Archive | December, 2011

Anyone for a New Year’s Resolution?

31 Dec

How times have changed! When I was young, New Year’s resolutions were an important event, thought about with real earnest, and made with all good intentions!

Nowadays, people I know seem to pay scant attention to this once-vaulted aspect of New Year! Is everyone self-satisfied, or conversely, do they think it’s an exercise in futility?

This year, I’ve decided to break new ground by making a resolution that isn’t steeped in deprivation. No. This time, I’ve decided to take quite a different tack.

My resolution? To enjoy life more! To relish all the good things: inspiring music, literature, art and the like, as well as those soul-fulfilling happiness like sunshine, fresh air, natural beauty, and great company.

Out with the old ideas of giving up something, or stressing out by trying to break an ingrained habit! I’ll leave that for someone else, that is, if anyone still tries the traditional route.

Happy New Year!

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Holiday at Home!

28 Dec

Who says you need to travel to have a holiday?

I’m having a great time here at home, just doing all the things I enjoy. Like swimming  at high tide in the river nearby; later, strolling along the promenade. seeing all the friendly faces of people and their canines who are likewise engaged; and watching the river-life go by.

If I’m really lucky, I may even spot a pelican landing. Rare, yes, but just a few days ago, one landed with enviable ease on a pole in the river. How I wished I’d brought along a high-grade zoom lens camera!

With swallows, ducks, magpies, cockatoos and noisy miners around to name but a handful, there’s plenty for bird-fanciers to admire and enjoy.

And, at last, some sunshine in Sydney! What more could I ask for?

Happy holidays!

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More from Sydney, Australia!

22 Dec

I have a penchant for noticing unusual events, so I can’t resist pointing these out.

I suppose everyone from our part of the world knows that today is the longest day.  The weather in Sydney has been so mild that it seems like summer is slipping away, bereft of the hot, sunny days that seem to typify it. The turning point has arrived, yet how many Sydney siders have really grasped it?

Strange,too, is the tide at Fort Denison, Sydney. Low tide is predicted tonight at -wait for it- exactly mid-night, Eastern Standard time. “Well, you’re on Daylight Saving Time,” you might be saying. Fair enough, but still, it’s a very rare event indeed to have this tidal prediction.

All this, and Christmas Day is just a few sleeps away!

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It’s Christmas!

20 Dec

Mother nature has sent us a reminder that it’s Christmas-time here in Australia.

The Christmas bush has coloured up, its rustic orange-red flower-shaped bundles are out. Not just in the native bushland. No. Many old homes have lovely specimens growing in their gardens.

We are very lucky, Ron and I, since we have a showy, Christmas display in our front garden. Every year, a very old, stunted tree planted long before my time, rises to the occasion and rewards our neighbourhood with its symbol of Yuletide.

And more! Our side passage is graced by several, equally old but much larger trees. Doubtless, many passer-byes catch more than a glimpse of its cheerful colour.

Merry Christmas!

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Want to Save Some Money?

8 Dec

Have you just perused your bank statements, and decided that thrift is the order of the day? Or, have you set yourself a goal: a target such as an overseas holiday, a wedding, renovations or whatever?

Whatever your answer, it’s always a good idea to have something put aside for a rainy day, or as a storehouse for a worthwhile treat. But it’s often hard to summon the discipline needed to save.

Everyone is different, so everyone needs to carry out their own financial analysis and determine where savings are possible, and feasible, without sacrificing too much quality of life. After all, one can live a spartan existence, but if it makes you miserable, then, what’s the point?

To be worthwhile, saving needs to carefully thought through, to strike the right balance between cost-cutting and lifestyle sacrifice.

Maybe you eat out a lot, and this can be quite a drain on finances. If time is at a premium, the answer may be to prepare some meals such as casseroles that freeze well when you’re at leisure, and just re-heat them for a quick, easy dinner when you’re at home.

Another big area for saving is clothes. Never buy more than you need for a season or two, since fashions can change quickly, and so can your size. What’s more depressing than a bulging wardrobe full of expensive items you no longer want? A massive credit-card bill?

Outings, too, can be accommodated to fit your savings goals. Consider the cost of, say, a picnic in the park or a day at the beach compared to that of hours spent in an amusement park.

Consider, too, the cost per year of all the little things that you do. Three or four or five dollars might not seem much, but multiply it by a hundred or so and it really matters.

Effective savings is really a way of thinking and assessing your wants and needs against your commitments and longer-term goals. Determining the balance and the ways of achieving success  is just the first part. Commitment and determination is the cornerstone.

Good luck!

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Books versus Movies

7 Dec

I’m in the middle of re-reading Jane Austen’s classic, Pride and Prejudice, and I’m struck by how much insight we can gain through the written word.

For instance, did any viewers of the movie-length television series realise how much Elizabeth rebuked herself upon the discovery of the true character of Mister Wickham? Without question, readers of the original text are made very aware of her uneasiness as she perceived her own interpretation of the character of both Darcy and Wickham to be seriously flawed; that her own prejudices had caused her errors of judgement. However, viewers are, probably by necessity, far less aware of her internal turmoil on this issue.

Therein, a critical advantage of books is illustrated. Reading enables us to be vividly aware of the thoughts and motivations of characters, which  enriches our appreciation of  both the people and the plot. Surely, this scores  more than a point for books?

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