Australia, blogging

Friendly Friday Blog Challenge – Look Back to the Future

Over half a century ago this happened:

It’s Friday 13th, one October, in the early seventies and it’s raining hard, in torrents, as it does in summer in a tropical country, like Australia. Construction had started on the Sydney Opera House, (it took 14, instead of the predicted 4 years to complete) and Apollo 16 had launched into space.

Australia in the Seventies

I am young, walking home from school down a very steep road, partly finished with asphalt, wearing an outdated, unfashionable, yellow raincoat. It is a garment made from the kind of thick rubbery plastic that makes one sweat profusely, but fails to thoroughly keep the skin dry – (its sole purpose!). I’m carrying a grey pocked-mark ‘port’, (a school student’s case), with a red handle. I remember feeling pretty lonely, as one is apt to feel when you are of primary school age, alone and have a long walk home from school in the pouring rain.

What was I thinking on this walk home, fifty-odd years ago whilst NASA scanned the universe?

My guess is that I was probably wishing I had more friends to walk home with, so that time would pass more enjoyably. I thought about what life might be like in the future and dreamed of being happy and successful. Something most of us dream of when young.

I remember Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to conquer Everest, had come to visit my school that day and addressed a somewhat bewildered audience of young kids, unsure of the exact significance of this tall stranger. Although I have no memory of his words, I do remember his imposing presence at the microphone as we stood at attention on the parade ground. For him to visit our far-flung school, must have meant that he spent many hours, visiting school children, not only in New Zealand but throughout Australia as well.

Growing up in Australia

What did I do when I arrived home? If the rain had stopped, I’d play with the dog in the backyard, swing on a rusty, ‘Hills Hoist,’ [read: rotary clothesline]. I might visit one or two friends who lived in the same street and ride our bikes, or if my friends and I were feeling creative, we might build cubby houses in the gum trees or make wooden billy carts out of fruit boxes. The splinters in fingers and toes were real!

If the rain continued, we’d build rafts out of anything we could find. As you can see, my brother made a raft out of an old metal panel, presumably laced with tetanus. Later, he confessed sheepishly that it came from the side of a Council depot’s toilet shed! That was the butt of family jokes for a while. (I couldn’t resist the pun!)

Primary kids were never assigned any homework until they reached high school, or if it was allocated, it wasn’t compulsory, so I never thought twice about doing it. And I was one of the more diligent students as you can see by my school report.

Of an evening, I’d read books, sometimes the same ones, over and over again. Titles on loan from the library or A.A. Milne, The *Sue Barton-Student Nurse series, or Two Minute Mysteries. I collected stamps, such a boring hobby when I think about it now, or collect signatures and corny limericks in my autograph book.

Australian Parenting in the Seventies

When I arrived home from school, Mum was usually there relaxing on the lounge and I’d find something to drink: most likely red cordial, [thinking about this now makes my stomach turn], and I’d eat a biscuit or two. I would never dare to eat any more than two biscuits – there was some unwritten house rule about that. I might also follow the biscuit with a banana or apple, perhaps to clean my teeth?

Iced Vo-Vos

Sugar featured strongly in the seventies Aussie diet, as ‘Iced Vo-Vo‘s’ and other biscuits were standard afternoon tea for many Aussie kids. The now infamous ‘Golliwog‘ biscuits, (re-named Scallywags or something more 21st century), were my favourite, in terms of taste. The naming feels so wrong, looking back from the hindsight of our era of political correctness.

Australian Dinners, at my house, consisted of meat, peas and that awful yellow stuff; a mix of mashed potato and pumpkin was my mother’s way of getting us kids to eat two vegetables at once. Little did she know I’d have been more cooperative about finishing my meal if the potato and pumpkin had been served separately, on the plate.

Apparently, this was another of those days where I showed my determined [read: stubborn], streak at rebelling in the face of injustice. I was required to continue sitting at the table for some time after everyone else had left, as I had refused to eat the dreadful yellow potato-pumpkin ‘poison.’ My parents mistakenly thought I would eventually eat it all up, if I sat there long enough; their parenting strategies a strange blend of Depression-era child-rearing tactics and Dr Spock’s now-debunked theories of child psychology.

On evenings like these, my parents recited mantras of sagely advice such as:

“You can sit there, (at the Dining table), until you finish everything on your plate. There are starving children in Africa who’d give anything to have a meal like that.” [referring to the yellow mashed potato].

Parent of the Seventies Child

This humanitarian-cause-mixed-with-guilt-trip styled parenting tactic was completely lost on my logical, young brain, as I would wile away the time sitting at the table contemplating how I would disprove their parental hypothesis by posting yellow, mashed vegies to Africa, in a test shipment.

As I sat there, alone at the dining table, the cold, yellow mound now well-congealed on my plate, I remember older brother gleefully looking up from the adjoining room, smirking during the TV-ad breaks of shows like, ‘Skippy the Bush Kangaroo,’ or ‘Coyote Road Runner,’ with his ‘Neopolitan,’ ice-cream embellished grin: his reward for eating his full allocation of the nightly yellow curse!

As I grew older, this parenting strategy was abandoned. Presumably, at the time of adolescence, but I can’t be sure. My stubbornness may have tipped the balance in my favour, after all.

Road Trips and Bus Tours were popular vacations in the seventies; the most memorable trip for me was seeing snow in Australia’s imaginatively named, ‘Snowy Mountains.’ I loved the sight of ice as tall as the bus and this might just be where I started my love affair with mountains and snow. I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to experience it again.

Road Trip to Snowy Mountains and Swan Hill, Victoria

Expectations of Adult Life

That afternoon in the seventies, whilst walking home in the rain, I wondered what life had in store for me as a ‘grown-up.’ I thought I’d have children, which came to pass, but thought I wouldn’t marry. I was wrong about marriage.

I thought as an adult, I would move location often, as that sounded more exciting than living in one suburban doldrum- I was both right and wrong about that. I thought I’d live interstate or on the other side of the world, unfortunately, the M.o.t.h, my future husband, happened to be Australian and liked to stay put.

I thought my children would be strong and confident. No doubt, everyone hopes for this. They have grown to be wonderful human beings, but I see with sadness the challenges of a modern world have taken a toll on their well-being. They are my world.

Surprisingly, there was a downside to my childhood reading ritual. I think if there is blame to be laid I would blame Helen Dore Boylston, the author of, ‘Sue Barton – Student Nurse,’ for my misguided foray into the world of Student Nursing. The books promised a dream vocation of caring and positivity and as a child, I was bewitched. In part, a mistake.

I must have read this book ten times over

The reality was far different and although I continued to work in the medical field for most of my working life, the long hours of shift-work required of a student nurse frequently made me ill and I was forced to change my career path.

Friendly Friday Blog Challenge Prompt

For this week’s Friendly Friday Challenge, we continue the Flashback theme Sandy posted earlier in the year by taking a Look Back to the Future, from our childhood years.

Here are some questions to get those creative juices flowing:

  • What is your memory of childhood?
  • Was there a significant milestone for you growing up and did it change your direction?
  • If you lived through the sixties and seventies, what stands out for you?
  • What do you recall of your childhood that directed you as an adult? Was there something that was instrumental in your path in life? Did it turn out well for you?
  • Is there an historic event that changed your perspective on life?

I invite you to join in and post a photo or story about your own childhood era.

Don’t forget to tag your post, Friendly Friday and leave a comment below so readers can visit you.

This challenge runs for two weeks after which Sarah will release a fantastic new prompt for the next Friendly Friday Blog Challenge. Check it out at Travel With Me.

Australia, Book review, Environment, History & Traditions

Maralinga – Australian Author Judy Nunn

In the 1950s the British military detonated a total of 21 nuclear weapons in various sites in Australia. Maralinga is the most infamous of these sites.

British soldiers were told working at Maralinga was a ‘secret’ assignment and despite the displacement of some local Aboriginal people, many indigenous folks were still exposed to high levels of radiation and later became sick or died. These reports were not publicized.

Australian author Judy Nunn’s Maralinga is a fictional account based on true events.

The novel starts with a love blossoming between a British soldier and female journalist in their home country before a confidential mission changes everything. While their story is the most prominent in the novel, several Aboriginal voices are also peppered throughout the text. Maralinga is character-driven as well as very much centering itself in two starkly different landscapes.

There may be a misconception that this is a book for the female demographic. It isn’t. This book has wide appeal for those interested in Australian and English history, romanticism, the 1950s, war, feminism and vivid landscapes.

While those that are already hard ’n’ fast Judy Nunn fans are sure to love it, it’s a good introduction to those that haven’t been driven to pick up her titles before.

However, if you are like me, you may find you are sufficiently incensed at the violation of sovereign Australian territory and the complete lack of regard for the health of those involved and the health of the local indigenous population.

Times were different then, but not so different that they did not take certain precautions. The personnel involved were told to don sunglasses and turn away from the blast to provide protection. Some onlookers wore shirts and shorts! Incredible now with the hindsight of time that the English organizers could think this was safe practice.


Documentation on Maralinga and the contamination can be found here.

It’s been ten years since I started Something to Ponder About, and the reproduction of this early post is quietly marking that occasion.

Judy Nunn
Source: Google
sea grass
blogging, Motivational, Philosophy

Sunday Quotes – Helpful Resources

“We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.”

-Whoopi Goldberg

Troubled people may often feel an overriding sense of discouragement. Feeling deeply discouraged has a profound effect on a person’s motivation and their ability to solve their problems for themselves.

self care take your power back

The pandemic certainly doesn’t encourage anyone either. Be that in lockdown or under restrictions of movement, it is doubly hard to feel encouraged or hopeful that things will become brighter in the short term.

What do you say when you encounter someone who is feeling discouraged about life’s issues?

Do you ever feel that you can’t find the right words of comfort? I know I do.

Resouces that offer Help or Encouragement

Sometimes, folks are not aware of the resources that are to hand, or how to access resources – resources that will provide them with the much-needed hope and will enable them to solve their own problems.

Perhaps it is their sense of determination, optimism, or humour that is a particular strength of theirs? An ability to refocus on looking at the bigger picture? A reminder about them from a friend can be reassuring.

One thing that may be helpful for people who are struggling to move forward in solving their own problems, is to offer a sense of encouragement that they DO have the resources, at their disposal, to handle these problems and find solutions that are right for them.

Their affinity for overcoming past adversity, their friends or supportive family, access to community or helplines?

Resources will vary from person to person and with every situation or problem, so a one size fits all approach is unlikely to work.

Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Winston Churchill

What else can we do to help others who are in mental pain or anguish?

  • Don’t fake understanding, use cliches, judgement or tell them you know how they feel!
  • Observe their body language
  • Talk about their personal attributes and strengths they possess that focus on hope and/or practical action.
  • Talk about resources around them and in the community that they can access.
  • Focus on their feelings by asking yourself: “If I was having that experience, what would I be feeling?”
  • Choose the most accurate description to describe what you think they are feeling. Be specific.
  • Listen acceptingly in a positive, reflective way
Credit: www.healthyplace.com
Sirmione
blogging, Cakes

Lots of Recipes to Love Lemons

What makes a great tasting Lemon Cake?

Ju-Lyn might consider me a Queen of Lemon Cakes, but I am no reigning monarch of cooking, merely slightly obsessed with lemons. The family loves lemon cake, which means I am keen to try out any new lemon-themed recipe I find.

This month, in setting up a tasting contest between my most popular Lemon Cake recipes at home, I discovered how versatile lemons could be not only in improving heath, but also in replacing certain chemical cleaners and insecticides around the home with natural alternatives.

Lemons are comprised of:

  • 31 g vitamin C
  • 1.1g protein
  • 9.3g carbohydrates
  • 2.5 g sugar: 2.5g
  • 2.8 g fibre: 2.8g
  • 0.3 g fat
  • 20 calories
  • 89% water
Photo by Julia Zolotova on Pexels.com
Packed with Vitamin C

Lemons are a plant native to Assam, in Northern India and South Asia. Lemon juice in its natural state is acidic, but once metabolized it actually becomes alkaline.


The acidity of lemons makes them a great adjunct to cleaning around the home and lemon peel can even repel insects when peel is placed outside your door.

  • Rub your chopping board with a cut lemon to eliminate garlic or stubborn odours
  • Clean windows and chrome fittings with a half a lemon dipped in salt
  • Remove red wine spills (mix to a paste with salt and baking soda)
  • Add a cut lemon to your dishwasher in place of rinse aid for a streak-free wash.

With the Changing Seasons, lemons are a natural way to bolster our immune systems.

Lemon Cake Tasting Challenge

Renowned for reliable recipes it may be no surprise that a recipe from The Australian Women’s Weekly magazine took first place in the Lemon Cake Challenge. As voted #1 by colleagues and family. This is how it turned out:

Australian Woman’s Weekly Lemon Cake

Are you keen to make the winning cake for yourself?

Instructions and the link to the Women’s Weekly Lemon Cake recipe

Another Lemon Cake Recipe

stpa logo

Linking thanks to Janis’ suggestion to What’s on Your Plate over at Retirement Reflections

waterlilly
blogging

Friendly Friday – The Colour of Purple Prose

Ethereal

Purple prose is flowery and ornate language. It sacrifices plot and clarity for indulgent detail. A piece of prose can be entirely purple, or it can have ornate bits sprinkled throughout. We call cases of the latter “purple patches. Purple prose is like showing up in stilettos to go on a hike. The language doesn’t match the occasion or the character. It draws attention to itself. It doesn’t advance the action, clarify the plot, or reveal a character’s intentions or thoughts. It’s fluff — description for description’s sake. Imagine being thirsty and drinking out of a fire hose instead of just getting a glass of water. This is what purple prose does. It drowns the reader.”

blog.usejournal.com/

Sandy’s prompt for Friendly Friday is all about purple and she included an explanation of purple prose. She also threw out a challenge to finish a sentence using the most purplish prose and also how she would be challenged at Uni to shorten a piece of prose by 50%. I could not resist this kind of writing challenge.

photo effect

Which of the following versions do you like best? Like the above photo, the first passage is OTT and I warn you it is so purple, it’s blue!

Prompt:

Purple – Complete the sentence: It was a dark and stormy night …

It was a dark and stormy night, of the kind that is punctuated intermittently with angry, tense thunderclaps, and a murky iron blackness that swallowed any chance a moonbeam might stray upon the field of still blossoming, lemon-yellow canola flowers, or the leafy green hedgerow that stoically hugged the rain-soaked asphalt, when a decrepit, rust-ridden jalopy, complete with chrome plating and red vinyl upholstery with loosening stitching, wobbled and slid unceremoniously along the narrow lane; its similarly torpid, disheveled driver with whisky soaked breath blissfully unaware a malevolent evil waited within the protracted, wispy shadows of the grim, concrete-grey mansion positioned atop the hill.

And now for the shortened version:

It was a dark and stormy night, punctuated with thunder and a blackness that blocked any view of the surroundings, when a disheveled whisky-soaked man drove his aging vehicle haphazardly towards the foreboding mansion on the hill, blissfully unaware of the evil that awaited him.

Join in with the Friendly Friday Blog Challenge. A new prompt will be posted here in two weeks time.

stpa logo
blogging, Philosophy

Why is Everyone So Unhappy?

It seems that the happiest lives are built on forgiveness and loving kindness that breeds contentment.

If you are forgiving but still unhappy, consider the role you might have taken in life could be triggering unhappiness and discontentment.

Roles in Life Limit our Self-Image

The roles we set for ourselves may define and limit us. Past wrongs or mistakes shape our feelings and our self-image.

Do you identify with any of the following roles in life? Are you:

  • The person who tries to control outcomes by making everything perfect
  • The son or daughter who is never good enough
  • The victim who is repeatedly hurt by others’ words or actions
  • The person who is always trying to be pleased so that they may be loved
  • The person who starts but never finishes
  • The stoic who never feels emotion
  • The person who looks for happiness in the external possessions
  • The people that emphasize what they do is more important than who they are
  • The people that focus on the past and the future -forgetting they are living only in the present.

Underneath we all just want to be loved. Can anyone deny that they want to be loved?

You can change the role you have mentally set for yourself.

“Find the role or roles that suit you best and decline the rest.”

How?

If someone says or does something that upsets you, see beyond their words and actions.

Change your reaction and you change your role in life.

Snow m-quote

Attitudinal healing looks beyond words and practises forgiveness.

Have you radically changed your attitude to someone close to you with which you had difficulty? How did that work out? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Blog logo on transparent background
Environment

Simple Sustainable SOLUTIONS to Reduce Waste and Plastic

According to the [U.S.] EPA, the average person produces approximately 4.9 pounds of “solid waste” or trash per day. Thankfully, you can recycle many everyday household items to help promote a cleaner, greener environment.

porch.com

It really isn’t that hard to Reduce your waste and Recycle. But rather than focus on the problems, spreading the word about easy solutions is more palatable for me.

Waste Solutions

No doubt you have heard it all before and you may have already adopted some measures. You don’t need to be a hard-core zero waste advocate. Start with a minor changes and add one more each week.

Get your friends on board. You can set the example for your family, friends and workplace because we need to do better than the following graph indicates.

Simple Waste Solutions

Take Care or Take your Trash Home

• Eliminate your need for bins in forest areas. Birds and animals may spread litter from public trash cans around and it ends up contaminating waterways. When you visit a park or beach, remember to take your trash with you. Keep trash and recyclables in a bag or backpack until you can put them in a proper receptacle.

Public refuse bins in Japan are almost non-existent. You won’t see any trash in Japanese streets either. Japanese citizens take their rubbish home so it can be sorted to Recyclables, compostables and refuse.

• Keep a Litter bag in your car. Be like the Japanese people.

street in Tokyo with umbrella

Choose Re-usable and Compostable Packaging

• Carry your own Re-usable stainless steel straws or decorative re-usable Water Bottle and Travel mug instead of buying bottled water or coffee in polystyrene cups.

• Avoid one-use plastics – they can’t be refilled unless you are happy to swallow micro-plastic.

• Use Beeswax Wraps instead of Plastic wrap – or make your own Beeswax Wrap

• Polystyrene litter such as disposable coffee cups or packing materials can be eaten by animals who mistake it for food. Polystyrene can poison and/or clog stomachs leading to death by either toxicity or starvation.

Once released into the environment, polystyrene products does not decompose to a non-recognizable form.

Reduce Litter at Home

Keep backyards clean and free of things that can blow into the street and become litter.

Tie up garbage and recycling bags securely so loose papers and other items cannot fall out and become litter.

Avoid overfilling your bins and ensure the lid is properly closed after depositing your trash or recycling inside, preventing accidental spills and overflows contaminating local waterways – endangering wildlife.

Recycling in the Kitchen

Cloth napkins and kitchen towel, for spills and cleaning, rather than paper disposables. They are much more absorbent and easily washed out for re-use many times over.

• Compost food scraps

Start a Worm Farm for food scraps and cardboard packaging. My worms love devouring cardboard. Break it up and wet it. A cardboard box is a good alternative to buying worm blankets.

• Use your consumer power to influence choice: Avoid buying food or ancillary items with excess packaging when you shop. This will decrease litter from the start.

Plastic shopping bags take between 10-20 years to decompose.

Wildlife such as Turtles mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and eat them causing suffocation, drowning and gut obstruction. Do not accept plastic bags for items you purchase, if you can carry your purchase without them.

Alternatives to Plastic Carry Bags

Refashion the scrap fabrics into re-usable bags or use natural canvas or fibre bags for your groceries and errands. Keep several reusable bags handy, in your car or handbag/backpack, so that they are always handy whenever you might need them.

Plastic beer can holders or bags can entangle an animal swimming. It may suffocate or drown. Six packs rings causing 6 million sea bird deaths a year and over 100,000 marine mammal deaths.

• Support companies who promote bio-degradable and compostable packaging. Peanut’s shell was constricted for six years before it was found.

www.customearthpromos.com/eco-blog/eco-six-pack-rings

Eco Six Pack Rings, started in 2017 by three different groups, are made with all-natural ingredients. These include both straw and wheat fiber. While sturdy enough to hold six full-size cans, Eco Six Pack Rings are intended to fall apart if accidentally littered. This prevents them from creating the same environmental damage their plastic forefathers did. According to the company, “the product will degrade in less than 200 days (depending on the ecosystem).”

www.customearthpromos.com/eco-blog/eco-six-pack-ringss
whale choking on plastic

Plastics used in six pack drink rings takes 450 years to decompose!

Re-purpose and Recycle fabric, Towels or Sheets

• Repurpose adult clothing into clothes for children

• Up-cycle a Used Towel into an apron and a hooded towel for bathing baby

• Turn pretty squares of fabric into Beeswax wraps

Sustainable solutions

If you are in USA, and you are into visual learning, here are heaps of solutions. I especially noted the online shipping options: who knew Amazon/online options were so wasteful? Choose slower shipping to save cardboard.

Smoking in the Workplace

Cigarette butts, are made of a form of plastic and can persist in the environment for 10-12 years! 4.5 trillion non-biodegradable cigarette butts are littered worldwide.

• Do you have a “no smoking” policy at your house or workplace? Containing cigarette butt litter is facilitated by requiring smokers to use only designated areas or not smoking at all.

• Do not dump anything toxic down a storm drain.

Marketing Flyers and Advertising Leaflets

• Remove flyers or take-out menus promptly from your post box/front door or windscreen before they are blown away and become litter.

• You can stop litter at the source. Reduce your junk mail by writing to Direct Marketing companies to request no junk mail to be sent to your address.

• Participate and promote local recycling programs such as kerbside cleanup (Australia).

Here are some more ideas on reducing and recycling waste:

Metal: Old forks and spoons, as well as cans, are perfect for making a variety of unique items like a custom key holder, beautiful jewelry, or a fun mirror. Old cans make excellent cookie cutters, too.

Clothing and bedding: Get creative and use an old pair of jeans to make a funky “jeans chair.” Old bedding can be torn or cut into smaller pieces and used for cleaning rags. Any type of fabric is also great for reupholstering furniture if you’re really feeling crafty.

Coffee grounds and tea bags: You can use coffee grounds as fertilizer or dried coffee grounds or tea bags [plastic free tea bags, of course], in the freezer as a deodorizer, too.

How to recycle

Do it Right – Dispose of rubbish properly


Talk to your family and friends about recycling to reduce the amount of material you throw away. Spread the word, and not the litter.

This is not hard to do at all! Tell your family and friends about recycling and what you are doing to reduce the amount of material you throw away.

This may influence them to adopt more sustainable practices. It is vitally important. Our planet depends on it.

blogging

Sunday Reflections – Better Communication and Listening

Recently I have been writing about how we can listen better to what others are saying with the intention of improving our communication. Effective listening incorporates taking note of the pitch, rate and timbre of the voice as well as facial expressions, non-verbal postures or actions.

Non-Verbal Communication

Watch out for the man whose belly doesn’t move when he laughs.”

Chinese proverb

Only a fraction of our understanding comes directly from words, some say a mere 35 %. Early humans were for some time, without a spoken or written language so non-verbal language was paramount in communicating with one another.

Whilst content is important, detecting the emotions or feelings of what is said is also central to understanding others better. In the book People Skills, Robert Bolton writes that people’s feelings regarding relationships and how each person might, or might not, be coping internally, is communicated primarily via their non-verbal signals.

Self-betrayal oozes from our pores.”

Sigmund Freud

In social interactions, our true inner feelings are sometimes repressed and concealed via the words we choose to say, but they invariably leak out through our non-verbal expressions. Good listeners pay attention to non-verbal language, postures, gestures and actions. Picking up on these covert signals tells us what is the most important to the other person.

Have you noticed that we communicate our emotions, sometimes without conscious awareness, by:

  • shrugging our shoulders in indifference
  • knitting our eyebrows in disapproval
  • moving or tensing our jaw in disgust or disagreement
  • tensing our muscles in nervousness
  • clenching fists in irritation
  • averting eye contact in embarrassment or denial
  • touching or smiling in endearment or affection
  • lingering looks of happiness or contemplation
Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

Vocal Cues

The tone of a voice is another signal. Think about someone using a monotonous voice without inflection and how that might indicate boredom, fatigue, or perhaps negativity and depression.

Conversely, a high pitched animated voice might indicate enthusiasm and louder tones anger and drawn out speech: disbelief. You can pick up a lot of information by listening to the voice. Many times we do this naturally without thinking about it, but do we use that information to communicate better?

Reflective Listening

Reflecting back your interpretation of the other person’s emotional state can assist in checking in or clarifying how the other person is really feeling. The person can then respond, if they disclose more information to you. This may facilitate a more open discussion and brings a feeling of closeness and understanding. You probably do this already naturally with family and friends.

Here are a few examples of reflective questioning:

I sense you didn’t like/don’t agree with what was just said? Have I ‘read’ that right?

You sound like you’re feeling really down? Are you doing okay?

You appear really happy/excited/rushed today? What’s going on for you?

Taking note of facial expressions, vocal cues and non verbal language helps us to listen to others better by understanding their inner emotional state. Clarifying this may lessen confusions and misunderstanding, which will lead to more effective communication as the listener will feel they are understood.

blogging, Travel

Friendly Friday – Meet Olav in Norway

Back in 2004, I jumped on a subway train in Norway. It was my first time visiting the country that was to steal my heart. I had little knowledge of where I was going that day, or what would happen, other than I was headed for a ski jump outside of Oslo, which had panoramic views and a ski museum.

oslo
Oslo, Norway

Meeting Norwegians

You know that feeling of confusion you have when orientating yourself on a public transport network, in a new city. I felt like that. With the aid of some young Norwegians, my young son and I found the platform and the unmanned train – a curiosity for us, as there are no metros in Australia.

Without station reminders or announcements, we sized up the young passenger sitting opposite for advice on when to depart the train, in order to go to Holmenkollen station and ski jump. The passenger was not only keen to help out with the required information, but offered to take us home for dinner and to meet his family! I politely declined the invitation, but thought how open and kind Norwegians were. Albeit a little too friendly towards strangers.

Believe it or not, that summer in Oslo was hot, especially after walking for several kilometres up Norwegian roads with a laden backpack from Holmenkollen station. It may have been a bit of jet lag, but I was tired.

Walking to Holmenkollen Ski Jump

After walking those few kilometres, or so it seemed, I spotted the ski jump ahead, and also the road to it winding round and round the mountain for another kilometre or so. If you have traveled with kids, you’ll relate to questions like: – Are we there yet? How much further etc. etc. My son was a stoic, but I feel sure he was making plenty of facial grimaces behind my back.

It was with that thought in mind that I spotted a narrow walking track up a grassy slope on the side of the road, that appeared to lead directly to the ski jump, I thought a short cut would save us time and energy.

With only a slight hesitation, my 11 year old and I took the track up the grassy slope.

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

A little over halfway up the hill, with images of mountain goats flitting through my mind, I pondered what I, as a 41 year old Aussie Mum, was doing. I wasn’t young and fit anymore. No sooner had I thought that, than I had to reach my hands forward to the ground, as I climbed, just to maintain balance.

Oh uh, Mum. It is getting steep, really steep.” I heard from my son.

Don’t stop now, we’re so close to the top; just keep going,” I urged him, not wanting to lose any of my forward momentum, lest the slope become too much, for me.

At that moment, ‘Olav,’ who had, in all possibility, been trained during the Nazi occupation of Norway, appeared at the crest of the hill, standing feet astride, hands on hips, in an authoritative stance.

He boomed out at me, in English, “You can’t come up here. Go back!”

Oh, wait – Why not? I said as I scrambled the last few steps of the slope. “I mean, I’ve paid already. I have an Oslo Card,” fumbling in my pocket for the 48 hour tourist card that allows a visit, to any tourist attraction in Oslo, for one pre-paid charge.

Olav, his name emblazoned boldly on his badge, in ‘Arial black font’, glared at me.

I prattled on, stupidly thinking he had misunderstood. “Oh – you Norwegians. I thought you were all so nice and welcoming….” I stopped mid-sentence thinking how silly that sounded.

To which Olav repeated his intimidating mantra a little louder this time,

“GO BACK. YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE COME THIS WAY.”

A sickening feeling of guilt crept into my throat as I realized that the short cut path we had taken, that would save us some time and energy, had NOT led us to the entrance of the ski jump, but had in fact, led us inside the museum itself. Olav thought we were trying to gatecrash, without paying.

A quiet Aussie accent reached my ear. “Let’s just go back, Mum.”

I turned to my son, “Yeah okay, I made a mistake; we’ll just go down again and walk the long way around.

I took a few steps off the edge of the slope and was shocked to see just how precipitous a slope, we had scrambled up. I nearly lost my balance, just looking down.

It dawned on me that going down was not even going to be difficult, it was going to be downright dangerous, especially carrying a heavy backpack. I could see that one of us would surely slip and potentially break a leg or something. Any alternative was better than that.

Gathering courage I didn’t know I had, I turned back again towards Olav, his implacable face and overly muscular body still blocking my way into the ski jump museum.

“Look – I’m really, really sorry, I just can’t go down that way. I’m more than happy to pay a second entrance fee, if you want. I never intended to avoid payment or do anything wrong. I am from Australia, I didn’t know.” I was blabbering quickly now, like a child caught with his hand in the candy jar.

“I am more than happy to buy another ticket. I do have an Oslo card, so it’s all paid for, already.”

I hadn’t explained myself well, as Olav remained unconvinced.

“Then why did you come up this way?” he spat.

Because, I thought this path was a short cut.

He looked bemused. I started to consider whether the phrase, “short cut,” might be lost in translation. So I continued:

It is so very hot today and I thought it would save us walking in the heat.” Olav’s face showed no indication of relenting.

Mum, c’mon let’s just go.” My son started walking down the precipitous slope again. I wavered.

What should I do? It was clear that Olav was not ‘feeling the love,’ the other Norwegians had shown us, so I made a bold decision. Fight or flight must have taken over.

After muttering under my breath to give myself courage, I said:

Look, I’m not going to potentially break my leg going down there, when I have already paid to go into the museum,” I said with as little nervous emotion as I could muster, at that moment.

So, I’m just going to run over there to the ticket office and thrust my Oslo card at the attendant, cos I can’t, I just can’t go back down that slope.

Why not?” – Olav again.

I’m terrified I will fall.”

Okay, then,” was his final response. To my complete surprise, he turned his back and walked away.

I literally ran over to the ticket office, to show them my Oslo card, my heart beating wildly for the next ten minutes, or so.

There was an awkward moment when we spotted Olav again, in another part of the exhibit, but he remained silent, a serious nod to us the only acknowledgement of our previous terse interaction.

Travel Note: The Holmenkollen Ski Jump and Museum has been renovated and is in a slightly different location than 2004.

Friendly Friday Blog Challenge – Meet One Person

This is not my typical travel story, but as this is Sarah’s first week hosting the Friendly Friendly Blog Challenge, I wanted to post an interesting story of someone I had met in my travels.

Have you met someone interesting on your travels and wish to share a story or photograph about it? Someone who might be a little friendlier than Olav?

In her post, Sarah writes about her guide in Senegal, called Cheikh.

Friendly Friday Blog Challenge

Sandy and I would love your support in welcoming Sarah, the new co-host of Friendly Fridays.

I will be back hosting the challenge again on Friday 13th August.

blogging, Community

The Destination or Pathway of Life

That old adage… Life is a journey, not a destination! Have you heard it? I have been pondering my own journey, my own path, of late.

Many of us start keen, enthusiastic, running and jumping through the years, none too concerned about potholes or hazards dismissed as temporary obstacles along my path. I tended to follow the path where it took me, not too concerned with the destination ahead. I wasn’t big on long term planning.

I discovered several paths that did not turn out to be thoroughfares at all; in fact, they were dead ends. Other paths required me to take a u-turn, and still others that were so filled with darkness that I turned, then ran from them, back towards the light.

Impending family responsibilities might allow you the luxury of a rethink of career objectives. Mostly this occurs around he birth of children, sometimes it is caring for elderly relatives. The sandwich generation.

Again and again, I have taken paths, convinced that my future destination lay ahead. Some time down the track, the journey became so arduous, the scenery so different to what I had envisaged, that once again I had to admit, this was not the right path for me.

Australia

Now, as I explore a new path, a divergent pathway, I hope, crossing my fingers that not only this path will be a more enlightened one, but that I will also grow stronger with the obstacles that inevitably arise with any new challenge. That I will not trip and fall, but rather will be content, handle and perhaps, better anticipate any problems.

I have learnt many things and enjoyed accumulating knowledge on all the past paths that I have tread. But would it have been better to be a virtuoso of one path, or adept at the many potholes of the few?

Have I bettered my experience or that of others for taking a multitude of paths?

In the end, we all reach the destination and the imprint in history will be the judge.

What about you?

Would you take a different path given your time again? Would a long term vision have sent you in a different direction?

Is Joseph Campbell on the money? In stumbling, we find our greatest treasure?

I am interested in hearing your thoughts.

Good luck on your journey and may our paths cross someday.

Marsha explores more of her destination and features more ponderings.

Food, review

Saving the Planet One Sip of Green Tea at a Time

Eco-friendly Biodegradable Tea Bags

It’s no secret the world has a problem with plastic pollution, particularly the presence of micro-plastics in our oceans and drinking water. Did you know that some tea manufacturers incorporate small amounts of plastic into the teabags, so they hold their shape when immersed in hot liquid? That plastic ends up in our cups and ultimately in landfill.

Earl Grey Blue Flower and Japanese Lime Teabags

Other manufacturers use staples or glue to attach the string to the teabag or chlorine to bleach the bag white, for aesthetic purposes. These are all things we don’t want melting away in our morning cuppa.

If you’re anything like me, you like to support Companies that are taking the initiative to swap out plastic packaging for more environmentally friendly alternatives.

I was thrilled to find Biodegradable, 100% plant-based, plastic-free teabags in recyclable packaging from The Tea Centre. That’s good news for avid tea drinkers such as myself, who can now sip away without concern for ingesting nasty chemicals.

The Tea Centre has taken care to ensure their pyramid teabags are:

  • Biodegradable
  • GMO free
  • Made from plant-based materials, such as sugarcane
  • Heat sealed without glue
  • Sold in Eco-friendly Biodegradable packaging No Plastic

But that’s not the only way the Tea Centre is contributing to reducing waste. While the products from the Tea Centre range use inner wrapping that looks for all the world like plastic, it’s actually a cellulose product, called NatureFlex, made from 100% natural wood pulp, compostable and biodegradable.

Compostable and biodegradable tea bags

Bio-degradable Teabags and cartons that are 100% Recyclable.

Customers now have the option to purchase their teabags packaged inside a fully recyclable carton. These cartons are consciously crafted from food-grade cardboard. Moreover, the printing on the package is gold foil stamping that is also 100% recyclable.

That’s more good news, right?

JAPANESE LIME TEA

Just like Japan itself, this tea was ambrosial and aesthetic. With a subtle lime flavour, it has just the right balance to to be zesty and fragrant without overpowering the senses. Served as a cool drink, the lime flavour is delightfully refreshing and that comes from someone who doesn’t generally drink Iced tea.

Japanese Lime Tea

Ingredients:

Green tea, citrus peel, lemongrass

Biodegradable Teabags and Packaging

Tea bags Green tea Japanese lime from the Tea Centre
Brewing Guide
Photo Credit: Tea Centre

This zingy variety of Green Tea can be sipped as both a hot brew or iced tea.

Add one tablespoon tea to one litre of cold water and refrigerate for 4–7 hours.

Strain and serve.

BLENDED IN GERMANY | GLUTEN FREE | VEGAN

Why is a Green Tea Fusion Good for You?

You may already be familiar with the healing properties of green tea. The antioxidants are a boost for our hair and skin and also offer anti-inflammatory benefits. With ingredients such as lemongrass stalk to help relieve anxiety, lift one’s mood and help to ease digestive ailments, a green tea fusion is especially good to drink first thing in the morning.

Biodegradable Teabags

Plastic, GMO and chemical free. Pyramid tea bags are 100% biodegradable.

Tea bags Green tea Japanese lime from the Tea Centre

Green Tea Fusion

This fusion is a zesty combination of green tea, citrus peel, and refreshing lemongrass pieces.

BLENDED IN GERMANY | GLUTEN FREE | VEGAN

Since 1993, The Tea Centre has been offering a different tea experience and I’ve been fortunate to be gifted a sample of the teas to experience. If you love the aroma and flavour of fine tea, the tea will delight you.

Related Post:

I recently wrote about Glogg Black Tea. Some other warming winter tea flavours I plan to try include:

Linking to Natalie’s Linky
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Food

A Christmas in July

What happens when you want to eat Christmas food, you live in a tropical country, and it is 35 degrees (nearly 100 F), in the shade. What do you do?

Christmas Decorations

You organize a Christmas feast, in July, when it is actually wintertime.

I know all the citizens of the northern hemisphere might have a hard time comprehending things being so upside down here. It really is too hot to eat rich Christmas food in the summer months in Australia – which can be up to five months long!

You see come the month of December, I’m more focused on keeping cool and retreating to the ‘Pool room’ – (don’t worry Aussies will understand the reference); lying in air conditioned comfort and watching old home movies or reading a good book, or maybe writing a blog post or two.

photography

The only appetite I have during that time is for salad greens, which is acceptable for me on December 25, but not the rest of the family. Surprisingly, they expect a bit more than rabbit food at Christmas time.

A growing tradition in Australia is to have Christmas in July gatherings, with friends and family and enjoy a mock Christmas meal of Roast meat, Yorkshire pudding, Christmas mince pies and plum puddings with custard.

Scandinavian Glogg

Since the sixteenth century, Glogg is a warm drink brewed at Christmas time in Nordic households to welcome and warm guests travelling in the cold December weather. The name can be translated to mean “glow,” and may be served fortified with alcohol, or non alcoholic. Either way Glogg incorporates a number of spices that resemble the aroma and flavour of a Christmas cake.

Traditionally, the ingredients in mulled wine include: cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, orange, and almonds all of which infuse hot fortified wine. However, other recipes have called for cherries and raisins, as well as brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup, and in place of red wine, local distilled spirits such as aquavit or vodka, whisky, bourbon, and even white wine. In the non alcoholic version, ginger provides an added warming element.

The Tea Centre

My Christmas in July celebration happily extends throughout July but not with the traditional Glogg but with a variety of Glogg Black tea from The Tea Centre.

Glogg Black Tea

The supplier offers this tea in both black and green tea blends, and it contains many of the ingredients found in mulled wine: cinnamon for a welcome immunity boost for the Aussie winter and Cardamon, which is known to be beneficial in reducing pain, headaches, nausea and inflammation.

Reminiscent of Nordic Christmas traditions and mulled wines — cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger recreate this special drink … also a touch of almond and orange peel bits.

The Tea Centre

For me, drinking this tea brought back those sumptious feelings of Scandinavian hygge. Danish Hygge is that cosy feeling you have when you are curled up in front of the fire, snuggling under a fleecy throw, candlelight dancing across the walls, with your closest loved ones. It is a feeling of being at ease, comfortable and relaxed.

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

Aromas of cinnamon and cloves permeated the air as the pot was brewing. If you’re thinking it is not so dissimilar to a cinnamon herbal tea, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the additional flavours of orange peel, ginger and almond.

This tea would work really well with the Danish Spice cake recipe, I posted recently.

Delicious and healthy.

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