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life & leisure. too early for flowers: the story of a polio mother . calories ain’t calories . grape expectations

Life & Leisure

Too Early for Flowers:

The Story of a Polio Mother

Libby Wright chats with Kurt Sipolski, author of the moving biopic ebook Too Early for Flowers, soon to be adapted into a major motion film by Hollywood actress Ksenia Solo.


Issue 546. December-January 2012-13

Life & Leisure

Ksenia Solo will star as Iris Mondy in her big screen adaptation of Too Early for Flowers


nspirational stories often come with anecdotes of incredible

battles with polio, the death of Kurt’s father after WWII, the sudden

feats or an “against all the odds” triumph over adversity,

death of her second husband and the loss of her eldest son to

but occasionally, a story inspires by showing how the less

melanoma – in the winters of her life. “Everyone assumes it’s a

fortunate simply survived or even flourished given the

primordial explanation of life and rebirth, but it’s more about how,

hardships they’re dealt. In his online novella Too Early for Flowers:

even when she was in the grips of tragedy, she was always looking

The Story of a Polio Mother, Kurt Sipolski tells the poignant story

forward to the joys ahead.”

of how his mother, Iris Mondy, lovingly cared for him through his

Too Early for Flowers showcases some of the intimate memories

struggle with polio as a child, selflessly dedicating herself to his

of his mother’s determination to help Kurt though his physical

recovery and the cruel twist of fate that saw Kurt caring for his

anguish and her ability to keep a brave face in arduous times.

mother in her later years. The story has recently been picked up by popular Canadian-

“She kept a lot of it to herself,” says Kurt. “She was stoic and I hardly ever saw her cry, but I have vivid memories.”

Latvian actress Ksenia Solo to be optioned into a movie and

He recalls her standing with her arms crossed in front of her

has helped bring awareness to the plight for polio eradication

chest, making Kurt crawl into the raspberry bushes where he’d

in our lifetime.

thrown his brace in frustration as a child.

“I got the idea when I was writing her eulogy,” says Kurt.

“Don’t you want to get well?” she had cried out. Years later,

“She was a courageous woman. She had to bear with me in her

Kurt found himself repeating the same phrase to his mother while

fortitude, in a time before self-help television shows, and carried

trying to teach her to walk again after a car crash and a broken hip.

the strain on her shoulders. Eventually, the situation revolved itself and I had to be strong for her.” Iris Mondy died after a battle with cancer on November 30, 1998; 50 years to the day that Kurt was diagnosed with polio.

The story gained attention after he submitted a piece around Mother’s Day to the Palm Springs paper. After they published it, it went on to feature in the LA Times and the international Herald Tribune with rave reviews.

The title itself comes from an expression his mother would make

“That’s when I knew I had to develop it into a book,” says Kurt.

about the seasons, how having suffered her greatest blows – Kurt’s

“A lot of people, especially younger generations, were unaware of


Life & Leisure

Ksenia Solo’s The End of Polio campaign photo

Kurt Sipolski

Iris Mondy

the pain this disease wrought on a generation of sufferers, both physically and emotionally.” One of those moved by the story was actress Ksenia Solo. “I am 24 years old and I feel incredibly lucky that I live in a time and place where polio is not robbing the lives of innocent people, especially children,” says Solo. “When I read Too Early for Flowers and learnt about this terrifying disease and the devastating effect it had on humanity I was deeply moved, and felt that as a young woman, as an artist, I needed to tell Kurt’s story.” Kurt’s story is not unique, however. Worldwide epidemics

time efforts and leadership in polio eradication,” says Mr Lunn. The End of Polio’s ‘Purple Pinkie’ photo initiative jumped considerably after the publication of Too Early for Flowers brought Ksenia to the cause.

robbed many children of a carefree life and the burden often

“The photos and messages that have been gathered through

pulled families apart. Kurt acknowledges his fellow sufferers and

Kurt, Ksenia and The End of Polio collaboration were shared with

their families, drawing on their quiet dignity and great pride as a

polio workers on the ground in Pakistan in October for World

source of inspiration and strength.

Polio Day (October 24) and then in November throughout the

“Even though this is the story of one family, it is the story of

country,” says d’Arcy. “Kurt is an important source of information

thousands,” says Ksenia. “It’s not only a story about a boy who

and inspiration for the polio cause, not only for the global

was deprived of his childhood and a big part of his adult life, but

eradication of polio, but its continued presence in countries such

also about his mother, an ambitious young woman, who had to

as Australia, Canada, the US and beyond with polio survivors

give up on her dreams and fight for her son’s life, by his side, for

and post-polio syndrome. As long as polio remains an issue, Kurt

the rest of her life.”

will be a great and important resource for the awareness and

With the publishing of Too Early for Flowers, Kurt has found

advocacy of this disease.”

himself an unlikely advocate for polio eradication awareness.

Becoming a voice for those affected by this sinister disease

D’Arcy Lunn, Australian Activation and Youth & Schools Manager

was never Kurt’s intention, but as it has progressed he says he is

at The Global Poverty Project and Campaign Manager for The

touched by how it has affected people, especially those too young

End of Polio Campaign in Canada, says Kurt’s story has directly

to know a time before the vaccine.

contributed to broader and higher engagement of the community,

“I’m fortunate to be able to help tell the story of those left

especially young people, with the work of Rotary International and

behind, both victims and families, and especially mothers, who

Rotarians and their important role in polio eradication.

often feel unwarranted guilt,” says Kurt.

“Kurt has helped bring together new generations with the polio message and exposed them to the work of Rotary and their long-


Issue 546. December-January 2012-13

Too Early for Flowers is available online only at, and 

Book Club

Stephen Trombley

David Boon

Barbara Kingsolver

Allen & Unwin

Allen & Unwin


RRP: $49.99 (Hard Cover)

RRP: $19.95

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For the reader who has lain awake fretting

Spor t is supposed to be a serious

Dellarobia is a young mother so

over his tenuous grasp of the Critiques of

business, yet few activities are more likely

discontented with her poverty-stricken

Immanuel Kant, or his unformed sense of

to provide a chuckle or three.

life on a failing farm in the Appalachian

the line of thought that descends from

No-one captures this juxtaposition

Mountains that she impulsively decides to

Hegel through Marx to 20th-century

better than David Boon, a man who, for

have an affair. On her way to consummate

Soviet state socialism, or who struggles

many people, has come to epitomise the

it, she stumbles across something so

to call to mind the key strands in the

“great Aussie bloke”.

impossible as to be a miracle.

thinking of Edmund Husserl, Michel

During an international career that

But is it? Or is it a sign of something

Foucault, Jacques Lacan and Jacques

ran from 1984 to 1996, he became the

more disturbing – a freak of nature that

Derrida – help is at hand. It comes in the

quintessential Australian sportsman and

indicates how far out of whack the world

comfortingly accessible form of Stephen

one of the most popular and respected

really is?

Trombley’s Fifty Thinkers Who Shaped

cricketers of his, or any, generation.

With the Christians of her community

the Modern World, a concise history of

“Boonie”, as he is more affectionately

celebrating it as one, and visiting

modern thought from the Enlightenment

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researchers treating it as the other,

to the present day.

drank 52 cans of lager en route to London

Dellarobia finds her life totally

– then went on to play a cracking game!

transformed. Thoughtful, powerful and

F i f t y T h i n ke r s W h o S h a p e d t h e

quietly compulsive reading – highly

Modern World opens with a substantial

David Boon’s Funniest Sporting Moments

introduction that outlines the history of

provides a bumper collection of mishaps


human ideas, from the philosophers of

and moments, not just from cricket, but

Review by Lindy Jones

classical Antiquity to the European 18th

across all sports, that will become the

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century, via the Christian scholastics of

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the Middle Ages and the development of Renaissance thought, culminating in the philosophy of Descartes and the development of scientific method. Having

thus set the scene, Stephen Trombley

For your chance to win a copy of Flight Behaviour email editor@rotarianlifeandleisure.

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Your guide to what’s happening this month


February Macarthur Progressive Lunch and Winery Tour The success of the inaugural Macarthur Progressive Wine Luncheon in November has led to the planning of monthly events

What’s what and what’s hot throughout Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands this December-February

for 2013 in Australia’s oldest wine region. Three of Macarthur’s wineries – Fussy Grape, Trattoria La Vigna and Razorback Ridge Wines – will band together to offer three-course progressive lunch tours. The first 2013 lunch will be held on Sunday, February 3. Book on 0416 521 753 or

26-27 14-27 New South Wales Queensland Tasmania Northern Territory

January Heineken Hottest 7s in the World

January Australian Open Witness the drama unfold as the world’s greatest athletes dominate the courts at Melbourne Park and test each other’s

A fantastic opportunity

skill, determination, courage and endurance. More than mere



sporting heroes, the likes of Rafa, Roger, Novak, Andy, Maria,

international rugby union

Victoria, Caroline and Serena are global superstars, all striving to



claim the first Grand Slam® title of the tennis season. Every year

Hottest 7s in the World is

the Australian Open gets bigger, better, more intense and more

a Rugby 7s competition

breathtaking as these stunning athletes leave nothing to chance

conducted in Darwin with

in their quest for the ultimate prize.






from overseas, interstate, intrastate



Darwin. With prize money

South Australia

of $67,500 it ranks as the leading prize money 7s event in Australia. A women’s competition will


also be conducted. www.

Western Australia Australian Capital Territory


December Australian PGA Championship

The Australian PGA Championship presented by Coca-Cola will tee off at the Palmer Resort Coolum on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Australia’s oldest professional tournament, the Australian PGA Championship has boasted impressive fields, including Bubba Watson and Darren Clarke along with

New Zealand


Issue 541. July 2012

Peter Senior, Robert Allenby, Geoff Ogilvy and Peter Lonard.

Diary Dates


January Henley-on-Mersey Celebrate Australia’s proud heritage and pioneering spirit as well as our unique quirkiness at Henley-onMersey. Try your hand at archery, whip cracking, sheaf tossing, egg throwing, a scarecrow competition, the hurdy gurdy and the ever-popular ferret races. The ferrets are placed in one end of a long pipe that traverses up and down and around hay bales, with the first ferret to fully emerge at the other end being the winner. The event is coordinated by the Henleyon-Mersey Management Committee, a collaboration


by the Rotary Club of Latrobe, Lions Club of Latrobe and Latrobe Council.


Marlborough Wine and Food Festival Over 8000 wine lovers attend the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival


February One Day International

each February. Festival-

This Commonwealth Bank



Series One Day International






Day Night Cricket will be the

the region is famous for,

first time the Australian cricket

along with many other

team has played in Canberra.

delicious varieties of wine,

The match against the West

scrumptious local produce

Indies is a headline act for a

and gourmet cuisine. www.

host of events celebrating


Canberra’s centenary.


December-January Hyundai Hopman Cup


February Adelaide Cellar Door Wine Festival

Adelaide’s Cellar Door Wine Festival features over 150 of South Australia’s favourite wineries. Get in first to sample the newest and hottest varietals to hit the market. Featuring a collection

For 24 years the Hopman Cup has been serving up the very best

of the yummiest food producers sampling their wares, visitors

in international tennis to the sport-loving Western Australian

to the festival will be able to indulge at the Regional Farmers

public. No less than 21 world number one players have thrilled

Market, which includes a range of specialty produce. Take part

the packed crowds. The 25th championship will be no different

in the many Master Classes, sample hero wines and grab great

with the best players in the world coming.

festival bargains.


Healthy Habits

Calories ain’t calories One calorie is not the same as the next – or so the latest research indicates Words: Olwen Anderson If you’re keen to lose or maintain your weight, you know how


challenging it can be. Sometimes it seems like no matter how

The first diet assessed by researchers was the classic low-fat diet,

little you eat, or how much you exercise, your weight changes

supplying 45 per cent of your calories as carbohydrate, 30 per cent

only slowly, and not in proportion to the effort you’re putting in.

as fat and 25 per cent as protein. The “low fat” approach has been

One reason losing weight can be difficult is that you need fewer

the diet recommended by experts since the mid-20th century. This

calories as your body weight reduces. But the composition of your

diet heavily utilises grains and as a result has a far higher glycemic

diet is a factor too. New research suggests that the proportion of

load. Alas, for the participants, this resulted in burning less energy

carbohydrates, fats and proteins in your diet is just as important

on the same number of calories, making it easier to regain weight.

as the calorie count.


The second diet was at the other end of the scale: the ultralow carbohydrate diet (10 per cent carbohydrate, 60 per cent fat, 30 per cent protein); so low in carbohydrates participants needed

We used to believe that our body treated calories from fats,

fibre supplements for their digestion to function properly. This

proteins and carbohydrates in the same way. That whether you

diet was so restrictive researchers believed it was unsustainable.

lost or gained weight was purely mathematical: eat less calories

Interestingly, they also found that you’re more likely to feel

than you expend in energy and you’ll lose weight. Eat more

stressed eating this way; perhaps because eating carbohydrate-

calories than you need and you’ll gain weight. But many people

rich food can be calming.

have found through bitter experience that this just isn’t what happens in real life.

The third diet, which produced the best results for weight loss maintenance, was the “low glycemic load” version (20 per cent

What the study concluded, when assessing diet composition,

protein, 40 per cent fat, 40 per cent carbohydrate). This diet

was that your body will manage its weight more effectively

contained a generous amount of carbohydrate, but all from low-

if you eat a moderate amount of fat and modify the type of

glycemic foods.

carbohydrates you eat.

Legumes, starchy vegetables and only a select few unprocessed

The researchers reviewed three varieties of diet: a low-fat diet,

grains (like brown rice, quinoa and oats) are low glycemic

an ultra-low carbohydrate diet and a moderate low-glycemic diet

carbohydrates. Sugar and processed grain products like breakfast

with moderate protein and moderate fat content.

cereals, bread, cakes, lollies and soft drinks create a high-glycemic load and don’t fit into a moderate carbohydrate diet.

THE SCIENCE IN REAL LIFE What would this kind of diet look like in practical terms, compared to the classic Western high-grain, low-fat diet? It would probably include a little more high-quality protein, a return to including fats with your meals and far less reliance on carbohydrate-rich foods like bread, breakfast cereals and sugar. That could mean a cooked breakfast of eggs or meat and vegetables or baked beans, a salad for lunch with a little rice or starchy vegetables, plus some good fats from avocado or olives, and an evening meal rich in animal protein and vegetables. The take-home message from the latest research is that if you want to lose weight, and keep it off, get sugar and processed grains out of your diet – and don’t be scared of eating fat. Olwen Anderson is a naturopathic nutritionist. Visit 


Issue 546. December-January 2012-13

Health Habits

Eureka! moments that keep hearts beating


or many people, having a hear t attack is an

While pacing the corridors, Anna read an article about a small

unthinkable prospect; “I’m young”, “I don’t smoke”,

organisation, the North Shore Heart Research Foundation (now

“I’m a woman” we tell ourselves, but heart disease

Heart Research Australia), which funded the research that led to

does not discriminate. While lifestyle factors may play

the new treatment methods that saved her husband’s life.

a part, and as we age we tend to suffer more health problems, a heart attack can strike men and women, young and old alike. Anna Pavoni tells of her devastation and disbelief when her young husband suffered not one, but two heart attacks, all before his 40th birthday.

“The ECG he had in the ambulance meant he could be wheeled straight into theatre on arrival. They said he had two hours to live tops, so every second counted.” Heart Research Australia funds first-stage research that might never see the light of day without their support. For example, a

As millions of people watched Alessandro Pavoni and his

few years ago, hospitals typically used drugs to open up blocked

apprentice cook on MasterChef Australia last year, no-one had

arteries, but they were slow acting and could cause complications.

a clue the fit, young star had suffered his first heart attack at

One day, Professor Helge Rasmussen and Dr Gregory Nelson,

the age of 36, and that another would follow a short while later.

cardiologists at the Royal North Shore Hospital, had a “Eureka

“One minute he’d gone for a surf, the next he was having

moment”. They felt sure that mechanically unblocking arteries

open-heart surgery,” says Anna. “Worse still, it was his second

would work better. Heart Research Australia gave the doctors

heart operation in eight months ... and he was only 38.”

funding to test their hunch further. This became known as the

Alessandro had very subtle signs he was having a heart attack; not at all like the dramatic symptoms seen in movies.

SALAMI (Stents as Alternative to Lytic therapy in Acute Myocardial Infarction) program.

“Our whole journey started when Alessandro had chest pains

Programs such as SALAMI and ETAMI, the early assessment

in the middle of a yoga class and some aches he put down to

program Alessandro received in the ambulance ride to the

a pulled shoulder from lifting weights. We were floored when a

hospital, have reduced heart attack mortality rates at Royal North

blood test showed he’d had a heart attack.”

Shore Hospital from a staggering 30 per cent to 2 per cent by

After the first heart attack, Alessandro continued life with his

cutting the time between the start of symptoms and surgery.

usual gusto. After opening his first restaurant, the two-hatted

Heart Research Australia is a fundraising organisation that

Ormeggio at the Spit in Mosman, he opened Spiedo Restaurant

receives no government funding. To find out more about Heart

& Bar in Westfield, Sydney City, in 2011.

Research Australia go to If you would like to

Then one day while out surfing he felt pain like a dagger striking his chest. Still in board shorts, he was taken to the Royal North Shore Hospital for emergency double heart-bypass surgery. “Waiting while he was in theatre was my lowest point. I was terrified, disbelieving, asking myself if I would ever see him again?”

make a donation call 1800 999 060 or send your cheque to Heart Research Australia, PO Box 543, St Leonards, NSW, 1590. “I can’t be grateful enough or shout loud enough from the rooftop how much we need Heart Research Australia,” says Anna. “Because a heart attack can happen to anyone!” 


Healthy Habits Advertorial

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Issue 546. December-January 2012-13

Food + Wine

Want Fly-Buys with that Sir? Words: Max Crus Forty years after the first Bankcard statement frightened our parents witless, finally, with tap-and-go credit cards, credit is as fast as cash. Forty years for technology to catch up to analogue, pencil and

1 Mr Riggs Outpost Cabernet, 2009 – $25

paper, brown paper wrapping, granny-trolley, Liberal Party, 1950’s

Great wine for camping and visiting relatives, outlaws and outposts.

values, and what do we do? Immediately introduce “Rewards”

8.6/10, but a few more points after a few more anniversaries.

programs to slow it down. Never mind the GFC or Euro crisis; this is the biggest issue in the mercantile world today, the evolution of customer service. Ask not what you can do for your country, but how many free macchiatos you can get.


It’s all very “feel good” that the local coffee shop gives you a free one every 10 coffees, but who can be bothered? Struth, wouldn’t you rather just pay 30 cents extra and not have another card in your wallet, or slow down the

Blue Pyrenees Luna (Sparkling Chardonnay/Pinot Noir), NV – $20 How appropriate for a room full of people over the moon over the Swans’ grand final victory. 8.8/10

process as the barista searches for it trying to remember your name? If you like the coffee and it’s fairly priced, just give them the money and move along. And whose idea was Fly Buys-style rewards?


Charge five per cent more than the product’s worth, give you a two per cent “reward” you cash in years

Tyrrell’s Single Vineyard Belford Chardonnay, 2009 – $33

later on a toaster or superseded compact camera,

Could there be a Chardonnay revival? We should probably hope not

only after paying an annual fee for the privilege,

or the price of things such as this will go through the roof, or the

itself the value of the toaster.

bell tower. 8.7/10

What part of the corollary that Frequent Flyer programs actually make products more expensive don’t people understand? The same part that makes them play pokies perhaps? Sure, 20,000 points looks plenty, and the


goods always look fantastic in catalogues, but the reality is very much “rear-vision

Angove’s The Medhyk Old Vine (McLaren Vale) Shiraz, 2008 – $50

mirror effect”. When they arrive months

How appropriate with two doctors at dinner? One of 3660 bottles,

later, it is immediately apparent that

meaning only 3659 remain, so find one and count yourself lucky and

“Items may appear larger in the catalogue

extremely rewarded. 9.3/10

than reality”. Rewards are all very well, but why speed things up with tap-and-go just to slow it down again with “Have you got a Fly Buys card”?


“It’s in here somewhere!”

Yeringberg Shiraz, 2010 – $62

Naturally, wine is the exception

Too sophisticated for a sausage sizzle, so order the steak sandwich

in rewards marketing, and

... and bring a corkscrew. A better buy than just about anything from

every 13th bottle free you

Bunnings. 9/10

must admit is much better value than a free latte.

6 Pfeiffer Shiraz, 2010 – $23 You don’t see many father and daughter businesses, so relabelling as Pfeiffer and Daughter could be a marketing coup. As would “Pfeiffer the price of four!” Meanwhile, good cricket wine … five for… 8.4/10


Family Memoirs

Will you write your Memoirs? How many times do you hear people say, “I wish I’d remembered to ask my grandmother more about her life� or “I wonder what life was like for my grandparents when they first arrived ‘Down Under’?� I grew up in New Zealand and we used to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night with a huge bonfire and the usual array of fireworks. What I remember most is that after the excitement of letting off all the fireworks, all the children gathered around the fire with hot

“There are things about my family history that only my mother

mugs of cocoa and listened to stories told to us by the adults.

knew. She talked about them now and then when I was too

And during the years since, whether in the outback of Australia,

young to take it all in. Some were retained by my sister, but sadly,

the Sahara Desert, or even in the isolated Scottish Highlands,

not documented. Now they are both gone, and to my great

there have been many times when people’s stories have held

regret so is a large chunk of my family history that is no longer

me spellbound.

recoverable.� – John Davies, Melbourne

Clearly, as the result of their life experiences, relationships

As always, I believe that motivation is the key. I know we are all

with others and the world around them, everyone has their own

busy these days, but once a loved one dies, all the information

unique story to tell. And it is by sharing those personal stories

they possess (unless it’s recorded) is lost for ever.

that we enrich the lives of others, who may be able to relate to

If you decide not to write your story yourself, I suggest

our triumphs, struggles and difficulties. Imagine the 95-year-old

employing a biographical writer who will most likely wish

who rode to school in a horse and buggy, experienced the first

to inter view you. This can be a ver y exhilarating and

electric light and has lived through two World Wars.

therapeutic process.

You don’t necessarily have to record your complete life story

Nowadays, with digital printing technology, it is possible to

in chronological order and, in fact, you may prefer to focus on

produce a very professional and attractive book for a reasonable

a particular period or event. For example, someone who has

cost. In most cases, I have found the client will want to print a

excelled in motorcar racing may simply wish to record those

limited number of books to give as gifts to family members. Of

experiences. Or perhaps a family member who has recovered

course, should you so aspire, you can preserve your legacy with

from a life-threatening illness may want to share their story to

an elegant, leather-bound finish..

help others. And I’m sure that from time to time we’ve all been

For more information on writing your memoirs contact Tina

subjected to a few stories from keen ex-military personnel who

Blackmur on 0419 382 180 (Australia), 0210 2640 748 (NZ), email

are just bursting to share their wartime experiences with us! or visit ď Ź

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Life and Leisure  

December / January 2013 Issue

Life and Leisure  

December / January 2013 Issue