Robin Tennant Wood

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  • A lot of my social media timeline today has been occupied with whether or not we, as Australians, should be buying into an ‘Americanised’ Hallowe’en and what the hell is Hallowe’en anyway.

    Against my better judgment – seriously, I should know better – I responded to a comment that in the southern hemisphere we should be celebrating Hallowe’en in May and not October. Oh, for Pete’s sake.

    I do not buy into the Hallowe’en thing, neither the tradition nor the commercialisation, but for the sake of accuracy, this is what is celebrated on 31st October.

    kitten copyThe word “Hallowe’en” is a contraction of Hallowed Evening. It is the evening before All Saints Day which falls on 1st November and All Souls Day, 2nd November. The evening before the holy day of All Saints was traditionally a time to clear any evil spirits from the house. Hence, the whole scary play acting of witches, ghosts, zombies and so forth.

  • redbellyblackAs well as luring me and most other outdoorsy, gardening types outside after the winter hibernation, the warm weather has also brought out some of our less than welcome garden co-habitants: snakes.

    After the first flush of the warm weather last month, my neighbour and I were walking our dogs down the little bush track to the Shoalhaven and encountered a huge brown snake, probably the biggest I have ever seen, sunning itself on the track. Fortunately we saw it in time to allow it space to get away and the dogs were on leads so they couldn’t get close. The next day I saw a very small red-belly black on my driveway. Yes, they’re out and about and everyone has a theory about how to keep them away from yards, pets and gardens.

    Around here the most common species of snakes are browns and red-belly blacks, followed by tiger snakes and copperheads. None of which I particularly want to encounter while dancing barefoot among the petunias.

  • asparagus copyNever one to conform too rigidly to social norms, this year I have thrown caution to the wind and flouted the only rule that applies to gardening hereabouts: the ‘don’t-plant-summer-vegies-until-after-the-Melbourne-Cup’ rule.

    Early spring warmth lured me outdoors in September and with the forecast looking promising, I had tomatoes, chilies, cucumbers and zucchinis planted by October. Eggplants, beans and pumpkins followed shortly thereafter.

    Then comes four weeks of nervously watching the weather forecasts and the thermometer in the garden and assessing the likelihood of frost every evening. So far, so good. It’s gone close a couple of times and I have the hessian bags ready in case I need to get out and cover up my now quite healthy looking plants if the temperature dips into the danger zone.

  • Critical thinking is self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way. People who think critically consistently attempt to live rationally, reasonably, empathically. They are keenly aware of the inherently flawed nature of human thinking when left unchecked. They strive to diminish the power of their egocentric and sociocentric tendencies. They use the intellectual tools that critical thinking offers – concepts and principles that enable them to analyze, assess, and improve thinking. They work diligently to develop the intellectual virtues of intellectual integrity, intellectual humility, intellectual civility, intellectual empathy, intellectual sense of justice and confidence in reason.

  • Big Government and Big Business... will try to impose social and cultural uniformity upon adults and their children. To achieve this they will (unless prevented) make use of all the mind-manipulating techniques at their disposal and will not hesitate to reinforce these methods of non-rational persuasion by economic coercion and threats of physical violence. If this kind of tyranny is to be avoided, we must begin without delay to educate ourselves and our children for freedom and self-government. Such an education for freedom should be... first of all in facts and in values — the facts of individual diversity and genetic uniqueness and the values of freedom, tolerance and mutual charity, which are the ethical corollaries of these facts.

    ~ Aldous Huxley: (Brave New World Revisited)

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