Liebster Award Nomination 2020

smily-thumbs-up
THANK YOU Snoopy M for nominating my blog for Liebstar Award 2020. That was a huge surprise and most welcome! I’m such a newbie blogger 😊

The Liebstar Award is a way to be discovered but also to connect and support the blogging community. A great idea in promoting your own blog and others. Originally it was given out to blogs with less than 2000 readers, but this has slowly lowed as the reward has gained popularity. It is now only 200 readers or less. It’s really an arbitrary number. If you like helping other blogs out go ahead and do it regardless of its size. This award is all about promoting and viewing other people’s blogs. (Taken from https://theglobalaussie.com/the-liebster-award/)

RULES :

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  2. Answer the 11 questions given to you
  3. Nominate 11 bloggers
  4. Ask your nominees 11 questions
  5. Notify your nominees once you have uploaded your post

Snoopy M set me the following tricky questions.

  1. Name one thing/person that/who makes your life complete (or would have made complete).
    My husband Eric. Somehow we found each other. I was already married, and we had only just broken up (he had moved out) and then into my workplace walked Eric. Within 6 months we were engaged. My divorce came through a year later (in October) and we married in November. We will be married 30 years in 2021.
  2. Did the pandemic bring any positive change inside you?
    I’m not too sure of that. Like many people, I had aspirations I guess of what would be achieved now that we had time and space. But really, I just ate more! I wish I could say I’d grown, more than just in waist size 😉
  3. How do you intend to grow your blog further? 
    I write the most when I’m travelling, which my husband and I love to do. Otherwise, I participate in weekly short story writes, where someone posts a photo or word prompt. I do have two works in progress (novels) and in the back of my mind, my blog is making my ‘literary contacts’, in case I’m ever published. While also collecting a bunch of like minded friends from around the world.
  4. Which is your favourite corner in the house?
    We only have a small house, and I do love our living room. Our sofas are a groovy lime green, my bookshelves are there, and it is the room where I have indoor plants. Also, the television is there, and as I love movies, it finishes off my favourite space.
  5. Love at first sight – Does any such thing really exist? What is your opinion?
    I think love at first sight does exist. I was very aware of my husband almost immediately I met him in my workplace. At the time, I wouldn’t have articulated that I’d fallen in love, but in hindsight it seems obvious.
  6. Mac Book Pages or Microsoft Word – which one do you prefer more?
    Microsoft Word – but only because that is what my workplaces have always used, and it has become normal for me.
  7. Do you know anyone (including yourself) who has used all the features offered by the iPhones till date?
    I don’t use an iPhone. If you include Android phones such as Samsung, I think I use many of the features. I’m fairly tech savvy for an oldie!
  8. Which social media platform do you think is more popular in 2020 – Facebook/ Instagram/Twitter? (you can add any other social media platform if you want)
    Apparently, only oldies such as Mums and Dads use Facebook. Is that currently accurate? Twitter is very popular. Instagram has had a resurgence, perhaps because you can do ‘live’ events on them now?
  9. What do you think about India as a nation? Have you ever tasted Indian food?
    I have never travelled to India. I do enjoy Indian food; it is my daughter’s food of choice when we have a celebration. It has been on my travel wish list to visit India, while at the same time I think I’ll be overwhelmed by the sheer number of people there. And the poverty. Although that might be a personal misconception.
  10. Who is all you all-time favourite author? Please specify the genre.
    All-time favourite author is tough, you know. As we are all writers, I’m assuming we’re all readers and who has only one favourite? I’ll choose my long-time favourite Stephen King, horror author extraordinaire! I’m a little embarrassed that it is not a more literary writer, but I’ve grown with him.
  11. When was the last time you received a compliment from someone and what was that?
    Just today. I volunteer as a tech operator and reader on Vision Australia radio. It’s not commercial radio. Not like talk back. You don’t need to have a bubbly or loud personality! We read the local newspaper for vision impaired listeners. It makes local community news more accessible to them.
    Someone on our radio committee called me today and said I was one of their best on-air readers – so that was very ‘WOW’!

My questions to the nominees :

  1. How long have you been blogging?
  2. What is your favourite writing genre?
  3. Have you previously been nominated for a blogging award?
  4. Where have you travelled to and what is your favourite country / culture?
  5. Do you have a bucket list?
  6. What has been your biggest triumph?
  7. What has been your lowest moment?
  8. How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your life?
  9. What do you think of Donald Trump?
  10. Name your favourite memory of your hometown.
  11. Do you believe in a spiritual deity / higher power?

And I nominate :

Michael Humphris

Paula Stevenson Writer

The Road Back to Life

Our Literary Journey

Keith’s Ramblings

Notes to Women

Neil MacDonald Author

Tannille

Sound Bite Fiction

Jibber Jabber with Sue

Living Authors’ Society

I tried to choose blogs I follow that have 200 or below followers, but that was too difficult. And so two or three of these are below 1,000 followers. I enjoy reading all your words and hope you are happy with this nomination.

Who won the week – Daniel Andrews MP

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is doing an amazing job during the Covid-19 crisis.

Australia-wide, our politicians have served the country well. Up until early July, it seemed we had everything under control. And then it became serious in Melbourne, Victoria.

Every day, Mr Andrews has to front the media. He has to present the ‘bad news of the day’ – while guiding, inspiring and sometimes – chastising us.

He appears to be more tired each time we see him – and no wonder! I bet he doesn’t switch off by 8pm to watch Netflix! And when did he last get a chance to sit with the newest blockbuster novel?

In this time of weaponized word bites, it is very easy for us to complain. And not everything has been done right. But as has been said for the last seven months – these are unprecedented times. And unprecedented means acknowledging that we and our politicians are learning a lot ‘on the job’ and ‘in real time’.

So, hats off to Mr Daniel Andrews. Keep going. Love to you and your family.

Thank you. 

My contribution to Fandango’s “Who Won The Week” #FWWTW – politician Mr Daniel Andrews MP.

Gidget Glamper – update

Some of my friends will know that as of late 2017 early 2018, our Gidget camper dream was blown apart! The company went into receivership.

Along with a couple of hundred other customers in Australia and the US we paid a deposit (for most 40% and for some, full price) with an expectation of delivery within 6 months (promised in a conversation on Facebook). We paid our deposit on 29 August 2016 and by August 2017 we’d requested refund of deposit, due to unreasonable time taken to provide product and still no completion date. In September 2017, we received an email effectively saying ‘your refund is approved, just waiting on timeline. Then in October, after conversations where they asked me to keep the order with them, we received an email promising return of refund over 4 monthly payments.

Then in early November, when no refund payments had been received, we got to speak with one of the Directors, Glenn, who carried on about how hard done by he was, ‘give us 6 weeks’ (December) and we’ll have all refunds sorted out’.

Nothing by December and eventually by the 18th December we had an email from Glenn apologising for delays, a rehash of all their dramas so far and a promise of all refunds by January 2018.

Next email advice was 11th January advising temporary closure of factory due to inability to pay wages, and on the same day an email from the administrator advising that Gidget was going into voluntary administration.

So as we’d all begun to suspect, Glenn on behalf of Gidget was full of shit. All our suspicions came to be true.

At some point in the above, Glenn began to ask new and existing customer orders if they wanted to pay in full and be moved to the top of the queue, because things were taking too long and at least they’d get their Gidget sooner than everyone else.

Well, that really rang alarm bells with us and anybody who decided to pay in full were even more gullible than us.

I have to say, I followed the Gidget story from the beginning. I found a YouTube video showing the delights of the camper and the ease of use, the compactfulness. The accessories. The beautiful installed kitchen. The finishings. It was retro, compact and amazing. I didn’t want to drag a caravan around Australia on our long weekend treats. We didn’t want to buy a much larger car in order to be able to drag our holiday home behind us.

I understood that the video enabled an extremely intense and rapid interest to be expressed in the product, with unprecedented orders coming in. They had made perhaps 3 campers to that point and needed to set up the factory process to manufacture mass (but still custom and handmade) product.

I believed when they said that the person they brought in to transform their manufacturing process had let them down, at great cost for no resolution.

It seemed feasible that the money they had received was being spent on upgrading their processes.

But they weren’t taking care with the deposits, which (just as in real estate) should have been put away into a safe, untouchable account that was contribution toward an end product. A promise from the client that allowed them to build with confidence in a buying market.

They abused this and ran up debts of millions. With no resources behind them, they were unable to pay back any creditors.

It was very disappointing for us. But you know, not the end of the world. I still believe that they had the best of intentions and a dream at the beginning. It got out of control, they dug a bigger hole for themselves, and began to do things the wrong way in the hope that things would turn around.

If they weren’t that innocent, then I’m sure they’ve ended up not very happy in their life.

Well, I haven’t been on to my blog site for quite a while and thought maybe I’d update this.

Cheers, Trish (August 2019)

Death of the brick and mortar store

Once upon a time, I was a retail store owner – operator of a brick and mortar bookshop. It was a labour of love for this book tragic!

The Australian Booksellers Association doesn’t consider an independent bookshop viable in a town whose population is approximately 5,000. Our town was the regional centre for up to 15,000 people; but that was still considered a challenge.

I continued to work part-time with my husband in our Farm Management Advisory business, while working full-time in the bookshop. Usually, I employed one other staff member for Saturdays and occasional backup – but unless I was out of town or on holidays you would find me at the bookshop.

I didn’t take a salary. I did buy a lot of books at cost price. So many books came across my counter that it was irresistible!

I loved that shop! So did the town, my kids and my husband. We only ran it for five years, with a stock turnover goal of three to four times a year. Annual turnover grew from $80,000 in Year 1 to $250,000 in Year 5.

There are many ways to measure success in business – and I guess No. 1 would be profit. Because why else are you in business? Otherwise, it eats into funds available to you and your family. And our children were still young enough that every cent counted.

My husband was making a good living and the bookshop met its own costs, provided a welcome service to the town, employment for one other person – and I was in heaven!

That is a success story to me!

Since that experience, I’ve had a hyper-awareness (particularly around Christmas) of the stresses and pressures that retailers face. I feel it in my heart as I observe the ebb and flow, comings and goings of retail business around me.

Take a moment yourself to notice and sympathise amid your Christmas retail splurge. See the shops that are rocking it? There are many people browsing or queuing; overwhelmed staff tending to urgent and often impatient customers.

But at the end of the day, there is satisfaction. Sales are up, wages and overheads covered, and perhaps there’s a profit. They haven’t overstocked but stocked enough. Another Christmas survived; perhaps another to look forward to.

Now take a 360 degree look around the mall, arcade or high street you’re standing in. How many other shops can you see that are quiet? I don’t know why they’re quieter; perhaps it is just that they’ve a niche market. Maybe their product isn’t the current fashion.

Perhaps, Christmas is not their season to shine.

How have they marketed? Do they present in an appealing way? Is there enough stock, offering the abundance of choice we all expect and demand?

Are these businesses just tired and can’t find the juice to work at it anymore?

In retail, the need to earn your big bucks at seasonal times, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, mother and father days to name some – and the abundance of choice we now have and expect – have lead to the demise of the retail specialist. In my opinion.

We need more reasons nowadays to give a storefront retailer our attention and they need our business, more and more.

Giving ‘added value’ can be a winner for the business and a welcome draw for the customer. Done well!

Think books and chocolates; and book lights, bookmarks, book bean bags, audio books, tv tie-in products, stationery! Behold, budding author; notebooks!

For a bookshop, all these products add to the book experience – reading, writing, comfort, enjoyment and relevancy. Still specialists, but adding value for the customer, with more reasons for us to enter the store, stick around and buy.

When done badly though, it can be too confusing. Something in the window draws your attention, but when you scan it seems there’s no continuity or consistency. Lack of a clear theme can be straight up off-putting. Do you even bother to enter.

If you do, try asking a question about or around that product. Chances are that the salesperson doesn’t know anything past the price, what they have in stock and whether they can order more. They won’t be able to engage much deeper than that, or promise anything else.

A good bookshop, however, with the right tools can really connect with you over that book, or author. How many books has that author written, and in what format? The due date of his next novel might already be in the system. The salesperson may also be able to tell you if the wholesaler still has stock and how many; yes, tools can be that good!

Somebody on the staff will enthuse with you about the author or the book itself. They’ll introduce you to other authors that you may enjoy, based on this one purchase. And they could set you on the path to a heavenly journey of years duration with somebody new.

If they’re a quality specialist bookshop. You won’t have this experience with a Target or Kmart store, you can be sure of that; on any product.

I would caution you though. However good your bookshop is – don’t expect too much extra engagement with staff in the week leading up to Christmas. They are exhausted, they are pulling their hair out, they’ve had too many negative experiences already to even face the good customer, and they just plain don’t have time! 😊

I have digressed.

I personally see those empty, quieter shops and I feel for them. Imagine them watching all the flowing traffic passing them by into competitor stores, and their hearts breaking.

Imagine, spirits lifting at footsteps, at bodies heading their way, only for their spirits to drop when the steps stop short; or walk right on by.

For a while, shops open with excitement and hope; but as the weeks go by and the time opportunity winds down, despondency sets in. The shopkeeper will either hang on longer each day hoping to catch the late shopper or will begin to close early and give up.

Come the New Year, there are now a few empty spaces in your mall, arcade or high street. Come the next Christmas season there is less competition, fewer brick and mortar stores, fewer opportunities to be tactile with your product choice, less human interaction, reduced liveliness in your mall, arcade or high street of choice.

My heart hurts as I observe the shops in my wanderings. Consumerism is not good for the soul. But it does give livelihood and meaning to the modern retail business and employment to many – especially the young and under skilled.

One day, the consumer of my generation and older will look around and miss the days when we could touch that dress, pick up that book, spray on the sample perfume – and talk to someone.

In another generation, shopping online will be the norm! And only the oldies will remember how it used to be. Another generation of the young ‘won’t get it’. They won’t understand what the fuss was about; won’t know what they’re missing.

For all that there must be positives to a total consumer market operating in the cloud, the heart and soul connection will be lost.

Okay; we can buy what we want in one million different colours, at great prices, in a speedy and convenient manner. A drone will deliver and ‘happily’ collect and return the product when it is not quite what you expected.

But at what cost to the spirit of humanity.

AND at what expense to the environment. Packaging!

What makes you laugh?

Featured

Laughter. The simple pleasure of a belly laugh! What a physical experience it can be.

What brings on that kind of laughter for you, dear reader? Does it happen often?

It takes a lot for me to laugh out loud. I’m more of a quiet smiler. Sometimes the smile is so quiet, you could think I was unaffected. I often ‘feel’ the smile in my head and know that it isn’t showing on the outside.

Watching movies often brings out a noisy laugh. Usually over slapstick comedy. I consider slapstick as physical comedy; somebody has fallen, for example. I laugh and laugh like a sicko! There is nothing very subtle about my sense of humour 😀 I’ll find myself laughing so hard that I can’t catch my breath. Sometimes, it is scary because it seems I’ll never get it back. I think this is because I struggle to let myself be loud and my natural inclination is to stuff it back in.

Graham Norton makes me laugh. I love his show. I chuckle my way through it, up to and including the red chair! Graham is very clever at bringing his guests right along, sharing with us their unusual stories and cracking us up.

I laugh with my husband, unexpectedly. Not because I don’t expect to laugh with him, but perhaps because a moment ago life was staid. Nothing particularly outstanding was happening. And then, something is said – we’re on the same wavelength and something clicks – then we’re both bent over in raptures of laughter. Take a peek at each other and again we’re falling around. If you’re lucky enough to have that kind of bond with somebody, then you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

Naturally, I’m a very serious person. I laugh with people I can relax with. That includes my children and my sisters. There are only a few friends that I’ll find myself laughing with.

I didn’t grow up with a wider network of family. It was always Mum and Dad and my siblings. All aunties and cousins lived in another country. And so, I didn’t develop strong bonds there.

My husband and I just spent a day with a cousin and his wife. We’ve been developing friendship over the last few years, mainly via Facebook; and we visited with them in 2013. But we laughed and laughed this weekend. It was very natural and friendly; non-judgmental laughing at each other and ourselves. A lightening of spirit experience.

The endorphins released from laughing are real. You can feel the release and relaxation after a good bout of laughter. It must be why there are laughter therapy classes, why comedians are so popular and why everyone loves the Simpsons! 😀

If you’ve read this, hopefully you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about and you enjoy loud and proud laughter regularly. If you don’t get enough laughs – search it out! What makes you laugh?

I’m including a link here to something that still makes me laugh. I hope you’ll get a good chuckle out of it too.

Greta Thunberg – modern Joan of Arc

We have all by now heard of Greta Thunberg, a Swedish schoolgirl who made headlines around the world in August 2018 by refusing to attend school in the face of climate devastation, and the severe ramifications for humanity.

The simplicity of her stance in striking inspired school children around the world to emulate her, to call out government and declare that ‘enough is enough’.

This girl and her journey should be an inspirational one for us all. Her actions represent the quality and bravery of the upcoming generations – our children and grandchildren.

Greta’s message resonates with her own generation. School children continue to take action, skip school and protest. I assume that these children have been supported by their parents and schools. Some children would not have been supported in this action and just ‘wagged’ school. Perhaps others have not participated, whether by their own choice, or because they haven’t been allowed.

To see a variety of stories around the topic of Greta, climate change strikes and our reactions to this, check out The Guardian.

This month, Greta travelled to New York to attend a UN summit on climate change. She brought attention to her quest by travelling via yacht, instead of flying and contributing to the carbon load. Then we heard her speak.

It is surprising (and embarrassing) the vitriol pouring from so many after listening to Greta. Some of the people commenting in the negative do not surprise. They have almost nurtured an expectation as people that are behind the times, misogynistic, unsympathetic about difference and climate change deniers. Even those that may have some sympathy and awareness of the climate fiasco, aren’t prepared to hear a 16-year-old girl ‘tell them off’. And unfortunately, her presentation style grates.

Have you heard the slang sayings ‘fish wife’ or ‘harpy’? Derogatory terms for ‘a course scolding woman’ and ‘a very unpleasant female person’. These hateful descriptions could be applied to the presentation style.

Let’s be honest here. In marketing, beauty sells, sexy sells, a honey toned voice sells. Promises of success, wealth, love, safety and longevity – for ourselves and our children – sell. A message of doom, coming from a red faced and screeching teenager, that does not sell.

People also question who is feeding her the agenda? She has presented fact-based, scientific reports to support her case. But who is feeding her the line?

Does it matter where she is getting it from, if the information is accurate, science based and might help to create a required shift in consciousness? But of course, one socially awkward 16-year-old girl can’t be allowed to just stand up for her beliefs, with passion. Because it makes the rest of us look bad. Lazy, selfish and apathetic. Really, it comes down to selfishness!

I have at least one friend on Facebook who has not been shy to share phrasing such as “irritating and annoying”, but who at the same time announces that “we are too stupid and selfish to do anything significant until it’s too late, so (I’m) just counting down the clock until we are engulfed in war and natural disasters of our own making.” This is one specific person, but I feel it covers a gamut of feeling from people. And many people will hold back from saying the negatives, because in a PC world we aren’t encouraged to express the unpopular majority viewpoint; otherwise, we become the monster. That new term for favouring one group or thing over another  – reverse discrimination.

I personally, passively worry and acknowledge that whatever I do will make little to no difference, with regard to anything, but especially to climate change. I also don’t have confidence to take a stance on something if I don’t personally understand every detail behind the issue. Basically, I’m not a scientist, and throw my hands in the air.

I have, however, for many years now boycotted the cheap product (discount) retail stores – the one buck shops, two buck shops, euro shops, reject shops – even KMart or WalMart or Target. Stores that sell a lot of crap that won’t last long, with a high proportion of plastic.

Plastic that not only litters and doesn’t decompose, but (I believe) wastes fossil fuel (oil) both as an ingredient and of course in the manufacture process itself.

I also actively try to not just collect stuff. Except books. I have to admit. And I’ll continue to buy books until the day it is legislated that we are no longer able to use trees to create paper.

Generally, I pay the carbon tax on airfares too. Not every time.

Now, if every single person in the world followed or performed even these small steps – it would make some difference. Every single person.

But:

  • This doesn’t apply to desperately poor people; they can’t afford to collect crap.
  • Developing countries want what we have, aspire to it, and why not?
  • Each generation engages in the notion of the next generation being better off, it is what they’ve worked for. This really peaks with ownership and wealth.
  • Two buck shops allow us to buy whatever piece of rubbish that appeals, allowing us to feel we’ve some say, some power, some ability to beautify ourselves and our homes.
  • Comfortable people – those at any level of the wealth spectrum that fools us into thinking we’re safe – don’t want to change.
  • Somebody else will sort it out.
  • It isn’t real.
  • It is somebody else’s problem. AKA some future generation.

One of Michael Moore’s books, and I can’t remember the name at the moment, has a scene where his granddaughter lends him a pencil to write something. There is some sort of disagreement where he uses it too quickly, or wants another, and she scolds him because pencils are rationed – all due to how his generation wasted resources and ruined the world. I’ve googled it and found it is Dude, where’s my country? Click to read an extract. Published in 2004.

My point is, Michael Moore was referencing climate devastation in one of his books in the late nineties, early noughties.

It is now 2019.

Another very scary book I have read in the last 15 years is the Chaos Point, which clearly identified a tipping point as the end of 2012. That after this point, it was too late. Published in 2006. This book did become a bit weird for me, as it moved into talking about ‘expanded consciousness’, and so I didn’t finish it. But the ‘facts’ described early on were frightening.

It is now 2019.

I’ve been a science fiction reader all my life. And so many other speculative fiction novels (let alone non-fiction offerings) have addressed the potential devastation of climate change. As in so many areas of science, these fiction authors have predicted what has become truth.

Somebody has to jump up and down about important things. On a smaller scale, mothers and fathers do this! How else do we learn to grow into good and responsible humans? Your teachers do it. Bosses do it. Doctors try to come down hard about your health. Scientists have been trying for years to wake us up. The Michael Moore’s, the Al Gore’s, the Bill Gates’ – to name some – have all cried ‘open your eyes, we can make a difference, we can make a change’. And, now Greta.

These people are unfortunately trying to sell us inconvenient truths. We don’t want to hear them. It is easier for us to scoff, and find reasons to denigrate the message and the messenger!

I haven’t heard Greta’s full speech. I switched web pages. I don’t think I thought negatively about the message – but I did react to the delivery. I was immature. I was being self serving; selfish.

Good on you Greta Thunberg, and your support team. Thank you for trying. You are making a difference. I don’t want to hear the message. I am concerned about the impact the pressure will have on you. But I do, applaud your dogged perseverance.

Galway Street Music AKA Buskers 2019

Busking is what I’m talking aboot!

I’ll begin with a contemporary, bleeding obviously famous ex-Galway busker – AKA Ed Sheeran! Now, I didn’t know until I’d been in Galway a while, but apparently Ed busked in the streets of Galway before fame found him. And Galway (seems) to claim him as their own. And of course, he’s reciprocated with his song Galway Girl and by filming his famous video here – even if he used a Dublin Girl, Saoirse Ronan, in the clip.

I’ve paused to listen to many buskers while in Galway and have been blown away by the quality and youth of some musician buskers. Children, and I’m not talking teenagers or young adults, but children. Two or three of them, most likely siblings, I’d say. You know how siblings have a special complementary sound in their tone and harmony? Well, it seems obvious to me 🙂 But these kids are not only singers. They’re playing multiple instruments, with skill and passion. It is amazing and what a great training ground for them.

Not only do they get performance practice, they get to experience some adversity too! I’d guess at a few – weather, getting to their spot, rejection (no coins) elation (crowd loves them), weather, internal issues (having a bad day,, one of them doesn’t want to play, got colds, mum and dad are over it) weather, hecklers (hopefully not too many of those for the children) and even, red tape.

Wouldn’t anyone hearing angelic harmonies out of the mouths of babes stop in their tracks, amazed, dumbfounded and proud for them? Anybody with an appreciation for music – and a soul – would.

There are of course lower quality performers. They may be desperately having a go, because why? Well, I can only imagine. I’m not in their shoes. I’d assume their first impetus is earning some coin. And it would only be coin, because I’m talking about the ones who just aren’t any good. I’ve seen and heard a few older people especially and wondered “do they think they’re playing well?” In fairness, I think to myself, perhaps they used to be good. Maybe it is that their style has had its day, or it would hold up if they were part of an ensemble. Did their mothers always tell them they were brilliant? Do they know that they’re only mediocre, but stuff it; they love what they’re doing and they could use the extra coin.

Who am I to judge? And I only am judging because they’re forcing it on me by playing in the street. Everybody, anybody, should sing, play, dance like nobody’s watching. Full of joy and free of judgement. Unless you insist on sharing it with me 😀

There are some bloody brilliant ensembles and bands busking in Galway. To name two that I’ve really enjoyed are the Galway Street Club and Dead Letter Devils.

I’d describe the first as grunge, exuberant, loud, authentic, Irish and explicit. They’re on Spotify if you’re interested in looking them up. I love how their drummer uses a tea carton! I love to tap out a beat – I think I’m very good at it and keep thinking I should get drumming lessons. The musicality of banging out a beat on a wooden box blows me away. It puts a smile on my face.

Dead Letter Devils‘ Facebook page describes them as a foot stamping mix of bluegrass, swing, old timey and just a dash of folk-punk. Another loud and out there, enthusiastic band. Love it. Looks like I can only find their music by buying a CD off them on the street. But I never stay to the end to find out how much they cost. I’m also too self-conscious to sneak in and check their collection box 😀

That’s another thing I personally have trouble with – the donation. There are so many buskers and you can’t tip them all. And I haven’t necessarily heard the entire song / performance, just appreciated what I heard as I walked by. So, what’s the etiquette?

I find it easy enough if there isn’t a crowd around the performer. But for those amazing groups mentioned above, the crowd is big. And I come along, don’t know how much longer the performance will go on for, and really want to ask how much their CD is, but don’t want to a) wait or b) interrupt the performance – or c) bring attention to myself 🙂

I really hope that for these guys it is about the exposure and not (at least in this performance) about the money. Because there are a number of them in the group – seven or eight? And the money being offered has to be shared around them all. So, this is when it comes down to the opportunity to busk – the ability to gain attention and reputation, spread through word of mouth or by the serendipity of an event manager of some sort also passing by.

Last weekend I was wandering around and came upon the Galway Busker Community group in Eyre Square. Some of their members were performing, but their purpose was to entertain while bringing our attention to new by-laws about to be put through Galway Council, ‘seriously restricting’ busker rights in Galway.

Most of the contention was about lack of consultation with the busking community, and also that busking was a grassroots way for performers to be discovered. Galway Street Club shared on their Facebook page that because of the ‘platform of Shop Street in Galway, they and other performers have had the opportunity to perform across Ireland and Europe’. And that the Galway Council has seen this and ‘used their image and reputation in advertising in their bid for Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture’ (which they’ve won!).

The by-laws include such rules as – short version:

  • Crowd Size. Must immediately cease performing if public access to or from any premises is restricted, due to a crowd gathering. So, if people have stopped to enjoy their music the band would have to stop playing – because a crowd has gathered! 😛
  • Amplification, backing tracks and use of drum kits are expressly forbidden. Amplification is needed due to the background noise of busy streets, and use of drums is an integral part of most band music
  • Censorship. ‘ … act, say, do or sing anything that may cause alarm, distress or offense …’. As the band says, this means that anybody even having a bad day who takes offence can complain and the band would be fined up to 1500 euros at any time.

Now, you can see some sense in what the Galway Council is trying to achieve. And although I, like so many others, love the expressionism, musicality and pure entertainment of street buskers, if you’re in business in such a tourist-centric town, you’d feel the need to be heard.

But ‘hello business’ – what is your main focus. That you need tourists in your city, in your street and then in your door. Well don’t these entertaining buskers help attract the tourist? Or are they just a pain in the butt with their noise, crowd pulling (interfering with access) and (potential) bawdiness.

I’ve twice been inside a retail business and had a conversation with staff about how awful a particular performer was on the day, with their comment being “yes, he’s always out there!”. So, if the businessman is also afflicted with a shite performer, then that’s a relevant point in the conversation.

I don’t know if Galway buskers have to audition before gaining a permit, whether they even have to apply for a permit. But there are areas in the world, including Australia, where this is a requirement and at least then you would expect an enjoyable standard.

I’m not a journalist and I don’t do real research for my light and observational writing. And so, I haven’t looked closely at the full detail of the by-laws. The Galway busking community cries ‘highly restrictive’.

At a glance, what I’ve seen looks sensible. There’s a balance to be found between creative license and practical reality. And if the busking community is correct, then perhaps the problem is really the lack of consultation and collaboration writing these by-laws, rather than the fact that they’ve come into being at all.

As a visitor to this medieval city, buskers add a festival element and entertainment value that seem to me, worth bottling. Galway City Council and the Galway Busking Community working together would be music to the ear of business, community and visitor alike.

Further reading

https://www.joe.ie/music/galway-music-irish-591663

#galwaystreetclub #thisisgalway.ie #galwaybuskers

Galway Street Club – image is not my own. Taken from thisisgalway.ie event page

Treasured Ladies, for comfort

I am a lone wolf! No, really, I am 🙂

I know, this is being said from the comfort and confidence of a long marriage. I’m part of team Eric and Trish, in life and work. So what’s this about a ‘lone wolf’?

Apart from the partnership of my marriage, I regularly say ‘I’m not a people person’ or ‘I don’t do people’. Lots of my friends would confirm that.

I have friendships. Carol B and I. Bobbie and I. Sally and I. Tash and I. Deb and I. Judy and I. I’m friends with the committee team I volunteer with at Vision Australia radio. Sometimes, Heather and I get coffee. There are people that I consider friends from the olden days, but we don’t hang out anymore, so I guess they’re acquaintances now. But in the day, these were strong friendships. Maire and I. Sandra and I. Sandra was there for me when it really counted.

The only bunch, group, gang of women I’ve hung out with in recent times is my Esperance friend group – Wednesday card ladies. Jan, Joy, Lorraine, Margaret, Michelle, Julie and Yvonne to name some. The connection began at Curves, which is a women’s exercise club. And through Curves, I found the card ladies. And I’ve loved card days, but I’ve honestly thought that it was really about the ‘doing’ of card playing, and not really the relationship with these ladies. But I’m thinking differently. 😀

Now as I’ve said in a previous post, while in Galway for an extended period, I thought it a good idea to find a community group of some sort. Whether that was volunteering, or a doing activity, it didn’t matter. Just a way to connect in Ireland outside of the passive interactions with shop assistants, ticket sellers, tourist operators.

Recently I had my fifth Saturday morning coffee with a beaut bunch of ladies. And I celebrated my birthday in Galway, away from home, my husband, my children. Murphy’s Law too, I had my first emotional/lonely moments this week. I changed apartments, and was disappointed with the quality and facilities of this one. Also, the location, while probably brilliant for a family on a summer beach holiday, didn’t seem to meet what I needed. It was stark and soulless. The continuing miserable weather probably wasn’t helping. And maybe it was just the right stage of the journey to experience loneliness. For a while, the novelty of the sabbatical holds sway and then at some point you realise you’re human!

Now, it’s not like I celebrate my birthday at home. It’s really another day. If I’m lucky, my husband and kids remember. I’ll get a text or phone call from the children who are all interstate. My sisters usually remember and give me a call. Mum usually calls.

I definitely haven’t had a party since my 21st. Sandra, remember my 21st? I’d had my first child exactly one week before. This was during my first marriage and my then husband Mark, a couple of friends from the Army Reserve, Sandra and her parents, and I think my then mother-in-law gathered at our apartment. I was estranged from my own family for a little while there and so this bunch of friends insisted that I had to celebrate.

Well, this lone wolf keeps reaching out. It is an anomaly that I don’t understand. But I sent the message out to my Treasured Ladies and said “If you’d like to join me for coffee and cake on Wednesday afternoon between 2 and 4, please do. You have to leave by 4 because I’m going out that night.” 😀

Clear direction there 🙂 I am very direct, honest and forthright. It gets me into trouble. And is part of why I think I don’t do people and I particularly don’t do women. Maybe I’ve distanced myself too much from the experience of women friendships, but I’ve believed that, in general, women are annoying.

In my experience, which is mainly in the workplace, women could concentrate on doing their job more and leave their emotional baggage at the door. It would make life at work so much easier. It is difficult for me to pinpoint what it is that bothers me about encouraging friendships with women – but the emotional neediness and territorialism that I’ve experienced means I retreat from them.

I find men a lot simpler to deal with. Frustrating at times, of course, but I like their directness and (usually) lack of guile.

Now, have I lost a bunch of you, because I sound harder than you thought I was? Or because I’m not doing the solidarity with women thing? I hope not, because I’m sharing what I feel honestly and coming to a realisation that maybe I’ve been missing out. In the spirit of protecting myself.

At the same time that I’ve said all of the above, remember that my feelings and observations are subjective. I am not a confident woman. I’m afraid to open up to other women in fear that I’ll be judged and found wanting. I measure myself against these other women and find myself lacking. If I keep away from them, then I don’t have to worry. Don’t have to put myself out there and risk heartache.

Yet, I reached out to the Treasured Ladies – again. We only had a small turnout. It was spontaneous and they all have lives, some of them still work. But these so very generous ladies said yes and came to my place for coffee and cake. And it was lovely. I don’t have the words for how lovely it was.  I’m really amazed that I appreciated it so much. And you know what? They keep saying ‘thank you’ for inviting them and how they really enjoyed it. Genuinely!

This is a real eye-opener for me. Have I missed out on something special? I’m a reader and of course I’ve read a lot about women and their friendships. But it did seem that this was something that ‘other’ women did.

So, the lovely Treasured Ladies were there for me. And the following weekend, it became clear that I was there for some of these ladies. We all have stories. We all have things going on that affect us, and our interpersonal relationships. Being there for somebody to talk to, to share their concerns, to confirm that they’re not alone or crazy. To empathize with their feelings. That is something worth embracing and encouraging.

Sugar is not my friend

March 2018 and I had gastric sleeve surgery. I’ve lost 32 kg or approximately 5 stone.

Initially, 3 major things happen with sleeve surgery.

  1. You lose 60% to 80% of your stomach
  2. You can’t eat more than one cup of food at a sitting
  3. You lose the hunger hormone (Ghrelin) and (apparently) the hormone that helps you to crave sugar (this only lasts for up to 18 months)

After surgery, you spend some time getting used to the new condition. You spend up to 2 weeks on liquids. 2 weeks on pureed food. 2 weeks on soft food. Then you can move on to real food – 1 cup at a time.

I’m on a three month ‘sabbatical’ in Ireland. Leading up to the trip I had concerns about how to enjoy an extended time on holiday without eating. Because a huge part of holidaying is enjoying the food. Perhaps, somebody else cooks it.  The day seems punctuated by food stops. There is different food to try. In Ireland, it might be delicious sausages, black and white pudding, scones (with jam and cream) soda bread – lots of bread – and potatoes!

For a sugar girl, there is also a huge range of new and delicious bakeries! There is a tourist store called Butlers, who are mainly about chocolate, but it is their toffees that call to me.

Two or three months before leaving for Ireland, my sugar need returned. It calls to me. I eat mindlessly. I think to myself, ‘I didn’t enjoy that’. Regularly, I’ll buy what it is that I want and eat a small amount and throw the rest away. A waste of money and world resources (that were required to produce the sugar product) and an addition to landfill. But personally, it is better in the rubbish, then inside me.

It is easy for some to say ‘just don’t eat it’, ‘don’t buy it’. I lost my weight all on my own. Just do it. Well, all I have to say to you is ‘blah, blah, di, blah, blah’! Put some real words into that, whatever floats your boat, that mean ‘piss off’!

Sugar is the devil for me. And I’m actually intelligent enough to know that I don’t need to eat it. My surgeon confirmed that ‘it is a disease’. Both the sugar craving AND the inclination to put on weight. It could have been alcohol, cigarettes, drugs or sex. Take your pick. Mine is sugar.

I have been eating sugar. So far, I’m not putting on weight. The size 10 jeans are still loose. It isn’t just about weight gain for me though. There is a connection between sugar intake and inflammation and my joints struggle.

We have guidelines for eating after gastric sleeve surgery.

  1. Fluids. Last drink 30 minutes before eating. Don’t drink for 60 minutes after eating. I use this rule to ensure that when I eat the proper food – breakfast, lunch and dinner – I don’t lose the nutritional benefit. Because you see, the stomach is small. You can only eat small amounts. So make them nutrient dense (protein first).
  2. Because the stomach is small, the food isn’t going to be there for long before it is time to evacuate to the intestines. If you drink while the food is in the stomach, you a) dilute the nutritional benefit and b) wash the food out of the stomach before your body has had time to absorb the nutrients.
  3. Nutrients. Your body will struggle to absorb enough nutrition. So choose well. Give it time to be absorbed. Take multi-vitamins forever!!!
  4. Sugar. Don’t eat it. Most people will suffer (and not just about putting weight back on). Most likely your body won’t like it and you’ll suffer ‘dumping syndrome’. What is that?

Dumping syndrome is the reaction of your body to either:

a)  Food having progressed too fast from your stomach into your intestines; or

b) You had a meal heavy in sugars/starch.

Dumping syndrome can result in bloating, lower abdominal cramps, diarrhea, lightheadedness or fainting.  Pretty uncomfortable, but your body’s way of yelling “WHAT THE HELL!”

I’ve been either amazingly lucky, or pretty well behaved, because I just haven’t had much trouble. I have had some occasional lower abdominal pain – and I’ve been able to immediately say ‘I pushed that meal a little. It was a little big.” If I eat a little too much sugar I feel hot and bothered. Waving a piece of paper in front of my face. Just like in menopause! 🙂

But really, I just haven’t had much trouble. I’ve breezed through it. I haven’t felt too deprived. Eric and I share most meals out. And at home, my meals fit very easily on a side plate.

I’m travelling on my own. I’m eating out. There is no such thing as a small meal at restaurants. Even entrees can be pretty big. Even though I know better, I feel guilty or wrong if I Order a meal without a drink. I can’t drink and eat for the nutritional reasons mentioned above. But I also can’t eat and drink, because I don’t have enough room! One or the other!

There are so many good sweet options all around me. I’m buying something every single day. The Gourmet Tart Co is too close to me and sells nice homemade biscuits, small (luckily) chocolate eclairs, scones. They also luckily sell beautiful wraps and reheat meals, like chicken pasta or beef bourguignon.

Butlers – fuck off!

Marmalades (small bakery) – actually, the only two times I bought their delicious looking desserts, I discovered they aren’t sweet enough. But their coffee is the nicest so far. YAY coffee!

Cocktails – my special treat when Eric and I go out (which is rare) – has to go back into the box of ‘very special treat’. Not, you’re on holiday for three months, so you can have cocktails whenever you go somewhere 😀

Six small meals, with a focus on protein, supported by vegetables.

There is no room in there for sugar. But I’m finding the room. I don’t eat all that I buy. I drink my water or berocca all around that sugar, to hurry it out of my system. I hope that’s doing the trick.

So, I’m owning up. This continues to be my struggle.

I don’t need any lectures, or helpful advice. Because I’ve been here for a long long time. I know that I should avoid sugar, but it is everywhere. And I’m not good at saying ‘no’. Even though, most of the time, I don’t even enjoy it!!

SUGAR I made myself at a baking class

FAREWELL, YE OLD COCK!

As a family, we’ve come to the agreement that our old cat, Jesse, is about 17 or 18 years old. Our youngest child (22) would have been about 5 years old when Jesse and his brother James joined us.

David, Mathew & Jess

Jesse with his ‘bros’ in his middle age

James was lost during a thunderstorm, quite early on. Both cats ran away, but we found Jesse in the end. He’s always been a wild and tough old tabby. Even though domesticated and sterilized, for his first 10 years he had a large territory – a neighbour theorised it was as much as 5km and couldn’t believe we’d had him fixed.

It wasn’t until we moved to Esperance though in December 2007 that I began to connect to Jesse. Previously, he was ‘something I put up with’ and this was because he was always away from home, at one of the neighbours and I felt he only came home to see if it was dinner time.

When you move to a new place, it is recommended that you keep your cat inside for some weeks – 2 to 4 weeks, perhaps. I decided that to be sure, we’d keep him in for 3 weeks. And surprise, surprise! By the end of this, that darned cat was sleeping at the end of our bed.

At first, of course, he’d settle where he wanted to and was very stubborn when asked to ‘move along please’. However, with some perseverance on my behalf and gentle nudges, he learned that he was allowed only at the end of the bed, on one of the corners and on the towel provided.

And then he was moved along to NSW, across the Nullabor from Western Australia, in Eric’s car with our other, younger cat. He handled that very well. And he settled into his new home in NSW, becoming even more domesticated. He didn’t create a large territory for himself, just visiting across the road occasionally. And luckily we live in a cul-de-sac, so he wasn’t in too much traffic danger.

Eric (my husband) comes from a farming / country background and therefore ever since we’ve had cats – if they were sick or injured – he’d make comments like ‘I can always take him down the back of the garden!’ 🙂

Of course, he never did. I didn’t want to visualise my lovely and gentle husband ‘knocking off the cat, with his bare hands’.  And Jesse and Eric grew even closer, with Eric’s lap being the preferred place to hang. And, just recently (for some unknown reason) Eric began to address Jesse as ‘me old cock!’. 😀

We grew sentimental in our old age!!

So, this brings me to the sad ending that Jesse died last night. He had been physically deteriorating for a couple of years. He was skinnier, too many bones showing through. He was hungry and thirsty all the time. And when he wasn’t hungry, he was asleep. Even more than cats usually sleep – which is like 16 out of 24 hours every day! He wasn’t complaining though, didn’t seem to be in pain – apart from arthritis. And we decided that everyone gets old and unless he was obviously suffering, then we wouldn’t be seeking out drugs or other treatment.

It happened so fast. About 8.30pm he gave a cry when he was gently moved off a lap. About 11.45pm he dragged himself out of his cat bed and staggered across the floor, falling and clearly not able to keep upright. He defecated. We put him into his cat bed, with water nearby and extra towels and went to bed. He wasn’t complaining.

A couple of hours later, I heard the tinkle of his collar bells indicating he’d moved and listened for his footsteps down the hall. But they didn’t come. After a while I went to check and he was sprawled on the floor just outside of his bed and miaowed to me as I approached.

We brought Jesse to bed. Our other cat was on the end – in her corner. But we broke the rules and placed Jesse between us, on top of the doona, but with towels under and over him to keep him comfortable. He started out in his cat bed on top of the doona, between us, but soon crawled out and crawled as far up as he could – seemed he wanted to be close.

Eric tried hard to sleep – he had an early meeting. But I lay ‘drowsing’ with one hand in his basket, which he kept nudging. Then when he was out on the doona, I kept talking to him and patting him. He kept trying to purr between his gasps for breath. By this time, he did have some pain. He’d occasionally throw a 180° as he tried to get away from something. But otherwise, he breathed heavily and miaowed occasionally.

Eventually, I woke up with a hand on him and could feel he was no longer breathing.

I didn’t think I’d be sentimental about this, but it was clear that he wanted to be near us and we obviously cared about him. He has gone from us now, but will be remembered with love by his family.

Farewell, ye old cock! xx

20160501_164604

In old age

 

Jesse 1