New Year Plans 2020

What does 2020 Hold For Me? – I Have New Year Plans

I am working on my New Year Plan 2020. There’s no doubt 2019 has been a challenging year for me. Some great highs, some low lows.  I have been living in a modern unit in a northside (of Brisbane) seaside suburb.  I was happy for the first few months, but things changed here.  Unpleasant tenants, drugs, a “half-way” house opposite which has regular shouting foul arguments.  The property not cleaned. Some facilities unusable and so on.  So I have chosen to return to my old “stamping ground”.

Getting affordable accommodation in Australia is not easy.  I’ve been given the “run-around” by real estate agents and housing organisations.  The units/apartments I have visited to see if they are suitable have been disappointing.  How anyone can think that certain living conditions are suitable, I don’t know.

I am sure I will find something to suit.  But time is ticking and I have to make a decision in a couple of days or extend my lease here.

Lack of Affordable Housing in Australia

I’ve written about this before and don’t plan to add to it now.  But it does make life difficult.  I know others that are having similar experiences to me.  Sadly our federal and state governments are not acting quickly to resolve this problem.  I will continue my work in 2020 to lobby for more affordable housing.

Sunflowers are growing in the garden of an apartment below mine.

Sunflowers growing beneath my balcony. Taken by me with my Olympus Camera.

New Year Plans 2020

In the middle of January, I will be doing a course via Zoom from an education facility in Canada.  It does require me to get up very early every Friday morning for 9 weeks.  Not sure how that goes, but that is the plan.  My plans for 2020 are based on completing this course so that I am qualified to run similar ones in Australia.

By New Year’s Eve, I will have listed my plans for 2020 – still working on them.   Some “dot points” which I will have elaborated on by January are:

  • Education and Training January – March
  • Completely “renovate” my two websites in January 2020
  • Start New Business in March
  • Travel to China – possible
  • A long motor drive – in Australia – possible
  • Train to Mackay and stay a few days – possible
  • Expand my Speaking Business
  • Book Publishing Plan
  • Guest Blogger Plan
  • Spend more time with family members
  • Earn more $$$$$’s

And I will add some more.  The Action Plan will be documented by January 2, 2020.

Guest Bloggers

In 2020 I will be inviting bloggers to be Guest Bloggers.  Anone who is reading this, who may be interested in being a guest blogger on one of my sites, can you please contact me via the Contact Form.  I am intereseted in writers writing about their topics, book, interests, or interesting life stories.  I will send instructions re my requirements for the guest blogger.  Articles/posts  will need to be around 300 words.  I will be focusing on Australians at this time.










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Cheating and the Chinese

Cheating and the Chinese

The Cheating of the Chinese students in Australia, has hit the headlines again. As many of my readers know, I spent nearly two years teaching English in China. 

I had no idea of the level of cheating in the country, but soon after arriving in 2008, huge banners went up around the campus of the college.  The message was in Mandarin and English.  I can’t find the photos now, but it said something like “Cheating is Forbidden”.  We Aussies were most surprised by the banners.  It was telling students that it was forbidden, but we were to learn it was well accepted.

Cheating of Chinese students has made the headlines (again) in Australia!  Despite the messages about it being unacceptable, it continues.

Chairman Mao on Cheating

I have a DVD, that I found in a shop in China, a documentary made by some Americans, and in it, Chairman Mao is quoted as saying that cheating is acceptable.   “It is helping each other,” I think were his words.

Despite the mixed messages, one gets about this former leader, it appears that many accept these words as gospel, and Cheating continues in China.

Candyman in China

A Candyman in China

My Issues with Cheating Chinese Students

I had several experiences with cheating.  One time in China, a student who never came to class, never did homework, and never turned up for mid and end semester tests.  How could I give him any marks?  It was zero.  0/100!

A few days after I submitted my end of semester documents, I was called to the Dean’s office. Two very serious staff members sat opposite me and asked for an explanation of my zero marks.

I told how I’d never met him, and he’d done nothing. How could I give him ANY marks?  One of the men told me he was a very good student.  I replied that I could not know as I had not even seen him.  Then the magic words.  “His father very generous to the university”!

Happy was not Happy!

The Cheating of Chinese is everywhere. In another class I had 6 male students who should not have been in the class.  Their English language skills were zero. At the mid semester exam, Happy, one of the top students finished his exam quickly.  I collected his paper, and asked if he would like to leave the room.  He didn’t want to.  A short time later, I saw him working on another paper. He and the student whose work he was working on got 0/25!  At the subsequent (end of semester) exam, I was at the last minute excluded from supervising the exam.  The 6 students who had no English, passed with flying colours!  One wonders how the Cheating of Chinese will affect their future.

Other Stories

I could relate many more stories of my experiences in China with cheating, but will not go on.  One of the senior staff was sacked because of his cheating behaviour with an assignment he was doing for a higher award.  I was involved in “helping” him, though not aware I was assisting a cheat at the time.

I don’t know how you stop it!!  It seems so ingrained in their culture, and with the latest technology it is hard to police.  Shame.

Chinese Cheating in Business

When I was in China in 2008, a great cheating scandal was exposed.  How a business manufacturing baby formula added melamine to the mixture to increase profits.  It caused the deaths of babies and was a great scandal.  There are many stories of Chinese cheating in business e.g. using inferior quality ingredients or similar.

(p.s. I read now that cheating is a criminal offence.  The article is here.)

What do you think about cheating?

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A Conversation on Housing in Oz

Housing Shortage in Australia

For the last few years, there have been much media about the housing shortage in Australia.  As someone whose focus is on senior solo women looking for secure forever housing, I find this appalling. The Federal and State Governments seem to be slow, reluctant, or not keen to do anything about it.

“Australia is headed towards yet another property supply shortage, and it could put a rocket under prices, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has warned.” Read the full article here. 

There are big issues in the housing market in Australia. I see little change over the years I have been in housing stress.  People keep telling me that I should be a drug addict, alcoholic, or former prisoner to get any help.  That cohort seems to get better support!

Poverty for Women

There are many reasons that there are so many women who are living in poverty and facing homelessness due to the housing shortage in Australia.  This article from SBS might give you some idea of what some of the issues are.  Click here.

I have met or worked with many women who have stories of how they have had to face financial challenges in their senior years.  So many face issues as a result of the housing shortage.  Much of it is as a result of the discrimination against women – something that most seniors have had to cope with all their lives.

Women Don’t Fight for their Rights

I should add “enough” to that!  Every now and then through history, there have been events where groups of women have got together to fight for some issue e.g. women’s rights, anti-discrimination, the #metoo movement and others.  However, we need more women to be pro-active on these occasions.  I am learning, however, that women who are married or in a relationship are often silent. It is safer than risking the ire of their partner.  I know, because I was one that learned that if my then-husband was around, I would have to tone down my conversation.


Homeless person

No home – sleeping rough

Who Cares?

I am still lobbying two politicians – one a Federal, one a State, who have responsibilities in the housing sector.  They promise to get back to me, or in one case introduce me to someone in “Housing”, but after months there is nothing.

The Department of Housing here has really disappointed me.  They have not responded to my application for housing.  No feedback at all.

I make call after call to a wide range of organisations in the housing sector.  None have been helpful.

I feel for others in their senior years who are desperate for housing.  Our governments must do something about the housing shortage in Australia.  It is urgent.



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Featurette for Women Writers of Queensland

Guest Blogger – Bridget Campbell

Thank you to Guest Blogger Bridget Campbell and Black Phoenix Publishing Collective.

“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”

As a literate society, we owe a great debt to the many wise, profound, and clever witticisms of writer Mark Twain. Many a viral meme with his name tacked to the bottom of it, rightfully or otherwise, may cross a book lover’s social media feed, and many knowing smirks may be had. In the case of this quote, however, we have to raise an eyebrow and play the assumption that this was intended very tongue-in-cheek, as anyone involved with writing and book production will know there’s a little more to it than this!

Publishing Collective

At Black Phoenix Publishing Collective, nearing the finish line of our latest literary release The Weekend by debut author Suzy England, we are rather sharply aware right now of how much more, and how many different sets of eyes it takes to ‘cross out the wrong words’ to create the best version of the book that it can be. Following numerous edits with the author, and following several rounds of edits with our publishing students, our proofreader Bridget Campbell might have thought that her task would be basically already done! Below she discusses some of her experiences and learning as part of this project, and in particular the distinctions she noted between the roles of editors and proofreaders.

Words from Bridget

As an aspiring English teacher, it was an absolute honour for me to be a part of bringing an author’s book to life. I love nothing more than helping others achieve their vision when it comes to writing an essay, a short story, a poem or even a song. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to work as either a teacher or editor because I took so much joy from helping my sister with her English projects. Even today she will text asking me to think of a word that will help her convey the point she wants to make. So, when I was presented with the opportunity to join the team and publish the talented Suzy England’s work, I had to say yes!

My role was as proofreader. This meant I could enjoy being immersed in the story and the characters without having to think from an editor’s perspective. There was no wondering: Does this sentence need adjusting, or could the structure of the narrative be changed here? Instead, my main focus as a proofreader was to fix any typing errors and make 100 percent sure that every detail of the writing and formatting was consistent throughout the novella. To do this successfully you have to be observant. This was my biggest challenge because naturally my brain skips over errors like a small word missing or misspelling. Plus, when I’m reading, I often become so enthralled by the story that I forgot to think about these details. To help overcome this I made sure I was editing a hardcopy as it is much easier to pick up on small details that way. Then, armed with my red pen I set out to proofreading. I kept reminding myself to look at what was actually written on the page and re-read so nothing slipped through. My aim was to make sure this copy was of a high quality before Suzy did her final read through.

I am so grateful to have been involved in this project and worked with such a dedicated and enthusiastic team. Another blessing was that I adored the novella itself. This made working on the project that much more fulfilling. I heartily recommend people read this book.

The Weekend in launched!

The Weekend is available now in print and ebook from Amazon, published by the efforts of Black Phoenix Publishing Collective, and you can follow the author Suzy England on Facebook, Twitter and on her website.

About Black Phoenix Publishing Collective

Black Phoenix Publishing Collective is a volunteer-run small press with members based across Australia and internationally. Our mission is to publish quality works of fiction through project-based learning ventures that enable editing, marketing and publishing students and graduates the opportunity to develop real-world industry skills on real projects that reach real audiences. Please show us your support by following us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.





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Getting Older

“Old” Definition

There’s a lot of media about older people currently.  What does OLD mean?  There are various definitions around. According to Google “having lived for a long time; no longer young”.  For a long time, there seems to have been an issue with older people.  Many of us in our senior years note how we are often ignored when out and about.  The old courtesies of treating seniors with respect appear to be gone.  Older people are often ignored in shops.  Often they are not offered seats in public transport as all the younger folk seem to “hide” as they are glued to their mobile phone.

Aged Care Royal Commission

Australians are well aware of the poor care our senior or disabled residents have had to endure.  This has been going on for years.  I can recall in my nursing days when older and unwell people were in hospital beds – Australia did not have many aged care facilities and the ones we did have were appalling.  In many ways things have been getting better, but there have been many issues of poor treatment of our elderly.

Invisible Seniors in Australia

One of the things I comment on is that we seldom see seniors out and about.  We do see them in numbers at shopping centres or scooting around the suburbs, usually alone, on their motorised scooters.

In China, older folk are seen in many places in the public arena.  Almost every morning in China, you will see groups of senior citizens out and about in public.  They might be doing Tai Chi or Qigong, banging on trees, walking backwards, or dancing.

It happens in many parks.  And it is not just in the mornings.  During the day there might be a group of musicians or singers practising or performing in a park, or doing ballroom dancing.

In other parts, under shelter, there might be a group playing Mahjong, or other games.

We Could Do This In Australia!

There are plenty of outdoor parks, open for all.  Children, adults, seniors are all welcome but are they all suitable for older people.

My mother, who passed away in 2014, loved a park right next door to Pattriti Winery, in Dover Gardens in South Australia.  It was a relatively small park.  There was a circular rubberised walking track with seating dotted around it.  As a result, it meant that anyone could walk for a few minutes, then take a rest, before heading off again.  People of all ages used the park, and they would stop and chat at these seats.  While kilometre/s long walking paths are great for most ages, an elderly person can more easily manage a circular walkway.  The fact that it was a rubberised walkway made it safer.  There was also a covered seating area, and my mother used to stop and chat with others – older or younger.  Everyone enjoyed the facility.

Mum had to be driven there – by a family member usually.  Dad would sometimes walk with her, but other times, due to his failing health he’d sit in the car and watch her walk.  She actually enjoyed her solo walk as she felt free to chat with other people.  If Day went with her, he’d often take over the conversation!

Dad would often stop at Pattriti’s on the way home and make a purchase.

Scarborough Terrace Reserve 20190107 Sports Running Track 7

My wish is that councils explore ways of helping older people get out and about in our communities rather than accept that they should be hidden.

What do you think?

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Ageism – Learning with Ashton Applewhite

Ageism – do Seniors Face Discrimination?

This week I had the honour of attending a COTA event, with Ashton Applewhite as the guest speaker. Her topic, Ageism, is very interesting and she nails it.  She has been in Australia for a few weeks now, speaking around the country and on television.  She was one of the panelists on the Q & A Program on November 11th.  I usually watch Q & A, but I was unimpressed with the foul language on that occasion so I saw little.

To hear her in person (and she does not use foul words), was a pleasure.  If only more people would listen to her wise words!  I can help by promoting her.  Please watch and listen to the TED Talk she did in 2017.


I posed the question above about discrimination.  There’s no doubt there is – in many aspects of life in Australia.  None more than our government and also the people who are supposed to be helping the aged (see the Aged Care Royal Commission!).

It is something that we see in everyday life.  The attitude of younger people to the elderly.  Ignoring them, not talking to them, not being polite.  Not offering seats in bus or train to older people, or women for that matter.  And what are young people?  Old People in Training!!!

What the Australian Government Thinks!

My experience with trying to get more and better quality housing for seniors in Australia has found me up against a lot of ageism.  And when the Treasurer comes up with the idea that seniors should work longer, we are outraged.  It is very hard for older people to keep jobs, or be employed.  In fact, younger people are finding it difficult to get into the jobs market.  I heard yesterday about a senior man who completed a degree and qualified as an accountant, but when he had his age in his resume, he didn’t get employed.  We all know how hard it is to remain in the workforce.  Small numbers do – but it certainly has challenges.

Employing Older Women?

As well as being underemployed and underpaid, senior women also have trouble getting into the workforce as seniors.  Again, many employees feel that the younger ones would be more useful.

Sorry, Mr Frydenberg you are going to waste a lot of money retraining older workers if there are no jobs for them.

Oh, and many seniors are in the workforce – but not getting paid.  They are what we call VOLUNTEERS!!  Thousands of Seniors!!

What do you think?

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Real Estate Realities

Seeking Real Estate Properties

It is almost ten years since I departed the marital home and become solo.  I’ve had some great expriences and some low ones.  I must say dealing with Real Estate Agencies has been part of the low experiences.

And I am going through it all again.  I’m looking for a small unit for myself in an area where I lived for over twenty years.  I want to go back because I have so many friends there and it is not far from one of my family members.

I have to negotiate for my new home with real estate agents – though I have no problem with them personally.  They don’t seem to be concerned about what I want.  Or where I want to live.


I nearly teared up during the week as I visited “my old stomping ground” and looked out over the marina that I once visited frequently.  I felt like shouting to the boats – “I’m back!” but didn’t.  For I am not back.  Yet.  I drove around the area that was so familiar to me several years ago and that I missed.  I’ve nearly always lived by the sea and though I currently live closer to the great waters of Moreton Bay, I do want to return to the “old” place.

Properties for Seniors

The fact is that unless you have a lot of money and can afford to buy your seniors accommodation, you are relegated to some rather sad accommodation.  Over 50’s Living housing for singles is sad.  Most of the properties have small apartments, tiny boxes with a small bedroom (some furnished with just a single bed), a kitchenette with no stove and only space for a small refrigerator.  All meals are provided in the dining room.  It so reminds me of the place I dined for nearly 4 years during my nursing days.

I doubt I’d fit my computer desk and printers inside one of these properties.  Being tall, I don’t manage single beds either.  My feet hang out the end, and I have a habit of falling out of them!

Photo by Andrew Ebrahim -

Shower Head

The Basic Property with the Dogs

One newly built unit – under a house, which also looks like it has been recentlybuilt or renovated was an apartment/unit.  Rather large and in many ways ideal for me.  BUT. Access to the unit is via the garage, which is shared with the upstairs tenant.  She has two dogs.  They have access to the back yard, and the garage too.  Already I feel it is not for me.  The “patio” is a covered outdoor area with wobbly cement tiles, where the dogs can freely road.  I wonder if they will be kind to my potplants?

There’s no stove.  Apparently common in units these days.  Doesn’t everyone get meals delivered?  Or go out for meals?  Not me.   There were no flyscreens or security on the windows and doors either.


I am also aware to be careful with photos on the various real estate websites.  It seems that some real estate agents present a modern cleanlooking property on websites etc, but they are edited.  This article will explain.

Housing for Seniors

Despite a lot of seniors seeking affordable, safe housing, it is difficult.  Many units are upstairs.  Having the shower over the bath is not always safe for seniors.  Security can be an issue too.  There appears to be no support service for seniors seeking housing.  My hunt goes on.

What do you think are the key things in a house/unit for a senior person in Australia?


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Finding a New Home

It’s time to Find a New Home

Finding a new home is not easy with a shortage of “affordable” houses in Australia.  It is more difficult if one is not in the workforce and is a senior member of the house-hunting cohort.   Since I left my husband nearly 10 years ago, I have had many challenges with this part of my life.

Most of the time I have been house sitting, but last year a health issue forced me into a rental unit.  It is health and other issues that are forcing me to look for a new home now.

It is not easy – especially for a solo senior person.  I can attest to that.

There is No Senior Housing Support

If someone is healthy and wealthy there are many seniors places to explore – and if and when one finds a suitable property there is quite a deal of support to help you get settled.  But if you don’t have a lot of $$$$$’s you might just go on the merry go round that I have been over the past few weeks.

Government Housing

I have had several meeting with the department of housing offices.  Recently I submitted documents to an office on the south side of the river, which is where I want to move to.  They told me to go to the office north of the river, as that is where I lived.  They told me to go to the south side office.  When I phoned them they were of little value as they said I should be talking with those on the northside!!!  How helpful are they??

Real Estate Websites

I have been checking every day, but I find the information about the properties rather vague. When one phones the agent I get different messages.

  1. This phone number is disconnected.
  2. That property is no long available – we’ve asked the agent to take it off the site a few weeks ago.
  3. An appointment was made with an agent, who did not turn up at the property at the appointed time, and didn’t answer my calls.

What do Seniors Want?

Everyone is different.  What I like or wish will be different to what others want.

  • kitchenette – preferably a kitchen. (I like to do some cooking)
  • ensuite
  • plenty of wardrobe and cupboard space
  • good security
  • no stairs
  • car port or garage close to the home
  • I like my own bed – a queen size preferably
  • space to walk around IN the apartment.

I want to be able to live comfortably with as many as my own things as possible.

Retirement Villages

I have explored these.   Many have tiny apartments, some furnished but with very limited space of any sort.  One I was going to look at, until I found out, that I would have to have a single bed.  Eeek.  I am tall and don’t fit well into one of these.  Also most provide 3 meals a day – it is in the rent.  I am seldom home – would probably only make it for 3 days a week. And I’m a fussy eater.  Not happy with that.  But with no kitchen I’ d have little choice.

Car?  I would probably not be able to afford to keep mine.  And I’m not ready to give it up.

I’m Not Old Enough – Funny Story

I went to one “Retirement Village” just to see what they had to offer.  As I walked to the office, an elderly woman on a “motorised chair” appeared and told me to leave.  “This place is only for Retired People” she said, before zooming off towards the exit of the property.  I was a bit shocked!

Shortly I was talking with a resident and the lady appeared again. I can’t remember exactly what she said to me.  Clearly though I was not welcome.  I asked her politely to tell me how old she thought I was.  She stood and looked me up and down, and said “Aboout 54.”  I had to laugh She was about 20 years “out” so I just chuckled and thanked her!!!

The reality is that despite my age, I look and sound younger, and am not ready to share my dining table with people who clearly appear to be older than me.  I’m not ready to give up my life and do nothing but eat my prepared meals in the dining room, and then head back to my apartment to sleep or watch television.

couple sitting side by side near panel radiator

Photo by Elien Dumon

Does Living in Retirement Homes Hasten Ageing?

That is something that now makes me think.  I wonder if anyone is doing research on this?  It is like living in a box in the line waiting for the end.


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My Historic Cookie Cutter

My Cookie Cutter – SAWA 2000 Deluxe

My Cookie Cutter has been neglected. It is many years since I have used it, but I am going to create some great biscuits for Christmas this year.

I don’t have the instructions, but I am sure that will not be an issue for me – as I did use it frequently years ago.

When did I get it?  I really don’t know – but probably back in the 1970’s.  The boxes look old – and I vaguely remember using it often when the children were small.

My Cookie (Biscuit) Cutter



There are plenty of recipes online.  (Thank goodness for Dr Google!)  So, later this week I will endeavour to make some with my old biscuit cutter.

Maybe I will have to take a lot of photos too – so watch this space!

Cookie cutter with my favourite discs













Recipes and Instructions for the SAWA 2000.

I found a recipe at Spritz Cookies.

Spritz Cookies:

1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar

2 large egg yolks(32 grams)

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups (260 grams) all purpose flour, sifted

1/4 teaspoon salt


candied cherries, nuts, coloured sprinkles or colored sugars

Read more:
Follow us: @joyofbaking on Twitterjoyofbaking on Facebook

Christmas Gifts

One thought that is wandering around my brain is to make gifts from these biscuits.  Maybe a week before Christmas, I will cook some and pack them into food quality cellophane bags, add some decorations and ribbons and give them to a range of my friends.  They will have to be made close to the BIG day so that they don’t deteriorate before I give them away.

Of course I will use my SAWA!!!

I  wonder which of my grandchildren would like it?

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Old Books in my Collection

My Old Books

I have a smaller collection of books than I once did.  If one moves around frequently the transport of boxes of heavy books is a problem, so I gave many away.  I kept plenty and ofcourse have bought some since.  But I have some interesting ones.

Lu Xun Selected Poems

Now this book is not old, but its contents are.  Lu Xun was a famous writer and poet from Shaoxing in China.  He is certainly celebrated there with a large museum called Lu Xun’s Native Place, where his home and the family’s garden.  He was born in 1881 and died in 1936.

One of the poems is here – they were written in Chinese (and then translated into English).

A Riposte to a Friend

Does a true hero have to be heartless?

Surely a real man may love his young son.

Even the roaring, wind-raising tiger

Turns back to look at his own tiny cubs. 

Written in 1932

Sunny Cove Farm by Lucy Bean

Book Sunny Cove Farm

This was written in 1952, and copies are for sale on antique book sites.  It was presented to me in 1953, by the Warradale Methodist Sunday School, probably for good attendance.  It is a long time since I have read it.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Another ageing book I have is Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was first published in 1836.  I have no memory of how I got my copy, and it looks as if it has been around for over 100 years.  There is just no detail about that.

I notice too what there is no date at all within its pages.  It was printed and bound in Great Britain by Jarrold and Sons Ltd, Norwich.









Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Anderson

Again there is no date regarding the printing of it but it looks quite battered and ancient.  Apparently some of the stories were written around the 1830’s.  You can read all about him and his stories here.

In the front of the book is written

Joyce Ragless

from St Mary’s Sunday School Christmas 1923

Girls First Prize Class II


My mother was Joyce Ragless who passed away in 2014.


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