Tucacas Venezuela Sunset, Cayo Medio, with Oil tanker

Our House is On Fire

by Malena and Beata Ernman, Svante and Greta Thunbert

Have you read this book? Wait – that’s not a good way to start a blog, because then maybe you think you should have already read it. I don’t mean that. I merely want to encourage you TO read it.

Our House is on Fire is mainly written by and in the voice of Greta Thunberg’s mother, Malena Ernman. The courage and honesty of a family dealing with a child with serious disorders documented in this book is sometimes overwhelming. The response of this family gives the reader confidence that whatever they might face in their own family, if they face it with love, thoughtfulness, respect, and compassion, it can be worked out.

The amount of trust the parents put in Greta when she got the idea of the school strike for climate made her work possible. Can all parents have so much trust? Maybe not, but we can be inspired.

Read this book.

Thank you.

End of March 2020

How to think about it.
Death in the time of pandemic.
How to trace each life each death.
How to think about how we are connected or not.

What about the grandmother whose daughter and toddler son are living with her. The daughter moves out. Not wanting to infect her mother. She returns to an unloving relationship. Her chosen alternative to not infect her mother who has a heart condition making her more susceptible to the virus.

What about the 80 years old plus neighbor. She was recently in hospital for multiple problems following a botched colonoscopy. She doesn’t answer her phone. Her son lives nearby but he is a ranger coping with the horrific scale of the destruction of the recent bushfires. Trying to preserve some habitat for the remaining animals. At the same time trying to preserve the life of his fragile mother.

What about the mature age student just entering the school of art and design? A struggle after years of trying this, failing at that, to realize he has a talent for art. He is a creative human being. Finally he found a place, but the pandemic dissolved that place. Shredded.

What about the guy with a wife who has an immune deficiency disorder? He orders food online, delivered to his house. Then he waits two days before he brings it inside. Death by packaging. Can the virus live that long on packages?

What about the journalist whose children never thought much of his work until
they saw him parodied on TikTok? How can a social media video app developed in China bring the reality of his work to his home life in Australia?

What about it?
How do you think about it ?

Bette Hutchison Silver with her nephew Lawrence Andre

Across continents

Across time

Across consciousness

Across memory



your birthday

in Australia

where I live

Tuesday 10 March

but not yet in

the USA

where you were born

10 March 1922

in Joplin Missouri


Connecting with you

Connecting with family

Opening up




Missing you


Happy Birthday


Sorry friends. I have not posted anything on this blog for some time. We have been preoccupied here in Australia with bushfires and extreme climate events.  Global heating is real.  Climate emergency is here.

I wrote three short poems in the haze of bush fires.  You can read them on my other blog www.familyandfiction.com , which is about the novel I wrote (to be published soon), about my father W. Lon Hutchison, Tracking the Human: nobody’s a long time. 

Here’s a poem about family.

All Together

The sting of grief

rising up

through my body

burning my eyes

crying without tears

thinking of my mother

Did I betray her?

Was I there for her?

I am not grieving

I am connecting

Dead or alive

She is here

through my blog

through the wind sculpture

dedicated to her

through everyone

who remembers her

Her family she described

as dysfunctional

is a family

well documented

by me

A blog for my mum

A blog for a novel about my father

A book of poems and sketches

Keeping us all together

Myself, my mother, my brother Lon on the beach in Mazatlan, Mexico


To write from a different place

a different time

outback New South Wales

Life stripped down

Every day

Driving somewhere,

Finding a place to sleep or camp

Preparing a basic dinner

Nothing extra

Reminding myself to be

not just to go

not just driving to get there..

Be there

Palace Hotel, Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia


Re-entering Canberra

during rush hour

Too many cars

Too many people

Going where?

Doing what?

Why ?

Street scene, Broken Hill, New South Wales


to move around Broken Hill

with a map

than Canberra

without a map

where I live

At Broken Hill

no traffic

only road trains

huge trucks carrying cargo


Always Another Country

Memoir of exile and home

Sisonke Msimang





Where did I first learn about this author? Probably on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), which is where I get most of my cultural information. We are so fortunate to have non-commercial television and radio in Australia.

I am grateful for ABC. Without it, I would perhaps shrivel up intellectually lacking a regular injection of new ideas and people.

I read Always Another Country without stopping –  a special treat that I gobbled up.

I felt an affinity with the author. I have lived and/or visited many of the places she discusses, including Nairobi, Kenya, Oakland, California, Australia.

A big difference: I was an adult, when I moved from country to country, Including Venezuela, Australia, Pakistan, Kenya, China, Uganda, back to Australia. Sisonke was moved around by her activist parents, until she made a decision and chose an Australian partner.

Always Another Country moves the reader through places and history, within the context of an activist family, originally from South Africa.

Thank you Sisonke Msimang.

Whom you might meet

What you might learn

Where it might lead you

Kei Miller, poet in residence Poetry on the Move Festival


At the

Poetry on the Move Festival 2019

Canberra Australia

Organized by the University of Canberra


One of the Poets in Residence was Kei Miller, from Jamaica living in UK.

Chatting with him I commented on his woven fiber necklace

From Trinidad, he replied.


Oh, Trinidad…

I hadn’t thought about Trinidad for many years

I had closed that door, compartamentalised and forgot  all connections with Trinidad (and Tobago).. like the stuff that is stowed away in the antique trunk in my bedroom that I never open. Or the shelves filled with photo albums from various lives that I never look at.

Kei spoke of the creativity of Trinidad, of j’ouvert (Jouvay or “opening” in French) – the morning that Carnival begins – and his frequent trips to Trinidad, although Jamaica is his home country.

Flash –Now  I remember… parading down Port of Spain streets in the “engine room” (Engine room is a term used to describe the group of un-pitched percussion instruments that accompany steelbands)…Without smoking anything, everyone was high on weed… marijuana in the air everywhere.

Many years ago, while living in Caracas Venezuela (1984-1991),  I went to Trinidad Carnival three times.

            Trinidadian Women, Carnival, (1989?)

That night, I wrote this poem.


Through a poet

with or without poetry

reconnecting with a past

a dance

through the streets

of Trinidad

Beautiful women

writhing bodies

off limits

to those who would



their gorgeousness

Their day

their way

No one can stop them

Trinidad woman during Carnival (1989?)


The gate signing

what can and

cannot be done

Walking on

path rutted

shaped by many feet

Scraggly native plants

Yellow strawflowers

Grey green shoulder

broken by embedded stone

Piercing red rose hips

Screaming noisy miner birds

signal invasion

Kangaroos watching

waiting, then

fleeing from the unknown

Arriving at summit

Grey clouds open

slivers of gold

above blue ridges

defining the end

At the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Paintings by Alyawarr women

from Utopia, Central Desert, Northern Territory, Australia

Bush Medicine by Gloria Tamerr Petyarr                             one of six panels

Sitting on the bench

in front of the paintings

a Chinese guy

looking at his phone

his back to the paintings

Museum goers walking past

joining the queues

of publicized exhibits

One couple

stopping briefly

holding up phones

snapping photos

without ever looking

at the paintings

A small boy coming up close

pointing out the tiny dots

to his slightly older sister

The paintings


to send out

their reality

                                         Grandfather’s Country by Angelina Ngal Pwerle

Painting by Fred Williams

Silver and Grey

in the National Gallery of Art

Canberra, Australia

Silver and Grey, painting by Fred Williams


Echoes of indigenous art

The land has invaded

His work

His style

His colours

He is the land

He is the painting

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