The Eve of Destruction

August 29, 2019 at 2:57 am | Posted in 1960s, Australia, Culture, Destroying nature, divisions in society, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, historical fiction, History, Politics, Religion, Social Responsibility, War and Conflict, Ways of Living, Writing | 12 Comments
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It is after 2.30am and I cannot sleep. I am energised. I have realised that the book I thought I was going to write is a nothing story. I have another tale to tell, from another perspective. I had thought Tori (the main character of my second novel, “Thursday’s Child”) was going to be the MC of my third novel too, but she will be a secondary character. She has had her time and done well, but it is up to another now to take the story forward.

 

Meet Gemma Henderson. She is the 71-year-old me of 2019 in the body of a 17-year-old girl in 1965 (as I was then). She is the activist I wanted to be. She is the idealist who wants to stop wars because they are so damned stupid. She is the one who wants to raise all people to be equal. She is the one who sees the folly of toeing the political line of the times, the futility of consumerism and the falsity of the world the politicians offer.

 

She is the one who believes that women are every bit as good and as intelligent as, and even more caring than the men who seem to want  nothing but to destroy – destroy the youth in wars, destroy the marginalised, destroy the prospect of beauty with the horror of war and capitalism, destroy the world with their greed for money and power.

 

Gemma is a warrior; an Amazon; a young woman who wants to change the world. She is an fierce idealist who will brook no barriers to her desire to improve the world, to take it out of the hands of war-mongering, greedy men and bring it back to Mother Earth, to the Nurturer, the Carer.

 

She will be the main character in the third of my YA historical novels. She is the sister, the daughter, and the prospective mother of future generations. The world, its ordinary people and its creatures are her passion, and although the odds are stacked high against her, she is willing to fight for what she believes is right.

 

She is what I wish I could have been when I had the energy of youth. She is what I would have perhaps become had I not been bogged down in conformity to a dead, corrupted Catholic religion. She is what I wish I could be now, but age, health and energy are lacking in this older body. I cannot be her in the way I want to be, but I can be her in the days of my youth, the 1960s, when our country was about to go “all the way with LBJ”.

 

I did march against the Vietnam War once when I was at Sydney University in 1966, but I was bound by the ties I had to my family, church and the belief that women were not meant to be a force for good in the world outside of their nurturing role within the family; that they were not supposed to take a stand in a world that looked to the so-called heroics of war and the destruction of others for the meaning and justification for existence.

 

I wanted to be a force for peace, even then. When I thought of all the young men who’d died in the two world wars, in Malaya, in Korea, and then what we were doing all again in Vietnam, I remember crying to my mum, saying that this should not be happening. If older men want to fight then it should be they who go out and put their bodies on the line – not young men in the flower of their youth.

 

Yes, I know I am using a cliché there, but it really does mean something. Those young men – boys, really – were only budding,  their whole life was ahead of them. They had barely bloomed when they were sent to suffer the horrors of war; a war that had no real justification beyond greed, nationalism and military might, and fear of the different. Maybe it’s because I am a woman who has borne five sons that I feel this way. But even then, years before I bore more than the weight of “womanly expectations”, I felt the same way.

 

Tonight, I cannot sleep because I believe I can see the world more clearly than those who supposedly rule it. They can only see their immediate future, the rewards of power, privilege & wealth that they will receive at the expense of those who will bear the brunt of their ambitions. I want to show that the world has not changed, no matter how much we want it to.

 

People are still ruled by fear, a fear that is fostered and capitalised on by political bosses. Back in the 1960s, it was “The Domino Effect” – that China would take over South-East Asia, and that Australia would be next on their list. Today, it is the fear that Muslims are taking over the world, or again, that the Chinese will be our masters if we don’t oppose them. Why do so many always believe the lies they are told, the Goebbelsesque indoctrinisation, based on fear, that is pushed by those who want us to allow them the power to rule us; that we are lost if we do not oppose everyone who looks, prays or eats differently to how we do?

 

Well, anyway, I am energised by my new project in a way I haven’t been for years. The wishy-washy story I was going to tell has been flushed away in a tide of anger at the world of then and now, at those who would take us to the brink of total destruction, just for their own greed. I won’t just sit down and let them do it. I will be a Greta Thunberg of the 1960s. I will be Gemma Henderson.  

 

(c) Linda Visman

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Those Cotton-pickin’ Multinationals!

July 12, 2019 at 4:37 pm | Posted in Australia, Destroying nature, Farming, Nature, Politics, Social Responsibility | 6 Comments
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We are on a four-week trip through western New South Wales and Queensland in our little Toyota HiAce camper. Currently, we are at Maraboon Lake caravan park near the town of Emerald in Central Queensland.

Van at Lake Maraboon Xsmall

Our van with the washing hanging out

As I was waiting for a washing machine to become available, I looked out over the lake, said to be the size of three Sydney Harbours, and noticed how low the water was. It was clear from the bare ground on my side and on the opposite shore that there is only a fraction of the volume it should have – and that was after good rains to the north that should have filled it.

Lake Maraboon Xsmall

Lake Maraboon – the bottom of the boat ramp is about 25 metres back up the slope.

Another camper came to get her washing from the machines and we got talking. She said the water was noticeably down from when she was here last year, and that it is at only 15% of capacity now (it is officially at 18.2%). It is no wonder the park – and probably the town of Emerald too – is under severe restrictions on water use.

 

I mentioned the large cotton farm to the east of Emerald that we had passed on our way here yesterday and how stupid it is to grow cotton in such dry country. She agreed. “It’s not even a food crop”, she said, “and they’ll export it all to make cotton clothing in Bangladesh. Then we’ll have to import the finished products as we don’t have a clothing industry any more.”

 

Cotton near Emerald July 11. 2019 Xsmall

This photo was taken at a distance. Those yellow-wrapped cotton bales are huge!

I could only agree that it is all so terribly wrong stupid. Exporting cotton is, in reality, exporting our scarce and valuable water. All the profits will go overseas and we will just be left with the costs, which are huge. Unemployment, and loss of national and local income to the multinationals who don’t even pay tax on their profits but get subsidies instead. Even worse, much worse, is the cost to the environment and our surface and artesian water systems.

It has been a while since I drove over the dry Hay plains in western NSW, but the woman I was speaking with had been there recently. She said that the plains are now a sea of huge cotton farms with similarly huge dams that take the water from the Murrumbidgee River. No wonder the whole Murray-Darling river system, which drains much of north-western Queensland and NSW and of which the Murrumbidgee is part, is in dire straits.

Riverine water levels are terribly low, millions of fish have died, and whole towns have been left without a water supply, and all because of the billions of litres that go to irrigate the cotton fields. Check this article.

The cotton growers say it isn’t their fault, that they are farming sustainably [HAH!]. Governments, both state and federal, allow this destruction to continue, even promote it, and then cover up the extent of the damage to the environment.

As long as the multinationals are allowed to plunder this country for their own benefit and at the expense of the environment, and as long as our weak and venial governments allow this to happen, in order to get political power, our land, then our water, our wildlife and our people have little chance of surviving, especially in the current situation of climate change.

Cotton near Emerald July small

These cotton bales are about two metres in diameter, and there were hundreds of them

When will we ever learn?

 

(c) Photos by Dirk & Linda Visman

The Price of Progress

April 4, 2019 at 1:50 pm | Posted in Australia, discrimination, divisions in society, Politics, Social Responsibility, Society, Ways of Living | 16 Comments
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This is a short story I wrote about power & powerlessness; rich vs poor. 

 

“Can’t you just admit that the Council laws are only meant to help the rich?”

“Of course they aren’t. You’re just like the rest, trying to find somebody to blame for your own shortcomings. Our city re-development is for the good of everyone; who wants to live in a slum? And our labour laws are fair and just. They reward those who put in the effort.”

His words seemed relaxed enough, and he appeared outwardly at ease. However, to the eyes of a keen observer, the Mayor’s impatience with the journalist’s questions showed in a brief narrowing of his eyes and a slight shuffle in his chair. He was tired of this incessant revisiting of the subject.

“It’s a pity those sixty people were made homeless when the old tenements were bulldozed, but there was nothing I could do about that. Those old buildings were an eyesore. How could we hold a major inter-city event with buildings like that still standing? We’d be laughed at.”

The fact that many, indeed most, of those former tenants had been forced to move derelict houses outside the city boundaries and were living there in squalid conditions was not his fault. His tenure as mayor had seen continual development and economic progress in the city. Many people had benefited from his social and industrial reforms.

“But those people can’t find a decent place to live now. They’re too poor.”

“True Kangans should be too proud to live in such conditions. Those people should get themselves a job like any other good citizen, instead of blaming the Council for their plight.”

“But Mayor, most of the men do have jobs.”

“Then what’s the problem? What are they carrying on about? Can’t they manage their money properly like sensible people?”

“Mayor, the only jobs they can get are menial ones, like cleaners, or factory labourers or hospitality work. Those jobs pay so little that no one can afford to even rent a decent house in the city.”

“Then they should work harder instead of whingeing. The reforms in the Council’s labour agreements means that if they work hard they’ll get more money.”

“That would be fine if the hourly rates were sufficient, but even when they work ten hours a day, they barely make enough to feed and clothe their families.”

“They signed individual agreements with the Council that they would work at those rates. They didn’t need to do that. They could have found other work.”

“There is no other work for them. They don’t have the education required for higher paying jobs.”

“They should have finished their education, just as I did, then they could have well paying jobs. Why should I be blamed for their indolence?”

“Their parents couldn’t afford to send them to high school, Your Worship. You abolished free secondary education, remember.”

“Education is never valued unless it has to be paid for. It’s not the Council’s role to provide free services. Anyway, that’s not the issue here.”

“It’s part of the problem, sir. If these people had been educated, they might have been able to bargain a little, at least at one time. Now, with your new laws, the employers have all the say. The workers don’t have a chance.”

“But of course the employers should have a say in how they run their businesses. They are the ones who are putting up their own money, after all. Look how much these companies have done for the people of this city. They’ve cut the cost of production so that goods are much cheaper. Why, I can buy a computer package now for half what it cost five years ago.”

“I’m not denying that, Your Grace. You certainly can, but those workers can’t. They get less money than they earned five years ago – a third of the pay, and they must work longer hours for it. They don’t even get a guaranteed fifteen-minute meal break, or annual holidays.”

“That’s their own fault. They took the jobs. They knew the conditions.”

“What I’m saying, sir, is that you’ve taken away the workers’ right to fair conditions. They are not allowed to unite to provide a common argument to help their cause. The employer just tells them that if they want the job they must accept the conditions. They are just like slaves.”

“Don’t be silly. That’s just using emotive language instead of reasoned argument. Now, if they need more money, then their wives can work. After all, we live in a city that values women’s input just as much as men’s.”

“The women who have children can’t go out to work, Mr Mayor. There’s no one to look after the children. You passed a law forbidding children to be left alone after that boy fell off the broken swing in the park and the parents threatened to sue the council.”

“That was a good law, just like the one forbidding parents to traumatise their children by smacking them on the wrist. If people can’t look after their children and keep them safe from abuse and danger, then the Council must pass laws to make them. Anyway, they can put them into child-care centres. The Council has wonderful facilities to care for children. It’s one of Kanga Council’s achievements that I pride myself on. My wife thinks the one our children attend every day is wonderful. She wouldn’t be able to go to the gym or to tennis or even to civic functions if we hadn’t established those centres.”

“Mr Mayor, you can afford child care at those centres, but these poor people can’t. The cost for one day there for one child is equal to what a woman can earn in a week.”

“Well I’m not to blame for that. The centres have to make ends meet.”

The mayor stood up and leaned across the desk.

“Look, young man, I’ve had enough of all this. You want me to back down and say that my, er, the Council’s policies, are to blame for those people living in disgusting conditions. That’s simply not true. Everyone makes a choice. If they’ve made the wrong one then they have to live with it. Now, thank you and good day.”

“Your Worship, before I go, can I ask you one last question?”

“All right, but that’s all. I have to get to a banquet for the Mayor of Yankey, who’s visiting for our Games.”

“Mr Morris, why do you think “fairness” and “justice” and “equality” are dirty words?”

 

4th April 2019

Love this review of “Thursday’s Child”

August 30, 2018 at 4:07 pm | Posted in Australia, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, historical fiction, Reflections, role model, Social mores, Social Responsibility, Writing, Writing and Life | 9 Comments
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I am honoured to receive this wonderful review from a reader. Thank you Janet.

Dear Linda,

I’ve just finished reading “Thursday’s Child” and found it a fine piece of writing.

These days I have two simple criteria with regard to novels. I ask:
1. Did I care what happens to the people in the story?
2. Does the author present the story without me being aware of her techniques?

On both these criteria, your book gets a large tick.

I cared very much what happened to all the characters. Of course, Tori is the main focus, but her parents, her siblings, Adele, Gwen feel like real people with their own strengths and weaknesses, their own needs. I even cared about Grizzly, wondering if he continued as he began, or whether his encounters with Tori and Dad change him.

Your story kept me engaged, not wanting to rush ahead because what was happening in each moment mattered, but also keen to know how things would turn out. You write with skill, but, as I read, I was not aware of that. In other words, you, the writer kept yourself “out of the way”. That said, I do think a strength of your writing lies in the natural feel of the dialogue.

One aside: I remember that earth tremor in the early 1960s! I was living in Campbelltown at the time, and all the cups rattled in the cupboard!

At the library session on “Thursday’s Child” there was some discussion about the negative references to God and the church; people thought church schools would not allow their children to read such a book. Well, any church school that bans this book would also have to ban large parts of the bible, including the words from Psalm 22 that the gospel writer attributes to Jesus on the cross: My God, my god, why have you forsaken me?” The psalm adds the words: “Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?” which express well Tori’s feelings, albeit in more literary language.

Actually there are many ethical/moral questions in your story, which could be explored fruitfully in a classroom: male violence and rape, abortion (legal or illegal?) and what support should be given to young mothers.

One moral issue that impresses me is that of vengeful violence. Questions that arise include: Does revenge work for the one who has been violated? Does punishment convince the perpetrator? Then there is the dilemma of whether or not to involve the police, with all the problems that entails, and whether personal vengeance is justified.

I suppose what I am saying is that it is many years since I worked in schools, public and Catholic, and primary school rather than secondary, but in those days I felt more free to discuss thorny issues in the Catholic school than I had in the public ones.
I will give the book to my niece who has a fifteen-year old daughter. I will be very interested to hear their responses.

So, Linda, in summary, congratulations.

Kind wishes,

Janet

 

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

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.

 

information-overload

 

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

 

 

The Old Year Ends – a look back at 2015

December 28, 2015 at 2:00 am | Posted in Australia, Making History, Migration, Politics, Psychology, Religion, Social Responsibility, Society, War and Conflict | 8 Comments
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2015 Behind the News ABC

Apart from my lovely family and friends, I must admit that I have not enjoyed 2015. Not on the state, national or international level. There hasn’t been very much to enjoy in the world of politics, religion, economics, international relations, terrorism, whatever.

With one of the defining images of the year being the body of a little refugee boy washed up on a beach, how could it have been a good year for anyone who looks beyond their own safe little bubble? I for one wouldn’t mind having another go at it to see if we could somehow change how it all went. Failing that, is the hope that last year was as bad as it will get.

TOPSHOTS Kurdish Syrian girls are pictur

Children among the destruction in Syria

I started to write a list of the nasties that happened through the year:

  • the terrorism in the name of religion that is not a religion;

  • the racism and violence in many countries across the globe;

  • the lack of support in many instances for the millions of people displaced by war;

  • the ineptitude, idiocy or corruption in too many governments in too many countries;

  • the failure to address global warming on a global scale;

  • the brain-dead far right-wingers who would prefer the whole world to collapse rather than help those less fortunate than themselves;

  • the destruction of our valuable, even precious, environments and wildlife, to feed the greed of multi-national corporations;

  • the extremes of weather – excessive cold and heat, floods, droughts, huge wildfires, hurricanes, typhoons and tornadoes, the melting of the polar ice caps;

  • the extreme polarisation in politics, race and religion, and the fear-mongering among our so-called leaders;

  • the overwhelming power of the arms industry, the far right press, and corporations in deciding national and international government policy.

Need I go on?

Of course there were good things happening too:

  • the rise of people power through social media, demonstrations and actions to show their displeasure at where the world is heading;

  • the rise of a pope who, against those Catholic extremists who would prevent him, speaks for the people, the environment, and the cessation of war;

  • the countries like Germany who have taken in tens of thousands of refugees;

  • the individuals who stand up for right when they see wrong.

not-in-my-name

We need the good so much, but it is demonstrated by individuals and small groups in small and seemingly insignificant actions and interactions, whereas the bad is overwhelming in its ability to create a sense of despair, depression and hopelessness.

However, I must concentrate on those small things and the ordinary people like me who do them, and hope they will add up to more than the bad stuff and overcome it. I must do what I can for my own sanity, but even more for the sake of my grandchildren. I don’t want them to live in the kind of hateful world that seems to be all too possible right now.

I must cling to the hope that springs eternal from the human heart. If it didn’t, I would end it now. So I hope with all my heart that, through good people standing up to corruption and violence, hatred and destruction, at least some of the horrendous problems we’ve had in 2015 will get better in 2016.

(c) Linda Visman

 

 

Share Your World – 2014 Week 48

December 11, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Posted in Australia, Family, Gratitude, Leisure activities, Nature, Social Responsibility | 4 Comments
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Share Your World blog badge

Here are more of Cee’s questions, which we answer and share with others. The questions are great also for looking into ourselves and seeing what is important in life. Thank you again, Cee.

What is your favorite toppings on pizza?

We have a pizza shop in our village that makes the best pizzas I’ve ever had. They are not wimpy scatterings of a few ingredients on a piece of thin, brittle pastry that you get in the well-known chains. Instead, they are a good, solid feed with plenty of topping on a decent pastry base.

One of their toppings they call ‘Rosita’, and that is my favourite. It is basically lots of lovely king prawns (you call them shrimps in the U.S., I believe) with pineapple and cheese, and a yummy sauce.

I want to learn more about …

Life. Mainly, I want to know how to stop being so terribly affected (angry, upset, distressed, disgusted, demoralised, depressed) by the awful things that people are capable of and the destruction of our world.

What are three places you’ve enjoyed visiting?

Central Australia; the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney; and the South Coast of New South Wales. In reality though, I love to visit anywhere in Australia’s mountains, coastal areas , the bush and the desert.

Do you prefer eating the frosting of the cake or the cupcake first?

Neither – both are too sweet. I prefer a fruit mince tart.

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 had a lovely half a day in Sydney at the Powerhouse Museum, with  two gorgeous granddaughters and their lovely mum (hubby’s daughter).

Next week we are going to see most of the kids & grandkids from my side of the family – 4 of the sons and 6 of the grandkids.

(c) Linda 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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Share Your World blog badge

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

Vandalism or Art; Rubbish or Artefacts?

July 8, 2014 at 10:46 am | Posted in Australia, Culture, Nature, Social Responsibility, Writing and Life | 12 Comments
Tags: , , , ,

I sometimes go to the parks that dot the shores of our beautiful Lake Macquarie. It is so lovely to sit in my little camper van and write without interruption. One of my favourite parks is on the outskirts of the town of Toronto (no, not in Canada; in NSW, Australia).

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Last week I went there to enjoy a quiet and sunny winter’s day. I enjoyed the writing time there as I always do. Afterwards, I went for a walk before heading back home, towards the bridge that spans a backwater of the lake. You can see it in the picture above.

The thing that caught my eye more than anything else was the graffiti that had been painted onto the bridge supports.

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After taking photos under the bridge, I wandered towards the lakeside. This time what caught my eye was the rubbish that had been left behind – possibly by the graffiti “artists”, or by others who had gone there to drink.

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It really upsets me when I see such examples of vandalism. It seems to me that there is a certain element in society who have no respect for the property of others. Admittedly, the “property” in this case belongs to the people as a whole, but what right does it give anyone to deface a public structure or to contaminate a public park with their detritus?

This is our lovely park, well supplied with bins in which anyone can put their rubbish – if they aren’t too lazy to walk the few yards to get to one.

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This is the lovely shoreline where the park meets the lake. This is what those thoughtless and self-entitled tossers are degrading with their refuse.

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Do litterers and graffitists rile you as they do me? How can we stop such destruction of other people’s property – is there a way at all even?

(c) Linda Visman
Photos by Linda Visman

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