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Semester 2, 2017

Writing Creatively

Three poems from Writing Creatively


A galaxy of wrinkled crones join in macabre fun.
Spellbound by the guillotine, these knitters in the sun.

Clickety-click, clickety-click, ghoulish laughter peals,
As horse-drawn laden carts roll by and prisoners’ fate it seals.

Knit one, pearl one, spectators watch with glee
The blood of royal families flow to set the masses free.

Needles flash in harmony as tensions rise to peak.
Judgement falls indiscriminately on the arrogant and the meek.

Some stand erect and pray to God – there is no place to run.
Some cry and beg, each number counted by the knitters in the sun.

Fingers pause, drum rolls beat, breath momentarily suspended.
Then joyous release, knit one, pearl one. Hatred is expended.

Ruth Morgan  1995


Soft and warm your lovely body lies
Close to mine, in sated dreamless sleep.
Alone I watch the new day’s sun arise,
Fated now a tryst with death to keep.
The uniform hangs proudly on the door.
The rifle leans against the canvas pack.
My mind says sternly, duty to the fore.
My longing heart rebels and draws me back.
You turn to me, your lips invite a kiss,
Your arms reach out to hold me in embrace.
Your perfume lingers from a night of bliss.
I cannot stay. Pray God, grant me grace.
Should destiny take me to the path that calls
We’ll meet again my love when twilight falls.

  • Ruth Morgan


Ask Beth Quinton to Saturday’s dance
Advised my best pal Joe
She’s been eyeing you for quite a while
I thought you’d like to know.

So I did

Marry her, son, my father said
You’ve got yourself a gem
Mother smiled and nodded her head,
It was advice from both of them.

So I did

Buy the house next door to us,
her Aunt and Uncle wooed
The price is right, it needs no work,
“I’d like it” Beth sweetly cooed.

So I did

  • Ruth Morgan

Turtle Lane Community Garden

Our first visit was to Turtle Lane Community garden which is located in Newtown, a short walk from the station.
The garden is situated on church ground adjacent to St Joseph’s church. The garden currently has 25 plots and has proved to be so popular that there is a waiting list to join the garden. The garden is managed on organic principles embracing the diversity of its members which represent many cultures. The garden has a native bee hive and hives for beneficial insects, a frog pond and a birdbath to attract the local wildlife. Planning for the garden occurs at monthly meetings. There is a bartering system in place whereby excess crops can be exchanged between members and local school children are welcomed at the garden on a regular basis. Apparently, the children are renowned for eating any strawberries which have been missed during harvesting but the garden members don’t seem to mind.
Our group was made to feel most welcome (coffee and biscuits on arrival) and it was interesting to see how different community gardens operate and how they have evolved to meet community needs in different locations around Sydney.

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Camperdown Common

After leaving Turtle Lane, it was a short walk to Camperdown Oval where we stopped for a short lunch break before proceeding to the Inner-City Pocket City Farm.
Entirely different from Turtle Lane Community Garden, this garden was developed on the site of a former bowling green. It is a large space of 1200m2. The garden was in full production with neat rows of kale, tomatoes, basil, lettuce, capsicum and eggplant to name a few. There is a complex watering system in place as well as all the other infrastructure that you would expect to see in an horticulture farm.
The produce is used to supply the restaurant on site as well as being sold at the farm to the local community. They also have resident chooks that have been rescued from intense chicken farms; they appear to be loving their new home in the inner city. To find such a large place under production in the inner city is remarkable and offers respite from the hectic lifestyle of the Inner West.

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Music for Fun

You’ve probably never heard of Music for Fun
Or if you have, then perhaps decided
It was crazy and impractical
To be involved
with anything musical.

Maybe you were told you couldn’t sing
when you were a lass or a lad
Or the weekly piano lessons meant you suffering
when you would rather surf.
It was all rather sad.

In Music for Fun we sing for joy and don’t worry
If it is not always in tune
For singing together will overcome your need
To fight depression and a chance to commune
with others of the same breed.

We also learn better breathing, consolidate our pitch
and explore the complexities of written scores:
What’s a crotchet? When’s the beat?
And why is it sometimes necessary to pause?
It’s a Magical Mystery Treat.
– Henry Collins (Group Leader)

Discovering Art: Visit to Bundanon

The Art Discovery group, out and about again on Oct 17, uncovered a rare gem – Bundanon, the historic homestead gifted to the nation by artist, Arthur Boyd. A great day – value plus $2.50 South Coast train trip, local bus transfer from Bomaderry to the property and an informative tour of the artist’s home and studio! On display were paintings, sculptures and ceramics crafted not only by Arthur Boyd but by members of his very talented family.
A picnic style lunch and our wanderings through the beautiful gardens and grounds allowed us to experience the iconic landscape that inspired Boyd’s work.
Carol Gabbott

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Harvesting in the Suburbs and Surrounds:The Royal Rehab Productive Garden Putney

On Wednesday 18th October The Harvesters visited The Productive Garden at the Royal Rehab Putney. We were not sure what to expect as this was our first visit to a hospital garden. What an inspirational visit this turned out to be.
Under the care of Royal Rehab Occupational Therapist and now Horticulturalist, Claire (photo) and with the support of staff and volunteers the Garden has become a focus of daily activity and a rewarding experience for the patients as part of their outdoor and physical activity.
The Garden is also involved in an on-going research project on the benefit of Gardening as Therapy.
A particular project is the concept of Soup Day. From the start of the day, patients are involved with harvesting the crop, washing and preparing the vegetables in the kitchen and then producing the freshest most satisfying soup for everyone to share. The soup is a thick nourishing mix of all the freshly harvested crop from the Garden. Soup Day is now a much anticipated day as the time for harvesting the vegetable crops approaches.(photo) The Garden is used by many clinicians with their patients. Occupational, Recreation and Speech therapists along with Psychologists, Physiotherapists and Dieticians who regularly participate in various Garden programs.
The Garden was awarded first place as the Best Community Garden for 2016 at the annual Spring Garden Awards promoted by Ryde City Council.
Anne Sadler

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Beginners French – Speaking French

Voulez-vous parler francais? We are beginners and we do want to speak French.
Luckily we all have a good sense of humour, including the teacher Joan, as we struggle with our verbs, tenses and particularly our rrrr’s. But we are improving every week and sometimes now I’m thinking French, such as in C’est si bon!
Sue MacDonald

Photobook course

Jill McLelland has held a number of successful two-session photobook courses using the website Snapfish. In the first session, she introduces you to Snapfish and, using one of her own books as a basis, takes you through the process of making the photobook. In the second session, she invites former students along who can do a show and tell of their photobooks and other photo objects they have made. It was my privilege to attend the latest course after many years of looking in amazement at others’ books and wishing I knew how to go about it.
Now my husband is the proud owner of his first book of photos while I have put up fridge magnets of my grandson’s wedding. I am waiting for my first book to arrive in the mail.
There are a number of reasons why Jill’s course is so successful. She is a clear and patient teacher who happily shares her own books with her class to illustrate the variety of things you can do. She has also chosen in Snapfish a website that is ideal for beginners with its clear instructions and good prices. We also found it really helpful to hear two former students talk of their experiences creating their books. Lynda Gill had just finished her first book, a photobook in memory of her beloved dog. Her talk was especially helpful when I began my first book. Ross Duker, a 2015 student, showed us what we could achieve as we built our skills with his book on his Patagonia trip. As he used Photobook Australia, we could compare different approaches to photobooks depending on our purpose.
Bronwyn Haddock

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Film Appreciation Group: Two film reviews

Our October session included presentations on films Battle of the Sexes and Victoria and Abdul. Both films elicited mixed opinions from our members, which is all well and good. Heaven forbid a degree of orthodoxy or groupthink with respect to our response to any film!

Battle of the Sexes – Film Review

Set during a time of great social unrest in the early years of the Feminist Revolution, the plot of Battle of the Sexes revolves around 1972-73 real-life events in elite women’s tennis. The issue which sparked the event was pay inequality between champion male and female players. However the stand taken by the women shook the conservative tennis world and challenged male domination in all walks of life.
When US women’s Champ, Billy Jean King, (Emma Stone) led a campaign for better pay for professional women’s tennis players, US tennis promoter Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman) scorned and dismissed their claims. When these women were banned by the US Tennis Association, King and other female players formed their own association, successfully gaining sponsorship and support from business and tennis fans.
Nonetheless the breakaway women’s association was still regarded as something of a joke by the mainstream tennis administration and elsewhere. Enter Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) 59 years old, former tennis champion, a gambler, tennis hustler, jokester and braggart. With the support of the male tennis establishment, Riggs challenged champion women players to a game, claiming that he, a man and therefore naturally stronger and possessing superior abilities, would beat even the best female tennis players. King initially refused to be drawn but Riggs played world women’s champ Margaret Court (Jessica McNamee) and humiliated her. King (aged 29) then took up his challenge and was eventually victorious. These games drew huge television audiences.
The film takes its name from television transmissions of the actual tennis matches between Bobby Riggs and Margaret Court and Riggs and Billy Jean King, games billed as the Battle of the Sexes.
It is a likeable and entertaining film which covers more personal issues in the context of 1970s social milieu – King’s marital infidelity and her lesbian relationship and Riggs’ gambling addiction and troubled marriage.While there are still issues today, it was stunning to be reminded how sexism was so deeply entrenched in the era that insulting, demeaning, inaccurate remarks made publicly about women’s skills and abilities went unchallenged.
My response to the film was overall a positive one. I remember the events well and it gave me the chance to appreciate the advances made in women’s rights. One negative was the actors’ feeble tennis—stand-ins or actual TV footage of the games would have been preferable. Another was the lack of subtlety on marriage equality issues- to make the point a sledgehammer wasn’t necessary.
Cynic that I am, the film caused me to question whether historically, there might have been an agreement between Riggs and King to make the game TV entertainment rather than a serious tennis match – as long as Billy Jean won!
Score: 3 1/2 out of 5.
Zoe Thomas

Victoria and Abdul – Film Review

Stars: Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Tim Pigott-Smith, Eddie Izzard, Adell Akatar.
Director: Stephen Frears.
Writer: Lee Hall
This is the second movie in 20 years in which Judi Dench plays Queen Victoria. And this is the second movie in 20 years in which Queen Victoria played by Judi Dench has a life-enhancing relationship with a man not of her station.
Based on real events – ‘mostly’! Queen Victoria’s first encounter with Abdul Karim, an Indian functionary sent to Britain to present her with a ceremonial coin, are in comedic scenes that lampoon the pomp of her court. The material is broad and funny. The Queen is struck by Abdul’s bearing and handsomeness and soon enough is receiving him in private audiences and having him tutor her in Urdu.
He becomes her Munchi (teacher) and his presence in her life invigorates her. Much to the displeasure of her court, including her son and heir ‘Bertie’ (Edward VII) played with beard and fiercely indignant eyebrows by Eddie Izzard.
You wouldn’t envy the actor who had to play Abdul to her Victoria but Bollywood up-and-comer Ali Fazal gamely accepts the challenge and channels a buoyant charisma that makes it easy to believe that dispirited Victoria could fall for him so hard, platonically speaking.
Dame Judi however, is every bit as good as I’ve heard, perhaps even better. You never catch her playing Victoria for laughs, only as a woman trapped in a failing body. What the screenplay leaves blank, she fills in with her searching eyes, her mixture of curiosity with a lifetime of entitlement.
Paula Cramsie
Score: 3 1/2 out of 5.

Discovering Art: The Archibald exhibition

In September, the Discovering Art group enjoyed their annual guided tour of the exhibition of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prize finalists’ artworks at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. As often happens, the winner of the Archibald prize evoked a variety of responses. Thereafter the group made its way to Elizabeth Street to view the artistic floral arrangements of the David Jones Annual Spring Flower Show where the store’s windows and salons were filled with glorious cascades of roses, orchids and pink blossom.
Jean Singleton-Turner

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Art Appreciation: Talk on Picasso

Janet Fleming gave a wonderful talk to our Art Appreciation group about Picasso recently. She is wearing a shirt which has on it a reproduction of Picasso’s Guernica, painted in 1937.

Jane Fleming talks about PIcasso

Harvesting in the Suburbs and Surrounds

The Harvesters are thoroughly enjoying our vegie garden outings to suburbs where some of us have never been before including Riverwood, Manly Vale and Balgowlah. Mostly we visit community gardens but we have been lucky enough to visit the Wayside Chapel’s rooftop garden and, this week, the historic Kitchen Garden of Vaucluse House where heirloom varieties of vegetables are grown.

It has now become clear to the Harvesters that there are a number of components necessary for a successful organic vegetable garden: a set of guidelines; an enterprising and skilful co-ordinator; an enthusiastic community which benefits from the activity; a very sunny location where garden beds can be built, a protective fence, water tanks to collect rainfall for the watering of plants, compost bins and worm farms, a garden shed to store tools such as shovels, forks, rakes, hoses, fertilisers, potting mix, etc.

Some gardens have only shared plots; others have only individual ‘rented’ plots (Riverwood) while others have both shared and rented plots.

Our October outing (by train and bus returning by ferry) is to the Productive Garden at the Royal Rehab Hospital.
Joan Collins

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Harvesting in the Suburbs and Surrounds: the Kitchen Garden – Vaucluse House

The Harvesters September outing (via train and bus) was to the interesting Kitchen Garden of Vaucluse House (built in 1803). The house was occupied by William Charles Wentworth from 1827. After many years of neglect, 1,580 square metres of the Kitchen Garden was reconstructed in 1999 using the 1840s principles of kitchen garden design, the same water-saving techniques (swales) and even the same kind of vegetables and fruit trees from the nineteenth century.
The kitchen staff accessed the Garden through a wall doorway, down a short pathway and then across the small footbridge to the fenced-in Garden. The fence is fascinating – parts are espaliered fruit trees while other parts are Prickly Pear Cactus (photo) that kept out the kangaroos!
It was a surprise to find the Garden was not fully planted out for Summer harvesting. Garden beds should be rested from time to time but perhaps not so many rested at the same time!
Bamboo name-stakes (photo) identified some of the heirloom vegies, for example, globe artichoke, climbing beans, broccoli (going to seed), collyflower (or as we spell it cauliflower), celtuce lettuce – a Chinese lettuce, pineapples, spinnage (aka spinach) and the now back in vogue kale – 3 different types!
After a picnic lunch on the lawn in front of the house, with its wisteria just starting to bloom along the verandah, some of us walked up to Chapel Street to see Wentworth’s amazing Mausoleum.
Joan Collins

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Shire Sketchers

We are the ShireSketchers. We meet in the Sutherland Library on Thursdays from 10.00 am to 12.00 pm and also locally, outdoors on weekends.
We are pretty excited about our sketching progress.

ShireSketchers at work

Film Appreciation and Discussion: Special Lecture

On August 17th our group was visited by industry expert Peter Williams who gave a wonderful talk on technical developments in the film industry and how these applied to the Australian market. This fabulous talk was accompanied by a PowerPoint Presentation and liberal access to Show and Tell items.
The course of the talk ranged from the early days of film making and projection techniques to our current digital technologies and beyond! Projected technologies of the future defy the imagination! Does the thought of a hologram cinematic experience seem likely? Believe it or not, they’re working on this right now!
Projection rooms of the past included the use of three projectors; two used for alternating reels of film (10 minutes each) plus a spare, just in case! Today’s projection technology entails a tiny cartridge with the capacity to service many screens at the flick of a switch. As you’d imagine, staff numbers have been pared to the bone.
Our group would like to thank Peter publicly for giving us the benefit of his time and experience in the industry. As film lovers, we enjoyed it immensely.
Anita Spinks

Interesting Issues Around Science: Joseph Banks and his Australian Legacy

This morning, as I strolled around my local suburb, I found myself unusually attentive to the many banksias lining the streets. Only yesterday, August 10, Rhonda Daniels from the Australian Plant Society Sutherland Group had come to speak to us about the Joseph Banks Native Plants Reserve in Kareela. It was a fascinating morning.
Rhonda first told us about Sir Joseph Banks who travelled with James Cook to Australia and collected so many of our plants to take back to England. His name has been given to the banksia and some of our suburbs so it was a surprise to learn that the greater part of his career was in fact spent as President of the Royal Society in England and as a patron of many other naturalists, although he maintained an active interest in Australia.
We then learned about the banksia we could expect to find in our area and followed up on the talk by finding some of these in Jill McLelland’s garden at morning tea. That is how I learned that it is easiest to identify different banksia by their leaves, hence Banksia serrata with its serrated leaf and Banksia blechnifolia, named for the fern-like foliage and just coming into bloom in Jill’s garden.
After morning tea, Rhonda told us about the Joseph Banks Native Plants Reserve where her group volunteers. I hope you have already been there but it is certainly worth a return visit as Council has updated the picnic area and the upper paths are accessible to all, including those with mobility problems. She also told us of other free gardens around Sydney that are worth seeing, such as Mt Annan, Sylvan Grove at Picnic Point, the Stony Range Botanic Garden at Dee Why and the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden at St Ives.  I can see many weekends ahead enjoying our local flora.
Bronwyn Haddock

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Discovering Art: A visit to the O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism Exhibition

In August, the Discovering Art group enjoyed a guided tour at the Art Gallery of New South Wales of the O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism exhibition. The work on display featured the iconic art of Georgia O’Keeffe, one of the most significant American painters of the twentieth century, alongside modernist masterpieces by the celebrated and pioneering Australian artists Margaret Preston and Grace Cossington Smith, for each of whom the landscape and a sense of place were a tremendous source of inspiration, their paintings representing distinct modernist visions expressing the identity and culture of their respective nations.

Discovering Art members viewing exhibition

Iconic Preston painting

Interesting Issues Around Science: Ticks: Tall Tales and True

Stephen Doggett’s talk to our group on July 20, Ticks: Tall Tales and True, fascinated, enlightened and entertained us. Stephen first showed us a series of tick photos and we were asked to admire the beauty of the small creature that so many of us dread meeting on our bushwalks. (Incidentally, as well as being an internationally acclaimed Medical Entomologist, Stephen is a prized insect photographer with close to 2,000 published images!) Stephen then enlightened us about their biology, looking at the larval, nymph and adult stages, their habits and interactions with human beings. Along the way, he dispelled many long-held myths. We learned ticks do not drop down on us from trees, but crawl up our legs from their home in the surrounding vegetation.
We were instructed on the current thoughts on how attached ticks should be removed.The new way is to FREEZE the adult ticks with an ether spray like Wart Off , and then leave them to fall off. For larval ticks, you use a cream containing permethrin. Tweezers and thread loops and like methods are OUT, as they cause the tick contents to be discharged into the person’s blood, with the risk of them developing the recently described Mammalian Meat Allergy. MMA can cause life-threatening anaphylaxis. Just imagine the difficulties of ensuring nothing you subsequently ate had any traces of meat and meat products such as gelatine!
Some parts of society have claimed that the paralysis tick, Ixodes holocyclus, can transmit the agent of Lyme disease. However, despite intensive research efforts (many of which Stephen has been part of), there is not one piece of credible evidence that this condition exists in Australia. Stephen did acknowledge, however, that there are other tick diseases that people may be suffering from. He discussed some of these diseases  and also talked about tick paralysis and the range of allergic reactions Australian ticks can produce in humans. Now we want him back to talk on his other life-long passion, Bed Bugs

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Armchair Travellers: an invitation to travel with us

Our Armchair Travellers have been travelling extensively and we have enjoyed sharing their experiences. Below are some of the slides we have seen. I am sure that you will enjoy them too. Our travels have taken us to places such as Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and China, the Silk Road, Central Australia on the Ghan and New Zealand. We have also visited Southern Spain, the Alhambra, Granada, Arizona’s Monument Valley and Bryce Canyon in Utah. We have cruised on the Mediterranean and visited Monte Carlo and Venice.
If you love to travel, either in body or mind, come along and join us this semester and visit Mount Everest, Croatia, Slovenia and Malta.

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Interesting Issues Around Science: MRI: the People, the Science and the Beautiful

It was clear to see from the crowd of people in Jill and Gordon McLelland’s lounge room that there is a lively interest among our members about MRI or at least about the use of MRI for medical purposes. Michael Braun, a research physicist in the field of Magnetic Resonance Imaging from its early days in Australia, satisfied our curiosity. He began his talk by showing us a number of slides illustrating what MRI could show of the human body, even showing the functioning of the heart. He then traced its history and explained to us how it worked. Towards the end of his presentation, he played the sounds of the machine at work and there was a nod around the room at the strange noises while at least one wife whispered:’ Is that really what it is like?’ Michael even illustrated precession to us with a bicycle wheel at our morning tea break.




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