Share Your World – Week 46

November 19, 2014 at 9:44 pm | Posted in Family, Gratitude, Leisure activities, Mental Health, Nature | 6 Comments
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Here is another interesting set of questions from Cee for Week 46 of Share Your World.

 

On a vacation what you would require in any place that you sleep? 

Our camper van

Our camper van

A comfortable bed is essential. I think that if you have somewhere comfy to sleep, you can handle anything else a holiday has to throw at you. But there is one more thing I need – a comfy chair in which to relax, to read, to enjoy a wine at the end of the day.

In our little Toyota HiAce camper, we have a lovely comfortable bed, based on the seat cushions and topped with two layers of foam. That bed stays made up for the duration, and we either do without a table or use the one that attaches outside.

However, our van doesn’t have a comfortable chair, at least not inside. The front seats are separated from the back of the van by the engine housing, and when we stop, any extra bits and pieces are stored on those seats until we set off again. The floor space is small, with no room for a chair. Hubby loves to read or otherwise relax lying down, so he’s fine, but to relax I need to sit. So the only times I can do so in comfort is when the weather is good enough – and the mosquitoes non-existent – to sit in the folding camper chair outside.

Music or silence while working?

I lived out in the back blocks of Central Australia for many years. When you just needed a tape recorder and a few of your favourite tapes, my partner and I used to play music all the time. When we moved back to civilisation, she played music more than I did, but I always had it playing in the background as I did my woodwork in the garage.

Once I began writing my family’s history however, music distracted my thoughts, so I got out of the habit of playing it. Now, years later, in a different state, with a husband who also loves music, we have lots of CDs to play. But we don’t play them! We don’t really know why.

However I think it is time we did something about it. Perhaps I should find out if music will stimulate my creative writing rather than distract me from it.

If you were to move and your home came fully furnished with everything you ever wanted, list at least three things from your old house you wish to retain?

Dad in his woodworking shed

Dad in his woodworking shed

My photo and scrapbook albums, my folders of family history records, my journals, and my computer external drive with all my writing and photographs would have to go with me. I would also want to take the few family keepsakes I have – Mum’s sewing things, her old teapot, her small paintings and shells, and the small tables, wooden bowls and knick-knacks that Dad made. I don’t have Mum and Dad any more, but I want to keep something of them by me.

What’s your least favorite mode of transportation?

I can’t say I have a least favourite. I love to travel, so any way I can do that is good. My most favourite mode is driving myself, always has been. I used to drive 1,700-2,500 km each way to visit my family in NSW twice a year when I lived in the Northern Territory. It was also a 320km drive to the nearest town (Alice Springs) over mostly dirt roads just to do business and buy groceries. I loved it.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I am grateful for the four days we were able to relax and enjoy the Aussie bush, sleeping and eating in our camper. I was also really happy that we could have dinner with my younger sister and her husband and catch up on each other’s families and busy lives. As we get older, we become even closer to each other, even though we are different in many ways.

I am looking forward to going to the local art gallery with my neighbour friend to the launch of a book about our town’s most famous person, the late Sir William Dobell, a major Australian artist of the mid twentieth century.

(c) Linda Visman

Share Your World –Week 45

November 13, 2014 at 9:16 pm | Posted in Australia | 8 Comments
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Every week, Cee poses us five questions. In answering Cee’s questions, we share a little of our world with fellow bloggers and readers. Thank you, Cee. Here are Cee’s questions for Week 45.

What is your favorite color? 

Kookaburra and blue sky, October 2014

Kookaburra and blue sky, October 2014

Blue has always been my favourite colour. Very predictable I suppose, as it seems about half the world has blue as a favourite! The blue I love best is the deep blue of the Australian sky that we especially see in autumn. Stunning!

In what do you find the simplest of joys?

Both my husband and I find all our joys in the everyday things around us – we couldn’t afford anything more anyway, so it is good that it keeps our focus on the small things.

We love our many kids (8 between us) and grandkids (11 and another on the way), but they all live at a distance from us. So, getting a photo of them at their daily lives and activities, or a drawing from one of the grandchildren, warms our hearts. So does speaking with any of them by phone or Skype. In the meantime, we truly relish what nature shares with us.

Would you prefer a reading nook or an art, craft, photography studio?

My study is crammed with books and scrapbooking materials and albums, as well as my computer desk where I do a lot of my writing. It is rather crowded, but I can get by with the space I have for those.

I have a nice comfy chair in the lounge room where I can read. However that is where the TV is. I rarely watch TV, so when I go there to read, hubby is really good to me and wears earphones to listen to it. It would be lovely if I could have a bigger study so I could have my comfy reading chair in there too.

What is at least one of your favorite quotes?

Be the change you wish to seeYou think you have time

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Last week we visited an old friend in hospital after a bowel cancer operation. We are always amazed at 92-year-old Jean and her positive attitude to life. We are grateful to have her as a friend.

We are going to visit some of my husband’s kids and grandkids tomorrow, and will also see some of my siblings. I am particularly looking forward to seeing my younger sister, as we haven’t been able to spend any time together for over a year. It will be great to catch up.

Linda Visman

Kangaroo Valley Wombats

November 7, 2014 at 9:12 pm | Posted in Australia, Nature, Tourism, Travel | 6 Comments
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Kangaroo Valley

Beautiful Kangaroo Valley

A few weeks ago, we stayed at a free camping area in the Kangaroo Valley, several kilometres from the village of the same name. The whole valley is beautiful, with the Kangaroo River, creeks, former dairy farms and bushland creating habitats for a wide variety of animals.

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A few of the kangaroos that came out to feed in the evening in the paddock next to us.

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Of course, as you would expect from the name, there are plenty of kangaroos about, but where we were camping, there were so many of the lumbering marsupial mammals known as wombats around, that area should have been called Wombat Valley.

Wombats are marsupials, about as big as a solid, medium-sized dog, that dig long burrows with their strong claws. The female’s pouch faces backwards so the dirt does not get into it, and they produce only one young at a time. They are nocturnal creatures, and come out in the evening as the sun sets, to graze on grass and herbage.

The wombat, and its burrow, just behind our van.

The wombat, and its burrow, just behind our van.

There were actually two of their burrows (that we know of) within just a few metres of our little Toyota Hiace camper. They wandered freely about the camp grounds and there was plenty of interest in them from people who had never seen them in the wild before.

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While many people think they are cute and cuddly, their powerful teeth and jaws and their long, sharp claws make them potentially dangerous if annoyed, especially if disturbed in their burrows or with young in their pouch.

 

During both nights that we camped there, we were awakened several times by the van shaking rhythmically. We soon realised that ‘our’ wombat, seen in the pictures above and below, had gone underneath the van and was scratching itself against the chassis.

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 We loved it in that beautiful valley of wombats.

 

Me, writing about wombats; our camper van in the background.

Me, writing about wombats; our camper van in the background.

 

(c) Linda Visman. Photos by Dirk Visman.

 

Share Your World – Week 44

November 6, 2014 at 4:04 pm | Posted in Australia, Family History, Gratitude, Health, Social Responsibility | 6 Comments
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What is your most vivid memory of the kitchen in your childhood?

 

The sink! When I was five, we came to Australia from England. We lived in a small caravan for almost three years – six of us! Then Dad transported a tiny three-roomed house to the block of land he’s bought. There was a lounge room, a kitchen and a bedroom – to house all of us. We thought we had moved into a palace!

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Our kitchen.

The kitchen sink became an important part of the house, not just because we three girls always had to do the washing up, but the whole family also had to bathe there – not an easy task. The part of bathing I remember most was hair-washing. We would boil the electric jug – we had no hot water yet – and fill a bucket with warm water, which we sat on the draining board. Then we’d heat more water to put in the sink.

Standing at the sink, we’d wet our hair, rub on laundry bar soap and wash it, then pull the plug to let the soapy water drain out. The person who was strong enough to lift the bucket of water – usually Mum or Dad – would then pour it gradually over our head to rinse out the soap. Many a time we would all end up soaked when their hold slipped, or they poured too fast, or just because they wanted to tease.

Another reason I remember the kitchen sink so well is that when my little brother was three (I was thirteen), he was standing on a stool at the sink playing in the water with his little boats when he fell off it. He had contracted polio, the first of three in our family to get it during the epidemic that raged in our district during 1961.

I could not count how many times I have washed up at that sink. I took this photo last July, just after Dad died. It is the same sink that was in the house when I was about seven years old. The cupboards are also the same ones, and very much as they were back then.

As a child, who was your favourite relative?

Agnes Atkinson c.1960I cannot remember much about being in England, and that includes my grandparents. I know they were special, but I guess I thought of them as just being there. In Australia, there was only Dad’s sister and her family, and at the time, they weren’t anything special.

In 1958 my mother’s parents came out from England, and lived with us for a while. That’s when I got to know Grandma. She was completely deaf, so communication was often difficult. However, she was loving and gentle, and had beautifully soft hands. She gave us children a shilling a week pocket money while she was with us, the only pocket money I ever received as a child. When my grandfather decided he hated Australia and took Grandma back to England in 1961, we were all devastated. Granddad died only two years later and Grandma, alone, made the journey back to Australia by ship. It was great to have her back.

What did you or did not like about the first apartment you ever rented?

When my first husband and I married, we were both posted as teachers to a country town eight hours’ drive from my family home. The first flat we rented there had just one bedroom, but a large living area and a decent kitchen and bathroom – better than I was used to at home. It was in good condition too. Those were the best things about it.

The thing I liked least about it was how dark it was. Being an inner flat of a row of four, meant that there were windows only at the ends. To me it felt closed in and unfriendly, and added to my homesickness and depression.

What kind of TV commercial would you like to make? Describe it.

Do the right thingI wouldn’t want to make an ad for a commercial product – we have too many as it is. “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony”. BTW, I don’t watch commercial TV because I cannot stand the ads.

I would like to re-make the ads that our government ran in the 1970s, called “Do the right thing”. It was a tremendously successful campaign about getting people to put their rubbish in the bin and not trash our country. I would not change anything about them.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Gratitude:  I am grateful for my husband who has been so patient with my depression over the last few weeks.

??????????This week, I am looking forward to visiting a dear friend who is recovering in hospital after an operation for bowel cancer. She is 92, and the most delightful, funny, positive, talkative and caring little lady (under 5 ft short) I have ever known. Like my dad was, she is a real inspiration.

(c) Linda Visman

Old Wangi Wangi Power Station

November 2, 2014 at 9:51 pm | Posted in Australia | 7 Comments
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Wangi Power Station 01

As we come into our little town from either direction, I always look across at the old power station. When we go for a walk up and over the top of our hill, the big old building is laid out before us, and I always want to stop and look at it.

Wangi Power Station 03

There is always something about it that draws out a strange feeling of familiarity and belonging – like seeing an old friend I have been missing for a long time but not knowing where I last saw them. I want to just gaze at it, bring it closer, work out what it is that draws me so strongly.

Most people see the building as ugly. It is long, high and basically rectangular, constructed with red brick and with rows of windows along its extensive sides – most of them now broken by vandals. Its three huge chimneys have been location finders and home-coming beacons for boats on Lake Macquarie since the power station was constructed in the 1950s.

The power station took ten years and 1,000 men to build, the last to be built by the NSW Government Railways before the main responsibility for NSW power supply was transferred to the Electricity Commission. It was also the last Railways power station to close. The plant poured its power into the electricity grid from 1956 to 1986.

Wangi Power Station & the adjacent colliery (Image 5163 -Lake Macquarie City Library)

Wangi Power Station & the adjacent colliery (Image 5163 -Lake Macquarie City Library)

A coal-fired operation, the Wangi Wangi Power Station drew its fuel from one adjacent colliery and others nearby. It was actually one of the first power stations to be sited adjacent to its supplying colliery and, for its first five years of operation, was also the largest power station in NSW. These factors are among the major reasons for the building’s heritage listing.

Wangi Power Station 02

Since the insides of the building were gutted of its furnaces, transformers and associated equipment in the 1990s, it has been left almost derelict – though its lawns, trees & shrubs are still kept in order. There has been talk for the last twenty years of the building undergoing retail and/or housing development, but so far nothing has come of whatever plans have been submitted to Council.

Regarding my strange attraction to the old red brick building, I recently had a realisation of where it has come from. I was born in a Lancashire cotton mill town and spent the first five years of my life there before we migrated to Australia. There were lots of spinning, weaving and dyeing mills still standing at that time, though most have since been demolished.

Stone Bridge Mill, one of Oswaldtwistle's cotton mills

Stone Bridge Mill, one of Oswaldtwistle’s cotton mills

The long brick wall of one of these, Rose Mill, ran along the alley behind our home in Oswaldtwsitle. Our home itself was in one of many stone-built two-storey terraces that were constructed to house the mill workers. Our terrace was built in the 1890s. When I was researching my family history, I discovered that my paternal great-grandfather had actually lived and, in 1917 during WWI died, in the three-up-three-down terrace home Dad had bought during WWII and where I and my then three siblings were born.

Roe Greave Rd, Oswaldtwistle 2014 - Google Earth

Roe Greave Rd, Oswaldtwistle 2014 – Google Earth

 

Where I grew up in Australia, and in most of the other places I have lived in since I was twenty, there were no large brick buildings. On the odd occasion that I go to Sydney, I love to see them there. But it is the power station that stirs my emotions the most.

I have a feeling that it is subconscious memories and feelings from my early childhood being drawn out by the sight of this building. And those buried memories must be happy ones, because I feel happy as well as nostalgic whenever I gaze on it.

The three stacks of the old power station, seen from the lake.

The three stacks of the old power station, seen from the lake.

(c) Linda Visman

Share Your World – Week 43

October 29, 2014 at 9:39 pm | Posted in Australia, Leisure activities, Mental Health, Reading | 8 Comments
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Cee continues to challenge us to share our world with her great questions. They make us think about our lives, and that is always a good thing. Here are my answers to her questions for Week 43.

What is your favorite time of day?

I think it is the later part of the evenings. That is the time when it is unlikely anyone will telephone. That is when hubby is usually either watching TV or working at his computer. Thus, there is little to interrupt me in whatever I am doing. That may be writing, scrapbooking or reading. A time for myself.

What’s your favorite charitable cause and why?

I have supported many different causes throughout my life, each one relevant to the needs I see around me. These needs are sometimes medical – The Blind Society due to Dad blindness; Breast Cancer research & support groups after my cancer diagnosis; The Australian Heart Foundation, after hubby’s heart attack; and several organisations that support people in financial or other distress.

But there is a limit to the number of charities one can donate to, especially when we are on the age pension. We donate regularly to various worthy causes, but not really to any one particular cause.

How do you like to spend a rainy day?

If it is light rain, it won’t usually stop me from doing some outside things. But when the rain has set in and the best course is to stay inside and wait it out, you have a good excuse to settle in and enjoy the time out; unless you have to do paid work or have other ongoing commitments of course.

Rainy days are good times to relax and do the pleasant things you put off doing because there are more important things to do. I love to read to the sound of rain on the roof, settled into my comfortable chair with a hot drink or a glass of wine (the wine after 6pm of course). It’s a good time to catch up on my scrapbooking too, or read blogs and emails. Anything that would normally carry a sense of guilt if you do it when the weather is fine and you have no excuse for getting out of the house or yard work.

Scrapbook pages

When writing by hand do you prefer to use a pencil or pen?

When we began school, we wrote with a pencil, but in 4th grade, we moved on to pen and ink. It was such a big step, and an indication that we were growing up. To write with a pencil was seen as babyish. It wasn’t until I reached high school that biros became easy to get and relatively cheap. But even then, I preferred to use my fountain pen – the nib with use, fitting perfectly to my style of writing. It is actually rare here in Australia for anyone to write with a pencil once they are older. Those who do, usually use a clutch pencil.

By the end of high school, biros were everywhere, and I always used them to write with. The only time I have written with a pencil is when I can’t find a pen. I even do my cryptic and other crosswords with a pen. Nowadays, with my arthritic fingers, the thicker pens with formed grips are easiest for me to use, but I love the flow of the gel pens you can get now too.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Last week, with virtually no outside commitments, both my husband and I did what we wanted to do. In my case, it was lots of yard work, scrapbooking and relaxing with a crossword or a book. It has been the first time for a year or two that we have had that length of time to ourselves and we have both been thankful for it.

This week, we still have a few more days of freedom, so we are doing the same and enjoying it.

(c) Linda Visman

Share Your World – Week 42

October 21, 2014 at 8:06 pm | Posted in Australia, Mental Health, Philosophy, Ways of Living | 10 Comments
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Here are my responses to Cee’s  latest questions to get to know each other at Share Your World

What would be your preference, awake before dawn or awake before noon?

Night Owl  I am a night owl, so I find it both hard to go to bed and hard to get up in the morning. I know I get a lot of writing and scrapbooking done in the later hours, but I also miss seeing the sun rise and getting household tasks over and done with early.

I used to be up and about very early when I was teaching in remote Central Australia, starting at school about 6.30am, before anyone else arrived. So I know I can do it if I have to. But it is so hard to stop what I am doing at night!

  1. I think I will have to go with what my body clock tells me and do what I normally do – go to bed around midnight and awake about 8 or 9am.

If you could choose between Wisdom and Luck, which one would you pick?

If you rely on Luck, you put yourself in the hands of blind Fate. However, if you have Wisdom, you can more or less make your own luck. I would rather have the wisdom.

If you were given the opportunity for free skydiving lessons would you take them? Why or why not?Sky-diving

Most probably not. I like to be in control of my life as much as possible. Skydiving is a great example of loss of control. It might be good for me but I would say thanks, but no thanks!

Is the glass half empty or half full? What is in the glass?

It depends what mood I am in. If I am very depressed, it is hard to see the glass at all. If I am a little depressed, I can usually persuade myself that the glass is half full. If I am in a positive mood, then the glass is usually running over.

What is in the glass? Love, friendship, good will, gratitude, empathy, happiness.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Last week: I am grateful to have had several days in which to finally chill out, after several months with a lot of activity, travel and responsibility.

This week: I am looking forward to planting more Australian native trees. Several lovely trees next door to us were cut down today (Monday), and my husband and I want to plant a tree to replace each of those we see cut down in our neighbourhood. Trouble is, we can’t keep up with them all! L But we do our best on our own little patch of ground.

(c) Linda Visman

Share Your World –Week 41

October 18, 2014 at 10:31 pm | Posted in Australia, Experiences, Family, Society | 13 Comments
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Here is week 41 of Cee Neuner’s Share Your World, where we answer Cee’s questions to share a little of ourselves and our world with others around the planet.

Would you rather take pictures or be in pictures?

Both hubby and I love to take photos, to record our lives as we live them. When we visit family, we are both busy taking photos of our kids and grandkids. We only occasionally get a look-in ourselves. We will often come home to find there are no photos of us among the hundred or two we have taken!

Although many people hate having their photo taken, I don’t mind it. I would like my family in the future to know what I looked like and how life changed me through the years. I look back on my childhood and mostly can only imagine what my family looked like, how we grew, what we did, where we lived and where we went.

There are very few photographs to see, because in those days – the 1940s to 1960s, the cost of a camera, film and developing was too great for struggling family. Nowadays, we can take as many photos as we like at little cost. We need to remember to print them though. If anything happens to digital photos or they are not accessible due to changing technology, then people in the future will be the same as we were in the past, with little or no record of their lives.

What did you most enjoy doing this past week?

Last weekend, I was part of a Community Fair. My writing group had a stall to publicise what we do and how we can assist budding or novice writers to improve their craft. It was a beautiful day, with lots of people about browsing a myriad of stalls in the main street which had been blocked to traffic.

I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people who came over to look at the books and magazines our members have produced. Many of them stayed to chat about writing, and quite a few were interested in coming along to our meeting to see how we operate. The best was that two of those interested are young teenage girls.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Books. It is so hard to resist them!!

Which letter of the alphabet describes you best?

It is difficult for me to choose one. Instead of looking at the shape of the letter as many will do, I am listening to the sound of it. When I do that, there are several that could apply to me at some level.

B          I want to be myself and not other people’s versions of me;

I           I – me. There is a selfish gene on one side of my family history that I always have to fight. I am getting better at it, though I still often like to get in my opinion on something;

U         I am becoming more empathetic to others as I get older, and enjoy helping you where I can;

X         Some twenty-five years after being divorced from my first husband, he finally found someone else and allowed me to be his ex-wife;

Y         I often ask why. Why is there so much hatred in the world? Why do we have to destroy our environment for the sake of short-term financial gain? Why this or why that? Maybe I should rather be asking, ‘How?’: ‘How can we fix things?’

Here are a few bits of fun too: ‘A, what did you say?’ – ‘C, I told you so!’ – ‘E, that scared me!’ – ‘G, that’s amazing!’ – ‘L, not again!’ – O dear, that’s terrible!’ – ‘RUOK?’ – T and biscuits anyone?’

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Skype is a great way to keep contact with my children and grandchildren, who all live far away. It was great to talk with one of my sons and his family.

I have a fairly light week coming up, with few scheduled commitments. I am looking forward to doing some of the things I have been putting off.

(c) Linda Visman

Well Heeled

October 12, 2014 at 1:09 pm | Posted in Culture, Health, History, Psychology, Society | 9 Comments
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Sexy high heels

My mother wore high heels. After all, she was a product of the 1920s and 30s when they became popular. If a woman dressed up – and a working woman only dressed up when she were going somewhere special – she would wear high heels, and stockings if she could get them.

High heels were said to elongate the legs and make them more attractive, and who didn’t want to be attractive! Mum wasn’t tall –just five feet, and Dad was half an inch under six feet so, for her, the higher the heels the better.

Mum loved dancing and, in their courting days and after their marriage in 1941, when he was home on leave from the R.A.F. (it was wartime), Dad took her out to every dance in the district, where they danced up a storm. Dad often said that they would be the last dancers on the floor and the band would beg them to stop so they could rest. How on earth, I have often wondered, did Mum dance, and for so long, in high heels. But she only wore heels for special occasions, and that was not even once a week.

1930s heels

I only wore heels for a short time, and then not very high ones. I started about 18, but stopped at 21when I was expecting the first of my five children. I found ‘flatties’ to be much more comfortable for carrying babies around.

Over the decades, I have noted the continuing attraction for wearing high heel, especially by younger women. The ante has been upped (literally) even higher since I was young. Not only have the heels got higher, but the weight of the shoes has also increased. I don’t think Mum would have been able to drag herself around in what young women wear today, let alone dance at top speed for hours in them!

Platform shoes

About thirty years ago, the medical fraternity finally realised that wearing high heels, especially frequently and for prolonged periods, could cause quite serious problems. This can be as simple as falling and injuring oneself while wearing them, resulting in strained or broken ankles. However, more serious long-term damage can be caused by the habit of wearing high heels.

Posture changes inherent in wearing shoes that place the heels above the toes can result in considerable damage:

    • Hips, shoulders, back and spine are thrown out of alignment;
    • Muscle spasms can occur due to the extra pressure caused by posture changes;
    • Increased pressure on the knees often leads to arthritis in that joint;
    • muscles in the calf become shortened, leading to pain there and in the feet;
    • the Achilles tendon can become permanently shortened, leading to tendonitis;
    • toes, cramped into tight shoes, become misshapen and cannot be straightened even when wearing flat shoes..

This 3-D scan shows up some of the problems. Here’s a set of pictures that gives a good indication.

High heel damage

I have often wondered why women are willing to risk such injuries just for the sake of fashion or of looking sexy. But I suppose that is just the way of it; peer pressure; advertising pressure; a desire to have the latest in fashion. There is no desire to look to the future – just as is the case with young men and their testosterone-induced risk taking. The belief that ‘it will never happen to me’.

Oh how glad I am that I never became a slave to fashion. I’ll stick to my sensible shoes, thanks.

Sensible shoes

What do you think of high heels? Would you let your adolescents – as I have seen – wear them and risk permanent damage?

Young girl in heels

(c) Linda Visman

Share Your World – 2014 Week 40

October 7, 2014 at 12:11 am | Posted in Australia, Culture, Family, Gardens, Nature, Reading, Writing | 12 Comments
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Every week, Cee, at Share Your World, posts a few questions for us to answer. This is a great way of getting to know others, and to let others know about our own world. Here are my answers to Cee’s latest Share Your World Questions.

You’re given $500,000 dollars tax free (any currency), what do you spend it on? 

I would give each of our eight children $50,000 to reduce their mortgages or, for one, to buy his own place at last. The rest I would use to pay off our own mortgage and to pay for us to visit the countries of our birth for the first time since we left them over 60 years ago.

What’s the finest education?

I must say that, of all the formal education I have received – primary (elementary) and high school, Teachers’ College diploma, a university degree and graduate diploma – nothing can compare to the education I have received from life itself. To be open to what is around you, to observe and learn to understand the world, its people and yourself grants you an education that is second to none.

What kind of art is your favorite? Why?

Although many people will say it is not an art, my favourite is writing. I have always loved reading. I love the worlds and the characters and the situations that are created by writers, and I have become one of them myself.

I believe that those who cannot be impressed by how words can be put together in artistic, creative and meaningful ways to create works of wonder and beauty – and even horror and violence – are missing a piece of what it means to be human.

Is there something that you memorized long ago and still remember?

When I was in primary school, I learned a poem that expresses much of what our country (Australia) is. That poem is “My Country” by Dorothea McKellar (1885-1968) when she was in England, and homesick for her own country. It was first published in 1908. It compares the softness of the English countryside with the starkness of the Australian. I love the poem, as I have seen so much of what it expresses.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Through the last week, I spent quite a bit of time in the garden. It is spring here in Australia, and there are so many plants and trees blooming that there is a riot of colour all around us. The blossoms also bring the birdlife, and I enjoy listening to them warble, twitter and even shriek through the trees that surround us.

In the week ahead, I will be spending plenty of hours with my writing group, being stimulated in my word-production, helping others with their writing, and hopefully letting non-members know what we can do to assist them if they want to write.

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