Have I mentioned I love the place I live?

I took my teenage son for a driving lesson to a nearby town recently. Usually it is a 40 minute drive but as he is on his learner plates it took an hour as he is only legally allowed to go 80 klm an hour which is fine because the view was beautiful.

I couldn’t help but recite Dorothea Mackellar words when looking at the view outside the window and the contrasts of the landscape.

I love my sun burnt country, and windmills for some reason.

(c) IMG_3989 Jillian Carlon 2014 (c) IMG_3991 Jillian Carlon 2014 (c) IMG_3981 Jillian Carlon 2014

Apple blossoms and memories

(c) IMG_3889 Jillian Carlon 2014

Back in 1987 I was looking at buying my first home with my then partner. We had different ideas of what we wanted as he wanted something we could renovate and extend which, basically, translated to a weatherboard construction that needed work. A fix-a-upper.  I on the other hand had grown up in a fibro home and had my sights set on brick and tile that was warmer in winter and cooler in summer, generally tidy, had a veranda and a place to park the car undercover.

High hopes for a first home buyer, at least I was told, but I was prepared to take on some work and was actually , foolishly, looking forward to adding touches that would make it my own. Painting the inside for example.  However, that wasn’t meant to be as it worked out. My wage was the only constant, reliable source of income as he was “starting off” his own trade business and the bank didn’t want to take the risk on us so I had to lower my sights and optimistically aimed at my first home not being my last home.

We did find a weatherboard house, a small step above fibro construction in my books, that was centrally located with large rooms, high ceilings and ornate cornice. The house and land were being sold by a deceased estate, which meant they wanted to sell, and fast. It was okay in my books but it needed a lot of work. I was impressed with the cornice but I wasn’t over the line on it so far as thinking this is my new home. Honestly, I didn’t really like it. There, I said it. I didn’t like it but it was within the price range the bank had set for us. I remember thinking I was being too fussy and that baby steps were needed to propel us into the future but the place didn’t call to me.

Then I walked around the backyard. In the very back corner of the yard was a gnarled tree that clinched the deal for me.

As a kid, I don’t know how many apple seeds I planted in the lawn around the old fibro building I called home in the hope of growing a tree that bore my favourite fruit. None of them ever shot but I kept planting them, just in case one did.

In the back yard of this unimpressive building I was being pushed to sign my wages over to for the next 30 years was an apple tree in full flower. I fell in love with that tree even if it needed more work than the house did. It was old then, it’s older now and the fruit has a lot to be desired but it is still there and each year when it flowers it reminds me of the hope the future.

I did get to paint the inside rooms, by myself, but only one room and the hallway still have the ornate cornice.  Even the double hung windows that were a signature of the houses post war construction were changed to tasteless, uninspiring aluminium sliding ones. This was a “renovation” I didn’t approve of but was overruled. I can’t say there were many of these because there was never any money to do anything as I remained the primary wage earner of the family and the business remained a front for my partners unwillingness to work.

Although my wages remained the only source of income into the house, I paid it off in less than 20 years. Then I had to buy it again so my children could kept their familiar home when everything else fell apart as their father divorced me.

I still don’t really like the house, it still needs a lot of work. It doesn’t have a veranda and the car sits in the driveway with no cover but one important thing that hasn’t changed is that the apple tree flowers every spring and it’s blossoms are beautiful.

(c) IMG_3882 Jillian Carlon 2014 (c) IMG_3885 Jillian Carlon 2014

Holy Pteropodidae Batman

I’ve got great please trying to capture the evening flights of fruit bats over the years. I found their colony last weekend – wow – there are a lot of them.

Sadly they are stripping the trees along the river where they “hang out” and to my surprise a resident of the house near by told me they have stayed here all winter. For some reason I thought they would have split for a warmer climate over the cold months – but what do I know?


Do you really know your audience?

When is the paper going to print something that is actually worth reading?

This is the question the man who encouraged me to read from a young age, by getting me to read the daily newspaper cartoons to him, my now 93-year-old father asked me this morning.

I am but a lowly commercial advertising copy writer and am not involved in the news gathering or story selection process at my work so I’m in no position to answer on behalf the news room but sadly, I had to agree with him.

My dad’s respect for newspaper did in some small way influence my determination to work in the industry, although it did take a while to get there. His words this morning have crashed around inside my head ever since and make me ponder if this new found direction of the media, digital, will have a reverse effect and hammer the nails into print media’s coffin all that much quicker. Regular readers like my dad don’t even know how to use a mobile phone and there aren’t any crosswords or Phantom strips on line.

Regional newspapers circulation has exhibited a decline, yes, but we are still out in front from our metro counterparts. The figures constantly quoted as reassurance of our job security confirm this so why reshape something that still fits into the community it is supposed to serve? The cross over to the new is loosing readers.

I know my opinion doesn’t count and my role is purely to make the advertisers happy so they spend more money with us which in turn means we all keep our jobs a bit longer but I’m going to say this anyway. What is wrong with you people? Wake up and meet the people in the community before you are called upon to mention them in a news brief or obituary.

Over the years I have established wonderful working relationships with a wide range of people in this region and all are wonderful sources of information if I need to call on them. They know me and I know them and they trust me. They will drop interesting story ideas, give me background if asked and even direct me to other interesting people but I’m not allowed to follow up on them. That is for the newsroom, not the advert copywriter.

I wonder if others have heard comments like my fathers, or if they would listen even if they did.

But I am just the low life commercial advertising copywriter. I just talk to the people in the community, listen to them and try to help their prosperity on a regular basis.  I have no hard feelings towards those employed to tell  local stories, you all just do what is on the news list handed to you. All I’m saying is to get to know the people who buy the paper regularly and not those who you give permission to be your friend on social media. They’re on line and more about what is happening on the weekend for them than what is happening in the community. I mean do you really know those people.

One of the first lessons my media university studies served up to me was know your audience. Connect with them and they will want to hear from you.  When stories are written for online publication it is obvious in print media.

Digital media. Phff. Do you really know your audience?

The online audience are unknown individuals and stories/clicks depend more on the first line  than ever before. It’s already been worked out that lazy people at a computer or on mobile technology are easily distracted by sensationalism but I think the trade is forgetting that real readers want to know facts and the full story.

Ill informed rant over. Thank you if you stay tuned long enough to finish reading.

Treasure hunting.

Hello. Long time no post, well at least on my Just Saying site anyway.

I’ve posted quickly on my photo site, A thousand words, but quick gets quick and although many click the “like” button a very small few take the time to actually look at the complete post choosing the “like” star on something that catches their eye and not going any further. Don’t get me wrong, a like acknowledgement is wonderful and greatly appreciated but sometimes a glance deprives the reader of the whole picture.  Photography is like that however, an easy read so I don’t have to explain the meaning behind my photo blog site name do I?

So other than the fact I’ve got a good number of likes and little to no site views there I think the first photo here could be more appreciated by my Just Saying audience.

I don’t often keep photos I’ve taken while on work jobs but I was tasked to complete two promotional pages for a local auction house yesterday and, as is usually the case, found myself snapping away for additional feature photos that also double as product reminders while I’m writing – a trick I use when time is limited and clients are especially busy.

I have never been one to attend auctions never lone frequent the storehouse  the items are held in prior to sale day so this was a wonderful step into the unknown for me. It is both lucky and unlucky that I don’t have any disposable income to go shopping with on their sale day because there are a few items that somehow know my name and are calling to me to take them home.  Especially this treasure I found myself stepping over to get a better shot of other items.

A web search tells me Royal Typewriters were introduced to Australia in 1911 by Sydney Pincombe, however news reports of 1948 mention that Sydney Pincombe had lost the Royal Typewriter agency sometime before 1947. This one needs some love and oh how I wish I could be the one to restore it.

A classic that needs some loving.

A classic that needs some loving.


The room/s were full of interesting items and their images will be used by my employer but here a couple my boss doesn’t get.



One of the more steady custom made sowing cupboards I've seen.

One of the more steady custom made sewing cupboards I’ve seen.


Looking forward

Today is March 15. The 64th day of the year 2014 and I’m struggling to accept so much can happen in such a short time.

So far I’m not liking 2014. Maybe the trauma and drama I’ve experienced so far has weakened my positive resolve or maybe it has all made me tired and intolerant. I don’t know what it is but I do optimistically hope there is only one direction the events of this year can go now and that is out of the negative and into the positive.

At particularly low points of the past 64 days I asked friends to share with me happy events of their day. I was disheartened by the lack of response. This exercise proved to me human nature appears to want to dwell on the negative rather than appreciate the moments of happiness.

I say it is no wonder the population of the world is experiencing an explosion of mental health issues.

Yes we all have problems and yes things happen that make us feel worthless, lonely and totally gutted but, even now at a personal low point of my life, I don’t want to feel this way for the rest of my days.

My first step forward into the remaining days and nights of 2014 is to take control of my own happiness and feelings and not push the blame or responsibility for them on to other people. They are mine and mine alone and I have the choice to allow them to get me down or to motivate me to find a good, positive event in each and every day.

When a negative charge is connected to a positive one power is created after all. I’m going to use that power to ride this out and bulldoze my way through the remaining days of the year as it can only get better from here.

Eulogy for a fighter and my best friend.

It been six weeks since I said goodbye to my oldest and dearest friend who fought various forms of cancer for over six years.  Her family asked me to say the eulogy at her funeral. It was difficult to sum up a person who had been part of my life for over four decades. I’m sharing what I said as she was a quite achiever and battler and I miss her.  Thank you for sharing my therapy.

It is easy to make friends but old friends are years in the making.

When I told people I had been asked to do this they said it would be a hard thing for me to do.

It’s not hard. A good friend of mine showed me what hard was and how to take it on; head on with no complaint. This is not hard as I know once it is done, it is done. I only have to do it once.

This is difficult.

That friend had an inner strength that could have powered the world if you were able to harness it and courage beyond anyone I’ve ever met. She did what she had to do and took things one-step at a time but she always looked forward and never dwelled on the past.   She was an inspiration.

Daphne and I met in primary school. Year 2 in fact, she corrected me recently on that point, and we pretty much were part of each other’s lives ever since. We had so much in common. We were at the same school. We were both from big families, hers bigger than mine. We both had lots of big sisters and we were both the quite kids in the class. There were differences too such as she had a brother. I didn’t have one of those and when I asked my mum and dad if I could have a big brother they said no.

I’m pretty shore at that time she was already an aunty too. As I was having difficulty understanding why I couldn’t have an elder brother I simply couldn’t get my head around that at all.

I got to know each and every member of her family as she proudly spoke about them. You all meant the world to her. I know the last few years frustrated her as she didn’t want to burden or cause any of you pain. I also know one of the hardest things she faced as result of her ongoing treatments of the past years was not being about to see your mum for long periods. She didn’t complain however, she had to do what she had to do but family always came first to her and she loved you all very much.

I am deeply indebted to Janet and Narida for allowing me to be there to say goodbye. Today I see her off knowing she is at peace, no more fighting necessary, and that she knew she was loved.

My clearest memory in the South Tamworth Public School schoolyard would be at the beginning of our friendship. We had decided to play hopscotch and shared the responsibility of drawing up the hopscotch grid in the dirt. When we were finished it was easy to tell who did which bit. The wonky squares were my best effort while Daphnes’ were ruler straight lines with perfect angles to make a correct shaped box. She told me she was a year older than me and that my hand eye coordination and something called fine motor skills would improve with age. She knew this because her sister had told her so and then we laughed when we had to land sideways in my rectangle, borderline triangle, drawings that made the game more of a challenge.

Although she preferred everything to be as it should be she was never afraid of a challenge, which in hindsight could be why she put up with me for so long.

She put up with a lot too. We survived primary and high school and TAFE together and made many other friends along the way.  Some of the important ones are here today.

When it came to the other people we knew however we had a system. I remembered faces and Daphne remembered names. It was just how it worked.

In our late teenage years we decided to take a holiday. We both wanted to see the country we lived in before travelling overseas so we could tell people what Australia was like outside Tamworth.  I had my driver’s license and a car so we headed to the Warrumbungles. We camped in a beautiful spot of the national park and enjoyed the peace and quiet that only those places can provide.

We visited the observatory, mini world and decided, while we were close, we would do a day trip to the Dubbo Zoo. It was a good plan as we both wanted to see the zoo and all was going well until we were heading back to Coonabarabran and the car engine went bang.

We rolled into a roadside rest area and there the car stopped.

I confess, I might have lost the holiday mood as I opened the hood and stared blankly at the offending motor. I may have also said a few words a lady shouldn’t say when it dawned on me I had no idea what I was looking for never lone how to fix it if I found it.

Daphne however took charge and went for help. She had spotted a council vehicle parked in the rest stop and went off to find the driver rather than listen to my unproductive bad language. When she found him he was looking at a tree, which she later told me she thought was odd, and proceeded to tap him on the shoulder and politely ask if he could help us.

The poor man. She frightened the day lights out of him and he was still red faced from being caught urinating, el natural, when he got to my broken down car. He could no more fix the car than I could and he couldn’t even look at Daphne but he sent the NRMA out to us when he returned to Coonabarabran. Our holiday finished early with a nights stay at the local pub and we met some friendly locals who knew the council worker. They laughed with us.

We met lots of great people, experienced love for the first time and what it was like to lose it, had good times and bad, but I always knew she was there for me as I hope she knew I was for her.

There were times when we didn’t see each other for a while but when we caught up again we just had more to talk about including what we had been doing, what our families were up to and pretty much everything about ourselves.

It is safe to say Daphne knew more about me than any other person on this earth. She has taken with her stories and secrets about me that on-one will ever know. I hope she continues to keep them too as I don’t want a bad rap before I get a chance to explain myself first. I think she will. Please?

She taught me so much, the most important lesson however was how to draw straight lines in the dirt and how to make the most of them if they don’t quite work out the way I had planned.

There was a time when she may not have liked the company I was in but she refused to be pushed away by them and she stuck by me, never judged, and helped were ever she could.

I could stand here and talk for hours and still not cover half the adventures we had, trials we overcome together and good times we shared but that would be boring and I don’t want to make any one cry. She would be angry with me for doing either of those things. I didn’t see her angry very often but I always felt sorry for the person who made her that way. A quite, compassionate person’s anger is something to fear and even though curse words never made it past her lips the lash of her tongue was painful.

Daphne was a good listener, a voice of reason and a straight talker. Totally stubborn but always selflessly caring .   A second mum to my children, godmother to one, and the giver of “cool” gifts and chocolate.  She will be dearly missed as it is easy to make friends but old friends are years in the making.

Always laughing - even while undergoing treatment.

Always laughing – even while undergoing treatment.