Share Your World – Week 39

September 30, 2014 at 9:14 pm | Posted in Australia, Nature, Reading | 4 Comments
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Share Your World blog badge

These are the latest questions from Cee Neuner – getting to know each other on Share Your World.

Did you ever get lost?

Nope, never been lost – not that I remember, anyway.

Who was your best friend in elementary school?

I don’t remember even having a particular friend in primary (elementary) school. I guess I was rather a loner when I was young.

Since the new television season has started in the US, list three favorite TV shows.

I rarely watch TV, though there are a few programmes I will watch when they come on. Most of them relate to historical aspects. I love the British Time Team with Tony Robinson, though we are several years behind on getting them here in Australia. I also love the Australian and British Who Do You Think You Are? which trace back the antecedents of well known people. That’s pretty well all I watch on a regular basis – when they are on free to air TV. We don’t have pay TV.

If you were a mouse in your house in the evening, what would you see your family doing?

My hubby will be watching TV –either war histories or aeroplane crash investigations usually. I will be either working at my writing on my computer, doing some scrapbooking, or reading.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

We have had the last few days away, camping at a place where there was no mobile (cell) phone reception or internet reception. It has been a time of relaxation and enjoying the country and wildlife.

In the next week, I will be getting into my writing group activities again.

(c) Linda Visman

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Reading: From Print to Digital

August 14, 2014 at 7:38 pm | Posted in Culture, Mental Health, Psychology, Reading, Society, War and Conflict | 11 Comments
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kindle-book-shelf

When I reached my sixties, I was reading lots of murder mysteries, forensic crime and dark thrillers, depending on my mood. I have read just about all of the books by Kathy Reichs and Patricia Cornwell, and some of Sue Grafton’s alphabet crime series, a couple of Richard North Patterson, and lots of others. Raymond Khoury’s thriller, The Sign, was particularly good.

I have gone back to the past a few times and to more literary novels. A couple were Australian authors. I enjoyed Eleanor Dark’s Slow Dawning (written in the 1930s), and Ruth Park’s Playing Beattie Bow (written in the 1960s), as well as Park’s two-part memoir. I also read Ken Follett’s World Without End, set in the Middle Ages.

I even tried to read D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, but I gave up on it about half way through. I did, however, relish the style and language of Paul Morgan’s The Pelagius Book. Then there are the novels of Tim Winton, Alex Miller and Khaleid Hosseini – wonderful writers!

Lady Chatterley

Now, well into my sixties, I read more post-apocalypse novels than I ever did, and even quite a bit of fantasy. I didn’t really get into those until the last few years, and I was wondering why recently. I decided that the state of society and the world these days – the violence, destruction, intolerance and hatred – have caused me to need an escape.

Destruction

The end of the world as we know it now seems to be a just outcome for those who have caused such pain and misery to so many innocent people. Unfortunately, many more innocent people would dies. However, post apocalypse times are when the resilient and resourceful have their chance to survive, even if it is against terrible odds. Perhaps it is a hope I have that the better aspects of mankind will finally prevail against the worst.

The same goes for fantasy. In other worlds, heroes – male and/or female – battle the evil forces that would destroy them. In the end there is victory for the good – even if it does come at the end of a series of three or four books!

LordofTheRings

I loved JRR Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy and even watched the movies – which I thought extremely well done (and I am not a movie-goer). I have tried Stephen King again and got through Under the Dome and The Stand. I have the complete Harry Potter books in a boxed set (I haven’t seen the movies though), and have found several good fantasy authors on Amazon Kindle. There are lots of fantasy series out there which are quite well written, as well as being great stories.

Two series by Edward W. Robinson – The Breakers and The Cycle of Arawn are good. The Muirwood series by Jeff Wheeler really got me in, as did Aaron Pogue’s trilogy, The Dragonprince’s Legacy. I also really enjoyed Michael G. Manning’s Mageborn series. I recently read Jason Mott’s The Returned, which, I believe was made into a telemovie. All of these I obtained as e-books.

MuirwoodTrilogy

My Kindle has led me into a whole new range and variety of reading. E-books are cheaper than print, and because of that, I have been able to sample a whole new range of authors and genres. Either I would never have come across these in print, or the price would have put me off.

kindle_look_insideYes, there is a lot of rubbish out there, but if you check the synopsis, reviews, and the success of the author, you can usually tell which will be of a reasonable standard. And if you can read a sample, you will get a good idea of the quality of the writing.

Some of the new authors I have come across through accessing e-books on my Kindle, apart from those I have already mentioned, include:
Fantasy & Post-apocalypse: Anna Elliott, Robert Clive Parnell, Peg Brantley, Erica Liodice, Julie Morrigan, Lori Brighton, R.T. Kaelin, M.R. Mathias, Jodi McIsaac, Erica Stevens, Katie W. Stewart, Kevin Bohacz.
Thrillers: Michael R. Hicks, Robert Ellis, Barry Friedman, Tom Lowe.

Lee Goldberg The Walk

Whodunits & Murder Mysteries: Kathleen Backus, Jeffrey Siger, Camilla Chafer, L.L. Bartlett, Debra Mares, Andy Straker, Lee Goldberg, Terri Reid, James Hankins, T.R.Ragan, Edie Claire.
Real life novels: Melissa F. Miller, Othello Back, Helen Ginger.
Young Adult: Aida Brassington.
Writing: Chris Thrall.
Memoir: Joy deKok, Cynthia Harrison
Of course, I have come across a lot more than these, but I decided just to share the ones I liked best.

Kindle

My Kindle goes with me whenever I travel. That is another of its great advantages. I can carry a hundred books in the space and weight it would take for only one slim printed volume. However, I will never give up on printed books. If you saw our bookshelves you would see that! There is something about them that is more evocative of worlds and more personal than an e-reader can ever be.

Talking about Books

Have you made the transition from print to electronic books? Do you use both, or do you stick mainly with one medium?

© Linda Visman

Mementos of Childhood

March 29, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Posted in Australia, Experiences, Family, History, Making History, Psychology | 5 Comments
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I possess very little from my childhood; not the only doll I ever had, that the dog chewed up, nor bits of the wooden scooter Dad made one Christmas. I don’t even have the things that I was really keen to hang on to, that were important to me then; things like my Missal (Mass book), my First Communion and Confirmation medals and certificates, and especially the books I loved.

In the 1950s, we were a struggling English migrant family of seven (five kids), living in a tiny three-roomed house in a tiny village in rural Australia. Dad added a room to the house when our uncle and aunt and two cousins arrived from England to stay with us until they could get their own place, and another when our grandparents followed them.

My little brother, the fifth child, was born not long before they arrived. There was little room for thirteen of us, let alone old toys and papers, and that sort of thing didn’t ever seem that important to my parents anyway. It didn’t worry me at the time either; I was only a kid. But times have changed since then.

My home in 1965

I would love to have the books I treasured as a child, examples of my writing or school work, anything at all in my handwriting. The only original things I do have are a few report cards, my references from secondary school, and the three certificates I received during my education – one on leaving the convent primary school where I was female dux, one at the end of my third high school year, and my high school matriculation. The only example of my writing that I have consists of one article, printed in the second annual magazine of our high school, in 1963.

In 1969, I went back home for a visit after I had married and was teaching far away. I do not remember seeing anything of mine in the house; not my book collection, including Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, nor the WWII model aeroplanes (Dad had been an RAF fighter pilot in the war) and model vintage cars that I’d had in my bedroom. Strange as it may seem, I never asked where my things had gone.

My school in 1959 (I was in 5th grade then)

Another strange thing: when St Paul’s, my old primary school, celebrated the centenary of the St Joseph sisters in 1983, they produced a booklet about the teachers and the school. There were only three teachers, all nuns, when I attended, though it is a large school now. Daybreak, the Centenary booklet, contains quite a few old class photos. Both my sisters and both my brothers are in there, but I am not – and we could never afford to buy school photos.

Similarly, at the state high school my husband and I had attended for five years, many student records were destroyed in a major flood about twenty years ago. The only records lost were those from the exact years we were there, 1961 to 1965. It is as if we had never been there – apart from my name in the school magazines I was able to buy.

In many ways, I feel like I have lost a major part of my childhood. Most of my ‘history’ has gone. It doesn’t help that I also have only a fragmented memory of those times.

Perhaps as a result of all this, I tried not to throw anything out that belonged to my five children. I don’t know what they still keep from these items – all 5 being boys, and movers about the country to find good careers, I suppose they haven’t bothered – and somehow, I only have a few of their things myself.

Thirty-five years ago, I began researching and putting together the family history. I have written a book, in two editions, about our family antecedents, including historical and social conditions of the times. It focuses in greater detail on the individuals since about 1850. Years of research made me well aware of the importance of records in establishing the life of any individual in any time.

But to know a person, we need to have more of them beyond bare genealogical details. And that has led to my being designated as ‘family historian’. In order to save what I can of us as individuals, I have become a hoarder of my own memorabilia and anything associated with my family. I have only a few of my parents’ small possessions – which are virtually all that remain of their lives, apart from memories that fade over time. These too will be lost as my generation and our children die out.

My published novel, Ben’s Challenge, and its sequel, Ben’s Choice, my current work-in-progress, are based on childhood memories and experiences in the area in which I grew up. I wanted to pass on the knowledge of those times to the children of today, especially to my own grandchildren. Instead, I find that the first book has ignited memories in older folk who lived during those times, and they have enjoyed being taken back to their childhood.

I think the books may also be a search for my own past. Perhaps I have never gotten over the loss of what was really my own childhood identity.

What items do you treasure from your childhood?

© Linda Visman,

Looking Back; Looking Forward

January 2, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Destroying nature, Experiences, Making History, Politics, Social Responsibility, War and Conflict, Writing and Life | Leave a comment
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I have tried to look back at 2011 and identify the times that have been significant to me – in a world context; nationally; locally; and personally. Of course, there are just too many to list in every area, but here are a few:

International: 2011 has been, again, a year where events all over the world have impinged on lives locally. Unfortunately, most of them have been decidedly negative.

There have been storms and floods, earthquakes and tsunamis, war and terrorism, the beginnings of democracy in traditionally dictatorial countries, droughts and famines.

The European Economic Crisis affects even us here in Australia, who have been fortunate in mostly evading the worst of the economic woes of the U.S., Europe and other area.

The events that caused me the most concern personally were the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the subsequent nuclear emergency with the melt-down at the Fukishima plant. My son, his Japanese wife, and my beautiful granddaughter live in Japan, and concern for their welfare is foremost in my mind. Fortunately, they live to the west on a more southerly island, and so far all is well with them.

    National: I speak here of Australia (though the same attitudes seem to be endemic in other countries as well) where the most belligerent, blame-shifting, back-biting, spiteful and divisive parliament I can remember continues to create stress, anger and frustration for the populace, and no real policy commitment. The worst collisions have been on refugees and the carbon tax.

Instead of working together for the future good of the country, both major parties appear to be focused only on scoring points against the other and looking to destroy the other’s chances of re-election.

Local & State: Housing and industrial developments continue to spread across the best country all over the state of NSW. Land that was producing meat and dairy products, fruit and vegetables, and other natural products is now barren, covered with concrete and steel.

     In other areas, farmers continue to battle the gas companies that are determined to despoil even more food-producing land and the groundwater that is its lifeblood.

Here in Australia, we have much more low-fertility land and desert than food producing soil, and yet short-sighted governments and greedy developers seem bent on destroying much of what is left. It breaks my heart to see it every time I think about it.

 Family and Friends: Thank heavens for the people in my life –family and friends, near and far!

They give me hope for the world, pride in their endeavour, role models to look up to, young ones to help set on the road to a good and honest life, and an ocean of love in which to bathe.

They help me to see the positive that surrounds me, and to put the negative into some sort of perspective. I don’t know what I would do without them.   

 My Family: We are a multi-ethnic/cultural family. My husband and I have eight children between us, and six – in April it will be eight – grandchildren; the latest was born in April 2011. Some of them have faced huge difficulties and shown wonderful spirit in fighting through them. All of them have brought sunshine into our lives and the lives of others. We are very proud of them all.

    My Writing: I have had several poems and short stories published this year in magazines and anthologies.

  A major event was the self-publication in June of my novel Ben’s Challenge. The response to it, from all over the world, has been wonderful, and has given me encouragement to continue with my writing.

I have increased the frequency of my wordpress blog entries and have begun another blog with Writing Our Way Home, taking on their ‘small stones’ challenge, focusing on seeing the wonders of the natural world around us.

And So, to 2012:

My hope and intention is to write more: journaling, blogs, poems and short stories. I especially want to make more progress on my second novel, Ben’s Choice, and have the first draft completed  this year.

On the personal front, my husband and I hope to overcome health issues, so that we can do the travel we want to and to visit our far-flung family members more regularly.

I hope you all have a safe, healthy, happy and productive 2012.

My Number – Five

November 5, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Posted in Psychology, Writing | Leave a comment
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My writing group was posed a challenge to write about a number that has some meaning to them. Here is my response:

I don’t mind numbers – they can be very helpful. But, long ago, the concepts involved in numbers were strange to most people. That gave rise to an association of beliefs and superstitions to certain numbers, many of which have carried on to this day.

Lots of people believe in the pseudo-science of Numerology. Numbers can be lucky or unlucky, depending on which culture you belong to. If it is lucky to find a four-leaf clover for example, imagine how much luckier it is to find a five-leaf clover.

I don’t believe in the power of numbers, but I do sort of like the number five. Do you know how many beliefs there are surrounding the number five? Lots! In every culture across the world, numbers have special representations, whether to gods or to elements or to superstitions 

The number five has its own plethora of esoteric connections, probably the most well known of which is the five-pointed star, the pentagram, believed by Wiccans and others to ward off evil. And did you know that, if you dream about the number five, you will become famous? I have obviously never dreamed about it!

 The number five has certain symbolic connections for me, but they have nothing to do with superstition or belief in the occult. They are much more personal. I started school when I turned five. There were only five years of high school when I attended. I have two brothers and two sisters, so we are five siblings. I just loved the Famous Five books by Enid Blyton when I was a child. Five also seems to be an appropriate number of digits to have on each hand – and I notice how difficult it is when my arthritis prevents me from using all five of them.

But mostly, five is associated with my five sons. They are my special number, and I think five will stay my favourite, even as the number of my grandchildren changes and grows. Those five boys, now arrived at or about to enter middle age, will always remain very precious to me.

 

© Linda Visman

5th November 2011

Nostalgia

May 2, 2010 at 8:04 am | Posted in Philosophy, Society | Leave a comment
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Last night, my husband and I, and several friends, went to a club about 45 minutes away from home, for dinner and a show. The dinner was the usual bistro meal, adequate but nothing special. The show was absolutely great. It involved a quartet of (not-too-young) men who pay tribute to three groups from yesteryear. They call themselves “The Three Bs”.

The show was in three parts, and the group dressed to match the particular “B” they were imitating in each part: the Bee Gees; the Beach Boys; and the Beatles. So, what’s special about all that? Well, firstly, they were very good. Their singing, stage presence and enthusiasm really had the crowd involved. The dance floor in front of the tables was continually full of enthusiastic dancers, whose ages ranged from about eighteen to their sixties (I was one of the older ones actually on the floor). The seated audience covered the same lower age range, but a higher upper range; some people would have been near eighty. I suppose the biggest thing that struck me was how much this show, and its audience, illustrates the huge surge in nostalgia as the Baby Boomers age.

So, what is nostalgia?

Nostalgia: n, a longing and desire for home, family and friends, or the past. (The Macquarie Dictionary, 2nd revision, The Macquarie Library, Sydney, NSW, 1982.)

Nostalgia has always been a part of the human makeup, but why does it appear that this post-World War II generation is particularly noted for its nostalgia – in fact, so much so, that the emphasis is now seen to be on the second part of the definition, “a longing and desire for the past”, rather than on “the home and family”? I think there are a couple of major reasons for that, though there are probably others too 

The first reason is that, in general, Baby Boomers had an easy life when they were growing up. The nineteen-fifties were a time of high employment and financial security. For the first time, children didn’t have to – indeed they couldn’t – go out to work at a very early age. Families could afford to buy their own homes, a car, labour saving devices. Children had access to levels of education their parents could only dream of. They were now more likely to be “white-collar”, rather than “blue-collar” workers.

The second reason is the huge changes that have occurred in technology and society in general in the post-war period, but especially in the last twenty years. Many of these changes came as Baby Boomers were reaching their forties, and have continued through their fifties and up to their sixties. They would, in earlier times, expect to be settled in their employment, having raised their children, and be looking forward to retirement. Economic and social changes, caused by technology and changing attitudes, now mean that many feel nervous rather than secure. Change has happened too quickly; no other generation until theirs had ever been faced with such enormous and continual change.

It is no wonder many Baby Boomers wish to return to the days when there was a sense of freedom and opportunity – along with a sense of security, when confidence was strong and the world was their oyster.

© Linda Visman 2nd May 2010

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