RDP: Charitable

Helping Hands

We’ve all had those phone calls from non-profit organisations wanting us to support them either once-off by buying raffle tickets or merchandise or more frequently these days by making an ongoing financial commitment. I don’t like getting them because I feel guilty that I must so often say no. There are so many causes that need our help and they are all worthy, helping children get an education, medical research, animal welfare, the environment. It’s easy to donate if you are well off and it will even be tax-deductible. It’s a lot tougher if you are hard up yourself.

Salvation Army Shop. Kolforn (Wikimedia) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

Many people don’t like to deal with charities because they feel that a great deal of their money will end up going to administration and not to the people or animals that need it. That’s not unreasonable because it does happen. I respect and admire the work of the Salvation Army but many people tell me that their Op Shops, and those of other big non-profits, are becoming almost too expensive for people on low incomes to shop in. I suppose it’s inevitable, they run them as businesses, sometimes with paid managers. Their core business is fundraising, not providing affordable goods to low-income earners.

However, there are many ordinary people making a difference to the lives of others, just quietly going about their business and not thinking of any reward. As you know I volunteered at the Op Shop in Geeveston for about three years. The shop was started about eight years ago by Juarne Bird and her sister Rowena to help the local community by having affordable goods for sale and also by providing opportunities for some of the young mums in the area to get some work experience volunteering at the shop. After the first few years, she had to find larger premises and that is how the shop came to be at the local school in an unused classroom. As well as donating to the school the shop supports many other local organisations with donations. All the staff are still volunteers.

Geeveston Op Shop.
Outside the Geeveston Op Shop.

Many people in the Huon Valley are what Aussies call “Battlers”. There is not a lot of work and something like the bushfires last summer can be devastating for local businesses. However, there is a strong sense of community and people try to help each other out even if they don’t have a lot themselves.

I want to mention my friend Karen Brown who I worked with at the Op Shop. During the bushfires, the shop was closed for a couple of weeks but Karen was busy. As well as taking in various friends and relatives and assorted pets who had to evacuate she spent hours every day cooking and taking food to the evacuation centre in Huonville where many people were sheltering. She bought a lot of the food with her own money. Nobody asked her to do it. She just did. This was not just for a couple of days, I think it was for about two weeks.

News from Huonville and SE Tassie Photo by “Spelio” 4 Feb 2019 on Flickr.

Those of you who use social media may be familiar with “Pay It Forward” sites. Basically, the way they work, with a few variations is that someone donates an item to the site which people can ask for and then the recipient, in turn, donates an item to the site. A local lady called Lyn Duggan decided to start one of these sites on Facebook and by doing this has been able to help out a lot of needy families in the area as people often donate multiple items She ended up having to buy a shipping container to store goods in. As well as sorting and bagging goods to be donated Lyn also cooks meals for families who are doing it tough. This year she has, with help from a few others involved with the site, collected and wrapped hundreds of Christmas presents as well. Apart from donations of goods, from members on the PIF site, Lyn spends a lot of her own money. Again nobody asked her to do it; she saw a need and she set out to do something about it.

I personally think that people like Juarne, Karen and Lyn should get some kind of recognition for what they do in the community so even though I don’t know if any of them will read this I’m putting it out there that these are pretty awesome women.

RDP: Excitement

I’m So Excited

When a big event is on the horizon people often ask me if I’m excited.

“Are you excited to be going on a cruise?” “Are you excited now that you are moving?”

My usual answer is “No. Not yet.” It’s not that I am blase about everything. Far from it. I can still get excited about a lot of things but something big like a trip or a move I get nervous. I feel I have to concentrate on the things that need to be done before I can relax and enjoy it. If I’m going on holidays I want to make sure I have taken care of all the details, the pets are being looked after, tickets and money have been organised and I haven’t forgotten to pack anything important like my passport. Then there is getting to the airport, we must leave early enough not to be held up if there is an accident en route. Don’t laugh, that has happened, so our habit of being at the airport an hour before we need to check in has served me well. Once I’m checked in I can relax and start thinking about the journey, at least until we get to the next place I need to present tickets, passports etc. However, there are moments, like the moment we pulled into Circular Quay Station in Sydney and saw a cruise ship for the first time, that excitement takes over. Naomi and I were so excited to see Explorer of the Seas for the first time that we couldn’t get to it fast enough.

Explorer of the Seas- Sydney-Feb 2016
Our first glimpse of Explorer of the Seas

As for moving. Nobody gets excited about moving. It’s all lawyers and real estate agents, packing and cleaning. I was too tired to be excited and I was sad to say goodbye to my house and my friends. I was excited to get on the road and drive to Sisters Beach for the first time though. That was like the road trips we used to do. A trip in the car with music playing and the prospect of something to look forward to at the other end.

SAR Pacific 621 at Adelaide station

When I was younger I used to get excited on days we were going on steam train trips. I remember how we would get into Adelaide well before departure time and when we could hear the train whistling as it backed into the yard I would run up the platform in sheer excitement, and I am no runner. There are still things worth getting excited about but maybe I’ve grown a little cautious of getting excited too soon in case I jinx things.

RDP: Scrooge

A Christmas Tradition

I was given a copy of Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol” when I was maybe nine or ten years old and since that time it has been one of my favourite stories. For me Christmas is not the same without it and every year I either reread my book, yes I still have the same copy; or I watch one of the TV or movie versions of the story.

Dickens can be a bit wordy, I like the stories but the writing style is different with very long sentences so you need to be able to concentrate. However, “A Christmas Carol” is a shorter story so it is more readable.

I didn’t realise until I sat down to write this how many versions of this story had been filmed. I knew that there was at least one animated version, a Muppet version and several modern takes on the story as well as the traditional ones. Here is a list of feature-length and animated films but there have also been short films.

Scrooge
  • The Right To Be Happy – This 1916 silent movie was the first full-length film version of A Christmas Carol, starring Rupert Julian in the Scrooge role.
  • A Christmas Carol – Another silent movie version from the United Kingdom, this 1923 film stars Russell Thorndike, Jack Denton, Forbes Dawson and Nina Vanna.
  • Scrooge – Seymour Hicks reprises his role as Scrooge in this 1935 release.
  • A Christmas Carol – 1938 version with Reginald Owen, Gene Lockhart and Kathleen Lockhart.
  • Scrooge – This 1951 release, starring Alastair Sim as Scrooge, along with Mervyn Johns and Hermione Baddeley. Considered by many to be the best version of A Christmas Carol on film.
  • Scrooge – 1970 musical starring Albert Finney and Alec Guiness as Scrooge and Marley’s Ghost, respectively. This is the film many of us grew up watching.
  • Scrooged – Modern adaptation from 1988 starring Bill Murray as a tv producer who doesn’t understand the spirit of Christmas.
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol – A 1992 film that was targeted for children, using the famous puppets created by Jim Henson.
  • A Christmas Carol – 1999 feature-length tv film starring Patrick Stewart as Ebenezer Scrooge. If you want to consider only feature films that played at the cinema, leave this one off the list. It’s a faithful adaptation, though.
  • Disney’s A Christmas Carol – 2009 “performance capture” film, with Jim Carrey starring as Scrooge, the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Future. Released on November 4, 2009. (U.S.)
  • _____________________________________________
  • A Christmas Carol – 1971 animated short by Richard Williams, later famous for directing Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Starred Alistair Sim, reprising his role from 1951.
  • Mickey’s Christmas Carol – 1983 short film starring the most famous Walt Disney characters, with none other than Scrooge McDuck, naturally in the role of Scrooge. Disney’s first version of A Christmas Carol.
  • A Christmas Carol – Lesser-known straight-to-video animated version by Jetlag Productions, an American-Japanese studio.
  • A Christmas Carol – 1997 – Animated film featuring the versatile Tim Curry as Scrooge and also starring Michael York, Whoopi Goldberg and voiceover master, Ed Asner.
  • Christmas Carol: The Movie – Ambitious 2001 animated film by Illuminated Films, using voices of famous movie stars like Nicholas Cage, Kate Winslet and Simon Callow.
  • A Christmas Carol – This 2006 film uses computer animation and anthropomorphic animals to tell the story of Scrooge.
  • Barbie in a Christmas Carol – 2008 film loosely based on A Christmas Carol, from the seemingly endless series of Barbie animated movies.
  • List from https://www.askdeb.com/holiday/christmas-carol-movies/

I am a traditionalist so I like the Albert Finney version. I’m not sure if I have seen any of the earlier ones. I love The Muppets so naturally, I like “A Muppet Christmas Carol” as well. I also quite like “Scrooged” as a modern-day story even though I don’t care for the slapstick element so much I forgive them because I love the musical number at the end of the movie.

I have not seen the Patrick Stewart version but I do have an audiobook of him reading the story and I think that will be my chosen way to enjoy the story again on Christmas Eve.

There are too many Scrooges in the world today. When I read ” Every one of them wore chains like Marley’s Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free. ” I can easily imagine Morrison, Dutton, Corman, Hanson and others chained like that. (Feel free to substitute the politicians of your choice). The final chapter is hopeful though. Even a man as miserable as Scrooge could change if he really wanted to.

RDP: Calendar

Calendar Time

This is the time of year that calendars and diaries for the following year start showing up in the shops. Even in this digital age some of us still like a calendar on the wall with pretty pictures.

My friend Gillian and I have a bit of a tradition of swapping calendars at Christmas. We used to swap calendars with pictures of trains but in recent years its been dogs. We usually buy the ones produced by non-profit organisations because we like to support them. Gillian’s assistance dog Dusty actually featured in a calendar a year or two ago. Of course, I kept that page, Dusty is pretty cute.

Gillian with Dusty who is a Lions Hearing Dog.

That’s the only trouble with calendars. What to do with them at the end of the year? It seems such a shame to throw them away when the pictures are so nice. I used to keep them thinking I might do something crafty with them but eventually I ended up with a pile of old calendars which I still hadn’t done anything with so now I sadly recycle them.

RDP: Winter

Seasons

We get a bit of fog here, especially in wintertime.

Unlike our friends in the northern hemisphere, we are about to start summer. However, in Tasmania, winter has taken quite a long time to go away. November had quite a few days when it was cold enough to need the heater on from mid-afternoon; there has been a lot of rain and even some snow at higher altitudes. The day that we drove to Sisters Beach for the first time was wet, windy and cold.

Still, I consider that we are lucky, in many parts of Australia November has been a month of extreme heat and bushfires in several states notably New South Wales and Queensland where many homes were destroyed and lives were lost.

I have often mentioned that I don’t enjoy extreme heat. It is one of the reasons that we decided to move to Tasmania which has a more temperate climate than the mainland states. However, I look forward to summer days when the sky is blue, the breeze pleasant and there is just enough warmth to go out without a jacket. By the end of summer, I’ll be looking forward to autumn and the changing colours of the trees. Winter in a place that gets a little snow but not enough to cause the havoc that occurs in colder countries can be very pretty and then just about the time that I get tired of everything being drab and grey the spring bulbs pop up and another cycle begins.

Sisters Beach Tasmania

RDP: Punch

“Oh No I Didn’t”

Something that makes me laugh.

There are not many Punch and Judy shows in Australia these days but when I was a child the Punch and Judy Show was a feature at many British seaside resorts including Clacton where we always had our summer holidays.

This traditional puppet show known as Punch and Judy in the UK has counterparts in France, Germany, Italy and many other countries all over Europe. The puppeteers are known as Professors.

There are various scripts for a traditional Punch and Judy Show but for those unfamiliar with it the story always revolves around Mr Punch, his wife Judy and a cast of characters that usually includes a policeman, a butcher, a crocodile and the Devil. The Professors will often include other characters who are more relevant to a modern audience. You can read a typical script from the 1960s here.

The Show Goes On

Usually, the story is a series of short scenes rather than a whole story. Punch always behaves badly and hits the other characters with his slap stick. It’s traditional for the audience to participate by shouting out warnings to Punch or Judy when danger appears. The characters will often break the fourth wall and address the audience too.

I’ve seen a few Punch and Judy shows as an adult and while I don’t usually enjoy violence I do appreciate the satire that sometimes creeps into the scripts and it is fun even though it is not very PC.

Until just a few years ago there was a Professor here in Tasmania and Naomi and I saw the show a couple of times at different events around Hobart before he retired. Before the show he would come around the audience with some large puppets to talk to the children and at the beginning would always announce that of course it was just make believe I guess to reassure any children who might be frightened or maybe to stop them from thinking it was OK to throw the baby out the window, steal sausages or hit people with sticks.

http://www.punchandjudy.com/

https://puppet.fandom.com/wiki/Punch_and_Judy

http://www.thepjf.com/

RDP: Falling

Basiophobia- Fear of Falling

Image by OpenIcons from Pixabay

Although I have been enjoying the lovely photographs of autumn leaves from bloggers in the northern hemisphere I am not going to write about that. I didn’t grow up calling autumn Fall and I’m not going to start now. Anyway, it’s spring here.

For me falling is something that I am afraid of. You might say it is a phobia. I used to think I was scared of heights but it’s not that. I have been to the top of several tall buildings to enjoy the view and I was fine. The one with the glass floor in Auckland was a bit nerve wracking though. I have been on Observation Wheels and cable cars and I wasn’t scared. The glass elevators on Explorer of the Seas were great and I was not frightened on the North Star Observation capsule on Ovation of the Seas.

One of the observation pods on the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel

Don’t ask me to climb to the top of a ladder though. I can’t do it and as I get older the fear is getting worse. When I was a bit younger I could get up on the dining table in order to change a lightbulb. I can’t do that now unless the table is near a wall and unfortunately that is not usually where you find the light fittings. They tend to be in the middle of the room.

I do fear falling at home and I don’t think that is totally irrational because I have fallen over in my garden several times. I’ve tripped over uneven ground before I had the path made in the back garden. I’ve slipped in the mud or frost in the driveway on wet winter days. I slipped over on the path near the clothesline, I don’t know if I tripped over something or what happened but I went down hard. I slipped in the mud walking home from the shops once. I wasn’t hurt but I got covered in it. Another time I tripped over a kerb at a shopping centre and that did hurt.

Escalaphobia

These were once Sydney’s oldests moving stairs. They are wooden and were only replaced in the last year or so. I think this was at Town Hall Station but I can’t remember for sure now.

I hate escalators. I can go up but coming down is frightening to me because they are moving and I think that if I don’t put my foot in exactly the right spot I’ll stumble and fall down them. We don’t have a lot of escalators in Hobart and I don’t go there often so I’ve got really out of practice and tend to just avoid them now. Singapore was a nightmare for me. It seemed you could not go anywhere without having to get on a fast escalator and the only way I could get on them at all was to count aloud to get some timing going.

Dreams

It’s the sensation of falling that really frightens me. I even dream I’m falling sometimes and wake up with a start. I know that can just be a glitch where your brain hasn’t totally shut down your muscles but it’s still unpleasant. On the reality TV shows that I hate so much, they are very into making people face their fears. They’d probably force me to bungee jump or jump out of a plane and I’d be so terrified I would forget the instructions and die. I don’t agree with such extreme measures. I think that if I were going to try and deal with this it would have to be gradual and I’d need to feel safe. Jumping out of a plane would not convince me I had nothing to fear. In fact, I think I would probably have a heart attack.