Tags: boat building, canoe, childhood disobedience, divine retribution, Lake Illawarra, punishment
I wrote this story a few years ago about one aspect of my childhood – a combination of where I lived; what I wanted to do; what I wasn’t allowed to do; what I did do; and what I was punished for doing.
We lived right beside Lake Illawarra when I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. We played cricket on the shore outside the back yard (into the water was six and out), explored its shoreline and adventured in its casuarina forest. Several fishermen plied their trade in the deeper waters, catching mainly bream and mullet, and prawns in season. At night, the lights of the prawn boats and waders looked entrancing from our bedroom window. The lake wasn’t very deep in our bay, but we didn’t play in it because you sank to your ankles in sticky black mud when you walked in it.
In his spare time, Dad made boats for sale out of plywood. My older brother Peter wanted a canoe, so Dad made him one. It was flat-bottomed and had both ends enclosed on top. There was a seat at the centre, so Peter could put his legs into the front section for a foothold. For safety, because none of the family could swim, there was a small outrigger to prevent it tipping over. The craft was painted black and so was the paddle Dad made for it. Peter could now paddle off across or around the lake on his own adventures.
I was three years younger than Peter, about nine years old. A tomboy, I was jealous that, because he was a boy, he could have a canoe and go off on his own, whereas I, being a girl, couldn’t. One day, I decided to take Peter’s canoe out on the lake for a short paddle. It was just to see what it was like. I didn’t see why I shouldn’t: I would be careful; it was easy to paddle; and I didn’t even think about the possibility of capsize – Peter never had so it wasn’t an issue.
I carefully and quietly pulled the canoe down to the water’s edge, then pushed it out and climbed in. I began to paddle away quickly, so that I wouldn’t be seen from the house. I followed the shoreline to the south and, as I got into the swing of it, my confidence grew. Deciding I didn’t have to go back straight away, I set about enjoying myself – just for a little while. I was sure nobody would miss me. So I paddled on, imagining myself as an intrepid explorer searching out new lands. Then decided it was more exciting to be Hiawatha, paddling down a raging river in his Indian canoe. I had a wonderful time, but eventually knew I must paddle back home.
I had not realised I’d been out a couple of hours. My absence and that of the canoe had been noticed. Mum was waiting for me and she was in no mood to be understanding. I had been disobedient and, in spite of the canoe having an outrigger, she, fearful of water herself, had been afraid I would capsize it and drown. As soon as I’d put the canoe and paddle away, I got the sharp end of her tongue and a thorough hiding with her green leather belt. Then I was sent to the room I shared with my two sisters.
As I’d been approaching home in the canoe, I’d noticed that I was developing a headache. After I went to my room, it got worse and worse. Soon I was throwing up violently and feeling terribly weak. It had been a warm sunny day and I had been out on the water for some time. We only wore a hat to church – we had no others. As a result, I had developed sunstroke. This was a natural consequence of a few hours in the sun, but, to my young Catholic mind, it was really God’s punishment on me for disobeying my parents. The illness I suffered, and my own guilty conscience, were much more effective than any hiding Mum might give me, and I was never again tempted to take Peter’s canoe out on the lake.
Tags: 1950s Australia, 1960s
Our childhood days were often anything but fun and games. Both Mum and Dad believed that children should learn early to help around the house. There were no free rides – at least not for the girls. Throughout our childhood and teens, we had our jobs to do and we couldn’t get out of them without good reason.
My sisters and I were expected to help Mum clean the house. We did a lot of the big weekly clean under Mum’s supervision. We didn’t have a vacuum cleaner. Instead, we used a stiff bristled hand (banister) brush to sweep the lounge room carpet on hands and knees. After that it was dusting the furniture, as well as sweeping and dusting the rest of the house.
One of the things I didn’t mind doing was polishing the brassware with Brasso. Among these were three or four round wall plaques pressed with scenes of sailing ships or old villages. Mum had worked in a large munitions factory in Accrington during WWII and, among other things, had filled the shells that the British fired at the Germans. Dad was a fighter pilot in the RAF, one of those who fired those 22mm shells.
On one of his leaves, Dad brought home an empty .22 shell casing; one that had been fired. That casing became one of the brass ornaments that lived in Mum’s china cabinet. I loved polishing that one. Many years later, after Mum had died, I noticed that the shell casing was missing. Despite enquiries, we have never discovered where it went to.
My sisters and I did all the washing up after dinner (we called it tea). We took turns clearing the table, washing up, and drying and putting away the dishes. With no hot water, an electric jug had to be boiled to start washing up the crockery, and another to heat the water up again for the pots and pans. We all hated washing up. There were occasional arguments when one of us ‘forgot’ which task we were supposed to do that night, or was late getting on the job – especially the washing up.
We had to make our beds of course – even my brother did that – and polish our shoes in the evenings for school or work the next day. When we were about nine or ten, we learned how to do our own ironing. The iron, although it was electric, had no heat regulator or steam. We had to turn it on or off at the power point to attain and maintain the correct heat – not easy to do, and easy to forget when distracted. Woe betide us if it got too hot and scorched the item of clothing we were ironing – especially if it was a white school shirt!
We also had to help clean the windows once we were a bit older. I remember the louvered windows and cleaning each one – each window had 10-12 long narrow panes. We had to wash each pane, on both sides, with wet newspaper then dry it with dry newspaper. You couldn’t press too hard on the glass or the pane could break in two. By the end of the job, our hands were black with newsprint. Sometimes we used Bon Ami, an abrasive paste that had to be spread evenly and thinly onto the glass. When dry we rubbed it off with a dry cloth. Every window in the house, apart from three, had louvres. So we soon got to hate the day that Mum decided it was window-cleaning day!
My older brother didn’t have many jobs to do – I only remember him doing one apart from making his bed and cleaning his shoes. Once we got a mower, he mowed the lawn and the bulrushes down the back. However, he left school to start work in 1960 when he was fifteen and had done his Intermediate Certificate, and he didn’t have to do it then. Other things happened that year too. When Dad contracted polio in October 1961 [that story to come] he could not do physical work for some time. I took over the mowing and loved it.
So, until we left home to marry, pretty well all the chores that Mum didn’t do fell to the three of us girls. My elder sister learned how to cook and I think my younger sister learned a bit of cooking too. They both did Home Economics at school, but I didn’t. I never did learn while I was living at home I wasn’t at all interested in cooking or sewing – I’d much rather do the mowing and other outdoor work.
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: blogging, communication, Reflection
I have completed my second A to Z Blogging Challenge!
I have posted 26 entries through April with one of my poems for each A to Z entry, and I have enjoyed the experience a great deal.
I cannot think of a negative regarding the Challenge itself, but I have a lot of positives to report on my own participation:
- The day before the Challenge began, I had intended to pull out. I thought it was too much for me to handle, and that the stress would be too much. Then I had a great idea – I would use my poetry for the entries.
- I finally learned how to schedule my posts so that I could get them up on my blog a few days ahead of time and thus have some days in reserve in case I couldn’t make it on the day the post was due.
- I strengthened ties with some blogs I follow and who already follow mine. Some did not do the A to Z Challenge, but they faithfully followed my posts. Among them are:
- QueasyPeasy – QP and Eye, who writes on several different themes, and in this year’s A to Z, wrote posts mostly on her travels;
- Frederick Anderson – Author, who writes a great blog and tells wonderful stories;
- Our Rumbling Ocean, where I am finding out a great deal about South African bird and animal life and flora;
- Baz – the Landy, who is a mountaineer who also loves travelling inland Australia and posts some great photos of the country.
- I made some wonderful new blogging friends along the way, and have found great new blogs to read and to share. Among these are:
- Even though many of my regular followers didn’t join the Challenge, they were quite engaged with my A to Z posts, and commented onthem regularly.
- The number of my blog followers increased, and so did the number of visitors each post received. Views on my blog numbered 1,509 in April, where the usual monthly views are around 700-800 – so, a nice increase. The best week saw 485 views. These stats are small compared with many other A to Z-ers, but for me they are very satisfying.
- My poetry had more exposure than it ever has before.
- I completed the Challenge!
One problem I have had is nothing to do with the Challenge, but with my Gravatar. Somehow, about the start of the Challenge, the link from it changed from my wangiwriter wordpress blog to an old website I used to have years ago. I have still not been able to correct this.
I’d like to say thanks to those on the A to Z Challenge Team who dropped in on my blog and commented. It was lovely to see you and know that I was seen as one of the Challengers.
Thanks also to the organisers, who must be delighted with the steady increase in participant numbers each year.
I will certainly be taking the Challenge again in 2016, but I will start getting ready for it earlier than I did this year.
Here are all my posts for the 2015 Challenge:
Linda Visman – wangiwriter
Tags: emotions, grief, nature, wind
I wrote this poem in fifteen minutes as I sat by the open door with a gentle night breeze playing on my skin.
Wafts through the window,
Bringing soft coolness
To fevered brow.
Stirs autumn trees,
Causing golden shower
Of whispering leaves.
Drifts in from the ocean,
Bringing the promise
Of evening rain.
I wished you a tempest,
Reflecting the tumult
Of my grieving soul.
Instead you stayed gentle,
Easing the turmoil
And bringing me peace.
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: forgetting, frustration, retrieving words, writing
Do you ever have trouble finding a word?
You’re in There – I Know You Are!
Stop, Word! I saw you.
Get back here, I need you.
I’ve been looking for you everywhere.
Oh, no. Don’t you go and hide;
I know you’re in there –
Come out and let me see you!
Come on out. Please.
This happens every time I need you;
You’re nowhere to be found.
Stop hiding behind the others!
No, I don’t want them,
I want you!
They just aren’t right for this work.
Oh, please, Word.
Don’t you want to be famous;
Have everyone quoting you;
Be the very latest “bon mot”?
You do? Great!
Share? Well, yes, of course
You’ll have to share
The poem with the other words.
You don’t want to? But why?
They’re just the everyday words;
The run-of-the-mill words.
They just can’t do the job like you can!
I need a word
That says it just right;
That conveys the perfect idea;
That creates the exact emotion.
That’s you. Yes, you!
Oh, come on, Word.
You’ll look so good on the paper,
Or on the screen.
You’ll be admired, and …
Word! Come out, this minute!
You’re spoiling everything.
My poem will be ruined.
You don’t care, do you?
You just don’t care.
This is your last chance, Word.
Get yourself out here!
Come out of my memory.
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: linguistic glitches, phonics
This was a harder one to do – as everyone who has been participating in the Challenge undoubtedly knows. I went for the letter X. Here is my contribution:
X is for … X
I don’t speak of the X that shows buried treasure,
nor the X that you need for a mathematical measure.
Not the X that meant 10 to the Romans of old,
but the X that is used in the words that we’re told.
Now inside of a word, the X glides along well, So
you can pay off your taxes, chop wood with your axes,
call your child Alexander or even Alexis.
But an X starting a word can cause linguistic hell.
You may begin a word with the letter X, but the sound just isn’t right!
You don’t play an Ecks-ylophone – it should start with a Z!
There are scientific names all sorts of things –
Xenon and Xanthic, Xylum and Xerography –
and I’d rather be a Xenophile than a Xenophobe.
But wouldn’t they be easier to read and to speak – if they began with a Z?
So if I had a say I’d take that darned X away
from the start of a word where it looks quite absurd,
and I’d replace it instead with the sound of a Zed,
so our tongues wouldn’t struggle with the X or Z puzzle!
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: creativity, inspiration, writer's block, writing novels
I am stuck with my creative writing. How can I get my mojo back?
What’s happened to my stories; where did they go?
The tales I‘m well into have just lost their flow.
What should I do to regain inspiration,
When rust is corroding my imagination?
My stories began with energy and verve,
And it seemed I had hit on my creative nerve.
But now that my characters have lives of their own,
They won’t tell me the next bit – it’s like talking to stone!
I’ve set them in time, and in distinctive places;
You wouldn’t expect they’d keep hiding their faces.
Yet that’s what they’re doing; they don’t seem to want me
To finish their stories; to let them be free.
Perhaps they don’t like what they’re expected to do;
They’re sulking, annoyed at a detail or two.
But I can’t change the fact that they put themselves there;
I just want to help them – don’t they know that I care?
Where are you Carla? What on earth are you doing?
Ben, surely you want to solve the mystery that’s stewing?
Then talk to me. Tell me, what’s happening next?
‘Cause I’m puzzled and lost – and very much vexed!
If you won’t let me come back and live in your tales,
I’ll cry, get depressed and believe that I’ve failed.
But if you take me back into these stories I’ve penned,
I can make it all right when we get to the end.
Inspiration! Come back!
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: haiku and senryu, Japanese poetry, senryu poems
Here are a couple of poems about Valentine’s Day. They are in the Japanese form of senryu, which is basically the same as haiku, but with a people/person reference instead of nature.
Both are the same in form; it is their content which distinguishes them. They are normally short descriptive works of only 17 syllables. These are usually written in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. Modern variations on this standard can be found, and many poets write haiku and senryu in 3, 5, 3 lines rather than the traditional. Other variations can also be found.
Valentine’s Day 1
Glows in the heat of passion
Chocolate hearts melt.
Valentine’s Day 2
Flowers and chocolates
Modern tradition of love
Make me feel special.