Lockdown Life

Since we have returned to “normal” life, after our adventures, we have been in lockdown with the rest of Melbourne and Victoria. My husband misses his weekly golf games with his mates and looks forward to when he can do that again. I am quite happy and occupied at home. We are both fully vaccinated.

Images during lockdown life 2021

These are some of the things I have been doing:

  • Family History Research

After decades of saving bits of information, stories, and photographs, I am finally compiling it all and see an end in sight. A bonus has been the remote access to the Ancestry Database. This has allowed me to fill in lots of gaps and extend my tree.

So far, I have found 22 ships that our ancestors arrived on, mostly from England, Ireland, and Scotland, one American, and one German. Three convicts on my side and one convict on my husband’s side.

Some of the ships my ancestors arrived on emigrating to Australia

I have one mystery that I cannot solve, and he is a key ancestor. I have found him in England and found him in Australia, but I don’t know when he arrived exactly somewhere between 1851 and August 1853. Perhaps there is a major misspelling somewhere that has not translated well into the digital files.

The excellent course I completed online through Future Learn has added a richer dimension to my research. I know what I am doing. Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree, Future Learn UK.

  • Exercise
    • Walking within the five-kilometre restriction. This can include a solid upward walk with views of the bay. Logging these on Strava gives an added interest.
    • Cycling along the foreshore track now and then.
    • Unfortunately swimming at the local pool is not allowed at the moment. We look forward to when we can go back there regularly.
  • Creating
    • I finished an oil painting that I had on my easel for too long. Marg’s elephant at Salvia Court. And started a new painting.
    • Cooking lots of yummy food that we then have to share between the two of us. Cheesecake, Lemon Meringue Pie, Apricot Sour Cream Tart. Practicing for when our family can get together once again.
    • I practice playing my piano occasionally.
  • Media consumption
    • Reading The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes. His interpretation of those early years offers only stories of flawed humans, on all sides of the equation, trying to survive on this Earth. There are no heroes in this tale.

Stories from Mick & Sue’s Aussie Adventure

Mick and I set out on our exploration of Australia in December 2019 and visited all states except for the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania. During this time when the pandemic caused havoc around the world, we hopped borders when we could. After seventeen months living in our caravan we were ready to head home.

Here are the stories from our adventure.

2020 Year in Review – The Year of the Virus

The year of 2020 was great for me and my husband! Despite it being The Year of the Virus, we were able to do what we set out to do. It was to be our Gap Year and a year to travel Australia with our home-on-wheels.

In 2019 we sold our house, bought a caravan, left our jobs, and put all of our possessions into storage.

Our loose plan was to do the Big Lap of Australia in a figure of 8 route. First travelling west to Western Australia (WA), then north up the west coast to Broome, then east across to Darwin, then south down through the centre, to the Flinders Ranges in South Australia (SA), then home to the Mornington Peninsula for Christmas with the family. Then up the east coast into New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland (QLD).

Trip Plan A

So, although not quite retirement age, we decided the time was right. We wanted to be able to do all of those epic walks before we are too old.

We set off at the beginning of December in 2019. Pre-pandemic we had a nice time exploring the coastline from Melbourne to Perth, as well as the southern Goldfields of WA. In March 2020 we were in the desert of WA north of Perth when the first lockdown occurred, and the borders were closed. We dashed back across the Nullarbor Plain, back to regional Victoria where we spent three months parked on a relative’s farm still living in our caravan.

So, Plan A was scrapped, and Plan B became a creative exercise in random serendipity. We went where we could, crossing borders when allowed, staying put when there were no options. We went to places we had not planned to go.

The Northern Tip of Australia – Cape York Peninsula QLD

We explored, camped, swam, walked, watched wildlife, snorkeled, went out to the Great Barrier Reef, and watched sunsets, sunrises, and stars. It was hot and we loved it. We lived in shorts and t-shirts and thongs. We drank beer, made new friends, and didn’t have to wear a mask until we returned to Victoria in December. We were lucky and we knew it.

I read less because I was travelling, exploring, walking, taking photos, sketching, and writing the travel blog. The books I did read were random and not worth mentioning, chosen from caravan parks, book exchanges, op shops, or an eBook borrowed from my local library then downloaded onto my iPad. I did buy a couple of books from book shops.

I was happy that my travel articles were regularly picked up by the online newsletter Camping News. And this validated my writing pursuit that I hope I can develop into a professional job.

Of course, we missed our family and friends and felt very sympathetic during the long hard second lockdown in Melbourne and Victoria.

Trip Plan B – Actual trip 2020

We spent 373 days travelling 41,175 kilometres of Australia. We stayed in 80 caravan parks, 20 of which were free camps. We visited every state except for Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.

We had a great adventure in 2020.

Searching for Phosphorescence

Phosphorescence by Julia Baird explores ideas around the things that can lift us when life gets us down.

She begins poetically with the enchanting existence of phosphorescence in the natural world. I loved her descriptions of lit-up underwater creatures and this drew me in.

Julia goes on to talk about people who seek the deeper beauty that exists in this world: storm-chasers, divers, forest bathers, silence seekers, tree huggers, cloud appreciators. I relate to these ideas as here she validates my own deeper yearnings and life pursuits.

With my smartphone handy I enjoyed looking up more information about the people and ideas Julia mentions: Nick Moir, Robert Hoge, and others.

Julia touches on feminism and her own indecision about using her hard-earned title of ‘Dr.’. Her ideas on ‘lookism’ I appreciate and needs more exploration generally.

My interest waned a little when she discusses religion but given where she was in her own precarious battle with cancer, I understand.

Returning to the initial ideas of searching for phosphorescence in the underwater world was a nice way to close the book and reignited my own sense of wonder.

Books read in 2019

I read 26 books this year of my personal challenge of 50 books. Of those 18 are fiction and 8 are non-fiction. Books Read 2019-12-27 103509

These are the books that I read and enjoyed in 2019 with my rating – three I rated 5 star:

  1. The 5AM Club by Robin Sharma – Fiction – 4 stars
  2. The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay – Fiction – 4 stars
  3. The Library Book by Susan Orlean – Non-Fiction – 5 stars
  4. The Greenprint by Marco Borges – Non-Fiction – 4 stars
  5. Attitudes of Gratitude by M.J. Ryan – Non-Fiction – 3 stars
  6. Wormwood Mire by Judith Russell – Junior Fiction – 4 stars
  7. Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion – Fiction – 3 stars
  8. The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris – Fiction – 5 stars
  9. The Book of Dreams by Nina George – Fiction – 3 stars
  10. My Life After Death by Erik Medhus – Non-Fiction – 2 stars
  11. Wanderlust by Jeff Krasno – Non-Fiction – 3 stars
  12. Vanlife Diaries by Kathleen Morton – Non-Fiction – 2 stars
  13. State of Fear by Tim Ayliffe – Fiction – 3 stars
  14. Writing Your Life by Patti Miller – Non-Fiction – 5 stars
  15. Artemis by Andyd Weir – Fiction – 3 stars
  16. City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert – Fiction – 4 stars
  17. Eucalyptus by Murray Bail – Fiction – 4 stars
  18. Everything is F*cked by Mark Manson – Non-Fiction – 4 stars
  19. The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland – Fiction – 4 stars
  20. The Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva – Fiction – 3 stars
  21. The English Girl by Daniel Silva – Fiction – 3 stars
  22. Bruny by Heather Rose – Fiction – 4 stars
  23. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd – Fiction – 4 stars
  24. Homeland by Barbara Kingsolver – Fiction – 3 stars
  25. The End of the Ocean by Maja Lunde – Fiction – 3 stars
  26. The Night Ferry by Michael Robotham – Fiction – 3 stars

I am yet to reach my goal of 50 books in one year. Here is my record from Goodreads over the past few years:

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Writing Practice

Since leaving my full-time job, I have been concentrating on improving my writing skills.

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Here is the list of resources that I have worked through so far:

My aim from this self-initiated writing course is to improve my writing skill in order to write the first draft of a novel by the end of 2020. I have my idea, characters, location, era, and plot. I have done some research and now I just need to get it out of my head and onto the page.

Retired Life

So what have I been doing since I left Library Land?

It is amazing how fast each day goes by and I fill the days with things I love to do. Such as writing, cycling, walking, knitting, sketching, playing my piano, reading, listening to music and podcasts, taking photographs, yoga, making healthy plant-based meals, and more. #retiredlife

retired_life_activities

What is a Library?

The father of library science, Dr. S. R. Ranganathan, defines the term ‘library’:

“A library is a public institution or establishment charged with the care of a collection of books and the duty of making them accessible to those who require to use them and the task of converting every person in its neighbourhood into a habitual library goer and a regular reader.”

Oxford defines a ‘library’:

“A building or room containing collections of books, periodicals, and sometimes films and recorded music for the use or borrowing by the public or the members of an institution.”

Cambridge definition:

“A building, room, or organization that has a collection, especially of books for people to read or borrow, usually without payment.”

Wikipedia definition:

“A library is a curated collection of sources of information and similar resources, selected by experts and made accessible to a defined community for reference or borrowing. It provides physical or digital access to material and may be a physical location or a virtual space, or both.”

Nowhere are the words ‘programs’, ‘events’, ‘performance’, ‘show’, or ‘hub’ mentioned.

It is a sad day when a library collection is being arbitrarily shoved aside to make room for random artists to show-off. And these significant decisions are being made not by ‘experts’. Not by Library Professionals. Not by the people who are educated and qualified and comprehensively appreciate the importance of a properly functioning library with an appropriately curated collection.

A Library is not a hall, or a meeting place, or an auditorium. It is not a place where individuals ‘perform’. That is a different place: maybe an Arts Centre, or a public hall.

In trying to reinvent themselves to assure a slice of public funding, public libraries have done a disservice in trying to be all things to all people. Basic storytime has morphed into miked-up performance to a large crowd expecting a ‘show’. While you can’t deny the popularity of storytime sessions in every public library across the nation, it has raised the expectation to put on a show for every single event, week, cause, and celebration.

Science Week becomes an opportunity for a Science Show complete with explosions. Children’s Book Week invites character dress-ups, but also another “show” based on the theme.

These examples are relevant in the library space, but now “they” expect this every week for every random idea or theme. Libraries exist on the premise of inclusivity. But where are the ‘collections’ in all of this? Where are the books? Where are the spaces for investigation, learning, study, and contemplation? Where is the avenue for the Self-Initiated Lifelong Learning Experiences?

I don’t believe all people are lazy and mindless and willing to sit back and be delivered an idea through a performance. All people are creative and wish to activate their own thing.

I believe libraries need to focus on the very core definition of a ‘library’ in order to reinvent themselves, and not accept the current coercion that reduces the library to a day centre, performance space, community hub, and marketing opportunity.

I am a book lover and perpetually curious about this life. I love to read and investigate. I can do some of that online, but I also like to delve into a physical book, being unplugged, sitting under a tree, holding the book in my hand, turning the pages, absorbed in the unfolding story. This story inevitably leads to further investigation and more reading resources as I delve and learn further.

Public libraries need help from everyone as public funds are being redirected and usurped into other areas by people not qualified, or educated to understand the elemental and crucial function of a ‘Library’. If there are no books, regardless of the format, it is NOT a library!

Me and many other Library Professionals like me have worked hard and conscientiously for libraries for many years, but I fear that public libraries won’t be there when I am retired and looking for a good book to borrow.

Public Libraries RIP.

 

Leaving Library Land

After 24 years in the industry I have left the Land of Libraries. It has been a busy, interesting, and rewarding time that has passed by in the blink of an eye.

Back in 1996 when I began my first job in a public library there were still card catalogues about. The automated library system used DOS and I remember using the keyboard prompts to operate the green cursor on the black screen. The World Wide Web was just emerging and Hotmail soon became the wonder of communication. Mobile devices were still a long way off. Social Media and ebooks were not things yet.

Now Google is the place everyone goes to for information; not a book in a library. Amazon is where people go to buy books either in print or as an ebook. We all carry our computers in our pockets for 24 hour connection. We go to iTunes for music, Netflix for movies and TV, and news is sent to us.

I have done everything in libraries: helping customers, handling the books, system administration, website design, reports to local and state government, presenting to groups large and small, social media, photo setups, organizing events, author talks, book launches, trivia nights, school holiday activities, budget management, recruitment, staff management, moving large collections, cataloguing, buying shelving and furniture, making ads, videos, and promotions, and much more.

My career highlights have been:

  • Involvement with the IFLA Global Vision
  • Involvement with the Victoria’s Libraries 2030 strategies
  • Library Manager at a regional library service
  • Presenting at a School Libraries Association of Victoria Conference
  • Presenting at a Red Cross Conference
  • Being involved with the Public Libraries Victoria LibMark Special Interest Group and helping to organise and deliver the Annual Conference.

I have worked with some great people and excellent teams. I have also worked with some less than satisfactory people and poorly functioning teams. It has been a profound learning journey that has been satisfying intellectually and ethically. This work gives back to the local community and is appreciated every day.

For me it is the perfect time to step away. I feel the continuing decline of public libraries and wonder how long they will operate on goodwill. For me a “community hub” is a poor replacement for what was a Library. My soul feels the affront.

On my first day away from the industry I was surprised to feel that at heart I remain a Designer. This was my first love, first pursuit, and I have dabbled over the years as a hobbyist. But I also applied the design thinking, creativity, project management and problem solving skills to all that I did in my work in libraries.

Reflections of 2018

Once again, prompted by Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Non-Conformity, I look back on the past year to recall what went well and what didn’t go so well.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8651

What went well:

  • My days that I spend with my granddaughter are filled with exploration, discovery and fun. We walk, read, swim, play, tumble, ‘cook’, sing, draw, and play the piano.
  • Our new granddaughter arrived in November and the calm I feel when I just sit and hold a baby is so full of love and peace.
  • A warm holiday in the sun at Noosa with my husband, where we caught up with family.
  • The 2Cellos concert in Melbourne.
  • MOMA exhibition at the NGV with my daughter.
  • Returned to Portland for the launch of their refurbished library. Caught up with colleagues and friends. Remembered how far it is to drive there!
  • Netflix
    • Secret City
    • The 100
    • The Bodyguard
    • The Killing
    • Line of Duty
    • Animal Kingdom
    • Lots of others
  • Books read
  • Podcast favourites
  • Author Talks that I organized as part of my work at Frankston – the highlights:
  • Completed the Branching Out Certificate with the State Library Victoria.
  • Local champion for the Libraries Change Lives campaign and attended the launch at North Fitzroy Library in September.
  • Finished my personal Family History Scrapbook.
  • Continue to enjoy retreating to my house, surrounded by native birds, I feel like I live in a bird aviary. The sea breezes carry the sounds of the sea to blend with the birdsong.
  • Playing my piano.
  • The team of people I work with are supportive and dedicated.
  • The recruiting process for new staff is an experience I enjoy, especially when the results are beyond expectation.

What didn’t go so well:

  • Work continues to be unstable, changeable, and challenging. This is partly due to the changing nature of public libraries and how people consume media. Also state and local government priorities change in response to community needs.
  • I have little free time due to work commitments and the daily commute.
  • I have not exercised enough.
  • Road cycling is not something I do much of now.
  • I had several Basal Cell Carcinomas removed from my neck.
  • A winter cold resulted in a persistent cough that has been hard to shake.
  • I have not done enough yoga, meditation, or walking.