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Thank you everyone

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Mrs GOF and I have been deeply moved by all your messages of support for two insignificant Aussies who most of you have never met.

Those who have lived through multiple cyclonic events in their lives will understand that it is not simply a matter of cleaning up the physical damage inflicted by the storm which was thankfully minimal for us this time.
There is also a longer lasting roller-coaster of emotions reliving the terror and drama of cyclones from the past, confronting your own mortality, and thankfulness and relief when discovering that your home is more or less still intact after coming within 30 kilometres of the northern eye wall of a 500 kilometre wide Category 5 cyclone with 300 kph winds at it’s centre.

It is not however a time for celebration knowing that so many of my countrymen just down the road have lost everything except their lives.

Your thoughts and encouragement mean a great deal to us both. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to everyone who has commented, sent us emails, or telephoned.

Mrs GOF and I now have just a little work to do together.

We didn’t think much of Mother Nature’s pruning job which converted this,

into this.

There are also a few twigs to be cleared from the lawn and manicured garden;

and half an acre of this;

to be rebuilt into this;

Which is not quite as daunting as the task that confronted us after Cyclone Larry in 2006, when the entire plant nursery was demolished.

After Cyclone Larry 2006

Could I please make the audacious suggestion that we should all give a moments thought to the homeless Australians at Mission Beach, Tully and Cardwell, and all the survivors of the numerous natural disasters around the world, and take time to appreciate what you and I have in this life.

 

It can all so easily be taken away in the blink of an eye.

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One day at a time

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My friend Snowy recently addressed the wonder of just being alive in a recent  Friday Night Philosophy. (here)
I highly commend it to anyone who has not read it. 
It is a philosophy which takes just two minutes to read and understand on an intellectual level, yet for me, only late in life have I really come to appreciate what it means on a practical daily basis.
 
The following are snippets from one mans journey of discovery.

I am reminded every day, as I spend time in my "office", of the simple joy of my "being".

No people bother me. (apart from my own occasional stupidity)
No telephones ring.
The air that I breathe has just travelled 5000 kilometres across the Pacific Ocean and Coral Sea since the last human exhaled or otherwise polluted it.
I work, potting and weeding my plants or simply sweeping the grunge off the weedmat floor.
Sometimes I just sit, wonder, and appreciate my good fortune at being able to earn a modest living in this beautiful place.

The present is even more precious when I briefly consider the long and occasionally difficult road which brought me to this moment.

A ten year old boy, in 1959, stood in a paddock on the family dairy farm in rural Victoria and determined that his future would lie in agriculture and horticulture.

Three years later, the country boy, a little fish out of water in suburbia, treasured his backyard garden of succulents and geraniums as a place of refuge, biding his time before going to agricultural college.

Agricultural college taught us that to gain respect from peers, you should be the first to volunteer to jump into the pig pen with a shovel and clean out the shit. 
Now aint that a lesson which should have a broader application in life.

At times during the last forty years I have laboured hard just to put food on the family table.
Jobs that some would consider menial, but to my way of thinking, farming, producing food for people, is the most honorable of professions

I have often been shat and pissed upon whilst milking other people's cows…..working 14 hour days in all weather for minimum wages.

My Mr Puniverse body lugged 15 litre backpack sprayers, filled with 2-4D and 2-4-5T (agent orange) mixed with diesel fuel, up and down hills poisoning tobacco bush weeds, (and I shudder now to think what else) for dairy farmers.

Mrs GOF and little Globet spent days, weeks and years with me, up to their arses (literally) in wet season mud and torrential rain hauling taro and yam tubers out of the ground for sale.

I even spent one day working in a milk factory coldroom, packing bottles of milk.  Only one day.
The very next day I returned my free issue of eskimo clothing, advising management that having to punch in and out on a timeclock was an activity that contravened my Contract with the Cosmos, and I immediately returned to milking the cows who at least respected me as an individual human being.

Over 20 years we gradually built a plant nursery and collected bromeliads (plants native to South America).

Then, exactly three years ago today, the 20th March 2006, Cyclone Larry completely erased the nursery and relocated most of our farm buildings to places where they did not belong…..like in the branches of trees 100 metres away.
It prompted me to also rearrange a few of the priorities in my life, and recognise that life itself is a miracle.  We have no control over its commencement, nor, perhaps unfortunately, its moment of termination.
I committed to honouring the magic of life itself, with daily appreciation of my "existence".

I acknowledge all the elements of good fortune which have also accompanied me during the first three quarters of this journey of life, including good health and being born in Australia.
I regret not a single day of my working life.
Not even the milk factory.

For now I have daily happiness and contentment, and I will not let myself forget it or take it for granted.

The little boys dream has been lived.

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Appreciating the little stuff

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At 8 am on Monday 20 March 2006, GOF and Mrs GOF were standing in front of their modest rural cottage, looking at the deep blue sky and appreciating a brief moment of total calm, silence, and serenity.  Only one thing was unusual.  All the birds were strangely quiet.
We were standing in the eye of tropical cyclone Larry, one of the most powerful storms ever to make landfall in Australias recorded history.
During the following 2 hours Larry twisted and uprooted any large trees which remained upstanding from the first onslaught of the storm, and flung our little farm outbuildings to all quadrants of the compass.
We thought we understood cyclones, having lived through many during 25 years here.
We did not.
The predicament facing us that morning can only be understood by those who have experienced a direct hit by the most ferocious of tropical cyclones/typhoon/hurricanes.  The realisation that your natural environment has been destroyed by the ferocity of mother nature, and that you could possibly not be around to see the sun come up on another day.
It is only with a large lump in my throat that I am able to recall that day, and remember those less fortunate than us….those whose dreams and homes were totally shattered and obliterated.

Moments like these tend to stop the clock of your life from ticking in its normal automatic unappreciative mode, and cause you to reset it using some different values of measurement.

My immediate appreciation was that, although we lost our little business/livelihood, we were spared, by good fortune of geography, our home.

I have, since that day, chosen on a daily basis to have some quiet time and acknowledge the little blessings I have in this life.
Occasionally I will share some of them with others.

This one is for the birds, who came back into our lives.
We hand feed up to 50 King Parrots at dawn every day.  They are one of 35 different species of birds which regularly visit our garden.
It reminds me that, at least in my little neck of the woods, the world is a very beautiful place indeed.

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