Let’s Celebrate!

Inspiration from forebears

What would my life have been if my grandfather had stayed in Finland? If he had joined his brother and nephew to expel the Russian overlords, been conscripted into their army? If he had married a blue-eyed, blonde Finnish Swede and fathered his dynasty there I would weave between three languages like my northern relatives do.

But on 26 November 1902, Wilhelm Anders Back (‘WA’) embarked on that 15,000 kilometre voyage south to safe haven near the pounding breakers of the Pacific Ocean.

Wilhelm Anders Back aged 16 in 1903

Wilhelm Anders Back aged 16 in 1903

In the Great Southland, enterprising settlers might make a fortune, or they might lose all. Some ventures would be dashed, like breakers that come to grief on rocks. Others would take wings. WA had an eagle eye for opportunities and the talons­—or gnawed fingernails­—to seize them. In tough times he would horse-trade dairy farms, houses, a Barrier Reef island, factories, Italian art.

Granddad journeyed long distances from his hub in the lush New South Wales hinterland to forge his pastoral empire in the arid outback. Where his sons worked the land and raised children, but escaped to the coast to replenish their spirits.

The sea is in our blood.

[Excerpt from "Midnight Sun to Southern Cross"]

This week marked the 45-year anniversary of Granddad’s death

We last saw Granddad when he presided as patriarch at my own wedding. He passed away two weeks later. Out of range, on our honeymoon, we missed his funeral.

Ruth-Toni-Bonetti-Wedding-1974-WA Back

I little thought that, as we said our vows, Granddad relived his own with Christina Hart. But two weeks before, missing his soul-mate of sixty–two years, he wrote us a reflective letter:

“As I look back now on our marriage at Mooball on the 4thNovember 1908, I can remember it as plain as if it were yesterday. The wedding was in our new home that I had finished only a few days before, and the Minister from Byron Bay came by train to perform the ceremony.”WA-Back_wedding-1908-Mooball_NH

His letter described how he surprised his bride with the gift of a piano—her family were musical—and he’d then phoned to engage a teacher. (Aha! Some musical heritage.)

They knelt at the bedside and asked God to protect and guide and bless them through their lives.

“And we certainly asked for some material blessings that in the eyes of the Lord were very small and he blessed us with very much more than ever we contemplated or asked for. If you take God into your partnership I am sure it will be even better than what you anticipate.”

[Excerpt from "Burn My Letters"]

What Granddad taught me

An old-timer from Byron Bay area hinted tactfully that one does not become a self-made millionaire (as Granddad was reputed to be) without cutting some corners. Some families draft ancestors into pens of white or black sheep, with little variegation between. My books attempt an honest perspective, while giving credit where it’s due. Avoiding all conflict makes for dull reading and robs readers of the opportunities to learn from generational patterns. As I have done.

My grandfather passed on his ingenuity, vision and breadth of experience. Often I remember his motto of ‘Just do it.’ He had faith and an ability to turn difficult situations to positives, to innovate and find opportunities at every turn.

Granddad took seriously his role as patriarch and had a genuine care for his flock of descendants, relatives and emigrant Finns. He was concerned to establish his sons and grandsons, while giving women opportunities rare for that era.

He inspired us all with his generosity and enterprise.

I feel blessed and grateful for my forebears, who gave vision how I might forge my own life.

Lift off then wind down

We throw everything into meeting that goal, whether a words or music performance, a publication or a submission. We’re powered by adrenalin, propped up by caffeine, alcohol or whatever. We must plan ahead to circumvent potential adrenal fatigue–as I did, in the last week before my launch of Midnight Sun to Southern Cross on 23 April.

Finnish touches

The launch was a buzz, including a short recital using the St Lucia Uniting Church organ that my Finnish grandfather W.A. Back donated in 1954. Finnish oboist Emily Salonen played The Swan of Tuonela by Sibelius. The Finn Choir sang a moving Finlandia. Sound and video footage of central characters were played.MS launch St L

Guests enjoyed delicious Finnish Pulla and Lihapiirakka baked by chef Bianca Kasurinen, who worked with Jamie Oliver and in NY restaurants. 

 

Praise for Midnight Sun to Southern Cross

“A fascinating story of lives disrupted by wars; of those who sought their fortune in foreign lands, and those who were left behind.”–Annika Wiklund-Engblom, PhD. Third generation of those who stayed and always wondered.

Tell me the story…

In the tradition of great family migration stories, Midnight Sun to Southern Cross continues the saga of the Back brothers’ flight from Russian-occupied Finland to Australia as the nineteenth century turned into the twentieth. From frozen Finland to the lush rainforests of northern New South Wales, to the dry and dusty sheep country of western Queensland, you follow the highs and lows of their new life under the Southern Cross.

PullaIt is an extraordinary tale of success, failure, hard work and dreaming. What drove the wheeler-dealer Wilhelm Anders Back, known as WA, to become in his time Australia’s richest Finn? And what stirred his eccentric writerly elder brother Karl Johan, KJ, pacifist and political dissenter? What of those who stayed behind in Finland, and bravely struggled to oust the Russians from their homeland? This book, and its predecessor, Burn My Letters, are timely in the centenary year of Finnish Independence.

WA’s granddaughter Ruth contrasts his and KJ’s formative years in Finland with her own upbringing in outback Queensland. Her voyage of discovery and self-discovery uncovers research in Finland and Australia, and interweaves her own transformation from shy bush girl to speaker and musician.

In the tradition of great family migration stories, Midnight Sun to Southern Cross continues the saga of the Back brothers’ flight from Russian-occupied Finland to Australia as the nineteenth century turned into the twentieth.

It is an extraordinary tale of success, failure, hard work and dreaming.

What drove the wheeler-dealer Wilhelm Anders Back, known as WA, to become in his time Australia’s richest Finn? And what stirred his eccentric writerly elder brother Karl Johan, KJ, pacifist and political dissenter? What of those who stayed behind in Finland, and bravely struggled to oust the Russians from their homeland? This book, and its predecessor, Burn My Letters, are timely in the centenary year of Finnish Independence.Covers-1

WA’s granddaughter Ruth contrasts his and KJ’s formative years in Finland with her own upbringing in outback Queensland. Her voyage of discovery and self-discovery uncovers research in Finland and Australia, and interweaves her own transformation from shy bush girl to speaker and musician.

 

Read more at http://www.ruthbonetti.com/burn-my-letters/

Both Midnight Sun to Southern Cross and its predecessor Burn My Letters are $28 each, or special price of $50 for both books via Web orders at http://www.ruthbonetti.com/

Hear more about the saga.

How can we plan to prevent adrenal fatigue?

  • Eat regular meals, especially a solid breakfast, or “graze” on healthy snacks every few hours to maintain blood sugar levels.
  • Consult with your doctor, naturopath or nutritionist in case certain supplements may boost your energy. 
  • Unwind in a warm bath with your mix of essential oils, bubbles and Epsom Salt (Magnesium Sulfate).
  • Schedule some ‘Me’ time each week and enough sleep.

Down-time to ease adrenal fatigue

That big event goes well. Relief (but you worked hard, didn’t you?) You read a chapter of a light book. Exhausted, sleep evades. Wriggly overcharge. Mind buzzes. Restless, aching legs. 

Or up-time

Thinks: I need shoulder stands, stretching exercises. A cobra or two, the ‘tranquility pose.’ Nah, too tired to get up. Maybe if I just lift my legs in bed, that’ll do. Maybe not.

So then I crawl out from the blankets, stretch, ‘lift the mountain’ with my arms. Touch my toes. Elevate my legs. Muscles creak gratefully. Breathe. Sleep.

Word Power–written, spoken & sung

Think of all the words we read, speak and write in a week, a year, a lifetime. What might encapsulate your output, by which people remember you? Politicians know a word, phrase or speech that can fast track their career. Or batter it (as in “things that batter” from Alexander Downer). Remember these?

  • I have a dream…” Revisit Martin Luther King Jnr.’s words in light of recent world events.
  • Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables”
  • Julia Gillard’s “misogyny” 
  • Paul Keating’s “the recession we had to have” 
  • “Drain the swamp”…

Do your words speak vision – or derision?

Freedom of speech is much debated at present. It’s allied with freedom of religion, seen through a kaleidoscope. Political perspectives and stances are volatile. We reel from the terrorist attack on tolerant Sweden, which welcomed so many refugees.

What of regimes where words are censored?

Many who enjoy freedom of speech and religion cannot imagine life under repression. Between 1987-1991, hundreds of thousands of Estonians expressed their patriotism in the only way they could – singing. Their Singing Revolution joined with fellow Baltic Republics of Latvia and Lithuania in nonviolent protests that gained their independence from the Soviet regime in 1991. See a documentary and SBS Great Continental Train Journeys: Riga to Tampere. (Where my great-uncle Edvard Back fought in the Civil War, as you can read in Midnight Sun to Southern Cross.)

Edvard Back soldier 2_NH

Finland fought for Independence with war and music

in 1899 (the year my great-uncle fled Finland, pursued by Russians at Suez), Jean Sibelius composed “Finland Awakens” (later renamed “Finlandia”) for a benefit concert to aid journalists repressed by the regime. Growling tremolo and biting brass chords paint in sound the “Great Hate” for Finland’s oppressors that contrast with a plaintive hymn tune. As Finns also expressed patriotism in choral groups, they added vocal lyrics: “Finland, behold, thy daylight now is dawning” and “Be still my soul, the Lord is on your side.”

The Finn Choir sings this at my book launch 23 April, 2–4.30pm

“Midnight Sun to Southern Cross” tells much of Finland’s struggle for Independence, whose centenary is celebrated this year.Midnight Sun front cover

Dr Bill Glasson, AO, who shares similar heritage, will launch the book at St Lucia Uniting Church, Brisbane. A recital of Finnish music will use the organ that my grandfather W.A. Back donated in 1954. Finnish oboist Emily Salonen plays The Swan of Tuonela by Sibelius on cor anglais.
Hear relevant passages from the book and footage of voices from the past.
It’s a free event and all welcome, but do let me know for space and catering.

Finnish pastries!

Afternoon tea will be catered by Finnish chef Bianca Kasurinen, who worked with Jamie Oliver. So please RSVP by reply email, or (61)411782404.

Where to order copies?

Autographed copies are available at the launch, or pre-order copies online.

Cheques can be mailed to PO Box 422, The Gap, Qld 4061 Australia. Or email for direct banking details. Like its predecessor, Burn My Letters, this second book of the saga, Midnight Sun to Southern Cross will be available as eBook (Kobo, Amazon, Book Depository).

So what’s it about?

In the tradition of great family migration stories, Midnight Sun to Southern Crosscontinues the saga of the Back brothers’ flight from Russian-occupied Finland to Australia as the nineteenth century turned into the twentieth.

From frozen Finland to the lush rainforests of northern New South Wales, to the dry and dusty sheep country of western Queensland, you follow the highs and lows of their new life under the Southern Cross.

It is an extraordinary tale of success, failure, hard work and dreaming. What drove the wheeler-dealer Wilhelm Anders Back, known as WA, to became in his time Australia’s richest Finn? And what stirred his eccentric writerly elder brother Karl Johan, KJ, pacifist and political dissenter? What sustained those who stayed behind in Finland, as they bravely struggled to oust the Russians from their homeland? This book, and its predecessor, Burn My Letters, are timely in the centenary year of Finnish Independence.Inside Cover F

Ruth Bonetti, WA’s granddaughter, also contrasts his and Karl Johan’s formative years in Finland with her own upbringing in outback Queensland. For her, it is a voyage of discovery and self-discovery as she tells of her extensive search in Finland and Australia for the broad Back family history and weaves the story of her own life from shy bush girl to musician and writer, wife and mother.

Enjoy the Saga!

PS. To attend the launch, bookings (email, Facebook or phone) are essential.

 

“Playing” music…for free or fee?

Some non-musicians can’t understand that because we “play” music, it’s our livelihood. That we have invested years of decades’ study to finesse our talents. That we still put hours into practice and in many cases into arranging and composing. OK, I’m preaching to the converted. But…

Practice or play?

Why not choose a positive title like “Practice Makes Perfect” someone asked when I published Practice is a Dirty Word: How to clean up your act.

I’m allergic to the words perfect and practice in the same sentence.

practiceIn it I wrote:

Let me explode a myth.
Practice does not make perfect.
Not exactly. Not always. Hey, not ever. Let’s face it, we can’t be perfect.
Even top performers cannot be perfect. None of us can be a hundred percent perfect. Trying to be so is the biggest single cause of nerves, insecurity, depression, low self-esteem. These can cause even the most capable and talented people to give up.
The whole problem is that “practice makes perfect” has been garbled and used as a whip around our ears. Who coined that phrase, anyway? No one admits to it, but the closest we can get to its origin is that the ancient Greek philosopher Periander said: “Practice is everything.” 

But what to call it? Play?

I wrestled to find another word for “practice”. Play is the closest, implying active, creative engagement. (But we know for some it means –er–lack of focus.)

There’s the pitfall…

Some can’t imagine we should be paid real money for mere PLAY.

I must offer professional fees for live musicians at the book launch.

Thank you to those who’ve supported my crowdfunding campaign.Special mention to Althea O’Dee for her heart-warming email:”Congratulations on your new writing project! You inspire me so much. I am working in China at the moment. I’d like to donate to your fund, but when I open the fund-site, it is all in Chinese. Could I donate into your bank account… and you don’t need to send anything in return? I just want to help you, since I already own a couple of your music books, which have really helped me.

We hit the goal! Now to pay musicians at book launchTwoCovers

When my books are between covers, we’ll raise a glass to my wonderful supporters. With live music of course. These talented musicians deserve REAL fees, not mates’ rates.
With extra funds I’ll book a singer and commission son André to arrange Scandinavian music to perform with his gypsy band Greshka).

Because Words and Music are my fortes

There’s a few days left support my campaign. Do check out my crowdfunding site.

Thanks for your support!

 

Novel way to publish books

How to hook a mainstream publisher? That question keeps authors too busy to write their next book. We spend disheartening time on pitching, proposing, publicity. All writers know the pain of rejection.

• Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling were rejected by a dozen publishers, including Penguin and HarperCollins.

• Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind was rejected 38 times before publication.

• Orwell’s Animal Farm: “It’s impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.”

• To F. Scott Fitzgerald, “You’d have a decent book if you got rid of that Gatsby character.”

TwoCovers

When some publishers are interested and enthusiastic, we’re buoyed and tread on clouds. Until we discover they’re academic or vanity press, offering little recompense for our hard work, intellectual property and writing skills. Even asking us to pay for the privilege of seeing our words between covers. Might as well self-publish.

Last year I swore I wouldn’t indie publish. Even though I have already published books for musicians and teachers through my Words and Music imprint. But I’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign for the last leg of a long journey.

Even print on demand needs outlay of funds. Thanks to my son Paul Bonetti who helped, having successfully crowd funded his second album. (You can hear my clarinet backing on a few tracks.) I’m encouraged by the successful campaign to reprint Brisbane Art Deco, which includes my contribution about my Granddad’s house in St Lucia, Brisbane. Back House main BCC-B54-1976

Granddad (W.A.Back) was a Finnish Swede who emigrated to Australia to escape conscription into the Russian army. When his black sheep brother fled in 1899, Russian military police searched for him in Suez. He dodged them and found refuge in Australia. But why did he write home to “Burn my letters?” A decade’s research found answers to such questions. 

Letter KJ Back 1899:2

A treasure trove of archival letters

I’m blessed that my relatives gifted me with illuminating archival letters. These helped me piece together the story of my forebears.

What an inspiring, empowering story!

There’s a degree of memoir as the books cover:

  • Growing up in the Australian outback
  • Schooling in Brisbane: at Ironside State School, Somerville House and University of Queensland.
  • (Granddad led a consortium that developed St Lucia)
  • Studies, research and work in London, Sweden, Finland and more during 7 years in Europe.
  • My musical and life journey

My books that tell their stories and my own journey to discover heritage are ready to go. But I need help to afford printing. Please support my crowd funding campaign so I can put my books between covers.

http://pozible.com/burnmyletters
It’s going well, but not quite safe yet!

Many thanks in anticipation!

Inspiring words

My grandfather, W.A.Back (Wilhelm Anders) died on 2 April 1974. He attended my wedding two weeks before, and wrote a personal letter to me that inspired me through our marriage and to write his story.

He wrote:

“As I look back now on our marriage at Mooball on the 4th November 1908, I can remember it as plain as if it were yesterday. The wedding was in our new home that I had finished only a few days before, and the Minister from Byron Bay came by train to perform the ceremony…”

“Just do it!”

Granddad’s advice has helped me keep going to bring his story to publication.  

A man of enterprise

Granddad was an entrepreneur, the Migrant Made Good. So I think he would have approved of my crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to publish my book.

Would you please support it? Click the above link, choose an amount and reward (books or goodies). Your account won’t be accessed until after the campaign.

 

A man of faith

He wrote that he surprised his bride with a gift of a piano—the Hart family were musical. Then they knelt at the bedside and asked God to protect, guide and bless them through their lives.
“We asked for some material blessings that in the eyes of the Lord were very small and he blessed us with very much more than ever we contemplated or asked for. If you take God into your partnership I am sure it will be even better than what you anticipate.”

Good advice, Granddad. I keep faith that this gift for my sons to know their heritage, and for family and the Finnish community, will come to fruition.

Thank you!