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/

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

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.

Mary Poppins and Five Years of Blogging

I never thought I would last this long and still be interested in blogging the miscellaneous bits and pieces which make up my literary life.

Over the last five years I have written, read, liked, followed, commented and corresponded with many other bloggers around the world. It is such informative fun, thanks everybody, and I look forward to continuing.

This is me formatting a new blog post © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

What have I got to show for it? To answer that question, a look through my Archive List is required. Select a category from the drop-down menu.

Meanwhile, I have just returned from a holiday in Maryborough (an historic Queensland town – actually the whole region is pretty special) and one of the highlights was attending the Mary Poppins Festival in the birthplace of her creator, author P L Travers. Many will remember the Disney version of her famous book.

Naturally I did heaps of things and took heaps of photos, so once they are curated I will be posting a travel pictorial. “Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-ee” there is more to see.

Mary Poppins in Maryborough where it all started https://www.marypoppinsfestival.com.au/

Unfortunately it had been raining for several days when we left Brisbane and headed north with no sign of letting up. The journey to Maryborough, situated inland from the Fraser Coast region, is about 250km and it rained the whole way; it was still raining when we arrived.

The next day was the Mary Poppins Festival and a huge amount of outdoor activities with most people in costume. Lo and behold, the rain stopped! The whole day was fine and sunny. You guessed it, the next day it bucketed down again!

WordPress 5 Year Anniversary July 2022

If I go prepared, rain is a novelty for me. I took an old family umbrella with frills around it. But when the wind blows cold (it is winter here in Australia) it’s not much fun hanging onto a brolly unless you are Mary Poppins. Her classic silhouette, in glowing red then bright green, blinks and beeps as pedestrians cross at traffic lights.

Anyway, the itinerary held good. We achieved our goals, seeing interesting sights (the Mary River curves around the town and there were a number of yachts moored), strolled through art galleries and parks, antique shops, City Hall, the library, the historic Story Bank museum, and ate local produce including pizza in the skate park after dark. We met friendly, welcoming and relaxed people, and waved vigorously at the Mary Ann steam locomotive as it huffed and puffed down the tracks. A different way of life…

Enjoy more pictorial highlights of my Maryborough visit:

https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2022/07/26/mary-poppins-and-folks-boppin-at-maryborough-festival/

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Author Overview: Helen Lyndon Goff (author P L Travers) was born and grew up in Maryborough, Queensland, before being sent to boarding school in Sydney NSW. Her writing was first published when she was a teenager. Later she worked briefly as a journalist and a professional Shakespearean actress. As author P L Travers, Goff wrote many children’s stories, non-fiction and collections, and lived a varied yet personal life. Wikipedia entry reads “In a 1977 interview on the BBC radio programme Desert Island Discs, Travers remarked about the Disney film, “I’ve seen it once or twice, and I’ve learned to live with it. It’s glamorous and it’s a good film on its own level, but I don’t think it is very like my books.”

All Gloom and Doom?

Thoughts Become Words on a White Board © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

A DEPRESSING LIST

OR SOMETHING TO WORK ON

FOR A BETTER FUTURE?

Our Belloo Creative playwriting tutor Katherine Lyall-Watson asked us to suggest issues of importance to today’s society, issues which affect us all and need addressing. As we called out our single words, strong topics emerged to write about, and to heighten awareness for the future.

Founded by four women in 2013, Belloo Creative creates original new works fusing body and text. The Co-Artistic Directors of Belloo are Caroline Dunphy and Dr Katherine Lyall-Watson.

Belloo creates innovative, inclusive and experiential work including transcultural content.

Belloo delivers content globally across artforms that inspire imagination, collaboration and change.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


Cake, candle, birthday or bomb? The world is ticking… © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

HRH Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee

In honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee (and because I like umbrellas!) I have reblogged my enthusiastic post from 21st April 2018 to add to the 70th celebrations in 2022 – it’s all about the umbrellas!

_______________________________

In UK, Her Royal Highness has two birthdays each year: her actual birthday on 21st April and her official birthday usually the second Saturday in June.  Born in 1926, at the time of writing, she is 92 years-old and still going strong.  Happy birthday, Your Majesty!

The birthday of reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II is celebrated at different times of the year throughout the Commonwealth countries and usually accompanied by a public holiday.  In Australia, each State and Territory has decreed a different day.

In Queensland (named after Queen Victoria) we have a Monday holiday in honour of the Queen’s birthday and enjoy a long weekend.  This year it falls on Monday 1st October 2018 and Brisbane residents will head to official celebrations, BBQs, coastal regions, rainforest walks or just laze around at home and read a book.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

“God Save Our Gracious Queen”

View my blog post about my own umbrella
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2018/03/02/childhood-status-symbol/

TV Viewer Report

Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee concert in London 2022 was an over-the-top extravaganza of real people, digital wonders, popular songs, personal tributes and Paddington Bear served tea. The music swelled while famous folk talked, superstars sang and everyone swished up and down the huge stage. At night, Buckingham Palace was an ever-changing canvas of celebration showing special moments from over 70 years. High above, fireworks shimmered, creating magical icons for smiling members of the Royal family and the ecstatic crowd of well-wishers, literally millions of cheering flag-waving people spread out as far as the eye could see. What a night!

Nominate your Favourite Old Fossil

Dinosaur fantasy sequence taken in garden © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

That doesn’t mean your grandfather!

Some of the nominees are dinosaurs. My family has always been fascinated by dinosaurs. From books, movies, kids series to figurines, they have loomed large in our home for many years. Now Queenslanders of all ages have the opportunity to help choose the 10th official State emblem, a fossil—it doesn’t have to be a dinosaur.

Choosing a Fossil Emblem

There are 12 fossil candidates lined up for the honour of being our State’s newest emblem. “Did you know in the Early Cretaceous Period, inland seas covered much of Outback Queensland? This means that Queensland has some of the most exciting fossil museums, dinosaur trails and discovery centres in the world, including the internationally renowned fossil sites of the Riversleigh World Heritage Area.

“Outback Queensland towns like Hughenden, Richmond and Winton are on Australia’s Dinosaur Trail, and many other Outback areas such as Eromanga, Eulo and Quilpie regularly attract fossil hunters and dinosaur lovers.”

All Shapes and Sizes

I am surprised that as well as featuring large prehistoric creatures, the endearing platypus is on the list, and Lovellea wintonensis, the oldest known permineralised fossil flower (which dinosaurs munched on).

Select your preference for Queensland’s newest fossil emblem—

Visit the website
View the illustrations
Read the history
Click a million years in the making!

Nominations close Sunday 10 July 2022

https://campaigns.premiers.qld.gov.au/fossilemblem/

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Fossil Diamantinasaurus matildae – Sauropod bones from a billabong https://campaigns.premiers.qld.gov.au/fossilemblem/

Postscript: I m-i-g-h-t have voted for a dinosaur…

Anzac Day 2022

Anzac Day remembrance © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

LEST WE FORGET

Anzac Day commemorations will take place on Monday 25 April 2022 across Australia, and at the Australian War Memorial’s Sculpture Garden, marking the 107th anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli.

This Anzac Day also marks the 80th anniversary of Anzac Day commemorations at the Memorial.

This year’s commemorative program will include: 

5.30 am     Dawn Service
9.30 am     RSL (ACT Branch) Veterans’ March
4.45 pm     Last Post Ceremony

Australian War Memorial, Canberra https://www.awm.gov.au/

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Levels of Editing ‘Sending Your Book Baby Out Into The World’

My special guest Cate Whittle, author, teacher, speaker, offers her advice and experience on how to fine-tune your manuscript before submission to a publisher.

Cate’s literary expertise covers workshops, writing courses, book launches, school visits and video tutorials—watch out below for her special MANUSCRIPT ASSESSMENT offer—but first sit back, relax, read

‘On the Fine Art of Sending Your Book Baby Out into the World’

by

Cate Whittle


Congratulations! You’ve made it—from those first tentative words that broke the curse of the blank page, to the carefully woven ending—you’ve finished your book! 

What now?  

First – bask.  

This is an important moment and really deserves celebrating. So many would-be writers never get this far. So celebrate. 

While you are celebrating, the manuscript is resting.  

You know that.  

And you know that you come back to it with fresh eyes to read through and self-edit to make it the best you possibly can. And you know that there will be a multitude of drafts before you say, ‘This is it!’ 

And then you send it out to the likeliest looking publisher or three? 

Bzzt. Wrong. 

This can be the falling point for soooo many little fledgling books.  

For its first forays out of the nest, there are so many things you can do before you subject it to the scrutiny of an actual publisher.  

Allow me to make some suggestions. 

Let me call this Levels of Editing

It is up to you whether you employ all or some of these levels of editing—or whether you feel happy to trust to yourself in some regards—and certainly, you will be editing with your publisher if your work is acquired by a traditional publishing house, but it is always good to be close to all the way there before you approach a publisher. And if you are self-publishing… you’d be well-advised to spend the money. 

One:

Was your self-editing.

Focus in on structure and consistency, make sure your opening grabs the reader and your writing flows easily and is paced well. Look at tension and relief. Are your characters believable? Does the setting work? Is your ending satisfying—and does it work for your genre? 

Two:

Might be your Mum or a Trusted Other.

This is usually good for a feel-good glow (which is great for your confidence), but do not pressure this relationship with a request for honesty. Do not. Enjoy the feel-good glow and move to the next stage. 

Three:

Your critique group.  

Yes, join one. Participate. I cannot recommend more highly this collegiate learning and sharing. Even J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (peripherally Dorothy L Sayers) and those other guys who no-one remembers, all benefited from sharing their work in their Inklings literary circle.  

But be aware that this, too, has its limitations. Perhaps you do not work in the same genre so they may not understand all the tropes and symbolism in your text (I speak—lovingly—from the experience of teaching my critique group friends about fantasy). Perhaps you are all learning together. Perhaps your critique partners are unwilling or unable to offer critical feedback. 

Where to from here then? 

Four:

Manuscript assessment.  

Strictly speaking, this is NOT editing per se. This is where a reader with some experience goes through your manuscript and offers feedback as objectively as possible (although not entirely—reading anything is a subjective and individual process).

A good manuscript assessor will provide a general commentary on: 

* Voice, point of view, description, and setting 

* Characters 

* Plot/structure 

* Punctuation, spelling, grammar, and vocabulary

* Audience/market 

* Anything you have specific queries about (e.g. does my opening hook work?) 

A manuscript assessment can be completed on a partial text (I offer commentary on the opening three chapters and a synopsis) to keep costs down, or on a complete text. This is your impartial reader who has some experience in the field, giving you their reaction to your book. 

Manuscript assessments are often offered by editors as a first pass through your story, to let you know whether you are ready to go further. Published writers, or established teachers or librarians with a strong background in the literary process. 

It’s a good starting point without investing a huge amount in the early stages of polishing your text. You should come away with some good ideas about how to develop your work further. Sometimes you can enter into a story coach arrangement with your assessor—but this is a whole extra field. 

Five:

Story coach.  

This is like engaging a manuscript assessor several times over a period of time, reworking and reassessing scenes together to make sure that your story is powerful and ready for the next stage of editing. Check with your manuscript assessor if they are willing to enter into such an arrangement before you start.  

N.B: If you are writing non-fiction, this is the level where you might seek out a professional content editor to make sure your information is correct and presented in a way that flows. 

Working with a manuscript assessor or a story coach gets you ready for the hard stuff. From hereon it can get intense! 

Six:

Structural Editing

Similar to a manuscript assessment but at a deeper level, this is usually undertaken to evaluate your characters, plot, and setting, and ensures that your narrative flows smoothly and your scenes work to move the story forward. It will look at how your chapters sit and whether they could be arranged differently to make the story more powerful. 

Seven:

Line editing.  

This is a skilled task that is best done by a trained professional editor. You may have already engaged an editor for your first assessment, but often this is an opportunity to let another set of eyes go through your work.  

Line editing evaluates and offers corrections for the tone, style, and consistency of your work. While a good line edit will also check basic spelling, punctuation, and grammar, for a more complete overview of these mechanics of writing you would be moving to a copy edit. 

Eight:

Copy editing.  

Again, this is a job for a professional editor. This is all about your spelling and punctuation. This is all about getting your grammar correct. This is all about your word choices (do you need adverbs or will a stronger verb make your writing tighter?), how you lay out your text (paragraphing), minimising repetition or jargon, and weeding out redundancies.  

All without losing your voice.

 

Nine:

Proofreading.  

Except proofreading is also NOT editing. By the time you are proofreading all that is done. This is like a final going over to make sure you have dotted all your Ts and crossed all your Is…  

This is checking formatting and consistency one final time, and finding those last minute, glaring typos. You can stick to your professional editor for this—or find yourself a professional reader. Your manuscript assessor might be good for this, but make sure they know it is a proofreading exercise. Now is NOT the time to come up with suggestions for a whole different structure. 

Ten:

Okay, breathe. 

While all this has been happening, I’m sure you have been researching your publishers for the right fit. Don’t forget to check their submission guidelines and follow their rules—and now you can press GO. 

Good luck! May your fledgling fly true and straight and find a home out there (whether you go via a traditional publisher or decide to go Indie). 

———————————-

Thank you, Cate, for such enlightening information!
Gretchen Bernet-Ward

SPECIAL OFFER

Personal note from Cate 

In the spirit of celebrating 61 Years Since 1961, I’m currently offering manuscript assessments at only 61% of my usual going price.

This offer closes on 3rd April 2022, BUT if you have something in the wings and would like to purchase an assessment at this price and take a rain check on the assessment until you are ready, just drop me a line cate@catewhittlewrites.com   

I’m currently offering an assessment on the first three chapters (to 10,000 words maximum) on your Junior Fiction (which probably shouldn’t be this long!) or Middle Grade manuscript for AU$110. Alternatively you can contact me for my price schedule for a full manuscript.

Any questions?
To find out more ‘On the Fine Art of Sending Your Book Baby Out into the World’ contact Cate cate@catewhittlewrites.com

Helpful links:

Cate Whittle : author website

Cate Whittle : Q & A

Teachers Notes

Blog posts:
Towering Statues and Weeping Angels
Tips on the Writing Life

Book info:
‘Emergency Rescue Angel’ Angus and Robertson Bookstore

‘Wyrd’ Dymocks Bookstore and Shaye’s Book Launch

‘Trouble Dragon’ Series Teachers Notes

Reading Wales #Dewithon22 has Arrived!

This will be my fourth Reading Wales #dewithon and I am excited at the list of Welsh authors and poets which Book Jotter has assembled to tempt our reading taste buds.

Source one book, source ten!
Create your own list!
See my list!
Join in Reading Wales!

Currently I have six books on a waiting list at my local library because it will be easier to collect them rather than hanging around waiting for an interstate or overseas parcel delivery.

I hold Covid-19 responsible and also a catastrophic flood which swept down the Queensland coast, through my city of Brisbane (everything is still soaked) and pounded coastal New South Wales before heading towards Sydney. Notice how I worked in the word ‘Wales’?

A MESSAGE FROM THE CREATOR
BOOK JOTTER, PAULA BARDELL-HEDLEY

Welcome to the fourth Reading Wales celebration (aka Dewithon 22), a month-long event beginning on Saint David’s Day, during which book lovers from all parts of the world are encouraged to read, discuss and review literature by and about writers from Wales.

For more in-depth information on this reading jolly, head over to DHQ (Dewithon Headquarters), and to see what’s happening this year, please follow this link. You can also share your thoughts and posts on Twitter by using the hashtags #dewithon22 and/or #walesreadathon22.

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  • visit DHQ Reading Wales Dewithon22 websites below.
  • click ‘On Our Shelves’ to browse Dewithoner’s suggested reading list.
  • source books relating to Wales from library, bookshop, online.
  • post a book review and tell everyone!

N.B. Dewithon22 reading includes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays, in fact anything with a significant link to Wales.

Mwynhewch ddarllen! Enjoy reading!

____________________

What have I ambitiously chosen and which are available to me?

  1. Turning Points in Welsh History 1485-1914 by Stuart Broomfield and Euryn Madoc-Jones UWP. AVAILABLE at my local library. READ
  2. Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman (because my family are dragon fans and it’s part of Welsh Princes trilogy I have always wanted to read). DOWNLOADED e-book. READ
  3. Black Valley (Jessica Mayhew book 2, couldn’t source book 1) by Charlotte Williams, a domestic drama arts thriller of some intensity. AVAILABLE in my local library. READ
  4. On the Red Hill: Where Four Lives Fell into Place by Mike Parker, a relative new book which according to The Guardian is “A moving, multi-layered memoir…extraordinary, ambitious…” ON ORDER.
  5. The Owl Service by Alan Garner was too tempting, so I’ve added it to my list. The Guardian says “…the plot is very gripping and slightly creepy.” AVAILABLE in my local library. READ
  6. Sugar and Slate by Charlotte Williams – past winner of the Arts Council of Wales Book of the Year, an autobiographical story of a Welsh-African mixed-race woman who brings her unique qualities to the story, transforming it into a lively and living account of her life. ON ORDER.

I’m keen to get started 😀 and already made some headway!

My thoughts are that I will eventually read them all—perhaps not all in March—and I am looking forward to having my mind held captive by the literati of Wales. When I put down the books and walk Terra Australis again, my reviews will be either here or Goodreads.

Looking forward to reading about what you are reading!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

#dewithon22 Can you see the hidden face in this famous Welsh painting? The answer is here https://bookjotter.com/2022/02/02/are-you-looking-forward-to-reading-wales-2022/

Romeo, Romeo, Wherefore Art Thou Gumboots?

Balcony scene © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

What can you see? What can you surmise from this scene?  Is it in suburbia or the mountains or maybe near the sea?

Can you name the trees? Or guess the potted plants? What time of day, or time of year, do you think the photograph was taken?

And who might live there?  Who owns those gumboots?

You could write a short story about someone who walks out onto this balcony.  Perhaps it’s the home of the Capulet family? There is a good reason why Juliet walks out onto a balcony.

Valentine’s Day is nearly here! Imagine an alternate ending. A happy, sad, good, bad or exciting scene… Writers, write about it in your own hand! Put it in an envelope and present it to your loved one.

❤️ Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Postscript: I will write my own version on traditionally the most romantic day of the year 14th February 2022.

A Red, Red Rose
by ROBERT BURNS

O my Luve is like a red, red rose

   That’s newly sprung in June;

O my Luve is like the melody

   That’s sweetly played in tune.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43812/a-red-red-rose

Happy New Year 2022

Dust off the old year and brighten up the new year 2022 @ Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Wishing you all a clearer, brighter, fresher New Year 2022.

Thank you for reading my blog.

I have enjoyed reading yours!

And books.

Here’s to another year of literary endeavour.

 Gretchen Bernet-Ward

* * * * * * *

Preview of my forthcoming Agapanthus post “From Buds to Bundles of Blooms on Sticks” @ Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

View Through a Window

View through a window © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

My photograph of the window (and view to Mt Coot-tha on an overcast day) was taken from Royal Queensland Art Society building on Petrie Terrace, Brisbane.

I don’t know the age of this window but the visual wobble was initially disconcerting until my eyes worked out what was going on! GBW

It wasn’t until afterwards that I saw the bubbles in the glass pane following my visit to the RQAS portrait exhibition.  In this case, the bubbles clustered together are called ‘seed bubbles’ and enhance the old-fashioned charm of the window.

Bubbles in old glass bottles and windows are actually air pockets that became trapped during the manufacturing process. True air bubbles are rare in glass produced after 1920, so the presence of a bubble may help to date a bottle or window.

Crude glass almost always contains bubbles, which often adds to its appeal and value among collectors.  Apparently collectors do not view bubbles as ‘flawed’ or ‘damage’ and some even prefer bubbles because they add to the visual appeal of the glass.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Vase ‘Reef’ 1995 by Chris Pantano, Australia. Hot-worked glass striated blue and aqua with multi-coloured cane inclusions; the base with glass, foil and air bubble inclusions. This vase is from Pantano’s ‘Great Barrier Reef’ series displayed at Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane. Photograph © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2018

Old Masterpieces from New York to Brisbane

Finally reached the end of the queue © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

On a sunny Friday morning, waiting to enter GOMA Queensland’s Gallery of Modern Art, I did not photograph the great long queue of people. However, there were no privacy issues, every single person was wearing a mask. Patiently observing restrictions, we were all determined to view the European Masterpieces exhibition on loan from The Met, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Once inside, after a quick squirt of lavender hand-sanitiser, directions from the highly organised gallery staff were followed, and metered groups were ushered through the necessary sign-in to enter a specially designed viewing area. I say ‘area’ but it was more like roaming around inside someone’s home. Admittedly a large home with muted lighting and grey walls but it was what hung on those walls that definitely became awe-inspiring.

The galleries were split into three groups:

1. Devotion and Renaissance

2. Absolutism and Enlightenment

3. Revolution and Art for the People

From Giovanni di Paolo (Paradise, 1445) to Claude Monet (Water Lilies, 1916) I have written a quick overview of my visit—and I only took a handful of photographs. There are 65 works of art on display, and so famous they do not need my documentation.

Deep down I have to confess that the age and history of many of the paintings captured my attention more than the artwork itself. Scary moments frozen in time, dramatic posturing, gloomy scenes were not the order of the day for me. I loved the works with life and action and, let’s face it, realism.

French painter Georges de La Tour’s work ‘The Fortune Teller’ (see main entrance photo above) finally made sense to me when I saw it for real. It’s not about the old fortune teller at aLL.

GBW 2021

I liked the ‘essence’ of Lady Smith (Charlotte Delaval) and her children George, Louisa and Charlotte, in this family portrait where she appears lost in thought while her children tussle beside her, glancing at the viewer. The portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds (England) was commissioned by Lady Smith’s husband, a baronet and member of Parliament. Expressing cultural ideals of femininity and upper-class childhood, this work was a popular exhibit at the Royal Academy in 1787 the year it was painted.

I wandered past El Greco, Rubens, Caravaggio, Vermeer, Goya, Rembrandt, Renoir, et al, and was drawn towards the sound of violin music. I left the dimmed rooms and walked into a brightly lit area where a lone violinist was playing. He finished with a flourish and an elderly gentleman and myself clapped enthusiastically but he appeared a tad embarrassed, nodded his thanks and exited the stage.

Directly behind me was The Studio, a long gallery set out with still life objects for the budding artist to create a modern masterpiece. There is a Renaissance backdrop for live models at special times. My eyes were drawn to the interactive displays and ‘paintings’ which brought the original art to life. Shades of Harry Potter, both clever and spooky!

The theatrette was not heavily patronised and after hearing the big bosses talk, I decided to seek out one of my favourite colourful artists and that is Paul Gauguin (France 1848-1903). His ‘Tahitian Landscape, 1892’ is smaller and less vibrant than I expected. A pleasant rural scene (below left) but not his usual tropical effervescence.

Claude Monet (France 1840-1926) and his sombre ‘Water Lilies’ wished me bon voyage and I was back into the real world.

As any person who frequents an exhibition knows, the exit is via the gift shop. This low-key store had some nice items but I wasn’t feeling it. The Library Café was looking inviting.

When I thought about the great works of art I had just seen, I pondered which one I could single out, which one I thought was the cream of the crop. The pleb in me rather enjoyed a large 1670 work by Jan Steen (Netherlands) ‘Merry Company on a Terrace’ for its rich vibes and domestic disorder. The original is bigger and brighter than the image (above right) shown here.

I think perhaps Covid-19 had something to do with the way I responded to the Met Masterpieces… and it was interesting to see how each century lightened the mood.

GBW 2021

To quote architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright (1867 – 1959) “Respect the masterpiece, it is true reverence to man. There is no quality so great, none so much needed now.”

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

—–European Masterpieces—–

12 June 2021 – 17 October 2021
GOMA | Gallery 1.1 The Fairfax Gallery, Gallery 1.2, Gallery 1.3 Eric & Marion Taylor Gallery | Ticketed

https://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au/whats-on/exhibitions/european-masterpieces

Happy galley visitors © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

Forevability New Database for Empowering Tales

I received an email from Michelle Worthington of Authors Online who wrote “Tabitha Page has been working hard on a new venture which I am excited to share with you. Tabitha, children’s author and disability advocate, is currently setting up an online database under the name Forevability, where she is compiling as many books as she can for children through to young adults which have the following themes:

Disability
Illness
Medical conditions
Medical Procedures
Anxiety
Sensory
Bullying
Diverse
Own voice
Inclusion
Grief/Death/Loss

“Tabitha is also looking for books by authors and illustrators who have a disability or illness themselves, and she plans to have a showcase page of their work.”

“In addition to these resources and showcases, Tabitha will also be compiling a database of podcasts/videos/blogs/articles related to the same categories as noted above” and aims to make Forevability an easy place to find books, podcasts and more.”

“The goal of this project is to create an online space where people can find resources when they face challenges…”

Michelle Worthington

Visit the website under construction and explore the possibilities for your work http://www.forevability.org/

Tabitha Page says “We hope to inspire, empower, teach and support”.

If you have a book, or books, which would make a good match for Forevability database, or you are an author or illustrator who has a disability or illness, check to see if your book fits one of the categories in the guidelines on the website and make a submission.

Hey, you can find out more about the dynamic book fairy Michelle Worthington here.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Stanthorpe Autumn Insights Part Two

Brooding rain clouds hang over the Stanthorpe Historical Museum gate.

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

Napoleon, Ferdinand and The Alchemist.

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

Took a stroll through town.

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

A pyramid in a paddock.

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

Storm King Dam on a suitably overcast day.

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

The U3A Conference 2021 in Stanthorpe.

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

The evenings were misty and quiet…

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

Here’s to life-long learning!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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

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

Stanthorpe Autumn Insights Part One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Happy Mother’s Day 2021

Mother’s Day floral collage © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

Whether or not your mother is with you, whether or not your child is with you, today is special; without mothers the human world would not exist.

I wish you a very happy Mother’s Day.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


My Taste Tester for Wales Readathon 2021

To view stunning photographs of breathtaking scenery and villages around Wales which inspired Welsh authors, poets and artists to create their world-famous works, I can highly recommend Visit Wales “The word trail: 8 journeys through Welsh literary landscapes” website—

https://www.visitwales.com/things-do/culture/welsh-poets-authors-welsh-artists

Dylan Thomas

Creatives, some well-known, some not so, feature on the list including my favourite Dylan Thomas, who spent his final years in Laugharne, where he lived in a boathouse down on the estuary.

Read about contemporary poet Gillian Clarke (I have already downloaded her “Collected Poems”) and Medieval European poet Dafydd ap Gwilym (14th century) who was born into a noble family in the parish of Llanbadarn.

There’s even a giant peach commemorating Roald Dahl’s eponymous children’s story.

Roald Dahl was born in Llandaff, Cardiff.

Caernarfon Castle

Kate Roberts, hailed as “Brenhines ein Llên” (Queen of Our Literature) chronicled the lives of slate workers. The South Wales coalfields attracted thousands of migrant workers, but the North Wales slate mines were almost exclusively worked by Welsh-speaking local men, which had a major influence on cultural life. Yet it was a woman – Kate Roberts (Caernarfonshire 1891-1985) – who was the greatest chronicler of the lives of men, women and children in the slate-producing north.

Have a look at Book Jotter’s Wales Readathon 2021 for information, or find out more about the literary greats of Wales and post your review for the Readathon.

You might learn a few wise Welsh words to whip into your next literary conversation!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Wales Readathon in March #Dewithon21