Anzac Day 2016 in Wangi Wangi

April 25, 2016 at 4:47 pm | Posted in Australia, History, Reflections, Society, Special Occasions, War and Conflict | 14 Comments
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ANZAC means Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

As we do every year, today we celebrate Anzac Day here in Australia and in New Zealand.

The landing by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) on Turkey’s Gallipoli peninsula on 25 April 1915 was Australia’s first major action of the Great War. These soldiers quickly became known as Anzacs, and the pride they took in that name endures to this day.

When they landed they faced fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated from the peninsula, with both sides having suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. More than 8,000 Australian soldiers died in the campaign.

Gallipoli had a profound impact on Australians at home, and 25 April soon became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who died in the war.

I have written before on Anzac Day – herehere and here.  And Here is more background.

Here in Wangi Wangi, NSW, there was a dawn service. At 10 o’clock we had a parade down Wangi’s main street, consisting of past and current servicemen and women, school children, and members of various public services and voluntary organisations. The R.A.A.F. provided the armed service contingent this year.

The large and growing contingent of vintage army vehicles is a always popular drawcard for everyone. It ended at the memorial in front of the RSL (Returned Services League) Club, where a half hour ceremony was conducted.

We also had a flypast by three BAe Hawk fighter jets from the RAAF base at Williamtown, Newcastle.

I took photos of the parade and the later display of vehicles, but I could only get one partial shot of the people conducting the ceremony as I wasn’t tall enough to see over those in front of me. Here are some of the highlights of the morning.

01 Hardware sign

02 RAAF lead parade

03 salute

04 K9 unit

05 Wangi school

06 Full tracks

07 Jeeps

08 Ambulances

09 Old blitz trucks

10 Half-track truck

11 Crowd heads to the ceremony area

12 Ceremony blocked by crowd

13 Part of vehicle display

14 Looking to lake

15 Looking from jetty

16 Flags

 

Lest we forget

 

I have heard people who are quite opposed in their views about occasions such as ANZAC Day, Remembrance Day and others. Do you think they really commemorate those who served and suffered for a righteous cause? Or are these occasions really glorifications of nationalistic pride?  I would be interested if you could share your views.

 

(c) Linda Visman,  25th April 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My 2015 blogging review and 2016 New Year wishes

January 1, 2016 at 1:00 am | Posted in Australia, blogging, Gratitude, Special Occasions | 4 Comments
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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

It has been gratifying to see the rise in the number of visitors and also of followers to my blog. Thank you to all who come to my page and especially to those who comment on the posts.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

I’d like to wish every one of you a Happy New Year for 2016. I hope it is a year filled with positives in every part of your lives; challenges that help you grow; joys that make you happy; friends with whom you can share; and a world that becomes less troubled by hate, intolerance and violence.

May peace and love be the mainstays of your life and spread from you to all with whom you come in contact.

 

Happy-New-Year-2016

Christmas Day, 1950s

December 21, 2015 at 2:00 am | Posted in 1950s, Australia, Family History, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, Religious rites, Special Occasions | 8 Comments
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Going away for a holiday in summer – or at any time – was unheard of in our family when I was growing up. However, the Christmas holidays were always a wonderful time of the year, as they were for all kids. Christmas Day was, for us coming to Australia from England, so different that we may as well have been in another world.

Good-King-Wenceslas-Christmas-Card-sent-by-Royal-Doulton-in-the-1950s

Good King Wenceslas Christmas card sent by Royal Doulton in the 1950s

 

 

I still remembered the grey, drab, cold and usually wet days in Lancashire. Sometimes it did snow too. On Christmas morning, we would be rugged up in a coat and hat, with leggings and boots, and a mackintosh, to walk the mile or so to St Mary’s Catholic church for Mass.

How different was the two-mile walk to 7am Mass in Australia. We would set off, without breakfast, just after six o’clock. Our little home was in Albion Park Rail, but the hall where Mass was held was in Oak Flats. Almost always, the day would be clear and bright with no sign of drizzle or smog, and no smoke-blackened stone buildings. Instead of wet or icy stone footpaths, we walked along long, dusty streets that were usually hat as well.

Mum and Dad wore their Sunday clothes, as did we, but instead of the heavy clothes of England, they were light cotton shirts, or dresses (usually made by Mum) and sandshoes (usually freshly whitened by Dad). I remember skipping along the street, light-hearted and happy. The lake was on our left as we walked to church, and the new-risen sun shone from a blue sky onto its still waters, making it gleam and glisten. Everything looked fresh and clean.

There were few houses along our street, and hardly anyone was about so early. But whenever we did see someone, we would call out “Merry Christmas!” and they would respond with a smile and a similar greeting. This made the day even more special.

 

Aussie Xmas greetings

A wide creek marked the boundary between the two little villages and the halfway point in our walk. An old wooden bridge, missing many of its planks, spanned the creek. We thought crossing it was an adventure, but Mum always called out for us to be careful. It was later replaced by a higher one, still of wood and but with handrails on the sides. We’d stop in the middle and watch the ducks swimming in the water – how many would there be there today?

Mum and Dad would catch up with us at the other side of the creek and we’d climb the steep rise to the road above. This took us to the centre of Oak Flats village, where Mass was held in a small, community hall made of fibro.

Mass was still said in Latin then, but we would follow it with our Missal, that gave both the Latin and English words of the priest and altar boys. It was often boring on other days, but on Christmas morning there was a special joy and reverence that was missing on normal Sundays. I loved listening to the story of the birth of Jesus in the manger, the coming of the shepherds and the wise men.

The walk home included anticipation of breakfast, but also of what we would find under the Christmas tree we’d decorated with bits of tinsel, crepe paper streamers and a star made from cardboard covered with silver paper from Mum’s cigarette packet. With little money to buy presents, we usually received home-made gifts, or clothes we needed for going to church. There were no large items like bikes or doll’s prams.

However, one Christmas, Dad made wooden scooters, one for me and one for my younger sister. Another year, she got a cowgirl outfit and I, being a tomboy, received a cowboy outfit. Apart from the scooter and the cowboy outfit, the best present I ever received as a child was two children’s books of adventure stories. They were the first books I ever owned and I treasured them for many years.

Those years, from age six to ten, were the happiest of my childhood, and the best Christmases that I can remember.

Best wishes from me in Australia to all you lovely blog visitors for a wonderful Christmas, wherever you may be in the world.

Aussie outback Xmas greetings

© Linda Visman

Making a Spectacle 1: History of Fireworks

September 11, 2014 at 8:10 pm | Posted in Culture, History, Religion, Society, Special Occasions, War and Conflict, Ways of Living | Leave a comment
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Clipart fireworks

Bamboo Bangs

Fireworks of a kind were used in China over 2,000 years ago, well before the discovery of gunpowder.
These early ‘fireworks’ consisted of green bamboo thrown onto a fire. As air pockets inside the bamboo heated, they exploded, creating a frightening noise. They were used to scare away bad spirits, and it became part of a ritual to scare away the evil spirit Nian at the start of each new year.
Gradually, the green bamboo bangs because part of other celebrations like births, weddings and coronations. They were used thus for the next thousand years.

Heating bamboo

Invention of Gunpowder

There are several references to a Chinese monk named Li Tian, who lived near the city of Liu Yang in Hunan Province, who is credited with the invention of firecrackers about 1,000 years ago. There are other stories of an accidental explosion when an alchemist was heating a mix of chemicals.
What is known however, is that somewhere between about 600 and 900AD, Chinese alchemists discovered a particular mixture of chemicals that ignited with a flash and a bang when heated over a fire. The records show that they were advised to shun this mixture of sulfur, saltpetre (potassium nitrate), honey and arsenic disulfide.
However, some alchemists continued to experiment with it.
They discovered that explosions resulted when the mixture was heated inside bamboo tubes, and that flames, smoke and sparks erupted when it was ignited in an open container. The more saltpetre added to the mix, the more violently it exploded.

Chinese soldier launches fire arrow

What we now call gunpowder became a useful as a military weapon around the 10th century, though initially it was only used to frighten and confuse the enemy. Later, it was it used also to inflict injury.
Bamboo was gradually replaced by thick paper tubes and fuses, made from gunpowder wrapped in long thin pieces of paper, were developed.
As well as for military applications, firecrackers continued to be used in China at important celebrations.

The main components of gunpowder and their ratios, developed over 500 years ago, are still the same as are used today:
1) Saltpetre 75%
2) Charcoal 15%
3) Sulphur 10%

Chinese wiring on black powder

Firecrackers go to Europe and Beyond

In its early years, the important part of exploding black powder was the light and sound that would scare off the spirits. Even when fireworks came to Europe and spread across the world, it wasn’t the colour that mattered. It is believed that Marco Polo brought firecrackers back to Europe from China in 1292. The Italians loved them. Three hundred years later, with the arrival of the Renaissance and the era of exploration and experiment, they developed a greater range of fireworks; especially skyrockets, fountains and spinning wheels.

The French and Italian Collections. Pen and ink drawing with watercolour wash from a treaty on fireworks. Late 16th century

The French and Italian Collections. Pen and ink drawing with watercolour wash from a treaty on fireworks. Late 16th century

These were refined and expanded over the years, and their use spread throughout Europe, where monarchs and other rulers used them (especially rockets) to demonstrate their power and majesty.
As exploration of the world proceeded during the 16th to the 18th centuries, the use of fireworks spread to new lands. Soon they had become a common element of major celebrations throughout the world.

Fireworks Become More Colourful

For almost 1000 years, the only colours in fireworks were orange and white (from black powder or metallic powder respectively).
By the 1830s however, knowledge of chemicals and their properties was greatly expanded. During that decade, fire masters in southern Italy were able to add reds, greens, blues and yellows by the addition of metallic salts and chlorinated powders. The discovery and use of electrical energy and hydrolysis meant that the chemicals could burn faster, hotter and brighter, and displays, especially aerial ones, became even more dramatic.
Fireworks can be classified broadly by whether they are used for ground or aerial display. Not until the last 200 years did the magical display of coloured sparks become the real focus of a fireworks show. Modern fireworks are also called pyrotechnics, and the experts who develop and stage them are known as pyro-technicians.

Fireworks

As well as science, there is and always has always been an art and craft to development and use of fireworks. Modern fireworks have a myriad of different effects depending on their chemical composition, strength and containment.

Fireworks on sale in a Chinese shop/

Fireworks on sale in a Chinese shop/

China is by far the largest producer and exporter of fireworks in the world. During the 20th century, the mechanics of mass production gradually brought their cost down considerably. Eventually, fireworks became cheap enough to be available to ordinary families, and they could be more personally involved in national, religious and cultural fireworks displays.

……………………………………………………..
Further reading
General history: http://www.pyrouniverse.com/history.htm
Use of fireworks by European monarchs: http://io9.com/the-first-fireworks-displays-were-terrifyingly-huge-1600541130
Depictions of fireworks in Europe from the 16th century: http://publicdomainreview.org/2014/06/25/picturing-pyrotechnics/

(c) Linda Visman

Earth Hour 2014

March 29, 2014 at 10:05 pm | Posted in Destroying nature, Nature, Philosophy, Social Responsibility, Special Occasions, Ways of Living | 2 Comments
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Tonight is Earth Hour, the time to reflect on the damage that we are causing to our planet.

I wrote this in my journal in fifteen minutes.  I enjoyed a glass of wine and some chocolate, and wondered as I did so, how much longer an ordinary person like myself would be able to enjoy something like that.

 

I am writing this in pen in my journal in the almost-dark, lights off.

It is quiet tonight – unusual for Saturday;

just an occasional car in the distance.

Dogs bark as something disturbs them,

street lights shine on

tall, slender spotted gums

whose high-set branches

are silhouetted against silver-grey clouds

lit by reflected street lights.

 

The only noise apart from distant traffic

and barking dogs is the buzzing I hear –

either crickets, or the tinnitus in my head.

I think of the reason for the lights out –

Earth Hour – a symbol and a reminder

of what we face if we do nothing,

if we do not change our ways –

for Climate Change has begun,

and it is quicker than we are.

 

I think of those who are steadfast

in their refusal to acknowledge any problem

or that we are an integral part of it.

I wonder if millions of minds

meditating on one thought, one desire –

to save our world –

can influence and change those other minds.

But I know that we cannot change minds

that are shuttered and barred,

locked tight against anything

that threatens their grasping hands

or their wilful disregard of what they do.

 

I think of our Earth, ravaged

by Nature so often in the past,

but even more threatened now

by the greed and lust for power

of a disbelieving and dishonest humanity.

I grieve for the damage we have already done

and I grieve for that which is to come.

 

I can do nothing in the Big Picture,

but I can do something

in my own little part of the world.

I will continue to do what I can,

hoping that my small efforts,

joined with those of others with like minds

can be enough to halt the rape

of the only planet we have.

 

(c) Linda Visman

2012 in review

December 31, 2012 at 11:44 am | Posted in Experiences, Family, Health, History, Mental Health, Society, Special Occasions, Tourism, War and Conflict, Writing and Life | 2 Comments
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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 7 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Hello readers. I haven’t blogged nearly as much as I’d intended this year. However, when I look back, I realise I haven’t done too badly. As with you all, I have had health and other issues to face, but I think I have come through the year pretty well.

I would like to thank all those who have been kind enough to follow this little blog, and especially those who have commented on my posts. It is always great to receive feedback.

The most viewed and commented on post was The Long Goodbye, which really struck a chord for many people.DSCN5516 (1024x768)

My dad is still there, living at home on his own. However his short-term memory is gone and the longer-term memory is all mixed up. Fortunately, he knows his children still. He has lots of visiting care workers, as well as my sister who goes over to see to specific needs a couple of times a day. I make the trip (4-5 hours each way) every couple of weeks and spend a few days with him to give my sister a break. Dad is still so accepting and positive, and we can still have conversations about general things. He is a wonderful man.

I have posted several times about reading and writing, and those posts have also attracted lots of views and some comments. Perhaps the most popular was When do you know when you’ve found a good author?

Travel or tourist posts have been popular, including Mystery Bay, The Entrance and Kiama Blowhole.

A couple of philosophical posts attracted a few comments. I think we all tend to look back and wonder what effect the past has had on out present selves. Bringing Back the Past and Whose Tradition? were popular, but What would you go back and change? topped them.

And finally, Making Lists brought out those who like to make sure they don’t forget to do those important things that may be lost to memory if not written down.

2012 has been a rather tumultuous year, with political, social, religious and economic instability in evidence around the world. It has been a difficult one personally for many of you, with illness, loss of loved ones and other issues taking their toll on confidence and optimism.

I hope that 2013 brings a much more positive and creative approach to solving both the problems in the world and your own personal challenges. Wishing you all peace, health and happiness for the year ahead. And I hope to see you here again through 2013, the Chinese Year of the Snake.

Regards to all, Linda  

Happy NewYear 2013

Whose Tradition?

October 27, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Posted in Australia, Family, History, Society, Special Occasions | 8 Comments
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Halloween, a corruption of All Hallows Eve, is celebrated on the 31st of October each year. It comes the day before All Saints’ Day, celebrated on the 1st of November.

Centuries ago in England and, later, in America, it was believed that the souls of the dead appeared among the living. Superstitious rituals grew up as people sought to protect themselves from the evil souls that had not died in a state of grace.

Over the years and into the 20th century, Halloween mostly lost its religious significance. It has now become, as have many other Christian rituals, a secular celebration of over-indulgence on the dark side.

Australia, because it was settled later than the Americas, and in more enlightened times, didn’t become part of the mania of Halloween until quite recently. And the only reason it has done so now is because of a different god – one created in the 20th century.

Multinational stores have extended their grip into our country, bring with them their sacred rituals for placing more, and yet more profits on the altar of Consumerism.

Now, every October, we are bombarded by the spooky: books, blogs and writing contests on the themes of ghosts, ghouls and gremlins; ads for creepy costumes and party gear; and whole stores full of “candy” – chocolates and lollies and every other sweet thing that can be created by man for sale to the gullible.

As if we don’t already have a sugar-coated and sugar-centred society! Dentists for the well-off rub their hands in glee. However, the people who cannot afford to go to a dentist – but the most likely to buy into this cacophonous culture of cash – are left with blackened and rotten teeth. I suppose that is apt, given the dark and sickly nature of Halloween’s origins.

When my children were young, in the 1970s and 1980s, Halloween had not yet caught hold in Australia – for which I am very grateful. But now, it is my grandchildren who are being coerced into a culture that celebrates darkness and consumerism.

I will not support this imported, destructive ritual. When children come to my door crying “trick or treat”, they get neither.

It is not my tradition!

© Linda Visman

My Ideal Christmas

December 4, 2010 at 9:34 am | Posted in Culture, Religion, Society, Special Occasions, War and Conflict | Leave a comment
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Santa overwhelmed

 

 

 

 

 

 

An ideal Christmas – you have to be kidding!

I think it won’t happen – at least while I’m living.

When will we have peace and joy in our lives;

or a world without war, and where everyone strives

to understand one another, and tries their best

to make their religion mean something that’s blessed.

 

 

Guns for Xmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What about the stores, with their Buy! Buy! Buy!

Will that ever stop so that we can see why

this special day originally came to be?

It’s the opposite of their greed and venality!

And when will families, parted all year,

come together again without anger or fear,

but instead will create a real celebration

of love and of sacrifice and deep contemplation?

 

 

Buy things with money don't have

 

 

 

 

 

 

My ideal Christmas has none of the hype,

but is based upon joy and on love of the type

that gives unto others and asks for no more

than to have all men equal, both the rich and the poor.

Of course, in this world, that’s all an illusion –

here, life is ruled by fear and confusion.

Selfish wants take the lead, and of love there’s a dearth;

Man doesn’t change because a child came to earth.

 

Santa stop the fighting

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, I’ll just take the presents, the food and the wine,

and shut out the world, so that all will be fine.

 

 

Christmas Celebration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Linda Visman

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