A Period Through Time

A Period Through Time

A Period Through Time

by Montanna Macdonald

Warning: We are about to discuss the topic of women’s monthly business. MENSTRUATION. 

Have you ever wondered while you struggle with a pad wedgie, trying to find the string, or trying to conceal the string while you swim, have periods always been this bloody hard? 

The design of sanitary period items are made to conceal, because, as we have learnt from women before us, we want to cover up that we have our period discreetly, we don’t want everyone knowing our uterine wall is shedding 


“Oh, hello Montanna, how are you?” 


“I’m just wonderful, James, you?” 


“Oh well I’m just jolly, but I can see your period is quite heavy today, you’ve left a trail behind you on the floor, have you thought about seeing your GP about your flow?”


“Yes James, my insides are shedding and falling out, preparing me for reproduction, thanks for the observation, I would very much like to see you slip in it now.” 


Although it would be quite refreshing to see James slip over, the thought of having my period on show makes my eye twitch. The most horrifying and embarrassing stories have sprung a leak between women folk- most of us know one. 

This brings on some questions to ponder, is it ok for social structures and culture to want women to conceal a natural part of life? Is this a learnt behaviour, a survival method? Or if we could rewrite history, would this be different today?

Without drifting too far into the psychological constructs of periods, have women have always had to put up with annoying period tools?

The toolbox we use now wrapped in plastic and cotton has not always been like this. Let’s break down the most critical periods of time, period. 

Firstly, either women bled freely all over their clothes in ancient times, had so many babies they barely had a period or men who have written history have refused recording menstruation. Over 4,000 years of historical recordings, even from Rome barely mention how women dealt with periods. There was a taboo about menstruation being “unholy” “unclean” and a “curse”, where Jewish Orhtodox women had to be separated from society under the laws of Niddah for fear of contaminating men or objects.

Some of the earliest recordings of women’s menstruation hygiene tools date back to Ancient Greece in the 10th Century when a woman was said to have thrown a menstrual rag at a man to be-rid of him. If I threw a used pad at a bloke today, I would probably get the same reaction. Not much has changed. Body fluids being thrown at a person is pretty gross?

We need to take a moment to appreciate the very mystical? beliefs of women’s periods in Ancient Egypt and Greece. In Egypt, it was considered sorcery and was used as a liquid in practised magic, and in Greece, period blood was spread with wine across harvest fields to increase soil fertility. Then it became Voldermort-like the unspoken. 

In Ancient Egypt, women used papyrus that they softened in the sewage-filled Nile river to use as a tampon.

In Greece, they used splinters of wood wrapped with cotton lint, and in Rome, they used wool. In other parts of the world, moss, paper, animal skin and grass were used. All options sound nasty. Vaginal health – well you can only imagine, no Femme Fresh to be found. 

It wasn’t really until the 20th Century (which baffles me) that women’s sanitary products became a known thing, and even then they were questionable. Most women made home cotton cloths and rags like baby nappies that were pinned onto their underwear or harnessed on with a DIY muslin belt. 

Source: https://owlcation.com/humanities/Overview-of-menstrual-pads


So when the first commercially advertised sanitary product came out in America in 1896 by Johnson & Johnson called the Lister Sanitary Towel (a cotton pad) tied to a belt, you would think that women would be excited about this? Well they weren’t, the thought of even going into a store and purchasing a product in front of others with the word “sanitary” on it was not the done thing. 

Source: https://www.maximhy.com/blog/2014/03/05/a-brief-history-of-pads-and-tampons/

From here followed a whirlwind of exciting period inventions with clips, buckles, belts, flaps, slings, fasteners, you name it. It sounds like an erotic novel gone wrong.

In World War I French nurses started using cellulose bandages used on bullet wounds in the war as pads. This inspired the revolutionary Roaring Twenties pad, Kotex. The first disposable pad on the market that had to be worn with a belt, but to avoid ’embarrassment’ of saying menstruation or sanitary to store staff, you could buy your Kotex and discreetly leave your money in a Kotex box on the counter. A  bandage for that monthly wound. 

Source: http://wordsofchoice.blogspot.com/2019/06/resources-comeback-of-period-and-only.html

In 1927 Johnson & Johnson tried again, with this time removing the word sanitary from its pads and calling them “Modess” which became a Kotex rival.

Source: https://owlcation.com/humanities/Overview-of-menstrual-pads 

Dr Earle Haas in 1929 patented the first ‘tampon applicator’ called a catamenial device…he changed this to Tampax. The company was bought off Gertrude Tendrich in 1936 which saw the tampon grow in popularity. 

Source: http://www.mum.org/Tampaxpatent.htm 

One new bulky belt pad with blue liquid and tampons led to another, nothing surprising. 

Now let this sink in, the same year Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969, marked the world’s first adhesive-strip pad (Stayfree Mini) without a bloody belt. One big step for mankind, and one big step for women’s health that should’ve already happened? 

Source: https://owlcation.com/humanities/Overview-of-menstrual-pads

Bless us for not having to wear a sanitary belt ever again, with even the options of menstrual cups and menstrual underwear. 

Keeping in mind that tampons, pads and other sanitary items along with their packaging generate more than 200,000 tonnes of waste per year, with 90% of pads being made out of plastic. Furthermore, a year’s worth of disposable period products leaves a carbon footprint of 5.3kgs CO2 equivalent. 

Problems with tampon strings and pad wedgies are nothing compared to the bigger picture. Even though we have transgressed from period magic, putting wood and grass up our vaginas to plastic disposable sanitary items, we have a long way to go. 

I wonder what our period toolbox will look like in another decade?


The Blazing Heart of Community

The Blazing Heart of Community

The Blazing Heart of Community

by Kirsten Macdonald and crew Kate O’Donnell, Montanna Macdonald  

Like many all over the world, our hearts are left swollen and aching as we witness on our screens and for some in their backyards; the scorched earth and hellish sky.

Beach blue now engulfed with smoke haze and embers of the worst kind; scarring the land with unprecedented ferocity. Beneath with sooty tears and anger lies the desperation of people fighting in what has become one of the worst National disaster bushfires in Australian history. The devastation runs deep and will continue long after the last flame as sputtered out. For the impact of wildfire is a destructive force that will echo forever.

JAX Tyres for Ponderings

As we heard the stories from friends and family defending their homes, like so many, we felt desperately sad, angry and frustrated, helpless. 

Our fellow tribe were left without water, listening to the cries of dying animals, burning fauna and drought-impacted earth baked to concrete under the glazing sear of intense heat. Lives were lost, people and wildlife, pets and livestock. Gone. And bushfire season hasn’t even begun for many areas. 

We started asking those impacted “Who are the organisations there now, helping rebuild and doing work person to person, on the ground?” The resounding response was BlazeAid

Started after Black Saturday in 2009 by Kilmore East farmers Rhonda and Kevin Butler, BlazeAid is volunteer based and has helped rebuild fences and lift the spirits of people who are often facing their second or third flood event after years of drought, or devastating losses through bushfires. 


BlazeAid volunteers work in a disaster-affected area for many months, not only helping individuals and families but also helping rebuild the local communities. 


The 100% Australian run registered charity currently has 14 base camps around Australia helping on the ground. 


So Kate and I packed the boot with goodies and made the trip to Lexton Victoria to meet with Bruce Hindson, co-ordinator of one of the camps. 


We drive on a dusty road into a popup township of campers, caravans and tents, we soon realise we are in good company, a thriving and bustling place. The trailers are lined up ready to go out for the next job, each one equipped with the tools needed to build fences and make repairs. But BlazeAid isn’t just about fences. As Bruce explains, it’s really about people. 


“Talking to people on the phone is okay, but actually dropping in and having a cup of tea, face to face can make all the difference. You have to meet people, shake their hand, check-in and listen. People underestimate what this means. When you have a team of people staying nearby at a hall, or a footy ground that are there to help you get back on your feet and get the fences mended, it can change everything for a person. Fences are expensive to replace, and people have sometimes had everything wiped out. You got no fences? You got no farm. To help them with an ear, a conversation and a sense of community go a long way” says Bruce. 


With trailers stationed in every state, BlazeAid has anything from 15 to 110 people turn up to help with a carefully planned roster, logistics and rebuilding set up. People may give 2 hours of their time or two months and the dedication of return folks each year gives you goosebumps. 


The Lions Club are there today, donating their time and helping set up a marquee tent for more room. 


Bruce and his wife Janice tell us the community generosity is fantastic. They tell us the story of one night everyone was at the local pub, the publican put on a special meals night at a discount price for all the BlazeAid crew. When they went to pay for their meals, 2 x locals had covered the lot. “People look after each other, and there are so many more stories like this, it happens all the time,” says Bruce. 


The team in the kitchen are working away and tell us there is a real “get this done” mentality along with lots of laughs and big smiles and you get the feeling this is a marathon, not a sprint. 


“People think once the fire or flood has gone, it’s all over with. But this is not the case. It’s like a funeral, at first the casseroles roll in, then 6 weeks later everyone starts to get on with their life. This is often when families are only just beginning to come to terms with what has happened and wondering how the hell they are going to get going again” says Hindson. 


“I am not going to lie to you, there have been times when we have rolled up, I have met a farmer and thought I would see him hanging from a tree by the end of the week; the devastation runs that deep. But what do you know, a week later the bloke and his family are smiling, they have some future to look to and feel a bit of support. That’s what happens.”


A sobering thought.  


For many, they might not have lost their lives but may have 200 head of sheep badly burned, or wildlife living on the property, ancient trees protected on a generational property. 

Animals they have raised have died. Or perhaps they might have hundreds of acres of crops ruined, years of work gone in a moment. They may have already been suffering from drought, and this type of disaster is the straw to break the camel’s back. Let’s not forget sacred sites and the lands of native animals close to the country’s heart and soul. 

Suzi and Ruth are busy in the kitchen. They tell us; “People come in each day covered in soot,  smoke, they’ve had a hard day, sweaty, dirty exhausted…Then even after all they have done for the day or dealt with, there is storytelling, laughter and jokes. From randy goats taking a fancy to the latest volunteer to the little pleasures of a freshly made scone; there is a community here. This is what Australia is made of.” 

An operation like BlazeAid costs anywhere up to $5000 a week for a camp to run and facilitate. 


Relying on volunteers, business sponsorship and the help of the donations from the public it is a 100% charity. It relies on these funds to help it continue to grow, engineer trailers and get on the road to having those conversations to those that need help the most. 


We know there are many who are helping by donating to major organisations, but it was an easy decision for us to support BlazeAid and move from feeling despair and take some action. 


We have chosen to donate $20 from every new Subscription in February to BlazeAid. We currently give $2 from every subscription to Vision Australia. So your gift is supporting two incredible charities, both of which are hands-on and help those in need of restoration. 


For the month of February, we are dedicating every edition from our online Magazine, Podcast and App to the stories of those impacted by the Bushfires, because we believe that the unfiltered truth of our collective stories is the fabric of life. It is the one thing everyone has; a story. 

At Ponderings, we need to hold that space for these stories to be told. So know that not only will you be supporting the creation of this space but also BlazeAid and Vision Australia. 


Ponderers and counting...

The Top 3 Australian Tech Whiz Chics To Watch

The Top 3 Australian Tech Whiz Chics To Watch

The Top 3 Australian Tech Whiz Chics To Watch

Words by Montanna Macdonald

You may be familiar with Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. But have we all heard about Marita Cheng, Cyan Ta’eed and Melanie Perkins? 

These three women are Aussie gals slaying the game in the tech world. With bright, innovative futures ahead of them, today we will ponder, support and celebrate these awesome chicks doing beautiful high-tech things. 

Marita Cheng 

  • Did a Bachelor of Science in Engineering at the University of Melbourne;

  • Designed a company that provided messages on phones to help manage drug prescription schedules, winning the best undergraduate business at the University of Melbourne. 

  • Partnering with fellow engineering science students, Cheng Founded Robogals in 2008 while studying. Robogals is now an international student-run organisation empowering women to study engineering, providing workshops, robotics competitions and exhibitions. Robogals is sponsored by the likes of Australia’s Department of Defence, Telstra and Modern Teaching Aids. 

  • On Forbes 2018 Worlds Top 50 Women in Tech. 

  • Founder and CEO of Aubot, the start-up robotics company, designing robots for people to log into from anywhere in the world where their robot needs to be. For example, for children with cancer who need to attend school and disabled people to attend work. 

  • Google-funded Cheng to study at Singularity University, where she Co-Founded the app Aipoly in 2016, assisting blind people by helping them recognise objects using their smartphone.  
  • Has done two TEDx talks, and so much more! 

Melanie Perkins 

  • A Perth girl, Melanie studied Communications, Psychology and Commerce at the University of Western Australia. Perkins left university to create her first company, Fusion Books. 

  • Fusion Books is an online design software made to create and print professional-quality yearbooks. This led to Perkins next big ‘Unicorn’ that would take over the world, Canva. 

  • CEO and co-founder of Canva, the online publishing tool for graphic design, saying goodbye to InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. 

  • Melanie is one of the world’s youngest CEO’s leading a tech start-up like Canva, that is valued at over two billion dollars. 

  • Melanie fought for investors in Canva, with some of the first being Hollywood celebrities Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson. 

  • Canva is used by millions of people worldwide in over 150 countries, and all started with her first business, Fusion Books, in her mum’s lounge room. 

Cyan Ta’eed 

  • Creative Melbourne girl Cyan Ta’eed co-founded the tech giant Envato in 2006 with her husband at 26 years old from her parent’s garage

  • Envato is essentially an online marketplace where you can buy and sell creative digital content and designs like graphics, stock videos, music, templates website themes and more. Envato now has millions of users worldwide. 

  • Envato is the 88th most trafficked website in the world (according to Alexa), and over 48 sellers on Envato have earned over $1 million. 

  • Envato’s revenue was 16 per cent to $134 million in 2017-18, with both Cyan and her husband Collis making the fourth place in the Financial Reviews “Young Rich List”, agreeing to be on this list solely to make women entrepreneurs more visible. 

  • The “tech titan” also founded the new innovative Instagram website-building app Milkshake, and Hey Tiger, an ethical and incredibly delicious chocolate brand.  

10 Things You Didn’t Know about Roald Dahl

10 Things You Didn’t Know about Roald Dahl

10 Things You Didn't Know About Roald Dahl

by Ponderings Radio

10 Things You Didn’t Know about Roald Dahl

We all know Roald Dahl, the prolific author, and a true ponderer of childhood imagination. 

Whether it be befriending a giant, turning into a blueberry, escaping witches, living in a peach or using telekinesis to make objects dance, Dahl created a marvellous timeless world transpiring from paper, and tv screens, to hearts. 

What was your favourite Roald Dahl novel? I’m indecisive, trying to decide between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda is not an easy gig. 

Maybe you can instantly think of your favourite? There are plenty to choose from; Dahl wrote 49 of them! This includes children’s novels, poetry and even contemporary adult fiction like the ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ found in his previous works Kiss Kiss and someone like you…didn’t know that, did you? 

The Times names Dahl as one of the “50 Greatest British writers since 1945”, and this is an understatement in my belief, I think he should be number one British writer of all time. Not everyone can write a story about turning your cranky grandma into a giant using homemade medicine, then shrinking her until she disappears and bringing joy to the family that she’s gone. True art. 

A mind like this must come from someone with an exciting life, so, let’s ponder on the ten things you didn’t know about Dahl’s life. 

  1. Roald Dahl wrote movie screenplays! 

Dahl is not just your average joe blow author, he also wrote screenplays for movies like ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’, and the James Bond film ‘You Only Live Twice’. Not only did he write screenplays, but he had excellent TV success with his stories, such as being featured for a six-episode season on the award-winning US series ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’ for ‘Tales of The Unexpected’. Watch below one of the famous episodes, ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’, which aired on April 13 1958.

2. Roald Dahl was a World War II air force pilot, and an MI6 Spy! 

Dahl enlisted in the Royal Airforce at 23 years old, and in September 1940 he received severe injuries after his Gladiator plane crash-landed in the Western Desert. He later took part in the Battle of Athens, and then was sent to Washington to become an MI6 spy. What is even more fascinating, is when providing intelligence for MI6, Dahl worked along with partner Ian Fleming (aka, 007 creator), and both of them used their spy experiences to help Fleming create the James Bond 007 series! 

And for some comical adult themes, well here’s a little insight into possibly what Dahl was up to as a spy… 


3. Roald Dahl has a history of women. 

Roald Dahl was a ladies man, a tall, handsome spy, who loved children and could write, I mean, you can’t blame him. But, Roald did settle down, he married Oscar-nominated Hollywood actress Patricia Neal in 1953, and they were married for 17 years, and had five children. Neal found out about an on-going affair Dahl was having with her friend Felicity Crosland who she invited to their abode in Great Missenden, and the rest is history. Dahl and Neal divorced in 1983, and later Neal termed Dahl “Roald Dahl the rotten”. Dahl then went on to marry Felicity Crosland in 1983, the same year he got divorced from Neal! Ouch. Dahl remained married to Felicity until his death in 1991. 

4. Roald Dahl has an interesting family tree, with both fame and tragedy. 

In tragic circumstances, Dahl at a young age lost both his sister and father to illness. His sister Astri Dahl died of appendicitis, and his father Harald Dahl died of pneumonia. Later in life, Dahl’s first daughter Olivia died at age seven from measles, and his son Theo was severely brain damaged at four months old when his pram was hit by a taxi, resulting in built-up fluid in his cranial cavity. Also, his first-wife Patricia suffered from three burst aneurysms and strokes when pregnant with their fifth child Lucy. On a positive note, Dahl’s daughter Tessa Dahl grew up to be a wonderful actor, and her daughter Sophie Dahl is now a famous model, designer and author.  

5. Dahl helped pioneer a new medical treatment to help his son and children around the world. 

Roald Dahl worked with Stanley Wade, a toymaker, and Kenneth Till, paediatric neurosurgeon, to create the Dahl-Wade-Till valve, which was a cerebral shunt to drain fluid from his son’s brain and prevent blockages. This valve helped his son Theo and over 3,000 other children around the world with hydrocephalus.  

6. Dahl helped save Patricia Neal’s life. 

When Patricia Neal suffered from three burst cerebral aneurysms in 1965 when pregnant with her daughter Lucy, Neal was left blind, unable to talk and walk. Roald Dahl would not let this ruin Neal’s life and put her on a hardcore routine back into health. As a result, Neal learned to walk again, talk again, and with so much success, she got back into acting and received an Oscar nomination in 1969 as the best actress in a leading role for film ‘The Subject Was Roses’. 

7. Cadbury inspired Dahl’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory! 

Roald Dahl as a child went to Repton Public School, and while there the Cadbury chocolate factory nearby would let the students taste test samples. With an avid love for chocolate, Dahl’s experiences as a child led to the creation of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Also, Dahl’s postman’s name was Willy Wonka. 

8. Roald Dahl has a Marvellous Children’s Charity. 

Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity (previously the Roald Dahl Foundation) was created in his honour by his wife Felicity after his death in 1991. The charity helps over 21,000 seriously ill children and their families at any one time around the UK. Each year, the Dahl family gift 5% of Roald Dahl’s worldwide royalties from his work to the charity, equalling around $850,000 donated each year. 

9. This may not come as a surprise, but Roald Dahl was a prankster. 

Dahl’s 1984 memoir ‘Boy: Tales of Childhood,’ reflects on all sorts of devious things Dahl got up to as a child, including the great mouse plot where he and his friends put a dead mouse in a gobstopper jar in cranky Mrs Pratchett’s lolly shop. He also put goat poop in his “ancient” sister’s fiancé’s smoking pipe. 

10. Matilda was a devil child and Ms Honey was a gambling addict. 

In the early original drafts of Matilda, Matilda Wormwood was a “wicked child” causing havoc at school and helped her teacher Ms Honey out of a financial pickle by ‘fixing’ a horse race. Roald Dahl admitted in 1988 in an interview that after writing several chapters, he decided he got it all wrong and re-wrote it. Matilda was the last children’s novel Dahl wrote before his death in 1990. 

Oh, and I wouldn’t be a true Dahl fan if I didn’t play tricks on the readers…here is an eleventh fun fact for you.

11. Roald Dahl was a real-life BFG; he was six-foot-six!

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