U3A Adds to My Life

Design and photo © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

I am a member of U3A, University of the Third Age, an organisation designed for retired or semi-retired people over 50.  My focus has been creative writing but U3A provides an opportunity for members to try something different, meet new people, and share and enhance their knowledge and skills in a friendly environment.

World-wide, U3A is making a substantial contribution to societies by helping members to remain healthy and active longer.

University of the Third Age promotes learning for personal enjoyment and well-being for seniors.  Keeping the brain active, doing interesting things and making new friends are essential for helping older Australians maximise their chances of independence.

U3A Brisbane is one of many similar U3A branches throughout Australia. Formed in Brisbane in 1986, they are a volunteer organisation.  Brisbane locations provide leisure, arts and educational courses to local members at low cost each term.

Classes are conducted on Zoom and in person at a number of venues subject to Covid-19 restrictions.  

CLICK A LINK! ENHANCE YOUR SKILLS OR DISCOVER A NEW ONE:   

U3A Brisbane https://www.u3abrisbane.org.au/

U3A Queensland https://www.u3aqld.org.au/

U3A Australia https://u3aaa.org/

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

* * * * *

Front doors of U3A Adelaide Street, Brisbane.

John B Tabb was Ahead of His Time…

Image © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

… or have we gone backwards?

The small green book nearest the candle is simply titled “Poems”, a volume of verse by John B Tabb. Each poem is on a single page and has been written in similar length to Twitter and Instagram. All the way from 1894—I had to share it with you!

There are 172 pages, one short poem per page, extolling nature, love, life and death. I guess Tabb wanted only his poetry to shine because there is nothing personal inside.

The first page has an important red logo with lilies and Latin written on it, not for the poet but the company insignia of Copeland and Day, Boston, MDCCCXCIV (1894)

The second page states “Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1894, by Copeland and Day, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.”

The back page reads “This first edition of poems by John B. Tabb is limited to five hundred copies, which have been printed during the autumn of 1894 by John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, Massachusetts.”

A slim volume which appears to have been well handled over many years, and the pale deckle parchment is showing its age—see below.

The big question is “How did this volume arrive at a book fair in Brisbane Australia 127 years later?”

GBW 2021

After the formality of the front pages comes a seven page index (in tiny print) which has intriguing titles listed under headings. I guess the first are general rhymes, the next Quatrains and then Sonnets.

Here are some of my favourites—

The Phonograph

Hark! What his fellow-warblers heard
And uttered in the light,
Their phonograph, the mocking-bird,
Repeats to them at night.

Imagination

Here Fancy far outdoes the deed;
So hath Eternity the need
Of telling more than Time has taught
To fill the boundaries of Thought.

The Dandelion

With locks of gold to-day;
To-morrow, silver gray;
Then blossom bald. Behold,
O man, thy fortune told!

Evolution

Out of the dusk a shadow,
Then, a spark;
Out of the cloud a silence,
Then, a lark;
Out of the heart a rapture,
Then, a pain;
Out of the dead, cold ashes,
Life again.

Compensation

How many an acorn falls to die
For one that makes a tree!
How many a heart must pass me by
For one that cleaves to me!

“We may use different words but emotions are eternal”

Who was this man John B Tabb? Well, his full name and title was Father John Banister Tabb (22 March 1845 – 19 November 1909) and he was an American poet, Roman Catholic priest, and professor of English Contents. He was born into a wealthy family in Amelia County, Virginia, was a blockade runner for the Confederacy during the Civil War, converted to the Roman Catholic Church in 1872, taught Greek and English at Saint Charles College (Ellicott City, Maryland) and was ordained as a priest in 1884. Among his other works, Father Tabb published eight poetry books and was widely published in prestigious magazines of the day including Harper’s Monthly and The Cosmopolitan. The Tabb Monument in Amelia County, Virginia, is dedicated to his memory.
Source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_B._Tabb

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

——oooOOOooo——

Image © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

Review ‘The Emporium of Imagination’ Tabitha Bird

Image © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

A tale of love, loss, grief and healing wrapped in magical realism and suitable for a wide range of readers.  Families in this story have lost loved ones and are either handling their grief, not handling it, or ignoring it.  They carry suppressed fears, squashed desires, and unfulfilled dreams but The Emporium of Imagination is here to help.  And help it does, in the strangest of ways.  I know the town of Boonah (and the camel farm) and felt an affinity as the story unfolded but apart from Story Tree café and Blumbergville Clock in High Street, similarities ended there.

A man, a cat and a key arrive with The Emporium and set up shop in the main street of Boonah, offering special ‘phones’, strange notes on scraps of paper and the ability to hear human grief in all its stages.  Although this may sound gloomy, at worst depressing, the characters keep things moving, offering the reader many POVs and scenarios ranging from timidity to teen humour, guilt to anger, regret, and worse case scenarios like replaying the death of a loved one.  The narrative often has dreamlike suspension of disbelief but the heartache is real.  

The iconic clock mentioned in the book is named after the original Blumbergville settlement in Boonah and is made out of old farming and industrial equipment. In 2014, Boonah artist Christopher Trotter created the clock with Boonah clock-maker David Bland designed to mark the town’s rural heritage.

The Emporium’s former custodian, Earlatidge Hubert Umbray, gives way to a new curator who decides not to answer the special ‘phone’ but believes the townspeople of Boonah deserve hope ‘I can’t take that away from them’ although cynical me wonders if it would give false hope?  Surely a nicely worded pep talk about getting on with your life and following those cherished dreams would work?  However, the story is more restrained than that and gently imparts the whys and wherefores of coping with grief. 

I felt the inside of The Emporium was a bit Disney-movie.  While I tried to put my own emotions into a character, the practicable side of me could not relate to uncertain concepts.  Would a final ‘phone call’ to the recently deceased help the person in mourning, or would it tip them over the brink?  Items include Ladybird lollipops (nobody pays for goods); special connections to memorabilia; a notebook which turns up in the oddest places for select clientele; and a subtle cat with an unsubtle name.

In the last pages of the book I found the experiences of author Tabitha Bird just as moving as the characters in the book (poor dear Enoch) but that’s just me.  There is an end page headed The Owner’s Guide To Grieving in keeping with The Emporium’s roving notebook, offering the opportunity to write in ‘A quiet space to simply be’. I read a new library book so abstained from writing on the page—I bet someone does.

Now I’m off to bake Bedtime Muffins from Isaac’s (Enoch’s dad) recipe!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Grantham Gatton Helidon Road vintage shop © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2019

Crochet a Concrete Block

CROCHET is a handicraft in which yarn is made up into a textured fabric by means of a hooked needle. These public art works cover concrete blocks along the entrance driveway to Rocks Riverside Park, Seventeen Mile Rocks, Brisbane, a combined project from Crochet Clubs around the city.

If you are interested in trying this colourful craft, or yarn-bombing trees, here’s a link to Brisbane Crochet Club: https://brisbanecrochetclub.com.au/

Photographed on a sunny winter’s day June 2021.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Brisbane City Council initiative https://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/things-to-see-and-do/council-venues-and-precincts/parks/parks-by-suburb/seventeen-mile-rocks-parks/rocks-riverside-park

The Oldest Foods on Earth

The Oldest Foods On Earth cookbook photo © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

‘The Oldest Foods on Earth’ introduction by author John Newton who asks ‘What do I mean by Australian native produce?’

Quote “Indigenous foods we have always eaten, e.g. oysters, crabs, rock crayfish and all the fish that swim around us… and varieties of duck and quail… but outside the familiar are an estimated 6,000 edible plants including 2,400 fruiting trees in south-east Queensland alone, and 2,000 truffles or subterranean mushrooms.  Of those, 6,000 non-Indigenous Australians currently use less than fifty.

“Why should you eat these foods?  Firstly, for their unique flavours, then for their nutrient values… they are among the richest on the planet in the nutrients we need for health.

“This book is a guide on how to source, select and cook with Australian native produce ingredients.” © John Newton 2019

Published by NewSouth Publishing Australia with recipes from chefs such as Peter Gilmore, Maggie Beer and René Redzepi’s sous chef Beau Clugston. ‘The Oldest Foods on Earth’ will convince you that this is one food revolution that really matters.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Indigenous painting ‘Possums and Tall Trees’ an Arabana ILF children’s book by Aunty Kathy Arbon 2018

DID YOU KNOW? Former teacher Suzy Wilson, the owner of Riverbend Books in Bulimba, Brisbane, got the ball rolling in 2004 when she launched the Riverbend Readers Challenge to raise money to boost literacy levels. The Challenge grew, and then teamed up with the Fred Hollows Foundation and the Australian Book Industry to become the Indigenous Literacy Project in 2007. In 2011 it was superseded by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF), a national not-for-profit charity focussed on improving literacy levels in very remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Source https://www.indigenousliteracyfoundation.org.au/

Keys for Locking Things and Keeping Safe

Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2015

COME ON, admit it.  The majority of us have a container, a bowl or tray, on a side table where we toss things.  Car keys, door keys, hats, toys, cards, pens, books, name tag, USB, junk mail, countless small items like Lego, and possibly your dog’s lead.  They all get thrown, tossed, dropped into this repository, usually near an entry door.  Next time you watch a domestic drama series, check how many times the house keys are tossed aside while the actor says ‘I’m home.’

THIS CASUAL receptacle is handy for coming home tired, but hopeless when you are in a hurry in the morning.  I have discovered that annoyed pitching never works and requires the effort of fishing the item up off the floor and trying again.

OF COURSE, we are cautioned by Neighbourhood Watch not to use this careless form of storage because thieves can take your car keys on their way out with your Edwardian silverware.  

DIFFICULT to disguise a set of car keys—good on you if you have keyless entry—but I hang unmarked keys in separate locations.  At least that way the burglar has to scurry around trying to find the right set of hooks holding the right key to your vault or whatever. Naturally a door key may not be necessary if the entry point is used to exit.

THANKFULLY on the night my domestic dwelling was genuinely plundered, I was out, so my car was not there to ‘borrow’.  I went to live theatre for the first time in years; you can read my anguish on a past blog post Stolen Jewellery Anger and Sorrow.

THE AVERAGE household uses only one or two different keys and bowl storage works out pretty well until someone wants an unused key necessary to unlock a side window in the spare bedroom.  The relevant key is finally located from a neglected bundle at the bottom of a woven tray on the kitchen sideboard.  It has been transferred to another storage facility, i.e. drawer. We humans know how to waste time searching for small things.

KEYS offer something primitive and satisfying about locking a door.  It is real, it makes a solid locking noise and creates a tangible barrier between you and the world.  For me, a beep doesn’t cut it.  Do you hear an electronic click when you issue a ‘lock door’ command?  Do you hear a thunk like a garage door closing when you tap a screen?  I guess the modern manufacturer is well versed in consumer psychology and pre-programs various locking noises.  Kind of like phone ring tones but different.

“I hope I could get an electronic sound like a warden pushing an ancient castle door closed, one which grinds and crunches as it shuts tight against rampaging possums” 

GBW 2021

A LOT can be said about smart key entry, finger print identity, voice commands, internet-based security, eye recognition, tomographic motion detection, etc, but since I don’t know how most of that technology works, I am sticking with my metal keys.  Of course, the family has keys so I check to see they have ‘properly’ locked the door at night—blame scary movies.

DOMESTIC security is important… millions of people don’t have a door to lock… or a home…

St Vincent de Paul

Vinnies Winter Appeal 2021

Over two million people live below the poverty line in Australia, including over half a million children.  This winter Vinnies Appeal will provide emergency relief to families at risk and experiencing homelessness.

Donate https://donate.vinnies.org.au/winter-appeal

Please visit ‘The Lighthouse’ poet Tom Alexander and read his introspective poem on keys
https://tomalexwrite.com/2021/07/07/different-keys/

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

‘The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls’ Longfellow

Tidal flats of Wynnum Manly foreshore Moreton Bay, Queensland © Dot Bernet 2021

The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The tide rises, the tide falls,

The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;

Along the sea-sands damp and brown

The traveller hastens toward the town,

      And the tide rises, the tide falls.

Darkness settles on roofs and walls,

But the sea, the sea in the darkness calls;

The little waves, with their soft, white hands,

Efface the footprints in the sands,

      And the tide rises, the tide falls.

The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls

Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls;

The day returns, but nevermore

Returns the traveller to the shore,

      And the tide rises, the tide falls.

* * * * *

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet (1807-1882)

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44651/the-tide-rises-the-tide-falls

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Twilight falls on Wynnum Manly foreshore Moreton Bay, Queensland © Dot Bernet 2021

‘Sanditon’ TV Drama Series

Jane Austen’s unfinished heroine, Charlotte Heywood, is invited to Sanditon, a small coastal village undergoing modern changes to become a fashionable seaside resort (with revolutionary sea bathing) and she soon finds herself navigating the high ambitions of its architect Tom Parker, the family affairs of wealthy benefactor Lady Denham, and the secrets of village life. There are, of course, two handsome suitors. But a very important question hangs in the air—will Sanditon be a successful venture?

Sanditon, an eight-part drama from Jane Austen’s last and unfinished novel adapted by Andrew Davies, left fans of the TV series divided by the uncharacteristic ending and the knowledge that there would not be another installment.

Production company Red Planet Pictures is a leading independent UK producer of high-end drama founded by multi-award winning British television writer Tony Jordan in 2006, and run with Belinda Campbell and Alex Jones whose recent productions include Sanditon, a dramatisation which caused much disarray in the Jane Austen fandom.

However, I read these recent quotes

“A second and third series were commissioned as part of a collaboration between PBS and BritBox in May 2021″

“Masterpiece PBS: After fans were left hanging in suspense by the first season’s finale and clamouring for more, the drama will continue to follow the high-spirited and independent heroine, Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) as she returns to the picturesque coastal resort of Sanditon. Charlotte’s journey is one thread of an intricate tapestry of compelling stories full of intrigue, excitement, and romance. Against the backdrop of beautiful vistas, familiar faces return and new inhabitants are introduced—all of whom will be having adventures as joyous and surprising as the seaside town itself.”

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/arts-and-culture/a30272999/sanditon-season-2/

So, the stars over Sanditon will continue to shine.

In Australia, the first series is free-to-air on ABCTV iView. I found the story very enjoyable and loved the characters. It has been a long time since I was irate about a surprise ending although I did appreciated the way the two actors handled The Moment. Generally, I felt some liberties were taken with etiquette, the background scenery was sometimes questionable but the costumes were suitably detailed and quite lavish when the need arose.

Love it or loathe it, this is another story which will join the long list of adaptations of Jane Austen’s enduring works.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Sanditon beach cricket and Charlotte goes into bat.

Stanthorpe Autumn Insights Part Two

Brooding rain clouds hang over the Stanthorpe Historical Museum gate.

Out the back is the blacksmith’s workshop mentioned in Part One. A guided tour of Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery was an eye-opener (costumes next) and the Stanthorpe Post Office 1901 was the first in Queensland. Its style is informal with Edwardian Baroque Revival elements and Royal coat-of-arms, but inside it’s 21st century business as usual.

Napoleon, Ferdinand and The Alchemist.

Both Ferdinand and The Alchemist have elaborate tail coats trailing behind their heavily detailed jackets. Dr Denise Rall used a variety of mediums but my photos don’t capture the sumptuousness of the bling-covered fabric. There were two prints of the Rooster and I almost took the cheeky fellow home! The Gallery has an array of art techniques including landscapes by local artists and thought-provoking ceramics.

Took a stroll through town.

This must be the biggest stone thermometer in Australia. A detour between buildings lead to a sculpture with an ibis taking flight (used in my ‘Exercise Makes You More Attractive’ post). During lunch I read the local newspaper Stanthorpe Today and discovered the old white 1960s Valiant sedan I had photographed cruising the streets was taking part in a Classic Car Rally. Just love those teatowels!

A pyramid in a paddock.

This one is made of local stone and called The Ballandean Pyramid. It was originally built for the Henty Vineyards former owner, Stuart Moreland.

Storm King Dam on a suitably overcast day.

Although not as cold as I was lead to believe. The lake has bungalows to cater for fishing enthusiasts. The view from Top of the Town Tourist Park down to the centre of town with a blue picnic table for contrast. Daisies amongst granite rocks, and more granite rocks and boulders at Donnelly’s Castle, almost impossible to photograph their size—but not teetering like giant hard-boiled eggs in some parts of the region. Captain Thunderbolt, an expert horseman and highway robber, used to hide in these geological wonders.

The U3A Conference 2021 in Stanthorpe.

A packed 2-day Program of informative U3A events with eloquent guest speakers, living up to the title of ‘Coolest’ Conference. A highlight for me was Copyright with Irene Sachs, a straight-forward look at Australian copyright laws. Everyone got a goodies bag and the Daisy mosaic tile was hand-made specially, a different one in each bag. There’s my grey Alpaca cardigan from Pure Inca. Fresh-picked fruit abounded, Stanthorpe apples were prominent—I love them! Local food take-home’s included Jamworks Rosella Jam, Sutton’s Apple Jelly, Stanthorpe Honey, Jersey Girls cheese, minus bakery delights consumed on route.

The evenings were misty and quiet…

… except for a heifer escaping after dark and running around mooing at midnight! The daytime sky changed colour often but mostly May sunlight shone on country Stanthorpe and the whispering eucalypt leaves. A return visit is inevitable.

Here’s to life-long learning!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

At an altitude of 811 metres (2,661 ft), Stanthorpe holds the record for the lowest temperature recorded in Queensland at −10.6 °C (12.9 °F) on 23 June 1961. My blog post compiled on Queensland Day 6 June 2021.

Visitors Guide https://southerndownsandgranitebelt.com.au/

Stanthorpe Autumn Insights Part One

The views change dramatically driving along the highway from Brisbane to Stanthorpe.

Through farmland, over Cunninghams Gap and the Great Dividing Range (Eastern Highlands) Australia’s most substantial mountain range and the third longest land-based range in the world. Through ‘Rose and Rodeo Capital’ Warwick then into the Granite Belt region renowned for fruit-growing and wine-making. The air becomes cooler, the May autumn leaves turn russet and the landscape is littered with huge granite boulders.

Stanthorpe is a pretty little town with a lot of history as I found out when I attended my first U3A conference.

Actually the 2021 conference was a good reason to visit this fabulous part of Queensland! On arrival, after traversing the town, the next stop was Top Of The Town Tourist Park’s well-appointed accommodation in The Cottage. A modern cottage, small and cute and separate from the other cabins and campers. That didn’t stop me talking to the locals for a good chinwag. The historical museum is nextdoor and that warranted a visit on the last day, so much to see inside! Anyway, it was a quick drive into town and a visit to the supermarket, and a Peruvian Alpaca wool shop just in case there was a cold snap. I did buy a handwoven cardigan which is very warm and snuggly. My photo shows the walk down to Quart Pot Creek. The sky was a clear blue and the water reflections sparkled.

Looking across Quart Pot Creek on the path to the Tourist Information Centre.

A huge stone thermometer read 15 degrees Celsius (59 Fahrenheit) and a tourist bus had just arrived so there were a lot of people milling about inside looking a handmade souvenirs and ordering morning tea. I picked up several leaflets and information on local sites of interest plus must-do events, like wineries, Girraween National Park, Wallangarra Railway Station Museum & Cafe (sadly not managed this trip) Truffle tour with Truffle dog hunts, Jersey Girls Cheese factory (what an experience!) and Donnelly’s Castle which are a jumble of prehistoric granite boulders at the end of a winding gravel road. After climbing these huge mystical boulders, the view was fantastic. Then it was time to head back for a delicious lunch at Lily’s Cafe in the High Street.

My next post will feature another side of Stanthorpe. The diversity surprised me.

A visitor to Stanthorpe would need a couple of weeks to visit all the internationally renowned wineries and local attractions, both natural and man-made like The Pyramid out in a paddock! And I loved the individuality of farm produce and accommodation. Top Of The Town had a trail up the hillside where you can stand on a granite rock and look out over the town in the company of native birds and pretty wildflowers. Brisbane doesn’t get much in the way of autumn leaves (although the weather does cool down) so this blog post features red, yellow, golden leaves.

In Part Two, I will post more photographs and write briefly about the U3A Conference. The conference ran over two days and the first guest speaker was Mike Hayes, Director of Viticulture and Chief Winemaker from Sirromet Wines, Ballandean, located in the Southern Downs near the Queensland/New South Wales border.

These two ducks were not very happy that I was walking past their pond.

The Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery pond had rainwater in it from a storm the night before but otherwise water is very precious in southern Queensland. I doubt the centre fountain is ever full although it does add to the feel of the season. The U3A Conference organised a guided tour of the Art Gallery and in my second post I will show two of the local artists creations. I was particularly taken by the work of costumier Denise N Rall; landscapes beautifully rendered in different mediums; an illuminated-style book of art.

Grape vine leaves, not in a vineyard but the Stanthorpe Historical Museum.

These leaves caught my eye outside the blacksmith’s workshop. Inside was a blackened fireplace, anvil and countless tongs, pliers, buckets and metal utensils, hung around the slab bark hut. I don’t remember seeing the leather bellows to fan the flames but there must have been. The blacksmithy had a physically demanding yet highly necessary job in every town in days gone by. I found it difficult to even lift the hammer which would have been used to shape the red hot iron. And I have no doubt countless horseshoes and metal implements were forged in sheds like this with its corrugated iron roof, dirt floor and rough log seating.

Bye from sweet, sunny Stanthorpe until my next post Part Two also compiled on Queensland Day 6 June 2021.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Dragon Love – Julie Kagawa

Dragon © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

“I was a huge bookworm as a kid, and you could usually find me reading something with a dragon on its cover.” – Julie Kagawa.

Talon (Book #1)

“To take her rightful place in the Talon organization, young dragon Ember Hill must prove she can hide her true nature and blend in with humans. Her delight at the prospect of a summer of ‘normal’ teen experiences is short-lived, however, once she discovers that she’s also expected to train for her destined career in Talon. But a chance meeting with a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught.

“As Ember struggles to accept her future, St. George soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian is tasked with hunting her down. But when faced with Ember’s bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything the Order has ingrained in him — and what he might be willing to give up to uncover the truth about dragons.”

Source https://www.worldsofjuliekagawa.com/page6.html#msg-box4-t

Author Julie Kagawa is a New York Times, USA TODAY and internationally bestselling author of The Iron Fey, Blood of Eden, The Talon Saga and the Shadow of the Fox series. Born in Sacramento, she has been a bookseller and an animal trainer and enjoys reading, painting, playing in her garden and training in martial arts. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and a plethora of pets.

https://www.worldsofjuliekagawa.com/

This post is for the dragon lovers in my family.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Exercise Makes You More Attractive

Quotation from My Health for Life Program www.myhealthforlife.com.au Photograph © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

My Health for Life is a free lifestyle program funded by the Queensland Government and designed and delivered by the Healthier Queensland Alliance. The Alliance is a group of non-Government organisations working in partnership with the Government and Health and Wellbeing Queensland to improve the health of Queenslanders.

The organisations involved are:

  • Diabetes Queensland
  • Stroke Foundation
  • National Heart Foundation of Australia
  • Queensland Primary Health Networks (PHN)
  • Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland ECCQ)
  • Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC)

The following are thanked for their counsel and support:

  • Health and Wellbeing Queensland (HWQld)
  • Queensland Health
  • Brisbane South Primary Health Network Positive Impact Program
  • Victoria Life! Program
  • Network of providers and coaches
  • The people of Caboolture who helped develop this program.

I am currently participating in a free fortnightly My Health for Life Program and after just three group sessions (with a physiotherapist, alternating exercises indoors and out in the park) I feel positive about ‘tweaking’ my lifestyle and eating habits for the better, e.g. increased movement and decreased intake of tea and bikkies.

Also, I was given a Group Coaching Program workbook which is filled out each session to keep my healthy eating on-track and planning for success. A Wellbeing Book, or Guide to Good Health, is included in the pack (in an environmentally friendly carry bag) which offers support, tips on motivation, monitoring your progress, etc, as well as overcoming challenges.

NATURALLY THERE IS NO GUARANTEE THAT EXERCISE WILL MAKE YOU MORE ATTRACTIVE

THAT’S JUST MY TAKE ON FEELING GOOD INSIDE AND OUT!

If you are interested, there is a free health check on the My Health for Life website. Give it a go. In my group there are couples, an asthmatic, a diabetic and a man who has had heart surgery. You’ve got a lot of life to live.

My suggestion—sign up and step away from the screen—do it now!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Exercise, eat, sleep like a cat © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

Alice and ‘Drink Me’ Bottle

Would you drink from this bottle? © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

DRINK ME

When Alice finds that she can’t fit through the little door to get into the beautiful garden because she is too big, she notices a glass bottle with a paper label which reads Drink Me.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 novel by English author Lewis Carroll (the pseudonym of Charles Dodgson). It tells of a young girl named Alice, who falls through a rabbit hole into a subterranean fantasy world populated by anthropomorphic creatures.

A Drink Me potion is a magical liquid in Wonderland – it has the effect of making the drinker shrink in size

This potion bottle has magically appeared on the table. Alice wonders if it is safe to drink, and she thinks to herself ‘If one drinks much from a bottle marked Poison it is certain to disagree with one, sooner or later’. However, the bottle did not have the word Poison written on it, so Alice drinks every last drop of the bottle’s liquid and finds that it tastes delicious. It had a flavour of cherry tart, custard, pineapple, roast turkey, toffee and hot buttered toast, all mixed up. She then shrinks down to only ten inches tall (approx 25cm) after drinking from this bottle.

Source https://aliceinwonderland.fandom.com/wiki/Drink_Me_Potion

Personally I did not like this part of Alice in Wonderland as a child and it has haunted me ever since. What writer puts that into a children’s story? Believing labels, swigging from bottles, shrinking in size. The stuff of horrors akin to storing cleaning fluid in soft drink bottles. Okay, I realise it is a fantasy story which has stood the test of time and been reproduced in many formats, still… I guess for me, reading this tale in childhood, there was the thought of ‘No, Alice, don’t drink it!’ without knowing she has to propel the story forward in the most unlikely way. Yes, it is a unique and radical plotline but I still see it as experimental drug-taking.

Apologies to staunch fans with no hang-ups, and those who embrace Lewis Carroll’s Todd’s syndrome or Dysmetropsia, a neuropsychological condition which causes strange hallucinations and affects the size of visual objects. It can make the sufferer feel bigger or smaller than they are – a theme of the book – write what you know. Then, and now, I have never seen Alice’s adventures in Wonderland as entertaining. I view this book as akin to a fitful, nightmarish fever dream. The characters are irredeemably scary, even Johnny Depp couldn’t save it for me.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Lewis Carroll was an English novelist and poet. He is best known as the author of the children’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass (1871) two of the most popular works of fiction in the English language.

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Lewis-Carroll

Highway Thrills with Bukowski

“Bright Red Car” from The Last Night of the Earth Poems by Charles Bukowski, author poet (Black Sparrow Press 1992) and yes, I know the car illustration is yellow but this car jousting is, well… just read it…

I try to avoid speed duels on the freeway but the most curious thing

is

that all my speeding tickets are when I am quietly driving

along on

my

own.

when I am in a high speed duel, darting in and out of lane

at near 100 m.p.h.

the police are never

about.

when I get tagged for speeding it is for cruising along,

day-dreaming, at a mere 70

m.p.h.

I received 3 such nonsensical tickets in 3 weeks so

I laid low for some time — 2 years, in fact, but today

out there

there was a fellow in a bright red car, I have no idea what

model or kind

and I have no idea of how it all started but I believe that

I started it:

I was in the fast lane going about 70

and I caught the flash of bright red in my rear view and

as he swung out to pass me on the right

he was doing 75

and there was time for him to pass

then cut into the fast lane ahead of me

but something made me hit the throttle and cut him

off

locking him in behind an old lady with a CHRIST

SAVES bumper sticker.

this seemed to piss him no end

and next I knew he had swung over on my bumper,

so close that his windshield and my taillights

seemed one.

this pissed me no end and I was being blocked by a

green Volks directly ahead

but I cut right through an opening and shot

ahead.

bright red went wild, spotted the far lane open,

roared over and gunned it

along.

after that, it was just me and bright red

jockeying for spots.

he would garner a lead, then with a crazy gamble

of lane change I would regain the

lead.

during this duel my destination was forgotten and I’m

sure his was

too.

watching him, I couldn’t help but admire his driving

skill; he took a few more chances than I

but I had a little bit the better machine

so it

just about evened out.

then

suddenly

we were alone: a freak break in the traffic

had set us free together

and we really opened

up.

he had a short lead but my machine slowly gained; I

inched up near him,

then I was at his side and I couldn’t help but

look over.

he was a young Japanese-American, maybe 18, 19

and I looked at him and

laughed.

I saw him check me out.

he saw a 70 year old white man

with a face like

Frankenstein.

the young man took his foot off the throttle and

dropped back

I let him go.

I turned the radio

on.

I was 18 miles past my destination but it

didn’t matter.

it was a beautiful sunny day.

* * * * *

Charles Bukowski (August 1920 – March 1994) a German American author, an influential, prolific and transgressive 20th century poet, short story writer, and novelist. 

Reference https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/charles-bukowski

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Walk to Cape Byron Lighthouse

Cape Byron Lighthouse © Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Before the sun gained intensity, it was a misty morning walk up to Cape Byron Lighthouse.  Along the way, I enjoyed coastal views from the Cape Byron walking track which took me on a hike past beaches, through rainforest, grassland and along clifftops to the lighthouse.

The walk is shared by joggers and walkers and is rough in patches but passes through the shade of bangalow palms, ancient burrawangs, and across kangaroo grassland. I had tantalising glimpses of the white lighthouse ahead and views of picturesque beaches alongside before rising to the summit of Australia’s most easterly point.

From the historic town of Byron Bay, the 3.7km walk loops through rainforest and along clifftops with views of the foreshore, eastern coastline and vast hinterland behind the township.

https://www.visitbyronbay.com/

Remember to keep an eye out for friendly lizards on the land, and turtles, dolphins (which I saw) stingrays and whales (in season) in the waters off the headland. I was lucky enough to arrive prior to a guided tour of the fascinating 120 year-old Cape Byron Lighthouse https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/historic-buildings-places/cape-byron-lighthouse

Of course, you can drive to the lighthouse but walking is more interesting! And the town of Byron Bay may have changed but the lighthouse remains eternal.

Information on the Cape Byron State Conservation Area can be found on NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service website https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/walking-tracks/cape-byron-walking-track

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

View south from the top of Cape Byron Lighthouse © Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Bush Stone-Curlew Capers

Bush Stone-curlew poised amongst the roses in New Farm Park, Brisbane © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

The Bush Stone-curlew or Bush Thick-knee (Burhinus grallarius) is a large ground-dwelling bird with a life span of up to 20 years.  The bush curlew is endemic to Australia and found in Brisbane, usually in parkland.  The curlew will adopt a rigid posture when it becomes aware of an observer, as this one did, poised amongst the roses in New Farm Park.

Curlews are terrestrial predators adapted to stalking slowly at night.  Their preferred habitat is open landscapes which give them good visibility at ground level where they search for invertebrates such as insects.  The grey-brown coloration is distinguished by dark streaks, its eyes are large and legs are long.  Both male and female care for two eggs laid on the bare ground, usually sited in a shaded position near a bush, stone wall or fallen branch.

Queensland Bush Stone-curlews are capable of flight but rely on the camouflage of their plumage to evade detection during the day. Domestic animals are their biggest threat. At night their call is an evocative and unforgettable sound, a sort of wailing cry which echoes across open ground.

The curlew candid camera (below) is memorable!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Video by FAME 2019, Mt Rothwell in Victoria, Australia

Three Things #12

THREE THINGS started back in June 2018, an idea from Paula Bardell-Hedley of Book Jotter under the headings READING LOOKING THINKING and it seems I am the only participant left standing.

Thus I have decided that I will write an even dozen—non metric 12and call it quits. Not because I don’t like the idea, it’s just that now I tend to write posts without the need for an overflow outlet. I try to keep my patter short (cough) and practice slick (cough, cough) editing which mostly works. GBW.


READING

OFF THE BEATEN TRACK: THREE CENTURIES OF WOMEN TRAVELLERS

Author: Dea Birkett with foreword by Jan Morris
Published: 2004
Publisher: Hardie Grant Books Australia
Pages: 144
Includes: 120 Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN: 1740662180

This book astounds in more ways than one. An enduring record of women in past centuries who did not stay home cooking and cleaning. From exotic, lesser known locations and fascinating old photos, to women around the world who had the courage to explore and travel alone. As Jan Morris said in the Forward “What they all had in common was their gender and their guts”. It offers the young millennials something to think about—survival without the internet.

Writing was one of the few careers that had long provided women with professional status, more so perhaps than other forms of artistic expression”.

Off The Beaten Track: Three Centuries of Women Travellers

My particular favourite is on pages 94-95. It starts with a quote “The pictures of the pen shall outlast those of the pencil, and even worlds themselves” Ephra Behn, prologue to “The Luckey Chance” (1687).

Below, left, is a vintage bromide print (1902) taken by an unknown photographer which shows traveller Ina Sheldon-Williams dressed in white frills, painting two tribesmen with a horse and foal, in rather genteel surroundings. Unlike fish collector Mary Kingsley (1862-1900) who suffered overturning canoes, leeches and crocodiles in West Africa, and her thick skirts saved her when she fell into a pit of pointed spikes.

The photo on the right follows the biography of Ethel Mannin (1900-1984) an English woman who lived the stuff of literary dreams. Ethel was 23 years-old, had abandoned an early marriage and with one suitcase, a portable typewriter, a child of three and six words of French she went to the south of France in search of the violet fields, olive groves, vineyards and orange trees. Later, her writing enabled her to purchase a home in fashionable Wimbledon.

Ethel’s prodigious writing and her travelling were intertwined and she wrote fiction and non-fiction providing the reason for her travels. Ethel described herself as “An emancipated, rebellious, and Angry Young Woman”. I just love her 1930 B&W National Gallery portrait—a strong look, perhaps later copied by young Wednesday in “The Addams Family”. GBW.


LOOKING

New Farm Park, Brisbane, roses after rain © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

Unlike cultivated New Farm Park, I have been looking out my window with a certain amount of glumness and a large dose of embarrassment, at the backyard garden (read overgrown jungle) which has proliferated after recent steady rain. Autumnal April, an odd time for such rainfall. It fell in south-east Queensland but not enough in the water supply dam catchment areas.

Even in the 21st century we are dependent on water falling from the sky.

There was a campaign for recycled water during our big Millennium Drought but it never caught on.

I believe Las Vegas, Nevada, has used recycled (reclaimed) water for many years. It’s a mental thing, isn’t it? People are dubious of water others have already drunk and worse…

Getting back to riotous grass, the lawnmower men and gardeners are booked solid so unless I can find an old man with a hay scythe, I will avoid looking out the windows for another week or two. GBW.


THINKING

Fasten seatbelts, get ready for my stream-of-consciousness…

I have been thinking about the legacies we leave behind. Good, bad or unintentional. Of course, there are hundreds of ways a person leaves a legacy; flamboyantly, quietly, cruelly, some not necessarily acknowledged, but they will be there just the same. From the tangible to the ephemeral, the loved to the hated, a universal legacy or a small one-on-one, we leave our mark. Be aware of this legacy, this part of you which I believe you will indelibly leave behind in some form. Use it wisely so those who receive it, directly or otherwise, will know where it came from and decide if it is worthy of keeping, if it will become part of them—although some legacies are hard to shake. Many people are no-fuss, low-key individuals and that’s fine, however, they may not know it but they will intrinsically leave a legacy. A legacy is more than an amount of money or property left to someone in a Will. I believe it can be found in a good book or website (thanks Paula) but rarely in texting or social media. A legacy transcends time. Think about it. I bet you can recall a parent, sibling, teacher, partner, child, best friend or workmate saying or doing something you have not forgotten. Basically it’s the essence of that person you experience and instinctively preserve. A legacy can be as big as a skyscraper or a single gentle word, both of equal value, and both can leave a remembrance. If it is bad, destructive or no value, it should be dismissed and a life lesson learned from it. In turn you can pass on a better legacy so others will benefit. That’s what a legacy is! Sometimes you don’t know until years later (sometimes never) that your legacy of word or deed was appreciated. And it doesn’t matter if you hold a very special legacy close because you will inexorably create your own for someone else. Make it good. GBW.

Bon Voyage Three Things!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward