Too Much Junk Mail

I received this junk mail stuffed into my real mailbox this morning.  It’s a weekly occurrence and enough is enough!

In this photograph there are seventeen leaflet/brochures of varying content, page size and thickness (and weight) which supposedly contain sales, discounts and bargains.

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NOT an advertisement for any of these companies!

The seventeen companies are Chemist Warehouse, Coles Supermarket, Coles Health & Beauty, Woolworths Supermarket, Aldi, BigW, hotel Christmas bookings, weekend Nachos, BUPA Dental, Target x 2, Viking Cruises, Harvey Norman, Amart Furniture, Beacon Lighting, Winning Appliances, Repco Car Care.  Surprisingly, no real estate agent’s calendar.

I have worked in the industry and selling themes start way before holiday time or special days but I’m sure the delivery in my area has ballooned.  And the distributor must want to get back home early because often there are four or five double-ups.

The local newspapers are heaved onto the driveway in plastic sleeves to stop water damage, with a latex band around the middle for good measure.  They, too, share the junk mail bounty cunningly hidden between the inky pages.

Newspaper Trees Collage
Newspaper collage How To Make A Collage by AndreutzaVio https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/402931497894964026/

 

I enjoy print media so will read the local news––I have given up reading any of the junk mail.  It goes straight into the recycle bin.  What a waste!  In school break times when letterboxes are not cleared, paper escapes to fly around lawns and roadways.

If thousands share my philosophy of “When I want something I’ll research it myself” that’s an awful lot of junk mail being unread and pulped.

It will probably recycle back to my letterbox, time and time again, as some other company’s special offer.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

 

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This columnist has a completely different take on junk mail – she loves it!

Saving Grandpa’s Tree

Tree Without Leaves 09
Tree Rescue

Grey clouds raced across the sky and cold wind ruffled Paul’s hair.
He gazed with sadness at Grandpa’s new tree.
It looked sick.
Its leaves were brown and crispy and some had fallen on the grass.
Paul grabbed the garden hose and watered the earth around the tree.
A large puddle circled the trunk but nothing happened.
Paul thought it needed some food.  “What do trees eat?”
In the garden shed, Paul foraged among lots of interesting containers.
On the bench he saw Grandpa’s half eaten sandwich and took it to the tree.
Crunch!  He picked up the dog’s smelly bone and gave that to the tree.
Cackle!  The hens followed a trail of grain as it trickled along behind him.
Meow!  Paul was sure the cat wouldn’t miss her bowl of fish-flavoured treats.
From the kitchen, vegetable scraps joined a plate of leftover breakfast bits.
Icky!  He pulled a fuzzy lollipop out of his pocket and tossed it on the pile.
Gloop!  He found a jar of honey and poured that around the base.
Woof, cluck, meow, buzz!  Everyone enjoyed the food except the tree.
“You still don’t look right,” said Paul.
A leaf fluttered down, then another and another until the branches were bare.
Paul felt a tiny ache inside.
He walked slowly into the house – then thought of an idea! © GBW

………………..to be continued…………………

AUTHOR NOTE
This children’s picture book story is temporarily withdrawn.
It has been rewritten and submitted to a writing competition.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Tree Without Leaves 06

Garden Notes on a Warm Winter Day

Dear Diary, it’s a calm, warm July day, almost like an early Spring, but there are no butterflies or buzzing insects.  The crows call to each other across the back garden and noisy miners flit back and forth like feathered investigators on an important assignment.  The children in the house behind my suburban block are jumping on a netted trampoline and soon there will be a cry and a parent will take them off.  The towels have been on the Hills Hoist clothes line for two days.  A dried-out agapanthus head is sticking straight up out of the perennial foliage, a reminder that I am not a conscientious gardener.

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Tomatoes
Rosella Flower 01
Rosella
Pointsettia 002
Poinsettia
Agave 03
Agave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So saying, in a green square pot I have grown a very tall tomato plant with fat green tomatoes (above) emerging every day.  The old mandarin tree has a yearly crop of pale orange-coloured mandarins, and my rosella plants are flowering (above) while the spring onions and ginger roots carry on regardless.  There are non-native plants like a small pomegranate, poinsettia bright red and blooming (above) and our huge native gum tree towers over all of us; blossom for the parrots and fruit bats.  Special mention goes to our agave family.  These Mexican beauties (above) love our subtropical climate and we’ve given away more young plants than I can remember.

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Hoya

 

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Coffee Flower
Bird Nest 02
Nest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, there’s the herbs, for better or worse, always trying so hard … The trailing hoya (above) was a joy with its pink waxy flowers but recently it decided it had had enough and shrivelled up.  The ancient mulberry tree went the same way, dying in the drought a few years back, followed by the peach and avocado trees.  The coffee bean tree (above) survives anything.  We live on a sloping hill with poor soil which is interesting because many years ago cows grazed on the lush hillsides around us.  My father once said “All your good top soil has been washed downhill”.  Not so long ago the rich alluvial earth along the creek at the bottom of our street was plundered and no doubt sold for landscaping.

When I first lived here, the suburb was casual with a leafy roughness about it which made for a relaxed, friendly vibe.  Indeed, every home was owner/builder and most residents chose not to erect fences nor were there any footpaths.  Trees were planted to shade homes from the fierce western afternoon sun and if you were lucky you had a ceiling fan.  Ah, the 70s, a time of emerging from the past and forging ahead with little regard for past cultural or community identity but, in so doing, it created a unique city.  Strangely, if not surprisingly, it has taken about 40 years for the people of Brisbane, Queensland, to appreciate our subtropical city.  The past is now nostalgically and fondly remembered as the concrete is poured for yet another highrise apartment block.

If real estate developers would let us, we would return to our friendly, informal way of life instead of building cement block homes and painting them grey like every other capital city in Australia.  To take my mind off the screeching of chainsaws as they hack down another leopard tree (above) I will write a little bit about our front garden.

Palm Blossom 001
Date Palm
Alkina Flame Tree (6)
Flame Tree
Orchid on Flame Tree
Orchid
Jacaranda in Afternoon
Jacaranda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maiden Hair Fern
Fern

 

 

 

 

 

In the front garden, and I use the term loosely, there is structure and visions of edging and all, but I have let that slip.  Two tall palm trees (above) on either side of the house echo early Queensland-style seen in rural areas.  Tough-as-old-boots golden cane palms dot the area while I think our camellia is a Melbourne throwback.  The stocky Illawarra flame tree with its pink orchids (above) was planted to complement the purple jacaranda nextdoor (viewed from balcony).  I will not describe the weeds like camphor laurel, monstera or umbrella trees always springing up between the lemon scented tea-trees and more civilised shrubs.   Does anyone still grow ‘mother-in-law tongue’ and ‘cast-iron’ plants?  Cast iron is an unkillable broad leafed low-growing plant and I think it was beloved of early Victorians as either a hothouse or indoor plant in brass pots on wooden stands.

In the back garden, what there is left of our lawn is covered in bindii prickles thanks to lawn mowing contractors who disperse them willy-nilly via their lawn mower tyres.  You can read my screed on Lawn Mower Men.  There is a shallow bird bath under the eucalyptus tree for the enjoyment of noisy miner birds.  On a tiled outdoor table, I have my inherited maiden hair fern (above) in a small pretty terracotta pot.  The pot was thrown and fired by a neighbour and friend over thirty-five years ago.  This little fern is hardier than most!

Apart from hedging bushes of murraya, or mock orange, there is no strong scent in the garden and no ornamental plantings with fragrance except a straggly French lavender potplant.  Our forebears had a bit of foresight when it came to planting leafy, sheltering greenery in an otherwise hot landscape.  It’s our trees which stand out, they, and others like them, represent our suburban streetscape.  Long may they tower over us!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward