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:
My Health for Life is a free lifestyle program funded by the Queensland Government and designed and delivered by the Healthier Queensland Alliance. The Alliance is a group of non-Government organisations working in partnership with the Government and Health and Wellbeing Queensland to improve the health of Queenslanders.
The organisations involved are:
National Heart Foundation of Australia
Queensland Primary Health Networks (PHN)
Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland ECCQ)
Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC)
The following are thanked for their counsel and support:
Health and Wellbeing Queensland (HWQld)
Brisbane South Primary Health Network Positive Impact Program
Victoria Life! Program
Network of providers and coaches
The people of Caboolture who helped develop this program.
I am currently participating in a free fortnightly My Health for Life Program and after just three group sessions (with a physiotherapist, alternating exercises indoors and out in the park) I feel positive about ‘tweaking’ my lifestyle and eating habits for the better, e.g. increased movement and decreased intake of tea and bikkies.
Also, I was given a Group Coaching Program workbook which is filled out each session to keep my healthy eating on-track and planning for success. A Wellbeing Book, or Guide to Good Health, is included in the pack (in an environmentally friendly carry bag) which offers support, tips on motivation, monitoring your progress, etc, as well as overcoming challenges.
NATURALLY THERE IS NO GUARANTEE THAT EXERCISE WILL MAKE YOU MORE ATTRACTIVE
THAT’S JUST MY TAKE ON FEELING GOOD INSIDE AND OUT!
If you are interested, there is a free health check on the My Health for Life website. Give it a go. In my group there are couples, an asthmatic, a diabetic and a man who has had heart surgery. You’ve got a lot of life to live.
My suggestion—sign up and step away from the screen—do it now!
Do you keep a favourite wall calendar? Do you keep an image from a favourite wall calendar? Do you even buy a wall calendar? Well, I do.
Each year late in December I peruse the newsagents and stationery stores for The One. The wall calendar with good images and good size squares to write in. The paper is also important, not too shiny otherwise the ink smudges, and not too thin otherwise the pages tear and have a tendency to flop forward. I then have to resort to sticky tape to hold old months out of the way of a new month. Sometimes I use glider clips (paper clips, metal things bent to slide over paper and hold it together) or if I don’t like the calendar much, I glue the old months together.
Occasionally it annoys me where the hole is punched in some wall calendars because it can affect the hanging process on my coat-hook (in the bedroom) the nail (in the kitchen) and the picture hanger (in the study) and enlarge the hole.
One of the calendar ‘things’ which has been a major item on our Christmas list for many, many years is a Bunch-Of-Dates. A delightful play on words (perhaps conjured up by a light-hearted printer) it consists of a shaped metal frame which goes through the two holes in a square block of paper containing 365 day leaflets plus a tiny yearly calendar and national holiday dates. An added bonus is daily quotations from inspiring people.
This pre-internet invention sits on office desks and when the workers begin their day, they flip over yesterday’s date to reveal all the chores they have to do today. Every job I ever worked in from 1970s onward had Bunches-of-Dates sitting on staff desks or the reception desk. Yes, I actually still use this old-fashioned device and it is right beside me on my left-hand side. The date at the top (see photo) with lines at the bottom. Yesterday, Sunday 5th January 2020, it had approximately seven things written on it, e.g. shopping for a light bulb and To Do things like fill bird bath with water.
You can buy the Bunch-Of-Dates refills for a couple of dollars (a range of office calendars and diaries are printed by Collins Debden) and every year after 1st January, they are renewed across the country.
If they are not used by lazy coworkers who try to remember things and when they can’t, they blame it on you for not reminding them, their blank Bunch-Of-Dates can be used as scrap paper for note-taking. I sometimes find some thin old wire, like a twist-tie, which I thread through the holes and firmly bind 365 unused days together. Just the right size for cryptic notes to colleagues or wayward family members.
Lately I have taken to keeping the last year’s used Bunch-Of-Dates (with exclamation marks, little drawings, council reminders) because sometimes I jot down an important number and don’t transfer it over to my Contacts file. At this point, I must mention that I have an electronic calendar. It is most ingenious but no matter how ingenious, it still needs input. I am very sparing with what I type into my electronic calendar otherwise a lengthy tirade will pop-up at me in the morning when I least expect it.
Another thing; I never ever put stuff on my mobile phone. Silly, I guess, but they need to be charged and friends say ‘my battery died’ whenever they are late. An old-school piece of paper in your pocket will never let you down. That, and a pen, is all you need to survive in the world of words.
But, you ask, what about keeping your favourite calendar photographs? Goodness, I don’t know where to start!
I have many beautiful scenery images, all totally scribbled on the back, all years old. But I love them and I often remember the month that went with them. Except for the one I framed which is three elephants and their passengers splashing down a river in a jungle. The shallow water is jade green, as vivid as the lush tropical foliage. There is a feeling of both pleasure and menace.
Anyway, a person in my familia has taken a shine to Polish artist Jacek Yerka’s fantasy style and I began to enjoy the ones where he puts hundreds of bookstacks in quirky settings. I kept this one (see above) perhaps not his strangest, but I get a lot of pleasure out of it.
Every so often I have a surplus calendar, a gift or whatever, so I hammer in an extra nail and hang it up, not as prominent as those I love but I give it hanging space.
And this year? Oh joy, this year I discovered an Australian Jumbo Big Huge calendar with gigantic squares! It will take anything I wish to write on it and leave room for more—the down side of this extravagant calendar is no pictures. There is a tiny strip along the top showing a beach or mountain or city but nothing else. And one of these images is repeated, not a good look in my eyes. Ho-hum, can’t have everything.
In the kitchen my next favourite is Chickens, not cooked, just hens displaying glorious feathers in beautiful country settings. Pecking through, it looks like April hens are ahead of the flock photogenically. I will have to let you know who gets preserved at the end of the year. Just a minute, I’ll write a note on my calendar…
THING ONE Reading—The Chain by Adrian McKinty THING TWO Looking—A Lemon in Disguise THING THREE Thinking—Don’t Rush the Little Wild Ramblers
THING ONE—READING—The Chain by Adrian McKinty—
The Chain took me by surprise. I had no idea what the title referred to until nice normal cancer patient Rachel O’Neill turns into a desperate, frenzied, tigress of a woman ready to kill to protect her cub Kylie.
Adrian McKinty has written 14 books and I’ve read them all, so I know he can write ‘other stuff’. Guns, cops, drugs and tricky, desperate situations. But never with the strong emotion which The Chain evoked in me.
The sequence of events is based on real bandits who kidnap people and hold them to ransom until their families pay to have them released. Not very nice, and neither is what happens to Rachel and Kylie. This sophisticated version of The Chain involves snatching a child and holding them prisoner to save your own child who has been captured and the next person snatches a child and holds them prisoner until their child is released, etc…with brutal consequences for broken links.
The winners in all of this are The Chain initiators who demand that huge sums of money be paid into their off-shore account otherwise they will force the family to kill your child. The fear, panic and high stress levels are well realised and the pressure applied to Rachel and her ex-army drug addicted brother-in-law Pete (he goes into Bruce Willis mode) never lets up.
Half way through the plot, things take a sharp u-turn (Australian version is chuck-a-youie) but the reader has to trust the writer to follow-through. Trust him I did. And the result was definitely worth it. As always, McKinty writes in his own unique style. There are warnings of social media over-exposure which ring true and even though this suspense thriller is set well and truly on American soil, it holds a universal truth ‘Watch over your children’.
A poetic excerpt from The Chain, Chapter 40, Sunday 11.59 p.m. “She merges with the traffic. The highway hums. The highway sings. The highway luminesces. It is an adder moving south. Diesel and gasoline. Water and light. Sodium filament and neon. Interstate 95 at midnight. America’s spinal cord, splicing lifelines and destinies and unrelated narratives. The highway drifts. The highway dreams. The highway examines itself. All those threads of fate weaving together on this cold midnight.” Author Adrian McKinty 2019
THING THREE—THINKING—Don’t Rush the Little Wild Ramblers—
This beautiful quote from Wilder Child Nicolette Gowder struck a cord with me. I thought about young family members who were forever picking up small objects and bringing them home after school. Everything was of interest when out walking, items had to be investigated for smoothness, brightness, weight or lightness. The best treasures were those which once were alive, like a crab claw, rat skull or insect exoskeleton.
I thought about my mother who used to point out the delicate things in nature, things which tend to get overlooked. I inherited her spy-eye for detail especially seed pods. She was more of a beachcomber…but always putting those glistening seashells back where she found them ♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
One post in three parts, Reading Looking Thinking, a neat idea started by blogger Paula Bardell-Hedley. Check outBook Jotter her informative, interesting and book-related website!
This faded old book jumped out at me. I believe interconnections exist everywhere in many forms but none so strongly as with books.
I spied this hardback ‘In Search of Wales’ by H.V. Morton, with sixteen illustrations and a map, resting on one of the tables at UQ Alumni Book Fair. It was published by Methuen & Co. Ltd London in 1932 and purchased by the Parliamentary Library in Queensland, Australia, on 27 July 1932. My photographs don’t convey the substance of this volume.
Apart from my purchase giving me a tenuous Queensland connection, since I have been blogging I have come to know bloggers from Wales like Book Jotter, and people with ties to Wales, so I guess I was curious to find out some early 20th century history.
There is a city named Ipswich, west of the capital Brisbane, Queensland, and it has Welsh heritage from the founding families, the legacy of coal mines, and street names I can’t pronounce. It was going to be our capital city but being situated inland away from sea ports (and always hotter in summer) Brisbane took over the coveted position.
When I look at the B&W images in this book, I can’t help but feel strong emotion for those Welsh families, the people who came to Queensland in 1851 and started afresh. Whether it was out of necessity, assisted passage, general interest or just sheer bravery, it was a long way to come to start a new life in a totally different land.
The three photos (below) are 1. Cornfields, 2. Druid ceremony conducted by the Archdruid at the Gorsedd Stone, 3. Cockle women of Penclawdd on the seashore. It looks cold! Throughout there are two-page spreads of dramatic valleys, stoney castles and heartbreaking portraits of mining men and soot-covered boys.
My new old book was deleted from the Old Parliament Library catalogue on 22 October 1996 and I wondered where it had been since then. ‘Oh well,’ I thought, ‘I am enjoying it now on 10 May 2019’. Then I saw a small pencilled Dewey notation on the back cover map UL914.29 Mor. It had probably languished in the University Library.
As yet I haven’t tracked down all the details of author, Henry Vollam Morton, and even though he was a well-known journalist and travel writer, the information in the final pages doesn’t give much away. There is an insightful personal comment (photo below) which ends with three tiny icons, perhaps foreshadowing today’s social media links.
Further material tells me that the author’s book ‘…is more than a travel book, it is a sensitive interpretation of a country’s people and their history.’ He wrote a series called ‘The Search Books’ and further along it reads ‘Since that time Mr Morton’s gay and informative travels…have gained him thousands of readers.’
At this late stage, a book review would be rather tricky—okay, it would be hard for me to get my head around. H.V. Morton travels far and wide through Wales and writes in depth. The voice, the style of that era (nicer than brash Bill Bryson) is easy to read and written in a friendly, personal way with warmth in every chapter. Allowing for the off-key words we don’t use today, there is factual information and humorous stories, and in Chapter Six he asks the usual traveller’s question and receives a great reply—
“The first village, commonly and charitably called Llanfair, provides the stranger with an impossible task among the Welsh place-names.
Its title is: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllandysiliogogogoch This is no joke. It is only too true! The full name, however, is never used but it appears only slightly amputated in the Ordnance Survey maps.
The postal name is Llanfair P.G. or Llanfairpwll. I entered the first inn and said to those who were drinking in the bar ‘I will buy anyone a drink who can pronounce the full name of this place.’
There was an ominous silence until an old man, finishing his beer, stood up and sang it! ‘And what does it mean?’ I asked. ‘It means,’ I was told, ‘the Church of St Mary in a wood of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and near St Tysilio’s cave close to a red cave’.”
Australians really love their pet pals – one in three won’t go on holidays because it would mean leaving their pet behind. A recent survey examined the lifestyle of 1,000 pet owners regarding the impact pets have on their travel habits. I found the results interesting.
National Seniors and Trusted Housesitters research demonstrates that with 5.7 million households owning a pet in Australia (over 13 million people) roughly four million people choose to stay at home rather than holidaying due to concerns about their pet’s well-being.
Apparently those who did take a break (69%) said they had felt guilty when leaving their pet behind, while over one-third of Australian pet owners (36%) have turned down a weekend away, citing being unable to arrange pet care as the reason.
Pets often disrupt their owners’ social lives, with 18% of respondents having regularly missed social engagements in favour of staying at home to ensure their pets were cared for. Of those surveyed, 6% avoided going on dates, choosing their pets over romance.
When it comes to Australian pet owners who regularly take holidays, 29% opted for a trusted pet sitter versus putting their pet in a boarding kennel (21%), while 35% of pet owners organised friends or family to care for their furry friend.
One in four participants said they would never travel overseas or interstate without their pet. Presumably this pet is a dog and the owner is wealthy!
In a British study of veterinary experts conducted by Trusted Housesitters UK, 100% believed animals responded better to a new carer than a new environment, as animals were particularly bonded to their home. Is there bias in this result?
I’m not making any pronouncements for-or-against. I’ve loved and cared for every one of my darling pets and by making arrangements in advance, none ever stopped me from travelling away from home. But the guilt was there.
Seniors Week 2018
Celebrating a Queensland for All Ages Seniors Week provides the opportunity for older Queenslanders to explore programs and services, events and activities, connect with people of all ages and backgrounds from 18-26 August. Celebrate the many contributions older people make in our communities. Visit https://www.qldseniorsweek.org.au/
Two loaves of home-baked bread with garlic on top and grated cheese inside, eaten with chicken and corn soup. Entrée nibbles were baby beetroot leaves, sliced sausage and home-grown mandarin (tangerine) pieces. The mandarin tree is about 45 years old but still produces a juicy citrus crop each winter.
There’s no disputing that clothes, shoes and food make the world go around. The order depends on your preference. I would have listed food first but today I’m talking about shoes. Why? Because I wear shoes out of necessity and make my favourite pair last for years.
Summertime footwear is usually sandals or thongs, no, not that kind, the flip-flops/jandals kind. And wintertime is usually a closed-in toe like runners/joggers/sandshoes. I have black work shoes and lace-up boots for walking, and flat heels and small heels being the most versatile for social occasions.
I like matching accessories, however, my shoes are usually the least prominent colour. Recently I purchased a shiny rose gold-pewter casual pair of flatties and I love them. They go with a lot of things and they are comfy. My maroon old-lady slippers haven’t had a workout yet (summertime lingers in the subtropics) but my shiny flatties are just as good for pottering around the house. The best part is that the shoe shop where I purchased them had a sale day. Need I say more…
The ramblings above make it appear that I have many pairs of shoes but in actual fact I do not. Of course, there’s the old, forgotten ones shoved to the back of the wardrobe, e.g. closet, gathering dust and mould. The strappy, bling-covered pair which contain good memories; the 1980s white leather and wood health clogs; the brown leather knee-high boots which cost me a month’s wages (much admired by family and friends) now growing mildew.
Not so long ago I had a foot problem due to a gardening incident and suffered much pain even when inactive. Treatment and recovery were slow, I spent a lot of time babying my foot which became a nuisance. My heel had throbbed at random intervals, even though I inserted every kind of foot pad imaginable into the sole of my shoe…but not all at once!
My foot injury made me very aware of good shoe support and good advice from a doctor or podiatrist. Never underestimate the importance of your “plates of meat” as Cockney slang might say. Feet get you from A to B carrying the complete load of your body. Support them!
When we grow up we don’t really shed childhood. It is tucked away inside us, nice and quiet, suppressed by what we perceive as Adult Behaviour. Until something triggers that child-proof gate. Our sillies jump out! Irrepressible, childlike joy will spring into our hearts, gleam in our eyes and beam from our faces. Oldies will smile benignly at us but a child will shriek with delight because they understand.
Anything can trigger your past. A puppy, red shoes, a TV show, theatre tickets, sweets, that winning point, a favourite song, splashing in a puddle with a clear plastic umbrella, er, wait, what was that? “A clear plastic umbrella?” said Adult Voice. Yes, when I was young, the most coveted accessory for primary school students was a clear plastic umbrella. The plastic was plain, you could see the metal spokes through it and the handle was white.
It was enthralling to watch raindrops falling on a see-through umbrella held over your friend’s head, water trickling off and dripping onto the ground while she stayed dry. If you were really fancy (or your father had enough money for kids fripperies) you could buy them with ladybirds or slices of fruit and suchlike imprinted on them. If you were really rich (and more of a teenager) you teamed it with a short skirt, beehive hairdo and white vinyl go-go boots with lipstick to match. Trés chic.
I haven’t researched this but I’m pretty sure one or two models would have slinked down the catwalk twisting a clear plastic umbrella shaped like a mushroom. Or, shock horror, wearing a clear plastic raincoat! “Personally I think you would sweat horribly inside one of those,” said Adult Voice. Anyhow, here comes the sad part. I was not one of the groovy girls, I never owned a clear plastic umbrella.
Somehow I managed to survive the ignominy of having a pale blue nylon umbrella. Its saving grace was a real bamboo handle and it lasted for years. Once I left it on the bus and my parents tracked it down in the city council’s lost property office. Hard to believe now, but there it was in all its pale blue opaque glory. I have since owned a stylish British brolly, frilly French parapluie, Winnie-the-Pooh bear parasol and various brands in various colours mainly used as sunshades.
Until last week, drum roll please, when I came across a clear plastic umbrella hanging on a sale rack. It was the standard shape, with the usual opening and closing action and it was only a couple of dollars. Sold! I actually whooped with excitement. Finally, a dream come true. “Pity it’s a clear sunny day,” said Adult Voice. I brushed this aside. Once I was out of crowd eye-range, I shook it out. So clear, so transparent, so useless in the glare of a hot day. “Be quiet,” I snapped at Adult Voice. I pushed the umbrella open and twirled it wildly above my head. I’d made it. I had joined the Groovy Girls. My childish delight brimmed over! And delight brings recollections.
Myvery own CPU has flourished several times in light rain,occasionally the plastic will stick together, but that doesn’t stop me opening it just to marvel at the concept. Truly, an umbrella worth waiting for. Now I’m thinking about those white vinyl go-go boots...♥Gretchen Bernet-Ward
I love the homey words and clean, familiar lines of Rachael Flynn’s artwork. She lives on a cattle and sheep farm in a locality called Piambong which is about 25km north-west of Mudgee, NSW, Australia. Her calendar (above) features rural farm life with a quirky theme and seasonal recipe each month.
Platitudes, rather hippy dippy and old hat, short sugar-coated sentences designed to bolster the ‘feels’ of a younger generation. Look again. Each line creates an emotion, a memory jog, that tingle of happiness to the down-surge of sadness. Regret is there, the wince for things done wrong, then the smile for laughing out loud when you get it right. Basic universal rules for living.
Traditional work-life balance means separate compartments in our lives, but lines can become blurred, pressure can build and conflicts emerge. Instead of working against each other, integration means all parts can work together to achieve a positive outcome for our lifestyle expectations. Then realisation that your work-life balance is “out of kilter” will no longer apply. I wish I had read this book before my divorce!
John Drury is a presenter, trainer, facilitator, and author of new book “Integrate” which challenges busy people to rethink their approach to life and work. “The demands of work have never been greater. A balancing act is not the answer. Work-life integration is the only way forward in a 24/7 world” says Drury, whose painful personal experience with burnout, and subsequent recovery while in a senior leadership role, motivated him to start helping other high achievers create and maintain a realistic lifestyle.
In his book, Drury outlines a way to align all the parts of your life so they work in unison. He says “This takes effort, but it’s well worth it and the end result will give you a schedule far easier to work with than just a big juggling act which no-one ever seems to make work.” He believes that you must look after yourself at your very core; respect your health, your wellness, your relationships and your work commitments.
In John Burfitt’s interview, Drury explains that self-care and implementing achievable self-management strategies are essential. Drury goes on to say that once important areas are defined and outlined, it becomes a matter of making decisions and planning goals “And you must do that, as a goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Think of something
Not tai chi
Not doing anything
Boredom sets in––
Start a project
Best work ever
I can do more
Boredom sets in––
It is tricky
It is hard
It will never end
Why did I start
I don’t like it
I hate this thing
Boredom sets in.
Boredom – even the explanations are boring! Etymology and terminology:
(1) In conventional usage, boredom is an emotional or psychological state experienced when an individual is left without anything in particular to do, is not interested in his or her surroundings or feels that a day or period is dull or tedious.
(2) The word boredom comes from a device called a “boring tool”, a kind of drill that works slowly and repetitively; around 1768, bore, meaning “be tiresome” became a popular slang term and the word “boredom” soon followed.