Category 1 – A Memorable Happening First Marianne Camplin-Campbell Westlakes Seniors Computer Club “Severed Bond” Severed Bond The Judge’s decision was final; it took a week to make The little girl I thought was mine, away from me he’ll take. I’ve known her now for eight short years and tried to do my best To bring her up without her Dad, doing work with little rest. She was all I had to love and her father knowing this Plotted with his new wife on a plan that could not miss. The facts were, they were married and could surely offer more Than a woman who was single and was little more than poor. They pleaded with the Judge that her future was secure, With her in their possession, her emotions they could cure. So with promises of love, security and wealth, The Judge made his decision “It is better for her health To live within a family and to have the finer things, Than just a mother’s love and dreams, what could they ever bring?” So my days are now so empty for the child I gave in birth Knows someone else as “mother”, my life has little worth. But one thing they’ll not take from me, are my dreams of later years When my daughter will be with me and we’ll have no time for tears. But now the years have come and gone, my time is running out My little girl is now grown up, her thoughts are filled with doubt, Her hatred has consumed her life and swears she’ll never be The daughter I have longed for and swears I’ll never see. Her children she has raised herself and kept them from the truth Of ever knowing their Grandpa and never knowing me. Now over forty years have passed and yet the dreams remain Where my little girl is still a child and where I still have pain I wonder when my life is gone and in the great beyond If I’ll be given one more chance to hold her once again. Written by Marianne Camplin-Campbell Category 2 What learning to use a computer has meant to me First Connie Vallis Computer Pals for Seniors The Hills Bridge or attempt a parachute jump or anything quite that easy. Instead I accepted a real challenge. With the need to upgrade my five year old computer, I bravely enrolled in a ‘Build your own Computer Course’ at Computer Pals – The Hills, where I am a foundation member and trainer of fundamentals. Computers are such fun. They occupy a huge part of my life. So with much excitement I went ahead and built my own, finding the whole experience wonderfully rewarding. Under the expert guidance of my tutor, Ken, slowly the mysteries of what makes this marvellous machine perform, magically began to unravel. Enthusiastically I learned the real need for a motherboard and all its clever peripheral input and output devices. And a circuit board too, and a CPU, the absolute brain of all computers. And I’m less ignorant of important terminologies like R.A.M., hard drives, storage devices, Floppy and CD drives etc. etc. etc. Thankfully I now have a much better understanding of all these things, many of which were previously a mystery. I soon discovered them to be real objects, patiently waiting for me to install them. Yes...me, seventy six year old mother of four and granny of eleven. I had bravely taken the plunge to piece together this technological jigsaw. I remember thinking to myself as I worked away, was it just ten years ago that my biggest computer challenge was correctly turning my machine on or off, frequently clicking on the wrong thing and fearful of what to do next? And what about all that confusing jargon such as screen savers, Icons, menu bars, fonts, clipboards and taskbars etc. etc. Yes...yes...it was all so daunting. But not now! Not anymore. Now at last I can begin to think that finally I am computer literate. Confidently able to converse with the so called experts. T his year I celebrated my birthday by doing something special, something unique. No...no, I didn’t paddle a canoe around Sydney Harbour, or climb the My new PC and I are really compatible. Able to perform many remarkable feats. We create interesting letters, enhance download beautiful music and speak to and from right here in the comfort of home. So get with it folks and buy a computer. your own. It really is so much fun. If I can do it, so can you. The End special photos, explore the world, Or better still – build Category 3 First I Wish ….. Joan Stott Computer Pals for Seniors Ku-ring-gai I am relaxing in my garden under the branches of the large silky oak tree. The petals of the magnolia tree float gently to the ground. A cheeky magpie comes closer, melodiously asking for permission to dig in the grass, a few chattering lorikeets are feeding in the Camellia bush and some noisy cockatoos argue in the gum trees. I close my eyes and wish - if only in my dreams- to visit again my childhood garden of happy memories. It was an ordinary, English, suburban backyard with a neat square lawn, surrounded a border of flowers. Honeysuckle and sweet peas covered the timber fences. Snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils welcomed the spring, and then the roses came into bloom. “Take these to your Aunt.” Uncle would say. Flowers for the house. It was a wartime ‘Dig for Victory’ garden with row after row of home grown vegetables. “Put your Wellingtons on,” Auntie would order, “if you’re going down there.” Where was Uncle? Probably in his greenhouse pinching off the young shoots that were growing between the stems of his tomato plants. He would scratch my name on the young cucumbers and marrows so that I could watch it grow larger and larger. Sometimes we would sit and shell peas. I was the potato-picker, the thinner-out of the carrots, radishes and young onions, the puller- up of lettuce and cabbage even with the wriggling caterpillars still on. There was a plum tree, a pear tree and a Cox’s Orange Pippin and a Pease-good-nun-such cooking apple tree. “Take these to your Aunt.” Uncle would say, filling my basket with apples. Apple pie for tea (with custard). There were raspberries and gooseberries and red and black currants. Summer pudding for tea. Sometimes he would be resting in his chair, smoking a cigarette. “Shhh!” he would motion, finger to his lips. We would sit in silence and watch the birds searching for the poor defenseless worms in the newly-dug soil. I was his apprentice gardener. Why is that Kookaburra laughing? Does he know it is only a dream? 2007 ASCCA Creative Writing Competition Major Section – A Portfolio First Place Les Langston Carrington Computer Club for Seniors Category 1: “An Outback Adventure” Category 2: “Challenges, Challenges, Challenges!” Category 3: “Dreams!” An Outback Adventure Our Big adventure was to explore the middle and upper gorge of Lawn Hill Gorge National Park, north-western Queensland, by hired flat bottomed canoe. because we had never before “driven” a canoe in our combined 150 years. Big; I, and my wife June, successfully paddled the middle gorge, then man-handled our heavy conveyance up a man-made portage and into the upper gorge, at the narrow two metre high Indarra Falls. Ahead lay a narrow passage, between a falls-bent laminate of racing water and a closely packed canopy of Pandanus palms. Mindful of the nearby falls, without my knowledge, June paddled vigorously, unintentionally driving directly into the water hugging Pandanus branches ahead. Knowing of their needle-like spines, she instantly leaned sharply to the left. As I looked up from gear stowing, I noted the Pandanus in attack mode, just as we rolled left and capsized. Imagine this scenario; one moment seated reassuringly in our fibreglass container and the next moment, floundering frighteningly under water. Humorous in retrospect, but at that instant, I wasn’t laughing! Instinct, assisted by a trusty life vest, obviously took control as I rapidly resurfaced, albeit spluttering and gasping. Fine; my head’s above water, but where the hell is June? Was she entangled below in Pandanus roots? Had she been carried downstream, possibly trapped within the falls; or even floating the preceding gorge? If so, how capable was I of rescuing her? Then with intense relief I saw an arm clawing up the side of the upturned canoe – she had emerged beneath it! That’s when adrenalin took over! How I raised that canoe while treading water; how I dragged June clear and dog-paddled her to relative safety; how I managed to re-float the canoe, still treading water; is all far beyond my comprehension. Given a potential tragedy, my ability to evaluate the situation with objectivity, sans neither panic nor fear, is nothing short of amazing. In fact, unbelievable! Fortunately, two couples arrived and assumed command of our situation. Satisfied we were unharmed, they placed the canoe back into the middle gorge and put us aboard, from whence we retuned safely, but drenched, to camp. Should septuagenarian grey nomads be so adventurous? I still believe so, despite the possibility of what may well have proved a fatal experience. But it put paid to further thoughts of canoeing! Challenges, Challenges, Challenges! A year or so prior to retirement, my employer installed an early version personal computer with the comment “take the manuals home and have a read Les, you will be fluent within hours.” Oh yeah! To the contrary, my concentration was on how “fred” (frigging ridiculous electronic device) might improve the efficiency of the Sales Department, rather than how and what buttons to press. So I applied my final few months devising appropriate systems for introduction upon my departure. Then I spent over two years caravanning around Australia, enjoying an hitherto unknown relaxed lifestyle and writing copious notes about places and people visited and met in the process. Even then, I never considered a computer as an aid in recording those experiences. Much later in retirement, I purchased a second caravan and took many more extensive trips, totalling another two years of travel – and further copious notes. Then the “penny dropped”. To covert my scribbled disjointed, sometimes indecipherable, notes into any semblance of readable order and clarity I needed a computer. And more importantly, learn how to use it! For what seemed forever I persevered by trying to understand volume upon volume of “computer speak” and creating similar volumes of awful mistakes, while I puzzled and wrestled with procedures I couldn’t comprehend. At the same time, I attended numerous ASSCA presentations, pestering the President for a seniors’ computer club to be formed in my district. I guess in desperation, she finally suggested that I should start a club myself. I guess in desperation, I took her advice! An opportunity to do so arose when I moved to a retirement village that encouraged residents to engage in mental, as well as physical activities. That was six years ago. Membership now exceeds 300, we meet monthly, conduct nine training sessions per week totalling some 6000 tuition hours per annum. Approximately 30 trainers and helpers offer 14 different I.T. subject courses. Last count, 700 odd names were listed for training courses. A success story indeed! What has this meant to me? I now know how to use a computer. I have experienced tremendous satisfaction from assisting fellow seniors, both in administration and teaching. I believe I am making a worthwhile community contribution. I have enjoyed continuing mental stimulus in the process. Perhaps of lesser importance, I gained a Premier’s Seniors Achievement Award for services rendered. Incidentally, I have yet to convert those copious notes into intelligible stories! Dreams! Regardless of status, influence, wealth, property, possessions or whatever, it seems the norm of human nature is to desire anything that we don’t currently have. Or at least it would appear to be the way of a majority of folk, rich or poor. The latter of course, can be excused such materialism! Yet, an in-depth study of the real “have-nots”, those who have been born and bred to a life of nothing but abject poverty and deprivation, might reveal that such avarice is rarely paramount. Perhaps their life is fully devoted to just existing, without labouring on the advantages of others, if indeed they were aware of such differences. Certainly not a ‘have”, but indeed one of the fortunate, I could somewhat selfishly wish for: • Great wealth; Why? comfortably. I have sufficient to enjoy wholesome food and live • The latest in home audio/visual equipment; Why? I would no doubt spend most of my life glued to a television set, instead of facing enjoyable mental and physical activities. • Supreme physical fitness; Why? No doubt I would burn myself out trying to set records of stamina beyond my capabilities. And despite my age, I currently cope. • Freedom; Why? I already have all the freedom I require. Besides, not to consider the needs of others is selfish in the extreme. • Power; Why? The ability to exercise power over others usually has a habit of turning around and “biting” you. • Popularity; Why? There’s always a price to pay for being constantly in the limelight. No, all of the above are mere superficialities in the greater scheme of life; gratifying perhaps for some period, but never a life long reward. Actually, I have two wishes: a) nothing more than I currently have and enjoy. b) the continued wisdom to appreciate my good fortune!
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