Fire Stricken and Thirsty Koala Bear

Edit February 12 Breaking news reports millions of animals to have been killed by the devastating fires in Australia.

By email, Greg just sent me a touching picture and story of a fireman who took time to give this little bear some water.

More moving stories and pictures are here.

As I understand it, these are the worst fires Australia has even seen: of course it is not only human beings who suffer, but many animals, both wild and domesticated, have been burned and killed.


UP photo

Thanks, Greg.

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A Message from the Queen by Way of Australia

My delightful Aussie blogging friend Greg the Explorer posted the following comment on one of my columns. Having come to the definite conclusion that some of you fail to gulp in every opinion–inane and otherwise–etched in the pages of my site, I’m using his words to fashion my post for today, so that all who come here may have these choice morsels of information, and furthermore to enable us to be aware of the queen’s edict…and choose whether or not to obey. It’s hilarious…and would you not agree that in these tension-laden days leading to the election, a tad bit of hilarity may well serve us.


To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.
(You should look up ‘revocation’ in the Oxford English Dictionary.)
Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy).
Your new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.
Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.
To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘colour,’ ‘favour,’ ‘labour’ and ‘neighbour.’ Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters, and the suffix ‘-ize’ will be replaced by the suffix ‘-ise.’ Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up ‘vocabulary’).
2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ”like’ and ‘you know’ is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English.. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter ‘u” and the elimination of ‘-ize.’
3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.
4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can’t sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist,then you’re not ready to shoot grouse..
5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.
6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.
7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.
8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.
9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. Australian beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth – see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.
10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one’s ears removed with a cheese grater.
11. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies)..
12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the Australians first to take the sting out of their deliveries.
13. You must tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us mad.
14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).
15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries with cream when in season.

The challenge has been issued, my friends. What will be your response? Will we fold our cherished Red/White and Blue, disband Independence Day, pay $10.00 a gallon for gasoline, suffer abysmal socialized medical care (she forgot to mention that), and call off the World Series immediately? Or will we rise with new Revolution in our (ahem–excuse me, your Majesty) guts and grab another hamburger with supersized french fries, snatch up our rifles and bag another moose, scan Google instead of the Oxford, have a slab of apple pie ala mode (with ice cream on top), inform the queen WE fashioned Microsoft…and one of our distinguished ones even invented the internet?

Can’t wait to hear from you. Hey, and you from Kansas–you must be furious. She doesn’t like you!

Blogging Death Life Photography The World

Olive Riley, World’s Oldest Blogger, Dies

You may recall Olive Riley, who was the author of a beautiful very lively blog, and who at 108 years old was considered the world’s oldest blogger. I wrote about her a couple of times several months ago. (Both of those posts have links to a video of a hilarious birthday party thrown for her.)

She has posted her last line, for on Saturday, just after 6:00 am, in the sure hands of God, she slipped from this earth into the chambers of eternity. She was an amazing woman and will be mourned by her family and her readers who numbered into the thousands. An Australian, she communicated on a regular basis with people from as far away as the United States and Russia.

In her final post of June 26th, she said she could not “shake off that bad cough.” She was born in 1899 and would have turned 109 on October 20.

Olive’s musing live on at and more recently at

My sympathy and best wishes to her family.


My devotional blog is here.