Three Things #4

A snapshot of what’s happening in my reading world.  Three books!  Three genres!  Three reviews!  My theme was originally started by Book Jotter under the title ‘Reading Looking Thinking’ but I’m only doing the Reading part for this installment.

POTENT ROMANTIC COMEDY

OUR TINY, USELESS HEARTS novel by Toni Jordan
https://www.textpublishing.com.au/books/our-tiny-useless-hearts

QuoteI couldn’t stop staring at babies and toddlers in the street: their impossibly tiny nails, pores around their noses, the way each hair on their head existed not as an individual but as part of a silken wave.” Janice, Page 125.

Toni Jordan’s new book ‘The Fragments’ has hit the shelves and in preparation I’ve just read her novel ‘Our Tiny, Useless Hearts’ which I think is a clever rom-com story.  Jordan has the knack of writing intelligent gems of heartfelt dialogue from the mouths of sincere characters then setting them in a ludicrous situation.  Well, Caroline’s house isn’t ludicrous, it’s more a trendy vehicle for British-style upstairs, downstairs naughtiness and relevant sex scenes.  The main players are two couples with shaky marriages (think clothes shredding) and the rest have grit in their relationships.  Protagonist Janice (with microbiologist syndrome) is meant to be the sensible one but she has just as many hang-ups as those around her.  Amid the embarrassing yet hilarious turmoil, Janice’s divorced husband Alec turns up.  The tension escalates even higher, a bad case of ‘Who is going to explode into a million pieces first?’.  I was entertained by this book of forthright and dysfunctional people who drew me into their lives.  GBW.
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MINUTIA OF VILLAGE LIFE

THE BOOKSHOP novel by Penelope Fitzgerald
https://www.harpercollins.com.au/9780007373833/the-bookshop/

Quote “Browsing is part of the tradition of a bookshop,” Florence told Christine. “You must let them stand and turn things over.” Florence, Chapter 5.

What a sombre little story this is.  I try not to read reviews or publicity first so I was quite impressed when I saw that English novelist Penelope Fitzgerald wrote ‘The Bookshop’ in 1978 when in her sixties.  That’s a lot of life experience, and later a Booker prize.  Fitzgerald had worked for the BBC, taught in schools and ran a bookshop.  I felt the struggles of Florence Green, fictional proprietor of the East Suffolk small town bookshop, were genuine.  Her droll experiences with young helper Christine Gipping appear to be first-hand.  In comparison, I found Mr Brundish, Milo North and the rapper (poltergeist) written along classical lines to add drama.  Village life is parochial and Florence battles with Mrs Gamart and her far-reaching resentment against resurrecting Old House as a bookshop.  Editor Hermione Lee says that Fitzgerald had a ‘tragic sense of life’ and I agree.  But her finesse with dialogue, letter-writing and the unspoken has launched countless tropes.  By all means prepare, this book has more thorns than roses.  GBW.
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INTER-DIMENSIONAL TRAVEL

THE CHRONICLES OF ST MARY’S series by Jodi Taylor
https://www.simonandschuster.ca/series/The-Chronicles-of-St-Marys

Quote “My speciality is Ancient Civilisations with a bit of medieval and Tudor stuff chucked in for luck.  As far as I was concerned, 1851 was practically yesterday.” Maxwell, Book 5.

The term preferred by Dr Bairstow, Director of the Institute of Historical Research at St Mary’s Priory, is ‘contemporary time’.  Jodi Taylor, author of ‘The Chronicles of St Mary’s’ series, writes about a humorous herd of chaos-prone historians who investigate major historical events.  They are led by intrepid historian Madeleine Maxwell (aka Max) Chief Operations Officer.  After costume fittings, the historians travel in pods with armed guards to places like Ancient Egypt, Mount Vesuvius, Great Fire of London, etc, to observe and take notes while Time Police loom threateningly.  Best read in chronological order but Dramatis Thingummy explains characters and each story unfolds, threefold sometimes, as another disaster hits the team.  Historians die; Dr Tim Peterson gets bubonic plague; at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Bard himself catches alight.  There are currently 22 books, in long and short format.  If, like me, you have ever daydreamed of visiting an historic moment in olden times, these books are for you.  GBW.
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Gretchen Bernet-Ward


Snoopy Woodstock Bookstack Cartoon

 

One post with three acts READING, LOOKING, THINKING, an idea started by Book Jotter, innovative blogger Paula Bardell-Hedley.  Her invitation to participate offers a slight change from Thinking to Doing if that suits your purpose.  I can love, like or loathe in three short bursts!  GBW.

Kei Ishii Q&A The Kollective Idea

The second part of our two-part interview with Queensland contemporary dance teacher Kei Ishii, founder of The Kollective Idea and workshops The Kontemporary Idea, which reveals his early passion for dance and an ongoing commitment to helping aspiring dancers reach their full potential.

Kei Ishii Contemporary Dancer & Teacher 

Q&A Interview | Profile Snapshot

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  1.  Early passion for dance

Q.  How and where did your passion for dance begin?

A.  It started when I was 7 years old.  I originally wanted to start Irish dancing, but my mother didn’t know the difference between Irish dance and tap dance, so she sent me to The Ritz which does Tap dance and the rest is history.

  1.  Creativity in the genes

Q.  Do you come from a creative family?

A.  I come from a very musical family, everyone has played an instrument at some point, but I am the only one who went into dance.

  1.  That pivotal moment

Q.  When and how did you become interested in contemporary dance?

A.  After high school, I found my interest in Contemporary dance.  I had already done a year of full-time dance at The Space in Melbourne and was wondering what to do with my career when one of my instructors suggested I go to Ev & Bow to pursue Contemporary dance.

  1.  Artistic inspiration

Q.  Which choreographers inspire you?

A.  So many different Choreographers to choose from!  Pina Bausch, Gary Stewart and Anton to name a few, but there are so many I have seen and worked with that my list would go on forever.

  1.  Your studies and qualifications

Q.  Where did you study and what are your dance qualifications?

A.  Well, I started learning dance at The Ritz then I completed full-time training at The Space in Melbourne and Ev & Bow in Sydney and gained a Cert IV in dance performance.

  1.  After you graduated

Q.  Any performance related highlights or working adventures in Australia?

A.  One of my first contracts was Legs On The Wall in their piece ‘Puncture’.  I have also done some independent work in Sydney Fringe Festival.  I entered a choreography competition Fast + Fresh with a short work ‘Memories’ which was awarded ‘Most Outstanding Choreography’ and ‘Most Outstanding Group’ which was quite amazing for me as it was the first work I’d created.

  1.  Formation of The Kollective Idea

Q.  What is the story behind your formation of The Kollective Idea?

A.  Coming back to Brisbane, I realised that the contemporary community is growing quite significantly, and Contemporary dance is become more popular amongst dance studios.  I wanted to contribute to this growth and help young aspiring dancers to experience what Contemporary dance has to offer.  Contemporary dance is something which needs to be experienced by teachers, it’s all about what you experience.

  1.  Planned events

Q.  What upcoming events do you have planned for The Kollective Idea?

A.  There’s our 3-day workshops The Kontemporary Idea in January and plans are underway to hold a few more workshops throughout 2019.  I have plans to create our first show/development this year.

  1.  Goals for The Kollective Idea

Q.  What are future goals for your workshops The Kontemporary Idea?

A.  I want to create a company for young dancers, so they can experience what it’s like to be in the Contemporary dance industry, what to expect, be part of the creation of different works.

  1.  Closing thoughts

Q.  Is there something encouraging you can say to aspiring dancers?

A.  Never take anything for granted, especially your teachers.  They offer a wealth of knowledge and are helping you to achieve your fullest potential.

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Many thanks for your time, Kei, and best wishes for your dance career.
CLICK to read the first part of our two-part interview.
Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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The Kollective Idea

Check the website for upcoming workshops

Website http://thekollectiveidea.com.au/
Events http://thekollectiveidea.com.au/events/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thekollectiveidea/
Instagram http://picdeer.com/thekollectiveidea

Kei Ishii and The Kontemporary Idea

Kei Ishii, founder of The Kollective Idea and its related dance module The Kontemporary Idea, will be holding more 3-day workshops this year, offering a creative boost to young and emerging dancers.

This is the first part of our two-part interview with Kei discussing his contemporary dance career.  Watch out for part two with Q&A insights!

kei ishii kollective ideas website 02Kei Ishii graduated from The Space Performing Arts, in Melbourne and went on to take a place at the world-renowned Ev & Bow Full-Time Contemporary Dance Course in Sydney where he trained with Sarah Boulter for two years.  During this time Kei assisted Sarah in choreographing many events including Dance Academy and the Arabian Games and was also offered a secondment with the Internationally famed ADT (Australian Dance Theatre) in Adelaide.

As a member of Legs on the Wall Contemporary Dance Troupe, Kei performed in their production of Puncture at the Sydney Festival in 2015.  He has choreographed many short works which have been performed at festivals such as Sydney Fringe Festival and Short Sweet Dance and was also awarded Best Choreographer at Fast + Fresh 2013.

 


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Since returning to Queensland, Kei shares his knowledge of various contemporary techniques with dance schools around Brisbane.  He started The Kollective Idea to give aspiring dancers the chance to perform in a company setting, to learn what working within the industry involves and to be guided through this exciting process.


 

Kei says “At The Kollective Idea we foster your talents and expand your experiences in an environment where you can gain the creative edge needed to succeed in dance.  You will dance alongside award-winning instructors and choreographers.  We are highly motivated to develop your performance technique, style and stage skills.”

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Kei Ishii, creator of The Kollective Idea

 

Kei goes on to say “The right philosophy drives success, it is where everything we do creatively and professionally starts.  A promising idea will define what you do and how you will do it.  Having the knowledge and skills to use this idea is why we study, practice and gain experience, growing to expand our ideas, our horizons and ultimately our dance futures.” 

“We can help you through the process of growing in the industry.  Our mentors are award-winning dancers with experience and the knowledge needed to help you grow that idea.”

A great learning opportunity from a man with vibrant and affirmative ideas!
Gretchen Bernet-Ward

The Kollective Idea starts their year with another The Kontemporary Idea 3-day workshop 19-21 January 2019 in two groups for ages 10-13 and 14+ covering techniques, improvisation and choreography.  Website bookings––

http://thekollectiveidea.com.au/
http://thekollectiveidea.com.au/events/
https://www.facebook.com/thekollectiveidea/

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The Kontemporary Idea

Brisbane Studio––

WORKSHOPS 19-21 JANUARY 2019
DAY 1 – Contemporary Techniques
DAY 2 – Improvisation Techniques
DAY 3 – Choreography Techniques
AGES
KONNECT – Ages 10-13
KOLLECT – Ages 14+

PERFORMANCE VIDEO
http://thekollectiveidea.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/CompressedIRISH-1.mp4?_=1

CLICK to read the second part of our two-part interview.

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Garry Disher ‘Kill Shot’ Book Review

Wyatt is almost spectral as he shifts unseen through a corrupt world, an inscrutable villain doing what he does best––stinging the stingers.

No qualms from Wyatt as he tracks ruthless, avaricious people and their hidden treasures, taking back what is not rightfully theirs and passing it on.

Wyatt was doing specialist break-and-enter jobs when his friend and fixer Sam Kramer contacted him.  Currently incarcerated and relying on prison networks and outside contact from his daughter Phoebe, Kramer gets a message through to Wyatt offering him a lucrative job.  Lucrative yes, easy no.

After some quick research, Wyatt learns his target is corporate financier Jack Tremayne who is being investigated by the Probity Commission and facing jail time for a Ponzi scheme which ripped off innocent people and made him rich.  Tremayne appears likely to abscond with the lot.  Before he escapes the country, Wyatt’s task is to find the assets he’s hidden, a million in cash, shares and bonds.

gun 02The trouble is several other felonious characters are interested in the hidden million, working just as hard as Wyatt to find it.  And we know there will be inescapable violence along the way.

Author Garry Disher is adept at getting inside the morally deficient minds of the criminal fraternity Wyatt encounters, tearing down their respectable facades, releasing their foibles bit by bit until cruel, cunning personalities emerge––those who will fight hard to steal a valuable prize.  And fight even harder when they find out Wyatt is closing in.

There is plenty of action in this thriller and as the tension builds, the main players emerge.  Trophy wife Lynx Tremayne; Will DeLacey the Tremayne lawyer; Mark Impey nervous investor; prison gofer Brad Salter; Kramer’s sleazy son Josh: ex-commando Nick Lazar; none are particularly agreeable.  Apart from the incomparable Wyatt, my other favourite person is Property Crimes DS Greg Muecke who gets in the way of Robbery & Serious Crimes division as he relentlessly follows Wyatt’s trail.  A knowing man but usually one step behind.

merewether beach newcastle nswThe drama starts in Sydney and unfolds around the beachside homes in Newcastle before progressing through to yachting marinas and beyond.  Wyatt has various identities and travels in understated disguises as he tracks his target.  No slang but unashamedly Australian with place names and businesses, author tributes e.g. Corris, Throsby, and an atmosphere so evocative you can smell the eucalyptus and fresh sea air.

Full of plot twists, ‘Kill Shot’ is number 9 of this tightly written series.  The ending is not what I expected which makes the story all the more enthralling and earns my Five-Star rating.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


Wyatt Crime Series

Kickback             (1991)
Paydirt                (1992)
Deathdeal           (1993)
Crosskill              (1994)
Port Vila Blues   (1995)
The Fallout         (1997)
Wyatt                   (2010)
The Heat              (2015)
Kill Shot               (2018)

Stats
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Title: Kill Shot
Author: Garry Disher
Pages: 320
Publisher: Text Publishing Company
Publish Date: 3-Dec-2018
Country of Publication: Australia
https://www.textpublishing.com.au/books/kill-shot-a-wyatt-thriller

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In addition to the Wyatt series, Garry Disher has written a variety of books
https://www.garrydisher.com/

Tea Towels and a Missed Opportunity

Before you yawn in boredom, let me explain.  A local bookshop promotes a new title ‘The Art Of The Tea Towel’ by Marnie Fogg, hardback 144 pages and selling well.

That author could have been me!

Last year I posted about my cotton tea towels, their history and some photographs.  Nobody, as far as I could tell, had done this before and I was rather proud of my efforts.  This year Marnie’s book comes out and I’m kicking myself.

The ‘what ifs’ start – what if I had ironed my linen tea towels, what if I had borrowed my great aunt’s classic designs, what if I had posed them with kitchen utensils and what if I had pitched to a nostalgic publisher who loves tea and scones?

Would I have my name on that cover if I’d taken the initiative?  Would, could, maybe…

Of course, there’s always the option of publishing my own tea towel book, but there would be the whiff of ‘copycat’ about it.  I doubt the literary world is ready for another one.

Interested in my meagre effort (I even designed my own) click here:
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2017/10/01/teatowel-of-ignominy/

Interested in Marnie Fogg’s selection, click book cover:

Art Of The TeaTowel 100 Best Designs

Both links explain the versatility of a tea towel and its usage in today’s world.

So, writers, you can guess the moral of this story.

I’m slinking off to find a handkerchief to dab at my eyes…hmm, handkerchief.  There’s another dying piece of serviceable domestic textile…

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Tea Towel “Ayrshire Cattle Society” © By appointment to Her Majesty The Queen, suppliers of kitchen textiles, Ulster Weavers Home Fashions Limited, Belfast.

Blogging Pleasure and Pain

I’m reading blog posts which say ‘Posting has become a chore’ or ‘It’s hard to post regularly’ or ‘Feeling the pressure to post’—-stop right there!

Take a break, the earth, the sky and the stars will still be there, the world will still turn.

Conversely there are serious blog posts coercing, er, cajoling the writer into a formula.  Or worse, a winning formula to be the best blogger in the blogosphere.

There’s even a blog ideas generator, how unoriginal can you get!

YOUR WORDS, YOUR WORLD, CREATE YOUR WAY!

Does a technique overcome bloggers block?  Better blogging supposedly comes with strategies, structure, schedules, regularity, planning…bah, humbug I say!  There’s probably enough pressure in your world without adding more via your blog.  If anything, blogging should be

a freedom,

a release from the daily grind,

your little patch of calmness,

a zone of personal creativity,

a focus on what you want,

how you want to say it,

and most of all, don’t worry,

let your originality take over.

The old hippie saying ‘go with the flow’ is appropriate when doing morning pages and you may like writing in the morning or writing in the evening.  Don’t push yourself to write to someone else’s rule, someone else’s timetable.  Free-writing is better than no writing.  You can actually write anywhere, anytime, and I don’t mean social media.

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Self-control up to a point.
Yeah, I know people who have to have a hammer hanging over their heads on a piece of string.  If they stand up, the hammer hits them on the head, they sit back down and do another 500 words of pain.  One famous writer actually tied his body to the chair to write.
Then there’s that annual trial by acronym.
Which does not spell  g-o-o-d  w-o-r-k  to me.

Do you really want a target audience?  Do you personally know anyone who is making a decent living from blogging?  They’re the ones in the pressure cooker.  If you are not commercially selling, I say ‘Do your own thing!’ and that’s exciting.

I speak from experience.  You will find your own rhythm if you truly want to write.  And nobody, least of all me, will help you or hinder you.  You’re on your own, kid.

YOUR WORDS, YOUR WORLD, CREATE YOUR WAY!

‘Work hard to create great content’ if it’s too hard it won’t work.

‘Blog often while controlling quality’we all know quality varies.

‘Find your competition and observe them’nothing worse than a lurker.

‘Write to please your readers’first ask yourself ‘Am I pleased with it?’

‘Improve your blog writing formula’your creativity is not a prescription.

‘What is your target market searching for?’don’t pander to the people.

‘What type of content do readers prefer?’write your content and let them Follow.

‘Start internal link building’in other words Liking but not liking.

‘You need to know the right audience for you’ other bloggers will work that out.

‘Make your blog post titles catchy’why get hung up on headings.

‘Don’t have time to write then reblog or hire a ghost-writer’ha ha ha ha ha.

‘Images are important to highlight your post’keep them relevant, naturally.

Good eye-appeal in formats and layouts’beauty is in the eye of the blogger.

‘Learn basic SEO’because it’s basic but not life threatening.

‘Reply to Comments daily’meaning a proper reply or else deactivate Comments.

‘Bill Gates once said Content Is King’well, hey, that’s a given.

‘Keep wordcount down’there are people who can still read lots of words.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

YOUR WORDS, YOUR WORLD, CREATE YOUR WAY!

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A refreshing nap or agony for hours…

‘Early Riser’ Jasper Fforde Book Review

A winter nightmare in snow-bound Wales.

Imagine a world where human inhabitants must bulk-up and hibernate through brutally cold winters, watched over by armed Winter Consuls, a group of officers who diligently guard the susceptible sleeping citizens.  Or do they?

“Early Riser” is the latest novel from bestselling author Jasper Fforde.

A unique and inventive writer, Welsh resident Jasper Fforde creates a mystery novel with skewed social values, high level corruption, bureaucratic cover-ups, bad dreams, mindlessness and the ever-present fear of freezing to death, all set in a bleak yet frighteningly droll otherworld in Wales.

Perfect for the cold northern hemisphere and a cool read for the hot southern hemisphere.

SPOILER ALERT – Jasper Fforde should have his own genre, writing a review is difficult!  Please note the book contains references to real food brand names.

Jasper Fforde is known for creating strong female characters and in “Early Riser” he does not disappoint.  Aurora and Toccata immediately spring to mind but I won’t go into details.  Let’s just say they are not related to Thursday Next, although there are a couple of fan-fic moments.

In this speculative postmodern standalone, the protagonist is Charlie Worthing, a novice Winter Consul who has been trained to stay alive through the bleakest of winters.

Although rather young and innocent, Charlie is chosen to accompany notable Winter Consul and hero, Jack Logan, to the Douzey, a remote sector in the middle of snow-covered Wales.  It’s an honour but Charlie is not at all prepared for what awaits in frigid Sector Twelve.

Part of Charlie’s job is to deal with Tricksy Nightwalkers whose consciousness has been eroded by hibernation and, first up, there’s the care and delivery of a vacant Nightwalker Mrs Tiffen which causes an unexpected disaster.

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With a facial deformity which quickly earns him a nickname, poor Charlie learns dreaming is not encouraged.  Especially not about a mysterious blue Buick or a large beach parasol, part of the main “Early Riser” plot.  He floats in and out of another Charlie’s dream, and also has problems with a young woman, Jonesy, who takes a fancy to him and decides to create their own backstory as if they are an old married couple.

Winter Consuls carry a Thumper and a Bambi which are deadly guns or, for extra grunt, a Vortex Canon is deployed when necessary to blast snow and anything in it.  Thus Deputy Charlie begins Pantry Duty, guarding the winter pantry, under the tutelage of seasoned campaigner Fodder – and things get even weirder!

 

"Dark humour and entertaining pseudo geek-speak punctuate an otherwise intense novel which touches on community issues relevant today" GBW.

In “Early Riser” prominent themes are human relationships, mental health, bad coffee and sugary food as the isolated enclave carbo-load in preparation for the enforced SlumberDown.  Certain behaviour, although legal in this story, is reprehensible by our standards.  In Sector Twelve nothing is wasted, so-called Vacants become unpaid workers or body-farmed for those who have lost limbs due to rat gnawing or frost bite.

In most of Jasper Fforde’s tales, the world is run by an evil corporation and here we have HiberTech which supplies Morphenox drugs and encourages the growing of a winter “coat” for hibernation.  Charlie encounters The Notable Goodnight, shivers hearing the maybe-less-than-mythical Gronk, and has a shock meeting with posh Villains.  Snowy dangers abound, like WinterVolk and Campaigners For Real Sleep.  Classic Fforde!

I listened to the “Early Riser” audio book and narrator Thomas Hunt does a variety of accents which keep the pacing levels high.  His Attenborough-like chapter introductions are hilarious, a blend of hushed tones and Fforde’s dry wit.  Wales comes across as a kind of decimated never-never land, and I’m sure it’s not, but thankfully snow is a rare commodity in Australia otherwise I’d be shaking in my shoes.

+ PLUS Innovative story with a world in a world, the snowbound and the dream-state.
– MINUS Some repetition and some chapters are heavy with world-building.

Book rating 4-Star and recommended for readers who can handle comprehensively quirky writing.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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“Jasper Fforde writes…authentic tales of metafictional mystery and murder most horrid lashed with literary wit and a generous helping of humour.” by Niall Alexander of tor.com Fri Aug 3, 2018 1:30pm
https://www.tor.com/2018/08/03/book-reviews-early-riser-by-jasper-fforde/

The distinction is…?

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“Dune grass blows in the wind as a storm brews over Sound of Harris, Berneray beach, Outer Hebrides, Scotland” Image by Cody Duncan 2010.

Quotation from Ivan Illich (1926-2002) who was a Croatian-Austrian philosopher, one of the world’s great thinkers, a polymath whose output covered vast subjects. He was a critic of modern Western culture and addressed contemporary practices in education, medicine, work, energy usage, transportation and economic development.
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2002/dec/09/guardianobituaries.highereducation

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Drought Ain’t Over Yet

Australian farmers, east and west, north and south are facing challenges on the land.  As we head into summer, the drought has reached drastic proportions right across the country.  Imagine no water, cattle dying, crops withering and red dust coating everything you touch.  We have to think about farmers livelihoods, they put the food on everyone’s table.

So far Rural Aid have…

•  Helped over 4500 farmers have registered for various types of assistance.

•  2000 farmers have received Buy-a-Bale hay, currently numbers growing at 30 a week.

•  1000’s of hampers, water trucks, fuel cards and vouchers.

Since 1 July 2018 Rural Aid have…

•  Employed 11 mental health counsellors with committed funding of $5.5m over 3 years.

•  More than $20m in total cash donations has been accepted by Rural Aid.

•  Over 2200 counselling telephone one-on-one calls or face to face visits to farmers in 4 months.

•  $3m paid for hay distributed to farmers in need.

•  $2.3m paid in freight to deliver the hay.

•  $6m for bill relief for farmers.

•  Forward commitment to purchase $11m of hay and transport for next 6 months.

•  More than $1.2m provided to farmers in the form of gift cards which can be spent locally.

•  Expanded their team by 7 people so they can respond to enquiries and provide help faster to those most in need.

Rural Aid have moved 76 and 88 trailers respective, almost 3500 tonnes of hay in the last two weeks alone, delivered to over 300 farmers.  This is amazing work by hay teams, truckies and hay producers who are all pulling together, a super support effort.  But the battle continues.

Read the blog of a drought-stricken cattle farmer Paula Stevenson
http://paulastevensonwriter.com.au/day-266/

My thoughts into words…

It’s a hard way to earn a living.  You can help dedicated farmers to keep growing our country’s food.  Consider Farm-sitting, Farm Army volunteering, Farm Rescue groups, buying hay bales or donating to—
Rural Aid www.ruralaid.org.au
Buy-a-Bale www.buyabale.com.au

As Rural Aid wraps up another year, their 2019 calendars are now selling.  Help out by placing an order for this great Christmas gift and have it mailed—
Calendar Grab a 2019 calendar

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Buy A Bale Calendar 2019

Why do we care so much about shortlists? And I am on one!

I am honoured to be on the Shortlist in such esteemed company.
Here’s Jen Storer telling us all about shortlists… Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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CWA_badge_SHORLIST-2018

girl and duck

Someone recently asked, what’s the big deal about a shortlist?
 
What’s the big deal?
 
A shortlist groups together the best!
 
 It acknowledges the most accomplished of a long and always healthy collection of entries.
 
It’s also how we make competitions like the Scribbles Creative Writing Awards, manageable — both for the judges and for the competitors.
 
Imagine if we only gave out two prizes, two ‘nods’, per category. Judges would tear out their hair. Creators would feel jaded and demoralised. And rightly so!
 

shortlist pre-announcement

A shortlist gives more people a chance to shine. It spreads the love a little further.
 
Yes, indeedy. To be on a shortlist is a great honour. And a great thrill.
 
Not only can it boost us emotionally, psychologically and creatively, it can also boost our career.
 
Publishers and agents care about shortlists. Funding bodies care about…

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‘Door Knocking’ Short Story

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Door Knocking

It’s a bright, breezy Saturday morning and I’m doing light housework when I hear a knock on the front door.  On the weekend nobody knocks at the front door at this time of day.  Nobody except salespeople touting a product, charity or religion.  I go to the window and look down at the doorstep, which doesn’t have a porch covering, and I see two people.  A fair-haired woman who is thumbing through an iPad and a man in a jaunty hat.  The window is open so I lean out, say a loud hello and they look up.  Predictably, they respond with surprise, the man uttering the usual “A voice from above” and I give a weak smile.  The woman swallows and clears her throat.  She launches straight into her patter which goes something like this “We are currently in your neighbourhood discussing death and dying and what this means to families, your family…etc, death cropping up several times…and what are your thoughts on this subject?”  My first reaction is annoyance, she hasn’t said who she represents.  The invisible signs are as obvious as the outward message.  My second reaction is one of astonishment.  Do they really expect me to talk over such a matter with them, total strangers, door-knocking my street, making dogs bark, trying to look deep and meaningful on a topic which is universally devastating no matter what the circumstances?  My third and final reaction is to look her in the eyes and say “I’m sorry, I do not wish to participate.”  She smiles, he smiles, I offer them a polite good-bye and they wish me a happy weekend.  As I’m drawing back, I catch a momentary look of relief on the woman’s face.  Gretchen Bernet-Ward

 

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Pets Stop People Travelling


  • Australians really love their pet pals – one in three won’t go on holidays because it would mean leaving their pet behind.  A recent survey examined the lifestyle of 1,000 pet owners regarding the impact pets have on their travel habits.  I found the results interesting.

 

  • National Seniors and Trusted Housesitters research demonstrates that with 5.7 million households owning a pet in Australia (over 13 million people) roughly four million people choose to stay at home rather than holidaying due to concerns about their pet’s well-being.

 

  • Apparently those who did take a break (69%) said they had felt guilty when leaving their pet behind, while over one-third of Australian pet owners (36%) have turned down a weekend away, citing being unable to arrange pet care as the reason.

 

  • Pets often disrupt their owners’ social lives, with 18% of respondents having regularly missed social engagements in favour of staying at home to ensure their pets were cared for.  Of those surveyed, 6% avoided going on dates, choosing their pets over romance.

 

  • When it comes to Australian pet owners who regularly take holidays, 29% opted for a trusted pet sitter versus putting their pet in a boarding kennel (21%), while 35% of pet owners organised friends or family to care for their furry friend.

 

  • One in four participants said they would never travel overseas or interstate without their pet.  Presumably this pet is a dog and the owner is wealthy!

 

  • In a British study of veterinary experts conducted by Trusted Housesitters UK, 100% believed animals responded better to a new carer than a new environment, as animals were particularly bonded to their home.  Is there bias in this result?

 

  • I’m not making any pronouncements for-or-against.  I’ve loved and cared for every one of my darling pets and by making arrangements in advance, none ever stopped me from travelling away from home.  But the guilt was there.

 

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


Old-Fashioned Board Games

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Mature people from the 20th century may feel a twinge of nostalgia when reading the words ‘board game’ .  I have visions of crouching over a cardboard square with family or friends, munching snacks, rolling the dice and moving discs, cards or tiny symbols around the board to shouts of glee or great annoyance depending on who was winning.

 

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A board game has a goal each player aims to achieve.  This means instant winners and losers.  No reboot, no power-up, no regeneration, no second tries unless you’re a four year-old and burst into tears.  Any game of chance has pitfalls, but when you flip that top card and see what you’ve got, it sets your mind racing not your thumbs.

 

 

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I’ve played Halo, Assassin’s Creed, Grand Theft Auto and other equally absorbing, equally time-guzzling computer games which controlled my moves even if it didn’t feel like it.  My Virtual Reality experiences offered yet another form of ‘visual involvement’ and the feeling of taking another step down the ladder to human isolation.

 

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With an old-fashioned board game, the players’ moves are initially controlled by the dice and random Lady Luck.  Thereafter, players can take a certain amount of responsibility for their movements and actions without the use of screen projections.  They can survey the limits of the board and plan their course using opponents body language.

 

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To tweak youthful reminiscences, I have compiled a list of my favourite board games for you.  Scraps of paper and a pencil (for scoring) are optional.  I’ve added some photographs of our boxed sets which have survived two generations.  Regrettably I can’t seem to locate Trivial Pursuit!  At one stage, maybe 1985, there were two big blue boxes on the shelf for special nights.

 

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Ah, those fun-filled nights of comfy clothing, junk food, fizzy drinks and overheated face-to-face discussions <cue Back To The Future soundtrack>

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

 

 

 


MY MEMORY LIST––I’M SURE THERE’S MORE

Trivial Pursuit Boardgame Genus Edition

Cluedo
Scrabble
Monopoly
Tiddly-Winks
Trivial Pursuit
Snakes & Ladders
Chinese Chequers
Mastermind
Pictionary
Draughts
Shipping
Mouse Trap
Blankety Blank
Chess (of course)
Escape from Colditz
It’s a Knockout
Quandary
Mahjong
Risk
the list goes on…



SPECIAL MENTION
:  ‘War of the Daleks’ (from early days of TV series Dr Who) which I never played but would have love to––players moved tiny Daleks around the board, obviously saying ‘Exterminate, exterminate’.  There are newer board games like ‘Time of the Daleks’ and electronic interactive TARDIS versions.

Let’s Have Lunch Up Mt Coot-tha

It’s a sunny, springtime day in subtropical Brisbane and we are heading towards Mt Coot-tha, the ‘mountain’ which is really a hill.  The temperature is balmy and the drive is easy, out along a flat highway which decimated countless trees and native bushland.

We cruise by the Botanical Gardens, the Planetarium, the quarry (!), the cop with a radar speed gun, the tourists in an overheating VDub Kombi-van and climb towards the summit lookout which sits atop what was colloquially known as ‘One Tree Hill’.

Plenty more trees now, well, there is at the moment but Brisbane City Council may revert to one.  The council is keen to upgrade the area, adding tourist lures like a zipline and tree-top canopy walk.  Bye-bye quiet little harmless native animals and birds who take sanctuary there from the six-lane highway below.

We reach the carpark of our destination, fluke a spot, and notice the air smells eucalyptus fresh.  It’s an interesting walk through various nationalities of smiling, picture-taking tourists.  We join the milling crowd and peruse the Summit Restaurant & Bar menu before deciding the dollars signs are for high class meals.  It is easier to tag onto the lunchtime queue at Kuta Café with its two-tiered eating decks.

I enjoy a delicious chicken salad wrap and share a huge bowl of baked potato wedges with heaps of sour cream and sweet chill sauce.  After keenly snapping views towards the river and western suburbs, Brisbane CBD, and Moreton Bay with Moreton Island sandhills way in the distance, we detour the gift shop and head back to the car.

A friendly magpie lands on the car mirror, enquiring about food, but we have none to give, so it takes off—see below for this gripping encounter.

We agree not to drive the long way, the full circuit around Sir Samuel Griffith Drive which passes leafy barbecue areas, transmission towers and headquarters of local television stations.

Heading down the hillside, the city views and far-reaching scenery becomes less and less until ground level, then the highway roundabout appears, perfectly positioned opposite Toowong Cemetery.

The City of Brisbane is growing, the traffic is growing, the drivers are getting faster.  Or am I turning into a grumpy older person?  Time for a nap!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward   

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