Life is good, but …

I must be the most ungrateful person around. I have just landed a writing job for one day a week. I am really enjoying my studies even though I am feeling under time pressure a little. We are having guests for the weekend and I need to tidy up the house. So if that is all I have to worry about, then I am a very lucky person. A bit of hard work and a little stress in the next few weeks won’t do me any harm at all.

Hard work

The power of giving up or letting go …

I met a friend for coffee yesterday afternoon. We hadn’t seen each other for a while. We talked about what work opportunities were about and what we both have done recently. I said to her, ‘I am not looking for work at the moment. I just want to focus on my studies.’

We parted and I walked the short distance home. I had only been home a couple of minutes and the phone rang. I had applied for a writing job last October but wasn’t successful. The newspaper rang me to ask if I was still interested and if I would like to come in on Monday for an interview. It is only for 8 hours a week and could be fun. I will wait and see how the conversation goes on Monday.Capture 6This was the first time in four years since I left full time work that I actually stated that I am not looking for work. Isn’t life funny sometimes – the way things work out?

 

 

 

 

 

An early attempt at fiction …

I wrote this piece for a recent assignment. I passed – not quite as well as I would have liked to. Oh well … It was based on research from the newspaper on the date of my birth.

2 NOVEMBER 1954
My sanity is slipping away. It wounds my pride, but I call Mum on Sunday, 31 October 1954 and beg her to pick Peter and me up from the farm the next day. My Mum is thrilled I have come to my senses.

Jack breaks down when I tell him I am leaving him. He is devastated. He says, ‘My life is nothing without you and Peter.’ He slowly turns away and Peter follows him to the kitchen. I think Peter is with Grandma Irene but Peter trails a few metres behind Jack. Irene is preparing for the Melbourne Cup BBQ on Tuesday and sees them both heading for the scrub, and smiles.

Jack returns alone around 11.00am.

‘Jack, what have you done with him?’ I screamed, as I pounded his chest. ‘How could you even think I would do anything to hurt Peter? You and Peter are my life,’ he replied. ‘He is only a baby – two and half years old, for God’s sake! Where is he?’ I shrieked hysterically.

Jack and I met on New Year’s Eve 1950. He was twenty-seven and I was nineteen. He is 5’8’’, slim build, fair curly hair, and deep brown eyes. His sister, Hazel, and I were nursing at Princess Margaret Hospital and she was a matchmaker. Jack was in Perth to enlist in the Army to fight the communists in Korea. It was the start of an incredible, magical romance.

My parents disapproved of Jack and said, ‘He is an uneducated, farm labourer and not good enough for a Claremont girl.’ I turned my back on them and married him in June 1951 in the Anglican Church in Boyup Brook. Jack worked on their small sheep farm just out of Boyup Brook, population around five hundred. We stayed with his parents.

His parents supported his decision to fight Communism and he would earn about £12/6 a week. His first posting was with the 3RAR, based in Japan. He left us on 1 October 1951 knowing we were having a baby. I was distraught. I was not ready for this! Especially with Jack away and living with his parents. Regardless, Peter was born, healthy, on 17 June 1952.

A telegram arrived not long after with the disturbing news of Jack’s capture by the North Koreans. He remained a POW until the war ended on 27 July 1953. When Jack came home in August ’53, he was a broken man – just skin and bone, sullen, and withdrawn. He took solace in drinking each day until he passed out.

If I keep loving and caring for him he would get well surely? I would find a quiet place and sob my heart out. I missed my friends and family in Perth. They wrote infrequently about their dances and trips to the theatre.
***
News spreads that Peter is missing. Jack’s father calls the police and asks the neighbours to help search in the thick scrub beyond the farmhouse. By midday there are around one hundred people scouring the nearby scrub. Peter is wearing summer shorts and singlet. It is around 69 degrees with a chance of rain. I stay at the house while the men search the scrub, I pray, ‘Oh my God, find him please!’

Hours pass and the searchers return with no news. It is nearing 6.00pm when they see Peter running through the bush towards them. Jack and I quickly race towards him and we both hold him and each other, sobbing with relief.
Just at that moment, my parents arrived in their BMW …

Distractions

I have looked at old photos to research information for my writing assignment. It was great to see the photos again because it prompted my memory about so many things I had forgotten. One of them cashew apples. We had a cashew tree in our yard – you couldn’t eat the nuts without baking but the fruit was really yummy.

I found this photo of my Mum taken in 1983. She traveled by bus from Victoria to Fitzroy Crossing to be there when I gave birth to my third son. That is an incredible distance to travel by bus – around 3500 miles. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see much of her as I was in hospital a lot longer than anticipated. I think I spent one or two days with her and then she caught the bus home again! What a woman :-). She was in her early sixties at the time.

Now, back to that assignment!

Mum Fitzroy Crossing 1983

Two great things about writing fiction

In my current studies I am learning about writing fiction and really enjoying it. I am currently working on a 2,500 word assignment. I have the ideas in my head and some words on paper. On reflecting about this new interest, I found two really positive benefits:

1. I can use my own life experience and feelings and infuse them into the characters in my story. I can control the outcomes of these characters and explore avenues/roads I would have liked to travel. Also I can channel any sorts of emotional experiences into my story.

2. I have something to think about. If I can’t sleep, I can play around in my mind with the characters or the plot instead of thinking about worries or problems. If I find myself at a loss for something to do, I can expand my ideas or even come up with a new angle.

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My favourite philosopher …

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I found this quote and thought how appropriate it is in the information age!

As the biggest library if it is in disorder is not as useful as a small but well-arranged one, so you may accumulate a vast amount of knowledge but it will be of far less value than a much smaller amount if you have not thought it over for yourself.
Arthur Schopenhauer

Read more at Arthur Schopenhauer

 

As the biggest library if it is in disorder is not as useful as a small but well-arranged one, so you may accumulate a vast amount of knowledge but it will be of far less value than a much smaller amount if you have not thought it over for yourself.

Arthur Schopenhauer

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/arthurscho133322.html#QGsP5sF1EYwmzSA3.99

Weekly photo challenge: Monument

My interpretation of monuments for this week’s photo challenge :-)

Wasted days and wasted nights

Tell us your tried and true techniques for focusing when that deadline looms and you need to get work done. In other words, how do you avoid wasted days and wasted nights?

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To find a way through the overwhelming confusion, I will usually do a mind map – basically writing down every possible thing that is on my mind. Often I will cover a page and it doesn’t have to be neat. Then I may group some sections together using different coloured highlighters. They may be a group based on topics such as: jobs needing doing in the house, assignments due, appointments to be made or to be kept.

When my page is sorted into chunks I will then put them through the following:

URGENT/IMPORTANT

URGENT/NOT IMPORTANT

NOT URGENT/IMPORTANT

NOT URGENT/NOT IMPORTANT

As you would expect, I then deal with the URGENT/IMPORTANT tasks first, taking one at a time.

Another strategy may be to negotiate for more time if you have a legitimate reason. You need to be kind to yourself and not apply too much pressure. By being under pressure and stressed, it will impact on your ability to do the task anyway – it may even block you from getting started.

When all procrastination is out of the way – just put one foot in front of the other and start doing what needs to be done!

 

Which story has most appeal?

As part of my studies I need to further develop some stories. I would really appreciate your feedback. Thanks :-)

SYNOPSIS – FANTASY
The Magic Tunnel

A little four-year-old girl finds a magical world just beyond Grandma’s back fence. Only Lindy knows the secret entrance. A blue wren whispered it in her ear and made her promise to keep it secret – even from Grandma. Lindy carefully lifts one of the pavers on the patio and jumps into the beautiful rainbow tunnel. The bright colours swirl like a kaleidoscope until Lindy reaches the giant rainbow coloured bubble. This is her secret, best ever, place to be. She is safe there and everything is beautiful and kind. The blue wrens also live in the bubble and they tell Lindy about all the bush creatures while they sit around a little table having a tea party.

SYNOPSIS – NON-FICTION
The Pros and Cons of Lifestyle Villages

The ageing of baby boomers is influencing many aspects of Australian life in the 21st Century with many people aged over 45 and over 55 moving into a Lifestyle or Retirement Villages. This is a big decision with lasting consequences financially, socially and health wise.The writer currently resides in a Lifestyle Village in Busselton and brings her personal observations to the fore. This book also draws on Australian and international research to substantiate its claims. Areas covered include the following chapters:
1. What are the financial implications of moving to a retirement village and what is a lifetime lease?
2. What legislation is relevant to Retirement Villages in Western Australia
3. Age considerations – when is the best time to make the move?
4. What are the expectations, and how does reality measures up?
5. Case studies with divergent points of view
6. Links to resources and further information

CULTURE SHOCK – FICTION
Up- side- down in the Northern Territory

John and Raelene live in the idyllic rain forest environment of Belgrave, in the Dandenong Ranges on the outskirts of Melbourne with their two young children, Nigel and Belinda. A unique opportunity arises, tempting them to give up all that is familiar and move to Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory for John to take up a position as Store Manager for the remote Indigenous community of Numbulwar. The Community Store, owned and operated by an Anglican Mission, is in transition of ownership to the Indigenous Corporation. The township has around five hundred Indigenous people and around a dozen non-Aboriginal people who hold positions in health, education, plus the Store Manager. With no previous experience working with Indigenous people and no training provided, they quickly discover they are way out of their depth. As culture shock takes hold, they begin to question everything they once believed about their values and ideals. This is the story of  their enlightenment.

 

The Prehistoric Animal Brigade

I have two gorgeous grandsons. Isaac will be 6 in July and Alex will turn 4, five days later. Always a busy, birthday week at their place :-). In early 2013, when Alex was two and a half years old, he recorded this song. I haven’t seen them in over twelve months because they live in the Eastern States, however I will be Grandma-in-residence for a week in May!

CLICK HERE for Alex and the Prehistoric Animal Brigade

I may well be a doting grandma but I really think he put in a five-star performance! Make my day and have a listen :-)

NaPoWriMo 2014

I read about NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) 2014 in the WordPress News email and here is a link for more information.

April is Poetry Month

I decided to set up a blog specifically for April intending to write a poem a day. You may ask “What makes up a poem?” and I would not be able to give a good answer. I used to write poems many years ago and found it to be quite cathartic. Let’s see how I go with this challenge for April. My poetry blog can be found at http://www.andrewmarvellfan.wordpress.com

Andrew Marvell is my favourite poet and His Coy Mistress is one of his best, I believe. There is a link to this poem on the other blog  under the TAB for About this Blog if you would like to read it.

You may also like to join the challenge! I hope you do :-)

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More thoughts about writing

 

Recently I read that if fear is blocking us from writing we should write about the fear – merge it into our writing – use it.

In the same way we can deal with anger, anxiety, love and other emotions. So it doesn’t matter what state you are in…

YOU CAN ALWAYS WRITE!

PGJames

Torn …

Today I was thinking about the times when we are torn between two people, two job options, a parent and child, to diet or not, two roads …

The more I thought about it I realised that just about every moment we are having to choose which way to go. It is in navigating these choices that makes our journey what it is. It can be a pretty uncomfortable place to be if our loyalties are being tugged in different directions. Especially if you are trying to keep everyone happy :-).

I guess it is one of those Universal feelings we all experience from time to time.

Daily Prompt: I walk the line

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Have you got a code you live by? What are the principles or set of values you actively apply in your life?

  • live and let live is my number one guide to living day-to-day
  • my family and friends are my highest priorities
  • people are more important than things
  • perfection is over-rated
  • look after what you have and you will be rewarded with greater blessings
  • consider, ‘how important is it, in the scheme of things?’
  • some people need a little more support than others to meet a similar outcome
  • it is better to say nothing than to say something hurtful
  • all people have the potential for good
  • love can heal many sorrows but not all of them
  • create good memories each day you live
  • remember the person next to you may have a bundle of troubles you cannot see – be compassionate always
  • remember to smile as it may brighten someone else’s day and your own
  • sometimes the best advice you can give is to remain silent and listen
  • forgive others who may of hurt you – it may turn their lives around and you will feel better too
  • music is good for the soul as is nature
  • accept the things I cannot change and change the things I can.

How is that for starters? Do you have any you would like to add to the list?

That will teach him :-)

Recently my sister-in-law said she had a tetanus injection and that we should too. She works in public health and knows about these things. I couldn’t see the need for being immunised, but my husband thought it was a good idea. As I spend more and more time in my garden, he is concerned I may injure myself and has reminded me that I should have an injection.

I saw my GP today and while there, I told her my husband thought I should have a jab. She agreed it could be a good idea and then asked, ‘Has your husband been immunised?’ All I could do was laugh. As we came out of her office she called to my husband and fairly forcefully suggested he should join me in this adventure.

needleWe both have sore arms now but I don’t think he will recommend any more health treatments for me – unless he is prepared to have them as well :-).

If you are interested in knowing more about tetanus, here is some information from The Better Health Channel

Tetanus is a serious bacterial disease that causes muscle spasms and breathing problems. Tetanus is uncommon in Australia because of the widespread use of the tetanus vaccine. Some types of wounds are more likely to encourage the growth of tetanus bacteria, such as compound fractures, animal bites, burns or any wounds contaminated with soil, horse manure or pieces of foreign objects. Immunisation is available and serious side effects or allergic reactions are rare.

 

 

Writing and research

The current module in my writing course is about doing research for fiction writing. Our tutor provided the students with a list of questions and instructed us to visit the State Library (Battye Library) to find the relevant information. It wasn’t a test of who could find the best material – the purpose was to encourage the students to physically get out there and find the richness of resources available to create interesting and informative stories. Accessing The West Australian newspaper on microfilm was an important part of the exercise.

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I rocked up to Busselton library yesterday with my list of questions. I found myself in a panic for a few minutes, thinking to myself, ‘why can’t I just Google it?’ It was hard work looking through indexes of hard copies of books to glean a couple of sentences for the exercise. After about fifteen minutes I found myself lost in the experience and wanting to take home every book I picked up!

I spent two hours at the library and found everything I needed except the newspapers on microfilm. This morning I found digitalised copies of the West Australian on Trove at the National Gallery. My task then was to research what was happening in the wider world on the date of my birth. It is a fabulous resource and I spent hours reading through it and making notes. I then repeated the process with my mother’s date of birth in 1922 – again I found some great reading!

Ferguson Valley 015 (Copy)I now have until Monday to write a piece of fiction (500-600 words) based on, and using the information gleaned through the newspapers and library research. The story will be set on that date in November 1954. The assignment is due on Monday – feeling a bit under pressure to come up with a good plot. I can see some brainstorming, mind-mapping or whatever it takes, happening here!

From blogger to author – an interview with Peter Wells (countingducks)

You may know Peter Wells as countingducks on WordPress.com. Peter has very kindly followed my blog for a while and I always enjoy reading his. Just recently Peter launched a novel called, Living Life Backwards, published by PDMI.

Peter kindly agreed to be interviewed about his experience of transitioning from blogger to author. Here are my questions and Peter’s responses below …

1. Have you always enjoyed writing?
I’ve always been quietly creative in various formats, and used to write poetry when I was studying for my degree, but never considered it to be a professional ambition. I had no idea how that would be achieved.

2. Did you do lots of research and preparation before you started or did the story grow organically as you wrote it?
I’ve never done a millisecond of research for anything creative, ( Bows his head in shame ). I like to go for walks, and an idea will float into my head.

3. Did you develop your characters before you started writing or did they grow as the story grew?
The main character, and possibly a couple of others come out of my imagination, and then the number of characters can grow, depending on the plot and the need to people it with individuals who give it life.

4. Were you inclined to edit as you wrote or did you just get it all down and go with the flow?
I always try and write a set number of words in a day, although I have struggled with that since having my novel published, and the time pressure that produces. At the weekend, for as much time as possible, I always review what I have written during the week, so that I am always ‘refining on the go’.

5. Is there a connection between your blog writing and the writing of your novel?
There is a connection, in that the novels come out of Blog posts, and the character’s created within them. I tend to change the tone, because the novel is more reflective than comic in tone, thought humour peeps out of the ages at regular intervals.

6. Did you use an agent or go direct to a publisher?
My story is a little unusual as I was “discovered” as they say, by a publisher who came across and then followed my Blog for a time. When they approached me, I had not written a book, so ‘Living Life Backwards’ was written to order. I have to say, the publishers have been quite excellent, and taken away many of the challenges faced by new authors. Step forward Victoria and PDMI and take a bow!

7. Did you have to face some rejections before a publisher agreed to take it on?
Given my previous answer but that is not to say that could not happen. There is no guarantee of any book being published by any one publisher so, if you believe in your craft and your talent, facing rejection is a fact of life. Luckily I have been trained to deal with it over the years as a result of the reception enjoyed by some of the dishes I’ve cooked !

8. It is interesting that you have gone for a paperback book as well as an e-book? Any thoughts on why or was it the publisher’s decision?
All that was the decision of the Publisher: what I can tell you, apart from the words and story of course, is that the cover illustration, the editing, formatting, and the first paragraph of your book are the key to its getting attention. They should all be as good as you can make them, as shoddy execution can often blind the reading public to what might be an excellent story.

Flowers from Jeanne and Lee for my wedding in June.

 Wishing you every success Peter (countingducks) and thank you for taking part in this interview :-)

Daily Post: Mr Sandman

A recent Daily Post Prompt asked, “What kind of sleeper are you? Do you drop off like a stone and awaken refreshed, or do you need pitch black and silence to drift off to dream?”

So, what kind of sleeper am I? NOT GOOD!

I am nearing the end of Week 1 of a four-week trial in using some really interesting equipment to help me to sleep better at night. Teddy offered to model the two masks for me for this blog today :-). It is for the relief of sleep apnoea.

You can click on the link HERE if you would like to read more about it. I am feeling much better already :-)

About writing …

I think there is a lot of truth in the quote below. Do you agree?

Writing Quote

Sometime in the next few days I will do just that!

Customer expectations

I have lived in the country for four years now. I get a bit frustrated with,what seems to be, disinterested customer service or seemingly no service at all. When I go for beauty treatments I ask questions about skin care and the like and the beauty therapists don’t seem to see a sales opportunity when it is under their noses.

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No doubt if I was in the city, I would be offered a whole range of solutions to my ‘problem’. I have interpreted the country service as apathy and lack of interest in me as a customer. Here I am, ready to spend my money, and they don’t pick up the cues.

Townsville City in July

Townsville City

I had a medical appointment yesterday and was again feeling disillusioned by their customer service. However, I realise now that I misinterpreted their signals. What we get in the regional towns are real people who are providing a service to their clients. They aren’t motivated by making the next sale and gaining commission from it. They relate to me as a real person – not just a customer or client. They are not acting a part in a business transaction – they are treating me as an equal – and I think that is a good thing and I can now reinterpret my first impressions.

Daily Post: I believe

For today’s prompt, tell us three things that you believe in your heart to be true. Tell us three things you believe in your heart to be false.

TRUE

1. There is more good in the world than there is bad

2. Love conquers so much more than hate

3. All people of all cultures share the same basic needs

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FALSE

1. Going to war resolves problems

2. If we have everything we want, we will be happy

3. We are powerless to change our circumstances

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Weekly photo challenge: Inside

My water feature was looking murky and so I emptied the water out so as to clean it properly.

See what I found inside!frogs 001 (Copy)

This frog was not impressed and was making his/her escape.

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Getting down and dirty here. Oh no! Those little specs of dirt are not dirt after all. They were mostly tadpoles.

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Is there such a word as frogicide? I not only disturbed the home of mum and dad, but removed all their babies as well!

I won’t be able to sleep tonight.

The Karrakatta Club

I first met Patricia Sanders purely by accident. We both happened to be in the same place at the same time – the City of Claremont Council Museum. I was seeking information about my great-grandfather, James King, who was the first Lord Mayor of the Claremont Council. Patricia and my Mum were first cousins. Her mother, Mabel King and my Grandfather, Arthur King, were brother and sister and children of James and Elizabeth King.

Patricia Sanders 001 (Copy)There are a number of King family descendants in Western Australia but I had no knowledge of them until that day. Patricia graciously invited me to a family event in Fremantle and I met many distant and not so distant relatives. It was a wonderful experience. Patricia was around 90 years old when I met her. She was still in good health and living independently at a retirement village in a good suburb of Perth. She had written her memoirs, As I Recall It, and she led a truly amazing life.

She called me one day and invited me to attend an event at the Karrakatta Club in Perth city. I had never heard of it before but I went along and it was a memorable experience for me. Here is some information about the Club from their website …

The Karrakatta Club was the first women’s club in Australia, and was founded in 1894 by members of the St George’s Reading Circle, at the suggestion of Dr Emily Ryder, an American medical woman who visited Perth at that time. Dr Ryder had been present at a meeting of the St George’s Reading Circle to which some twelve women belonged, and was so impressed by their interest in books and their powers of discussion that she persuaded them to form a club along the lines of the Education Clubs for Women in America.

The objective of the Club was to bring into one body the women of the community for mutual improvement and social engagement. The first President was Lady Madeleine Onslow, and it is due to her outstanding qualities that the Club grew and prospered.

In 1972/73 the Australian Association of Lyceum Clubs was formed to link all Lyceum Clubs in Australia under one banner. The aim of The AALC is to promote a spirit of goodwill and understanding within the Association, and to enhance the enjoyment of Lyceum by providing support.

It was wonderful to be there with Patricia and meet some of the other members – many of whom were descended from the early pioneers of Western Australia. I noticed there were some rules to abide by and these, loosely translated,  included:

  • no talking about your health
  • no religion
  • no politics

I think they might have been onto something!

Unfortunately I lost contact with Patricia and I do believe she passed away in her early nineties. An amazing woman. She was my only link to the King family in Western Australia. I hope some family members may have a reunion one day and I will meet up with them once again.

Free writing

Writing exercises are a compulsory part of my current studies. With each Module we are instructed to do an exercise of Wild Writing which requires a set period of time of putting my head down and writing. I have chosen to do these exercises with a pen and not a word processor. My fingers are getting a good work out!

The ECU Unit refers to Goldberg‘s rules for writing practice:

1. Keep your hand moving

2. Lose control

3. Be specific

4. Don’t think

5. Don’t think about punctuation, grammar, spelling etc.

6. Feel free to write junk (don’t be judgmental)

7. Go for the jugular.

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I did a Google search and came up with a similar list (below) on Wikipedia

Here are the essential rules that are often formulated for the beginners or students, often a paraphrase of Natalie Goldberg’s “Rules for Free Writing,” often referred as Natalie Goldberg’s first four rules of writing:

  • Give yourself a time limit. Write for one or ten or twenty minutes, and then stop.
  • Keep your hand moving until the time is up. Do not pause to stare into space or to read what you’ve written. Write quickly but not in a hurry.
  • Pay no attention to grammar, spelling, punctuation, neatness, or style. Nobody else needs to read what you produce here. The correctness and quality of what you write do not matter; the act of writing does.
  • If you get off the topic or run out of ideas, keep writing anyway. If necessary, write nonsense or whatever comes into your head, or simply scribble: anything to keep the hand moving.
  • If you feel bored or uncomfortable as you’re writing, ask yourself what’s bothering you and write about that.
  • When the time is up, look over what you’ve written, and mark passages that contain ideas or phrases that might be worth keeping or elaborating on in a subsequent free-writing session.

It is good fun and I find that I do come up with some ideas during the process. Have a go!

Weekly photo challenge: Perspective

I have examined these frogs from all perspectives and I am still unsure if they are all the same frog. The one in the bottom right hand corner was discovered in December 2013 but the others were taken on 9 March 2014 :-)

My old HR Holden

In 1988 I was slapped with an “un-roadworthy Certificate”, locally known as a Yellow Sticker, on my faithful old Holden HR station wagon. The police demanded I repair the vehicle  before I drove it on the road again, but I couldn’t afford it at the time,. I was about to leave Perth anyway, to go to live in Newman in the Pilbara Region, so I wouldn’t be needing my car.

I was very sorry to let go of that car as we had traveled lots of kilometres without any problems at all. I wasn’t actually driving it when the police put it off the road. A girl friend was minding it for me while I was interstate.

There is another sad story as she was looking after my cat as well. Now it wasn’t her fault for either of the catastrophes – it was just really unfortunate  that my cat was hit by a car and didn’t survive. It is very difficult to stop cats from roaming! As you can imagine, it was a big shock when I got back home to Perth. I felt sorry for my friend as she was so upset about what had happened!

I got $200 for my car and bought a push bike with the money  :-)

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Some quotes about not giving up …

Below you can read some famous quotes but I thought I would first share my own thoughts on the topic.

My formula consists of putting one foot in front of the other and doing what needs to be done. Sometimes that means focusing on the next five to ten minutes, or other times it may mean taking life one day at a time. Another successful strategy I have used is to be recharged by the natural environment – it may be a garden, a forest or the ocean.When all else fails, withdraw briefly and then get up and try again :-).

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“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”  (Ella Fitzgerald)

“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

“Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.” (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

“The man who has done his level best… is a success, even though the world may write him down a failure.” (B.C. Forbes)

“History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.” (B. C. Forbes)

Ever wondered what makes some art expensive?

I am sure I am not alone in thinking there are some paintings in galleries throughout the world that I could have done with my eyes shut! I am not anti-art or without an interest in these things, but I wonder what criteria makes some art works GREAT and some just, ordinary.

I have watched shows on art fraud where even the specialists in the field find it difficult to pick out the fake. If I had a fake painting hanging on my wall (and didn’t know it was fake) would I enjoy it any less than the real thing?

Then there are the plethora of prints of original works. I support the concept that artists should be paid for their creations, however, why would I buy the original for $5,000 when I could have a beautifully framed print of the same for $200.00 maximum.

Can you pick the originals in my slide show?

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What are your thoughts on the $ value of art?

Weekly photo challenge: Abandoned

I wrote a poem this morning as part of the writing course I am doing.

It just so happens that my school experience links with this week’s photo challenge. As it is a PHOTO challenge, I have chosen an old school photo to match the theme. I really DID feel abandoned on that day. It didn’t take long to get used to school, but I still didn’t enjoy it. I have only learned the joy of studying in recent years :-)

MEMORIES

Mum left me in a big room

Boys, girls, Sister Kevin

I struck out in fear

I had to stay – Mum left me

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Boys, girls, lunch boxes

The stale smell of unwashed flannels

Banana sandwiches every-day

Awful warm milk at playtime

****

Spelling is fun h I p p o p o t o m u s

Cuisenaire blocks – to add up and take away

A prize for top of the class

Maybe school is OK

****

Latin Mass, First Communion

Rosary beads, confession, and penance

The smell of incense

Not at Mass? Line up for the strap

****

Decades have come and gone

Back to the same church

This time it is saying goodbye

To my loved ones and to my past

****

 

The Writing Process

The unit I am studying this semester is about being an author and getting published. Our first task is to read an essay by Lucy Neave about the different processes used by two writers: Sonya Harnett and Helen Garner. Their processes are very different from each other and I won’t go into that here, however, it made me think about what processes, if any, I use to write.

I haven’t written short stories or novels and not sure that I ever will. I have written about 700 blog articles though. I figure that must count for something. I wonder if I can make the move from blogger to writer! This unit of study may help me bridge the gap. The reading list below may be of interest to some … sorry the print is a bit small.

Readings list

So, how does a blog idea materialize? Some of my best ideas come when I am mindlessly doing household tasks like ironing or making beds. When I get the core of an idea, I write a few notes down near the computer so that I won’t forget. Once I have the core idea I start writing, knowing that it is a draft and if it doesn’t shape up, I can delete it.

Sometimes I find I need to do a little research to give a bit more substance to the idea. I will save a draft and look for relevant information or images that I can add to my blog. This process may happen a few times with the one blog. I don’t spend much time thinking about the grammar or punctuation but I do check to see if it sounds alright to me. I might make some amendments.

If I was to write a short story or novel I imagine I would need to develop the process further. Fortunately, the practice of blogging regularly means I don’t sit staring at a blank screen waiting for inspiration. I just write! Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Of course, I am not being marked for my blogging so there is not the same degree of pressure here.

So, please share if you have any processes that you use to help shape your writing. I would love to hear them :-)

PS Not grumpy anymore!

Grumpy …

Is there an acceptable way to be miserable? These past few weeks I have been feeling really moody under the surface but have been trying really hard to hide how I feel. Today I just feel like being honest about where I am at – and it is not a good space!

I have everything to be grateful for and nothing to complain about – except perhaps a desire for linking up with some people with similar interests. I get a lot of satisfaction from connecting with my online friends but sometimes it needs to be face-to-face.

I have signed up with a Creative Writing group  that commences meeting on 10 March – hopefully that will hit the spot :-).

I am trying to make the most of this stage of my life but I still feel redundant at times. To counteract this, I have been working on another blog about Baby Boomers at Encore Australia and looking at all the positive opportunities open to me and others my age.

Anyway, some nice flowers to brighten the day:

Keeping the creativity going …

I have been making a special effort to cook something different each week that I have never cooked before.

Tonight I am cooking RICE PORK LARB – click HERE for original recipe and instructions

INGREDIENTS

1.5 cups of jasmine rice, rinsed

I tablespoon of peanut oil

I tablespoon of chopped lemon-grass (I will have to see if my neighbour has some or I will be using a lemon!)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

500g of pork mince

I red onion (I hope a brown one will do!), halved, thinly sliced

1/2 small pineapple, chopped

1/4 cup fish sauce

2 teaspoons of caster sugar (ordinary sugar will have to do!)

1 tablespoon of light, soy sauce

2 limes, juiced

12 small cos lettuce leaves (I only have iceberg lettuce)

1/3 cup of roasted peanuts, chopped

METHOD

1. Cook rice following absorption method on packet. Remove from heat. Cover and stand for 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Set aside to cool.

2. Meanwhile, heat a wok (I don’t have one :-() over medium heat. Add oil, lemon-grass and garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add pork and cook, breaking up lumps with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add a 1/2 cup of cold water. Simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes or until water is absorbed. Stir in onion and pineapple. Set aside to cool.

3. Place fish sauce, sugar, soy sauce and 1/3 cup of lime juice in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Add sauce mixture and pork mixture to rice. Stir to combine. Arrange lettuce on a platter. Spoon over rice mixture and sprinkle with peanuts before serving.

*** It was very nice :-)

pork dish 001 (Copy)

Up close and personal

 

Many local “baby boomers” are taking part in a new four-year study on healthy ageing. I recently received a letter in the post inviting me to take part and I happily agreed to participate.

The State Government is contributing $1 million to the Busselton Population Medical Research Foundation Inc to conduct the study. The Foundation is working in conjunction with researchers from The University of Western Australia, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Edith Cowan University, Curtin University, Lions Eye Institute and Ear Science Institute of Australia.

18 February 2014 006 (Copy)

I had to fast from midnight and arrive at the facility at 7.30am this morning. The process started with a range of blood tests, including one for my DNA. Afterwards they provided me with toast and Vegemite for breakfast, then on with lots more tests.

I was there for three hours in total and there wasn’t a minute where I wasn’t being tested for one thing or another.

The study hopes to include about 4,000 people. There are around 7,000 “baby boomers” living locally but not everyone wants to take part in research. From my point of view, it was a great opportunity to get a comprehensive medical check-up for free!
Researchers are investigating factors related to:

  • Obesity, nutrition and physical activity
  • Heart and blood vessel disease
  • Stroke and disability
  • Dementia and mental disease
  • Respiratory and sleep health
  • Physical function
  • Spinal pain
  • Hearing loss
  • Vision loss

Media references from the original press release in 2009.

Jennie Hui (Busselton Population Medical Research Foundation)  (+61 4) 11 233 458
Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs)  (+61 8)  6488 5563  /  (+61 4) 32 637 716

Are you born between 1946 and 1964?

Originally posted on Encore Australia:

Demographics and other statistics can be quite enlightening. Here I have taken some statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and created something that is meaningful to me and hopefully to you as well!

demographics 001 (Copy)

The bottom, purple rectangle represents our childhood up until around twenty years of age. The cream rectangle reflects from around age twenty-one to forty-five years.

The blue section with lots of blue butterflies symbolizes forty-six years to eighty years. The butterflies represent creativity, productivity and all things positive.

The top purple rectangle with the silver butterflies represents our old age. Now, I know of many people of eighty or more who don’t consider themselves to be old, so the dividing line is variable.

What I wanted to highlight with this project/post was those years from forty-six to eighty years. The youngest Baby Boomers would now be around fifty and the oldest around sixty eight-years. We are…

View original 48 more words

Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure

When I got up this morning I came across my little teddy bear that my Mum gave me many years ago. I spent a few moments just looking at it and remembering her.

I used to collect teddy bears of all shapes, sizes, textures and colours. My Mum wasn’t one for collecting pretty things. I remember she hated ribbons on dresses and used to cut them off! So I was very surprised one day when I was visiting her and she gave me this little knitted bear. She said, ‘I saw this, and thought of you.’

001 (Copy)

It isn’t the prettiest bear, but the fact that Mum thought of me and bought it for me, makes it a real treasure in my eyes.

PS I still have my bear collection and have been tempted to give them away on many occasions but I can’t bring myself to part with them :-)

To Sleep or Not to Sleep …

Today, or I should say, tonight, I am having a sleep study.

I am not a good sleeper and have been known to SNORE (so I am told :-)) THRASH about and GASP in my sleep. I am required to go to Sleep and Snore Solutions and get wired up (see below) and then go home and sleep!  I return to get unwired tomorrow. Should be interesting :-)

Sleep study 1

O sleep, O gentle sleep, nature’s soft nurse, how have I frighted thee, that thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down, and steep my senses in forgetfulness.
William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part II, Act III, sc. 1
sleep study 2

For the love of flowers

Some flowers to brighten your day :-)

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Nature always brightens my day. I hope your day is a happy one :-)

My cooking adventures

Each week I am trying a new dish that I have never cooked before. This is what I cooked today!

TASTE OF HOME – Click on the link below for the web version of the recipe

Best Veal Scallopini

Veal 001 (Copy)

Ingredients

  • 2 veal cutlet (about 4 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley

Directions

  • Flatten cutlets to 1/8-in. thickness. In a resealable plastic bag,combine the flour, salt and pepper. Add veal; seal bag and shake to coat evenly. In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons butter and oil. Add veal; cook over medium heat for about 1 minute on each side or until juices run clear. Remove and keep warm.
  • Add mushrooms to skillet; cook and stir for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Spoon over veal. Stir broth into skillet, stirring up any browned bits. Add parsley and remaining butter; cook and stir 2 minutes longer or until slightly thickened. Pour over veal and mushrooms. Yield: 2 servings.

I served the veal with mashed potato, silver-beet (from my garden), Brussels sprouts and carrots.

Contagious … I wish!

You’ve been granted magical engineering skills, but you can only use them to build one gadget or machine. What do you build?

I would build a widget for my blog so that no matter what I wrote about, the widget would give a sprinkle or two of magic dust and my blog will become viral. It will be on Facebook and even in the news.I would also be Freshly Pressed :-) on WordPress.

Wow, wouldn’t that be wonderful!

One is better than noneBut seriously now, I wish I knew how to make a really successful blog or website. Successful being determined by the number of views, likes and subscribers. I really enjoy blogging and the interaction with other bloggers, but, just once in a while it would be great to see my statistics sky-rocket!

What is the secret?

Passages/Stages/Phases

I am currently reading The Big Shift: Navigating to the New Stage Beyond Midlife, by Mark Freedman. As a result of learning about Marc and the Encore movement I decided to start-up a blog/website called Encore Australia.

I am hoping to tap into the numbers of baby boomers in Australia who are currently trying to navigate the second half of their lives in the 21st Century with out-dated guidance from the previous century.

Ferguson Valley 001 (Copy)

My own experience bears witness to the uncharted terrain traversed after giving up full-time employment. I now feel better informed due to reading Marc Freedman’s book and finding other resources on the internet.

An interesting organisation I found today is The Transition Network.  It provides a range of services to women 50+.

Once again, I am looking for similar resources that may be available in Australia. I will do some more research tomorrow :-)

 

My love/hate relationship with studying

In the second half of last year I did a unit of study titled Production, Editing and Design. At the conclusion of the unit (I passed comfortably) I stated to many friends and family that I am NOT going to do any more studying. I admit that the editing part really did my head in. Also my tutor was not very helpful. The feedback she provided was inadequate – she would just say ‘that is wrong’ but not give me any clues about HOW it was wrong!

I thought I could edit pretty well but I discovered it is very difficult. One thing I still haven’t mastered is the use of dashes and hyphens.

Do you know that there are:

  • en dashes (the width of the letter n)
  • em dashes (the width of the letter m)
  • double en dashes
  • double em dashes
  • em/en dashes with spaces

Keep in mind that hyphens are another class again! Do you get the picture?

So … I have one more unit to complete to achieve my Graduate Certificate. I was scheduled to do Communication Practices in the second half of this year. I rang the uni to check its scheduling and they asked if I would like to substitute that unit and do a different one this semester. So … I put in an application and it was approved yesterday. I start studying again in two weeks time. I wonder if I will regret this decision!

This unit will be different as it is a creative writing unit (Authorship and Publication) and hopefully there will be a different tutor!

A pleasant time spent in the garden

The vegetable garden needs watering at least once a day at present. It is quite warm and there is no sign of rain. It is lovely to spend some time out-of-doors.

The tomatoes are looking good, however I have to pick them soon as we have some ring-tail possums living beyond our back fence and they pop over to our place for a snack now and again :-).

As well as tomatoes, there are silver-beet plants, rocket, basil, mint, oregano, rosemary, parsley and rock-melon. I just need to harvest them before the possums eat them :-).

Encore Careers Australia

BLUE 013I recently wrote a post about making the transition from full-time work to a different lifestyle. You can see the original post here The Third Age

I have since decided to start a new blog about, and dedicated to, those of us who are past 50 and wondering how best to use our time for the next few decades.

My new blog is Encore Australia and you are very welcome to visit and leave any thoughts or comments on the site. I have also found some links that you may find of interest. I hope it will be a lively and interactive site that stimulates ideas and opportunities.

This is not a business venture and there is nothing for sale – it is for sharing ideas and inspiration.