Words are magic. They describe physical objects and environments in a way that we agree is appropriate. For example, we agree that “table” is an appropriate designation for a board on legs. They are also magic because they convey ideas and concepts and provide connections between individuals. They are used to describe feeling, emotions and ideas and can be used to tell stories, sacred and profane, which amuse or closely link groups, families or nations. They convey meaning only to the particular language group otherwise they are just markings on paper. In themselves they may be depicted in beautiful forms. The Muslim cursive script is used as wonderful decoration in mosques and the illustrations of old mediaeval manuscripts are also a delight.
English is rich because it can adapt new concepts and borrow from other languages. The centuries of invasions and migrations of many people and the enforcement of their language gives us Celtic Norse, Norman, and Latin words. This is why we have more than one word for many things so can distinguish different forms, cattle, cows and beef, sheep lamb and mutton, pigs and pork
Foreign words which have no English equivalent are happily incorporated. Ennui (French) and doppelganger (German) are just two examples. German just seems to add to an existing word and so has claim to the longest words in any language. As Mark Twain put it, "Some German words are so long that they have perspective."
Frequently when we see people speaking a foreign language on the news the English subtitles can be read well before the speaker is finished. For example, a thatched cottage is chaumiere in French but casa de campo con techo de paja in Italian. The English seems much more concise. In compensation Italian seems so well suited to the joy of operatic singing.
English has limitations, however. Apparently, Inuit has about 40 words for snow and apparently the Scots have over 400 which I think says much for Scottish weather. However, English has only one word for love, from the trivial to the deepest emotion. I love your new coat and I love my child. This most probably says quite a lot about English speakers!
We are also happy adopting new words. Shakespeare invented many new words still in use. Each year the Macquarie Dictionary incorporates new words and deletes some out of favour. This year a new word was one close to my heart it is Tartle. This means 'the act of hesitating while introducing someone because you've forgotten their name'
A few words to consider.
Fine words butter no parsnips.
The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help. (Ronald Reagan)
It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words, like 'What about lunch?' (A. A. Milne)
Jocelyn "Tartle" Head
President, U3A Clarence
How wonderful it is to hear rain after a drought. The early February rains this year were very welcome, refreshing my just about dead garden and useful for dowsing the Huon fires, a little late but still very well received.
In December 2016 we purchased a new fancy up-to-the-minute sit on mower for our 5 acres. The old one was no longer repairable. It did not owe us anything, we had had it for over 45 years and it was second hand when we bought it. The new one has a timer to tell you how many hours it has been used and after 10 hours you should return it to the supplier for a free service. After 19 months it had been used for just over 4 hours because it had been so dry and no grass grew. In the next two months we used it for another 7 hours because of the spring rains that arrived just in time to destroy the tomato plants I had just put in. Such is life!
Recent widespread drought made life unbelievably hard for rural farmers (putting my moans to shame) and in part led to the devastating fish loss on the Darling. However the recent record floods have caused havoc, much stock loss and people facing the destruction of their possessions and having to clean out muddy homes. So as humans and Australians we have conflicting views of the joy of the welcome essential rain and the awe of the devastation of too much too quickly.
Rain can be enjoyed though. In wetter places in the world there is always a line of different sized wellington boots at the door and rain gear and umbrellas’ waiting in the hallway; well protected walking in the rain can be quite entrancing. I am sure dog owners often secretly like walking their dogs in the rain as long as they get out of the way when the dog shakes itself on returning home.
We are all fascinated by water, as children puddles are irresistible. In the heat of summer the hose or fountains or a pool attract us. Very often we are fascinated by a good strong downpour providing we are inside looking out. I have friends who enjoy rainy days because it gives them the opportunity to do lots of baking. I enjoy them because it is a good excuse to snuggle up with a good book
My most memorable rain memory is driving home down Acton Road in the pouring rain with thousands of tiny new frogs hopping across the road it was impossible to miss them all. I still would not believe it could have happened but my husband was with me and he also remembers it.
Behind every cloud there is a silver lining we are told. Does this means that behind every silver lining there is a thunderous dark cloud waiting to dump on us? If so we should make sure we have our umbrella close at hand even on the most supreme sunny days, just in case.
We have beautiful bad weather here at present –rain, wind thunder- but with splendid effects; that’s why I like it.
Vincent Van Gough
I hope we all have splendid rainy weather but not until we are inside Rosny Library!
I can clearly remember the day when, aged 4, I fell into a pond. I can remember the blue sky looking up, how my feet slipped on slimy leaves and I fell repeatedly in trying to get up. It is as though I were still there. Yet it is over 70 years ago and I have not thought about it for over 40 years until my sister recently asked about this often repeated family story from before she was born.
I have a friend who has a complete visual memory of the physical details of her classroom on her first day of school. I can only remember that on this long awaited day (when I knew I would be grown up) that the girl next to me was in tears and I could not understand why. I have no other memory of that day at all.
It is amazing that a collection of atoms form into brain neurons which in some way imprint and contain our memories. The actual process is not understood and when it is discovered it may increase our sense of wonder rather than diminish the mystery.
The brain which (in most cases) could be held inside two hands enables us to learn to dance and sing, remember complex musical arrangements and an enormous variety of combinations of all three. In addition we are able to contemplate the extremely small but still to lift our gaze to the vastness of space (which makes my head hurt). Please don’t talk about quantum mechanics!
“Memory is the mother of all wisdom” Aeschylus (525-455 BC)
One of the beauties of our memory is that it can fade. PTSD sufferers long for forgetfulness, to relieve them from the constant mental re-enactment of their trauma.
Forgetting also means we can learn the same thing over and over as though it was new. I just wish my forgetting did not include the inability to remember names which is more distressing to me than forgetting my keys!
To me all learning includes a remembering of old things which the new can refresh and enlarge.
Three quotes again from Aeschylus sum up the joy of learning for me “Even the old should learn”, “To learn is to be young forever.” and “Learning is ever in the freshness of its youth, even for the old”.
So bring your razor sharp or very foggy memory to U3A in Term1 2019. There is sure to be something to interest you in our new program.
President’s Message June 2018
Old Age is the most unexpected thing that can happen to anyone
This is so true. I was at a family gathering recently and was amazed that the little tots I remember are now handsome and beautiful teenagers. How did that happen? I used to feel sorry for my grandparents sitting quietly in a corner and seemingly missing out on all the chat. Now I really enjoy sitting in the corner and keeping an eye on all the activity.
When I married I could not imagine being 30 let alone over 70. We just cannot comprehend that this will happens. All of us look at our friends or partners and the mirror and are amazed at the changes which have crept over us all. However, no one told me that it is possible to enjoy older age so much. Of course we are a bit creaky but we can truly enjoy a new baby’s laughter and a toddler’s unfailing energy at play. We fully appreciate the passing seasons and the beautiful views we have in Tasmania.
As teenagers we worried about personal characteristics we considered as shortcomings without realizing our young perfection. Now I understand that my friends with their experience imprinted faces are truly beautiful. Teenagers and babies are exquisitely ravishing beyond description.
Another advantage is that people help you. At 50 we become invisible (women especially) in queues. Now as elders we often receive attention and help.
Don’t give up your dreams
Just sleep longer
We have arranged two conducted tours of TMAG’s special collections. I can recommend their café for morning tea and they have fabulous sandwiches. There will be booking sheets for names and more details on the notice board in Room 6. Cost is $5.
Thursday July 5th 10.30 to 11.30 Colonial History Galleries
Thursday July 19th10.30 to 11.30 Tasmanian Earth and Life, Thylacine, Islands to Ice
As a coincidence, there is also a special exhibition of the work of Lola Green, the first Aboriginal to be named a National Living Treasure. She is a shell necklace artist and exhibits the traditional art of indigenous women of Tasmania’s Flinders Island and Cape Barren. Well worth a diversion at the end of your tour.
Thursday August 9 at the Howrah Recreational Centre 1-3pm. This is always a fun event and a pleasant afternoon tea. Cost will still be $10.
Proudly supported by Clarence City Council’s Community Grants Scheme
Clarence City Council has given us a generous Community Grant to offset some of the costs of publication of our Anniversary Booklet. This will allow us to sell the booklet for $10.
You have until 30 June to submit your pithy paragraph, pertinent poem or piece of punchy prose to be included. Email contributions to Patricia Corby email@example.com A box for entries is on the table in room 6. Details are on our notice board in room 6.
A helping hand
Everyone needs a helping hand sometimes. Babies, of course, need constant care. As we grow we pride ourselves on our competence and independence but still help is welcomed at times (including old ladies being helped across the street by boy scouts, even if they don’t want to go!)
There is an Arab saying to the following effect: “Do not thank me for the assistance or gift I give you, instead do a favour for 7 other people.” The size of the assistance is immaterial; it is expected to be in line with the resources of the giver and the need of the recipient. Thus it may be a pat on the back for commiseration, helping carry a parcel or a major undertaking on the assister’s behalf. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we could all follow this proverb?
Members of U3A contribute to our organisation as members or past members of the committee, part of the set up crew, washer uppers and morning tea volunteers and in many other ways. This year we seem to have a small army of people helping with the anniversary celebrations in some way or another.
Many of our members also volunteer for charitable organisations or are on committees for other organisations. Of course many of us care for older or sick family members. We often assist our children to bring up our grandchildren and give them our support where possible.
Sometimes all the help needed is a sympathetic smile, a listening ear, a hug or offering the help we are able to give. We respect their refusal of help accepting that this may not be what is needed.
The good wishes of friends and acquaintances can be a good support. When I was ill last year our Committee did most of my work for months. But I was surprised by the boost that the good wishes of all of you made to my getting through the days.
I joined U3A for the lectures and activities and still that is the prime reason I attend, but I am proud to be a colleague of such caring and helpful people as we have in our membership.
Honorary President of U3A Clarence
Welcome back to our Summer Term 2018
U3A Clarence has been providing quality lectures and other activities to Clarence residents and beyond since 1993. This year we celebrate our 25th anniversary in October.
I wonder if the small group who initiated our organisation realised how successful it would be and that it would grow to well over 300 members. Truly from small things large things grow (to coin a phrase!).
On the theme of growing, it is apparently possible to grow new brain cell whatever age we are. Learning something new or enjoying new activities is apparently all it takes.
This is just as well. I seem to have lost quite a few as I can tell from the time I spend wandering from room to room looking for something I have just put down.
So while we are sitting in lectures, learning new routines in line dancing, scheming new strategies in Mah Jong or drawing a new scene we can perhaps, if we try really hard, feel our brains expanding. I doubt it but it is an amusing thought.
Information about current activities and courses for this term can be found in the Newsletter on this website. Once again our course programmer, Carol Rossendell and our volunteer Tutors have provided an exciting program. My only difficulty is that there is almost always more than one lecture or event, which I would like to attend, at the same time spot. It requires much brain cell activity on my part to choose one.
You may just take one activity each term or three on each morning of Monday and Wednesday. It is entirely up to you depending, upon your interest and available time.
Another aspect of a healthy brain at any age is to have a good social circle. We join together at 10.30 am for a cup of tea or coffee in room 6 at the library where lectures are held. Here we can discus ideas raised in our lectures or just chat with old or new friends. I look forward to seeing you there
I welcome both continuing and new members
President U3A Clarence