Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Disturbing facts of life

I had a breakfast meeting this morning. At least it was for me a breakfast meeting. The other two there had probably been up since the crack of dawn. I would tell you that I made some very nice lemon yoghurt muffins for the meeting, but I just read a review in the Australian Literary Review that spent most of the time criticising the author for mentioning the food at various political and other functions that she attended over the years, so I won’t. I on the other hand found the food more interesting than the other parts of the book that were quoted in the review.

I don’t mean to sound snobbish in any way when I mention the Review. I find it incredibly dry and pretentious, but it comes monthly in my Wednesday paper and being interested in books and writing and a compulsive reader as well as frugal I feel that I should read it. Usually I manage a page or two before I remember why people don’t read literary fiction. And like many Australian literary and academic things, it is very incestuous. The same writers, the same reviewers, the same people who you know used to be married or are currently sleeping with each other. Fortunately since I haven’t recently moved in academic or ever in literary circles, I am not up on the latest gossip so I can simply be bored by the writing.

It was a very good meeting because we are finally moving ahead with the website for the Residents’ Association. We now have a draft outline, a service provider AND a budget. All that we need now is to work on the logo and actual graphic design of the site. We have a local graphic designer working on the logo plus I am throwing into the ring my preference of a stylised logo based on the fruit of the crow’s ash – flindersia australis – which is a distinctive tree of the Rosewood Scrub of which I am very fond. Last year we planted four trees down in our front paddock that I propagated from seed. With the rain earlier this year they are flourishingly beautiful. I think an image of the fruit and/or tree would make a distinctive logo as would some variation on a drawing of our historic community hall.

My good cheer was only marred by some disturbing facts of life passed on by my neighbour and fellow committee-member. He told me that I should not be bothered by the thought of hoop pines being cut down for my floorboards because there are whole plantations of trees grown expressly for their timber. Okay, I could cope with that. But he went on to say that outside Maryborough there is a large plantation area devoted to growing hoop pine solely for the purpose of paddlepop sticks. Apparently very high grade non-toxic wood is required for paddlepops. After all you don’t want little Johnny getting a splinter in his tongue. Wood that doesn’t make the grade isn’t wasted, but is used for disposable coffee stirrers. Call me some kind of pink-tinged anti-consumption Luddite, but I find it very disturbing that trees that take fifty years to mature are grown for the purpose of disposable sticks to hold ice-cream and to stir one’s coffee in a Styrofoam cup. I’m not sure if I will recover from such a dose of reality. I may also have to change my shopping list, but I can’t decide if it would be better to support the forestry industry, who after all are planting trees, or not. I think I’d better just concentrate on some graphics for the website.

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