- Edie Richter is Not Alone – by Rebecca Handler
Edie Richter is Not Alone, Rebecca Handler’s debut novel, is a tragicomedy. Serious themes and great grief interwoven with laugh-out-loud observations ensure the reader’s interest remains high. Rebecca Handler, who now lives and works in San Francisco, lived in Western Australia for three years. She reflects this experience in the setting of her book. While …
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- Breastfeeding tricks for great-grandmothers
Breastfeeding! It didn’t occur to me that I would learn new tricks to deal with this ancient art. It’s been practised by women for ever, and we think we know all there is to know. But each generation does things in it’s own way, different from before. We’ve welcomed five new infants into our family …
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- Grapple with new information to keep brain growing
We spend a lot of time grappling with new information and skills just so we can keep up in the modern world. Every time we buy a new gadget or product, we have to learn how it works. Computers and mobile phones constantly change. Information technology demands we keep up or give up, but that’s …
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- More newsletter than blog for the end of May
Here’s a newsletter so everyone knows I’ve been extremely busy over the past few weeks. My usual pastimes have fallen by the way. Blogs not written. House barely cleaned. Take-away meals on the table every night (no, just wishing, kidding!). But I have been busy, in my own, pottering-around, eighty-four year old way. Life has …
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- Hairdressing woes that dogged me all my life
Current hairdressing woes aside, my life has been blighted by a rough deal dealt by my genes! You’d think a sane and rational older adult, in a world with so many problems and so much sadness, would have better things to think about. But my genes preoccupy too much of my thinking time. It’s not …
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- Remembering the day we married and eloped to France
Fifteen years ago today, John and I married and fled to France. Our Nuptial Mass at St Peters Church in Bedford was as romantic as anyone could imagine. The celebrant, Fr Trevor, wore gold vestments. The golden chalice gleamed in the rays of the morning sun that shone through the stained glass windows. Our witnesses, …
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- Struggle and persistence lead to new ideas
To struggle, according to dictionary definitions, means to make strenuous efforts in the face of difficulties or opposition. It sounds like something to be avoided at all costs. However, I’m convinced struggle is good for us and that we must grapple with new material if we want to learn and understand the world. Without struggle, …
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- Delirium and ways families can help prevent it
Delirium resultes from an abrupt change in the brain. It causes mental confusion and emotional disruption. It makes it difficult for a person to think, remember, sleep and pay attention. People with delirium may become agitated or aggressive. It can occur at any age but is more common in older adults. However, it occurs in …
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- When cooking for two became my new battlefield
Cooking for two – or twenty or more – didn’t faze me. I loved making meals. I also enjoyed baking; barbecuing; making jam and generally playing with food and creating in the kitchen. Then, everything changed. Mealtimes come round with increasing monotony. And, dare I say it, with increasing stress. My world has shrunk a …
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- A Room Made of Leaves – Kate Grenville’s book
In A Room Made of Leaves, multi-award winning Australian author, Kate Grenville, creates an unreliable memoir. From the beginning, we suspect that all may not be what it seems. Even the epitath reads, ‘Do not believe too quickly!’ Elizabeth Macarthur. Several times, the protagonist, who is also the narrator, warns the reader not to trust …
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- Extraordinary mothers combine in special team work
Two extraordinary mothers, my granddaughter and daughter, provided an outstanding example of teamwork when my newest great-grandchild arrived recently. And what a beautiful baby he is! Alistair James Stuart Linton decided he’d had enough waiting for something to happen. He was born, several weeks early, with little warning (an understatement). His grandmother, my daughter Jenny, …
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- Your chronic pain may respond to these activities
Since I recently discovered that chronic pain is not a life-or-death sentence, I feel like a new convert. Or like someone who’s fallen in love or given up a forty-a-day cigarette habit. I’m grateful that a casual conversation over coffee led to a new way of looking at life. An achievement at any age! This …
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- If You’re Happy by Fiona Robertson – a review
If You’re Happy (2022) consists of a delicious collection of twenty-four cleverly crafted and beautifully written short stories. Fiona Robertson’s work has been published in literary journals in Australia and the United Kingdom. This collection won the Glendower Award for an Emerging Queensland writer at the 2020 Queensland Literary Awards. I am proud to call …
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- Is your convenience more important than my death?
Your convenience, under normal circumstances, should be taken very seriously. In ordinary times in the western world, we have the right to freedom of movement. We can choose with whom we associate, where and under what circumstances. We choose what goes into our bodies without sanctions. Everyone wears what they like. But during a pandemic …
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- Gender neutral clothes for new great-grandbabies
Ideas about gender neutral clothes for my next batch of great-grandbabies interest me. Three of my granddaughters will present us with babies in the next few months. Two other babies were born at the end of last year. By June, I’ll have twelve great-grandchildren. How did happened so quickly? I should feel incredibly old, but …
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- Why we need carp-catchers to protect our lakes
Carp-catchers or more precisely, feral-fish catchers, caught my eye on this morning’s walk on Subiaco Common. There have been odd-looking structures in Lake Mere for several weeks. They’ve piqued my curiosity but today I caught up with two young men to find out about the structures. They seemed so out of place on the apparently …
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- Brain plasticity new science and chronic pain
Brain plasticity is the ability of the brain to modify its connections or re-wire itself. There’s a chapter in my PhD thesis, submitted in the mid 2000, which deals with this remarkable new discovery. The science spans many disciplines, including physics, biology, psychology and ethnology. My chapter talks about the importance of memory in memoir-writing. …
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- How to prepare for open WA borders
WA borders will open to the rest of Australia and the world in a few weeks. Western Australians argue about whether this should happen now or later. Some of us would prefer to remain ‘in our cave’ or ‘under the doona’, as our detractors say. We’ve been safe for two years. Some of us like …
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- Ten tips for better health in COVID-19 times
Better health can be achieved by most of us. It doesn’t matter where we start. In COVID-19 times and at other stressful periods in life, however, we can take extra care. The better our general health, the more likely our immune systems are to work efficiently when called on. Australians have been relatively lucky. Until …
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- Peaceful my new word and practice for 2022
Peaceful, the word I’ve chosen for this year, and many words with similar meaning – tranquility, serenity, calm – have a gentle sound, unlike the clamour and chaos of the past two years. They’re easy on our ears and hearts. 2020 and 2021, years of epidemic, pandemic and COVID-19, have also been years of great …
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- Stir-up Sunday stuff-up pudding rescue
Stir-up Sunday, the last Sunday of the Catholic and Anglican liturgical year, is a traditional day for making Christmas puddings. It gets its informal name from the first prayer of the liturgy, which begins, ‘Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people‘. Not exactly sticklers for conforming to the traditions …
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- Naming ageism gets me into deep trouble on Facebook
Naming ageism got me into deep trouble recently, and I’ll do it again when I need to. I named it when I saw it because it seemed the right response. However, I ended up on the wrong side of one of the residents in this apartment building, the target of his wrath. Sadly, I’ve never …
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- Dwellingup – an old timber town with new life
Dwellingup, just over 100 kilometres from Perth, hides from plain view, off major roads. You need a car or a motorbike (or a pushbike for the energetic and time-rich) to get there. No public transport passes this gem of a place, established as a mill town in a jarrah forest. First gazetted as a township …
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- A little bush town and trips down memory lane
A little bush town, the surrounding countryside and the river a few kilometres away sparked a life-time of memories. John and I spent a week in the town at the beginning of this month. Dwellingup has changed over the years, but in many ways it stays the same. It is still a quiet country village …
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- Why hobbies are good for you
Hobbies include the activities people do for fun or relaxation. Everyone needs an escape from their usual daily occupation, work or boredom. Hobbies fill this space. They range from sport and exercise, craft, art and puzzles to developing new skills in any field that interests us. A hobby or two or more provide the changes …
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- Murmurations by Carol Lefevre – a review
Murmurations, by Australian author Carol Lefevre, interested me especially as a short story cycle. The author links eight stories primarily through Erris Cleary, a deceased woman, as well as through many other connections. Each of the stories can be enjoyed individually. Each tells about a thoroughly believable snippet of life. They reflect aspects of each …
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- Walking meditation in a labyrinth
Walking meditation can be done anywhere, but walking a labyrinth adds a special dimension to this ancient practice. An award-winning novel, The Labyrinth, (2020) by Australian author, Amanda Lohrey, provoked me to find out out more. In the book, a middle-aged woman with seemingly insurmountable problems and deep grief decides to build her own labyrinth …
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- Disappointment creates new opportunities
Disappointment seems an odd emotion to experience at my age, especially over trivial things. You’d think a person over eighty would have weathered so much adversity they’d never feel let down again. But we’re led to expect peace and serenity in old age. Wisdom. A calm acceptance of the world and all it contains. Sadly, …
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- The Labyrinth by Amanda Lohrey – Miles Franklin Award
The Labyrinth by Amanda Lohrey won Australia’s most prestigious literary prize, the Miles Franklin Award, (2021). In December, 2021, it was also announced as the winner of the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for fiction. These awards are well-deserved. It’s one of the best books I’ve read for a long time. The Labyrinth tells the story of …
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- Goal-setting, accountability – how to get things done
Goal-setting – a skill I learned well in my twenties – usually stands me in good stead when I want to get things done. Finish a doctoral degree, declutter a house, learn a new crochet stitch? Set a goal. Job done! Although 2020 brought many problems as COVID-19 spread around the world, I …
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- Cubby study sanctuary – a place to love
Cubby study sanctuary, my place to retreat and enjoy. The tiny space off the living room in our apartment grabbed my attention. Used for storage of unfolded laundry by the tenants-in-residence, its potential thrilled. ‘It’s called a study-nook on the plan,’ the real estate agent said. ‘I’m yours!’ the little space whispered.
- Ten reasons to love a short story cycle
A short story cycle can also be described as ‘linked short stories’ or ‘a novel in short stories’. Whatever we choose to call it, the genre consists of a number of stories linked in a variety of ways. Each story stands alone with its own structure and plot. However, when published together they make a …
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- Illustrated Nature Poetry: An Anthology – a review
Illustrated Nature Poetry: An Anthology captured my attention the minute I saw the attractive cover. Sadly, my photography skills didn’t quite capture the glossiness or quality of the book. Always on the lookout for things to share with my great-grandchildren, this book seemed to fit the bill.
- Soggy July goodbye good riddance
Goodbye, soggy July 2021! Surprisingly for a committed winter lover, I’m glad to see the back of the month just gone. July 2021 was the second wettest July on record. That’s pretty wet. I know people who talk happily about ‘dry July’. Not us. The month reminded me of winters when I was a child …
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- Metal Fish, Falling Snow by Cath Moore – a review
Metal Fish, Falling Snow, by Cath Moore, has been given the Prime Minister’s Award (2021) for Young adult literature. It is a poignant, beautifully-written debut novel, which touched me deeply. A so-called ‘young adult’ novel, it kept me, an old woman, reading avidly from start to finish. Not only that, several times I went back …
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- Masking-up makes older women cringe
Masking-up in Western Australia has been with us on and off for months. After a year of freedom from this practice, at first we found it hard. And it continues to be a difficult duty we perform for our own good and that of others. However, older women seem to have a more difficult time …
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- Practising kindness can increase our wellbeing
Practising kindness really can improve our wellbeing. We all know that eating a healthy diet, exercising and getting enough sleep are essential for our health. So, too, are not smoking or drinking too much alcohol. And, as scientists have recently discovered, getting up and moving rather than sitting too long provides benefits. So does improving …
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- Reset time for the next half-year
Reset time in my calendar usually takes place at the beginning of January. This year, however, did not go according to plan. The tragic death of my daughter, Anne, on 27 December 2020 threw any plans I may have had for 2021 into disarray. Grief and mourning take their toll. Unrelenting, they extort enormous energy …
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- Rediscovering craft – the joy of making things
Rediscovering craft and the joy of making things occupies my time. Once a prolific knitter, dressmaker, quilter, gardener, I stopped making things. I don’t know why, but increasing arthritis probably made it a challenge. Instead, creative pursuits that involved writing rather than making, occupied my time. I suspect I’d uncover a major debate about the …
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- The Smokehouse by Melissa Manning – a review
In The Smokehouse, Melissa Manning provides eleven short stories. This debut collection of intertwined stories showcases the skills of the author. A lawyer, Manning grew up in Tasmania and now lives in Victoria. Each of the stories reads well, either alone or as part of the whole. In addition, the first and last can be …
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- Performing arts and gratitude of a non-performer
The performing arts in all their variety, beauty and wonder have nourished my mind and fed my soul. If you throw reading (fiction, non fiction, poetry, history etc.) into the mix, I’m indeed blessed. During my childhood, I longed to perform. But performance, a lisp and my inherent shyness sat uncomfortably together. It quickly became …
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- Live theatre and life-long learning
- Social life for eighty-year-olds injects new life
Social life for eighty-years-olds includes visits from family, coffee with friends and meeting in groups for craft activities or exercise. Bus trips and overnight sleepovers give older people enjoyment and so do competition cards, bingo and bowls. Anything done with other people benefits us, and some things more than others. Some outings make us tired. …
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- The Children, a play by Lucy Kirkwood – review
The Children, by playwright Lucy Kirkwood, entertains and provokes serious thought. On one hand, it can be viewed as witty and endearing. But The Children also carries a powerful message. It challenges the audience to think about responsibility between generations, and restitution for wrongs.
- Nursing sixty years ago
I started nursing sixty years ago this week at Royal Perth Hospital. What a milestone! It was winter, 1955. Winters were wetter then, and seemed colder.
- Walking speed predicts seniors’ life expectancy
Walking speed, so it seems, can be a predictor of a person’s life expectancy. Much like vital signs such as pulse and blood pressure. Or how much a person weighs and how much alcohol they drink or exercise they do. Last year, medical scientists labelled loneliness as a useful predictor of a person’s health and …
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- The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan – book review
With The Good Turn, award-winning author Dervla McTiernan demonstrates once more her considerable skills as story-teller and writer. As in her two previous books, The Rúin and The Scholar (reviewed here), characters Detective Cormac Reilly and Garda Peter Fisher encounter crime and police corruption. Important aspects of their personal lives emerge to intrigue the reader. …
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- Nursing comparisons now and 1955
Nursing comparisons between today and the olden days, when nurses trained in an apprenticeship system, make me laugh. Recently some nurses exchanged ideas about this topic on Facebook. I was seventeen years old when I began to train as a nurse in 1955. Then, nurses in Western Australia became indentured to the Health Department. Actually, …
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- Poetry, permission and how to make lentil soup
Poetry as a response to a recent blog post surprised and delighted me. I had written about grief and loss. You can read the original at Baby steps on the road to recovery My dear granddaughter, Jane-Heloise, sent me a copy of a lovely poem on the same theme by acclaimed American poet, Jane Hirshfield. …
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- Witness by Louise Milligan – a review
Witness: An investigation into the brutal cost of seeking justice by Louise Milligan deserves its place on the Stella short-list (2021). Witness provides a frightening account of what it can mean to be the complainant in a sexual assault case. Few people report sexual assault to the police. Fewer still take their case to court. …
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- Baby steps on the road to recovery after loss
Baby steps. The concept resonates. Do one small thing. Then another. Brush your hair. Put bread and cheese on the table. Water the plants. Rest often. Talk. Cry. Find a comfortable space to be. Fold the washing. Put the socks in drawers and fresh sheets on the bed. Take care of yourself. Ask for comfort. …
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- Songlines: The Power and Promise – a review
Songlines: The Power and Promise by Margo Neale and Lynne Kelly provides a compelling and in-depth discussion about part of the culture of Indigenous Australians. The authors point to a way forward in which all Australians can benefit from an increased understanding of Indigenous culture. See below for more about the Margo Neale and Lynne …
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- Confessions of a house cleaner tragic
A house cleaner tragic through and through, I’ve enjoyed cleaning my own house all my adult life. I find it meditative, creative and satisfying. But, at 80+ I finally decided to take the plunge and employ a cleaning firm that specialises in working in apartments.
- Child Protection stories and my involvement
Child Protection stories don’t sound like a lot of fun. But, always optimistic, I expect my newest venture, work with the Family Integration Network, WA, to be satisfying and enjoyable. That’s not just for me, but also for the participants in a group who want to write stories about how involvement with the Department of …
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- The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth – a review
The Good Sister: Everyone has a Dark Side kept me turning the pages until way past my bedtime. The sixth book by best-selling Australian author Sally Hepworth, it boasts plenty of plot twists and big themes. Mystery and psychological intrigue abound as we learn about the family dramas that surround the sisters and their mother.
- Hard lockdown mark II against COVID-19
Hard lockdown mark II in Western Australia pounced quickly. After ten months of no community transmission of COVID-19 and our ordinary lives, the edict came yesterday as a shock. Not that we should have been surprised. Mark McGowan, the State Premier, warned all along that, should there be a case of community spread of COVID-19, …
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- Alert: post contains tragic news
It is with deep sadness and a heavy heart that I announce the death of my beautiful and beloved younger daughter, Anne Mari O’Callaghan (Annie). Born on 11 August, 1965, she died on 27 December 2021. She is survived also by her daughters, Renee Paige and Megan Jane Muhleisen, her grandson Bailey Muhleisen and her …
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- Fake it till you make it psychology and sociology
Fake it till you make it sounds like an instruction to trick or deceive. But it actually provides useful direction for people who find themselves in a new or difficult position and unsure about how to proceed. The phrase suggests that by imitating confidence, competence, and an optimistic mindset, a person can realize those qualities …
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- Book review challenge that preferences women writers
A book review challenge that preferences women writers guarantees my interest. And, as it turned out, my participation also over a number of years. This is the tenth year of the Australian Women Writers Challenge. Here’s a quote f rom their website. It explains this book review challenge better than I can. ‘The AWW challenge …
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- Tin Horse Highway for serious fun
The Tin Horse Highway featured high on my list of things to do during our recent venture into the Great Southern Region of Western Australia. We left it until the last day, and went on our way home from Hyden and Wave Rock. Such a treat! If you get a chance to go that way, …
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- Australian Women Writers Challenge 2020 completed
The Australian Women Writers Challenge 2020 completed itself, or so it seemed. It took very little effort on my part this year. Most years, I commit to review a certain number of books by Australian women. Then I struggle to review the number of books to which I’ve committed. So, at the beginning of this …
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- Advent preparations for a tough Christmas
We all have a tough Christmas from time to time. We have years we remember as months full of pain and grief or unexpected sorrow and loss. Christmas time can be full of sadness following such an experience. But this year, because of COVID-19, more of us than usual will find Christmas difficult.
- Write your story, enjoy the benefits
When you write your story, whether a page or two or a book-length memoir or autobiography, you can expect many rewards. They come both when you write and when you share your whole story or a part of it. Every life is different, and so each unique story differs from that of everyone else.
- Hotel quarantine and COVID-19 from the outside
Hotel quarantine for all travellers from overseas as they enter Australia is mandated by the Commonwealth Government. Each state and territory enforces strict conditions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from outside Australia. Some states use the term ‘medi hotel’ instead of quarantine hotel. We owe a great debt of gratitude to Australians returning from …
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- Are prime number birthdays special?
Prime number birthdays should be the same as all other birthdays. So common sense tells me. There’s probably nothing special about those years which are divisible only by one and themselves. But experience tells me differently. It seems to me that prime number birthdays and the years that follow often possess special magic. I’m curious …
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- Does dislike of all-gender toilets make me a bigot?
All-gender toilets built at Curtin University will ‘help transgender students feel safe’, according to an article in The West Australian last week. The article also says that a ‘concerted vandalism campaign’ left many students feeling unsafe. The vandalism included tearing or defacing posters. A sad state of affairs. . There’s no excuse for discrimination or …
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- ‘Honeybee’ by Craig Silvey – a review
Honeybee by Craig Silvey, best-selling author of Jasper Jones, is a big, beautiful coming-of-age novel. Like Hope Farm, by Peggy Frew, which I reviewed recently, it tells a story of a childhood with an immature, addicted mother. Honeybee by Craig Silvey, best-selling author of Jasper Jones, is a big, beautiful coming-of-age novel. Like Hope Farm, …
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- Appreciation for people who inspire us
My morning pages (four pages, written long-hand first thing) often turn into lists of gripes about the world and my place in it. Sometimes, though, they fill with little songs of appreciation. Often, I forget to tell people I’m grateful for the inspiration they provide. So here, off the top of my head, in no …
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- Recovery and the magic of Lake Mere
The lovely Mere Lake, less than half a kilometre from here on the Subiaco Common, might just as well have been on the other side of the moon. Bursitis of the hip has kept me home for many weeks, or at best walking only short essential distances. Swimming, even many laps, on the other hand, …
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- Hope Farm by Peggy Frew – a review
Hope Farm by Peggy Frew, my accidental library pick last week, drew me in from the beginning. I’d planned to borrow Frew’s Islands, longlisted for this year’s Miles Franklin Literary Award. All copies were on loan. I’m glad Hope Farm sat in a pile of returned books waiting to be shelved. Otherwise I might have …
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- New shoes challenge old knowledge
Buying new shoes challenged me. At best the activity bored and, at worst, depressed me. Once or twice, a pair of shoes captivated my imagination. An orange pair, the year I turned 39. They matched, perfectly, an oversized pumpkin-coloured jumper I wore that winter. Forty years later, a blue pair made my feet twitch with …
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- Wildflower Festival in Kings Park a winner
The 2020 Kings Park Wildflower Festival, on now until the end of September, won my heart again this year. I’m a year-round fan of this park, which is almost on my doorstep. But some spectacular events like this Wildflower Festival take my breath away.
- Holiday in the Swan Valley in springtime
The Swan Valley, less than twenty-five kilometres from home, seemed an unlikely destination for a holiday. But it turned out to be a wonderful place to spend three nights at the beginning of September. It felt a bit like cheating, to holiday so close to Perth at a destination most Western Australians would think of …
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- Melting Moments delicious Australian delicacies
Melting Moments, the debut novel of Anna Goldsworthy, deserves to be widely read. It provides both an intimate picture of domestic life and an entertaining social history of women’s lives in Australia during the 20th century. Anna Goldsworthy has written several acclaimed non-fiction books, and has published widely in journals. She is also a concert …
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- The night guest by Fiona McFarlane – a thriller
The night guest, by Fiona McFarlane, tells a chilling story of ageing, dementia – and elder abuse. The author’s debut novel, published in 2013 leads the reader on thrilling roller-coaster ride. I discovered The night guest in a second-hand bookshop recently. I’m glad I did because it mesmerised me from beginning to end.
- COVID-19 complacency – Is it time to regroup?
COVID-19 complacency has overtaken some of Western Australia. How could we so quickly forget our lessons learnt about hygiene and social distancing? I’m disappointed and edgy because I think we’ve become soft inside our hard borders. I’ve turned into a grumpy old woman, anxious for my own and other people’s safety.
- Change of name – change of identity
A change of name in my mid-forties changed my identity. The decision came easily and made good sense. The process took less than two hours and cost very little but the result amazed me and continues to delight me after all these years.
- Common People by Tony Birch – a review
The common people who fill the pages of Tony Birch’s book of short stories come from all walks of life. The people, and the stories, sometimes tell of great hardship. But they also tell of the kindness and generosity of strangers who make difference and provide hope.
- Short stories as art and craft
Short stories fascinate and often delight both readers and writers. They can be compared to pieces of art or even to poems. All three capture a mood or an emotion that lingers long after you view, read or listen to them. In the past, I’ve reviewed short stories, including ‘Killing Daniel’ and Everywhere I Look, …
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- How a gratitude journal can transform your life
A daily gratitude journal can be an awesome tool for anyone who wants a happier, more fulfilled life. The simple act of giving thanks in writing for even the smallest pleasures can lighten the dark days. When life runs smoothly, making a note of things we enjoy enhances our happiness. As an old French proverb …
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- Kalbarri memories – the scenic route
Kalbarri memories seem important this weekend. I’m trying to forget about COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter protests, as well as bullying on Facebook and Messenger. It feels as if these call for an antidote such as a blog about something totally different. What better than to write about than a place I love?
- Artist’s dates add sparkle to life
Artist’s dates were high on my list of things I missed during COVID-19 isolation. Both have been regular, important parts of my life for decades. I missed the fizz of new ideas and the sparkle of self-induced fun. I know that brains need novelty and stimulation and wrote about that here. But when I couldn’t …
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- The Yield by Tara June Winch, a review
The Yield by Wiradjuri author Tara June Winch earned its place on the Miles Franklin Longlist for 2020. The finalist will be announced on 16 July. The author’s first novel, Swallow the Air, won numerous literary awards. Last weekend, many Australians attended Black Lives Matter protests. I chose instead to immerse myself in this beautifully …
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- Black Lives Matter – ethical questions
Black lives matter. So do all other lives. Black Lives Matter protests around the world have galvanised countries and communities. But an inherent conflict exists in Australia. There is a desire to protest on behalf of black people, as well as the requirement to obey laws that exist to prevent further outbreaks of the deadly …
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- Exploded View by Carrie Tiffany – review
Exploded View by Carrie Tiffany will take its place at the forefront of both Australian and women’s literature. The winner of the inaugural Stella Prize, the author presents the reader with a dark, tightly controlled and poetic novel which has been long-listed for the 2020 Miles Franklin Literary Award.
- Post-isolation and mixed emotions
Post-isolation emotions render me vulnerable and anxious, mixed with relief. There’s joy. My family and I can visit and talk to face to face. There’s a downside, as well. Ten weeks of restricted activity changed my view of the world. My fitness suffered although I walked every day. But unless I swim regularly, my arthritic …
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- How to gain momentum after hibernation
Wondering how to gain momentum after several amazing months of isolation? The COVID-19 pandemic sent us all to the shelter of our homes. It felt strange at times, but I soon adapted and began to like the new gentle pace. Now I’m starting to think ‘coming out’ might be a slower process than I first …
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- Jargon and slang – COVID-19 changed our language
Jargon and slang related to COVID-19 changed the language of Australia. It happened almost as fast as the novel coronovirus which causes the disease that devastated populations spread across the world. Everyone learnt and began to use the formal and informal languages quickly.
- Celebrate the month of May – ideas for activities
I invite you celebrate the month of May with me. This month might well mark the tag-end of isolation. For most of us, relaxation of even a few restrictions has come as welcome relief. For others, especially older or more frail people, there may be a still be a way to go until we see …
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- Scarlatina – my brush with a once deadly disease
Scarlatina (the Latin name for scarlet fever) is not the romantic disease some novelists would like us to think. It caused the death of children in some fiction in classic children’s literature. But this deadly disease occurred in epidemics as a world-wide scourge. You can read about scarlatina in children’s literature here.
- Scarlet fever, Beth March and others
Scarlet fever, according to Lizzie Enfield, is ‘the red rash of romantics’. The once-deadly disease causes a high fever, red rash, red lumps on the tongue, flushed cheeks and red creases under the arms, in the elbows and groins. As well, it causes the death or severe disability of several children in literature. They include …
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- Teddy bears, rainbows, rabbits bring smiles at Easter
Teddy bears, rainbows, rabbits and assorted other animals and art brought a smile to my face (and my eyes, which was nice) over the past few days. Easter joy has spread through the suburbs near where I live.
- Life lessons, jigsaw puzzles and COVID-19
Life lessons come in all shapes and sizes. They pop up when we least expect them. In January, 2020, anyone with half an eye on the game might have been able to predict that COVID-19 would become this year’s, or this century’s, BIG THING. It would become the greatest of life lessons for everyone
- ‘Saving Missy’ by Beth Morrey – a review
Saving Missy, a novel by Beth Morrey, guarantees hours of happy reading in these days of social isolation and physical distancing. Written in first person, the protagonist draws the reader into her story from page one.
- Pandemic – a meditation for challenging times
The pandemic caused by COVID-19 threw our lives as we knew them into sudden chaos. Like most people, I’m confused. I don’t know what will come next, or what my responses should or will be. You can find another blog about COVID-19 here.
- Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations – Subiaco history
Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations took place on Subiaco Oval from around 1910 until the early nineteen fifties. In the 1940s and 1950s, when I went to school, the day created a buzz for us Catholic kids. Bus after bus pulled up outside the gates of the now flattened Oval. Children from every Catholic school in …
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- COVID-19 and social isolation
We need to have a conversation about COVID-19 and social isolation. People talk more about COVID-19 than they do about any other topic these days except, perhaps, toilet paper, which may be even worse. That’s why you may well say, ‘Oh, no! Not another article about the virus!’ But stay with me.
- To be in charge or in control – decide now
Do I want to be in charge or to be in control? Such an important question, one I asked myself often this week. The answer may be subtle but essential for personal peace and happiness. Last week I wrote a blog about the things we can control in our lives. If you missed it, you …
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- A Fortunate Life – an amazing stage performance
A Fortunate Life, a theatre event unlike any I’ve ever experienced, thrilled and delighted my husband John and me. Guessing from the way the rest of the audience looked and sounded as we left the theatre, we were not alone. The show runs until 4 March in the Ace Cinemas, Midland. You can check the …
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- What can you control in your life?
Stressed by a litany of minor events, I’d been thinking about what I needed to do next to get myself back on track. Stress does dreadful things, not only to our minds and equilibrium, but also to our bodies. Time for a reset!
- Paint an umbrella for sheer pleasure
An invitation to paint an umbrella with Tricia Stedman of Arty Brellas popped into my inbox. Life does throw the most unusual invitations and challenges our way! My response was an unqualified ‘Yes’. I’m committed to lifelong learning.
- Jigsaw puzzles – my life-long love affair
Jigsaw puzzles develop skills, improve stress levels and encourage social interaction. They provide hours of entertainment and fun for adults as well as for children. Research shows that assembling a jigsaw puzzle is good for brains of all ages. The photo shows my grandchildren, Alexander and Louise and a friend, Kirstin who called in for …
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- A Different Shade of Seeing by Elizabeth Brennan
A Different Shade of Seeing, a memoir by my friend, Elizabeth Brennan, delighted me. As Shane McCauley says: ‘We are privileged guests of the author as she shares her thoughts, observations and aspirations. History and folklore are discovered and retold through many incredible anecdotes.’
- Books by Australian women – a challenge
Books by Australian women often fail to attract the reviews they deserve in the general and literary media. Not only that, they often do not appear on lists of best books forthcoming from publishing houses. The Australian Women Writers’ Challenge aims to make up some of the difference in numbers of reviews of women and …
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- Self-care – my word for 2020. It could be yours, too
Self-care seems like an odd word to choose as one’s catchword for a year, but the concept deserves consideration for many reasons. Catch-words help to focus our minds on important aspects of life, the areas we want to improve. A word of the year can develop into a powerful tool for change, without the bother …
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- Vaccinate against shingles, especially for over 50s
I urge everyone over 50 to vaccinate against shingles. Zostavax vaccine, which helps to prevent the viral illness known as shingles, has been available since 2016. In Australia, it is offered free to people between the ages of 70 and 79. Others can be vaccinated by their general practitioner at their own expense.
- Twenty fun activities for 2020 – a plan
I wonder if I can I find twenty fun activities for 2020? It’s a bit of a challenge at this end of what turned out to be a tedious 2019, but I hope so.
- Non-fiction books – based on facts
Non-fiction books, unlike fiction, are based on facts. Non-fiction includes memoirs, biographies, essays, documentaries, self-help and textbooks. Non-fiction covers a wide range of information and material. Whatever your interest, there’s sure to be a book about it.
- Read fiction – it entertains and educates
Like all reading fiction entertains, relaxes and stimulates us. But fiction does more: it educates and is good for us.
Human brains crave novelty, and fiction provides novelty in abundance.
- The Weekend by Charlotte Wood – a review
The Weekend, the sixth novel by acclaimed author Charlotte Wood, enchanted me. Perceptive, gut-wrenchingly sad and superbly written, this book also includes enough humour to lighten the story.
- Learning journey – how to write a novel
My learning journey – a new adventure, how to write a novel – continues. I write regularly but, as I explained in a previous post, which you can read if you click here, writing fiction doesn’t yet feature among my skills. I hope that will soon change.
- Explore Subiaco’s industrial sculptures
Subiaco’s industrial sculptures reflect the city’s origins as a partly industrial suburb on the outskirts of the City of Perth. Some industry still exists, but will soon be phased out. In recent decades, Subiaco developed into a highly sought after residential enclave less than four kilometres from the Perth CBD. Not long ago, our street …
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- WHY NOVEMBER NEVER SEEMS NORMAL
November never seems like a normal, peaceful month. Unlike, say June or August, November allows too many events to crowd themselves into its few weeks.
- Too Much Lip, by Melissa Lucashenko – a review
Too Much Lip, Melissa Lucashenko’s sixth novel, won the 2019 Miles Franklin Award, Australia’s most prestigious literary award. It was also short-listed for the Stella Award and several others prestigious awards.
- How to write long fiction – my next crash course
To write long fiction (a novel) is one of my dreams. Some people probably think that a person with a PhD (Writing) would be able to write anything.
- New Norcia with a Probus Club
New Norcia, Australia’s only monastic town, frequently attracts my attention. With its old Spanish-style buildings, beautiful gardens and hospitality, the town has much to offer tourists, day-trippers and those who want to stay longer. It is 132 kilometres north of Perth in Western Australia.
- Susan Walker, Guest Post – ‘Why I became a blogger’
Susan Walker, my dear friend from Yorkshire, UK, and I discovered each other almost two years ago.
- Wildflowers, the bush and a Probus Club
Wildflowers bloom in profusion in the bush in the Western Australian spring. They start late in winter in the warmer, northern parts of the state and sweep south, region-by-region.
- Ten reasons why I regularly post blogs
To post blogs regularly takes time and effort. People blog for all sorts of reasons, but mostly because of the rewards which can be satisfying on a personal level or useful for business.
- Walk on the beach – saying ‘yes’ more often
Walk on the beach. What a good idea. But not today, thank you. That’s been my standard response to invitations to walk on the beach for the past few years.
- Read a book every day – ten reasons why you should
Reading, and especially reading every day, provides us with numerous benefits, from simple entertainment to creating new synapses in our brains and helping with communication.
- Force of Nature by Jane Harper – a review
Force of Nature, a suspense-filled novel by international best-selling Australian author Jane Harper, kept me in its grip from start to finish. The author skilfully maintains high levels of conflict, tension and fear through the story.
- Upsize downsize right-size decisions
Upsize, downsize and right-size. If you’re like me, you spend an inordinate amount of time and energy getting it all just right. Sometimes I feel as if the size of everything matters more than it should.
- Subiaco Common and Mere Lake
Subiaco Common, the closest park to our apartment block, starts just 400 steps from the front door. Although there are lots of lovely places to walk around our home, this is the place I go most often. It makes my heart sing with its beauty.
- Melbourne’s Fitzroy Gardens Adventure
Fitzroy Gardens are full of surprises. The Heritage Listed park fits into a swathe of internationally acclaimed parks and gardens within a short walk of Melbourne’s CBD.
- Invented Lives by Andrea Goldsmith – a review
I bought Andrea Goldsmith’s Invented Lives to read on the plane on the way home from Melbourne. Book-buying on impulse can sometimes be a dismal failure, but this spontaneous purchase provided deep rewards.
- Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne
Historic Abbotsford Convent sits on a hill by a bend in the Yarra River. On a recent trip to Melbourne, we caught one of the frequent buses which pass this historic site. We could just as easily have caught a train from Flinders Station.
- This Place You Know, by Christina Houen – a review
This Place you Know, Christina Houen’s first book, tells of heartbreak, betrayal and, eventually, redemption. It explores some of the many facets of love in a poignant story, beautifully told. At the same time provides an important insight into Australian social history.
- Casual travel or spreadsheet plan – preference?
Casual travel fits my style. Like the writing pantser* I am, I enjoy seeing what turns up. For me, travel can mean exploring the other side of the world, somewhere in Australia or a suburb just kilometres from home.
- My ‘silver fox’ protest fell on deaf ears
‘Silver fox’ study in aged-care homes. This banner headline on page three of the local newspaper, The West Australian, demanded my attention. Articles about aged care always interest me. This one intrigued and then distressed me.
- Sex in aged-care facilities study
Sex in aged-care facilities made headlines in the West Australian Newspaper this week. Well, not exactly, but the headline grabbed my attention.
- Yagan Square Perth lunch date
Yagan Square in Perth, Western Australia, sits strategically between the city centre and Northbridge, connecting the two areas. As well, it links the Perth Railway Station and the Wellington Street Bus Station.
- Aged care advertising stereotypes residents
Aged care advertising scares me. Like much else about aged care services in Australia, some advertisements stereotype residents. At least, that’s one conclusion I came to when a series of ads appeared in the newspaper my husband buys.
- Financial elder abuse – make a stand
Financial elder abuse is an often poorly understood concept. One can only hope that financial advisors and journalists know what it means. Like everyone who suspects elder abuse, they need to call it out and to prevent it.
- Notre Dame Cathedral – let us weep for what’s lost
Notre Dame Cathedral has never been one of my favourite places. Strange, then, that I felt so sad when it caught fire and burned last month.
- Advanced Health Directive done and dusted
To make an Advanced Health Directive has been on my mind for about a year, but I’ve put it off, for no good reason.
- The Rúin, by Dervla McTiernan – a review
The Rúin, the debut novel of Irish lawyer Dervla McTiernan, kept me reading way past my bedtime. Not only that, I began reading again first thing the next morning, unwilling to put the book down until I’d finished.
- Arty Brellas and a creative challenge
Arty Brellas (and my friend, Tricia Stedman) invited John and me to take part in a photo shoot. While I thought we were probably a bit older than usual umbrella-painters, the opportunity seemed too good to miss.
- Life’s chapters lived one at a time
Looking back, my life’s chapters show themselves clearly, even though they may have unfolded untidily.
- Novel experiences – more activities to try
Novel experiences cause our brains to make new connections and to maintain their neuroplasticity. This means that brains can begin and adjust to new behaviours and ways of thinking.
- Brains need novelty to thrive and grow
Novelty is good for us. It excites our brains and helps them grow stronger and more resilient.
- To live simply – a journey from a goal to values
To live simply is a value not a goal. This became evident when John and I moved to an apartment half the size of our previous house. I wrote about this here.
- Catholic Church – why I stay involved
The Catholic Church reels, battered and broken. Many Catholics must ask themselves why they stay.
- Greenough Hamlet- my living history
The tiny hamlet of Greenough, four hundred kilometres north of Perth in Western Australia and twenty-four kilometres south of Geraldton, draws me like a magnet.
- Tranquillity – first aid when stressed
Tranquillity and calm by the end of this year. What an aim! These states are implied in the word ‘serenity’, my catchword for 2019.
- The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper – a review
The Arsonist: A Mind on Fire by award winning Australian author Chloe Hooper is a powerful piece of writing. It has been longlisted for the 2019 Stella Prize
- Ten tips to help make new friends
The need to make new friends hasn’t always been seen as a preventative health measure. However, social isolation and lack of connection with other people can be a serious health problem especially for older men and women. As I wrote in another blog, everyone needs a network of friends and acquaintances to keep them fully …
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- Grandmother blogger and proud
I’m a grandmother blogger, and love the title. There’s a growing band of women who are happy to claim the status of grandmother blogger.
- Cataract operations then and now
Cataract operations, like all surgical procedures, have come a long way since I trained as nurse well over sixty years ago, between 1955 and 1958.
- Minimalism and ten unexpected results
Minimalism came into my life a year ago when we moved from a too large house to an apartment that, as it has turned out, is exactly the right size for us.
- Social media and life-long-learning
Social media, and my participation, challenges me in positive ways, as many readers of this blog already know.
- Serenity, a state of calm peacefulness and poise
The practice of naming a word for the year appeals to me, rather than making resolutions that are too easy to break.
- Nineteen books in 2019 challenge
The thought of nineteen books to read and review excites me. In a bleak year, when reading more than a page mostly put me to sleep, I almost failed an eighty-plus-year-old driving licence vision test. But fortunately, two lots of cataract surgery later, I’m almost back!
- Personal catchwords set theme for 2019
Choosing personal catchwords seems to have taken over from making lists of resolutions, at least among the people I know.
- Nineteen fun activities to do in 2019
A list of nineteen fun activities for 2019 makes me shivery with anticipation. The year, all 365 days of it, stretches from here to a point somewhere just over my horizon.
- Successes and failures 2018 on balance
My successes and failures 2018 seem to balance out. My light-hearted list of eighteen things to do in 2018 was inspired by creative Perth bloggers, Amanda Kendle and Aggie Lim.
- Ten ways to create a healthy social life
A healthy social life reflects (and affects) our well-being. Somehow, this seems especially important at Christmas because everyone else seems to be having such a good time. It’s never too late to create a charmed life with friends.
- Advent – time of preparation for Christmas
Advent is the time of preparation for Christmas. People celebrate it is different ways
- Cataract surgery for dummies
Cataract surgery wasn’t on my agenda. My list of things to do had grown considerably. I planned to coast to the end of 2018, ticking off items as I went.
- Shrinking social atoms mean trouble
Our social atoms include all of our social networks and the people in them. Through them we become, and remain, fully human.
- Australian White Ibis ruling the roost
Ruling the roost is this week’s subject of a photo challenge on a site which I really like. (Nan’s Farm Inside Out.) The authors encourage participants to post photos of pets ruling the roost, or pets which may have ruled the roost in the past.
- National Trust Historic Town – York
York in Western Australia claims its place in history because it was the first town in the State to be built inland from the coast. It is also one of the oldest towns in the State.
- The bullet journal craze for productivity and creativity
The bullet journal craze hit my radar with a bang a few weeks ago. Everyone who knows a bit about me, as well as many of my acquaintances, know I’ve always been a lists person.
- Is loneliness the next big health threat?
Loneliness forms part of the complex human condition and older people are especially prone to feeling lonely. No one escapes it, even if it is experienced rarely. Now research says that loneliness not only makes a person feel bad, but it can really harm us.
- Probus Club day trip to York
The Probus Club Charter promises ‘Fun, Friendship, Fellowship and Intellectual stimulation’. The Karrinyup and North Beach Probus Club provided plenty of all four last week.
- Some comments about people over 65 make me mad
Over 65 and Australian society calls us old, even though people now in their fifties must work until 67 before they can receive an age pension.
- Expiration dates or use-by dates
Expiration dates or use-by dates appear on almost everything we use regularly. Food, cosmetics, cleaning products, medications. Even cans of food and herbs and spices display dates.
- Face of homelessness – guest post
Homelessness has many faces. Following the publication of my blog, ‘Thin line between poverty and homelessness‘, I was contacted by a woman who asked me to maintain her confidentiality. When you read what follows, you will understand why!
- Thin line between poverty and homelessness
Two events this week prompted me to think about the thin line between poverty and homelessness. This is my very personal response.
- Doctor shopping to combat ageism
Doctor shopping has bad press. On one level, rightly so. But for people dissatisfied with their current general practitioner, finding a new doctor can be vital for their health and well-being.
- Twenty signs you need a new general practitioner
Most of us stick with one general practitioner for years, probably without thinking much about what kind of health carer we really need.
- Festival of Country Gardens Bridgetown
The Festival of Country Gardens held in November each year in Bridgetown, Western Australia should be on everyone’s travel wish-list.
- Age discrimination or ageism in practice
Age discrimination (ageism) creeps up on us when we aren’t looking. One day, we belong in the mainstream. The next, we older people find ourselves invisible in a grey (or beige) crowd. People describe us, collectively, as a burden.
- Seniors contribute to the village
‘Our village must mobilise to support the well being of elders,’ read a recent headline in the West Australian Newspaper. The headline twists the African proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’.
- My Health Record – Why I’ve opted out
I’ve opted out of the My Health Record (MHR). And, dare I say it? You should think about it, too.
- More to the Story, Rosemary Sayer – Review
In More to the Story: Conversations with refugees, Rosemary Sayer tells the stories of seven refugees who have settled in Western Australia.
- 10 reasons why seniors should avoid bed-rest
Bed-rest for a week, I thought before I’d opened my eyes. My nose streamed, my head ached and my throat rasped. I sneezed, coughed and reached for the tissues. A second cold virus in a month. Bummer!
- West Coast Eagles fan confesses
West Coast Eagles stole my heart over twenty-five years ago and I am hooked . In the years since I started writing this blog, I’ve kept my secret, but now it’s time to tell.
- Forty inexpensive ways to weather winter
Looking for ways to weather winter? Bored with the rain and cold? Here’s a starter list of things to do that cost nothing or very little and are also fun.
- Aboriginal women and NAIDOC Week 2018
Aboriginal people across Australia celebrate NAIDOC Week which starts today, Sunday 8th July, and goes to 15 July. Since since I was a very young woman, the paths of some Aboriginal women have crossed mine and enriched it it many different ways.
- Memory aids and monkey business
Memory aids. Think mnemonics, aide-mes or more boring, reminder notes and mind joggers. Think, if you must, of lists to aid memory, although I strongly believe are amazing creative props.
- July already? Checking on the year so far
Way back when this year was young, I brashly published a blog with my list of eighteen things I’d do in 2018.
- A Long Way From Home, Peter Carey – book review
A Long Way From Home by author Peter Carey, AO, made it to the Miles Franklin Award long-list this year (2018). Had it been successful, this book would have joined the author’s three other books with this distinction*.
- Six reasons why an apartment could be better than retirement housing
The financial aspect of retirement housing dominated the ‘Your Money’ section of today’s The West Australian. The articles suggested that seniors should weigh up, seriously, the advantages of moving into park homes and retirement villages.
- Spanish street names in Cervantes
Cervantes, a little fishing village on the Turquoise Coast, is one of my favourite places. It’s an easy drive, a whisker under 200 kilometres (123 miles) north of Perth in Western Australia.
- Knees, balance, research and reality
Knees and balance share a close relationship, but until I read Grandma Williams blog, I’d never heard of the combination. You wouldn’t believe how relieved I felt when I read it.
- La Sylphide, ballet and granddaughters
Tickets to the ballet, La Sylphide, formed part of John’s and my Christmas present from one of my daughters. The gift also included the company of my daughter and three of my adult granddaughters at the theatre last Saturday night.
- Ten reasons for writing every day
Writing every day might sound like hard work, but I really believe there are many reasons for taking up this rewarding practice.
- Seeing Singapore our way
Seeing Singapore our way meant that we reverted to our old habits. We’ve experienced two days of tourist brochure suggestions but we felt the need to do something different. This is not our first holiday here.
- Gardens by the Bay Singapore
Gardens by the Bay almost rendered me almost speechless today. It has inspired this impromptu blog post written on my tablet.
- Aches pains and illnesses make lousy conversation
Aches pains and illnesses are number one topics of discussion for some older people. We have a responsibility to get over ourselves.
- Blogging for fun – novice to mastermind?
My idea of blogging for fun worked wonderfully for a while. But at the beginning of this year it met an extreme challenge . Hoping to improve my blogging skills and also to build a bigger audience, I joined one of Amanda Kendle’s Blogging Mastermind groups. Mastermind? Me? I don’t think so!
- Pamela Lynch, How the hell did I get here? Book Review
Pamela Lynch is one amazing woman. She completed a PhD in Classics and Ancient History when she was 55. A few months before her sixtieth birthday, she trekked to the Everest Base Camp in the Himalayas.
- Murals in Subiaco Western Australia
The murals in Subiaco caught my attention before we moved to the suburb three months ago. Now I walk here regularly, I’m enthralled.
- Everyday adventure and a charmed life
Everyday adventure is part of living a charmed life. People with charmed lives do seem to attract adventure, but it seems more likely they create circumstances where it can happen.
- Our Souls at Night – Book Review
Our Souls at Night by American novelist Kent Haruf managed to sooth my soul and stimulate my imagination. The beautiful poetic prose in this slim book and the theme of love of different kinds in old age work together to create magic.
- You can create a charmed life at any age
The concept of a charmed life came to me serendipitously when, many years ago, I picked up Victoria Moran’s little book, Creating a Charmed Life, on the counter of a bookshop.
- Writing life – 18 things I wish I’d known
The writing life came to me late, although I always wanted to be a writer. Looking back, it seems something thwarted my childhood plans at every turn, but on reflection it is more likely that I let those other life events get in the way of my dreams.
- Dustfall, Michelle Johnston – a review
Dustfall, the debut novel of Western Australian writer, Michelle Johnston, kept me riveted from beginning to end.
- Falling over – let’s celebrate our stories
Why don’t we talk about falling over, especially as we age? The subject is taboo, as if it’s a disgrace to trip and fall. Everyone falls, but as we get older, unless we need medical attention, we mostly keep our mishaps secret.
- Falls and why we should refuse to have them
We should refuse to have falls. Such language implies we are old, decrepit and way past our prime even if we are active, creative and energetic seniors.
- Multipotentialites seeking friends
Multipotentialites unite! A discussion this morning on Facebook about multipotentiality caused my heart to sing.
- Extinctions by Josephine Wilson – Review
Extinctions, a dark novel by Western Australian Josephine Wilson, won the inaugural Dorothy Hewett award in 2015 and the Miles Franklin Literary Award in 2017.
- Not too late for AWW Challenge 2018
The AWW Challenge 2018 provides people keen to support and encourage Australian women’s writing with a platform on which to publish reviews of books. Given my poor record last year, I hope it is not too late to apologise and re-commit. I’ve taken up the challenge since 2014, and it would be a pity to …
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- Decluttering in old age: devastating or delicious?
We discovered a few months ago that decluttering and downsizing were twin necessities if we wanted to move from an ordinary suburban house to an apartment half the size without too much fuss, inconvenience or discomfort.
- My eighteen things to do in 2018
My list of eighteen things to do in 2018 is inspired by creative Perth women, Amanda Kendle and Aggie Lim. You can read their delicious posts and inspirational lists here and here.
- Apartment life delights
Our apartment life has begun. It certainly seems to work beautifully for us, although we moved to Subiaco less than two weeks ago.
- Gardening life at an end
Gardening. Tick. Another chore gone from the long list of things to do before we move on 5 January.
- New apartment on horizon
Our new apartment in Subiaco fell into our orbit with so little fuss that I can hardly believe the transaction happened. We saw it, liked it, bought it! Now comes the wait until early January when John and I can move in and make it home.
- Overcoming hearing loss – a personal miracle
This morning the wind blew from the east and from my bedroom I could hear the rustling of leaves that had dropped from the box tree on the verge.
- Downsizing for dummies One
Downsizing can be daunting. Moving house anyway is often stressful, but downsizing includes jettisoning many loved objects acquired as we’ve drifted through our lives in order to fit into (new, smaller) available spaces.
- Eighty years old and now what?
Being eighty years old crept up on me,almost without warning, even though odd misgivings about being so old have plagued me for a few months.
- Juggling time – adult skill to reach goals
Juggling time takes practice. It denotes a degree of maturity as well as a degree of skill. However, the skills can easily slip away if not maintained and practised after retirement. I’m wondering if they can ever be fully restored. Most of my adult life demanded complex skills for juggling time. As a nurse I learned to …
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- Linen cupboards then and now
Linen cupboards have exercised my mind lately. It started when my friend, writer Louise Allan, re-posted a Facebook memory about sheets she had folded meticulously. She said, I think with tongue in cheek, The epitome of housewifeliness — folding the sheets so you can’t tell the difference between the fitted and flat ones.
- Blue shoes begging to dance
Blue shoes didn’t top list of things I wanted. I certainly did not need them, but when they came into my life almost accidentally, I fell in love with them. These shoes may look quite ordinary, but to me they are very special. They beg me to dance.
- Working life in the fast(er) lane
Working life has taken me by surprise. I had not expected to enjoy it so soon. There’s much to be said for saying ‘yes’ when opportunity knocks. In the past, I’ve said ‘yes’ to new challenges. Sometimes, I’ve spent a year or more working out what on earth I was doing.
- Career twist at eighty explained
A career twist, like a plot twist, sends a life in a new direction. I once promised myself I’d grasp opportunities as they presented. That was forty years ago. You’d think I’d have changed. But apparently not. My life was coasting along pleasantly, as the lives of older people often do. Not much disturbed my …
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- Lovely Lake Leschenaultia
Lake Leschenaultia is a recreational lake less than an hour’s drive from Perth. My husband and I went there there recently. John had only vague memories of the lake from his youth, but it is dear to my heart.
- The Beekeeper’s Secret, a review
The Beekeeper’s Secret by Australian writer Josephine Moon is a delicious novel. It fell into my hands accidentally after I glanced across at a book display in a chain store. This book’s eye-catching cover caught my eye. I’m glad I bought and read it.
- Birthday present inspiration
A birthday present, like all gifts, can be inspired. And in turn it can inspire. Gifts of experiences can be enjoyed, remembered and savoured for years.
- Domestic bliss
Domestic bliss brings to mind images of joyful household harmony. Of living happily with one’s lover. Being best friends. Enjoying each other’s company. Going on dates and holidays. Sharing the washing, cooking, cleaning. Images of aprons (his and hers) behind the kitchen door. Domestic bliss provides an image of happily shared activity.
- Ten Reasons Elder Abuse is not OK
Elder abuse is never OK. June is recognised world-wide as Elder Abuse Awareness Month. And 15th June was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. I am passionate about defending human rights and preventing all forms of abuse. I am especially passionate about defending the rights of older people.
- Moving Among Strangers – Gabrielle Carey
Moving Among Strangers: Randolph Stow and My Family, is a family memoir. It is a wonderful glimpse into the life of Randolph Stow, one of Western Australia’s most revered writers. It also about the area where my grandmother’s family settled in the nineteenth century, and where my mother grew up.
- The Promise by Tony Birch
The Promise is a collection of short stories by Tony Birch. This is the second book by this talented Australian writer that I’ve read in the past two months. You can read my review of his Ghost River here.
- Creative for life – my goal
Have you thought how you can be creative for life? To be creative for life is one of my goals. Perhaps it is one we share. The idea of being on a lifelong learning journey excites and stimulates me. So does the idea of living creatively. The two seem interrelated.
- Everywhere I Look by Helen Garner
Everywhere I Look, by Helen Garner, enthralled me. This book is purported to be ‘a collection of essays, diary entries and true stories’ which, of course, it is. But on another, deeper level, it is much more. The stories, snippets and longer essays can be read as a memoir of the life of an older writer. It spans about …
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- Sing for Health and Happiness
The Sing for Health Concert last Friday was the culmination of Sing for Health Week in Perth, Western Australia. It was also the culmination of months of hard work and perseverance. Congratulations to everyone involved! And it was superb! The audience thought so too. There was a standing ovation at the end.
- Seniors’ Guide to Health Care
Someone should write A Seniors’ Guide to Health Care! It should be compulsory reading for everyone. Especially for those of us who are actually seniors. And for people who care about us. And for those who will one day be past the first flush of youth. No such document exists, as far as I can …
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- Celebrating life’s big events
Celebrating life’s big events is the only possible subject for me to post today. Here are the events my family has celebrated over the last three weeks. The birth of my fourth great-grandchild. The birthday of my oldest grandchild, Claire-Helen Linton. Mothers’ Day. My husband, John Fleming, turned eighty years old. My son, James O’Callaghan, celebrated his birthday …
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- Reclaiming creativity
Reclaiming creativity is my new, important, goal. The lovely thing about this goal is that it is already happening. New ways of doing what I do already present themselves. My job is to listen to the promptings of my mind (or heart) and to respond. To watch out for synchronicity. For too long, I’d been …
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- Mothers’ Day celebration
Mothers’ Day is an odd occasion. People, especially women, seem to either love it or hate it. Happily, I fall into the first category. I love it with a gentle passion that is hard to explain. Of course that won’t stop me from trying to explain by posting about it.
- Pinterest stole my heart
‘You should try Pinterest,’ my sister, Elizabeth Worts, urged. You will love it. Ít is good fun. And you won’t ever have to buy another magazine.’ At first, I couldn’t see the point. Why would anyone want to ‘follow’ other people’s ‘pins’ and ‘boards’ and read about their interests. The idea was too new for …
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- Zostavax vaccine against shingles, anyone?
Zostavax vaccine is now available in Australia. This vaccine helps to prevent the viral illness known as shingles. From November 2016 it will be offered free to people between the ages of 70 and 79. Others can be vaccinated by their general practitioner at their own expense. I will be be the first in the queue. I’ve had shingles. I don’t …
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- How Julia Cameron changed my life
Julia Cameron and her book,The Artist’s Way came out of left field. I was sixty years old, and they change my life.
- Ghost River by Tony Birch – review
Ghost River is not a book I would usually choose. But I am very glad it was chosen for me by my book club. Otherwise I might have missed this well-written, many-layered story.
- Nurses terrorised in outback Australia
Nurses terrorised at nursing posts in remote areas of Australia will never forget their experiences. The recent murder of Remote Area Nurse Gayle Woodford will have reactivated many memories.
- Kings Park Perth and a walk in the rain
A walk in Kings Park and Botanic Garden in the rain on Easter Saturday made my mind buzz. It has been a long time since I’ve been there. Once a regular visitor. I’d forgotten how beautiful it is. I thought of my walk as an ‘artist’s date’.
- Feast of Easter a celebration
The Feast of Easter is a celebration of New Life. New life is symbolised by holidays, chocolate eggs and Easter bunnies. Easter is all of that and more. It is the most important feast in the liturgy of Christian churches.
- Playlists and the cuddle hormone
Playlists of favourite music and the hormone oxytocin featured in a Catalyst* program broadcast last week on ABC TV. In the program, men and women with brain damage were transformed as they listened to music. People with brain damage are not the only ones affected in this way. Music, it seems, boosts oxytocin whenever we listen to music we like.
- Nesting dislocation syndrome
Nesting dislocation syndrome is probably not a recognised mental condition. You won’t find it mentioned in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), for example. That bible of psychiatric medicine is now in its fifth reincarnation. But it doesn’t list nesting dislocation syndrome.
- Public libraries I have loved
Our public libraries are some of Australia’s best loved social institutions. Writer Tracey Farr reminded an audience at the Perth Writers Festival about the importance of local public libraries. She recalled going to the old Cottesloe library as a child. The State Library of Western Australia is too often taken for granted, in spite the the service …
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- Rereading favourite books (PWF)
Rereading favourite books is a joy for many people. We not only reconnect with favourite authors and characters. In a way we also reconnect with younger ourselves. Many writers also think rereading favourite books is a necessity. These were among the points made during a session which I thoroughly enjoyed at the Perth Writers Festival (PWF) …
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- Home renovations horrors and rewards
Home renovations in progress do not exactly delight me. The finished product is a different story. My Facebook friends will know that we recently had both bathrooms renovated. I discovered I have a lot more to say on the subject. This post is a reflection on how disruption of my domestic space unsettles me at a …
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- Twelve steps to prevent elder abuse
Prevent elder abuse. That’s like saying, Prevent domestic violence. Or prevent child abuse. At first glance, preventing abuse seems an impossible task. But there are steps we can take to prevent elder abuse.
- Falling book prices – threat or opportunity?
Falling book prices could force authors to abandon their keyboards. That was the headline of an article by David Day, writing in The Age this week. David Day is a historian and biographer. He is also chairman of the Australian Society of Authors.
- Purple prose and change of pace
Purple prose, according to Wikipedia, is prose text that is so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw excessive attention to itself. Purple prose is characterized by the extensive use of adjectives, adverbs, zombie nouns, and metaphors.
- Elopement: a Memoir release
Elopement: a Memoir has been a long time in the making. Years to write, too long to publish. And at last, I am happy that it is available for sale. Thanks to everyone involved.
- February favourites
February favourites are almost here. February always seems like the start of the proper New Year. After the indolence of January and the media silly season, it is time to begin 2016 proper. Apart from the heat, I love this time of the year. There’s something exhilarating about a month that has so much in store. …
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- Australia Day confusion
Australia Day post – a day late. I couldn’t access the internet yesterday. Frustrating. Australia Day perplexes me. What could be a joyous response is clouded by difficult issues. I’m a traditional Australian, to my core. But Australia Day does not fill me with unmitigated delight.
- Digital tourism or life on the edge
Digital tourism means many things. Understanding depends on whether you are a traveller, an airline, a destination or a country or something in between. One thing is certain: travelling will never be the same as before the internet.
- Rosanne Dingli does it again!
Rosanne Dingli has released another book. A Funeral in Fiesole is this Western Australian author’s seventh novel.
- New horizons beckoning
New horizons beckon. A seven-year-long project has finished. I’m looking forward to new ventures, thinking differently, new learning.
- Social media review magic
Social media review. Free. What an interesting offer from Amanda Kendle on Facebook.
- Reading challenge back for 2016
A reading challenge I enjoy is back again this year. I’ve already signed up to read at least ten books by Australian women. I’ll review six of them. My reviews will appear from time to time on this blog.
- Fear of ageing? No way!
Fear of ageing struck unexpectedly. The effect paralysed me. It began the day I stepped backwards off a curb and tore my gastrocnemesis (calf) muscle.
- Ann O’Neill – researcher, educator
Ann O’Neill, like Rosie Batty, is an amazing woman. Both have survived horrendous domestic violence. They have been traumatised. Their children have been killed. I had the privilege of hearing Ann speak to a small group this morning. Hence another blog about domestic terrorism.
- AWW Challenge 2015 completed
AWW Challenge (Australian Women Writers Challenge) is held each year. It’s aim is to encourage more women to read and review books by Australian women. It is hoped that this will go some way to correct an imbalance.
- Domestic terrorism action
Domestic terrorism is a concept used by Rosie Batty, Australian of the Year 2015. Its effects on victims are similar to those of political terrorism.
- Paris 2015 – personal response
‘Paris,’ I said immediately when John asked where I’d like to spend our honeymoon. ‘I’ve always wanted to go to Paris.’
- How to Disappear by Rosanne Dingli
How to Disappear is a novel by the prolific Western Australian author and poet, Rosanne Dingli. Rosanne was born in Malta. She came to Australia to live in 1982. Her rich writing reflects wide travel and a deep understanding of language. She is a story-teller who writes about art. About music. About other cultures.
- Plot twists in real life
Plot twists occur in movies and novels when there is an unexpected turn of events. They are a tool used by most writers of narrative works. I think they may also happen in life.
- Proof copies hot off press
Proof copies of Elopement: a Memoir rolled off the press yesterday.I am delighted.
- Book cover – reveal
Book cover reveal – such exciting words for a writer! At last here is the cover of my new book, Elopement: a Memoir.
- The Anchoress – Robyn Cadwallader
The Anchoress by Robin Cadwallader gripped me, unexpectedly, from the first page.
- The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader
The Anchoress by Robin Cadwallader gripped me, unexpectedly, from the first page.
- Adulting – new word, old skills
Adulting is a word I’ve recently discovered. Words are really important to a writer. Apparently this one has been around for a couple of years.
- Elopement: A Memoir pictures
Elopement: A Memoir is the title of the new book I’ve written. It’s about falling in love and marrying in later life. After six years writing, it will be released in October.
- Cold virus hits hard
A cold virus laid me low for almost two weeks. My life has been on hold. Items on my ‘to do’ lists have been ignored. No visits from grandchildren. No housework – a bonus. I cancelled coffee dates. No blog post. I ignored the work I had planned.
- Shades of Grey
Shades of grey have taken on a new meaning for me.
- New book announcement
My new book, ‘Elopement: a memoir’, is closer to becoming a reality.
- Orchids, writing and distractions
Orchids are not exactly my favourite flowers. They do fascinate me. For years I’ve tried to grow cymbidium orchids. Some years they bloom with festive joy. Other years they sulk. This has been a sulking year. My orchid plants have been neglected while I’ve been writing, rewriting, worrying. Not one bud has emerged.
- Death in Malta – a review
Death in Malta, a novel by Rosanne Dingli, is a delightful read. It is part mystery, part sweet love story, and totally absorbing.
- Last Cab to Darwin – film review
Last Cab to Darwin has been a long time in the making. It was well worth the wait!
- Kick start your writing Part 2
Kick start your your writing, a session I facilitated last week at the Peter Cowan Writers Centre came about by accident. It grew from a conversation over coffee with the Acting President, Susan Stevens. I mentioned that there was information that I would have loved when I started writing. Kick start your writing was the result.
- Kick start your writing Part 1
Kick start your writing was the informal title of the session I facilitated a at the lovely Peter Cowan Writers Centre yesterday. The formal title was ‘Getting started as a writer.’ But the informal name is much more fun. Twelve people of varying skills-levels participated.
- Self-publishing to-do-list
Self-publishing a book for the first time is exciting. It means learning new skills, which is always fun. It has been less than a week since I decided to self-publish the manuscript of my new memoir. Already I’m feeling a little daunted.
- My new memoir – decision
My new memoir has bounced back from yet another publisher. I’ve been writing this manuscript for more years than I care to think about. Perhaps I sent it out too early? Probably, but I am impatient.
- Christina Marigold Houen
Dr. Christina Marigold Houen is a woman who is ageing with style.To begin with, she has recently formally changed her name. How many of us would do that? Her name now reflects who she really is.
- Elder abuse – wear purple on Monday
I once knew a kind old woman. Perhaps she wasn’t all that old. But old enough to have a married daughter. And certainly she was old enough to know better. But she didn’t have a clue what was going to happen if she wasn’t careful.
- Journalism and domestic violence
Journalism in Australia is about to take a giant step forward. The Walkley Foundation for Excellence in Journalism will administer new awards for superlative media coverage of domestic violence. .
- Our Watch Awards Launched
Our Watch Awards for excellence in media coverage of domestic violence were inaugurated last week. These awards are a major step towards preventing family violence in Australia.
- Great Petition Sculpture – Melbourne
The Great Petition Sculpture in Burston Reserve, Melbourne, really impressed me. It commemorates the 100th anniversary (in 2008) of female suffrage in Victoria.
- Pierre de Ronsard and editing
The Pierre de Ronsard rose in the corner of the garden pleased me enormously when we got home from our recent holiday.
- Doula or the grandmother?
A doula is ‘a woman who gives support, help, and advice to another woman during pregnancy, birth of the baby and afterwards’.
- Melbourne public transport
Melbourne public transport is truly amazing.
- Public transport – easy travelling
Public transport is a fun way to see a town or a country. John and I decided we no longer wanted to drive a car in Europe. It was a big decision at the time. It was an admission we were getting old. We wondered if we’d see enough, experience as much, feel free to move. …
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- Packing light – travel made easy
Packing light is one of my proud achievements. Manageable luggage makes me feel youthful and adventurous. I feel competent, a woman of the world. I recommend it for everyone, and especially for older travellers.
- Australian Catholic University gone mad?
Australian Catholic University vice-chancellor Greg Craven has made what appears to have been a hasty announcement. He said last week that the university will fully-fund scholarships for two Indonesian students.
- Heroin and other addictions
Heroin and other addictions damage everyone. Two heroin smugglers caught in Bali in 2005 were executed this week. Ten years ago, they masterminded this crime and led of a pack of drug carriers. The seven drug mules are still in Indonesian jails. Dramatic news reports surrounded the deaths of the smugglers. Pages of newsprint were devoted to them. …
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- The war effort of one woman – true story
War effort or subversion? We will never know. But my mother, Florence Stone was a woman who made a difference. She wrote dozens and dozens of letters to strangers during World War II. She said it was part of her war effort. And I’m willing to bet every letter she wrote was treasured, some for many years.
- White feathers and heroes
I probably shouldn’t mention white feathers. Not on the eve of Anzac Day. Especially not on the eve of an Anzac Day which will be like no other we have ever experienced. Thanks to the COVID-19 epidemic, we will perhaps go to the end of our driveways at 6.00 am and listen to a broadcast …
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- Ageism and over-prescribing
Ageism, like sexism, knows no boundaries. The health system is a prime example of ageism in action. This week an article in the Medical Journal of Australia’s Insight online caught my eye. (‘Polypharmacy a shared duty’, by Charlotte Mitchell.) The article quotes a recent study in Queensland and Victoria. Subjects were 1220 people over 70. …
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- Domestic violence finally on agenda
Domestic violence has finally become a matter of national importance. Earlier this year I was jubilant when Rosie Batty was named Australian of the Year, 2015. Rosie Batty was a victim of domestic violence. Her son, Luke, was battered to death by his father during an access visit on a cricket oval. She campaigns against domestic …
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- How to dispose of unwanted books
I don’t really believe in unwanted books. Instead, they simply need a new home. When John and I moved in together, we had far too many books. We’d both been keen readers from when we were kids at school. We’d both hoarded books. We had books that had once belonged to other people.
- Watershed for manuscript
A watershed moment has happened for my writing. It’s time for cautious celebration. There is still a long way to go. But it did feel good yesterday when I wrote, ‘The End’ on the last page of the manuscript of my new memoir. Then I printed it, for no reason except that I could. Three hundred pages, 70 000 …
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- Beginnings and endings – a romance
Some beginnings and endings are full of romance. People who are no longer in the first flush of youth (or even in their prime) enjoy beginnings and endings. Last weekend, John and I went to Dowerin to take part in the beginning of the end of an era.
- Housework – can it assist creativity?
Housework may not assist creativity for everyone. Some people tell me they thrive on chaos. For me housework is itself a creative activity. I find it very satisfying. Every week, when my house is clean and pretty, I feel as if I’ve created a glimpse of a peaceful paradise.
- Karen Hitchcock – On Caring for the Elderly
Karen Hitchcock’s essay Dear Life: On Caring for the Elderly is compassionate, respectful and beautifully written. As a study of ageism in our society, it is also seriously scary. The author is a physician who works in a major Melbourne hospital. Her patients are mostly elderly. She has a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Writing and is …
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- Cottesloe Beach and Sculptures by the Sea
Cottesloe Beach and Sculptures by the Sea. Two more reasons to be glad about living in Western Australia. This year there seems to be no end to the things to do and see, without leaving home. I have a sixty-year-old relationship with Cottesloe Beach. Before that, I swam at beaches closer to my parents’ house …
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- Blogging blocks for an unwary blogger
Blogging became one of my pastimes and a new passion about eighteen months ago. At first it was a big challenge. So much to learn, so much new material to assimilate. Then I grew to love it, thought I was on a roll. But then, ever greedy for new experiences, I entered a blogging competition.
- Dementia and selective memory in fiction
There are many causes of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. In Australia, more than 332,000 people currently suffer from Alzheimer’s alone. As the population ages, the incidence of dementia also is expected to increase. As a person’s symptoms of dementia increase, more and more short-term memory is lost. The person will live much more in the …
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- Chick-lit to read and review
Chick-lit is one of my go-to choices for holiday reading. These novels are easy to read. I’m happy to read them by a pool or to shove them in my bag. On the surface, they’re fast and frivolous and often hard to put down. There’s always a strong theme, a fast-moving plot and some lovable characters. The novels are, in a word, …
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- Root Canal Treatment – Ow!
Root canal treatment has taken up most of my spare thinking time in the last couple of weeks, When I wasn’t worrying about my tooth, I had a wonderful time at the Fringe World, Arts and Writing Festivals in Perth.
- Media cycle – how are we affected?
Listening to journalists and authors Ros Thomas and Geraldine Doogue in conversation about the media cycle with Patricia Karvelas at the Perth Writers Festival 2015 was a joy. It also made me think. A lot. Ros and Geraldine are well-known to Western Australian audiences. Indeed, some of us claim them as ours. They both began …
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- Fairy tales and modern novels
Fairy tales can be retold with contemporary themes. At the Perth Writers Festival 2015, two Australian novelists discussed their latest novels, based on fairy tales. Interestingly, both writers use the story of Rapunzel as a starting point for very different stories. You can read a translation of this fairy story by the Brothers Grimm here.
- Eric Bogle – folk singer, songwriter
Eric Bogle, AM, is a friend of my brother, Peter Stone. It makes sense that he and my brother would be friends. Both men are ageing with great style. Through their friendship, I had the opportunity to talk with Eric, one of my favourite folk singers.
- Giants walk Perth streets
The Giants have taken to Perth streets. And the Perth International Arts Festival 2015 is off to a memorable and popular start. Today, there’s a Giant Diver asleep in full gear outside the Perth Railway Station. You can get a really good view of him from the Horseshoe Bridge.
- Blogging great-grandmother bursts with pride
This blogging great-grandmother is bursting with pride. I am truly blessed. The very beautiful Alexandra Margaret Eloise Linton burst into our lives at 10.08 a.m. on Saturday morning, 7 February 2015. She was four weeks early for her appointment with the world. She weighed 2710 grams and she’s healthy. Congratulations and thanks to Claire-Helen …
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- Tiddas – a book with flowers on the cover
The cover of Tiddas by Anita Heiss (Simon and Schulster, 2014) boasts Jacaranda blossoms. I’m not sure of the significance of the flowers for this book, but I love that cover.
- The Festival – for fun and excitement
The Fringe World Festival 2015 kicked off the major festival season in Western Australia last week. The rather more sedate Perth International Arts Festival which starts on 13 February will overlap the Fringe World Festival. It, in turn, will incorporate the Perth Writers Festival.
- The List – a must-see theatre production
The List, a play by French-Canadian Jennifer Tremblay is one of the best pieces of theatre I’ve experienced for a long time. For good reason, this play ran for three weeks and received rave reviews at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Gemma Cavoli stars in Perth’s Fringe World Festival production of The List as the totally believable unnamed narrator.
- Fringe World Festival – creative boost
Fringe World Festival will run in Western Australia from 23 January to 22 February, 2015. Not usually one to hang back, I’ve been reluctant to explore the possibilities of a festival that felt so far out of my comfort zone. I might even have been heard to say that I was too old. That was …
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- Twenty-five books to read this year
Reading twenty-five books in a year is not too hard when you’ve been an avid reader for over seventy years. Some of the time though the choice can be overwhelming.
- Poliomyelitis epidemics in Western Australia
The COVID-19 pandemic devastates the world in 2020. Many other serious illnesses have swept different countries through the centuries. For example, Poliomyelitis epidemics affected much of the the world between 1938 and 1954. Several of these epidemics occurred in Western Australia.
- Busselton – a seaside adventure
Back from beautiful Busselton after an unplanned and unexpected holiday in the South West of Western Australia. Walking, swimming, sight-seeing and catching up with friends for a week has been invigorating. A typical day began with swim or a walk to the end of the Busselton jetty, which is almost two kilometres long. The sailing ship Leeuwin …
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- The Golden Age by Joan London – a review
The Golden Age, Joan London’s third novel, is a gem. Like her two previous, highly acclaimed novels Gilgamesh (2001) and The Good Parents (2009), The Golden Age kept me riveted to the page from start to finish.
- Australian Women Writers Challenge 2015
The Australian Women Writers Challenge 2015 is open. I’m excited to be part of the challenge. Last year was the first time I’d committed myself to it and I was very tentative. There was no guarantee that I’d be able to complete the task because I was new to blogging. I mistakenly believed that the challenge expected participants …
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- Welcome to 2015
It’s time let go of last year and count my blessings. It’s time to make a list of what I’m taking into 2015. Oh, yes, there has to be a list for that! The blessings I carry over from last year include:
- A Cloudstreet river Christmas
Cloudstreet river – what a backdrop for Christmas lunch! ‘Will you look at us by the river! The whole restless mob of us on spread blankets in the dreamy briny sunshine skylarking and chiacking about for one day, one clear, clean, sweet day in a good world in the midst of our living. Yachts run before an …
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- The mystery of Christmas
Tragic events over the past couple of weeks have saddened and bewildered all Australians. For a variety of other reasons, this Christmas season will be a painful or difficult time for many people. Perhaps the first Christmas was not all that different. Below is another version of the old familiar Christmas story.
- Boost creative energy – try a workshop
Workshops can boost creativity energy. I’ve been to a couple this year, learned a great deal and had fun. In fact, workshops could fast take their place among my favourite outings.
- Australian Women Writers Challenge – Summary
This has been the first year I have participated in the Australian Women Writers Challenge. What a good experience it has been! I had an incentive to review books by Australian women authors. Books could be in any genre and from any period.
- The Christmas pudding-making event
Our family has a long-standing tradition of Christmas pudding making. It is a precious event in my calendar. I should have known that to write a blog about it would be difficult. There are so many memories, so much to say, that I’m afraid I won’t do justice to the custom. But our Christmas pudding …
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- Post holiday blues
For the first time that I can remember, I’ve suffered from post holiday blues. As a full-time worker (and later a PhD candidate) I never experienced such lethargy. The end of holidays always meant I was refreshed, ready to get on with the next thing. Even short breaks were energising. Often, my holiday notebook would bulge …
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- NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenges writers to write a novel during November. Begun in the USA in 1999, it is now an international event NaNoWriMo is a month-long challenge, when aspiring and established fiction-writers take to their computers in an attempt to write a 50 000 word novel in just thirty days. The idea is to write a …
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- Ted Egan – National Living Treasure
Ted Egan, OA, one of Australia’s National Living Treasures, performed at the Perth Town Hall yesterday as part of the Perth Heritage Days program of events held around the city. Eighty-two year old Ted Egan is definitely an Australian ageing in style.
- Writing about vulnerable people in memoir
Writing about vulnerable people in memoir is tricky. There are no absolute guidelines. Compassionate writing boils down to the writer’s personal moral and ethical codes. For me, these are based on my Catholic faith and the Australian Code of professional conduct for nurses. Moral and ethical codes differ for everyone. People become vulnerable when others assume a …
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- Labelled mentally ill
I can’t imagine anything worse than to be diagnosed and labelled mentally ill. To be diagnosed with a mental illness in our society means almost certainly to be sentenced to a life of stigma. A few years ago, I had a narrow escape. The circumstances of my life changed – dramatically. In spite of my …
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- Trustworthy story-teller
A memoir without a trustworthy story-teller is just another piece of fiction. There’s been a storm raging in an on-line writers’ group to which I belong. The argument is about whether it’s OK for memoir-writers to change the names of people and details of events in their stories. It seems some writers feel the need …
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- Creativity and playfulness
Creativity and playfulness (having fun) always exist together. Children at play create. They experiment with whatever is at hand. They invent new roles and try them out. Creative people talk about ‘playing with ideas’. Artists and writers, cooks and gardeners all experiment. They try out new ways of doing things. Albert Einstein is quoted as …
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- Can we nurture creativity?
Can we nurture creativity, our own or that of our children? It’s a pity we even have to ask the question. Pre-school children show intriguing powers of creativity. They invent and experiment as they play. They imagine what it would be like to be another person – Mum, Dad, teacher, doctor, ballerina, helicopter-pilot. Their drawings and paintings are free and uninhibited. …
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- Journal writing for creativity
Journal writing is my favourite creative tool. It is also my favourite tool for living. ‘My journal’ spans the last fifteen years. It’s written in a series of cheap chain store exercise books which take up two shelves of a bookcase. Unlike the beauties that feature on Pinterest boards, my journal is ordinary. Three pages written in longhand first thing every …
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- Lists can increase creativity
My life without lists is unimaginable. I don’t know how I’d operate without them. Some of my lists are ongoing. Others spring up whenever there’s a new need, or simply because I feel like making a catalogue or a record. Mostly my lists are about the future. Occasionally, they’re open-ended records. My lists have been quite furtive, …
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- ‘Let Her Go’, by Dawn Barker – review (surrogacy story)
Surrogacy, the theme of Let Her Go, Dawn Barker’s new novel, often makes the headlines in Australia. The theme also occurs in Sally Hepworth’s book, The Good Sister (2020). Here’s a link to my review of The Good Sister.
- Excerpt from my new manuscript
This is from my new memoir which has the working title ‘Elopement.’ It is a story about John’s and my courtship and marriage when we were in our early seventies. ‘There’s always something to be done on a boat,’ John said over lunch in Kings Park. ‘One day I’ll smarten up the inside a bit. Retouch the varnish …
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- Creating a personal brand
Everyone knows about commercial brands. We have all experienced the way they assault our senses from television, newspapers, the internet and billboards. We instantly recognise brands like Coca Cola, with its images of youth and fun; McDonalds with images of families and fast food, everywhere; and the quality of BMW. We can easily differentiate between brands of beer, perfume, personal products and …
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This is a review of Helen Garner’s Joe Cinque’s Consolation written for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014 Helen Garner has done it again!
- Waiting, waiting
Waiting to hear from a publisher is a nail-biting business. And sending a book-length manuscript to a publisher is an act of bravery, especially if, like me, one does not have an agent. Nearly a year ago, I tried to attract an agent, but I discovered the hard way that agents (like publishers) can take …
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- ‘Killing Daniel’ a true story
‘Killing Daniel’ is a powerful story about real events. It is just one story in a collection of gritty writing in True Stories, by Helen Garner. The subject matter of ‘Killing Daniel’ should concern all of us. This special story should be compulsory reading for everyone who cares about the safety of children.
- Loss of a baby
Over the past month, quite by accident (if one believes in this sort of ‘accident’ rather than understanding synchronicity) I’ve read three recent novels with neonatal loss at their hearts, all by Australian women*. The books, and a recent tragic family experience, have deeply touched me and caused me to evaluate one of my own experiences of death of a …
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- Holiday with a difference
The Dowerin Bed and Breakfast and its guests have been at my mercy for over a week. This old woman has masqueraded as the boss, while my sister, Elizabeth, and her husband, Peter, are overseas on holidays. This is a diary of the week. Dowerin is at the cross roads to a number of important places. There are many responsibilities when you live in …
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- Versatile Blogger Award
I am honoured to have received a nomination for the Versatile Blogger Award from the generous Lisa Rieter. Thank you, Lisa. Variety, novelty and learning are my passions, so this award is very special. I’m excited to pass it onto some fantastic bloggers who have posts to suit my mood whenever I browse their blogs. I was delighted to find WordPress …
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- Lifelong learning
There’s been a state of chaos à chez nous for the past few weeks. Chaos isn’t usually a state I embrace readily; my mind demands external order, quiet and peace. But this mess has been for the sake of a worthy cause. Believing passionately as I do that lifelong learning is not only a right for everyone, but an …
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- Experiencing Ballet
Two lots of ballet within a few days last week might have been overdoing it. But as a writer I know how important it is to keep the creative well topped up with new ideas, sensations and memories and two such completely different aspects of ballet so close together touched chords and left me with much to think about. John’s inspired gift to celebrate our wedding anniversary was …
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- Risky business
For the past few years, I’ve been writing my second memoir. It’s about falling in love and marrying in old age. John was married to my life-long friend Marcia for almost fifty years. Some time after her death, their children invited me to his seventieth birthday. Exactly a year after the birthday celebration, we married. We didn’t just …
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- Mists and quinces
I owe a debt of gratitude for my love of autumn to Sr. Mary Theophane, the nun who taught me most school subjects in years 8, 9 and 10, way back in the mists of time during the early 1950s. Fanny, as we girls called her behind her back, was a woman who could turn her …
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- Easter 2014
For the Catholic Church, the feast of Easter is the most important event in the liturgical calendar. While the Christmas story of the baby Jesus born of humble parents in a stable in Bethlehem has a certain readily accessible charm, the Easter story of a Man who rises from the dead after being crucified like …
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- Coffee adds value
A coffee shop in the vicinity of residential property for sale increases the value of the property by tens of thousands of dollars, according to an article in the real estate section of the West Australian Newspaper the other morning. That really struck a chord. Coffee shops serve many functions. They’re places to nurture old friendships and consolidate new …
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- Coming soon
Relationships Australia WA offers a new workshop which I think may have particular interest for older men and women. The facilitator is my friend, Elizabeth Brennan, a remarkable older woman with many years experience as a relationships educator and facilitator of groups of many different types. Details of the workshop are as follows: CHANGE AND …
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- Launch of new protocol
Last week, around a hundred professionals whose work involves older people and their well-being attended a launch of a document, Elder Abuse Protocol: Guidelines for Action. The event was hosted by Advocare Inc., the lead agency of the Alliance for the Prevention of Elder Abuse:WA* (APEA:WA) at the Leadership Centre of the Australian Institute of Management. As the inaugural …
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- All Good Things by Sarah Turnbull – a review
- Booklovers’ surprise
The quaint Hampton Arms Inn in Company Road, two kilometres south-west of the Greenough Hamlet, is one of only a handful of Australian colonial hotels that has survived from the nineteenth century. Opened in 1863, not long after the Greenough Front Flats were first settled, the building retains all of its original architecture and form, with a …
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- Ageing with Style – Elizabeth Worts
An elephant swayed from side-to-side as she picked her way down the side of mountainside in a jungle in northern Thailand. She felt her way with her trunk to test the terrain before she put each enormous foot carefully into a tiny space between loose rocks. The mahout on the creature’s head turned around to where I …
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- 2014 Perth Writers Festival – afterwards
Books are piling up on my tablet and beside my bed as a result of the 2014 Perth Writers Festival last weekend. The collection surprises me. At face-value it is such a different selection from my usual choices. For example, before the Writers Festival I’d almost forgotten my penchant for travel memoirs, although in the past I’ve read …
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- 2014 Perth Writers Festival
Searing sunshine. Beautiful buildings and gardens at the University of Western Australia. The Swan River. Pop-up shelters on green-grassed ovals. Bunting. The smell of Moreton Bay figs crushed underfoot. Smiling faces. Encounters with old friends. Congenial conversations with strangers. A buzz, excitement, movement. Packed performance theatres, lecture theatres, tents, Winthrop Hall. Local writers centres seeking new members. Children, craft and ice-creams …
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- Ageing and advocacy
Twice during the last week I’ve been reminded sharply about the importance of advocacy in the lives of older people.Advocacy is a simple concept: it means standing by another person who needs support to confront a more powerful person or institution. The more vulnerable a person, the more he or she may need an advocate to address neglect, bullying or …
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- Annah Faulkner,The Beloved, a Review
This year I have finally gathered courage to join the Australian Women Writers Challenge and to commit myself to read six books by Australian women writers and review four of them between now and the end of 2014. This is my first review. Chosen by the book club to which I belong for the February meeting, the selection was …
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- How to have a holiday at home
- Joining the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014
Last week, I signed up for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014, which began on 1 January and will finish on 31 December. For this challenge, women and men readers and bloggers in Australia and elsewhere are invited to read and review books in any genre written by Australian women. The challenge has run for the past two years, …
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- Eureka moments and epiphanies
In the olden days, when I was a girl, the Christmas season lasted twelve days. The season was celebrated in song and stories that everyone knew – think, for example, ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. In some cultures, Twelfth Night was a time for revelry. But, traditionally, in my family, the twelfth night …
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Since our peaceful, joyful, family Christmas day, I’ve spent some uncomfortable hours with the dull ache of disappointment and embarrassment, wondering how to make amends to my sister and brother-in-law for forgetting their invitation for my husband and me to share a special meal with them and our brother on the Friday between Christmas and New Year. I’d looked forward for weeks …
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- One hundred-and-one books
One hundred-and-one books make a reasonable reading list. ‘We could start a book club,’ my new friend said. ‘That way we’d get to read a lot of different books.’ ‘Good idea,’ said another friend. ‘We could each invite one other person to join,’ I suggested. ‘That way we’d meet new people, too.’ That was eleven years and one hundred-and-one books ago.
- Tribute to Doris Lessing
Doris Lessing, prize winning novelist and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature (2007), died in London on 17 November, 2013, aged 94. Her last novel was published in 2009. Always a prolific writer, she clocked up over fifty books that included short stories, memoir, non-fiction, plays, essays and poetry. But she is best known, …
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Celebrating age In recent years, I’ve enjoyed my first ride in a helicopter, learned to sail a yacht and spent a weekend helping in the sheep yards on a farm during shearing. At sixty-five, I went back to university as a full-time student; another year, I published my first book, a memoir, Other People’s Country. At seventy, …
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