New Calendars and Old Books

Forward thinking and backward reading. Or a calendar in nearly every room and at least three retro books on the bedside table…

Some of my favourite New Year calendars 2023 © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

First in line ‘The Fourth Crow’ (2012) a Constable & Robinson Ltd hardback featuring a series written by well respected historical fiction author Pat McIntosh. Her Gil Cunningham murder mysteries are lusciously populated with all manner of people and goings-on in Glasgow in fifteenth century Britain. The ye olde atmosphere is so vividly written that you can imagine yourself right there, and this series was recommend to me by a medieval historian and lecturer.

Historic Note: 👑
The movie ‘The Lost King’ (2022) is a story about the real Philippa Langley who actually found the final resting place of King Richard III. The poetic licence has been challenged but it’s immersive viewing, filmed entirely on location in Edinburgh Scotland with great care and compassion, humour and heartache and so relevant on so many levels. Can recommend!

Three retro books for New Year reading © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2023

Next in line ‘Death in Disguise’ (1992) by Carolyn Graham on BorrowBox Audio, but do I really have to mention anything about Caroline Graham’s Midsomer Murders mystery series? DCI Tom Barnaby has had so many crimes to solve over so many years in books and on ITV television that he’s almost a real person.

This story is nicely read by John Hopkins with a foreword by John Nettles who played the first Tom Barnaby. I have to admit I am not far into this tale of criminal intent because I am finding the plot slow and the scene-setting long. However, the writing quality is top notch in relation to some of the light-weight stuff around today.

Summertime in Brisbane © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

The third book ‘Love and Summer’ (2009) a Charnwood large print hardback written by highly regarded award-winning Irish author William Trevor. I had not heard of him until a WordPress blogger Reading Matters posted and wrote about the William Trevor Reading Challenge.
https://readingmattersblog.com/2022/12/17/a-year-with-william-trevor-is-almost-here/
This tale hooked me straight away with subplots, instant twists and turns and interesting characters. “Ellie falls in love with Florian, although he’s planning to leave Ireland and begin anew after what he considers to be his failed life… and a dangerously reckless attachment develops between them”.

Of course, I review books on Goodreads regardless of whether or not anyone reads them. Either the books or my reviews! The interesting fact of my 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge is I nominated to read 37 books over the year. I ended up reading 78 books (211%) so that was a surprise.

JOIN A LOCAL BOOK CLUB AND BE SURPRISED!

Happy New Year 2023 and may you be pleasantly surprised by________________(fill in the blank).

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Poetry of Geometry and Sociometry

Geometry © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

Geometry Class
by Michael Devoe

In geometry we learn how to measure the distance between things

The space between things

The empty space between lines

How long is the shadow cast by a branch on a tree if it is two o’clock
and the branch is east facing
and seven feet above the ground

A train departed Madrid in rush hour at 5:40pm
and arrived in Barcelona at 8:15pm
it went 63mph for 50 minutes
how fast did it go the rest of the way if it is 386 miles between the cities

A trove of treasure held 300 cubic inches of gold
and had a six inch square face
how long was the box

If it takes three seconds for my phone to chime after you send a text message
and it takes two seconds for my brain to recognise your name on my phone
how long will my stomach flutter if I’ve loved you for one month…

Assuming my stomach flutters for that long
and you ended our burgeoning relationship yesterday
to stay comfortable in your current surroundings
and we both don’t want to give up how real it all feels
how much silly putty does it take to fill the empty space in my chest

If Wal-Mart sells silly putty for $1.36 per package and each package contains 4oz. of silly putty and I work for $13.51 per hour and $13.30 of each hour’s wage goes towards bills and other essentials how long will I have to work in order to save enough money to buy all the silly putty required to fill my chest with it, assuming I live in Oregon where there is no sales tax and that I only drink one six pack at $8.99 a week

More importantly though

If I fill my chest with silly putty, will my heart bounce back after it’s dropped next time.

A collection of poems by Michael DeVoe is available:

Where She Left Me – Michael DeVoe

https://hellopoetry.com/michael-devoe/

https://hellopoetry.com/tag/geometry/

I like geometric imagery but don’t appreciate the mechanics.
However, I do enjoy the clever confusion of this poem and the end twist.

 Gretchen Bernet-Ward

We stopped for lunch at the Gatton campus of University of Queensland and admired this heritage-listed Foundation Building constructed in 1896 and used for events and conferences.

Snowman in the Summertime

Snowman in Brisbane © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

A snowman in Queensland Art Galley garden?

TEXT FROM QAGOMA   ●

“Defined by warm weather for most of the year, sun seekers flock to Brisbane to enjoy the Queensland capital’s subtropical climate, perfect weather to enjoy the great outdoors. Therefore, you wouldn’t expect to see a snowman on your travels, or would you?

Far from the snowman’s European ancestry, its home is now the Queensland Art Gallery’s sculpture courtyard.

Three years ago the life-sized snowman, created by leading contemporary artists and collaborators Peter Fischli and David Weiss, might have been an unexpected sight in Brisbane, however the sculpture has become a much-loved citizen and visitor favourite.

One of only four sculptures ever created, it places Brisbane in an exclusive club with the likes of MoMA, New York and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.”

Big, cold, looks like a 1960s unfrosted refrigerator but what a cheeky smile!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Read more, see more—

Writers Dabblers and Dreamers

Hey, all you emerging writers out there. This is serious stuff. Tired of the garret lifestyle, the self-imposed deadlines you never meet. Well, you could blame that Covid-19 thingy but you need to get moving again. Actually you really need to get moving…

Go for a walk, think over your future options.

You are not really looking for fame and fortune (cough) but it would be nice for someone to show some interest, read your work, comment on it, appreciate it, encourage you and, perhaps maybe, take your manuscript one or two steps further, or even work towards (gasp) publication.

Twill never happen if those pages and pages of Word.doc and PDF drafts sit idle or continual rewriting takes up all your time; your precious creative time.

The Magic of Books © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

You need to be actively finishing work and getting it out there, but

Your inner voice mutters alluring proposals about buying that new How To Write book, the literary organisations to join, writing workshops and conferences to attend, the obligatory book festival rounds, catching up with your book club Zoomies, and that not-to-be-missed favourite author talk.

The above-mentioned diversions take planning, I know because I have done that for over five years. Let’s not get into the time-sucking Socials and lists of new books waiting to be read because writers “gotta keep their finger on the pulse”.

Dream-on pen pushers and keyboard tappers

It took me awhile to realise that it is a daydream, a distraction, a cunning brain slip to lull me into thinking that I know my craft reasonably well and could be half good at writing…

Design art and image © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

My writer’s brain has to accept that it takes courage to submit my work and to undergo scrutiny.

Otherwise, as my aunt Joyce would have said, “All window-dressing, darling” or if you prefer something more contemporary “Totally photoshopped, dude.” It means I am concealing the desire to find out the truth about my writing, the culmination of my creative energy.

This is where the hidden “I can’t push myself out there” syndrome rears its ugly head. “I only write as an outlet”, “I only write for myself” blah, blah, blah.

Snap out of it! I ask myself why not submit something really good, work I am proud of?

Then my inner roadblocks appear

  • Strong competitors
  • Heaps of knockbacks
  • Fearful of feedback
  • Uninteresting story
  • Uninterested readers
  • My lack of polish
  • People will know I wrote it
  • The veracity of my stories
  • Nightmare of unsold books

All useless babble; but if it’s not true, what next?

Stop hanging around! You have many choices, one decision—

Praying Mantis © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

Do what author Jack Roney did!

Enter a manuscript development prize!

As a second-place winner of Hawkeye Publishing’s Manuscript Development Prize, Jack Roney pays tribute to the Hawkeye team. I recently read and reviewed his excellent book The Ghost Train and The Scarlet Moon.

Like mine, I hope your writer’s brain is tick, tick, ticking—
Thinks “I’ll take a look at Hawkeye Manuscript Development Prize 2022
Thinks “I’ll read eligibility and terms and conditions of entry”
Shouts “I WILL enter the Hawkeye Manuscript Development Prize 2022!”

Entry to the program is open to applicants WORLD-WIDE who write for an English-speaking audience.

Winner receives Author Coaching, Structural Edit and Line Edit (Prize Value AU$2,500) with the structural edit kindly sponsored by Brisbane Writers Workshop, and line editing and author coaching sponsored by Hawkeye Publishing.

As my favourite inspirational quote says:

“Today You Can And You Will”

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Review ‘Evermore’ by Joanna Baker Book Three

Book Three

“My memories get mixed up with dreams” says Chess Febey, and they are causing emotional turmoil which is affecting her everyday life. When Chess was five her mother, Lena Febey, died in unspoken circumstances and Chess is unsure whether or not she was there at the time. Was it a tragic accident? Could she have caused it? Was her father involved?  There’s nothing on the internet and nobody will talk to her about what happened. Least of all her ineffective father, an uncommunicative alcoholic who hides family items and mementoes from Chess’ childhood, including a hand-drawn map of her mother’s titled “Evermore”. Where is this place?

There are a lot of veiled warnings and secrecy, and Chess doesn’t know where to start or what to believe in her search for an honest answer. Until she finally gets a lead. With her best friend and long-suffering companion Matt Tingle they head to the pretty alpine town of Bright in the high country of north-east Victoria; a place so close yet strangely Chess has never visited.

“The road to Mount Beauty started out like all the other roads around Bright, in story-book countryside, with reedy dams, cows, pretty trees and fields of lush grass. But soon we were climbing. The road became steep and winding. On the right there was a wall of rock with ferns and moss and roots, and on the left there was the kind of steep drop that had you imagining what would happen if you went over the edge and wondering if any of the trees would stop you.”

Page 162 ‘Evermore’ by Joanna Baker

Highly focussed, Chess and Matt pick up likely threads and hope to decipher how, and possibly why, Chess’ mother died. She soon finds out that nobody in town will tell them any details of what happened. If they will talk at all. Perhaps her mother Lena, a renowned flirt, was murdered and Chess was implicated as a child? From blank faces to townspeople warning her off, one woman forcibly showed Chess that she wanted to be left alone.

Obscure clues from Chess’ nightmarish dreams grow stronger and float to the surface night after night. She writes them down in the morning and reads them back to Matt. He’s a good foil for her; solid, sensible, the one who picks up on nuances and other people’s behaviour whereas Chess ploughs straight ahead, oblivious to the consequences which give rise to some bad situations.

Their investigations come across May Tran of Out and About Adventure Holidays. May becomes a willing participant in their quest, cycling through scenic countryside, often on cold rainy days. I would have liked more Aussie phrasing but when it comes to May, Matt’s humour and inner monologues are great value.

Chess and Matt become domestic hands at Grindel’s budget tourist hostel which they use as a base during their research, helped by cook Calvin and friend Paz who offers dream interpretations. Personally I am not too sure about the psychology behind the dream clues but they certainly are frequent and disturbing.

Chess and Matt encounter further stubbornness from the local residents, documents are hidden or erased, any contact is terse – especially in the library. And who is following them in the old red Mercedes? One big clue does emerge, although it throws Chess into further torment as to where her mother had actually died. The explosive final chapters reveal all and I was shocked at the moral judgement of everyone Chess encountered in her frantic search for the truth.

I loved the rural landscapes because I have family who lived in the area and I know the small hamlets of Yackandandah and Porepunkah; Wandiligong gets a mention for their tiny library dated 1878 and the new Bright library which is at least 150 years old.

Suitable for YA and adult readers “Evermore” is the third book in the series (below) and I think each book could stand alone although I enjoyed the ongoing progression. Character development is strong and the pacing kept me hooked right to the end. Throughout the story are compelling themes of friendship, determination and the overpowering desire to find out the truth behind an emotional family secret.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward  

My thanks to author Joanna Baker for a copy of “Evermore”.

Website https://joannabakerauthor.com/

Bookstore https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/evermore-joanna-baker/1141941498

Tourism https://www.visitbright.com.au/

If you or anyone you know needs help: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/

Mouse in the House!

Our House Mouse chalk drawing © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

MISSING

Has anybody seen my mouse?

I opened his box for half a minute,

Just to make sure he was really in it,

And while I was looking, he jumped outside!

I tried to catch him, I tried, I tried….

I think he’s somewhere about the house.

Has anyone seen my mouse?

Uncle John, have you seen my mouse?

Just a small sort of mouse, a dear little brown one,

He came from the country, he wasn’t a town one,

So he’ll feel all lonely in a London street;

Why, what could he possibly find to eat?

He must be somewhere. I’ll ask Aunt Rose:

Have you seen a mouse with a woffelly nose?

He’s just got out…

Poem by

A.A. (Alan Alexander) Milne (1882-1956), famous for his stories about Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin, Tigger, Piglet and the crew who lived in Hundred Acre Wood.
https://www.britannica.com/biography/A-A-Milne

 Gretchen Bernet-Ward

‘The Ghost Train and The Scarlet Moon’ Review

Best birthday present ever! And a great read for Halloween! After reading the draft manuscript of Jack Roney’s novel The Ghost Train and The Scarlet Moon on behalf of Carolyn Martinez of Hawkeye Publishing, I rated it highly in my appraisal.

Unfortunately life got in the way and I was unable to follow the progress of the book. The good news is obvious, Hawkeye Publishing accepted it for publication, my family gifted a copy to me, and here it is!

First, I wanted to learn more about the factual event the book is based on and delved into it online. The story relates to a real train crash on the Brisbane to Closeburn line on Monday 5th May 1947, a public holiday for Labour Day, and dubbed the Camp Mountain Train Crash. It proved to be the worst disaster in Queensland’s rail history.

In the prologue, author Jack Roney depicts what happened on that fateful train trip from Brisbane to Closeburn; a special picnic day for families and friends, a journey which ended in tragedy with a catastrophic derailing. Many lives were lost or changed forever. 

However, there is one big difference in this story

After the train crash decades later in May 1982, a Labour Day holiday, best mates Toby, Dan and Jimmy join their Grade 7 Samford State School class early in the morning to watch the super blue blood moon lunar eclipse. Afterwards they go exploring in the old Yugar Tunnel, scaring bats and being scared. Someone or something is watching them from the trees. The three boys go into the dark tunnel… bats… fire and smoke… and depart thoroughly spooked.

Steam Train leaving Roma Street Station Brisbane 1947

After the tunnel adventure, the boys cycle to the ghost train site along a road where the train tracks once ran… hear train whistle… steam train engine… Jimmy disappears… of course, young Toby does not know or understand where his friend has actually gone. Dan is very upset. Toby’s life turns into a living nightmare because nobody believes him, and the police are sceptical when he says “Jimmy just vanished”.

Decades later, enter adult Toby, a 2017 jetsetting travel writer returning from a far-flung country. Roney does an excellent job of describing Toby’s extensive research to find Jimmy (which gets more and more desperate) to discover how and why his friend disappeared. He wants to believe his missing pal is still alive. He must be out there! Cue research into time-slip, time travel, portal, wormhole, lunar eclipse, tear in the fabric of space, super blue blood moon (a lunar eclipse coupled with a second full moon in one month) but is a return possible after such a crash?

Camp Mountain Derailed Train Carriages 1947 Image No: 102648 Courtesy State Library of Queensland

Previously, without warning, the other friend Dan, now an adult, has gone missing under mysterious circumstances and his wife is distraught. From tax avoidance to suicide, Toby runs through the possible yet unlikely options.

Find out what Toby discovers. The clues are there. There are three time zones set in 1947, 1982 and 2017 for each lunar phenomena. Toby widens his research to make some sense of the disappearances with unexpected help from his landlady Mrs Doherty.





Toby leaned forward. He spoke slowly to Alex. “I’m not lying” he emphasised each word.
“Just before Jimmy vanished, I heard an old steam train.”
Toby wants to get Jimmy back. He plans on saving him.

The Ghost Train and The Scarlet Moon by Jack Roney

There is strong urban geography throughout, and I am sure teenage readers and speculative fiction fans would happily discuss conflicting emotions and plot nuances. Roney’s tweaks and turnarounds are clever and I went back once to see how the past fitted in with the present. The final twist is unexpected!

Written in four parts with chapter illustrations, The Ghost Train and The Scarlet Moon is a vividly realised adventure story which invokes a strong sense of friendship, keeping an open mind, and never giving up.

 Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Author Bio

Jack Roney is a former detective and author of the crime thriller series The Angels Wept, The Demons Woke and The Shadows Watch. He is a member of the Queensland Writers Centre and Australian Crime Writers Association. His writing is inspired by over 30 years in law enforcement where he gained experience in general policing, criminal investigation, strategic policy, media and communications and also as an operational skills/firearms and police academy instructor. He draws on his experience to bring authenticity and realism to his writing. https://www.jackroney.com.au/#/

Further Info

Books https://hawkeyebooks.com.au/

Survivor’s story https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-12-26/qld-rail-disaster-camp-mountain-labour-day-1947/100719314

Photographs https://www.slq.qld.gov.au/blog/camp-mountain-train-disaster

Statements http://qldstatearchives.shorthand.com/campmountain/

Reviews for The Ghost Train and The Scarlet Moon Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

DEDICATION

“This book is dedicated to the victims of the Camp Mountain train crash, the heroes who came to their aid, and the survivors whose lives were changed forever by the tragic events of 5th May 1947. May you never be forgotten”

Astounding Craft and Quilt Fair 2022

Craft and Quilt Fair Brisbane 2022 work by quilt maker Ailsa Coloi titled ‘Scrap Attack’ https://www.craftfair.com.au/wp/Brisbane/

I attended the Craft and Quilt Fair 2022 in Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre and was amazed at the quality, imagination, colour and creativity of the work on display. There was also an array of crafting accessories for a wide range of artistic hobbies. The atmosphere was busy yet calm and the wide isles made it comfortable to stroll between stalls, browse the displays and take a peek at the workshops in progress.

  • Story Basket
  • Beeswax Wraps
  • Alcohol Ink
  • Linocut Printmaking
  • Pottery Play
  • Resin Jewellery
  • Watercolour Lettering
  • and more!

Visitors had ‘Viewers Choice’, the chance to vote for their favourite quilt (out of many categories and themes) and I voted for Scrap Attack shown above. So different from the patchwork squares of my childhood.    

My friends and I were heading towards a coffee and cake break when my inner Goth spied the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Mad Masquerade fabric pictured below. Love the artwork and just had to have – although I am not too sure what I will do with it…

ABOUT THE GUILD

Queensland Quilters Inc is a not-for-profit organisation with the objectives of promoting the art and craft of patchwork and quilting, bringing together people interested in patchwork and quilting, encouraging and maintaining high standards of workmanship and design in both traditional and contemporary work, and organising exhibitions and workshops.

To find out more, visit their fascinating website www.qldquilters.com

Gretchen Bernet-Ward  

‘Alice in Wonderland’ Mad Masquerade fabric purchased at Craft and Quilt Fair Brisbane 2022

You may prefer—

THE AUSTRALASIAN EMBROIDERY CONVENTION
17 – 19 February, 2023
Brisbane Convention Centre
Cnr Merivale & Glenelg Streets
South Bank
https://www.embroideryconvention.com.au/

Chiharu Shiota ‘The Soul Trembles’

The Soul Trembles highlights twenty-five years of Chiharu Shiota’s artistic practice. She is renowned internationally for her transformative, large-scale installations constructed from millions of fine threads (mainly black or red) which cluster in space or form complex webs which spill from wall to floor to ceiling, supporting and encompassing all they meet.

Chiharu Shiota’s artistic threads © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

I attended the QAGOMA Brisbane 2022 exhibition with friends for my birthday and afterwards my thoughts came up with three words – overwhelming, disconcerting and very memorable!

Shiota’s beautiful and disquieting works express the intangible: memories, dreams, anxiety and silence.

Chiharu Shiota’s artistic threads © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

The desk and flying papers reminded me of office work before air-conditioning when someone opened the window…

Place https://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au/exhibition/chiharu-shiota

Artist https://www.chiharu-shiota.com/

 Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Which City Has The Most Trees?

Brisbane Central Station city tree © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

Which Australian city has the most trees?

Brisbane has more tree cover than any other Australian capital city as shown by aerial imagery 12 Dec 2021.

Planners in Australia now realise residential temperatures can be reduced by planting or keeping trees that can also cut power bills by reducing air-conditioning in well-planned areas.

Brisbane homes in suburbs with good tree canopies are seven degrees cooler than areas without trees, according to Brisbane City Council research.

Read more—

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/sustainability/brisbane-has-more-tree-cover-than-any-other-australian-capital-new-aerial-imagery-shows-20211208-p59fyc.html

some more

Pink Trumpet Tree (Tabebuia palmeri) springtime in Brisbane © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

How do trees survive in concrete environments?

The roots grow underneath the pavement. The concrete cover acts as a mulch and protects the tree roots from being compacted too badly while providing some protection and climate-control. Sunshine and rain help to promote healthy branches and leaves.

Still, I think it’s a strong brave tree which survives inner city surroundings. This coastal one seems quite happy. 

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Pandanus Palm beachfront Alexandra Headlands Queensland © Dot Bernet 2022

John Cleese Creativity and 100 Book Reviews

I wish to thank English actor, comedian, screenwriter and producer John Cleese for this mind-expanding, succinct and humorous book ‘Creativity’ which has helped me in two ways. First, to celebrate my blog Thoughts Become Words 100 Book Reviews milestone and, second, to give me an insight into the creative mind – a mind which we all have, yet use and abuse in many different ways.

Happily, I listened as Mr Cleese read his book to me. It only took an hour.

Also I am going on the assumption that you know John Cleese work because he does refer to it. Do I have to say Monty Python? The new edition is 2020 so he’s in his 80s now.

Originally published: 1972 (re-released 2020)

AuthorJohn Cleese

Genres: Humour, Self-help book

The standout for me is how our brain keeps working on things whether we are conscious of it or not, thus “sleep on it” theory. But you are the one who has to put it into practice. It works for me!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

My Goodreads Book Review


A truly delightful little book which lives up to its title!

By accident, I listened to the audio version and was so glad I did because one hour just flew by. The inimitable John Cleese, actor, comedian, screenwriter, producer, talked to me about his past, his creativity and how our brain is always working even while we sleep. It is ready to come up with great ideas and answers to questions puzzled over during daylight hours. Hence ‘I’ve got it!’ inspirational moments on waking.

Call it pseudo-science or a clever comedy skit, nuggets of truth gleam through the wise words of Mr Cleese. For example, if you are getting nowhere with your work, put it aside and look at it later, next day, next week. Nothing new but the way he describes and elaborates on the process heightened my awareness in an enjoyable way.

If you listen to this guide on the bus, you may not laugh embarrassingly out loud but you may smile and nod at the sense of it. I can recommend for all ages and talents. GBW.

Heaps more of my book reviews on Goodreads
https://www.goodreads.com/gretchenbernetward
Sep 2022 

‘The Empty Glass’ by Henry Lawson

The Empty Glass © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

The Empty Glass

by Henry Lawson, 1906

There are three lank bards in a borrowed room —

Ah! The number is one too few —

They have deemed their home and the bars unfit

For the thing that they have to do.

Three glasses they fill with the Land’s own wine,

And the bread of life they pass.

Their glasses they take, which they slowly raise —

And they drink to an empty glass.

(There’s a greater glare in the street to-night,

And a louder rush and roar,

There’s a mad crowd yelling the winner’s name,

And howling the cricket score:

Oh! The bright moonlight on the angels white,

And the tombs and the monuments grand —

And down by the water at Waverley

There’s a little lone mound of sand.)

Oh, the drinkers would deem them drunk or mad,

And the barmaid stare and frown —

Each lays a hand on the empty glass

Ere they turn it upside down.

There’s a name they know, in a hand they know,

Was scratched with a diamond there —

And they place it in sight — turn on more light —

And they fill their glasses fair.

There’s a widow that weeps by the Hornsby line,

And she stood by him long and true —

But the widow should think by the Hornsby line

That others have loved him too,

‘Twas a peaceful end, and his work was done,

When called with the year away;

And the greatest lady in all the land

Is working for her to-day.

If the widow should fear for her children’s fate,

Or brood on a future lot,

In a frivolous land with her widowed state

In a short twelve months forgot.

She can lay her down for a peaceful rest

And forget her grief in sleep,

For his brothers have taken an oath to-night,

An oath that their hearts can keep.

They have taken an oath to his memory,

A pledge they cannot recall,

To stand by the woman that stood by him,

Through poverty, illness and all.

They are young men yet, or the prime of life,

And as each lays down his trust,

May the world be kind to the left behind,

And their native land be just.

(Silence of death in town to-night,

And the streets seem strangely clear —

Have the pitiful slaves of the gambling curse

Fled home for a strange new fear?

Oh, the soft moonlight on the angels white,

Where the beautiful marbles stand —

And down by the rollers at Waverley

There’s a mound of the golden sand.)

Henry Lawson, 1906, Australian poet

Source:

http://www.ironbarkresources.com/henrylawson/EmptyGlass.html

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Henry-Lawson

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Ageism Awareness Day 2022 Every Age Counts!

Ageism Awareness Day creates the opportunity to draw attention to the existence and impacts of ageism in Australia. EveryAGE Counts is an advocacy campaign aimed at tackling ageism against older Australians.

It is an important step towards changing community attitudes and building a world where all people of all ages are valued, respected, and their contributions acknowledged. 

Information from EveryAGE Counts

Don’t call me an old dinosaur – this campaign is important!

EveryAGE Counts advise “Ageism can have a profound impact on our job prospects, confidence, health, quality of life and control over life decisions”.

I know from my own experience that “it can limit us from participating in our communities as full citizens and has proven impacts on our physical health and longevity”.

Watch the video, share your story!

Click photograph for information

Legendary Aussie actor Bryan Brown narrates the video.

“Negative attitudes and beliefs about ageing and older people underpin and drive age discrimination in places like the workplace or the healthcare system”.

In my case I have been asked a number of times, in a condescending manner based on my age, if I have an email address/mobile phone, or can I drive a car. In each instance I reply that I have taught computer classes, use a mobile phone, and been driving safely for many years.

Do the quiz, take the pledge!

Show your support, visit the official website to quiz yourself and Take The Pledge.

I have taken the Pledge. I stand for a world without ageism.

From every avenue of life, mature people experience ageism. Please “Commit to speaking out and take action to ensure older people can participate on equal terms with others in all aspects of life”.

Ageism Awareness Day will be held on Friday 7 October 2022 (centred around the UN’s International Day of Older Persons which occurs on 1 October every year) and will be launched at 10am (AEDT) with an online event.

EveryAGE Counts are excited to announce that Ita Buttrose AC, OBE, will be the special guest for their Ageism Awareness Day panel discussion. Ita Buttrose is a truly exceptional Australian: a legendary media trailblazer, businesswoman and best-selling author.

Source https://www.everyagecounts.org.au/aad_2022

I may have wrinkles but my eye still twinkles.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Bribie Island Butterfly House © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2019 – https://www.bribieislandbutterflyhouse.org/

Pink Cockatoo Variant

Title “Jak-Kul Yak-Kul” acrylic art on canvas by Hervey Bay Queensland artist Will Hazzard https://willhazzard.com.au/

Love at first sight when I saw Will Hazzard’s adorable cockatoo with plumage which goes against nature to dramatic effect!

My photograph was taken in Maryborough and this 81.3cm x 81.3cm painting was exhibited at the 38th Hervey Bay Annual Competitive Art Exhibition by Gallery 5 – Hervey Bay Art Society in July 2022.

Established in 1983, this annual art exhibition hosts seven award categories with styles ranging from traditional to contemporary. Will Hazzard’s striking work won Second Prize in the Australian Flora & Fauna Section.

Will is 21 years old and autistic. Art became a form of therapy with his autism diagnosis at age 9. His paintings aim for a connection with animals, the environment and the land on which he lives.

Click below to visit his website of wildlife art.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Will Hazzard

https://willhazzard.com.au/2022/07/30/hervey-bay/

Follow on Twitter

Will Hazzard @Will_Hazzard

Opens profile photo

Ann Cleeves Author Talk Exposé

The tenth and newest Vera book © image Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

A balmy Friday night with a nip in the air because it’s still winter, and it seemed everyone wanted to head in the same direction we were going. The bus was late, the traffic was jammed and lunch seemed a long time ago. Worst of all, we were most certainly going to arrive late for the author talk. And what a prestigious author!

The bus finally got us into town (or more accurately the Central Business District) to attend a Brisbane City Council Lord Mayor’s Writers in Residence Series author talk in City Hall.

Ready to race… off the bus, through the ornate vestibule, up in the lift, straight through the door…

Brisbane City Hall Clock Tower © image Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

And there she was—Ann Cleeves author of Vera and Perez fame. She sat in a relaxed pose on the stage, speaking calmly, eloquently and humorously to the 300-plus audience seated in the ancient Ithaca Room. On such uncomfortable chairs with bad sightlines. But we were enthralled.

The host may have read Ann Cleeves’ Vera Stanhope crime novels but his inept questions did nothing to ruffle her calm and considered replies. Such aplomb! Especially when the floor was opened for general question time. Needless to say she held the audience of besotted readers in the palm of her authorial hand.

First book in Shetland Mysteries series © image Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

It was fascinating to learn how book-Vera came into being, based on real women the author had known, and also the rapport she has with ITV actor Brenda Blethyn aka Vera. Later I discovered Ann was awarded an OBE in the 2022 New Year Honours List “for services to Reading and Libraries.”

When the event drew to a close, people filed out into the foyer, clutching their favourite book for signing or to buy the latest book for a signature on the pristine flyleaf. The book signing queue was jam-packed with readers nattering about their favourite characters.

I purchased two books The Rising Tide and Raven Black (see photos) but the line was too long and too slow for me to consider waiting while my stomach grumbled so loudly.

The Lord Mayor’s Writers in Residence Series © image Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

Across mosaic hand-cut floor tiles, through the huge doors and outside into King George Square where the city was an evening fairyland of lights presenting countless alluring restaurants and eateries. My companion and I compared notes as we ate dinner, having purchased different books from the series. Then it was time to return to the suburbs.

Standout book quote so far, page 40, Joe Ashworth says of the deceased “They didn’t find a note. He was a writer. You’d think he’d want to leave a few words for his friends.”

“The Rising Tide” by Ann Cleeves

Two accidental milestones: As of August 2022, the number of my blog posts is 499, one digit off the magic marker of 500. This post will click it over to 500 posts. Ironically, and surprisingly for me, I am also one number off my current Book Reviews tally of 99. This will click over to 100 book reviews when I read and review Ann Cleeves latest novel The Rising Tide and discover what crimes DCI Vera Stanhope has sorted out this time.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Cat Circumnavigates World: True Story of Trim

Bedtime reading for kids and cats: Trim the courageous cat and his real seafaring adventures around the world.

A small book containing a big story. Matthew Flinders, British navigator and cartographer, sailed to and from Australia between 1795 to 1803 for various reasons including mapping the entire coastline. On these precarious, dangerous and adventurous journeys, Flinders was accompanied by Trim, his black cat with white paws.

Page 12 : Hand-written front page of Matthew Flinders tribute to his seafaring cat Trim, written 1809 and published 2019.

Written in conjunction with Flinders biographical tribute, this book “Trim The Cartographer’s Cat” or “The Ship’s Cat Who Helped Flinders Map Australia” shows a new and fascinating insight into the man who was the world’s most accomplished navigator and cartographer.

Matthew Flinders RN was the first to circumnavigate Australia and also instrumental in giving our continent its name. Trim accompanied Flinders through good times and bad, including a shipwreck, and this small volume has exciting chapters on their 19th century nautical experiences.

Page 29 Flinders and Trim dined onboard in the gunroom, the junior officers mess. Actually, Trim helped himself to their dinner.

Trim was a seafaring daredevil, surviving fur-raising adventures. When he wasn’t climbing rigging or cadging food, he caught his own ocean-fresh flying fish suppers.

I like to think Trim’s name relates to a ship being “trim” as in desirable weight distribution for better handling at sea. Certainly he was a neat and ship-shape cat! However, you may find that Trim was named after a character in a 1759 novel by Laurence Sterne.

MAIN CONTENTS (but plenty more topics)

  • “A Biographical Tribute in the Memory of Trim” by Matthew Flinders.
  • “Matthew Flinders Trim’s Shipmate and Bedfellow” according to Dr Gillian Dooley PhD.
  • “My Seafurring Adventures with Matt Flinders” from Trim himself, assisted by Philippa Sandall.
  • Timeline: The Voyages of Matthew Flinders and Trim.

The book illustrations are wonderful, research is thorough, the format is highly readable. A great read for those who are interested in factual exploration history. I feel as if I got to know Flinders and his life skills. Of course, Trim’s rodent catch-and-clean-up service is another skill altogether! This book has given me more than I learned at school – and is suitable reading for a family or feline friend.

By all accounts, both Flinders and Trim were exceptional characters.

Pages 42-43 Illustrates the circumnavigation routes of HMS Investigator and HMS Porpoise

Not many ships cats have one memorial statue, let alone six. But Trim does, including one outside Euston Station in London.

Trim The Cartographer’s Cat

Without venturing into the politics of what happened to Matthew Flinders (or Trim, or indeed First Nations People) after he sailed from Terra Australis, I enjoyed reading this publication and will go so far as to say every library should own a copy.

Meow! 😸

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Book: “Trim The Cartographer’s Cat”
Format: Hardback
Edition: 1st
Pages: 128
ISBN 9781472967220
Imprint: Adlard Coles
Illustrated: Beautiful maps, historical artwork, quirky original illustrations
Dimensions: 182 x 129 mm
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Booktopia Online

Cold Night on the Footy Field

Waiting for the football match to start © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

A cold, misty night on an Aussie Rules AFL football field.

The grass of the oval is damp with dew.

A junior league game is about to start and already the families and friends of the young players have donned beanies and shoved frozen fingers into jacket pockets.

The siren sounds and puffs of steam escape from cold lips as wild encouragement is directed at the players jogging into position, each one wearing a sleeveless guernsey (different colour for each team) with large numbers on the back.

At half-time the siren sounds, sending supporters and spectators rushing to the canteen to buy hot meat pies, salty chips and coffee to fortify themselves for the rest of the game. The teams gather around their respective coach, drinking hydrating fluids and eating protein snacks.

I know goals are kicked through the white posts but AFL rules of the game are beyond me, click here if interested 😀

These keen teams have boundless energy; the youthful players are hyped up, jostling and joking, hand-passing the ball back and forth while their coaches issue last minute instructions.

The siren blares again. The teams sprint back onto the oval after a quick glance at the scoreboard which shows an incredibly close game.

Who will win? Does it really matter?

Life is one great big experience.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Mary Poppins and Folks Boppin’ at Maryborough Festival

Here is my pictorial of the Mary Poppins Festival 2022 in Maryborough, Queensland, where Helen Lyndon Goff (better known as Pamela Lyndon Travers) grew up with no inkling of her wonderful life ahead as an author and creator of a children’s literary icon.

Here are some of the fabulous people who made the whole day magical and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Next showing the historical side… more info on Mary Ann steam locomotive https://www.maryboroughwhistlestop.org.au/

Special buildings and ye olde shops were open, roads were closed, hot food stalls did a roaring trade, and there were nanny and chimney sweep races. The final parade was a sight to behold, everyone had happy smiles!

Below is the childhood home of P L Travers, formerly a bank (her father was the bank manager) which is now a beautifully preserved, interactive tribute to her writing career.

Mary Poppins Statue in Maryborough

The first window below echoes the words of author P L Travels while further on is the window of the family library in the corner of the building… oh, and there’s Mary Poppins…

After a meal, live music and a quick look at Phillips Botanical Gardens, next came chalk street art, a visit to the calm atmosphere of the Art Gallery and a bit of history found under the paint and framed.

Landmark photos below give an idea of early Maryborough, finishing with a late afternoon stroll alongside the Mary River.

I have a great desire to return and explore further. These snapshots were taken over the course of a day and do not encompass the diversity of the event nor the city and colonial past of the Maryborough region.

Mark you calendar for next year!

My previous post has more written info
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2022/07/09/mary-poppins-and-five-years-of-blogging/

Just loved the poster below and had to include it…

Gretchen Bernet-Ward
https://www.marypoppinsfestival.com.au/
Detail from Mary Poppins Festival publicity showing a drawing of the Admiral’s canon. During the festival a real canon was fired. Please note the Disney movie “Saving Mr Banks” starring Tom Hanks is fabrication and, apart from being filmed entirely in California USA, in my opinion it bears little resemblance to the true facts of author P L Travers life.

Scarlet Stiletto Awards and Young Writers Award 2022

It’s that time of year again!

The Scarlet Stiletto Awards – the 29th – are now open so it’s time to start polishing your short story or at least fire up the computer/sharpen that pencil.

A record $12,365 in prizes is on offer and this year’s Writers Victoria Award for the story with the ‘Most Satisfying Retribution’ now offers a choice of an online course worth $215 – start writing!

To download an entry form and list of FAQs, go here.

To pay the entry fee go here.

To submit the pdf, email here.

Make your crime (story) rewarding!

AND THERE’S MORE—

Do you know someone aged 18-25 who loves to write?

State Library of Queensland’s Young Writers Award is now open.

They are looking for inspiring, vivid and bold short stories by Queensland writers aged 18-25. Whether you’re just starting out or already making your mark as a writer, your creative work could win $2,000 and be published in the Griffith Review.

Have the chance to see your story published and win cash.

Enter your best work by Monday​ 15 August 2022, 5 pm.

The Young Writers Award is free to enter! To apply, submit a short story of up to 2,500 words.

First prize is $2000 and up to three runners-up will receive $500. 

* * * * * * * * *

TIP: Always read the submission guidelines.

NOTE: I am no longer affiliated with either organisation although years ago I entered their competitions. I didn’t hear back but really enjoyed the experience and I encourage all writers to stretch their emotions and imaginations and start writing – now!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward