day and evening which brought family and friends from all over the world together in a kind of harmonic convergence. Old familial wounds had the chance to be redressed and healed. New family ties were created and forged.

IMG_8024

Genevra and Louis in Capri.

wedding3

Louis and Genevra’s Wedding in Provence.

And so, to see my daughter get married I had to fly to France! Quel drag!!!

Paris has been top of my bucket list for as long as I can remember and so to finally see the City of Lights was like waking up after an interminably long sleep and what a joy to see it with my daughter and my mother and my new son-in-law.

Une selection de Paris!

france25 (2) It may have taken me decades to FINALLY get to Paris but I can still fit into a Size 10 pair of ripped jeans!

And then to London to meet the cast of my Cabaret Show, Wendy Waters Rites Words, a collection of songs drawn from three of my musicals, FRED, ALEXANDER and THE LAST TALE (composer Shanon D. Whitelock).

london 2019 (3)

 

In my hotel room with London cast left to right Frank Loman, Monika Lidke (brilliant singer and close friend) Louise Burke, me and Lauren Lovejoy.

london 4 (2)

London cast of Wendy Waters Rites Words, Louise Burke, Lauren Lovejoy and Frank Loman with program.

And then back to Australia and into the worst drought we’ve ever had and a government in denial of Climate Change. My brother Dr. Marcus Scammell is exhausted but still fighting to raise awareness and develop renewable Green Energy alternatives.

 

Dr Marcus Scammell with Dr Alison Bleaney in Tasmania. Fires burning all over Australia.

And in between I took a trip back out west to scope the place where Genevra was born and where I once lived when I was married to her father, Grazier, Richard Hart. It was sad to see how dry the land was but wonderful to see that the trees I planted thirty years ago have grown and provide a patch of green!

 

campsie park 3

Willows on creek

And the friends I have lost in 2019, Tom Martin, Deb McKain and Patrick Ward.

And then I self-published Fields of Grace, my second novel. I was waiting for a traditional publisher to offer me a lucrative advance and a mega-marketting campaign when out of the blue a brilliant Irish artist named Dean Micheal Rochford sent me a stunning cover image and asked me if I’d like to use it. It seemed like a sign to me!

Fields of Grace is available on Amazon bit.ly/WWFOG

Cover FoG by Dean Michaels larger

I have a lot of good fortune with the Irish! Particularly Irish men. The cover of my debut novel, Catch the Moon, Mary (middle top row) was also given to me by a stunning Irishman, photographer Des Cannon and now Irish reviewer Peter Donnelly of the Reading Desk has included Catch the Moon, Mary in his 2019 Faves List. So honoured!

Peter Donnelly's 2019 book favourites

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to making me feel valuable and needed on this earth as we move into 2020, a year that will almost certainly bring great and necessary changes. Happy New Year one and all!

           Highlights and Hallmarks 2019

And lastly I will leave you with a tantalising glimpse of what’s coming to fruition in 2020.

arabian sky (2)

                                      The Last Tale

                                                 by

                               Whitelock & Waters

Fire’s Burning, Fire’s Burning by John Irvine Bruce Walker

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 80

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 80

Copied from the comments on the MFW page (edited for length and context) with thanks to John Irvine Bruce Walker for this must-read response.

“Hi everyone, my name is Bruce Walker. I’m one of the survivors of the Wytaliba fires of Friday 8th November 2019. I’ve been an RFS volunteer for close to 20 years, and am part of the highly regarded Wytaliba RFS – one of the most respected and hardened crews on the northern tablelands and beyond. Our crew number over 50 and include decorated vets of Ash Wednesday and many other national disaster catastrophic level fires.
Regarding hazard reduction. let me fill you in. We used to do managed hazard reduction whenever it was viable in winter. However – sadly, the moment Gina and Rupert went halves and purchased the LNP wholesale, we saw a MASSIVE increase in wholesale industrial logging across the nation.
Tell me, when you garden, do you use MULCH? Compare a mulched garden to a non-mulched garden and you’ll see a near instant difference. If you’re not schooled on how soil works, try standing all day in the sun with no hat on. What happens? That’s right, your head gets fucking hot.
That’s what’s happened to the planet. Now, as anyone who’s dabbled in, you know… physics, will spell out better than I can – an increase of just one degree is quite significant.
Another neato thing physics talks about is the water cycle. You see, part of the water cycle is this cool thing called “transpiration”. It’s part 4 of this essential way in which trees send up moisture to meet clouds, creating low pressure troughs which draw rainfall inland. In fact, it’s physically impossible to get rain on the lee side of a mountain, without trees doing this very thing. Impossible. Ask the residents of the Atacama Desert in Chile, who haven’t had rain for one THOUSAND years. Why? no fucking trees!
So anyway, back to the Greens enacting a ban on burn-offs – that time we elected them to majority government and they had the final say. When was that again? I’ll wait.
Nah. Let’s move on, since we ALL know this was never a thing . Ever.
So anyway – here in Wytaliba, we used to have an incredibly green lush valley – right up until industrial loggers finally broke into compartments to our north. Right about this time, there was a near instant and significant drop to our vital streamflow. This happened again after each and every highland logging operation – and with LNP slashing and burning every national park in sight, well… you know, let’s not go there. Climate change is a hoax, right?
So wholesale burn quotas came in with LNP too. This… well.. I just want to pause here and say “wow” because this did indeed make us say wow. In recent years, we’ve seen hazard reduction burns take place completely surrounding our once green, lush valley. So much so, that after the last July burn – of an area once supplying most of our water – well… 27 years of no burn had left a healthy and regenerating semi-arid rainforest. Now it’s simply arid nothing.
Despite this burn, and 3 more last year, we got the following result – fires flared up in this dry mulchless wasteland and burned for 6 weeks, destroying 2 more former rainforest areas, leaving them also tinder dry and unable to transpire – hasn’t actually rained a drop since then. Weird. almost like cause and effect took place.
Clouds pass over, for sure. they get rain on the tablelands even – but – as physics reminds us, when air drops it warms, expands, and rather than raining, sucks even more moisture from trees and soil.
Oh well. I mean, this is normal for Australia, isn’t it? Watching 200 year old trees slowly wither and die right in front of you. That’s normal. Happens all the time. Rivers dry up too, even though ours is home to platypi – who aren’t known for travelling much – and hasn’t dried up in probably 100,000 years minimum.
Until last summer. And it’s been bone dry since August.
This has never happened in my entire 25 or so years here. No local elders remember such a thing. Wow.
Now, we all know about the Kinglake fires and the hundreds more around the state. My crew and many other heroic RFS volunteers have been fighting them for months on end. Yet another backburn actually got lit up about a month ago, on our south side, just half an hour before high southerly winds were due. The responsible paid agency, then ran out of paid hours, packed up and left it to spot onto our property and threaten 80 homes.
We’re like the mujahideen of firefighting though, so we got it after about 10 days nonstop hectic battle.
This… brings us up to date. We’ve got bare, blacked out dust for 50km in all directions. right up to the actual eaves of half the homes here. Which is why Friday’s hell-storm caught all of us by surprise.
A mushroom cloud went up at 3pm, 20 or so km away. Within 30 minutes, high winds turned that into a 20km long front – strangely, this front was on ground burnt black as recently as 3 weeks ago – crown fires too, since every tree was literally a giant matchstick with dead leaves and nothing else. This then switched to 80km/h southerlies and rained hell on 3500 acres of already blacked out ground.
Well… you can’t say we didn’t prep or do hazard reduction redneck style, can you? Or can you?
Curiously, within 1 hour we’d lost 20 homes, a school, a fire-shed, and a concrete fucking bridge – meaning only 2 outside units even got in to help. Falling trees in the hundreds blocked the old Grafton road, so no one could even help neighbours.
By dawn, of 80 homes in our community, 52 were lost, 2 dead (one a sex party voter, the other apolitical (this one is for you, Barnaby fucking Joyce) 😉 We had many injured, thousands of local animals died, and it looks like a warzone here. Which it almost did before, except we had homes.
So, ALL you fucking armchair experts out there, tell me, how again, was this the Greens fault? Thanks. looking forward to your well thought out response.
Bruce Walker, Wytaliba RFS member and survivor. 🙊🙉🖕” Bruce Deliversrants Walker

australia burning

Australia Burning

Climate Change explained

With so much misinformation floating around social media I felt it was time to ask a real environmental scientist, my brother, Dr. Marcus Scammell, to explain in layman’s terms how burning coal, driving cars and using electricity was creating an increase in global temperatures. Like anybody else without a scientific background I need someone with integrity to explain to me how my lifestyle may or may not be contributing to climate change.

I am listening and I want the facts.

Like everybody else, I want to believe that these raging temperatures and wild weather patterns are just part of a cycle. I want to believe that humanity hasn’t impacted negatively on the planet. But denial is a dangerous river and I don’t want to drown in it thanks. And so I asked a scientist whose integrity is well-known to me. My brother has no political or economic agenda biasing him. He is a dedicated scientist who can’t be bought by the Murdoch Press or the Rhinehart PR flunkies.

He can’t be bought.

A bit of background. My brother was still doing his doctorate when he discovered it was tributal tin leeching out of toxic anti-fouling paints that was stagnating Sydney waterways, significantly Sydney Harbour. With the density of traffic – ferries, pleasure craft, cruise liners – in such a small area he observed that there were no oysters. The Harbour and surrounding estuaries were essentially dead.

When he published his paper: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/256985103_The_recovery_of_oyster_Saccostrea_glomerata_populations_in_Sydney_estuary_Australia it drew the attention of the Greiner Government who proceeded to ban anti-fouling paint using tributal tin. My brother then graduated and took a job with Sydney Water and in his spare time he set about developing a completely non-toxic anti-fouling paint.

Fast forward to the nineties and the oyster farmers in Tasmania get in touch with my brother and ask for help because the oysters are dying in their thousands. There is a 95% extinction rate. My brother flies down at his own expense and investigates and what he finds sends shock waves through the logging industry who pull out the Murdoch Press and the Tasmanian Government to discredit him and so, despite the support of the ABC and two episodes of Australian Story his findings were quashed and he was, in effect, silenced.

Aerial Spraying, Oyster Deaths & Tasmanian Devil cancer link

Saturday 24 July 2004 8:31AM (view full episode)

A report on mass mortalities in oysters from Tasmania’s
east coast highlights a correlation between the use of
four highly toxic chemicals, the oyster deaths and the
deadly facial tumour disease occurring in Tasmanian Devils.

Transcript

Show

Guests

Dr Marcus Scammell
Marine Ecologist
Sydney Water

Publications

Title
Environmental Problems Georges Bay, Tasmania
Author
Dr Marcus Scammell
Homepage
http://www.tfic.com.au/scammell_report_07.04.htm

Credits

Presenter
Alexandra de Blas
Producer
Jackie May
Audio Audio snippets from the Australian Story program on Tasmanian GP Alison Bleaney. Speakers are Alison Bleaney, her husband Michael, and Dr Marcus Scammell.

marcus and alison Dr Marcus Scammell and Dr Alison Bleaney in Tasmania

To protect the poisonous and polluting logging industry a vicious and nasty campaign to discredit my brother was set in motion. However the scientific community was not so easily duped and this plea for support of my brother and Dr Alison Bleaney came from Dr David Obendorf 28.02.10

Open letter to scientists and medical practitioners …

oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php?/weblog/article/open-letter-to-scientists-and-medical…

OPEN LETTER CALLING ON ALL SCIENTISTS AND MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS TO SUPPORT THE INTEGRITY OF SCIENCE IN TASMANIA. The recent release of significant eco-toxicology research by St Helens general practitioner, Dr Alison Bleaney and marine ecologist, Dr Marcus Scammell about toxicity linked to genetically selected Eucalyptus nitens monocultures has implications for drinking water …

 

But with big business driving the Tasmanian Government the campaign stepped up. However, not everybody was fooled. The ABC upped the anti and ran an unprecedented second program on Australian Story. The backlash was predictable and pathetic but the support was heartwarming. Ordinary people started asking sensible questions about whether or not it was morally responsible to poison the arterial waterways that supplied drinking water to animals and human locals as opposed to supporting the mega-business of logging.

  1. Australian Story: “Something in the Water” – TV Tonight

    https://tvtonight.com.au/2010/02/australian-story-something-in-the-water.html

    With local oyster farmers worried about deformities suddenly appearing in their oysters Sydney marine ecologist Dr. Marcus Scammell was appointed by the Tasmanian Government to investigate. Wondering if there might be a connection between ill health in her patients and the health of the oysters, Dr. Bleaney contacted Dr. Scammell. Certain there …

  2. What DPIWE says about Scammell-Bleaney – Tasmanian Times

    https://tasmaniantimes.com/2010/02/what-dpiwe-says-about-scammell-bleaney

    I would believe Dr Bleaney and Marcus Scammell over our gov’t and their bureaucrats any day…we already know how this Lab/lib/gunns gov’t work and it’s certainly not for the general population. Big industries come first at any price, with this lot of hypocrites.

I only cite this backstory because I am seeing a repetition of this media-backed corruption right now in regards to Climate Change and it alarms me that we may not move fast enough to save our planet. As long as the Murdoch Press keeps up a sullied stream of anti-Climate Change articles twisting the facts, people will be lulled into a false sense of security. We will fiddle while Rome burns.

Indeed Australia is burning and idiots are scape-goating the Greens just as my brother was scape-goated when he was presenting a very inconvenient truth.

Let me point out here that to backburn you have only to apply for a permit, not from the Greens, but from your local RFS, not, I repeat FROM THE GREENS.

Fire permits – NSW Rural Fire Service – rfs.nsw.gov.au

https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/…/Bush-fire-hazards-and-your-property/fire-permits

Fire permits help ensure that fire is used safely. A permit sets out the rules around how a fire is lit and maintained, and lets firefighters know when you are conducting burning activities on your property. Fire permits are available for free from the NSW RFS. To get a fire permit

 

In August 2019 when the RFS usually carries out backburning, conditions were deemed too dangerous. We were in the middle of a drought and erratic winds were making the task difficult for the RFS. The Greens had nothing to do with this decision.

I have written many blogs about the psychic and spiritual pollution created by psychotically-greedy billionaires and the political gaslighting that creates these ongoing oil-grabbing wars in the Middle East but I have not until today written about the physical pollution created by climate change.

It’s time.

He has also posited that his anti-fouling paint has a useful by-product in the form of increased speed in yachting craft, liners, ferries, ocean-going vessels and even aircraft. Even a slight increase in speed will save gallons of fuel and lower the carbon footprint significantly.

He tends to keep to himself these days and only his very trusted family and friends are privvy to his genius solutions. He knows I’m writing this and is happy to provide a simple layman’s explanation of Climate Change for those who can’t quite get to grips with it.

                                                       The Green House Gas Issue

My Understanding of it, Marcus Scammell PhD

Background

My degrees are in Science specialising in Marine Ecology.  My PhD was focused on the impacts of antifouling paints (containing TBT) on the intertidal environment with an emphasis on the impact on commercial oyster production.  After qualifying in the early nineties, I was employed with Sydney Water measuring the impacts of Sydney Water’s activities on aquatic environments and later the success or otherwise of engineering solutions to reduce Sydney Water pollution impacts.  I left Sydney Water a few years ago and am now working on an alternative to toxic antifouling paints.

My sister has asked me to explain how the green house gas issue works so I will try to explain it in the way I understand it.

What is a Fossil Fuel?

Fossil fuels are Hydrocarbons.  Unsurprisingly Hydrocarbons are made up predominantly of hydrogen and carbon of varying sized molecules.  They occurred when dead forests became trapped under sediment (coal) or when dead sea creatures accumulated on the bottom of shallow seas and became trapped under sediment (oil, diesel, petrol etc.).  They readily burn in the presence of atmospheric oxygen creating usable heat and releasing carbon dioxide and water.

So, in short, we take carbon buried in the ground, burn it, releasing carbon to the atmosphere.

My Car

My car has an eighty-litre fuel tank which I fill with gasoline.  Gasoline is a mixture of shortish hydrocarbons and has a specific gravity of between 0.71 to 0.77.  What that means is a litre of gasoline weighs between 710 grams to 770 grams.  For the sake of this example lets assume a litre of Gasoline weighs 740 grams.  So, a full tank of Gasoline in my car weighs roughly 59 kilograms.

The chemistry of Gasoline combustion is often simplified to the combustion of a molecule called Benzine, a major component of Gasoline.  The equation looks like the following:

C8H18 + 12.5 O2 → 8 CO2 + 9 H2O

If we assume that the combustion of each litre of Gasoline (Benzine) is complete, i.e. all Benzine is burnt. Then we can estimate how many kilograms of Carbon Dioxide is produced per kilogram of burnt Benzine.  The molecular weight of Benzine (C8H18) is approximately 115.672.  The molecular weight of 12.5 Oxygen atoms (O2) derived from the atmosphere is approximately 199.9875.  The molecular weight of 8 Carbon Dioxide atoms (CO2) released to the atmosphere is approximately 352.072.  The molecular weight of 9 Water molecules (H2O) released to the atmosphere is approximately 162.135.  Thus, the ratio of Benzine, burnt to Carbon Dioxide released is approximately 115.672 to 352.072 or approximately 1:3.  Thus complete combustion of 1 kilogram of liquid Benzine produces approximately 3 kilograms of gaseous Carbon Dioxide.

So, one tank of Gasoline (approximately 59 kilograms) produces approximately 177 kilograms of gaseous Carbon Dioxide (a green-house gas).

I use approximately one tank of gasoline a week (Australia is a big country and I drive a lot).  My car turns carbon that was originally in the ground into atmospheric Carbon Dioxide at a rate of about 170 kilograms per week.

Scale that Up

If we look back to the beginning of steam engines and the combustion of coal through to the production of internal combustion engines and on to the jet engine and multiply that by the number of engines both past and present it is not that hard to see that every engine producing 100s of kilograms of Carbon Dioxide per week or per day or per hour (big ships) depending on the size of the machine, we’ve got an awful lot of Carbon Dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere (carbon that has been sourced from under the ground).

This does not include the other greenhouse gases that fossil fuel combustion also produces but it gives some idea of the scale of the problem.

Earth, Heating and Cooling

I am going to massively oversimplify this bit so be warned my scientific friends, if you want to explain this in the detail it deserves, go ahead.

During the day, when our part of the planet faces the Sun, the surface heats up.  Now, we are protected from the more harmful radiation by the Earth’s magnetosphere which deflects the most dangerous particles around the planet.  The atmosphere filters out a lot of the UV light and the water cycle and the plants help slow the heating of the planet so during the day we don’t cook.  At night the planet releases that heat back to outer space but not all the heat is lost thanks to the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere along with heat retained in the water cycle and the biomass on our planet.  So, at night we don’t freeze.

Simply put, increasing greenhouse gases reduces the heat loss at night (I warned you my scientific friends).  The Sun heats us up each day, but less heat is lost.  That happens the next day and the day after that and the year after that and the decade after that.  Gradually increasing the average temperature on the surface.  The more greenhouse gas accumulates the more the cycle is exacerbated.

But the Earth is Big, and the Carbon Cycle is Complicated.

True!  Photosynthesis regulates the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere.  Plants actively take carbon dioxide and water and turn it into sugar and oxygen.  Erosion of rocks also regulates carbon dioxide as does sequestration into soil, absorption into the ocean, and other processes.  But the problem is we are releasing greenhouse gases that were sequestered into the soil millions of years ago, faster than natural processes can take it back up.  Hence its concentration in the atmosphere is increasing.

But, my sceptical friends, how do we know that the carbon in the atmosphere is predominantly from fossil fuels and not due to deforestation (also caused by us) or damage to soil microbial communities from agriculture (let me think, also caused by us).

This is where some really clever science comes in.  As ice accumulates in glaciers and at the poles it traps bits of atmosphere in it.  A small proportion of Carbon that is exposed to sunlight becomes irradiated forming the isotope C14.  Carbon that is not exposed to sunlight decays back to its stable form which I think is C13.  This takes a long time, in the order of 5,000 years.  So, carbon that is buried in the fossil fuel deposits has a very different ratio of C14 to C13 than carbon in the atmosphere.

When ice cores are extracted, the trapped gases can be analysed, from, for example, three hundred years ago.  This can be measured for both carbon dioxide content and isotope ratio.  In recent times the carbon dioxide concentration trapped in these ices has increased telling us that CO2 in our atmosphere is indeed going up and this trend started around the time of the industrial revolution.  Secondly, the isotope ratio is changing.  The extra carbon dioxide isotope ratio is low in C14 indicating that its source has only recently been exposed to the atmosphere.  It has the isotope ratio of a fossil fuel.

It is the combination of understanding the sheer volume of greenhouse gases we emit and the clever chemistry of the isotope scientists that has convinced most scientists that this is real, and we need to do something about it.  I hope this helps others understand this issue.

Regards Marcus

For more information see: https://climatechangereports.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/global-warming-for-dummies-climate-change-for-dummies/

Paltia’s Review of Catch the Moon, Mary

Catch The Moon, Mary

Sometimes I read reviews of my debut novel #CatchtheMoonMary that are so profound they make me see the world differently myself!

This is one such review from Paltia, a friend of one of my Irish guardian angels, Peter Donnelly.

Oct 29, 2019 Paltia rated it 5STARS on Goodreads – First off, a big thank you to Peter Donnelly @The Reading Desk for his review. His thoughts pushed me to find this book. This is a dreamlike story where the world is filled once more with endless possibilities. From a distance the angel Gabriel hears music. There’s something distinctly different in what he hears. This piano playing might restore his hope to bring light to the world. He spreads his tattered wings and flies to its source. As he listens he is transformed. He becomes a bright vision sparkling with promise taking on the appearance of early morning leaves when strung…

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