Concurrently Reading Four Books

Concurrently reading in May 2022 © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

Many people read more than one book at a time and I have been doing this for several years. If one book is slow or doesn’t capture my immediate interest, I switch to another one. Plots and characters never seem to get confused because I usually read different genres.

And I always like to finish a book!

Watch out for a special blog post for my 100th Book Review. This milestone took me by surprise. I have many more reviews on Goodreads but I personalise my blog post reviews.

Have a quick look at Fantastic Fiction, my favourite go-to resource:

https://www.fantasticfiction.com/f/jasper-fforde/great-troll-war.htm

https://www.fantasticfiction.com/h/margaret-hickey/cutters-end.htm

https://www.fantasticfiction.com/w/h-g-wells/invisible-man.htm

https://www.fantasticfiction.com/m/val-mcdermid/1979.htm

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

JOIN A LOCAL BOOK CLUB AND BE SURPRISED!

What is that Thing?

What do you see? © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

My photograph was taken in a restaurant garden.

Harmless
Common species
Grows to 45cm

Eastern Water Dragon

“Water Dragons are one of our most frequently encountered lizard species here in South East Queensland. They thrive just about anywhere, particularly around water sources of varied descriptions where they usually can be found in good numbers and they don’t mind the presence of people.”

They feed primarily on small spiders and insects but will take other small vertebrates on occasion.” 

Source https://southeastsnakecatcher.com.au/lizard-identification-gold-coast/

This lizard stayed in position for over an hour and I was unsure if it was waiting for insects or it liked the warmth of the stone pagoda.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


MODEL OF FRILLED NECK LIZARD © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022—Scientific name Chlamydosaurus kingii—Frilled Lizards inhabit dry woodland, usually with open shrubbery or grass understorey. Most of their time is spent off the ground in trees, often at a substantial height. They are well adapted to life in the hot tropics of north-western and northern Australia and the species also occurs in Papua New Guinea. The term ‘frilly lizard’ is often mistakenly applied to the common bearded dragon in the southern states of Australia. The Frilled Lizard eats mainly insects, spiders and other invertebrates. Their colour can be brown or grey with the frill being lighter and often tinged with orange or reddish-brown, and they can grow to around 45-90cm in length, about two-thirds of which is tail. It has a vivid yellow mouth and a large extendable frill gathered about the neck and under throat. The combination of the gaping mouth and the wide, brightly coloured frill provide an intimidating sight to any potential predator. It frequently runs at speed on two legs to escape danger, quickly climbing the nearest tree to safety. The image shows a clay model—https://reptilepark.com.au/animals/reptiles/dragons/frilled-neck-lizard/

Book Fair Extravaganza Coming Soon!

Baxter boxes full of beautiful books © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2019

Heads up… Brisbane’s longest-running Book Fair is coming soon! The UQ Alumni Book Fair will be spread over four glorious days in April/May 2022 with heaps more than text books.

This annual fundraiser is a much awaited event for Brisbane booklovers. Based at the University of Queensland, St Lucia campus, there is something for every reader and collector.

I’ll be going with a BIG carry bag!

The Book Fair is organised by volunteers who harness their love of books and generously donate their time to help raise funds to support researchers, educators and residential scholarships for UQ students.

Come along to the Book Fair for a huge range of—-

  • Pre-loved books of every genre for every age group
  • Magazines
  • Sheet music
  • DVDs
  • Videos
  • CDs
  • Vinyl records
  • Occasional photographs, print or piece of memorabilia
  • Special Family Day for young readers
  • The Rare Book auction is biennial and next event is 2023
  • Register now White Gloves talk on rare Australian books at UQ Fryer Library.

The magic of bookshelves © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

Latest news—-https://alumni.uq.edu.au/uq-alumni-book-fair
Please note—-Due to COVID-19 restrictions, attendees are asked to register on the UQ website here for further details.

Donating books—-The Book Bunker is available for donations at UQ’s Long Pocket Campus, 80 Meiers Road, Indooroopilly, Brisbane. 

Below are thoughts and photos from three of my previous visits 😀

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Entries now open Stringybark Short Story Award 2022

This alluring information comes from The Black Stump, a Stringybark Stories newsletter, with reference to their Stringybark flagship open-themed short story award which commenced 15 November 2021 and closes 13 February 2022. Plenty of time? Maybe polish that special draft…

… and the world keeps turning… © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2020

Stringybark Short Stories are open to Australian and international authors of all skill levels.

While the Stringybark Short Story Award 2022 is open-themed, your submission does require some reference to Australia.

The size of this reference doesn’t matter says Stringybark Stories. It could be a mention of a Vegemite sandwich, or the fact that Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter. The story could be set in Australia or have an Australian in it. Stringybark doesn’t mind. Even a discussion on the habits of ‘drop bears’ is okay with them.

Head over to the Stringybark Bookshop and get inspired by some great short stories from their past anthologies. Please note Stringybark Short Story Award is not accepting poetry or illustrated tales.

Stringybark Stories have over AU$1000 in cash and books to award the winners, as well as publication in a paperback and ebook. The entry fee is the same as last year — AU$14 with discounts for multiple entries.

INFORMATION BELOW please check Stringybark Stories website thoroughly for details:

Enter https://www.stringybarkstories.net/index.html

Conditions https://www.stringybarkstories.net/competitions/entry-conditions.html

Subscribe to The Black Stump Stringybark Stories newsletter here.

——————————

Stringybark Stories Hints and Tips on Entering their Awards…

“Don’t let potential problems affected the likely success of your entry. The comments provided here are relevant for all short story competitions — not just Stringybark ones.”

1. Never put your name on your story. Put it on the entry form (a Stringybark requirement) or on a separate page.
2. Follow the formatting requirements. All competitions describe how they want your entry to look. We explain our requirements here.
3. Try and ensure that your entry and your payment are made as close together as possible. That is, don’t pay your entry and then submit your story a month later. It makes administration very tricky. It’s always best to do both together.
4. Related to number 3 above, if you are paying by Direct Deposit (and we love entrants who do) please remember to put your surname in the reference field so we can marry your entry and your payment.
5. Ensure that your story meets the theme of the competition!

——————————

Tempting isn’t it?! I’ve a story in mind and this is just the incentive I need.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Footnote

“Any entry in any short story writing award must meet the specified wordcount.

It can be under but never over the word limit”

Lifeguards Ready for Action

Yeppoon Beach, Queensland – Photograph © Dot Bernet 2021

LIFEGUARDS ON DUTY at Yeppoon situated 38 kilometres north east of Rockhampton, Queensland, the gateway to Great Keppel Island and the wonders of the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

From Yeppoon, across beautiful blue water, you can see Great Keppel Island. It has been years since I visited this coastal region and much has changed but the beaches and islands are far more accessible.

Meander down Yeppoon’s main street or stroll along the esplanade to browse beach-chic boutiques and surf stores and keep an eye out for one of the many new street art murals adorning local walls.

Kakadu stud bull

The Capricorn Coast (on the Tropic of Capricorn, the circle of latitude around the world which contains the subsolar point at the December solstice) also delivers when it comes to sourcing fine food with specialty produce like premium, export quality beef (nearby Rockhampton is the beef capital of Australia) seafood, and tropical produce. There is a wide range of restaurants, cafés and clubs catering to all tastes and budgets.

Families are well catered for in Yeppoon, with the foreshore also boasting the fantastic ‘Keppel Kraken’ zero-depth water park, open daily with fun and free activities for the kids on hot sunny days. The new lagoon pool at the southern end of Yeppoon Main Beach also has a children’s play area and dining areas.

I’d say Yeppoon is unspoiled, a relaxed and friendly little coastal town.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Information courtesy of https://www.queensland.com/au/en/places-to-see/destination-information/p-56b25db42cbcbe7073ad7126-yeppoon.html

. . . . .

Set against a spectacular coastal vista of blue seas and Great Keppel Island in the distance, the Singing Ship at Emu Park is a majestic monument that commemorates the area’s legacy of the historical explorations of Captain James Cook, who discovered this bay in May 1770.  The unique design represents the billowing sail, mast and rigging of his ship Endeavour. Concealed organ pipes use the sea breezes to create haunting musical sounds.

Cotton Harlequin Bug

Image courtesy of Dot Bernet © September 2021

The whole plant was covered in these fast-moving jewel-like bugs! It was fascinating to see them sparkling in the sunlight in a suburban garden.

I am reading “Miss Benson’s Beetle” by Rachel Joyce, wherein Miss Benson and her assistant Enid search for a golden beetle in the wilds of New Caledonia, far removed from the comforts and safety of home, and this book has heightened my interest in insects.

The little Cotton Harlequin bugs (above) were enjoying lunch.

Scientific name: Tectocoris diophthalmus

Size: 2 centimetres

The Australian Cotton Harlequin Bug is a member of the Jewel Bug family named for their bright metallic colouration.

The males and females of the Cotton Harlequin Bug are different colours, with the females mostly orange and the males mostly blue-red.

The Cotton Harlequin Bug lives in urban, agricultural and coastal areas of eastern Australia. It eats sap from many species belonging to the hibiscus plant family (Malvaceae) including ornamental hibiscus species and cotton.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

* * * *

A display of Australian beetles at the Cobb and Co Museum in Toowoomba, Queensland. Read about my visit https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/06/30/toowoomba-mountain-air-and-heritage-preserved/

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.

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

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

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

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

“Hey Hey You You Get Off Of My Cloud”

Tribute to ‘Get Off Of My Cloud’ by The Rolling Stones (Photograph © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021)

I was sick and tired, fed up with this

And decided to take a drive downtown

It was so very quiet and peaceful

There was nobody, not a soul around

I laid myself out, I was so tired

And I started to dream

In the morning the parking tickets were just

Like a flag stuck on my window screen

I say, hey (hey), you (you)

Get off of my cloud

Hey (hey), you (you)

Get off of my cloud

Hey (hey), you (you)

Get off of my cloud

Don’t hang around ’cause two’s a crowd

On my cloud…


Third verse of The Rolling Stones original lyrics ‘Get Off Of My Cloud

Songwriters: Mick Jagger / Keith Richard

Get Off Of My Cloud lyrics © Mirage Music Int. Ltd. C/o Essex Music Int.


The Rolling Stones performed ‘Get Off Of My Cloud’ live on Australian TV in 1966 on Brian Henderson’s Bandstand. The Stones are so young, so pretty.  Check out the boys wearing ties and the girls sitting on seats tapping their toes, and the politely orchestrated screams. So much to love Gretchen Bernet-Ward

A Question of Copyright on Goodreads

THE CREATION https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/2020/feb/the-boy-the-mole-the-fox-and-the-horse-saved-my-life.html

The beautifully illustrated book ‘The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse’ by Charlie Mackesy is intended for children not cynical adults.

The content has been reproduced in countless book reviews on Goodreads to the extent that a large portion of the book has been copied.

We should all know our own country’s copyright laws.  Where possible I acknowledge the source of material I use and only quote a sentence or two for emphasis in my book reviews.  Copyright is adhered to in many areas including business, education, libraries, publicity, government, even blogs and hand-out leaflets. 

So why do certain Goodreads reviewers think they can profusely post someone’s artwork?

Would they like their creative endeavours photographed and reproduced, and in this case vilified, and used for a different purpose other than originally intended?

I believe that by reviewing Mackesy’s work on Goodreads, a reviewer is not justified in reproducing the words and illustrations constituting a chunk of the author’s work.

“Copyright is a form of intellectual property that protects the original expression of ideas. It enables creators to manage how their content is used.”

https://www.copyright.com.au/about-copyright/

There may be Goodreads rules and regulations in the fine print which I could not locate but I am waiting on a reply from the Librarians.

My WordPress followers know that I do not activate Comments but I suggest if you think the copying is unfair or unjustified, check the book ‘The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse’ on Goodreads and perhaps submit a message to the gatekeepers.

WEBSITE LINKS:

PUBLISHER https://www.penguin.com.au/books/the-boy-the-mole-the-fox-and-the-horse-9781529105100

AUTHOR https://www.charliemackesy.com/

GOODREADS https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43708884-the-boy-the-mole-the-fox-and-the-horse

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


I have noticed on Goodreads that generally there does not appear to be any control over spoilers or plot reveals so what hope does copyright offer Goodreads authors. Copyright is mentioned under https://www.goodreads.com/about/terms and it would appear action has to be taken by the author.” GBW.

POSTSCRIPT—Below is my contact post to Goodreads Librarians on Monday 29th March 2021—no reply has been received:

“What are the copyright limitations on posting author illustrations on Goodreads? The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy has had pages copied by reviewers to such an extent that they almost represent the complete book. The book contains original work by the author and has significant meaning to him while naturally being a source of income which could be impacted due to continued copying by book reviewers.  I know it is hard to control copyright (particularly on social media) but I would expect a certain level of copyright control on a book-dedicated website.  I have no vested interest in this book other than enjoying it, and wanting to see Goodreads and reviewers being more circumspect regarding the posting of images from inside this book, or indeed any illustrated book.” GBW.

Eucalypt Tree Shows Its Colours

IMG_20210201_125027
Grey Gum (Eucalyptus propinqua) starting to shed its bark after summer rain © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

A bit of background on this stunning Grey Gum eucalypt I photographed during an afternoon walk.

Eucalyptus propinqua
Grey Gum
MYRTACEAE

Known as Grey Gum but there are many eucalypt trees given this name on the east coast of Australia, because there are rather a lot of grey gums. About half a dozen are members of the Grey Gum Group – rather obviously named for their grey bark. All members of the group are prized for the strength and durability of their timber, and in the early days of European settlement were heavily logged for use in construction.

The tree can appear to be a small mallee in tougher sites where the soil doesn’t quite suit, but on the Central Coast of New South Wales it is generally a beautiful tall, elegant tree, 35 metres or so high, with a tall, straight cylindrical trunk.

The name, Grey Gum, is a giveaway in what to look out for in the tree, but in February each year they can surprise. Most of the time the trunks are a rather uniform, granular surfaced, mottled grey, but once a year the bark is shed in slabs and displays new colours, ranging from pale cream to light orange.

Then, more occasionally, when the rainfall has been heavy over spring and summer, the same process is carried out – but this time displaying a most vivid orange trunk.

This gumtree seems to like being perched on the side of a hill in the suburbs of Brisbane.

Information thanks to Butterfly House
http://lepidoptera.butterflyhouse.com.au/plants/myrt/eucalyptus-propinqua.html

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

IMG_20201018_101629
Eucalypt leaves © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

‘Mirror, Mirror on the Wall’ 10 True Facts

Winter night © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2020

The nerd in me just loves these ten crazy true facts about mirrors!  I was actually searching for a fiction story based on a mirror but discovered Dr Ruth Searle’s website and decided her information was far more interesting.

Read on . . .

10. Mirrors And Time Travel

We know that a mirror can do more than reflect your image. And I won’t even start to document the amount of films I’ve seen or books I’ve read where the doorway to another world is through a mirror. A mirrored portal can lead you into an enchanted world of the future or the past; a doorway into a fantasy, paranormal or parallel world; a dystopian dreamscape or endless deep space—supposedly—however, with scientific know-how, Dr Ruth Searle explains HOW wormholes CAN make it possible to travel into the past.

9. Mirrors, Phantom Limbs, And The Human Brain

Experiments using mirrors on patients with phantom limbs have allowed researchers to learn a lot about the workings of our brain. Using a “smoke and mirrors” style optical illusion, researchers placed mirrors vertically on a table and used them to reflected the patient’s intact limb… there’s details on creating new neural pathways due to the plasticity of the brain and the connection between vision and touch.

8. Mirrors Cause Hallucinations

“A strange illusion is conjured up when you stare at your reflection in a mirror” writes Ruth Searle. This one slightly freaked me out because I remember as a girl I was told to stare into a mirror in the evening and soon I would see the face of my one true love. Anyway I stared and stared, and the more I stared, the more frightened I became. I never saw anything but I never did try that again.

If you are up for it, the instructions read “At first, you will find that there are small distortions in your face in the mirror. Then, gradually, after several minutes, your face will begin to change more dramatically, and look more like a waxwork, like the face doesn’t belong to you.” Shiver, no thanks!

7. Can Everyone Recognise Themselves In A Mirror?

Apparently children develop mirror self-recognition by about two years old but cultural differences can sometimes influence recognition and is not a sign that they lack the ability to separate themselves psychologically from other humans. One for those parental “aaw, cute” moments when their kid kisses the mirror.

Confident Cat
Confidence

6. Animals That Have Mirror Self-Recognition

Some researchers think certain animals are able to pass a test for recognising their own reflection. Animals which pass the traditional mirror self-recognition test naturally include chimpanzees and orangutans but several others surprised me. Killer whales anyone..?

5. Mirrors On The Moon

This sentence sounds like sci-fi but if you don’t believe me, read it yourself: “The Laser Ranging Retroreflector was left on the Moon by Apollo astronauts, and is used to calculate the distance from the Earth to the Moon. It is essentially a series of corner-cube reflectors—a special type of mirror—which reflects a laser beam back in the direction it came from… Not only can the Laser Ranging Retroreflector measure the distance from the Earth to the Moon, but it has improved our knowledge of the Moon.” There’s more on the website.

4. Mirrors Can Also Reflect Sound

Before radars were invented, mirrors which reflect sound waves were known as “acoustic mirrors” and were used in Britain during World War II to detect certain sound waves coming from enemy aircraft. It is worth checking the photo to see this almost modern art installation.

3. Reflecting Matter With Mirrors

I absolutely love this Sheldon-like paragraph “Amazingly, mirrors can also reflect matter. Such mirrors are known in physics as atomic mirrors. An atomic mirror reflects atoms of matter just as a conventional mirror reflects light. They use electromagnetic fields to reflect neutral atoms, although some just use silicon water…” Put on your Big Bang t-shirt and read the rest of it, I dare you.

2. True Mirrors

Dr Ruth Searle writes “It’s actually a myth that a mirror reverses your image—your reflection is not flipped. What you see is the left-hand side of your face on the left of the mirror, and the right-hand side on the right, giving the illusion that your reflection is reversed. However, a non-reversing mirror, or true mirror, was developed… primarily for applying cosmetics.” On Zoom, there is a function which allows you to reverse your image and I find it very disorientating.

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Backward and forward

1. Splitting Light With A Mirror

I did not know that mirrors not only reflect light, sound, and matter, but they can also split light beams. A basic beam splitter is a cube, made from two glass prisms connected at their base. The illustration for this one makes it look amazingly simple but the explanation says beam splitters are used in many scientific instruments including telescopes so their function would have to be precise.

So there you have it, folks, a short ramble through the never-ending joys of the internet.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


ListVerse: 10 Crazy Facts About Mirrors | Ruth Searle | 30 December, 2013 | 80 Comments
Profile: Dr Ruth Searle is a marine biologist with a PhD in humpback whale ecology and behaviour in tropical marine environments.  She is also a freelance writer and science nut.

My Neglected Bookshelves

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Old bookshelf © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2020

Don’t look too closely, there’s plenty of dust on them thar bookshelves. These books have sentimental value but may be destined for the University of Queensland Alumni Book Fair 2021 at St Lucia Campus, Brisbane—
Link https://alumni.uq.edu.au/uq-alumni-book-fair

Here’s the first installment of my three-day visit in April 2019—
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/04/28/rare-book-auction-and-alumni-book-fair/

Old books or new ones, ebooks or audio, I wish you all good books!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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A corner of the UQ Alumni Book Fair 2019

A Novel is Not a Screenplay

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To assist the modification from page to screen by meeting the market half-way, writers are chasing the more lucrative side of wordsmithing by hammering out books which have the actions, expressions and dialogue of movie characters.

If you are dreaming of seeing your work as a major motion picture, professional screenwriters can adapt existing books, hence the words ‘based on’ when you view a book-to-movie deal.

Read on for my thoughts on the situation…

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Good news for the future of the film industry but what about the book industry?

Should a writer write a novel similar to a filmscript?  I guess if you are determined enough you can learn, but what are you sacrificing along the way?  Formatting is important; not too much, not too little.  Your characters will be noticeably shallower, the scenery will be sketchy and the action will be like every TV series you have ever watched.

Bend to a market whim?  What makes the difference is being different!  With or without a movie contract, if you write in a hybrid format, your novel has less chance of standing amongst the notables of your decade.  I’ve read several amalgams in the last month.  Believe me, it shows.

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In my opinion, there is a market for the TV-ready book/screen blend of writing but it is light-weight and not the same as solid, descriptive, memorable words which feed a book reader’s imagination.

And herein lies the problem.  There are eager new readers just the same as in the past, but now they are looking for ‘movie action’ because they have grown up with on-demand screens.  Substance is not as favourable, skimming is the name of the game.

Again, I say this is a disservice to the reader as well as the book industry.

It’s a long haul and immediate gain for the primary writer is unlikely.  Say a director/producer likes your work, every page you have written means extra money is needed in production and, as we know, the financial aspect rules.  Gone are the days of blockbuster world success—think LOTR or J K Rowling’s Harry Potter.

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Durability is the name of the game.  You can find countless info and advice on writing a screenplay or TV script and if you want to do it you will—bearing in mind that any formula has restrictions, your manuscript will not resemble the finished product.

Look closely at Michael Connelly and other writers who have made the transition, in particular their previous jobs.  They will have ‘connections’, they will move house ‘to be closer to their work’, they will have ‘legal advice’, an abundance of ‘good luck’, an ‘understanding family’ and other clichés but not the words ‘smooth sailing’.

Write with your heart, write something strong and original, write a standalone which shines with your own unique qualities.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Mother’s Day Stories & Poems Wanted

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Exactly what we need in these days of social-distancing!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Positive Words Magazine

I’m looking for story and poetry submissions for the May issue. A nice way to honour a special person at a time when we might not be able to visit…

Mothers, grandmothers, daughters who have children of their own, special aunts and friends…send them in 🙂

Positive Words magazine

PO Box 798

Heathcote 3523 Victoria

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