Week in Review: Week 3

Flower of the Day Taken on iphone 8

Three weeks gone into the New Year already and it seems as though years end is almost visible. Time is flying and I realised that I needed to look at organising the trip in March. Unfortunately the timing of the conference does not fit well with Roger’s treatment and travelling in February is not really an option. It is the worst month for heat and storms. If we wait until the conference and then have time we will only get a couple of weeks before we have to return for treatment. A big dilemma as we need to have three – four weeks to get where we would like to go and the same amount of time to have a dog sitter come to the house. My goal for next week – have a plan in place.

I am well on the way to achieving my toastmaster goals. It is the goal after that which will be difficult. I have to do a High Performance Leadership project. This means you have to have a vision, form a team, set goals, and carry your vision to fruition. The types of projects that fit this requirement are organise a conference, start a new club, and perhaps a membership building exercise. My goal for this is to have a plan in place as to what I can do by end February.

My Blogging Goals – so far I have kept to these with Sat being a week in review, Wednesday a random thought. Mondays have a variety of topics with writing /photography being the focus of the one for next Monday. I was going to avoid challenges but I find myself unable to resist but I will limit it to the three posts I am committed to post each week. As I get more time this might change but I want to give my husband a full two days where we can do whatever he wants and two days where I can spend visiting other bloggers.

I now have an additional goal. The photography tutor has had to retire his position and I have volunteered to fill his shoes. The way we operate is that we have a field location one week and then attend U3A to show our best 10 photos from the previous weeks shoot. We learn more from seeing others photos and working out why we like it and then trying to add that element to our own photography so I don’t really have to know anything. My goal is however to learn the rules (of course made to be broken) and give some kind of educational following our photo viewing. We can then try to implement this in one photo we show from the next photoshoot. This will take some research on my part but I hope to learn from it as well. I hope also to utilise the various talents in the existing group and have them each take a session.

My week apart from goals has been uneventful. I am slowly trying to reorganise my house as my mothers bits and pieces came here. I need to go through every file and determine what to keep and what no longer needs to be kept. There are lots of finishing off things to do as well and that is taking a bit of time. Another goal is that I am going to get back to reading. I found over the last couple of years that I didn’t have the concentration needed to read and I struggled with most books I picked up. I feel much calmer this year and I think that I will again enjoy losing myself in another world and the book I am reading (and will be reviewed next) is allowing me to do just that.

Two challenges that I am going to join in today for the first time are RDP Friday I don’t know what the letters stand for but we are given the word Skookum to use in whatever way we want. This was a word that I had never heard of and discover that it is la Chinook Jargon word that historically was used in the Pacific Northwest. No wonder I’d never heard of it. According to wikipedia it means “strong”, “greatest”, “powerful”, “ultimate”, or “brave.” I am going to display this with photography although you can write a story, a poem, graphic piece or any creative way you like. I am going to also combine it with Marsha’s challenge Photographing Public Art or as you will see written PPAC

These skookum sculptures were found in a rainforest near Maleny, making wonderful use of the natural surrounds to enhance these works of art. One I think shows anxiety or fear rather than skookum. Another show love which can engender skookum or possibly possession whilst the third I think is definitely skookum. What do you think?

Posted in Cees Flower of the Day, daily events, photo challenges, photography | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Know Your Name : Know Your Brand

Coca Cola is immediately recognisable

As we all know, Name and its associated branding is crucial to the success of the company. This is whether we are multinational corporations, a local business or a writer or blogger. Our brand is important. Not only do we have to know our name and our brand we want the world/ our market to know our brand. We all know Hallmark – the card you give when you care enough to give a card produced by a corporation. Seriously.  Look at Coca Cola – we all know that iconic red and white can. The Golden Arches of Macdonalds, the apple with a bite or should I say byte taken out for Apple just to name a couple.

I know as a Toastmaster branding is important for Toastmasters International. The logo has to be exactly the right size, the correct colours and used only in the appropriate places. The first time I sat and listened to a speech on this topic I have to admit I thought toastmasters was going over the top. As I heard more speeches on the topic and as Area Director in 2019 I received a lot of communications on the subject and I started to understand just how important it is to be recognisable to your market and to not have the professional image of the brand sullied in anyway. Any misuse would reflect poorly on that brand. In the Toastmasters brand they are wanting to portray consistency, communication, leadership and above all self-development.

It takes two however to make a brand. The company who is presenting the brand and the receiver, the potential customer. How do they feel when they come across your brand? Do they have a positive experience or a negative one from what they read, see, touch and experience? The experience you give is crucial to the person receiving on how they view that brand. I experienced a brand recently that brought these points home to me.

I entrusted White Lady Funerals with the funeral for my mother (and they did a great job). I chose them for exactly the reasons I think their brand is aiming to portray. Those living in Australia and New Zealand will know White Lady Funerals and recognise their distinctive uniform.

Distinctive uniform of White Lady Funerals

Their uniform is a large part of their corporate branding. I am guessing but I believe the dignified white suit signifies peace and compassion. The burgundy hat is iconic of the brand and denotes respect. The style of hat, similar to a cowboy hat makes you think these women are strong at a time when you are vulnerable. The uniform, the shoes, stockings suit, gloves and hat make you think these are professional people yet soft and caring. They are capable of getting the job done. They are women so they have a woman’s understanding. All of these reasons were why I chose them.

I had not realised at the time that they were only in Australia, NZ and Singapore as their parent company is a multinational one and White Lady Funerals brings in their parent company big dividends. Due to my use of them I learnt something that we should all be aware of when we come to brand naming – how will that brand name be experienced by our market and those potential markets? If White Lady’s wanted to spread their wings further and perhaps get a foothold in the USA would they have the same result? I received an email from a friend in the USA shortly after the funeral. He said. “I was so relieved to understand why the White Ladys are so named. From their uniform rather than from any racist connotation.” I wondered how many others thought of them as the Ku Klux Clan of funerals. An image far from the truth and certainly one they wouldn’t want associated with them. Sadly, it showed me the difference in culture and sensitivities between Australia and the USA.

It made me think and hence it is my thought for this week – think carefully before creating your brand name, the ramifications could be immense.

FOTD It should have been a white rose – another Symbol of White Lady Funerals but this is the closest I have to a white rose

Posted in irenewaters, musings, opinion, photography | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Passion and Creativity

Marie du Val d’Ognes painted 1801 by Marie Denise Villers

Have you worked out what leads your creative spirit? Do you have to work at being creative or does it just happen? I am sure it is different for everyone and I’d love to know how your creations happen.

This portrait, held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was painted just after the French Revolution in a brief period when women were allowed to exhibit in the Salon. Women around this time were creative but confined to flowers and the like. I can only imagine the passion that must have been under the surface of women who wanted to paint other subjects when passion for women was confined to finding a suitable husband and looking after him. Perhaps this is what Villers is trying to convey with this portrait.

I have been struggling with creativity since I received a cancer diagnosis, followed soon after with my husband’s diagnosis. Where I used to write everyday it became difficult for me to write at all. It was as though any creativity had been sucked from me. Where I used to come up with stories for the prompts with minimal thought, I now couldn’t come up with anything.

The same happened with Toastmasters and impromptu speaking. I have always had trouble with being given a topic and being expected to give a speech on it immediately but I had reached a point where I could do it and do it reasonably well. Corresponding with my loss of writing ability was my inability to think on my feet and come up with a speech. My creativity had gone.

It was clear to me that three things had shifted. I could no longer find the humour in anything. I wrote about the importance of humour here. Secondly I had always let things swirl around in my head. Not consciously thinking of them but ready to recognise a thought that would fit. This meant that by the time I came to put story to paper it was already formulated in my head and it didn’t take a lot of time to put it to paper. Now I had other thoughts swirling through my head there was no room left to manage stories I might want to write. More importantly perhaps, I had lost my passion.

I turned from writing and speaking to photography. I’d always taken a lot of photographs but now I was attempting to take photos as an art form rather than just aim and click. Another creative pursuit which somehow seemed easier than writing and speaking. I had the passion – in fact I immersed myself so deeply that I stopped living life. It gave me something that could drown out reality. It gave me an addiction – but I’ll leave that for another post.

One of my New Year goals was to complete level 4 in the Engaging Humour Pathway of Toastmasters. It was time to start and I have known since November that January would be my first speech in it. I remember looking at it briefly and just as quickly put it the side. I would do one of the elective speeches instead. In January I started preparing but found that there were no electives I could do in the time frame so it had to be “Give two impromptu speeches from the list provided.” The list had around 18 speeches. I was supposed to find personal stories that I could adapt to fit several of them and be prepared for whatever was thrown at me. Some topics were outside my experience and interest e.g. Your company is about to merge and you explain why this is a good thing to your employees. There were so many of this type I just came up with a total blank and because I was blank on them I was blank on all of them. the speech was also supposed to be humorous.

Two weeks before I sent the list to the person who would choose my topics. She rang me and told me to narrow it down to 12 scenarios and add some context to the bland scenario given. I tried. I took it to 12 but the context (creative thinking in its own right) alluded me on most of them. Eventually 3 days before I sent her the topics, minus context in most cases, and told her I would just wing it.

I was so nervous I felt like pulling a sickie – but that is not my nature. I contemplated letting go of my goals and just leaving Toastmasters. On the day of the two speeches I managed to pull together a few stories, a couple of speeches and a few nothings. I am goal oriented deadline driven so something had to happen. I hoped I would get topics that the speeches would fit into and not be given the totally unprepared scenarios.

My Toastmasters club is a hybrid club, meaning that we meet both online and in person. At the meeting I watched the guests roll in – several from the USA, one from Canada, and numerous from different parts of Australia. If I’d been nervous before (and I was) now I was terrified.

The time came and I received a topic that I had prepared. The prepared went first. It was starting a new job as a clinical nurse specialist in intensive care responsible for staff education. This was a topic I knew because in an earlier life this was exactly what I was. I knew my qualifications and I knew what was important. Not creative just something I knew. I started with a joke As you have just heard I have been employed as CNS responsible for education, that is, My job is to talk to you, and your job is to listen to it. If you finish first, please let me know. Humour was smattered throughout and personal stories were easy.

The next speech was totally unprepared. I had thought being a comedy club a eulogy for a friend would not be picked but I also thought if it was, all I had to do was bring to mind a dear friend, tell the funny stories and it would be fine. Again I started with some humour. I’d love to say it is a pleasure to have been asked to give a eulogy for Graham but to be perfectly honest it’d be a much bigger pleasure if he was standing here beside me. From that point it was quite easy.

I wondered if it would be obvious that one was prepared and one wasn’t and from the evaluation it didn’t appear that it was noticed. The sense of relief that this was over was huge. It wouldn’t have mattered how long I’d had to prepare these I wouldn’t have been any more prepared than I was but the satisfaction at completing this goal and the boost to my self-confidence was immense. It gave me the fourth ingredient to my particular needs in order to be creative. I have to know my subject whether it be by personal knowledge or research.

Now I know my creative needs are 1) be able to see the humour in situations 2) have some brain space, 3) passion and 4) know my subject. Do you know what your creative needs are? I’d love you to tell me.

Marigold. Known as “the herb of the sun”, Marigolds symbolize passion and creativity. FOTD

Posted in creative writing, photography, Writing | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Week in Review: Week 2

FOTD

Last year we planted Roger’s memorial garden. No he hasn’t succumbed and is well and truly alive and kicking but he wanted a say in what and where was going to be his final resting place and what plants would surround him. Hibiscus featured strongly. Not the reds, although we have since bought two that are in pots and just divine, but he wanted yellows. The colour of the sun. We were delighted by this flower as I think was the fly.

I made a decision on my return to blogging that I was not going to get involved with the writing and photo challenges that are there in abundance but after two weeks my resolve is weakening so today I am including this in Cee’s Flower of the Day. It would be easy, I thought, to perhaps choose three a week – a writing and a couple of photo challenges, that somehow fit in with what my week has been and include them in my weekly review. My post on autographs also resurrected the thought of My Times Past Challenge. I’ve always been interested in the generational differences and those caused by geography. I will mull that one over for a little longer.

This week has revolved around cars. Now that our garage is nice and tidy we could fit two cars in it. We have been living with one car for a couple of years now and coping nicely however there is just that odd time when having a second car would have made life easier. I also hate relying on friends to pick me up and take me places and now Roger is recovering from the second round of chemo he is more likely to want to use the car more often so we bought a cheap Subaru Forester. Not only did we get this car we got Roger’s nephew’s campervan which now sits outside my office window. The van had been put into storage Jan 2020 with the plan being that it would be driven back to WA the following Christmas and then sold in WA where it was registered. Due to COVID our nephew has not been able to get into Australia (I’m sure you’ve all heard about our boarder restrictions). We have now paid more storage fees than the van was worth so we decided that we would bring it here and park it in our front garden until such time as he can return. In a matter of days we have gone from 1 car to 3.

We had a little bit of excitement one day in the dog park. I am always aware that snakes are around. I saw a red belly black a couple of weeks ago and so I am wary of the long grass. Wednesday Monty knew this one was there and went up to investigate. Being a python it wouldn’t have hurt him but I’d much prefer he left snakes alone and I certainly didn’t want him to hurt it. Luckily he responded to my Banshee scream and I got both dogs on a lead and then took some photos.

python down by the river

I took the dogs back to the car and when Roger didn’t turn up I returned to find Roger attempting to fight off a crow that saw the snake as supper. He told me that the crow had had the snake tail a couple of times but Roger had managed to get it off. Apparently they take them by the tail and drop them from a height onto rocks or something hard then flip them over for their meal. Roger eventually shepherded the snake to some dense bush where he thought he would be safe. I wonder if the snake will remember Roger’s good deed or whether indeed it even realised how close it had come to being dinner.

I also joined in a zoom call with some other bloggers. It would have been a lot of fun except that I joined as they were leaving. I hadn’t realised that the 10am was daylight saving time which Queenslanders refuse to have, keeping the same time year round. It meant that I was an hour late. Still I got to meet some fellow bloggers in the flesh so to speak. Nice putting a face and a voice to those you chat with in comments and we are going to try again which I look forward to joining at the right time.

You can probably gather it was a quiet week for us but I have to say that I appreciate not having any drama occurring. It gives me time to recharge my batteries. That’s about it for me. How was your week?

Posted in daily events, irenewaters, photography | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

Radio Quiz Kid – My Mum

My Mum Audrey an original Quiz Kid

Last Wednesday I shared my my Mother’s autographs and wondered whether people had kept autographs that Mum had written to them because at the time she was famous? Today I thought I would explain why she was famous whilst still at school in the 1940s.

This was in the day before television had come to Australia, the second world war was raging, news coverage was sparse, celebrities few. How did my Mum become widely known as a 14 year old by the entire populous of Australia. It was because she was one of the original Quiz Kids – household names for many years to come.

The Quiz Kids was a half hour programme on 2GB and the Australia-wide Macquarie Radio Network commencing in April 1942.  It followed along the lines of a successful programme of the same name in the U.S.A. A panel of five children were asked general knowledge questions by a quizmaster with a score being kept. When Mum joined the programme a few months later, she completed the permanent team that is now referred to as “the original Quiz Kids”.  This team remained together for the next two and half years until she, as the oldest of the team, was sixteen years old and about to start university. 

How was she selected for the programme?  The producers approached the teacher of the Opportunity Class for bright children at Woollahra Primary School, asking her to recommend previous pupils now in third year High School. She gave four names, all were still classmates at Sydney Girls High School. They were asked in for individual testing and were judged on their ability to answer a range of questions, on the quality of their voices for radio, and on personality. Mum was the lucky one chosen.

The programmes were recorded each week in the Macquarie Radio Theatre before an audience of two to three hundred people.  The five Kids, dressed in black academic gowns and mortar boards sat behind  a table as in the picture with our names displayed in front  The Quizmaster was John Dease, a radio announcer with a schoolmaster’s voice and manner.  Questions sent in by listeners  covered history, geography, current world figures, word origins, literature, science, music, sport,  abbreviations etc.  Mum told me of one question that had the kids stumped: “Driving in the country you would see a road sign TSR.  What does it mean?” For five city children unable to get around the countryside in the war years, this was difficult and they did not know. Of course all adults knew it meant Travelling Stock Route!  Her father, who demanded perfection, was angry at Mum for not knowing such a simple thing.

Listeners whose questions were selected received five shillings in war savings stamps which increased to a one pound War Savings Certificate if the Quiz Kids were unable to answer it.

People often asked Mum whether they were told any answers beforehand.  They were never given any hints whatsoever about the questions and answers.  They were all avid readers, and obviously had retentive memories. They were also high achievers academically, all attending selective high schools.  They got through 20 to 25 questions each programme.   The score was kept and announced several times in the course of the programme e.g. Quiz Kids 9, Listeners 1.  She was told one year that their overall success rate was 88%.

The Quiz Kids was an immensely popular programme maintaining second position in the ratings for all programmes in Australia in 1943-44. Can’t you just see people huddling around the radio during war time having something fun to take their mind away from the fears of what was happening in Europe and the Pacific. After the original team became too old and had to depart, other children took their place, including an ex Prime Minister John Howard.  The programme lasted many years, but did not survive long after the advent of television.

When I was a child I was well aware of my Mother’s fame. I know I was proud that many books on Australian History would have the photo above staring out at me from the pages. Despite living in a small country town everyone knew her. All the grown ups had listened to her. One of my teachers said to me on a regular basis. “You certainly don’t take after your mother!” I was expected by all to be just as bright as my mother had been and my older brother was. The expectations placed on me didn’t smother me, they just made me rebel, making me perhaps my own worst enemy. Never did I give a thought for what it must have been like for my mother.

Apparently, her father gave scant praise for the questions she answered correctly but boy did she cop it if she got one wrong. She set out to make a life for herself where she was never wrong or at worst rarely. Everybody’s expectations of her were high and she had to live up to them. She researched products in Choice magazine. Going on holiday with her was like having your own personal tourist guide as the route was planned, researched and all the facts and figures were there in her head to be passed on to her companion. I now know that it must have been tortuous for her travelling through Europe with Roger and I. We had no destination in mind just a compass direction of south, never knowing where we would end up.

At the end of her life she continued to struggle with her Quiz Kids Fame. As she lost her memory bit by bit she couldn’t reconcile the who she once was with who she now was and hated more than anything that often, not understanding things, she found herself being told that she was wrong in her thinking. This terrified her more than anything because having always been right, she believed she must be right still.

For all of us we have experiences that shape our lives, just as this one shaped my mothers and possibly my own. Can you think of an experience that shaped yours?

Posted in Australia, family, Historical Perspective, irenewaters, Memoir | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

Out and About Around where I live – Hastings Street

Hastings Street Noosa

Hastings Street is the iconic street in Noosa. People want to stay, shop, eat and play on Hastings Street. The street runs parallel to the beach so on the other side of the fairly wide tree lined road are expensive hotels and accomodations with shops and restaurants on both sides of the wide avenue. It is a place I tend to avoid, as do most locals, except when it is my photography expeditions location. When photographing I love to see what I can find. The shops range from the extreme high end to cheap fashion, hot dogs and icecream to gourmet expensive restaurants. Numerous galleries alongside tourist memorabilia. Dogs and owners meet and converse.

The buildings are of an age where renovation is being done. Lets face it – to stay on Hastings Street you are probably looking upwards of AUD500 per night.

Leaving Hastings Street and walking through to the beach you enter another world.

Main Beach is both deserted and busy.

School children do their school sports on the beach. I would have so loved to have gone to school now. You can do sailing, beach activities, surfing where we were confined to softball, basketball or hockey.

school children doing school sport.

Birdlife abounds including the rare leucistic bush turkey which is often wrongly assumed to be albino.

Do you have streets in your town or holiday destination like Hastings Street? Although I rarely visit I did enjoy my photographic jaunt into Hastings Street and I can see why those visiting the area make Hastings Street a definite destination to visit whether they stay on it or travel in. Our council in an effort to alleviate traffic congestion has made all the public buses that go near Hastings Street free during the Christmas and Easter holidays. A great initiative enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.

From Hastings Street it is a short walkable distance to Noosa National Park but we will visit there when we next go out and about where I live.

Posted in Australia, Noosa, photography, travel | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Week in Review Week 1

During fireworks New Years Eve

Okay – this is supposed to be the week in review which should start in January but as I first saw this during the week I think its fair enough to include it. You won’t have met our puppy Monty before. Marley, our last cocker, died and Roger was bereft. He immediately started looking for a new cocker friend. I said “okay but I can’t take another rescue dog and have another one die in a matter of years. Not when I’m facing mother and you both going.” He agreed and we got a puppy and that is another story. Monty is now a delightful dog of 15months. Come the fireworks on New Years Eve he was terrified. For some reason he went to a place he’d never gone before. The subtitleist got what was said wrong but what an appropriate subtitle.

The first week of the New Year is always a strange time as businesses are closed, the tourists descend on mass and we feel a bit as though we too are on holiday. The tourists have brought Covid 19 with them and for the first time we are feeling really vulnerable. Australia’s new cases are now exceeding the USA and our hospital system is crumbling. Our Prime Minister, a PR man not a leader, is waiting to get the popular sentiment and acting on that rather than leading and staying ahead of the game. He is busily adjusting how we report new infections (in the effort to get less cases), and pull himself out of the mire of failed leadership by not taking a national approach from the outset. The vaccine administration has been a real fiasco and Scott Morrison should be shouldering the blame that we have so many refusing the vaccine that believe in conspiracy theories, collusion between pollies and big pharmaceuticals and that the virus is hyped up – no-one is dying. His vaccine roll out has been a shambles as is the booster. I have been trying to get a booster but the earliest appointment is in 6 weeks time. Then you hear the official line – blame the people for not getting them. Anyway enough of Covid. You are all dealing with it in your own way. Some will have had the vaccine, some won’t have and some will have had Covid itself, something I am trying desperately to avoid. I hope you all keep safe.

This week we have worked on a goal that I hadn’t mentioned. Get rid of all our surplus garbage. I am a horder. Roger is a project person so his garage has all kinds of bits and pieces just in case they come in handy. We have realised we have reached a point where there aren’t going to be any more major projects and so a lot of the stuff could go. We have cleared the garage.

Before – just part of the stuff.

As for my other goals I am struggling to get my head around two impromptu 3 min speeches which must include humour that can be chosen by someone else from a list of 12. I am presenting them next Thursday and I am starting to panic but as I am deadline driven I am sure by Tuesday or Wednesday I will have thought of something.

My biggest joy of the week is that I have returned to blogging. Thank you everyone who has visited me. For those that knew me you have given me a warm fuzzy feeling at the welcome back you have given me and the caring messages you have sent. I cannot even start to express how much that means to me. For people I am meeting for the first time I look forward to getting to know you better. Look forward to seeing you all during the next week.

Every day, twice a day, rain (as it is at the moment), hail and shine (which luckily it is most of the time) I take my two dogs for a walk. Today to end I am going to share a part of our walk. Monty (cocker spaniel) has met up with his favourite friend Misty (German Shepherd). They play and roll and wrestle and chase and then when they are hot they have a dip. Today they were joined by Misty’s second best friend Juno.

Misty, Monty and Juno (at front)

Have a great week everyone. Would love to know if the first week of 2022 lived up to your expectations.

Posted in daily events, Dogs, opinion | Tagged , , , , , | 20 Comments

Collecting Autographs

Autograph book from the 1940s

Did you have an autograph book? I know I did when I was in high school and particularly in our last year we busily collected the pearls of wisdom, seldom original, from our friends and classmates. Many of them were humorous.

Most were inspiring messages for a way to live life or wishes for the future.

Do you still have your autograph book? Mine has long gone but my mother kept hers with her as she kept her friends. She certainly abided by the lines written by her friend Marjorie as they not only remembered each other but remained friends until Marjorie died a couple of years before Mum.

Friends since primary school. I have one facebook friend from primary school but if it hadn’t been for FB we would never have revived contact with each other. Have you kept friends from your primary school days?

I wonder whether autographs are a thing of the past. Can you still buy an autograph book? Has the desire to inspire with words diminished as anytime you need a quote or inspirational saying, you can easily go online and find one that fits the bill perfectly for whatever it is you need. Perhaps these days the only autographs that are sought are those of famous people, rock stars, celebs of any sort, even an author signing their book for you. How meaningful is any of it? As an author doing the signing it was very meaningful. It meant you had made a connection (always good) and probably more importantly that you had someone who was going to read your book. For me being a recipient of an autograph it means much less to me.

Not so for these women finishing school in the 1940s. For each of my mother’s major birthdays I made a card for her. For her card when she was turning 70 I got her friends to write something they remembered about her. Two of them, some fifty years later referenced an autograph they had received from her.

One at least still had her autograph book and included the actual page my Mum had written on. Had she kept it because at that time my mother was famous (something for another post perhaps) or had she kept it because the words written by friends meant a lot to them.

I have to admit that I can remember my own days of the autograph book and feeling sick whenever I was presented with someone’s to write that clever, witty, humorous, meaningful verse – I rarely had anything on tap and I struggle (as I still do) to come up with those perfect words without having the time to mull them over and edit over time. Perhaps that is why I always preferred the skeleton autograph.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on autographs.

Posted in family, irenewaters, photography, Writing | Tagged , , | 28 Comments

The Dickens Boy – A Book Review

Cover courtesy Amazon .com

Thomas Keneally is a prolific well known Australian author. In fact many of you not from Australia will be familiar with his work as he was the Man Booker prize winner in 1982 for his non fiction work Schindlers Ark, later republished as Schindler’s List and on which the film of the same name is based. He has subsequently been shortlisted for the Man Booker on three other occasions for The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith, Gossip from the Forest and Confederates, as well as many other awards. Many of his books take a bit of history and weave it into a well developed piece of fiction. It was with interest then that I sat down to read The Dickens Boy.

It was history that I had never heard of previously but on a little research found it to be true. Plorn ( Edward Bulwer-Lytton) the youngest son of Charles Dickens (of Great Expectations and others fame) was sent to Australia to be made into a man when he was still a teenager (16). One of his older brothers, Alfred D’Orsay Tennyson Dickens, had been sent previous to Plorn. It was supposedly so that their inability to apply themselves would not reflect badly on their father and showed that Dickens, who sent some of his characters to Australia, believed in the power of Australia to strengthen character.

Plorn arrived in Melbourne in 1868 and was sent to a sheep station at which he did not last long – he got into an argument over dinner and left immediately. Another property near Wilcannia in N.S.W. was found for him and here he grew up. He arrived with what for him was a terrible burden – he hadn’t read a word of his father’s work and to his dismay, he found Charles Dickens was as famous in the remote bush of Australia as he had been in England. This thread held the book together as he played countless cricket matches and came across bushrangers, other criminals, those escaping the world in an environment where the men were tough and the women almost non existent. It shows well the difference in the class system of England and that of Australia.

I found it interesting the differences between the brothers and how they saw the life they had left. It looked at Charles Dickens and the possibility that he was street angel home devil. I loved the descriptions of country (an area of Australia that most would consider inhospitable and wonder that any life could survive let alone sheep) and the life Plorn found himself in – so different from the life he had left. I did however struggle to get through the first half. It was setting the scene but it could have been set just a little quicker. The second half I found had more interest. I enjoyed the characters. Written in the first person narrated by Plorn it was spoken in the vernacular of the time which suited the style of narration.

Would I recommend this coming of age novel – Yes I would but be prepared to be captivated by the characters and country whilst feeling, initially at least, that nothing much happens in the bush. Probably well captured reality.

The type of countryside Plorn found himself.
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Happy New Year and some Goal Setting

Happy New Year to you all. Are you someone who makes New Year Resolutions? From the 1st Jan I will…. diet? write a chapter a day? keep the house clean and tidy? Exercise? make mad passionate love at least twice a week? keep in touch with friends? and the list could go on and on of all the things we could do, know we won’t (and usually in a short space of time from 1st Jan to maybe 2nd Jan or a bit longer if we are lucky.)

I determined quite some time back that I wouldn’t set myself up for failure by creating a list that even at my most positive I knew would end with me beating up on myself. Instead I think of goals. Where do I want to be at years end? I try and make them realistic but I’m a great believer in Creative Visualisation. This was a book written by Shakti Gawain that I read in the late 1970s. Yes that was a long time ago but it was an immensely powerful book that taught me two things in particular. Firstly, I could do and be anything I visualised and secondly, my goal was not set in cement. By that I mean that in the journey to attain what I visualised, I might find something that was even more desirable to reach. It is not failure to not continue on to that first endpoint but choosing a fork in the road to take you to a different endpoint. Time for me to read the book again. I think I could benefit from some of the positive mental imagery that you can’t help but do as you read through the pages. I digress.

So rather than resolutions I am setting some goals for myself for this year and for blogging. It is now well over a year since I wrote anything on my blog. Some of you may remember that I was struggling a bit with my own breast cancer, my husbands incurable cancer and my mother in her nineties requiring increasing care and nurturing. Sadly she passed away a week before Christmas and although her passing leaves a huge hole in my life, I am glad for her as she was finding the world an increasingly frightening place.

My husband hasn’t reached remission with his second lot of chemo but has come very close to it. It was a tough 6 months for him. I don’t think he’d really recovered from the first year of chemo. Now he is on a monthly maintenance dose (and after only one month it seems the side effects of the chemo are subsiding) and we are keeping the fingers crossed that this will give him 2 – 3 good years. And so for my first goal. We will do a few trips given that we now have almost 4 weeks that we can be away from home. Our first one will be in March corresponding with when I am competing in the Central Division International Speech contest (having won the club and area contests prior to this).

I have Toastmasters Goals as well. Having been a toastmaster now since 2013 it is time I achieve the highest award – that of Distinguished Toastmaster. I am realistic. I doubt that it will be in 2022 as there are some leadership tasks that have to be done that I think will be difficult to do by years end. 2023 seems much more realistic to me. By mid year I hope to have completed Level 4 of Engaging Humour pathway and Level 5 by the end of the year. As far as the international speech goes – I am just happy to have got this far.

Blogging. I have decided that I am going to return to the blogosphere. I was focussed on my book and my studies when I last blogged but in the end predominantly joined in challenges, both photographic and writing. This meant that I sometimes posted more than once a day. Yes I was prolific but I burnt out as I found that my personal life was taking my thoughts and time and I didn’t have the time to visit other bloggers. This time I am going to do it differently. I will post Mondays, Wed and Saturday. I will have set topics. I will visit others on Tuesdays. Thursdays and Sundays belong to my husband.

On the 1st Monday of the month I will do a book review.

On the second Monday of the month I will do a segment about where I live. With Covid affecting us all it will be an easy way to travel to my world.

and on the third Monday of the Month I will concentrate on my goals, public speaking and toastmasters

On the fourth Monday of the month I will talk about photography or writing from my perspective.

Wednesdays – will be a thought for the week, a poem or prose or an opinion on something or other.

On Saturdays – I will give you the week in review

I think that is enough goal setting for today from me. Have you set yourself some goals? I’d love to hear what they are if you want to share.

Wishing each and every one of you a Very Happy New Year.

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