Mentioned in passing …

I was reading some old letters (snail mail) my mother wrote me in the early 1980’s. I was struck by one line where she mentions my brother, Peter:

“Peter has gone off parachute jumping today, he wishes to be remembered to you all.”

Parachute

Photo source: Wikipedia

 

Puffing Billy Steam Train

Here is a (very) short video I put together of our ride on Puffing Billy while on holidays recently. Around 1979 my husband at that time, was employed by Puffing Billy to maintain the track and supervise volunteers. It is mainly run and operated by volunteers today. I enjoyed the ride but I mostly wanted to experience some of the lovely rain forests in the hills that I remember so well. That is why I took the video 🙂

This is only my second attempt at making videos and I acknowledge there is a lot for me to learn,

Where do Australians come from?

I am Australian however my ancestors are relatively new to this country compared to Indigenous Australians.

My father’s father was a first generation Australian and his father was born in Ennis, Ireland.

My paternal grandmother and her father were both born in Australia but the previous generation of their family called Denmark home.

My mother’s father was born in Australia as was his father, however the previous generation called Barrhead, Scotland home.

My mother’s mother was also born here but her father came from Alderbury, Wiltshire in England. He also spent some time in California during the gold rush.

It was interesting to get the results of a recent DNA ethnicity test and find that my profile was as follows:

Irish 34%

Great Britain 30%

Scandinavia 18%

The balance is made up of 9% Western Europe and 6% Italy/Greece and a mixture for the remaining 3%.

Having done the DNA test I find it interesting to reflect how multicultural Australia really is and has been since the First Fleet arrived in 1788.

Importance of access to literacy

Aboriginal artifacts

Aboriginal artifacts

“Whether it’s reading or writing, literacy is an outlet to an untouchable world – your imagination. Not only is literacy a basic human right, it is a fundamental building block for learning as well as a personal empowerment tool. It is the catalyst for social and global progress.”  (from http://internationalliteracyday.org/ )

International Literacy Day was held on 8 September 2015. It is a good time to remember that some people have difficulty with the following:

  • reading a medicine label
  • filling out a job application form
  • reading a bank statement
  • understanding government policies and processes
  • assisting their children with their homework
  • and so much more.

When I trained as a literacy tutor I found out that nearly 50% of Australians struggle to read well enough to meet the complex demands of everyday life. This can impact on their independence, physical and mental health and their job prospects. No small matter!

People with low literacy levels can become adept at hiding their problems by making excuses about forgetting to bring their glasses or asking other people to help them. They may scribble words they cannot spell to disguise it. I confess I do this sometimes as well!

When I lived in the Kimberley region of Western Australia I worked with adult Aboriginal women who were keen to learn English. They could converse in their own language but English wasn’t their first language.

It was a watershed moment for me at Election time. I realized how vulnerable they were to being duped into voting for someone who did not represent their best interests. This was when I realised the relationship between literacy, power and equality.

This prompted me to advocate on the need for access to literacy skills to empower people to make their own decisions for their own best interests.

A clumsy jump into retirement

My old workplace

My old workplace

The post below was written for an exercise in my creative writing class.

I can’t do it any longer. It will kill me if I keep going. After all, it is only a job and there must be more to life than going through the motions and playing the games. The pay and conditions are good but they don’t make up for the emptiness of the soul in doing something that no-one cares about.

The games – well they aren’t much fun. They are word games mostly. The government agrees to being a party to a strategy or initiative. Each year some lonely public servant checks what promises were made and provides some affirmative words to demonstrate that, yes, we, the government have really done something about it. It is written down in black and white weasel words, so it must be accountable. If it is not written down, there may be hell to pay.

I worked for the Office for Women’s Policy – in fact I was the last of the team to resign – I don’t think it is called that anymore. The issues considered were important but they got lost in the midst of political battles and point scoring. Either that or they got stuck in the mud of bureaucracy. For six months I worked on a cabinet submission to encourage greater participation of women on government boards. There was no appetite for this. The public cry was that women shouldn’t be supported to get on boards. After all, men don’t get support – they get appointed on merit. What – are you suggesting that every man on a board has more skills, knowledge and experience than the average female applicant? No, that doesn’t hold water.

Working full-time meant I left home at 7.30am each morning and got home at around 5.30pm each evening. I had little energy to enjoy my leisure time. Work consumed me. Some people can switch off after a day at the office but to me it was personal. The quality of my life was questionable.

We got away for weekends down south as often as we could. I couldn’t wait to get hold of the local papers and check out the real estate pages. We looked at houses and drove down the streets of Busselton and wondered what it would be like to live there. We dined out and pretended we were locals – could we make it a reality?

Unbeknown to me, Tom had done some research online about Busselton. I found a brochure in the mail one day about a Lifestyle Village in Broadwater, close to the beach. I didn’t pay much attention to it but suggested that we could have a look at it next time we were in Busselton. On our next visit we met with the sales rep and looked at a few houses on the Saturday. We decided to have a second look on the Sunday and took away a package of information to consider.

In no time at all, we signed the contract for our new home. We had three months to sell our Perth property. We put it on the market and it sold after thirteen days. Crunch time came at work – it wasn’t difficult to leave as I mentioned earlier, I was the last of the team to abandon ship. I was lucky to be able to keep a tenuous link to my job in case the experiment didn’t work out – this was six months leave without pay.

I haven’t looked back. I didn’t decide to retire – I just jumped out of the workforce when the opportunity presented itself. Now, five years later, I am still considering what my next act will be.

I am not making it up …

about ageI recently had my sixtieth birthday and that means I have done a range of things in those six decades. Sometimes I surprise people when I mention some of those things. I guess we all travel our own journeys and we can never be sure where they will take us. A list of some of my adventures follows:

  • I left home in country Victoria at 17 years old to live in Melbourne and I was a bit into the hippie culture at the time
  • I met my first husband in Melbourne and we married when I was 18
  • My three sons were born in my twenties
  • I lived and worked in several remote communities with high Indigenous populations within Australia including Numbulwar in the Northern Territory, Fitzroy Crossing, Derby, Geraldton and Esperance in Western Australia
  • I was the Newman correspondent for the North West Telegraph when I was living in the Pilbara
  • I didn’t complete high school but went on to gain university entrance as an adult and have since achieved separate qualifications in management and professional writing
  • Twice divorced meant some time as a single mother of my three sons
  • I started studying theology at one stage but didn’t see it through plus I was a Church Warden, Synod representative and Pastoral Assistant in the Anglican Church
  • I was a Shire Councillor and Deputy Shire President with the East Pilbara Shire and ran as a candidate for the State Government in 1993
  • During my time working for the government I spent time in Education and Training, Culture and the Arts, Communities and Disability Services
  • I am really interested in computers and social media and love WordPress 🙂

What I find interesting is the diversity of some of my activities but I guess there is some consistency in the overall story. There are a few adventures held back – I don’t want to give everything away!

What my grandparents told me …

Grandpa and Grandma

Grandpa and Grandma

I was thinking about my grandparents this morning and some of the things they told me when I was little – and I believed them!

Consider the following:

  • Don’t pull faces because, if the wind changes, it will stay like that forever.
  • Grandpa always insisted on walking closest to the curb. He said that a gentleman should be willing to take the splashes from the puddles in the road.
  • Grandma said she couldn’t go to the swimming pool because it would overflow if she jumped in.
  • They both said they couldn’t go to church because the roof would fall it (an old excuse :-))
  • Grandpa always insisted it was very rude to wear a hat in the house, unless of course you were a lady.
  • Grandma treated my gifts of jewellery from the lolly shop as though they really were very valuable.
  • I am sure there are many more gems of wisdom they imparted over the years.

Grandpa (1884 – 1969) married Grandma (1889 – 1983) in 1911 in Kerang, Victoria and went on to have eight children – one of whom was my father. We lived next door to them for many years and I spent a lot of time with them and have fond memories.

I can’t help but wonder what they would make of our world today.

Weekly photo challenge: Minimalist

volcanic stones from near Meekatharra in Western Australia

volcanic stones found near Meekatharra in Western Australia

A LITTLE ABOUT MEEKATHARRA (from Wikipedia)

From 1993 onwards I worked for the West Australian Department of Training. My job often took me to remote parts of the state. My role was to encourage and coordinate employment and training programs by working with the Local Government authorities. The Shire of Meekatharra just completed a training program for their young people and I presented the students with their graduation certificates.

The course tutor had a lot of local knowledge and invited me to see an area near town with these unusual rock formations. He told me they were the result of volcanic activity in the distant past. I took some home with me and I still marvel at their shape and texture.

Because Meeka was a long drive from home, I often stayed overnight. The photos below suggest to me that things have picked up a lot since the early 1990’s.They weren’t very inviting when I stayed there but there wasn’t much option. It was fun though 🙂

 

 

My Three Sons – a gallery over the years

The photos below are from 1985 and 2011. I scanned them and saved them on my computer. I thought it would be great to see them in a gallery and WordPress came to mind.  They may not be of much interest outside the family so I hope other readers will allow me to indulge in these photos of my three sons. Thanks to my lads for their permission to post them 🙂

Weekly photo challenge: Adventure

DSC00561In 2008 we visited England and Ireland. I had a day to myself and decided to go on a guided tour. Passengers boarded the coach at a central location and we visited St Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace and other key London sites. Part of the journey was by boat to the Tower of London.

The details are a bit foggy now but I remember we were told to be ready to board the coach at 5.00pm (after the visit to the Tower of London) at a designated location (a tree near a cafe). Now I thought I understood the instructions but I obviously wasn’t paying enough attention as I was waiting (with another lady) under a different tree near a different cafe.

When 5.00pm came and went I realised something must be wrong. I had the tour brochure in my bag so I called them to find out what was happening. The coach had departed the Tower at 5.00pm as scheduled so I was left to find my way back to where we were staying.

I started walking and I had absolutely no sense of direction – whether I was getting closer to the centre of London or wandering further and further away. I was determined to get back to our apartment without seeking help. I saw a sign for the Underground and was able to buy a ticket and get home much easier than I thought possible. It was probably even quicker than the bus!

That was a memorable adventure! And now I listen to instructions, well sometimes I do …