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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
DOMESTICsecurity is important… millions of people don’t have a door to lock… or a home…
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.
A Drink Mepotion 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 Poisonwritten 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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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…
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.
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.
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 closelyat 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.
This caged pineapple asked me why he was called a pineapple when he was neither a pine nor an apple. I couldn’t answer his question but I did give him a lecture on the idiotic English language and how we take it for granted without knowing why ♥Gretchen Bernet-Ward
“English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France.
Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.
We take English for granted.
But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor a pig.
Why do writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham?
If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth beeth?
One goose, two geese. So one moose, two meese?
If you have a pile of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what is it called?
If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.
In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
Ship by truck and send cargo by ship?
Have noses that run and feet that smell?
How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
Have you noticed that we talk about certain things only when they are absent?
Have you ever seen a horseful carriage or a strapful gown?
Or met an sung hero who has experienced requited love?
Have you met someone who was combobulated, gruntled, ruly or peccable?
Where are those people who are spring chickens or who would actually hurt a fly?
The lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down.
Fill in a form by filling it out, while an alarm goes off by going on.”
Suburban shopping centre covered in moths after drought-breaking rains. Warm humid conditions released flora, fauna and insects which burst forth in a delayed exhibition of springtime in Brisbane.
My apologies if you have ‘Mottephobia’.
INFORMATION : This activity is unusual. Could these small arthropod insects with feelers, six legs and one pair of wings be a Dry Leaf Looper Moth? More at home in leaf-litter under trees? The images shown on the website (below) are similar moths to the ones I have photographed and were found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.
If you’ve ever been to the circus or a street parade, you will have seen someone walking along high above the crowd on a pair of stilts. To the average person, stilt-walking is the mainstay of theatrical performers, clowns and jugglers and used to great effect in fantasy film and stage productions.
However, stilts (originally wooden) have been used in many industries for many hundreds of years, from ancient shepherding to wall painting, fruit-picking and hedge-trimming to modern construction.
Several websites have histories of the original stilt-walkers, but in the old days if you found yourself living in a flood plain, beside the beach, in marshland or some other area where the ground was less than steadfast, it was a great way to keep safe.
Raised above it all, striding through the landscape with a birds’ eye view, it’s easy to see how they became part of certain countries folklore and historical identity.
I remember as a child, turning round to see the silk-clad legs of a stilt-walker and being quite amazed as I slowly raised my eyes to the performer, a real person no less, teetering high above me.
Apparently ‘Walk on Stilts Day’ is celebrated on 27 July every year
In 2008 Roy Maloy of Australia took five steps on stilts 17m (56ft) high
In 1891 Sylvain Dornon stilt-walked from Paris to Moscow in 58 days
The Golden Stilt is the highest honour in the ancient sport of stilt-jousting
European stilt-walking festivals are held in Spain, Netherlands and Belgium
Canadian ‘Cirque du Soleil’ feature a dazzling array of stilt-walkers
Moko Jumbie is spirit healer stilt-dancing from West Indies
A centuries-old tradition, Chinese stilt-walkers bring good luck
Modern stilt performances by gorgeous Leonie Deavin troupe
Stilts can be ordered online – go for it!
Stilt-walking is corporate business now, far, far removed from those sodden sheep in the marshes, guarded by a lone farmer on stilts with only his trusty sheep dog and knitting to keep him company. Knitting was not gender specific in olden times; hardy men perched atop a pair of wooden stilts could knit a woolly vest while keeping a wary eye out for hungry wolves.
So forget those hole-punched tin cans and pieces of string you manoeuvred to clump up and down the driveway like a robot, stilts have entered the 21st century.
Late last year at Brisbane GenreCon, I said hello to Darren Koziol, mastermind behind Australian comic books DarkOz. His display table was beside ours and I was lured over by the bright yet disturbing cover of the Retro Sci-Fi Tales Christmas Special #1 December 2019. I purchased a copy and three quirky Christmas cards were thrown into the deal.
After chatting to Darren and learning about his creative skills and the help he gives budding comic book creators, I expressed interest in ‘The Comic Book Manifesto: Making Comic Books In Australia’.
Even coming from a non-comic book person like me, I feel this booklet gets to the essence of creating artwork and design and offers inspiration for those interested in furthering their artistic abilities.
It’s a small volume which packs a punch; under the heading Influences & Individuality, Mike Speakman says ‘Seek out advice from your peers, listen to it all, but remember to put your own spin on things.’
It was a week before I managed to fully read my copy of this idiosyncratic Christmas Special but I loved the tall tales and clever retro illustrations. Inside, two wacky characters Bruno and Maggie feature in three comics—the one I particularly liked was ‘Space Elevator’. Original, creepy, humorous with a twist in the alien tale. Being retro, the slant was towards American-style comics but I was pleased to see ‘Great Australian Bight Bite’, short, sweet, deadly.
When I was a kid, the exaggerated reactions and cryptic comments from characters in comic books never really appealed. Like most people, I seem to remember Lee Falk’s ‘The Phantom’ in our daily newspaper alongside the funnies but I think for over ten years Charles Schulz and ‘Peanuts’ blitzed all else for me. Now I have greater respect for the patience, skill and hard work involved in comic book production.
Comic books have come a long way! Or have they? Happily the tradition lives on.
Bushfire devastation across rural Australia, everything and everyone is at risk, rain is desperately needed, it will arrive too late for many, let’s pray many thousands will be spared the burning embers ♥Gretchen Bernet-Ward