Tuesday, 22 January 2019

The Blind Mortician by Pamela King

At our last Writers’ Group meeting we had an exercise in character development. We randomly drew a name, occupation and physical feature. My random draws were James, a mortician and blind. We were then given a few minutes to write a 50-100 word story about our character. 

Here is my little story:

James felt his way to the back room of the funeral parlour. Although his handicap would prove difficult for most, his dedication to his calling helped him overcome the loss of his eyesight. He knew every inch of the place.

He was proud of his skills and content with his lot in life.

That was until today. As he bent over the coffin to prepare his client, a voice boomed, “What am I doing in here? I asked for rosewood not oak!”

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Tuesday, 1 January 2019

The Seven Days of Canine Creation – Author Unknown

The first day of creation, God created the dog.

The second day of creation, God created man to serve the dog.

The third day, God created furniture for the dog to use as he wishes.

The fourth day, God created the tennis ball so that the dog might or might not retrieve it.

The fifth day, God created honest toil so that man could labour for the good of the dog.

The sixth day, God created veterinary science to keep the dog healthy and the man broke.

The seventh day, God tried to rest ... but he had to walk the dog.

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Presents on the Tree - updated

The year 1953, the first year I have vague memories of Christmas. It was also the year of our first Christmas in Australia. My family was small, just Mum, Dad and me. We had no extended family to celebrate, except for Mum’s brother and his wife who we lived with at the time.

Dad particularly missed his family and the traditional English Christmas. He recalled Christmas’ past of aunts, uncles and cousins joining together in badly sung carols; a wondrous feast, snow, open fires and presents, often hand made with love.

My aunt and uncle decided to take a holiday leaving just the three of us to celebrate on our own. Mid December had been exceptionally hot and, of course, nothing like my father’s fond memories of home. I believe this was the time he felt the most homesick for his beloved England.

Money was tight because he had not long found work after months of difficult searching.  Evidently, he couldn’t get a job because he wasn’t a member of the union and he couldn’t join the union because he didn’t have a job. Finally, he got work in a non-union factory.

But, homesickness and lack of money was not going to stop the pleasure of Christmas. He wanted to make sure his little family enjoyed a full day by introducing some new traditions.

The first was a stocking waiting on the end of my bed on Christmas morning. It was partly to keep me (and 11 years later also my brother) quiet for a short time. It didn’t work because we would head into Mum and Dad’s bedroom and jump on the bed to share the toy, fruit, nuts and other small items our stocking contained.

There were no big presents first thing. The stocking and its contents kept us happy while Dad cooked a traditional English breakfast. Only after breakfast could we open our ‘real’ presents. Like most other baby boomers, we generally only received one present although there may have been small parcels from overseas sitting under the tree.

We didn’t look for more. We happily played with our new gift until lunchtime which was always a full roast dinner with all the trimmings, regardless of the weather. Having crackers with our dinner gave us more trinkets to amuse us while Dad slept off the meal and Mum cleaned up.

But it didn’t end there. After a light supper of leftovers from lunch, Dad announced his second surprise. There were presents on the tree for us! At the time these little novelty gifts would have only cost a couple of shillings but over the years they became the most eagerly anticipated part of the day with constant requests of “Can we open the tree presents now?”

My immediate family now consists of husband (Italian) and grown up children (son, stepson, daughter in law) and my beautiful two-year-old granddaughter.

My family’s traditions, at son and step son’s requests are included in the combination of English, Australian and Italian traditions we now observe.

I still put together stockings with treats, toys and trinkets for everyone. They are still the first things we receive, and we still exchange “tree presents”. They remain the highlight of our gift giving. Sometimes they are handmade; mostly they are humorous; occasionally they will bring a tear to an eye and often they won’t even fit on the tree!

They are always there and always given in fun and love.

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Monday, 10 December 2018

Christmas without technology by Pamela King

I was telling my adult children recently about how we wished people happy Christmas when I was young - in the days before technology – before emails, text messages and social media.

We received so many Christmas cards they were a considerable part of our decorations, hung over venetian blinds, slid between books on the shelf and festooning windows.

Those from distant friends and relatives were packed with long letters on how the family had passed the year. We gathered round as Mum or Dad read them aloud, eagerly catching up on all the news. The few cards we receive today look meagre by comparison. Like homemade gifts, the greatest joy was to receive handcrafted cards from children.

We tried to ring those dearest to us, but it was not easy. Phone lines, especially Christmas eve and morning were jammed. You kept dialling numbers until you succeeded in getting through. To call overseas, via the international exchange, was a greater challenge.

Most overseas parcels were sent by surface mail and the need for early purchases six weeks in advance had to be kept in mind. I recall the difficulty of buying Christmas wrapping paper that far in advance. It’s strange when you think how early stores bring out Christmas paraphernalia now.

Emails were first to begin replacing greeting cards. Sometimes they were personalised but often they were mass addressed. Of course, they were also cheaper. It’s sad to think we take the easy way out. Is it because we don’t really care any more or, are we just lazy cheapskates?

Today it seems a quick post on social media of someone else’s picture and words is considered sufficient to wish family and friends good wishes of the season and the approaching new year.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

For the Love of a Dingo – Review by Karina McRoberts

It was amazing.

A lovely little read. Not a work of literature, but rather an appreciative biography of a woman who dedicated her life to improving the image of Australia's native dog. Just the tonic to balance out some of the heavier stuff I've been reading of late.

 Great to learn more about dingoes, but also about dingo-human interaction beyond traps, guns, and poisons. The dingo has had so much bad press; it's practically an evil icon.

 Of course, there's always another side to most stories. I commend the authors for their work in dingo conservation and for bringing the brighter side of these animals' personalities to life!

So now, I'm off to read the Pamela King's next book - The Merigal Dingoes! :)

Rating 5*

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Monday, 12 November 2018

The TOP 20 Reasons Dogs Don't Use Computers

20. Can't stick their heads out of Windows '95 or 98 or ME or XP.

19. Fetch command not available on all platforms.

18. Hard to read the monitor with your head cocked to one side.

17. Too difficult to "mark" every website they visit.

16. Can't help attacking the screen when they hear "You've Got Mail."

15. Fire hydrant icon simply frustrating.

14. Involuntary tail wagging is a dead giveaway they're browsing www.pethouse.com instead of working.

13. Keep bruising noses tryng to catch that JPEG ball.

12. Not at all fooled by Dogmore Screen Saver.

11. Still trying to come up with an "emoticon" that signifies tail-wagging.

10. Oh, but they WILL... with the introduction of the Microsoft Opposable Thumb.

9. Three words: Carpal Paw Syndrome.

8. 'Cause dogs ain't GEEKS! Now, cats, on the other hand...

7. Barking in next cube keeps activating OUR voice recognition software.

6. SmellU-SmellMe still in beta test.

5 SIT and STAY were hard enough, GREP and AWK are out of the question!

4. Saliva-coated mouse gets mighty difficult to manuever.

3. Annoyed by lack of newsgoup, alt.pictures.master's.leg.

2. Butt-sniffing more direct and less deceiving than online chat rooms.

and the Number 1 Reason Dogs Don't Use Computers...


Monday, 5 November 2018

That’s Not a Horse by Pamela King

At Warragamba four men loaded the horse trailer and we headed to the annual tourism expo at Darling Harbour.

Travelling down the Great Western Hwy other drivers hit their brakes or swerved well clear of our vehicle. Some honked their horns.

As tourism managers we often felt we were the poor cousins of our industry. After enquiring where we were from, other officers would sneer at the mention of Campbelltown and Liverpool. Of course, they were from more glamorous or exciting destinations like Port Macquarie and Broken Hill.

Debbie deftly backed the trailer at the exhibition centre’s loading dock.

As we started to walk around to the back of the trailer one of our snooty colleagues from a luxurious region got out of her car. “Oh, you here again this year? You won’t beat our stand. Look at all these stunning flowers we brought.”

Never one to be phased by people trying one up man ship, Debbie coolly replied, “Wait until your see what we have here.”

As we lowered the back of the trailer the jaw dropped on the snobby colleague’s face when we revealed our treasure – Leo the Lion in roaring position.

No Leo wasn’t a live lion. He had been once, and lived at the African Lion Safari, Warragamba. After dying of natural causes, he was stuffed and mounted on a large rock shaped block.

As we travelled through the Sydney streets Leo stood taller than the closed ramp and was facing outwards. Very few would have realised at first glance he was not a live lion.