Tags: Australian trees, climate, melaleuca, paperbark, patterns, texture, trees
I was at Parramatta Park again recently and went for my usual wanders in between periods of writing at the picnic tables.
One of the things I love about the park is the trees there. I love trees anywhere, actually.
This time however, I looked at them more closely, and saw, in a relatively small area, a wide range of species with very different bark.
One of my favourite tree barks is that of the paperbark tree (various types of melaleuca). When I was younger, I often used to see pictures made from bark. The paperbark lends itself to that very well, as its bark peels off in soft papery sheets. Last year, after the death of my father, I took possession of two my late mother had hanging on the wall.
I found a stand of trees with an unusual and rough bark that I hadn’t noticed before, and had to include a photo here, as it is quite dramatic.
A tree with a very smooth bark rounds off the list, though there were several others I haven’t included here.
I love these different patterns, as well as their texture, and am constantly amazed at the variety that Nature displays.
What are the trees like where you live? Is there a good variety, or do the climate and geography limit what grows there?
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: Australian bush, bushfire, eucalypts, fire, forest fire, regeneration, tropical rainforests, wildfire
It is wonderful how species adapt to local conditions as they change over time.
Australia, the driest continent, was not always that way. It was once a tropical paradise (with volcanoes and the rest of the earth-building) when it separated from Gondwanaland. Over many millions of years, as the land mass moved to its current position relative to the rest of what had been a super-continent, conditions changed. It had been aeons since there had been the inland sea that the early European explorers expected to see.
Present-day Australia is a mixture of tropical rainforests in the northern coastal regions, temperate rainforests in the eastern and southern regions, dry forests inland, and deserts in the huge Red Centre. The climate is one of extremes. The Australian poet Dorothea McKellar wrote of her love for this land in the poem My Country. In it are these descriptive lines:
… a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains…
When there has been no rain for months, the countryside becomes dry. The greatest fear then is of fire. And when it comes, it is truly ferocious.
On Sunday, we drove through part of the large area of bushland that was burnt out only four months ago, during the widespread fire emergency in New South Wales.
We found that many of the trees, mostly eucalypts, that were burned in the fire have sprouted new growth.
Even young saplings are recovering, though quite a few succumbed to the intensity of the flames. Soon though, new seedlings will emerge.
Eucalypts are an integral part of the Australian bush (‘the bush’ covers a multitude of meanings in Australia, but here I am using the meaning ‘forest’), Although the volatile oil in their leaves is very flammable, making the bush subject to frequent fire episodes, most species are able to recover from the effects of fire.
That is because their seeds are protected inside woody nodules, and also because many species are able to regrow from nodules under the bark after all foliage and even much of the bark has been burned off.
Eucalypts, each a little miracle – a phoenix growing from the ashes.
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: characters, Frank Herbert, harry Potter, JK Rowling
Have you ever finished a short story or a novel and couldn’t get the characters out of your head?
Have you imagined what might have happened after the story finished?
With a good story and well-realised characters, I think it happens quite often. I know it has to me.
I suppose that is why there is so much fan fiction written, and why readers love book series.
They don’t want to lose those characters, that world, that reality created by the author. They want the story to go on.
Think Harry Potter. To many of her readers, J.K. Rowlings’ imaginary character has become just as real as their own family and friends. He is someone they may know even better than those real people. It just happens that Harry, together with his own friends and foes, lives somewhere else.
They dwell in a different reality. It is a reality that has a door from our own that we can enter at will, or which can spill for a time into our own reality through the magic key of reading.
Why do some characters and their worlds become so real, when others do not? Why do we want to stay with some when we can’t even get to know others – or want to?
That to me is another magic. The magic created by a sensitive, observant and creative writer. Such writers do not necessarily create great works of literature (as defined by high-brow literary critics).
What they do create are real worlds occupied by real people, with real feelings and desires, hopes and dreams, challenges and triumphs. Characters with whom the reader develops empathy, a feeling of one-ness.
It’s no wonder we don’t want to leave the book – in a way it is our own life we have been reading, or that of people we have become close to. We want to know more.
Do you ever identify with or become close to characters in the books you read?
Tags: children, coffee table, digital books, digital publishing, e-books digital books, electronic delivery, libraries, print books
There might be a book lying on a table or by a chair. There could be a bookshelf in the living room or a pile of books on the coffee table.
I know that anyone who comes into our home would know that we are dedicated readers, The crammed-full bookshelves around the walls, the books sitting on the coffee tables and the dining table, as well as tucked into nooks and crannies here and there would tell them.
I have never not had books in the house. I grew up with books and they became my delight and my escape. I am pleased to say that all our grown-up children also have books and they are passing that love onto our grandchildren.
In our house now, my husband and I have bookcases filled with books – lots of books – in every room but the bathroom. There are also boxes of books in our garage that we don’t have room for in the house. We have more books than we need, but I would never say there are more than we want.
I taught for some years in remote indigenous communities where books were foreign objects. You would never see a book in any of their homes. They had never been a part of the culture, because their culture was an oral one. But that oral culture has been breaking down for years.
One of my greatest delights was teaching the children to read. Another was helping the adults tell their stories and writing them down. We made books in class which the children illustrated. The children could then read them as well as listen to them, and they would not be lost amidst the tantalising enticements of television and movies.
Many years later, those children communicate with me and others through writing and reading. Some of them have travelled overseas to places they would not have known about but for their knowledge of reading. Indeed, one person just today said how thankful she is to be able to read. I am sure that if I went into her home now, there would be at least a few books and magazines around. I am thankful for that.
Many who once bought printed books now buy electronic books either instead of print or as well as. My husband and I buy both; digital books are very convenient for when we are travelling, though some types of books are still more suitable for print rather than digital format.
I have heard several people say they are getting rid of their print libraries and just having e-books that will no longer take up space, or “clutter” their homes. I can’t imagine not having print books. The feel, smell and delight in them cannot be replaced by a plastic screen as far as I am concerned.
However, it is almost inevitable (unless there is a major breakdown or change in the earth’s electrical environment) that most reading matter will eventually be delivered electronically.
When that happens, how will we be able to tell when we are entering the home of a book-lover?
(c) Linda Visman
Where do you stand on the print-digital spectrum in book formatting and reading? Do you prefer one over the other?
Tags: encouragement, friends, novel-writing, overcome fear, speed writing, support, Thursday's Child, writing block, writing group
For months, I haven’t been able to write. If you read my last blog post you will know that a combination of fear and lethargy have shackled me.
Last week, my writing group had a social get-together. We talked about our writing, shared stories, ate lunch and drank tea or coffee or water, and laughed a lot.
The day after that, I began going back through the 19 chapters I’d already written to get into the mood and the story again..
After that, I wrote another chapter, one that linked chapters 15 and 16. I discovered that I had already written over 38,500 words on my second Y.A. novel, Thursday’s Child. I had no idea I had written so much.
Then yesterday morning, two of the group and myself had a “write-in”, sitting at a picnic table in a local park. Our challenge was to write as many words as we could on our individual projects. We had short chats about our writing, regular writing, and also speed writing sessions – as many words as possible in 15 minutes bursts.
It was all aimed at getting us to just write. To get words on paper, without thinking, and see where those words took us.
For me, it was fantastic. The chapter I was working on flowed, and in a direction I had not expected.
Today, I went to the same park with my husband. We went for a walk along the lake shore, then he lay on the bed in our camper van to read, while I sat at the same picnic table as before and just wrote.
From the two days’ writing, I have a full chapter that I am quite happy with.
All this time, I have been afraid to write. Now, with the help of my writing friends, I have made the leap from fear and immobility to excitement and fluency.
How good is that!
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: discipline, excuses, motivation, procrastination, writing life
I have a friend who has all the daily tasks and responsibilities involved with her grown-up family and grandchildren, as well as her friends, that I have.
This friend has taken on the challenge of posting a blog entry every day since two months ago. And she is meeting that challenge brilliantly.
My friend also works four full days a week at a demanding job. Being an age pensioner, I no longer have to work for a living so, theoretically, I have more time and energy for writing than she does.
One of my goals is to write at least one (just one) blog post each week. But I am having trouble maintaining the effort I need to achieve that goal.
What is the difference between my friend and me?
I think there two differences, both of which relate to what my friend has and what I lack: motivation and self-discipline.
I used to have both of those in abundance. I was a school teacher and principal in a remote area of Australia. I maintained a household whilst working long hours –and usually for six days a week. I got up early and went to bed exhausted every day.
When I retired from teaching and discovered writing, I was unstoppable. I wrote short stories, both fiction and memoir, I wrote poetry, and articles about various aspects of writing. I entered writing competitions. I wrote two children’s novels and a longer Y.A. novel, and began a second one.
Now, I can barely write more than a page or two in my journal. Why? Where have my motivation and self-discipline gone to?
I have so much that I want to write: to finish my second Y.A. novel; to write my fiction and memoir stories, my poetry, my father’s life story; to write articles for the magazine I publish and edit for my writers’ group.
The past year has been difficult in several ways, and I have been emotionally and physically drained by it. But I don’t know if that is the reason for my lethargy and my current procrastination.
I don’t want to make excuses. And I also don’t want to give up my writing. I have a lot to say, much to pass on, and I don’t want all that to die.
Somehow, I have to find what is holding me back. I have to regain that strong motivation and self-discipline I used to have. I have to find a way to again become fully engaged with my dream.
P.S. I wrote this in my journal. Then I realised I have actually written a blog post! And, in doing so, I have my target post for this week! Well, it takes all kinds, doesn’t it?
Have you gone through a similar experience of losing motivation and self-discipline? If so, how did you regain them, and the rhythm and energy to write again?
Tags: 2014, blogging, goals, guilt, resolutions, writing
They vow they will drink less, quit smoking, join a gym. They decide on ways they can become happier, slimmer, more active, more productive, more engaged with others, etc. They make resolutions. I will do this, or that, or the other.
However, within very little time, most of those who have made resolutions break them. And break them again, and again. And then give up on them.
Why do they break them? Because they are not completely and utterly committed to keeping those resolutions. There is something between the them and the decision to do or not to do something – and that makes their decision, their resolve, worthless; lost before they even begin.
And then come the feelings of guilt. Oh, don’t I know all about those feelings of guilt! After all, I was brought up as a Catholic, and nobody knows guilt like Catholics.
I’m not good enough! I’ve failed – again! I’m useless!
Guilt it paralysing. So, this year, I have avoided making resolutions altogether (except for the decision not to make any). Instead, I have set goals that I would like to achieve this year.
All the goals are associated with my writing, since that is the area of my life that I need most to sort out. I have tried to make my goals realistic and achievable. I do not want those guilt feelings to overwhelm me again this year!
And that is why I am writing this blog entry. One of my goals was to write a blog entry at least every week. I wrote one on the last day of 2013 – that’s just under a week ago. This is the first one for 2014. This goal I have achieved – for this week anyway. Phew!
(c) Linda Visman, January 2014
Tags: fear of writing, finishing a novel, need to write, procrastination, time-management
I wanted to have finished my second novel by the end of this year – 2013, but I haven’t made it.
My father’s illness and death in the first half of the year meant frequent trips away from home, for several weeks at a time.
Doing slow but steady, and heavy physical work on our backyard terracing often left little energy for creative thought.
Writing group commitments and creation of its newsletter/magazine took up some of the time I could have used for writing.
But the main reason was more than any of these.
I could have made much better use of my time.
I could have written much more had I not allowed myself to be side-tracked by social media. I could have been both creative and productive had I ignored all the things that had me procrastinating: tiredness, laziness, unnecessary tasks, etc.
But mostly, if I had tackled my fears and uncertainties regarding my writing by getting pen in hand and words on paper, I would have not only created and built a story, but would have proved that I could build and write it.
So, with another 365 days ahead of me, my intention is to write! To complete the first draft of my novel, to edit it, and to get it ready for publication. And I will do this before June of 2014.
There are many other writing projects in the planning or partially executed that I will complete this year; the smaller ones that have been waiting to be published for a few years. And I will begin my next major project. Not “I hope to”, but “I will”.
Those 365 blank pages do not need to be tainted by my fears, or left blank by my procrastination.
I will go forth and write!
(c) Linda Visman 31.12.2013
Tags: nature, owls, tawny frogmouth, birds, Australian birds, Podargus strigoides, baby animals, birds in backyards
The tawny frogmouths are back!
Mum and Dad and two little ones turned up in one of the trees in our back yard the other day. My husband has been taking photos of them.
There is something special about these birds. The tawny frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) is actually not an owl, though it is usually mistaken for one.
The forward facing eyes are very owl-like, and this is one of the reasons owls are a favourite with many people. We do tend to anthropomorphise animals at times.
The babies too are very appealing with their large eyes, fluffy feathers and inquisitive nature.
Tawnies have a defence mechanism against any predators that might relish one – they elongate their body and imitate a broken-off branch. That, and their natural camouflage, makes them almost invisible in their favourite trees.
I love having the tawnies around, especially in breeding season. They add to the wildlife, especially birds, that flourish in our back yard.
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: Ben's Challenge, book review, Brenda's book reviews, Goodreads
It was lovely to receive this review from Brenda on Goodreads
4 of 5 stars
Read from August 09 to 10, 2013 — I own a copy
Ben lived with his Mum, Dad, brother Peter and sister Helen. At thirteen he was in first year high school in a small town in country Australia, where his German descent made him the butt for racist taunts and comments from a few members of the community. He was called “kraut” and “jerry” so often it bounced off him. His friend Joe fared no better, as he was a refugee along with his family. Even though they were hard workers, the common name-calling taunt was “reffo”. It hurt, but they were used to it.
The day which was to change Ben and his family’s life forever started the same as any other. But when Ben was waiting for his dad to return from work, waiting for the usual sound of his motorbike to come up the drive; the one which arrived caused him to frown in confusion – it had a completely different noise. The policeman at the front door spread terror through them all; their Dad had been hit by a car on his way home – it was a hit and run, and his Dad had not survived.
As the family struggled through their grief, Ben was frustrated by the efforts of the police. So Ben and his best friend Joe decided to take matters into their own hands. Ben started working in the small shop in town, delivering groceries and stacking shelves for Mr Fraser. As it was school holidays, the wonderful six week Christmas break, they had free time to explore, swim in the billabong and search for answers to questions that were always there.
Will Ben find the answers he is so desperate for? What will happen to the young friends in the heady days of summer in the 1950s when Elvis Presley was all the rage and racial prejudice a fact of life?
A thoroughly enjoyable novel of a young teenager’s strength, determination and courage in the face of terrible adversity. Highly recommended.