A few pictures of our mum, Carol, born in 1921, died 1987.
This morning I discovered another WordPress feature had gone missing. I guess it’s not a very important one but I liked it.
On the Stats page there where you can see the list of posts that have been viewed there used to be a little link next to each post which would take you to it. I don’t know if other people do this but I often like to read my old posts to see if they are still relevant or sometimes with a really old one to remind myself what I said. Sometimes I do it out of curiosity, trying to work out what attracted the reader to it or why an old post keeps bobbing up.
When I logged in this morning those little links were gone. I imagine that as WordPress is so glitchy these days and as they consider something as important as spell check to be not worth fixing they are hardly going to worry about a feature that probably a lot of people don’t even notice.
Of course, there are other ways I can go back over old posts. I know that but it’s just another example of the glitches we seem to be seeing more and more often these days.
Today is ANZAC Day. I didn’t get up early to go to the dawn service or catch the bus to see the parade in Hobart but the above are some photos that I took of the 2015 march.
I don’t think of the march as a celebration of war so much as a day that we remember the fallen.
Years ago when I used to go Dawn Service and to see the march in Adelaide regularly I used to enjoy seeing the pleasure the veterans got out of seeing old friends that maybe they didn’t see very often and their determination to go the distance even though they were old and maybe disabled.
It was once felt that the ANZAC tradition would die once the men and women who served in the world wars were gone but instead it seems to have become bigger. Of course, we’re never going to run out of conflicts to lose soldiers in.
I just hope that young people are commemorating the day for the right reasons. Many young Australians like to visit Turkey and spend ANZAC Day at Gallipoli but it was not meant to be about rock concerts and selfies. It’s a time to be solemn, reflect and do our best to make sure that no more young men have to die in a war.
For Sunday’s Ragtag Daily Prompt Gizzylaw asks.
Do you have pictures in your mind? Do you have places, sounds, smells, people that live in your mind? Mental pictures of your life?
For me, the answer is yes. I try to capture the special places and special moments in my life with my camera. We all have those holiday photos, fun family photos and pet pictures that remind us of good times. Of course, you can’t capture everything in a photo. Sometimes the picture is like a marker and looking at it prompts memories of when and where it was taken.
I don’t really like having my photo taken that much. I didn’t even when I was much younger and looked better than I do now. I’ll never join the selfie craze but there have been times when I’ve wanted one for the album.
These were three that I asked David to take of me on our big overseas trip in 1990. Two are with landmarks, the other because it was a day, a time and a place that I wanted to remember, one of the best days of the holiday even though all we did was go for a walk. We were in Scotland amongst the lochs and the mountains and it was somewhere I had always wanted to go.
This picture, which I took while visiting the Great Wall of China doesn’t look like much but when I look at it I remember the walk I took. I had got separated from our tour group and walked on much further than everyone else until I had got away from the crowds. This picture brings that memory alive for me again, I remember the still air, melting snow on the steps as I climbed, some distant booming sounds. For me, that short walk is my favourite memory of China.
There are some things you can’t take pictures of though, and things that even if you photograph them you can’t do them justice. Sometimes it is better to put the camera or the phone down and just take in the scene. Photograph it with your eyes so you will never forget. We visited Wellington, New Zealand on a beautiful summer Sunday when we cruised in 2016. I took a lot of photos trying to capture the essence of that day and although the pictures don’t quite do that I do remember the sunshine, the icecreams, the street pianos and the exuberant donuts the pilot’s boat did to wish us farewell.
A lot of my memories are in picture form, I see the much younger me running along a platform at Adelaide Station, so anxious to see an approaching steam locomotive, or Naomi and I seeing a favourite band in concert. I see David and me in the car playing “Road to Nowhere” at the start of a road trip, the faces of people who I used to work with on the railways and our past dogs chasing balls on the beach.
Then there are those mental pictures that just come into your head. Naomi and I get this quite a lot. Our sense of humour can be quirky and sometimes we see funny pictures in our minds of ordinary things. For example, once a workmate was talking about his trip to the USA and that he had been to Disneyland. Naomi said that she had to try very hard not to laugh. I knew it was because she was seeing this rather serious man looking something like this.
This morning as I caught up with blog posts I read Marilyn’s post in answer to Martha’s Sunshine Blogger Award Post. After reading both posts I decided that I would participate too. I’ve been struggling a bit to write anything this week and while I have got a bit tired of Q&A posts recently I decided that I liked these questions and would enjoy answering them.
I decided that I would follow Marilyn’s suggestion to go back and answer the questions from Martha’s original post. I’m not going to nominate anyone else to join in but please feel free to if you would like.
Here are my answers
1. What made you decide to write a blog on WordPress?
I was doing some volunteer work at a local church and one of my tasks was to update the church blog which was on WordPress.org. I was shown what to do but I wanted to understand a bit more about it and I didn’t want to risk messing up the church blog so I thought that starting one of my own would be a good way to experiment. At around the same time, my sister in law commented on one of my Facebook posts that I ought to do a blog. So I thought “Why not?”
One piece of advice I took notice of was to write about something I knew so I decided to write about dolls. Soon after that, I realised that I wanted to write off topic so I started a second one, both are still going nearly six years later.
2. You’re writing a blog post and you find it taking on a direction of its own. Do you assume control or do you follow it?
From time to time, particularly with writing prompts, I’ve sat down with an idea in mind but found that the post is going another way. More often than not I follow it if I find it is going somewhere other than where I intended. Sometimes if writing is hard going I think it is better to just keep writing and then go back and take out all the parts that don’t fit or move them around as I did in this answer after rereading it.
3. What are your goals as the writer of a blog? What do you hope for?
My first goal is to keep blogging for as long as it is fun; and secondly, to get better at it. I admit that I like seeing the number of views and the number of followers growing but it’s not just about that. The important thing with the doll blog is that I may help to preserve knowledge by having a place people can share information and that maybe reading it will encourage others to become collectors themselves. Mostly I hope that I am not boring.
4. Describe the best day you’ve had in the past twelve months.
This type of question is always hard for me to answer, partly because it’s hard to choose just one thing and partly because I have a memory like a goldfish these days.
My birthday last year when we cruised on the Huon River and had lunch at the local hotel was a good day.
Christmas Day, that’s always a good day. Another good day was the day that Naomi brought the Triang 61 dolls house down for me to see because this was a childhood toy that we had hoped to replace one day.
The day I was able to go home after the bushfire scare was another. I was so happy to be back in my own house again.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why? What experiences would you hope for?
There are still places I’d like to see although sometimes I think that I would need a time machine to experience them the way I’d like to. I’d like to see London again although I know it won’t be the same as the last time I saw it. I’d like to go back to see more of Scotland and Wales and Ireland which I missed entirely. There are a lot of rail trips I’d like to experience, the Glacier Express in Switzerland, the Rocky Mountaineer in Canada, the Blue Train in South Africa, the California Zephyr or the Indian Pacific to mention a few. I’d like to spend time in New Zealand exploring it by road and rail. I’d still like to see the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia. Why? These are all places I’ve dreamed of seeing, even if the reality doesn’t match the pictures in my head. There are places in Scotland, Wales and England that were special for me and I’d like to see them again one more time. I’d like to have a chance to meet some of my blogging friends and see their home towns with them.
- What was the worst road trip of your life? What happened?
I can’t recall having a really bad road trip as an adult but some childhood trips with the family to the beach or a national park were horrible. Imagine a hot day, a car with no air-conditioning and three adults, four kids and a baby packed inside. Two of the adults smoke, two of the kids won’t stop fighting; everyone wants to sit next to the window. I actually needed to sit there because the combined smell of petrol and cigarette smoke and the motion often made me feel sick but mum usually wanted the windows closed while my aunt and uncle, the smokers, wanted them open. We were usually late getting away from home and when we arrived at our destination we’d only have a short time there before we’d be told it was time to go home because the baby had to be fed or one of the adults was tired or there was school in the morning. In the end, Naomi and I would often just say no thank you when invited on these outings.
7. How much time do you put into your blog? Do you write every day?
I don’t post every day. Some weeks I’m good and manage one or more posts a day but at other times like the past week or so I haven’t felt as motivated. I do comment and reply to reader’s comments every day though even if I have no inspiration to write.
8. Do you write to a daily prompt? Why or why not?
It depends. I guess I write to them if they fit in with the type of things that I like to write about. I do if the subject interests me but if it is an obscure word or a subject I have nothing to say on I don’t. I do enjoy photo prompts though and do quite a few of those as sharing photos is one of my favourite things about blogging.
9. What’s your favourite post? Why? Please share.
I can’t really pick just one but I always enjoy reminiscing about the past, writing about childhood, my love of railways, or places I’ve visited. A lot of these have been for the Times Past monthly challenge run by Irene Waters, but some have just popped out of nowhere, like “The Best Times of Our Lives” about our early days as railfans. I also like writing about my favourite places in Tasmania. I love my adopted home state and want everyone to know how beautiful it is. The all-time favourite post for readers is “Superstition: Unlucky Plants” which still gets views. I rerun it every year or so. I don’t know what it is about that particular piece. It must have some keywords that search engines like.
- Is there a book, film or person (or animal) that inspired you and changed your life? What or who was it? How did it have such a profound effect on you?
Naomi and I often talk about the way that our mother took the time to teach us to play with our dolls creatively. I think that it helped us to develop our imaginations and our attention spans. We would happily play with the same toys or dolls all day so we were bored a lot less often than
children who always needed something new to do. She was also a great storyteller and letter writer and very good at drawing. I think she passed some of those skills on to us. I enjoyed writing to pen pals when I was younger and Naomi inherited mum’s knack for art. I took up photography partly because I can’t draw. Perhaps mum indirectly turned us into bloggers.
11. What advice do you have for someone who has just started writing a blog? What rewards has it given you that might inspire someone else?
The same advice I read when I started. Write about something you know and care about. Post regularly and don’t get hung up on the statistics. Proofread your work, if it’s worth doing it’s worth doing properly, that’s mum talking again.
I’d also add to make it your own work. Everyone has something interesting to say. Be yourself.
I have found blogging very rewarding for a number of reasons. I’ve come to know other bloggers through their writing and I think of them as friends now.
I think it has improved my photography. I see photographic subjects that I would never have thought of before doing photo challenges and I think I’ve become more creative in photo editing. I was never really interested in black and white photography before I became a blogger.
As a doll collector, I’ve learned about different dolls and found that there are other collectors who enjoy doll photography and do wonderful creative things restoring vintage dolls houses, customising dolls, creating dioramas and writing stories.
Since Naomi joined me in writing the two blogs it’s also become something we can do together even though we are not able to meet up very often as we live quite far from each other. It can be very rewarding to share a hobby with a friend or family member.
Most of our Op Shop volunteers make a big fuss when customers bring babies into the shop. I guess I am not very maternal. I prefer dogs.
A few customers bring dogs and tie them up outside the shop while they browse. Sometimes we’re asked for a bowl of water for them which we are happy to supply. If it is not too warm, other customers leave their dogs in their cars with the windows open. I don’t really like this but those people don’t usually stay long. Very occasionally a customer might bring their dog inside and carry it around with them.
This week I met two dogs at the shop. One was a twelve-year-old German Shepherd whose owner had come in to find a couple of old blankets for her. Twelve is a good age for a German Shepherd so when she commented on how much her dog loved soft toys I found one for her to give it. The lady let her dog out of the car to stretch her legs and say hello to me, it was near the end of the day and I was taking things back inside the shop. She seemed to love the toy and carried it around in her mouth. I don’t know if this dog understood that the toy came from me but she came up and gave me a lick. I know a lot of people are frightened of German Shepherds but the ones I have met have all been lovely dogs.
My second dog moment left me feeling quite angry. Some people had come in and were browsing while their dog, which was tied up outside near the water container, was barking and crying. The people were in the shop for a long time and it sounded to me as if the dog was getting quite distressed. One of the owners went out to check on it once but when he came back inside the dog started crying again.
I guess I am sensitive to this because Cindy gets anxious when I am away from her. I went outside to have a look at the dog and discovered it was a puppy, not a tiny puppy but only a few months old. It was at that clumsy big-footed stage. I let it sniff my hand and talked to it for a bit before thinking I had better get back to work. The owners were still shopping, they did not seem to be in much of a hurry. I went out again, my feet were hurting and I needed a rest so I thought I’d sit on the bench outside and keep the pup company for a few minutes. He cried and tried to come to me but the leash was not long enough to allow that so I went and stood beside him and patted him and told him it would be OK.
I was still out there talking to the pup when the owners came back. I was really annoyed with them by now and I said that the pup was too young to understand them being gone for so long. They said “He’s got to learn.” and “It’s better to ignore him when he cries.” I thought “Yes, but not for that long.” they must have been gone at least half an hour. So I said “I bet you wouldn’t leave a baby crying for that long.” and the woman said that she probably would.
I went back inside because there was no point in saying anything else to them but I was angry about it for the rest of the day.
When I was a child I didn’t mind the hot Australian summer so much. Nobody I knew had air conditioning, we kept cool with fans, which mostly just blew hot air over us. At school, if the temperature rose above 100 degrees Fahrenheit we were allowed to go home early as the school wasn’t air conditioned either. I remember how we looked forward to those days, getting out of school early was a treat. As the temperature climbed in the afternoons our teachers would schedule easier lessons. Sometimes several classes would be herded into the hall to watch films. They were educational but sometimes there might be a funny one as well.
In Grade 6, the class teacher was Mr. Scott. He was quite a young man, probably not long out of Teacher’s College and he was very good at art. He used to draw amazing murals on the classroom blackboard. In fact, other teachers would often ask Mr. Scott to come and draw something on their blackboards, that’s how good he was.
On really hot days when the temperature was in the nineties and we had not yet been told we could go home Mr. Scott would try to find ways to keep our class of forty or so kids busy. Sometimes he would read poetry to us, at other times he would send a kid to get the school record player and play some music. This was in the days before DVD’s and even before VCR’s. He’d then let us get out the art materials and paint. He’d encourage us to think about cool things and it mostly seemed to work.
Once we were allowed to go it would be a hot walk home but there would be a cold drink or maybe even an iced lolly waiting. Our house in Elizabeth had a concrete floor in the laundry and two old cement wash troughs. Naomi and I often played in there on hot days as it seemed cooler than the rest of the house.
Now I’m older I find that I don’t deal with the heat all that well and rather than being fascinated by the idea of the temperature reaching a century I dislike the really hot days. I’m glad that I don’t have to sit in a hot classroom anymore but those afternoons were fun; sometimes I wonder whatever happened to Mr. Scott.