Wednesday Photo Challenge – Unusual

July 21, 2017 at 7:51 pm | Posted in Australia, Culture, History, Photography, Special Occasions | 3 Comments
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Something unusual, or at least unusual to me. That is the topic of this week’s Wednesday Photo Challenge. I had a quick look through my photos and found my writers’ group Christmas party from last year.

The function was held in the common room of a retirement village – that is itself is probably unusual. But an item they have in that room is one that many people, especially young people, have never seen, and may not have even heard of.

It was a pianola, and it gave us a lot of fun and laughs whilst we early birds waited for everyone else to arrive.

A pianola is a piano with a special ability. Rolls of heavy paper are punched with the notes of particular tunes and can be inserted in a section above the keyboard. Then someone plays it by pumping a foot pedal. The quicker one pedals, the faster the music plays. The strip can be seen and often has the words to the tune alongside the punched holes, so that people around the pianola can sing it.

 

Pianola 01

Here is my husband loading one of the punched rolls into the pianola, while a friend checks what tune is held on another boxed roll.

 

 

Pianola 02

Several members of our group and their partners enjoy a singalong whilst my husband pumps the pedals.

 

Pianolas used to be popular entertainment for get-togethers of family and friends and other social events in the days before TV. They were aimed mainly at people who couldn’t actually play the piano, or who didn’t play well enough to accompany the songs that were popular at the time.

 

Have you seen, played, or even owned a pianola?

 

 

Wednesday Photo Challenge – Bridge

July 9, 2017 at 6:28 pm | Posted in Australia, heritage, History, Photography, Tourism | 6 Comments
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I am having another go at the photo challenge, and hope that my photos will upload and present themselves as they are supposed to do this time. It has been frustrating to miss the last challenges due to difficulties that wordpress has not been able to resolve for me.

The challenge this week is to post a photo of a bridge – either a physical bridge between two sides of a landscape, or a metaphorical one where a person or event has allowed you to move from one position to another.

My photos are of a different kind of bridge. The old Catherine Hill Bay jetty was a bridge between the coal mine and the colliers that carried their product to other places along the NSW coast.

 

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The jetty is crumbling now and under threat of being pulled down for safety reasons.

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It is an icon of the coal mining and transport industries of NSW and it is a pity nothing was done to save it after it ceased operation with the closure of the mine.

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Catherine Hill Bay – Catho to the locals and those who love it – will not be the same without the jetty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Garden

June 15, 2017 at 7:59 pm | Posted in Australia, Birds, Gardens, Photography | 7 Comments
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I didn’t join in the wordpress photo challenge this week because I always delete my out-of-focus photos, and we were to post a clear photo and an out=of-focus one that we like.

Instead, I thought I would share a little of my Aussie winter garden.

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Here is one of my zygocactus plants, with a jade plant behind it.

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Two varieties of bromeliad, with the green one flowering. I love the stalks of pink and blue. The purple one does not flower as far as I know.

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I have about six or seven different grevillea species in my garden. This is the flower of one of them. Grevillea are great for attracting native birds with their nectar. Most of them flower for much of the year.

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Here is a similar grevillea to the one above, with a beautiful rainbow lorikeet that has come to feed off the nectar.

I love my garden, made up mostly of Australian natives, but with various plants from other parts of the world as well.

I hope you enjoy the colour.

June 11, 2017 at 6:10 pm | Posted in Australia, games, Order, Photography, wordpress photo challenge | 12 Comments
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This is the first time I have entered the wordpress photo challenge. I see it as a simple way to get back to my blog, whilst at the same time bringing a little order to it. So this week’s challenge is rather apt.

I have mentioned before that I love a game called Bananagrams. In it, one creates a crossword that brings order out of the chaos of jumbled letter tiles. I usually play on our outside verandah but, occasionally, when it is much too cold to go out, I clear a section of the dining room table and play on the tablecloth.

Here are a couple of completed Bananagrams, one I did outside and one inside. Because of the design on the tablecloth, I think that one brings more a sense of order than the other, but I love the grain on the wooden table.

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On the dining room tablecloth

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On the verandah table

 

Bananagrams allow me to bring some order into my life when it feels like things are out of control. They make a great way to relax.

March 18, 2017 at 5:58 pm | Posted in Australia | 11 Comments

I am re-blogging Kim’s latest post because I agree with everything in it and because she says it all much better than I can. Thanks Kim.

Kim Kelly

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THE RULE OF LAW

A few days ago, something scandalous happened in Australia. Our leading lady trade unionist, Sally McManus, said this dreadful thing:

‘I believe in the rule of law, when the law is fair and the law is right. But when it’s unjust, I don’t think there’s a problem with breaking it.’

The prime minister, whatever his name is, has now said he will not work with Sally in the future, remarking ruefully, ‘There’s not much we can do with her.’ His defence minister has called her words ‘anarchic Marxist claptrap’; his immigration minister has called her ‘a lunatic’; his employment minister has said she is ‘outrageous’.

Yeah.

Oh, and the leader of the opposition, who is hardly less forgettable and regrettable than the prime minister himself, has mumbled: ‘If you don’t like the law, change the government and change the law. That is the way to do…

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Finding My Muse

October 21, 2016 at 3:43 pm | Posted in Australia | 3 Comments

I have often wondered how people come to have a Muse, so I thought I would share a story I originally posted over six years ago. Enjoy.

Wangiwriter's Blog

“My Muse is a beautiful fairy queen named Titania,” a member of the group volunteers.

“Oh, mine’s a gorgeous hunk called Kurt,” chimes in another.

“I’ve heard Vera’s is a cricket who lives on her shoulder,” giggles a third. “She calls him Jiminy.”

“What’s your muse, Linda?” The leader of the writing group looks at me.

“Muse? Oh, I don’t have a muse. I just write or I don’t write. There’s no muse involved.”

“But everyone has a Muse. Even the ancient Greeks had Muses.”

“Well, of course they did.” I say. “That’s where the whole thing came from. The nine daughters of some god or other. I even know that Erata is the Muse of Poetry. It’s always in crossword puzzles.”

“Yes, but why don’t you have a muse?” asks the one with the hunk “I couldn’t write without mine.”

–  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  – …

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What does the future hold?

September 22, 2016 at 8:16 pm | Posted in Australia, divisions in society, family responsibilities, Health, heritage, History, Mental Health, Politics, Religion, Social mores, Social Responsibility, Society, War and Conflict, Ways of Living | 10 Comments

 

I sat down tonight and just began to write. This is what came from my pecking at the keyboard:

 

All the news on the TV is bad. Nothing is positive. All we have is hatred, violence, intolerance, war and war-mongering, people being treated as cannon fodder. It is not a good world to live in – apart from local communities which support and nurture their residents.

 

One always must come down to the place where you live, where your family belong. Here in Australia, we have a reasonable lifestyle, though it is gradually and by stealth becoming more difficult for the ordinary person to make ends meet.

 

In the 1960s, 70s and 80s, it seems we had a golden age, though things began to change in the 1980s. There was a decent level of employment, and when one talked about employment, it related to full time positions, not to those who work only a couple of hours a week so the government can ‘cook the books’ to make itself look better. The government wasn’t working too hard to transfer financial benefits from the less well-off to the rich. We actually welcomed refugees and gave them a safe place to make their home. After Vietnam, we were not a part of any major violence in other countries. We were trying to preserve our environment and even make it better.

 

We raised our children to be tolerant and considerate of others. In Australia, education was free and available to all who wanted to improve themselves, whether through the university system or through trades with the TAFE system. We actually believed that money flows from the people upwards, to the owners of industry – who even had socially progressive policies. And so did governments, who realised it was financially better to support the poor and benefit from the taxes they paid than to demonise them.

 

But now, everything is focused on money, on the financial gains that can be made from those who have the least. A social conscience is seen as a weakness rather than a strength. The focus is on  so-called ‘trickle-down economics, where all the wealth goes to the rich but does not, in practice, benefit anyone on the lower economic scale.

 

Education, health, income support, in fact any formerly government-run social enterprise, is being privatised to companies only interested in making money, not in improving the lives of their clients. The environment upon which we rely has become the resource, with destructive mining practices instead of conservation.

 

Refugees are seen as a threat, rather than as people in need of assistance. Their presence is regarded as a negative that will destroy our society. But we have, through history, seen the great benefits brought to many nations through new blood, new ideas, new ways of thinking, and from the efforts of entrepreneurs who are happy to be safe to pursue their ideas and to develop new ways of doing things that benefit all of society.

 

The poor are seen as bludgers on the common purse. They are treated as if they have nothing to offer. But so many of them have, in the past, brought freshness and enthusiasm to the workplace when they have been given the chance to work. Now, however, they are relegated to a cycle of poverty from which there is little chance of escape.

 

The selfish and heartless policies of too many modern government have led to intolerance of those who are different, to violence against a society that has become indifferent to their frustration, to hatred of the unknown. Here in my country, they have resulted in the loss of the tradition of a fair go that so many Aussies prided themselves upon. Now, the mantra is, ‘if you don’t do what we say, then get out!’

 

I despair at our modern world. Our hopes for a brighter future for all have been shot to pieces. I see that my grandchildren will have to fight for the human rights we once took for granted – unless they become brainwashed by narcissistic and power-hungry leaders to believe they deserve to be the dregs of society. Dregs who are not entitled to the benefits the rich accrue unto themselves.

 

I wish I could be more positive. I know things go in cycles – what was once seen as normal becomes abnormal, what was once a moral value becomes something to avoid, what was once ‘good’ becomes ‘bad’, and vice versa. I hope that what is now negative changes to become positive.

 

So, I hope that my grandchildren will not become that which is acceptable today. That, at least in their local communities, something will happen to show them it is better for them to respect others, to help those less fortunate, to bring out the best in people rather than the worst, and to strive for a world that sees real justice for all instead of the false and negative world we see today.

 

What do you think of the world today? Do you have concerns for the present and the future?

 

(c) Linda Visman

Motivation – make your own

September 13, 2016 at 9:27 pm | Posted in Australia | 2 Comments

I wrote this five years ago and I think the same now. One thing I can say is that the novel I was writing then is in its final edit and I hope to have it out by the end of the year.

Wangiwriter's Blog

I received an email today from a Newcastle/Hunter region publisher. A poem that I submitted seven months ago for their next anthology has been accepted for inclusion. I had pretty well forgotten all about it so, when I received the email, it was a lovely surprise.

Something positive like this, where your writing is seen as worthy of publication, is a great boost. Too often, I look at myself and see only a fraud, a wannabe author. I doubt my ability; I look at the distractions that take me away from writing far too often; I think of my next novel, stalled about chapter five, and wonder if it will ever be completed.

When I am in this frame of mind, I don’t look at the poems and short stories that have been published in several anthologies. I don’t listen to the voices of those who have read my first…

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Reflections of You – my guest post on Kim Kelly’s blog

July 24, 2016 at 6:21 pm | Posted in Australia | 12 Comments

I was happy to think that Aussie author Kim Kelly thought I was worth asking to participate in her Reflections of You, where she interviews writers, readers, and whoever she thinks has something to contribute.
This is Kim’s post

Kim Kelly

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REFLECTIONS OF YOU
LINDA

One of the best things about the internet and all our fast and far-flung communication these days is that you get to meet great people you otherwise might never have crossed paths with. Today’s intrepid Reflector is one such person – Linda Visman.

I can’t even remember how it is we actually met – online, that is – but I had the lovely pleasure of meeting her for realz at a library event at Lake Macquarie a few weeks ago. Linda is a writer, reader and blogger herself, and she’s a big-hearted woman, generous in spirit and mind.

And here she is answering our Big Seven questions on life and love…

Who are you and where were you born?

I am the middle child of the five children (two boys and three girls) who lived beyond birth. I was born of working class parents in Oswaldtwistle…

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Information Overload

June 19, 2016 at 8:35 pm | Posted in Australia, Mental Health, Politics, Psychology, Reflections, Social Responsibility, Society, Ways of Living | 8 Comments
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I just watched the first ½ of our ABC news programme and I’ve had enough.

 

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The avalanche of bad news, with a sprinkling of good, becomes too much. I often wonder how can we absorb so much information and remain sane.

We are constantly bombarded by information, options for belief or non-belief, decisions to make, people to assess from too little information, war-mongering and actual war, the hypocrisy of so many of our so-called leaders, the terrible conditions in which many people live, the intolerance and bigotry of religion and social attitudes, and much, much more.

We were never meant to take in so much so quickly, and so constantly.

 

brain- too many tabs

 

How are we supposed to process it all? I know many people who don’t even try. They take a slice of life and concentrate on whatever relates to that. They don’t look at anything else, even important things that may seriously affect them.

That, I believe is one of the reasons well over half of the population refrains from involvement in politics, in social welfare issues, in human rights issues, and even in potentially world-changing issues such as climate change and refugees.

They simply identify what they want to believe about an issue – something that reduces it to a slogan is the preferred option – and make that their ‘belief system’. That way, they don’t have to think through an issue – they can just chant their slogan.

They are the people who blindly follow autocrats who seem like they know what they’re talking about, or at least make a lot of noise about it. If they did take the time and the effort to open their minds and think about what that person is really preaching, they would turn away in an instant.

But they don’t, and that is how (almost always) men become dictators, leading their countries into totalitarianism, a complete regulation of life and destroying whatever freedom there may once have been.

I could point the finger now at several countries around the world where this is happening, but those of you reading this are probably thinkers (non-thinkers are too lazy to bother) and you will already know to whom I refer.

And isn’t that always the problem? We are all talking to those who already agree with what we are saying. There are so few who honestly consider at least a few sides of the problems we face (there are always more than two).

I read somewhere that human brains are wired primarily in two ways. Just under half – about 45% will lean towards conservatism and control; 45% will lean towards liberalism and freedom. Only about 10% will actually be fully open-minded and therefore consider issues on their merits.

 

Comparison -liberal or conservative

 

Several studies have been done on the differences between the brains of Republicans and Democrats. This one is interesting, and others show similar results. More study is needed of course, but if the differences could be taken into account and issues presented in different ways, there may be some small change.

But it will always be a battle, I think, to get general agreement on many issues.

So, I left the news programme to my husband and came to my study to write this post. That’s enough television for tonight. I think I will go and overload on Facebook instead.

 

 

(c)   Linda Visman

 

 

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