The first time I drove past a sign to Tumbulgum, I reckon I did what any non-local would do – I mispronounced it. Yep – I got it totally wrong, because it isn’t how it seems.
There are a lot of places down here in Australia with names you can’t pronounce. The first time I saw the name ‘Indooroopilly’, I almost packed my bags and moved back to New South Wales, from whence I’d just come.
How was I going to live in a State where I couldn’t even say the name of neighbouring towns, let alone spell them? I mean, really?
But like everything, once you get the hang of it, it’s easy.
So you see, there’s absolutely no rhyme or reason to sorting out our language. All you need to know is: if it can be shortened – it will be shortened.
And that goes for people’s names as well. Oh, unless you have red hair – then you’ll be called Blue.
Wait, is that even politically correct anymore? Probably not – but it was certainly the case when I was young.
Let’s get back to those place names.
As it turns out, Indooroopilly hasn’t been shortened – as far as I know – but it is shortened in the way you say it. Instead of sounding out all the oo’s, you kind of just leave them out altogether. So Indooroopilly ends up sounding like ‘Indrupilly’ (using the short vowel -u- sound like hum).
And now, let’s get back to Tumbulgum. Nope – it isn’t like Tum-bul-gum. It’s more like Tm-bul-gm – you kind of run the t and m, and the g and m, together. And the second u is an u sound – as in t-u-c-k, except the way the locals say it, it’s more like Tm-bol-gm.
Actually, it doesn’t matter how you pronounce Tumbulgum, as long as you go there. It is a spectacularly beautiful little place.
My house is just a short drive from Tumbulgum, so I guess you can see why I love living in Murwillumbah.
If you are up for a real challenge with place names – visit our neighbour, New Zealand, especially the town of Whakatane – pronounced: /fɑːkɑːˈtɑːnə/. – if you say it fast it sounds like… never mind.
For the final assessment in Place, Image, Object, I had to write about an object that has been handed down, and/or is treasured by our family. I decided to write about my grandfather’s record-player cabinet that I have, but then changed my mind when I remembered the bugle my grandfather had played for us when we were young. It was still in the family, and still a cherished object, so I wrote the assignment from the perspective of the bugle – kind of like a biography.
Made in 1888
The bugle has markings on it, luckily, and a Google search located the makers who are still in business in London, and have an email address on their website. I sent an email to the company asking for information about the markings, and almost instantly I had a reply.
Henry Potter & Co still make military bugles, and Pete Woods is still connected to the company. Pete Woods was a young trainee at Henry Potter & Co in the seventies. Pete learned all the elements of instrument making, and it was Pete Woods who replied to my email.
From London to Sydney
From its humble beginnings in London, the bugle made its way across the sea to Australia in 1890, commissioned to the Australian Defence Department and ready for a new life.
My grandfather, Claude Sneesby, was born in 1895 in Lidcombe, a suburb of Sydney. He celebrated his nineteenth birthday on 17th September 1914, and at that time, he was playing trumpet in the Lidcombe Band. On the 4th of August 1914, Britain joined the war, ultimately followed by Australia. Claude enlisted on the 27th November, two months after his birthday. Whether it was his ability to play trumpet, or some other reason, Claude was assigned the role of Bugler with the 13th Battalion. The bugle that Henry Potter & Co made in 1888 was to go to war with Claude. On the 23rd of December, Claude and the bugle were onboard HMAT Ulysses that left Melbourne before sunrise, bound for the war in Europe.
On the War Front
Together, Claude and the bugle performed countless duties of The Last Post for those who would not be going home. Claude was one of the lucky ones who made it through the Gallipoli Campaign; he saw things no one should ever have to witness. When Britain decided to cut their losses and evacuate Gallipoli, Claude (and what was left of the Fourth Brigade), raised the bugle in song to farewell the troops as they made their exit.
In Peaceful Times
Claude cherished the bugle and often played for his grandchildren, but over the years it sat on a shelf as a reminder of what Claude had been through, when he was only nineteen. A heart attack did what no enemy gunfire could do, and Claude was called home by his Maker in 1975. The bugle was passed on to Claude’s first grandson for safe keeping.
The bugle is now over a hundred and thirty years old, and will be cherished by the family of a brave nineteen-year-old who volunteered to join those who left Australia to serve in the Great War of 1914.
The following Audio file is a monologue performed and recorded by Claude Sneesby (date unknown).
Note: If family and friends would like a copy of the story, written from the perspective of the bugle, please contact me via the Comments section below, or email me at: email@example.com.
I recently read a blog where the author wrote about his favourite hymn. It was a great story but it made me wonder how many people have a favourite hymn. I especially wondered if I had a favourite hymn. As I pondered the question a scene played out in my mind, accompanied by the Panis Angelicus.
The vision was a flashback to my childhood and the routine of Christmas Eve, and Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve was a significant part of our lives for as long as I can remember. In fact, I can’t remember it not being there. It was something we looked forward to, and it became the signal that Christmas was nigh. The church was eight-miles from where we lived, and the drive home after Mass had us all looking for Santa and his reindeer in the darkness of the night. On more than one occasion we were sure it was Rudolph’s glowing red nose that we saw up there among the stars.
A Christmas Hat
Christmas often came a day early if we were to receive a new hat as a gift. Men had to remove their hat to enter a church, but women had to cover their head, and a new hat to wear on Christmas Eve was always special. As a teenager I would sometimes pin a handkerchief to my head to attend a service, because I’d either rushed out and forgotten a hat, or hadn’t planned on visiting the church that day. Regardless, a handkerchief saved me from admonishment by the priest, or worse, the congregation. Walking into the church without something covering your head, was never an option.
From the outset of the Midnight Mass tradition, until my marriage in that same little church years later, my memories of the Christmas Eve Mass are mixed. As a young child my position within the Church at Christmas, and every Sunday between Christmases, was squeezed into the last row on the right-hand side of the church. It somehow became an unwritten law that the back row was reserved for the Berg Family. I don’t even know why. Perhaps it was for a quick get-away after the service? Or perhaps it was to avoid eye-contact with the priest during a sensitive sermon? Let’s face it, none of us earthly beings are angels, and I’m sure at least one of Father Murphy’s sermons may have hit a raw nerve with at least one parishioner, at some time.
Looking Down From Above
As a teenager, my position in the church on Sundays changed from back row, to the space above the back row, conveniently known as The Choir. Not that I was in any way talented – I’m sure it was just to fill the void. Actually, I don’t remember signing up for the choir, but I suppose it was a case of ‘you will be there! – no if’s, but’s or otherwise’.
And so on Sundays I would look over the balcony and imagine the rest of my family in the back row below me – my younger sister and I watching from above. As I said, I wasn’t there by reason of talent, I was there to make up the numbers. I was okay on the lower notes of the hymns, but I knew when to pay ‘lip-service’ to the higher notes. Luckily, one of the features of ‘the choir’ was the beautiful old pipe-organ that provided the accompaniment to the youthful voices, and drowned out the out-of-tune ones, like mine.
The hymn list on Sundays was nothing special, just the usual hymns that the congregation joined the choir in singing. But the list of hymns at Christmas always included the Panis Angelicus. From the first time I heard it, I loved that hymn. There was something spiritual about the melody and the Latin words and the way the choir sang different harmonies.
The Magic of the Panis Angelicus
And it seems I’m not the only one who was, and continues to be inspired by the Panis Angelicus.
These are beautiful versions of the Panis Angelicus, but the sound of a choir singing the hymn will always take me back to St Matthews Catholic Church in Windsor, and the memory of Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.
I will never forget sitting in the back row, or standing in the choir, and the reverence of that special Mass that was so different to every other Mass. Regardless of what my beliefs are now, my life centred around St Matthews Catholic Church in Windsor, all those years ago. It’s where I received all the Sacraments of the Church, from Baptism through to marriage; and Mass every Sunday (and weekdays in exam times). But the Mass at midnight on Christmas Eve, accompanied by the Panis Angelicus, was the highlight of every year.
My life is richer for having memories like these that are rekindled every time I hear the Panis Angelicus.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been impulsive. And don’t get me wrong, I’m okay with that; I wouldn’t have seen any of the big, wide world, or achieved as much if I hadn’t been. But there are times when I should have thought things through before jumping in, boots and all.
My latest escapade started the way most of my crazy ideas start – when someone said “I’m going to …., do you want to join me?”, – and I said “that sounds like a good idea!”.
Well, maybe it was Facebook that started this one.
Let me explain…
I’m on heaps of Facebook pages so I’m constantly exposed to news and advertisements. For about a week an advertisement kept popping up; no flashy-blingy advertisement, just a simple Ad. And every time I saw it I’d think, ‘that sounds like a good idea’.
At about the same time I crossed paths with two people who had responded to the Ad, or an earlier version. I started to think that someone, somewhere was sending me a message; not necessarily someone on this earthly-plane, so I decided to investigate the Ad.
University of Tasmania
The Ad was about a Diploma of Family History at the University of Tasmania (UTAS) and as most of you know, I am obsessed with family history. Before I knew it, I had enrolled and my first term started a few days later.
My supervisor from a previous Post-Grad course lectured at UTAS after he left Texas (USA), which is why we parted company and I never finished my PhD. If Jeff Sigafoos taught at UTAS, it must be a great University (Jeff was one of the ten top researchers in the world, back then).
I finished a Master’s Degree and started a PhD, so I figured a Diploma would be easy. But it’s a long time since I’ve set foot inside a University, so I could be forgiven for forgetting how much reading is involved with any tertiary study, and how the bibliography can take longer to write than the whole assignment. I remember all that now, having just finished my first Term.
Are you crazy!?
I should have explained, the extra thinking I should have done was: how long has it been since you studied?; you have enrolled in three subjects in your first term?; are you crazy!?
Yep – doing three subjects was probably over-ambitious. And if it hadn’t been for lockdown I might be certifiable by now. Lockdown was my friend – it kept me home and uninterrupted long enough to get three subjects done and dusted. Although, it did come down to the wire.
Things have changed since my PhD and Master’s Degree days. There is now technology that checks for little things like… plagiarism – not that I had to worry because I didn’t quote or paraphrase anything. I took the events of my grandfather’s enlistment in World War One, to his return to Australia after four years service, and wrote a story around them. In 1200 words for Families and War I ended up with about 20 footnotes, which I condensed into the bibliography. All of the footnotes were from about five different sources.
Assignments, done and dusted.
On Wednesday night I uploaded the first assignment for Writing Family History to Turnitin (plagiarism checker), and felt good about it being finished. I spent Thursday and most of yesterday finishing off assignments for the other subjects and uploaded them last night. By 10pm I had finished Term Three (my first term…), but to be on the safe side I logged back in to make sure the assignments had gone through. To my horror there was an empty space in the place my assignment should have been for Writing Family History. A quick drag-and-drop fixed that problem. Who would have thought that uploading an assignment to Turnitin isn’t the same as uploading it within the subject area; it pays to read the fine print, and I really shouldn’t submit assignments late at night.
Today I puddled around the kitchen for a while, fixed a neighbour’s phone problem, then tried to catch up on some sewing, but I felt like something wasn’t right. Eventually I turned my laptop on, went into my UTAS site and double checked the assignments. Oops – I had uploaded my Research Report for Introduction to Family History, into the same place as my Annie story in Writing Family History. I quickly uploaded the Research Report to the right place but I have no idea how to take the extra one out of Writing Family History. I guess the Admin team will figure that out.
Back in the old days…
Life was much easier back in the old days. You didn’t have to upload assignments; you just printed them out and handed them to your professor. Although, by the time I got to the really tough post-grad stuff, I could email assignments. And that’s kind of how the parting of ways with Jeff came about.
When I started my PhD Jeff was at the University of Queensland and I was living about an hour away. Then Jeff took a promotion to the University of Sydney so I enrolled there. By then I was living at the Gold Coast but still teaching in Ipswich, a little over an hour away. I was teaching full-time through my Master’s and PhD, which is why the transfer to the University of Sydney was a bit tricky; I could only catch up with Jeff in school holidays. Tough, but do-able – until Jeff took a promotion to the USA (Texas). There’s no way I could transfer there or drop in every school holidays for a catch-up.
I headed back to the University of Queensland to a different supervisor, and a complete change of course. My new supervisor was great – just not conversant enough in my topic. I had switched to something my heart wasn’t in – which meant starting again; another Lit Review, all the ethics stuff, and it just didn’t work. It’s the only course I’ve ever quit. At the time I said I would finish it – one day…. but maybe not in this lifetime.
Back to the Diploma
And so Term Three (which is where I started the Diploma – mid-year) has been and gone, and I have loved every stressful minute of it. I have learned more than I could have imagined in six weeks. I thought it was just going to be about pinning a few more ancestors on my family tree – but it is so much more. My favourite subject was Writing Family History – but you could imagine my shock when the weekly writing activities only allowed two-hundred and fifty words. I use twice that amount in writing what I had for breakfast. But I not only managed, I actually enjoyed it.
For the next few weeks I’ll be on Term break from study, so hopefully more blogs will surface on this, and my other websites. And the good news is: only two subjects next term.
If you want to join me next term, take a look at the University of Tasmania. I have a neighbour who is going to enrol but we would welcome more study-buddies. And I might just need a new website to host my family stories. I’ve started one about my Swedish grandfather, but there are heaps more stories to tell on both sides of my family.
And now it is sleep time; it’s been another fabulously busy day.
Anyone who knows me well, knows about my coffee addiction. It’s only a one-cup-a-day habit, but I can’t start without my morning cup-of-joe. And today I proved something that I had suspected for a long time: it’s in the beans.
Let me explain…
In June 2015, while on a short holiday, I stopped for a coffee at a cafe in Murwillumbah (a Northern NSW town). Hmmm…. the coffee went down exceptionally well, but I wasn’t sure if it was as much about the ambience as the actual coffee.
The day I left Murwillumbah to return to Central Queensland, I visited the cafe for another coffee. The drive to the airport took about two hours (less for everyone else – I’m one of those slow drivers), but all the way to Brisbane I could taste that coffee. It lingered on my taste buds and sustained me for the entire trip.
It was at that point that I realised I had just savoured the best coffee on the planet.
The purpose of my visit to Murwillumbah was to catch up with a past work-colleague that I had kept in touch with over the years. She had just bought a unit in a Retirement Village and was keen to show it off.
As I walked around the village and met the friendly residents, I was impressed by how happy they seemed to be.
But I was only sixty-five – yep – retirement age, but still working and loved my job. I figured I’d dust off the chalkboard and hang up the chalk for the last time (well, shut down the Smart Board, actually) when I reached seventy. So I smiled back at those friendly faces, while thinking, “I’m not ready to retire yet”.
Fast Forward a few days….
I’d unpacked from my holiday and come to grips with the fact that I’d be back at work in less than two days, and with it came all the last minute preparation that needed to be done.
The first day of Term Three started in the usual way – crossing paths with colleagues elicited the usual “How was your holiday?”, followed by “holiday…, did we have a holiday?”.
Teachers around the world probably share the same greeting on the first day of a new term. The minute your feet hit the pavement leading to your classroom, your head starts buzzing with thoughts of kids, and playgrounds, and classrooms, and timetables, and parents, and – wait for it ‘Reports’. Yep – those dreaded reports start weighing on your mind from the first minute of the first day.
All thoughts of the past holiday are pushed way back into your long-term memory, to make way for all the urgent here-and-now commitments to be held securely in short-term memory for another ten weeks.
And so the memory of my holiday became another blur, until……
… the day wore on, and the problems escalated.
I went home that day absolutely drained. I was tired but there was no time to rest. Paperwork had to be done at night, as well as preparation for the next day.
From a deep, dark corner of my long-term memory, the smile of those happily retired people in Murwillumbah crept up on me and made their presence felt.
And then the memory of that little cafe in Murwillumbah emerged through the fog of ‘To retire or not retire; that is the question’.
The memory of the mellow taste of that divine coffee came flooding back.
”Not ready to retire yet?…”. “The heck I’m not ready to retire!, bring it on!”.
Day Two of Term Three
“Hi Laurel, have you got a minute?”, I asked our Principal. “Sure”, she said. “What’s wrong?”.
“I need my two-days extra leave. I need to get back to the Gold Coast”, I said….
“Haven’t you just been there” she queried?
“Yep, but I need to buy my Nursing Home for the future”
I imagine you can picture the look on her face, not knowing whether to laugh or have me committed.
She laughed (luckily).
Day Four of Term Three
Gladstone Airport was a two-hour drive away; followed by an hour(ish) flight on the little Dash-8 Qantas jet to Brisbane. I’d pre-booked a rental car and was soon hurtling along the M1 towards Murwillumbah (just south of the Gold Coast, on the NSW side).
For two days I looked at units, in that little Retirement Village where everyone seemed so happy.
One of the first ones I looked at had solar panels on the roof, a veranda across the back, and a front porch where I could sit and enjoy a coffee in the sun.
The unit was being renovated with new paint and carpet, and an overall modernisation. The view from the back veranda was of trees, and the bowling green was not too far away.
I looked at other units with different floor plans and views, but kept going back to that first one. I absolutely loved it!
The price was reasonable, but I wasn’t sure of how much any extras would be, so I made an offer that included a bit of a buffer, just in case.
It was a couple of weeks before I heard back from the sales agent and we were able to agree on a sale price that suited both parties. I signed the contracts a couple of weeks later, and on the second-last day of Term Three, the unit was mine.
The lure of that cafe across the road from the Village helped seal the deal. I could just imagine sauntering over there for a cup of that amazing coffee, whenever the whim took me.
I moved into my unit at the end of Term Four. And I spent a lot of time in that cafe over the Christmas holidays.
As I got to know Josh better (the owner of the cafe), I talked to him about the coffee.
“It’s in the beans”, he said. “You have to start with good beans”.
And Josh started every cup of divine coffee with Dancing Beans, just to prove it’s in the beans. But never underestimate Josh’s ability to pour the best coffee – he is a perfectionist Barista.
My trusty Rocket Giotto Espresso machine goes everywhere I go (on a permanent basis), so the first thing to be set up in my new kitchen was the coffee machine. And now I had access to those good beans and could make a coffee that (almost) equaled the ones from Josh’s cafe. Josh would sell me the beans whenever I needed them.
But, as things go, Josh moved on and sold the cafe, which means I now have to order the beans online.
And that is where this story stems from… I was so busy last week I forgot to order the beans.
In desperation, I bought some local beans from the supermarket yesterday. They came with a recommendation from the manager, but I was still nervous as I made my morning cup-of-joe this morning.
And rightfully so.
As I finish the last dregs of my coffee, there is a slightly dry, almost bitter taste lingering, and no, I didn’t burn the shot.
The only thing different is the beans. The double-shot started pouring at five seconds and finished at twenty-six seconds; a little longer than I would consider a good pour, but within reason.
But the taste is not there.
Today I’ll be ordering the beans from Dancing Beans Roasters in Ipswich, and in a few days I’ll be enjoying that mellow, divine tasting coffee that I have loved for more than five years.
Most people meet deadlines head-on. I’m not one of them.
Approaching deadlines are some kind of sub-conscious signal for me to drift off into another dimension, totally oblivious to whatever else has to be done.
I had been working on an article since before COVID-19 hampered the travel plans of half the planet, or was it all of the planet? Anyway, the article was about a store I love spending time in.
With travel restrictions, I figured if I couldn’t get there, neither could anyone else. Well that is, unless you live in the immediate neighbourhood of the store.
Mistake No. 1 – There is plenty of time to finish writing the story…
I write articles about favourite stores for an online publication, and I usually give myself a week to get it done. If I drag it on too long I end up just about rewriting it all, sentence by sentence, because I tend to over-edit everything. A week is good. Just enough time to do due diligence without overworking it. When I took the photos and started writing the article back in February, that was the plan.
Then COVID-19 put us all in some form of lockdown which ended my self-imposed one-week deadline.
“There is no point in rushing to finish the article”, I figured. “Nobody can get there until travel restrictions are eased, so there’s no hurry”.
Besides, if I published during lockdown (otherwise known as isolation, or just ‘iso’ here in Australia), the article would end up buried at the bottom of a very large heap of articles. By the time we could travel again, nobody would have read the story, or they would have forgotten about it.
That was February.
Now it is October, and I finally hit the Submit button this morning.
Deadlines or no deadlines – it’s your choice
And I made the wrong choice.
The Border between New South Wales and Queensland is still technically closed, but residents in the Border Zone can squeeze through, as long as they have the appropriate pass.
Queenslanders, effectively grounded since March, can now cross over on to our side as long as they have a Border Zone Pass to show on their return.
The store I wrote about is just a smidge over the Border, on my side.
But I didn’t create a deadline for when I should finish writing the article. I played around with it a few times: a photo here; an external link there; a few more sentences overall.
But No Deadline!
And so the unfinished article lingered until this past week.
So what created the urgency?
I needed to visit the store, and I had to apologise to the owner for not submitting the article sooner.
Kitty sells fabrics and every craft item you could imagine. As I apologised, she looked at me awkwardly… “and how much is this article going to cost me?” she asked.
“Not a cent”, I explained. “The online forum uses advertising to provide cash awards for well written articles. Besides, I get to promote a local business I love, which helps to keep that business in business. Oh, and I get to improve my writing skills”.
“I will submit the article by the end of the week”, I promised.
And then the panic set in. Heck, I was still a long way from being ready to publish, and the week was slipping away faster than an ice-block in a heat wave.
All Nighters – All Round
Well, at least one night extended into the very early hours of the next morning as I typed furiously to finish.
I was determined to submit that article by Sunday! Sunday is the end of the week, right? Well, it is this week. Tomorrow is the start of a whole new week, in my book.
I typed, then proof-read for hours this morning.
‘Are the sections clear?’; ‘Are the photos too close together?’ ‘Does that sentence make sense?’.
And then finally, enough was enough.
One last check of the behind the scenes stuff like categories, alternate email headings, tags…
And that, dear folks, is why my website, and the Ultimate Blog Challenge for the fast disappearing October, were totally ignored. Again.
So on the question of ‘Deadlines or no deadlines – it’s your choice’ – I should have set strict deadlines.
Nobody, least of all me, should ever tell me that there is no hurry to get that story written!
Note: I just checked on the article… Not only is it published already, but I earned my first Gold Award for it!
Maybe taking longer to write it paid off.
I am stoked!
Although, somehow, the formatting that looked right while I was writing it, looks all skewed on the website. Ah well… it’s done.
The Ultimate Blog Challenge is a great tool for writers – as long as you keep writing. It doesn’t work if you skirt around it, doing everything but write. So where will this new challenge take me? Only time will tell.
Having a glitch in the system on Day One was enough to derail this unstable train. But today is the day I dust myself off and get the train back on track.
I’ve lost count of the prompts for the challenge. And does it really matter?
One of the prompts was to write about Fall (the season, not the action). But we don’t have Fall in Australia. Well, we have Autumn, but it tends to come and go relatively unnoticed by most, so I can ignore that prompt.
I could go back and search through my emails for another prompt, or
I could just write about how I’m going to manage the rest of the challenge?
So here goes!
I have a few distractions coming up, as long as the border between New South Wales and Queensland doesn’t lock me out again between now and tomorrow morning.
I live in the Border Bubble (or, Border Zone), which means I live just below the borderline between the two States.
The bubble extended from the northern tip of the Gold Coast in Queensland, to a little south of where I live (they kept changing it so I have no idea exactly where). And I could only travel within that bubble, north of the border.
As of 1st October I can break through the bubble and travel anywhere in Queensland, as long as I haven’t been to any of the COVID-19 hotspots around New South Wales within the previous fourteen days. And as long as I have a valid pass displayed on the dashboard of my car.
It has now been a week since the bubble burst so I reckon the initial rush is over. There were long queues on the first few days with everyone wanting to rush across to the other side, so I’m glad I waited.
Tomorrow, I’m off!
Not off like a bucket of prawns (shrimps) in the sun – just off and racing.
I’ll have the car loaded up and I’ll cross that border into Queensland and I won’t stop until I’m north of Brisbane. And that’s where I’ll be for a couple of days, reuniting with family that I haven’t seen since early February, before all this madness took hold.
Will I write while I’m there?
I hope so, but I won’t be missing any opportunities to spend time with my granddaughters. Yep, I know they’re busy, with one of them in the final stage of her University course, but I’ll definitely be spending quality time with them.
So where will this challenge take me?
That depends entirely on the number of distractions I succumb to over the next few weeks.