The Network Guy- Stream of Consciousness Saturday

Thanks to Dan Antion over at No Facilities I have been lured into a new to me blog challenge this weekend- Stream of Consciousness Saturday #SoCS which is kindly hosted by Linda G Hill. Please head over there to get the full rules for the challenges, but here are the details for this week’s prompt. I must say I really enjoyed it. It’s been a good 20-30 years since I’ve done a strict stream of consciousness piece and was quite pleased with the results, which have more than a grain of truth.

“Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is starts with ‘u.’ Find a word that starts with the letter ‘u’ and use it however you’d like. Bonus points if it’s the first word in your post. Enjoy!”

“Ultimately, it’s not your responsibility. You can walk away. It’s only a job. There are plenty of others,” Kate told her husband who was the sole network engineer at Parliament House since covid and the staff cutbacks. The Australian people had no idea that Australia’s political and economical stability all rested on Mike’s aching shoulders. That he was the very one person holding this country together like a wretched safety pin. Sure, he was reliable, but he wasn’t infallible.

“What if I get covid? What happens then?” he asked.

“They’ll replace you. Everyone’s replaceable. You know that.” She said, telling him what he wanted to hear, and what the CIO* wanted to believe. However, Mike knew that wasn’t true. No one else cared about the network or understood its intricate inner workings like he did, and nobody fought to maintain its integrity and reliability either. Management should’ve been called “mismanagement”. They didn’t care about people, and they had no mechanical empathy either.

“Why don’t you just walk away before it’s too late, Mike? Your blood pressure’s skyrocketing. You’ve got pre-diabetes and I don’t mean to sound judgmental but you’ve really stacked on the kilos. We could sell up. Move to the country without a mortgage and be free from it all.”

Mike loved his wife, but just for this instance she was sounding like the devil. That wretched serpent luring, enticing him into sin: “You don’t have to go to work tomorrow,” he could hear this enticing voice luring him away. “Walk away. Leave them to deal with the consequences. If the entire country falls into a screaming heap, it’s not your fault. You’re just a cog in the machine. You could actually be lying in a deck chair by the pool sipping piña coladas without a care in the world.”

It all sounded way to good to be true, but he knew it was possible. The house was paid off. They had money in the bank. They could be free. Yet, Mike couldn’t be the one. He couldn’t be the one who brought Australia to its knees – even if it wasn’t his fault he was the only man left standing.

“You know, Mike, it would be really nice if you could just forget about work even for one night and give me your 100% undivided attention. I know that data centre isn’t another woman, but I can’t help feeling you understand it better than me and care more about keep it happy than me.”

“Crikey!” That’s what Mike dreaded more than a total network outage right across Parliament House where all that vitriol usually reserved for their political opponents suddenly hurled itself at him. At least,he knew he stood a chance of fixing that. His wife was a different story and while he wasn’t just capable of understanding machines, he didn’t do well when the going got tough. Got stuck on the finer points of interpersonal communication. That’s when he usually resorted to flowers or chocolates. He didn’t know how they did the trick, but they worked. That’s all that mattered.

Right on cue, his mobile rang. It was work. Almost in synch with his wife, the server was down. Couldn’t be dealt with remotely. He had to go in.”

Kate didn’t even need to ask. She knew where she came in the pecking order, and she knew he’d be back with flowers, chocolates anything but himself.

“A dose of covid,” she wondered, “might not be a curse after all. Indeed, long covid could even be the answer.”

589 words.

CIO = Chief Information Officer

Hope you enjoyed it, and I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Becoming An Instant “Grandmother”…

Yesterday, we welcomed home the new baby. Well, baby doll to be precise. She’s not real which is fairly evident from the photos. However, at the same time, she’s not your standard doll either. She’s what’s known as a baby simulation doll and she is manufactured by RealCare Baby. My daughter is studying Child Studies at school and the “babies” were sent home for two days as an assignment. The dolls come with a pseudo bottle, two nappies and the student wears a wristband to log on every time they care for the baby. The doll also also has computer technology onboard which reports back to base how the baby was treated, especially if the baby was dropped or shaken and the baby will emit loud cries if the head isn’t supported properly. A friend of mine told me she accidentally dropped her daughter’s baby doll a few years ago, and her daughter failed. So, evidently, the are a few pitfalls and I don’t want to be the weakest link.

Naturally, I was fairly curious. I was also rather excited about the whole project, but was also wondering whether this thing was going to keep us awake all night. After all, newborns are synonymous with sleepless nights. I remember them well. I’ve also seen these dolls on TV before, as they’ve been used fairly extensively in sex education classes to prevent teenage pregnancies. The theory goes that if the teens know how difficult a baby can be, they’ll be more careful. However, research suggests that the students who had the dolls were actually more likely to experience a teen pregnancy.

Our elderly neighbours gave us two of these sheepskin bears when our son was born – two in case we lost one or needed to put it through the wash. Their grandchildren had really loved them.

Although the baby would only be staying for a few days, she still needed a name. Miss decided to call her McKinley. I thought she’d told me the doll was Indigenous American and decided to give her a name of my own…Tallulah, which comes from the Choctaw people and means leaping water. My cousins also have a restaurant in Newcastle called Tallulah. However, as it turned out, Tallulah was African-American. However, I only found that out after she’d gone.

Anyway, enough about names. Let’s get on with the doll. Whoops! I mean, baby.

The thing that’s struck me most personally, is how she latches onto your heartstrings. She feels so incredibly real, and yet not (if that makes any sense). Unlike a standard doll made of hollow plastic, Tallulah is weighted and feels surprisingly heavy. Indeed, she weighs around 3 kilos or 6.5 – 7 pounds, which is about the average weight of a new born baby. So, there was a lot of familiarity, and I really felt something rekindle within, which surprised me.

While I’m not going to comment on how Miss went with her assignment, I did get the opportunity to see how a few others responded to Tallulah, and see that she also elicited an emotional response from them both at the local shops with me and also when she made a guest appearance during my Zoom Bible study group.

Starting with the local shops, I had to take Tallulah down to the dance studio to pick up Miss. This was a bit of an exercise and normally, a baby would travel in a capsule, but Tallulah didn’t come with one. So, I just strapped her into the car seat and hoped she didn’t attract attention. To compound matters, I couldn’t get a park out the front and I couldn’t leave Tallulah in the car in case she woke up and needed attention. Consequently, as a 50 something woman, I was left walking down the street carrying a baby doll.

It was very interesting to see how people responded to Tallulah. I could see drivers being extra careful when when I was walking across the pedestrian crossing. They definitely registered “baby” and altered their demeanor. After all, they wouldn’t be expecting me to be carrying a doll around.

I loved the way she put her little arm up like this just like our kids had done.

Then, I had a further opportunity to gauge the reactions of others during my zoom Bible study tonight. The doll was supposed to be turned off while Miss was at dance. However, Tallulah woke up screaming with 15 minutes to go. I abandoned Zoom and ditched my headphones racing to Miss’s room as though Tallulah’s life depended upon me. I managed to find everything I needed to settle her down again except the logging on device. So, I returned to my zoom with a screaming baby the group knew nothing about. The instant they saw her, there was an immediate emotional response, and I even sensed a touch of joy. They didn’t know what was going on at the time, and Tallulah looked real enough, and they wouldn’t have been expecting a fake baby who was my daughter’s homework. They were just humans reacting to what they thought was a real baby.

Even Rosie took an interest in Tallulah, but not without close supervision!!

So, it seems I wasn’t the only one who had an emotional response to Tallulah, and it’s interesting to consider that this baby simulator can stimulate these very emotional (and probably innate) responses when it’s just a piece of plastic. I don’t consider myself particularly into babies and young children and tend to prefer older children. So, the fact this doll (let’s call her by her name – Tallulah) drew me in, says a lot although I wouldn’t say that I love Tallulah. Also, as far as babies go, she was pretty easy going.

This raises an interesting point. If these dolls establish an emotional connection with their carers, are they really an effective deterrent when it comes to teen pregnancies? Could they in fact be encouraging them to want their own real baby instead? On the other hand, they do get a feel for how time consuming a baby can be and unlike Tallulah, they can’t just be switched off while they’re at school or in a dance class.

Anyway, I had a bit of fun being grandma and taking a few photos. While most of our kids’ toys are stored away in our roof, I did manage to find a sheepskin teddy bear which our elderly neighbours gave her. I also found a sheepskin a school friend had given me. She’d used it for her daughters and we used it when Mister was born. Indeed, I’m going to check whether my friend’s daughter has had a baby yet. She might be wanting it back.

While I’ve mainly focused on the upside of having the doll here, I have a few concerns. Firstly, I’m not supportive of the one student having sole responsibility for the doll/baby and there should be capacity for family members to help. After all, we keep saying it takes a village to raise a child, but then putting all responsibility back onto the mother and there are also some quarters who also complain about the declining birth rate. In many ways, it’s good experience for all of us to have experience of a screaming doll-baby who won’t stop crying before we have our own so we have realistic expectations of parenthood. I don’t know whether there is a debriefing process in place when students return the dolls/babies. However, failing could hit a some people fairly hard and while they might be wanting to prevent teen pregnancies, the aim is not to turn young people off having children altogether. It would have been hard for probably all of us as new parents to have been scrutinised like these students caring for our own children We all made mistakes. All had times we struggled to cope. Yet, an important aspect of this program which goes a bit more under the radar is the importance of not shaking your baby and it does raise awareness of these dangers to young people. So, these dolls are not just about sex education, but also give some insights into how to care well for your baby and what will be involved.

Have you or your family had any experience of baby simulation dolls? I’d be interested to hear from you!

Best wishes,

Rowena

Anybody’s Man – Friday Fictioneers: 10th August, 2022.

Malcolm wasn’t going to let being broke and homeless come between him and his daily brew. Oozing charisma and charm, albeit in rugged, unshaven way, Malcolm flirted outrageously with Roberto the Barista at Mecca Cafe for free coffee, while shagging Angel over at Nicko’s Pizzeria. After all, a man has to eat. Playing a game of pass-the-parcel, Malcolm also couch-surfed through the rank and file of St Thomas’s Anglican Church. While they were hell-bent on saving his soul, he was happy praying along and raiding the fridge. Anything to survive. Everyone was only too happy to help the homeless.

….

99 words Photo © Roger Bultot

This is another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields.

Best wishes,

Rowena

P.S. My apologies for not being around for a bit. I was doing a course in freelance Journalism and was a bit over-focused.

New Arrival Due Today!

Thought I’d better warn you before you’re totally shocked. That said, I’m sorely tempted to spin a little story if only my beloved daughter’s reputation wasn’t going to be on the line. What feels like tomorrow, is actually today and Miss will be bringing her “baby” home from school.

“Baby” is one of those baby simulator dolls they send home with teenagers to turn them off teen pregnancies, although apparently studies show that teens who’ve taken these dolls home are actually more likely to have a teen pregnancy and go through with it. That concerns me a little and if she had a boyfriend, perhaps I’d be sending that baby doll straight back to school. However, Miss has been looking forward to this ALL YEAR and it’s been a big motivation for taking her child studies class.

Of course, we never had anything like this when I was at school. Indeed, we didn’t even get to lug around an egg or a bag of flour to get a taste of parenthood in a warped kind of way. After all, there’s very little correlation between a sack of flour and a living, breathing, screaming human baby. Besides, I don’t think my school believed in teen pregnancies, at least ones which went ahead.

Meanwhile, this high tech baby doll does a pretty god job of simulating a human infant (at least according to the promotional video.) It needs to be fed, have it’s nappy changed, cuddled etc Like a real human baby, supporting it’s head is very important and if they don’t support the head properly, the baby gives a pained scream. Ditto if its mistreated. It seems like this baby has all the state-of-the-art computer monitoring capabilities Big Brother would be proud of including a full record of how the student interacts and cares for the baby. So, there’s no covering up poor or mediocre parenting (Or, heaven forbid…a FAIL!!). Indeed, I am hoping I might gain a bit more appreciation after this experiment is over. More understanding. How would you rate my chances?

Anyway, one good thing about this baby is that it only responds to my daughter, who has been given a wristband, which she uses to interact with the baby.

That means I’m let off the hook. No babysitting duties for me.

Well, I’m not sure I’m even going to meet this baby let alone have a photo shoot or spend time together.

I’ve been told it’s hers.

That’s fine.

Here’s to switching off and having a goodnight’s sleep…oh pretty please!

Have any of your kids had one of these baby simulator dolls come home? How did it go? I think I want to know…maybe not!

Best wishes,

Rowena

Couldn’t resist this photo of our beautiful Miss when she was only a couple of days old.

Weekend Coffee Share- 17th July, 2022.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How has your week been? I hope it’s been good!

Well, today I can actually offer you some balmy, invigorating sunshine after months, and months of miserable, very heavy rain accompanied by serious flooding in many places around NSW. Indeed, I was almost in shock when Geoff told it it was 22 degrees Celsius today, although I must confess that I was still wearing a light jumper which sounds a bit odd. Although we probably should’ve spent the day outdoors especially as the rain is seemingly returning on Tuesday for another cold and miserable five day stint. However, we did get down to the beach, which was still covered in debris from the floods and there were also a few impressive structures which had been made out of sticks along the beach. The creek doing it’s best to impersonate rapids although it didn’t come close. It’s also gained a few handmade bridges which intrepid children were happy to cross and they didn’t care if they fell in.

Last Thursday was Bastille Day. Did you do anything to celebrate? Well, my friend, Lisa, and I celebrated in style at Sous le Soleil French Restaurant in Sydney’s Roseville. We were marking 30 years since we were in Paris together for Bastille Day. It’s hard to believe now that we were ever actually there: watching the military parade along the Champs Elysee and by night sitting in the shadows of la Tour Eiffel marvelling as it glowed in the dark. Of course, there was the piece de resistence…the incredibly fire works display. I watched it on YouTube and it was magnificent, and you can see it here. One day, I will return!

Bastille Day Fireworks via YouTube

Meanwhile, I’ve temporarily returned to life as a student. I’ve just completed week four of Freelance Journalism – Part One with the Australian Writers’ Centre. This week, we had to develop a story concept focusing on research and who we’re going to interview. We had a session on interviewing techniques which was rather helpful. However, I really enjoyed writing the profiles last week and it was interesting to read everyone’s efforts more from a point of view of getting to know the people in the course better and I found I had a few things in common. There was even someone doing adult jazz and ballet classes. I was doing an adult ballet class about a year before covid hit and absolutely loved it, but the studio doesn’t run them regularly.

Doing the course has been exciting, interesting, challenging and terrifying. I’ve been writing seriously for about 35 years and after ten years of regular writing on my blog, I thought I’d have it covered. However, writing feature articles is quite different to blogging. It’s in the third person and your opinion doesn’t matter at all. Indeed, unless you’re writing something like a travel story or you’re very famous or interesting, your opinion counts for naught. Humbling. So, instead of writing about what I know, I’m looking for other people who know stuff and statistics and it’s how I weave all of that together which makes a good feature article. I’m not sure how easy it’s going to be to make a living out of it, but at least I’m not short of ideas.

Here I am rather rugged up at the beach.

It’s been school holidays here, which for Miss involves dance and more competitions, exams and photographs. However, there were also challenges off stage. I have mentioned the rain many times over. Well, she was performing her Jazz solo at around 8.00pm and a massive deluge hit while we were there and our poor car was parked on the grass a good walk away and it was not an unrealistic concern that the car might get bogged. Indeed, the wheels were spinning and I tried to think like Geoff to get out of there and we got out. Saw the spot the next day and it was a mud bath. Oh golly. The things we contend with as parents for our little darlings! I felt like quite the survivor!!

it comes to this last competition, I also have a confession. For the first time ever, I didn’t stay for the duration and I left her behind to head off to my Bastille Day lunch. I admit I felt guilty and wondered whether I should reschedule the lunch and go the next day. Did it really matter if it wasn’t quite Bastille Day? Not really, although the restaurant and some of the diners did make it special. However, with Miss’s dance commitments being so intense, I’ve just had to accept I can’t be there all the time and she’ll need to accept that too. I can’t keep up.

Anyway, this brings me to the end of another weekend. School goes back on Tuesday and a friend of mine from Sydney is catching the ferry from Palm Beach to Wagstaff and I’ll drive round and meet her there. So, that’ll be good.

I hope you and yours have a great week ahead!

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Natalie the Explorer.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Stop Sign – Friday Fictioneers 13th July, 2022.

“Stop, Jane! You’ve gotta stop!”

Yet, Jane couldn’t take her foot off the accelerator. She’d said nothing to anyone, but lately she’d been considering driving over The Gap.

“What do you do for self-care?” Her therapist asked, knowing she was on the brink.

“Self-care?” Jane exploded. “@#$%!! I don’t even exist. I’m squished in between Stuart, the kids, work, Mum’s stroke, Dad’s cancer. I’m driving to appointments, soccer, ballet and then there’s church. Busy, busy, busy!”

“I’m prescribing you a week’s holiday. Before you say you can’t go, please consider what will happen if you don’t. You matter too!”

“Do I?”

…..

100 words PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

For so many of us, it’s impossible to stop and get off the treadmill, but there can come a point where too much activity and no rest reaches breaking point. It’s important to consider things the rests which are inserted into music, full stops and commas inserted into sentences and if you think back to when you were first learning to write, putting that all important finger space in between the words.

The Gap, Watson’s Bay, Sydney.

I hope my story this week isn’t too triggering for anyone. If case you haven’t heard about The Gap in Sydney, it’s an ocean cliff at Watson’s Bay which is infamous for suicides. So much so, that if someone’s going through a rough time or having a particularly bad day, they might say: “I feel like jumping off The Gap”. However, it’s generally used to let off steam, and not as an expression of intent.

The flipside of this story, is that much has been done to try to reach or help those wanting to take there life. In particular, there was Don Ritchie, who was known as the Angel of the Gap. I encourage you to read his story and it’s interesting how far a smile can go towards saving someone’s life. It’s really something to keep in mind!

Personally, I see this as a good news story, because Jane is very overstretched but she is seeing a therapist which is a help and she is releasing much of the inner tension she’s been holding back.

About a month ago, I actually did a two day course in suicide intervention run by Lifeline who run a telephone crisis line here in Australia. I have been a first responder and I was surprised at how well I actually handled the situation. However, I wanted to skill myself up. Be prepared.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 11th July, 2022

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Well, t feels like I’ve been lost in space lately. However, I enrolled in a Freelance Writing Course at the Australian Writers’ Centre a few weeks ago and I’ve been head down bum up reading magazines and writing bibs and bobs. Well, this week which is rapidly turning into last week, we had to interview one of our fellow students and write a 500 word profile. Just to make it extra tricky, they get us to undertake this exercise BEFORE we’ve learned about writing profiles. There’s apparently motive for their madness and they’ve found over time that this works best. Anyway, the idea was that they emailed us through the name and contact email of our person last Monday. However, I don’t know what was wrong with me, but I couldn’t find the email and contacted them on Thursday and I didn’t recognise the name in the email and didn’t hear back from her for a few days. Meanwhile, another student had their person fall through and so we profiled each other. Then, my person turns up. She lives in rural Norway about an hour’s drive North of Oslo and the idea of getting to know someone from Norway better was too tempting. So, we ended up profiling each other too. It was a very interesting exercise and I ended up capturing pages and pages of information on each of them. While that was great in theory and certainly far better than being stuck for words, it was quite daunting. After all, we didn’t know each other. All we know is that we write. My thinking was to go broad so if there was a good story there, I’d collect it. However, the obvious thing to look at was why they’d enrolled in the course and why they write.

What really came out of it, was that the three of us are juggling a lot of different things as well as our writing but naturally feel very drawn to writing as our thing and have varying degrees of faith that we can do it. Being so busy, it’s easy to feel that we’re procrastinating about our writing or letting it slide. However, there are only so many hours in the day. I am quite fortunate that I’m not trying to do this course while holding down a full time job, while also having the family to consider. I can largely put my heart and soul into it, and I am very grateful to Geoff for that luxury. He’s been working flat out lately.

The weather has been dreadful again here and it’s been absolutely pouring with rain. To be honest with you, it’s been getting me down. Rather down. We’re just not used to this weather even though it has moved in and well and truly over stayed its welcome much of this year. However, I need to be grateful. We are not flooded. We are not being flooded for the second or third time in 12 months. I have a warm dog on my lap who doesn’t mind having the keyboard slapped on top of him and is absolutely gorgeous.

Anyway, I did manage to get out for a drive to Putty Beach about 20 minutes drive away from here. I stopped off at a nursery on the way and bought two rose bushes: a pink Queen Elizabeth rose and a yellow fragrant rose. They’re to represent my mum and dad. They’re still in the land of the living but I guess I’m feeling their absence because we haven’t seen much of them over the last two years since covid came along. I also bought an Australian native called a Golden Gem and a few primulas. When I arrived hom with my stash, our son said: “You’ve bought more plants to kill, have you?” Deary me! Oh son of little faith!

The beach itself was showing the signs of all the heavy rains and flooding. I don’t know what this beach looks like normally but it had a few estuaries running through it, which might not be there normally. There were a lot of fallen trees around and a massive tree floating just off the beach and a few logs rolling around in the surf. There was also a lot of spume in the water. This is the excess foam which whirls up in storms and t’s a bit like foamy whipped cream.

However, what particularly interested me were the various structures made out of sticks which dotted the beach. These were very well constructed and I was very impressed and wondered who’d made them. There was even a cubby house built into the side of one of the estuaries and I just love it. They’d even managed to get a chair and table inside, and the whole set up showed impressive ingenuity and creativity. There was also a well-constructed tent.

Last week, I also went to see Aladdin the Musical at Laycock Street Theatre in Gosford. It was fabulous and a family friend of ours played the Genie and did a fabulous job. She was hilarious. It’s the first time she’s been able to perform in a musical for two years due to covid, which is really rough so she was really excited to perform.

Lastly, I’d like to mention an exhibition coming up at the Beinart Gallery in Melbourne Annie Montgomerie: Fitting In It’s amazing and I encourage you to click through and check out the portrait of her socially awkward creations gathered together as diverse community. I love them, and am feeling very tempted to jump on a plane to check them out.

Well, on that note, I’m heading to bed.

Best wishes,

Rowena

The Yarn Spinner…Friday Fictioneers 7th July, 2022.

Just out of high school, the boys had stopped off at the Alfa car dealership looking for mechanics apprenticeships. Although he’d never got his hands greasy, Tom was strangely confident.

“My parents have a couple of Alfa Romeo 159 turbo diesels. Dad does all the repairs himself. Had a beast of a time getting the engine out. Talk about needing a lot of tools!”

The service manager was impressed.

“Shame you don’t have a driver’s licence or I’d give you a job.”

Tom felt 10 ft tall, although much better suited to a career in sales than mechanics.

….

98 Words. PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

This is another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Courageous Ballerinas Out In The Arena.

Courage isn’t something you usually associate with ballerinas. The usual gamut of adjectives includes: “beautiful”, “gracious”, “exquisite”, “the swan”. Yet, there’s also that sense of speechless awe. How could they possibly move like that?

However, there’s a whole other set of words which go on behind the scenes. These include: grit, sheer bloody-minded determination, perseverance, incredible organisation and impeccably presentation. I also remember a funny comment… ballerinas sweat. Indeed, they might even smell, which I still find rather hard to believe.

Of course, this is all a world away from the jewellery box ballerina I was entranced with as a little girl. I carefully turned the silver winder at the back and opened the lid. Hey presto! There she was twirling around to Love Story. I was bedazzled. In my case, my admiration didn’t perform some kind of magic and turn a clumsy elephant into a ballerina. However, I was recently reading through my old diary, and it seems a pair of dress-up ballet slippers I bought for Miss when she was three, sowed the seed of her lifelong dream.

Miss age 5.

Anyway, the reason I’m back here posting yet another photo of Miss in her ballet tutu, is that I wanted to acknowledge the latest. Last Thursday, Miss competed in the solos at the Sydney Eisteddfod for the first time. While it mightn’t be a huge deal, it’s the biggest and most prestigious eisteddfod in NSW, and an intimidating juggernaut. So, it’s a good step forward. Moreover, like everything else, the extended covid lockdowns we’ve had impacted on the Eisteddfod making this significant step all the more daunting not just for her but also for us. We’ve been living in our home bubble for so long, it’s almost too comfortable. Added to that, we live about 1-2 hours drive away depending on the traffic. So, it’s hardly next door, and it was in an unfamiliar part of Sydney. This added quite an extra layer of stress, although we had a good run and phew! There was parking on site.

Yet, what I hadn’t anticipated was that the most stressful moment of the competition -and it didn’t even involve our daughter! Indeed, it was a complete stranger. As this young woman was dancing, the satin ribbon on her pointe shoe came undone and started flapping around her ankle like an evil serpent threatening to strike.

Being the consummate professional (albeit only 16 years old), this young woman kept smiling and kept going and going. I was amazed! The entire time my eyes were glued to her and my heart was in my stomach. I was so worried she was going to trip and have a really nasty accident. It was clear everyone around me was feeling it as well. I know dance mums get a bad wrap, but there was so much love and compassion for that young woman. However, she didn’t fall, and kept working her way through her routine spinning and leaping across the stage with this infuriating ribbon dangling from her ankle. Geoff thought she was aware of where the ribbon was, but it was subtle. I congratulated her when I saw her afterwards, because I figured getting through that made her a true champion.

Meanwhile, our daughter was backstage and she had her own crisis. She suddenly heard her music playing and thought she’d missed her cue to go on. The thing is, that when you’re in a studio, the pieces of music for your dances are yours alone. It’s as good as having your name plastered on the front. You own it, and hearing that music is always your cue to go on. However, at the Sydney Eisteddfod, there were something like 60 dancers competing just in the ballet solo section alone, and quite a few dancers were using the same piece of music. So, your music wasn’t your music anymore.

I can just imagine her dealing with all of that backstage when she’s already feeling it. Hearing her music at the wrong time must’ve hit her like an electric shock. However, to be fair, while we had the big board in the auditorium clearly showing which number was next, I don’t think they had that backstage. I just saw a few people hovering with clip boards near the door, and to compound the confusion, audience was going in and out.

No doubt there were endless other overcomings throughout the day, and although they might not rate a mention on the adjudicator’s sheet, are possibly even more noteworthy.

She also competed in her lyrical solo.

As it turned out, Miss didn’t place in the competition, but she scored well and with a lot of these things, you usually clock the first one up to experience.

However, I would like to congratulate her and everybody else who enters into these competitions for putting themselves through all the stress and rigmarole and actually entering the arena.

Indeed, I like to pass on this encouraging quote from —Theodore Roosevelt
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910:

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

Have you or your family been involved in dance or something similar and gone through competitions and eisteddfods? Do you have any stories to share? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Dire Straits – Friday Fictioneers 29th June, 2022.

“We were written in the stars,” Sadie beamed. “We met at the Dire Straits concert in 1986. What were the chances? Richard was sitting beside me. Love at first sight!”

Luck and hard work had served them well, and they owned a thriving floristry business in Lismore.

However, then their luck turned.

On the 28th February, 2022; Lismore, their home and their business were all wiped out in the floods. Devastated, yet grateful they’d made it out alive, and relieved they’d salvaged the truck.

On that rock, they would forge their new empire; starting with a tiny house.

…99 words PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Wayne Fields

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields

Best wishes,

Rowena