Sunday, February 06, 2011

If a king can do it why can't I

THE United Nations chiefs who apparently have the mandate to declare "international year of ..." status have backed a treble for 2011: chemistry; forests; and people of African descent.
However, they could have landed a quadrella if they had read some movie reviews. The King's Speech, which tells how a down-to-earth Aussie helped George VI deal with a stammer, seems to have everybody talking.
It's international, promoted with the words of an insightful critic as "a film to make your spirits soar" and charging toward multiple-Oscar glory in '2011 – the Year of Beating Speaking Difficulties'.
If a king can suffer so terribly from such communication seizures and overcome them through empathetic support, anyone can.

THE story's base in actual history gives extra weight of inspiration for those who suffer speech problems of any classification and those who work either professionally or voluntarily to help them.
Redland Toastmasters' recent Classified notice invited readers to "face your fear"; it promoted a special eight-week program.
Toastmasters International describes itself as a not-for-profit training organisation that focuses on communication and leadership development. The movement was founded in the US in 1924, coincidentally during the reign of old George.
It aims to help men and women "learn the arts of speaking, listening and thinking; vital skills that promote self-actualisation, enhance leadership potential, foster human understanding, and contribute to the betterment of mankind".

SIXTEEN years ago, a Mackay teacher on a break from the classroom joined Toastmasters. She was good at addressing her pupils but was going into a business and wanted to improve her speechcraft and gain some "intellectual satisfaction" in a club-type interest away from the sport and drinking scenes.
Jill Nixon, now of Cleveland, says she has seen many heart-warming and amazing successes as members have blossomed from tongue-tied, foot-shuffling mumblers with shaking knees and sweating palms to confident speakers who inform and entertain with clarity.
"There's usually a trigger of some sort: a daughter getting married and the father needs to make a speech; maybe a job interview," she says.
She recalls a tradesman who, when put 'on the spot', struggled to even say his name and discuss his pet interest of soccer, but he left Toastmasters as a good public speaker: loud, clear and with the ability to think on his feet and say what he needed to.

THE group is based on peer support and constructive criticism. Members even count the 'ums and ahs' for each other to work on bad habits.
Jill has already seen The King's Speech twice and probably will return before the season ends.
Thanks for joining me to meet the great people in the marvellous community of classified advertising.

This column has appeared in The Redland Times.

Tale of special cat and the value of love and prayer

A DEEP sadness gripped Judy Gross, of Mount Cotton, while many thousands celebrated Australia Day. It was the sixth day since her cat, Sonny, went missing.
The eight-year-old desexed male escaped from his run on Friday, apparently into the house, past Judy's husband, John, and out an open door.
Sonny has been an important member of the family for almost eight years. Judy bought him in 2002 for her son, Craigie, who had depression.
THE handsome Birman fretted after Craigie's death in 2007. Judy and John took Sonny to their relatives in Canberra, but the grief-stricken cat rejected human attention, ate barely enough to keep himself alive and upset his carers with a nasty new habit of spraying in the house. He stopped purring.
"We saw him in Canberra last April and were shocked; he was a very unhappy, sad and angry cat and he was a bag of bones," Judy said.
"In June the relatives rang to say, after two years and 10 months, they couldn’t do any more for him and were going to give him to RSPCA Canberra, but John insisted he come home to us."
The couple picked up Sonny at Brisbane Airport. Judy immediately felt the cat was giving back to her a part of the great loss she suffered from Craigie's death as her son and his pet were inseparable for five years.
EVEN so, the cat growled and snarled at the couple and refused to eat for four days.
With veterinary advice, the couple put Sonny on antidepressants for two months and gave him "24-hour attention and love".
"It took four months before we heard him give a little purr and he even put on half a kilogram," Judy said. "I also felt more settled so we did each other good. He never wandered and spent his days in the shed or garage watching my husband fix stuff.
"He was much too contented to walk away. We find it bizarre that he has just vanished."
Last Friday Judy walked from 4pm to 10pm, calling his name until sobbing and exhaustion forced her to give up.

JUDY spent much of Australia Day visiting an elderly aunt in a nursing home. But her fears for Sonny haunted her; she wondered where he was and blamed herself for leaving the laundry door open. She prayed for a miracle.
That evening, the phone rang. Sonny had been found at Macgregor and traced through his microchip. Judy shed tears of happiness as she set off to pick him up.

Thanks for joining meet to meet the great people in the marvellous community of classified advertising. This column has appeared in The Redland Times,

Rotarians launch 'flood fightback'

The summer of 2010-11 will leave many scars on the flood and cyclone-ravaged Queensland community.

THE scenes of devastation after the Queensland floods will haunt us for life, whether we simply viewed the televised images or witnessed them first-hand – as volunteers or victims – during the clean-up.
The emotional weight that landed on the army of clean-up volunteers reflects in the latest edition of Capalaba Rotary Club's weekly bulletin, Possum Post.
It was like a lull before the storm when the club featured recently in the Classifieds, posting the names of its Christmas Trailer Art Union winners.
The festive cheer, however, had already departed early last week and the club was developing a program to help regional flood victims when the South East Queensland emergency developed. As club president Terry Ryan said: "What a difference a space of a few hours can make."

WITH Toowoomba and Grantham devastated and Ipswich and Brisbane about to be swamped, the Redland Rotarians first organised support to staff and equip a proposed Capalaba evacuation centre, and were on standby for this task until Thursday, when it was decided they should instead register with Volunteers Queensland.
"Club members had rallied to the call and we were able to turn out late Friday morning with seven Rotarians and three Cadet Officers from 136 Cadet Unit," Terry said.
On Friday, the unit went to West End. "The sight of the grey river mud and silt that covered the roads, footpaths, furniture, houses and anything that had been in the path of the water was eerie," Terry said.
"It was a surreal experience overall, something like a war zone, with Blackhawks and media helicopters flying low and hovering, people walking dazed among what used to be their homes and neighbourhoods, the noise of gen sets and pressure cleaners and the smell from the silt and mud already starting to develop."

ON Saturday the Redlanders returned to West End, then joined the clean-up at Rocklea. By Sunday, the group had swelled to 30 and again worked at Rocklea.
"There have been tales of heartbreak and sadness, we have met many people who have lost everything except what they were wearing and I felt much thanks that I could come back each night to my home, finding it intact, having power, a hot meal and a bed to sleep in," Terry said.
The Capalaba, Cleveland, Redland Sunrise, Redlands Bayside and Wellington Point Rotary Clubs – in tandem with the Bayside Bulletin – have combined to hold the Monster Flood Fightback Garage Sale in Nelson Road, Wellington Point on Saturday, February 5 and 12.
They have called for donation of quality, saleable items: "Fellow Redlanders ... we need your help!!!"

This column appeared in The Redland Times.

Think of real meaning but dont burn the snags

This was Classie Corner's Christmas message in The Redland Times in December before a seasonal recess. During most of the festive seasons during my 40-year-long career in journalism I have soldiered on but in 2010-11, I joined the revellers and holiday makers:

TODAY, a break from tradition and an early Christmas message as the tension builds in the homes and shopping precincts of Redland City:
Jaws dropped at a family barbecue when a teenager asked, during the annual countdown to the birth of the most important person for a major chunk of humankind, "Did Jesus die of old age?"
Outrage and wonder at such apparent ignorance showed in the adults' rapid chewing to clear their mouths and attack: "How come you don't you know that Jesus died on the cross?"
The teenager's response, however, soon humbled the indignant elders: "Yes, I know Jesus died on the cross but he came back to life , so did he then live a normal life, or whatever?"

THE adults who had been very quick to judge the youngster before hearing the context of the question were now extremely slow in reply. They simply didn't know the answer.
This curly one required some expert solving. David Busch, of Capalaba Uniting Church, came to the rescue: “Actually, the resurrection isn’t just a dead body coming back to life.
"It’s a new kind of life – body and spirit. Some of Jesus’ friends didn’t recognise him after the resurrection.
"He appeared to them in ways that a mortal body couldn’t. And after 40 days of these appearances, he was taken into heaven.
“The resurrection was God’s way of defeating death. So Jesus didn’t die of old age – he showed us life beyond death which is God’s gift available to all of us because of Jesus’ death and resurrection.”
The eyes of some started to glaze over, as they were thinking about an interest-free deal for their Christmas shopping list.

DAVID sensed he was getting 'a bit preachy' and jumped back into action to save the sausages from cremation, as the conversation turned to the cricket ashes.
Capalaba Uniting Church's use of the Classifieds to promote its activities shows how the Christian community and its values are still prominent despite the commercial focus in the modern world.
The Capalaba church and others are always working away in the background and honouring not only the life of Jesus but offering his spirit of compassion and care.
That's really nice to know as we shop till we drop and cross off the days until, December 25. The messages: Be tolerant; don't jump to conclusions if something or someone pushes your reaction button; enjoy the summer cricket; and don't burn the snags.
As for me: I have taken care of my Christmas and Easter columns in one go. Thanks for joining me in the marvellous community of classified advertising.

Alexandra Hills takes garage sale title

The 'post, post' catch-up continues as I work through the backlog of stories that I should have posted sooner (image courtesy microsoft):

THE calendar page is about to turn. The last of the spring garage sales will bring out young and old for their weekend treasure hunts across our bayside city. The Garage Sales column has been busy this spring, maybe because of some underlying social causes or simply 'wash-outs' that the rain postponed.
Once a year, Classie Corner awards the coveted title of Redland City Garage Sale Capital to the suburb clocking up the most sales in a certain timeframe: Congratulations to the 2010 winner Alexandra Hills, which had 20 advertised sales in the past two editions – two more than the runner-up, Capalaba, with 18. Then came: Thornlands 16; Redland Bay 14; Victoria Point 12; Birkdale 13; Wellington Point 9; Cleveland and Ormiston 7; Thorneside 2; Sheldon and Raby Bay 1.

US author Mark Twain believed "there are lies, damned lies and statistics" but such a simple collection of figures will always reflect some truths, if only basic influences such as population size and demographic factors.
Nowadays, with vendors presenting a pitch to catch the keen eyes of the garage sale early birds, the listings certainly make interesting reading.
During the past few weeks, the instinctive spring clean-out has been prominent, and the traditional deceased-estate
and moving-house listing have featured.
However, hearts surely reached out to the Redland Bay women who proclaimed: "Husband busted – everything must go."
The obvious emotion in such a public statement of angst would undoubtedly prompt some sideways glances from nervous buyers. Would anyone be game to ask whether "busted" meant he was in trouble with the law, bankrupt or both?
Perhaps that story will become available when time takes the heat out of the situation.

THE garage sale columns in your local paper seem to have evolved into a 'real-life soapie'. At one end of the sale scale, there are the obviously desperate and at the other, people who desperately want to help.
As the Redland Bay woman told the world about a crisis in her family, Capalaba Uniting Church was advertising a carboot sale.
The Ney Road church can put its earnings to good use. It describes itself as "a friendly church with a desire to worship and serve Christ, and with a big heart for our community".
A craft group, a Crossroads group for people with disabilities, home groups, market days, prayer groups, and an annual camp are just some of its activities.
The church says its morning tea after Sunday worship is a relaxed time of friendship – and maybe it also offers some tranquillity after Saturday's garage sale chaos.
Looking ahead to the weekend: the bureau has forecast a shower or two tomorrow, so be prepared.
Let me know if you come across any interesting stories on your expeditions into our marvellous community of garage sales. Email:

This column has appeared in The Redland Times.