Tags: family, friends, gratitude, reading
Every week, Cee poses us five questions. In answering Cee’s questions, we share a little of our world with fellow bloggers and readers. Thank you, Cee. Here are Cee’s questions for Week 45.
What is your favorite color?
Blue has always been my favourite colour. Very predictable I suppose, as it seems about half the world has blue as a favourite! The blue I love best is the deep blue of the Australian sky that we especially see in autumn. Stunning!
In what do you find the simplest of joys?
Both my husband and I find all our joys in the everyday things around us – we couldn’t afford anything more anyway, so it is good that it keeps our focus on the small things.
We love our many kids (8 between us) and grandkids (11 and another on the way), but they all live at a distance from us. So, getting a photo of them at their daily lives and activities, or a drawing from one of the grandchildren, warms our hearts. So does speaking with any of them by phone or Skype. In the meantime, we truly relish what nature shares with us.
Would you prefer a reading nook or an art, craft, photography studio?
My study is crammed with books and scrapbooking materials and albums, as well as my computer desk where I do a lot of my writing. It is rather crowded, but I can get by with the space I have for those.
I have a nice comfy chair in the lounge room where I can read. However that is where the TV is. I rarely watch TV, so when I go there to read, hubby is really good to me and wears earphones to listen to it. It would be lovely if I could have a bigger study so I could have my comfy reading chair in there too.
What is at least one of your favorite quotes?
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 visited an old friend in hospital after a bowel cancer operation. We are always amazed at 92-year-old Jean and her positive attitude to life. We are grateful to have her as a friend.
We are going to visit some of my husband’s kids and grandkids tomorrow, and will also see some of my siblings. I am particularly looking forward to seeing my younger sister, as we haven’t been able to spend any time together for over a year. It will be great to catch up.
Tags: blogs, charities, donation, gratitude, rainy day activities, reading, scrapbooking, writing by hand
Cee continues to challenge us to share our world with her great questions. They make us think about our lives, and that is always a good thing. Here are my answers to her questions for Week 43.
What is your favorite time of day?
I think it is the later part of the evenings. That is the time when it is unlikely anyone will telephone. That is when hubby is usually either watching TV or working at his computer. Thus, there is little to interrupt me in whatever I am doing. That may be writing, scrapbooking or reading. A time for myself.
What’s your favorite charitable cause and why?
I have supported many different causes throughout my life, each one relevant to the needs I see around me. These needs are sometimes medical – The Blind Society due to Dad blindness; Breast Cancer research & support groups after my cancer diagnosis; The Australian Heart Foundation, after hubby’s heart attack; and several organisations that support people in financial or other distress.
But there is a limit to the number of charities one can donate to, especially when we are on the age pension. We donate regularly to various worthy causes, but not really to any one particular cause.
How do you like to spend a rainy day?
If it is light rain, it won’t usually stop me from doing some outside things. But when the rain has set in and the best course is to stay inside and wait it out, you have a good excuse to settle in and enjoy the time out; unless you have to do paid work or have other ongoing commitments of course.
Rainy days are good times to relax and do the pleasant things you put off doing because there are more important things to do. I love to read to the sound of rain on the roof, settled into my comfortable chair with a hot drink or a glass of wine (the wine after 6pm of course). It’s a good time to catch up on my scrapbooking too, or read blogs and emails. Anything that would normally carry a sense of guilt if you do it when the weather is fine and you have no excuse for getting out of the house or yard work.
When writing by hand do you prefer to use a pencil or pen?
When we began school, we wrote with a pencil, but in 4th grade, we moved on to pen and ink. It was such a big step, and an indication that we were growing up. To write with a pencil was seen as babyish. It wasn’t until I reached high school that biros became easy to get and relatively cheap. But even then, I preferred to use my fountain pen – the nib with use, fitting perfectly to my style of writing. It is actually rare here in Australia for anyone to write with a pencil once they are older. Those who do, usually use a clutch pencil.
By the end of high school, biros were everywhere, and I always used them to write with. The only time I have written with a pencil is when I can’t find a pen. I even do my cryptic and other crosswords with a pen. Nowadays, with my arthritic fingers, the thicker pens with formed grips are easiest for me to use, but I love the flow of the gel pens you can get now too.
Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
Last week, with virtually no outside commitments, both my husband and I did what we wanted to do. In my case, it was lots of yard work, scrapbooking and relaxing with a crossword or a book. It has been the first time for a year or two that we have had that length of time to ourselves and we have both been thankful for it.
This week, we still have a few more days of freedom, so we are doing the same and enjoying it.
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: crime novels, fantasy, genres, history, literature, memoir, murder mysteries, post-apocalypse, reading, science fiction, writing, young adult books
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
Yes, 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.
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.
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.
Have you made the transition from print to electronic books? Do you use both, or do you stick mainly with one medium?
© Linda Visman
Tags: reading, second-hand books, work and reading
My Forties and Early Fifties
I didn’t read as much once I went back to working, firstly at odd jobs and then as a casual supply teacher. For the next fifteen years I was busy with my new partner, making a new life and earning a living. We lived in Dubbo NSW for six years, and then went to the Northern Territory. There we both gained permanent positions teaching with the Department of Education.
There, along with 3-4-hour drives into Alice Springs over mostly dirt roads, bush excursions and overnight camping in our swags, I read when I could fit it into my 12-14-hour working days. I loved my work and the people in the remote indigenous community schools where we were sent. However, it could be emotionally and physically draining, and reading way one way of revitalising my energies.
Second-hand Bookshops: We stayed in the Northern Territory through the 1990s. During those years, when we made trips into Alice Springs, we both found new authors as we browsed the second-hand bookshops. We would take a bag full of books with us on the 330 km drive back to Ampilatwatja (for 4.5 years) and, later, 130km to Hermannsburg (for over four years). We would also bring books from other places in NSW after visiting our families in school holidays.
I really enjoyed Bryce Courtenay’s African stories The Power of One and Whitethorn. His The Potato Factory, set in London and Tasmania in the days of transportation to Australia, was good too, but not so much its follow-ups. I read several others of his books, but found some of them too rambling.
I love anything to do with humans in pre-historic times, so I quickly became taken with Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series, especially the first few. They are set in the Neolithic era; with a detailed background on climate, foods, art and possible cultural and religious beliefs. The first in the series is The Clan of the Cave Bear, which I believe was turned into a rather poor B grade movie. The book deserved much better treatment!
From there, my partner and I discovered the People of the Earth novels of Kathleen O’Neal Gear & Michael Gear set in pre-European America. The first of the series was People of the Wolf, with lots more following. We devoured each one as we found them. I collected all the Gear and Auel books, and I have read both series at least three times so far. Whenever I get another of the books, I re-read the previous ones first to re-establish the characters, context and story, before delving into the new one.
I have read most of James A. Michener’s epic books, many of which take you from pre-history to modern times in a particular location. For some reason didn’t particularly like his Pacific island titles, but my favourites were The Source and Alaska.
In mid-1998, due to health problems, we sadly had to leave the NT. I then had lots of time for reading and I took full advantage of it. I continued with the several book series I have already mentioned, plus crime and murder mysteries and forensic investigation novels. I had discovered Dean Koontz whilst I was in the N.T. and I read most of the books he’d written before about 2002 – I could only afford used copies. However, I didn’t take to Stephen King, and only read a few of his novels.
I loved Edward Rutherford’s Sarum, but it is only recently that I have acquired copies of two of his other titles, London and Dublin. I have yet to read them.
As some of my time was taken up writing my family history, I had plenty of research to do. This included reading books and on-line sources about England in general, and Lancashire in particular, in the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as local histories of my birth town, Oswaldtwistle.
My reading tastes have widened through the years, and I am always on the lookout for other authors and other genres to add to my eclectic library.
Have your reading tastes changed as you aged or found new books? Are your interests the same as they were, say twenty years ago?
© Linda Visman
Tags: Cicely May Barker, flower fairy books, learning to read, NSW school magazine, reading, school readers
I have always loved reading. I don’t actually remember learning to read – the letters, phonics, word recognition, etc; I just remember reading. I feel like I have always done it.
I do distinctly remember the early years of school and the books we used to read. I started school in England when I was five, but we came to Australia only six months later. So it is the books we used here that I remember best.
The first reader I remember was a red soft-covered one that was followed by one with a blue-cover, “Stories to Read” The stories were illustrated in colour, which made them more attractive to young kids – to me anyway.
More advanced readers, written for the NSW Department of Education, were “The Open Road to Reading” and “Travelling On”, and another I can’t remember now. The stories in these books really grabbed the imagination of this little girl who still believed in fairies, elves and a natural world that felt and responded to what people did to it. My favourite stories included “The Elves and the Shoemaker” and “The Little Fir Tree”.
One book from my childhood – when I was about eight years old – I will always remember. My brother Peter had probably borrowed from the library, as it was only there for a relatively short time. It was one of several flower fairy books by Cicely May Barker, I think “Flower Fairies of the Trees”.
I so wished it were mine, and I would get hold of it whenever I could.
That book would keep me engrossed for hours, drinking it its gorgeous pictures and the verse that went with each one. I wanted so much for those beautiful little fairies to be real, and more than half believed they were.
Australian public primary schools received magazines published by the Department of Education. Catholic schools, which we attended, had to buy them. They were graded in difficulty by age and class, with content aimed at the appropriate reading level. They were cheaply produced on white paper, and we would file them into a folder that used string to hold the issues for a year.
The magazines contained true stories, fiction and poems, many, if not most of them Australian, opening me to stories that were quite different from the English ones I usually read. The magazines came each month of the school year (ten a year, I think). I loved those stories too, and the nuns had no trouble getting me to read them. I would have read each item many times myself before we had to read them in class.
I joined the local public library as soon as I was able to and when there was one I could get to. We lived in a mainly dairy farming area, with small villages here and there. The nearest decent sized town was fifteen miles away. There weren’t a lot of public services then either. So I also used to read any book at my level wherever I found it.
Do you remember when you first learned to read? Are books and reading important to you?
© Linda Visman
Tags: 1950s, backyard dunny, children, Christmas, family singalong, family struggle, games, horse & cart, lessons, library books, memories, old time morals, polio, reading, walking to church
I remember when…
The lake shore, the farms and the local streets
were all places where children could safely roam;
And we played pirates, and cowboys and Indians
and wandered ‘til dark in the bush near our home.
The milk and bread being delivered to our door
on a cart with a horse that knew when to stop;
When it was exciting to travel on a steam train
and a penny bought four lollies at the local shop.
And I remember…
Walking three miles to church on a Sunday
With my family and wearing my best frock;
And the joy of reading a library book
or of being allowed to stay up until eight o’clock.
Aah, the memory of…
Our excitement when Christmas morning arrived
and we couldn’t wait to see what Santa had brought;
When the family came together to share a meal
and we sang the old songs that we’d all been taught.
Do I want to remember…
Going outside down the path, in sunshine or rain,
to the backyard dunny with its newspaper and pan,
in daylight or dark, with the smell all around,
hoping they’d not come when you’re sitting to pick up the can?
I also remember…
The long hard hours Dad worked to get enough
for the basics of life and a deposit on some land;
And Mum, never knowing if ends would meet
or if there’d be enough money to go around.
And the polio that changed our whole way of life
when it struck down my brother and sister – and Dad;
How Mum coped with all the worry and stress;
Her fears we’d never keep even the little we had.
But the things I remember best are these…
the love that our family had for each other
and the strength this gave us in bad times and good;
the joy we took in life’s simple things;
the hard work that was something we all understood;
the respect that we knew was earned and not bought;
and the strong moral lessons that our parents taught.
Maybe rose-coloured glasses have changed my perspective,
But I believe that our past is always subjective.
What we do with our memories shows who we’ve become –
So let’s use them to help us in times that will come.
(c) Linda Visman
First published in “I Remember When” an anthology compiled and edited by Julie Athanasiou, Legacy Books, Melbourne, Victoria, November 2006.