Monthly Archives: June 2015

Done: 20,002 Views!

After watching the number of views sit at 19,999 for an absolute eternity this morning, it finally skipped ahead to 20,002 view!

Wow! I’m now a “Happy Little Vegemite”!

That, by the way, is how some of us Australians express absolute bliss!

You probably have to be Australian to get this. After all, how could axle grease ever be the supreme expression of bliss? We're a weird mob!

You probably have to be Australian to get this. After all, how could axle grease ever be the supreme expression of bliss? We’re a weird mob!

Many, many thanks for your support and encouragement.

You’ve made my day!

xx Rowena

19,963 Views…The Countdown to 20,000 Is On!!

No doubt, we have all experienced that sense as bloggers, that we are only talking to ourselves and that no one is reading our stuff at all.
Well, late last year, I finally clocked up 10,000 views on Beyond the Flow and the possibility of reaching 20,000 views felt like a pipe dream.

However, in the last 6 months, I have managed to build up those 10,000 views which had taken me two years to build up before. That is such a wonderful feeling…a real breakthrough. Sure, it’s not shooting a rocket into space or being the first woman to walk upon the moon but for me it’s a blast. Indeed, I’m so excited that I wanted to share this final countdown with you. You who aren’t just “my readers” because this place is more of a community and a sharing of words and ideas…a pond.

So, I wanted you to be thinking of me as the countdown continues and I’m thinking today could indeed be the day.

I can’t wait. Hang on. There’s a champagne cork heading your way!

xx Rowena

Beach Storm

Thunderous rains and cyclonic winds
batter the coast with savage fury,
sweeping through the streets
like a howling ghost.
Candlelight a necessity,
not mere romance,
we’re huddling together,
dogs on our laps.

Fighting for freedom,
the roof flaps up and down
like a bird in flight.
The entire house is now
almost airborne,
flying around the world
before it’s nailed back down.
A window breaks.
A tree falls down.
We cling to each other
in absolute terror.

Ocean Beach, Umina. The surf here is usually fairly calm so this churning mass is quite exceptional!

Ocean Beach, Umina. The surf here is usually fairly calm so this churning mass is quite exceptional!

Lashing out with violent force,
the surf pounds in the distance.
A woman scorned, perhaps…
She’s smashing the beach
with a vengeance.
Violent waves blast through
the slumbering dunes,
savagely ripping ancient tea trees
out by their fibrous roots.
Dumping their spoils
on the beach like useless junk,
there is no mercy.

Shade sail torn to shreds at the local park.

Shade sail torn to shreds at the local park.

With unrelenting fury,
the waves plough on.
The greedy ocean devouring
mouthful after gluttonous mouthful
of scrumptious sand.
All those glorious, golden Summers,
brutally stripped away
without a tear.
The beach is now a graveyard,
strewn with fallen trees.

Taking photos at the beach after the storm.

Taking photos at the beach after the storm.

My morning ritual,
I walk the dogs along the beach,
photographing the carnage.
Brutal, yet beautiful,
those gnarled and twisted silhouettes
glorified in 6 x 4.
oblivious to destruction,
the dogs feast
on a smorgasbord of sniffs
and persistently chases
another dog’s ball.

Bilbo wasn't too sure about the beach disappearing, after all!

Bilbo wasn’t too sure about the beach disappearing, after all!

Strong waves still devouring the shore,
more questions are now being asked.
Sand dunes are steadily disappearing,
the road now lies in its path.
Should we step-in?
Somehow reign in
this surging, unpredictable force?
Seal it tight in a jar
where it can’t move?
Can not escape?
Must sit perfectly still!
Convert it into a swimming pool,
with “No Running” signposted
around the edge?

Ocean Beach, Umina after the storms

Ocean Beach, Umina after the storms

I don’t know.
But as much as I try to rein in
the surging storm within;
build up my walls,
hold my breath in;
I start dying.
An empty shell.
The light in my eyes goes out.
There’s nobody home.

Bird in the Clouds

Bird in the Clouds

If only I could rewind time.
Learn how to ride the wave.
Step out taking more risks.
Move more intuitively,
with the rise and fall of the sea,
instead of fencing everything in!
Then, I could finally soar
above it all.
Be a bird flying free.
After all, even King Neptune
couldn’t tame the sea.

Miss in the dunes.

Miss in the dunes.

Yet, soon Winter will end.
Once Summer begins,
I know we’ll soon forget
there ever was a storm.
The sand will come back.
New trees will grow.
Surfers will hit the waves.
Thousands of feet will leave
their footprints in the sand.
Parents will nudge reluctant toddlers
wrapped around their legs,
to brave the waves.
Dogs will run along the beach
chasing balls and sticks,
feasting on fresh scents,
swimming, rolling in the sand
then dumping the beach in the car.
Melting ice creams and sticky fingers.
Someone is always getting sunburnt
and another freckle finds a face.

Aren't those incredible clouds so mesmerising!

Aren’t those incredible clouds so mesmerising!

Yet, as I look up into the sand dunes
searching for that patch of shade,
the storm lives on.

Our trees are still gone.

Written Thursday 25th June, 2015 in between appointments at Royal North Shore Hospital. It’s interesting what crosses your mind at certain times. There I was writing poetry about the beach in the middle of a concrete box in Sydney, which is hardly an inspirational space, even though they’ve done their best to de-hospitalise the place. I wasn’t feeling unduly stressed before the procedure as I’d had it before although I was justifiably concerned about getting back in time to pick up the kids from After School Care. Had to leave before I got the results and ended up having to self-discharge as things dawdled on.
Not that I’m intending to whinge but because of my lung damage and cough, they were too light on with the anesthetic and I was awake for the procedure, which was ghastly. No silver linings there else that it’s over!!

By the way, the storm photo which I’ve used for my featured image was taken at Palm Beach during a previous storm. There was no way we could take photos down at the beach at the height of the storm, although we did go down during a lull the next day.

After not being walked for two days on account of the procedure, the dogs are muttering about staging some kind of protest, even a revolution. Good job I keep them well fed and patted!

To read about the storm, click here: and

You might also enjoy a similar poem: “The Surfer’s Dog” here:

xx Rowena

Photoshopping the Future

While I was was frantically cooking dinner with my head poised over a hot pan, my daughter approached me with this statement…this wish:

“I wish I could Photoshop the Future!”

Miss, Aged 9, Monday 22nd June, 2015.

Photoshopping the future…I’d never thought about that.

Sure, all of us have photoshopped the past, more particularly OUR past, in some way or another…a bit of a snip here deleting the past from a photograph. Journals burned. Moving to another city or even country to start over.

Yes, we’ve all done a bit of that.

However, photoshopping the future had me thinking…What did she mean?

Of course, she’s at school while I’m trying to nut this out and perhaps my musings and interpretations are more profound than her intentions but we do use photoshop at home. Usually, it’s just to give an image that lift that you used to get in the photo lab back in the day. However, we also have a bit of fun changing the colours and upping or downing the hue and saturation. This is where you can totally alter your reality and end up in a world of lurid fairy floss, dazzling skies and it seems anything is possible!!

Is this what she meant? Did she want to live in this way out, psychedelic world of the imagination where anything was possible with the touch of a mouse? A world that is creative, fun and stretches (if not breaks) all the rules?

Or, was she perhaps seeking a perfect world where there is no sickness, no death, where everyone is nice and there are no bullies and everyone is your friend? Knowing her and how she also wants to be Queen of Australia when Australia finally becomes a republic, she probably wants all of that and I’ll put my order in too.

Why shouldn’t we photoshop the future and start turning the world into a safe and happy place for everyone, despite those old divides of gender, race and class?

I’d also like to add a new divide: difference. “Difference” embraces all those who don’t easily fit into any box and struggle to find a friend or a soul mate. This also includes those who could well be perceived as part of the group and yet keenly feel that sense of difference. Even though they might fit in on the outside,they don’t fit in on the inside. They’re extremely conscious of being on a different wavelength and not fitting in, not connecting with the herd. They might not want to fit in either…or just now and then but in some way that doesn’t involve completely selling out.

Feeling the need to blend in and conform to a set of rules and ideals, is something I’ve experienced myself. Like trying on a new pair of jeans, I’ve felt the rules restrict and constrain as I try to squeeze in and force the zipper shut against the odds. On the other hand, the jeans have also been too big and they’ve fallen down, swimming by my ankles. Yes, we do need social rules, the law and some sort of social boundaries, but we also need to love and offer acceptance to a broader concept of what it means to be human, “one of us”, part of the herd.

At best, the alternative is a dull grey or poo brown world where all the diversity and colour has either been mix in so much it disappears or it is left out entirely.

That’s not a world I want to live in. How about you?

We, therefore, need to become the change, stepping out of our comfort zones and building bridges towards those we have perhaps ostracised in the past and look for what we have in common, instead of what divides.

After all, right around the world, we have already experienced evil at it’s ugliest worst.

It is up to us to be the spark which creates, or indeed, “Photoshops” a new, much brighter future.

Love & God Bless,


PS I have Photoshopped the rainbow painting used in this post in keeping with the theme. The original photo had a bit of glare and so I started Photoshopping that out as well but before I knew it, I was also Photoshopping out the brushstrokes, which gave it character and individuality as well as imperfection. So, after doing the blue, I stopped. This gives you an appreciation of the effects of conformity and using the machine to standardise and perfect whereas the other colours show a more “slapdash and expressionist” approach. Indeed, when it comes to describing my painting style, that’s actually a perfect description!

Footprints, Pawprints and Spirits in the Sand: Winter Solstace At The Beach.

I AM FOREVER walking upon these shores,
Betwixt the sand and the foam,
The high tide will erase my foot-prints,
And the wind will blow away the foam.
But the sea and the shore will remain

Kahlil Gibran: Sand & Foam

Whenever I take my camera with me, a walk somehow turns into an adventure, as I see the world through my second eye.

This morning was no exception.

No sooner had I caught up with the other dog walkers, than I found out that last night was the June Winter Solstice. You see, like so much other things down here in the Southern Hemisphere, things are a bit topsy turvy and upside down. Or, indeed, the right way up depending on your perspective. While so many of you re feasting on Summer, it’s Winter Down Under.

Feasting on the details in the seascape. It was just incredible!

Feasting on the details in the seascape. It was just incredible!

Yet, the dog walkers were all pretty chuffed this morning. There we were enjoying the incredible sunshine in the middle of Winter, tossing our jumpers, coats, scarves to the four winds, while some of the more daring canines actually braved the surf without dipping in a pre-emptory paw first.

Winter? What Winter?

No paw dipping for Bilbo. He stayed well clear of the water...and the other dogs for that matter. He's the canine equivalent of a bloke standing alone holding his beer  in the corner at the pub.

No paw dipping for Bilbo. He stayed well clear of the water…and the other dogs for that matter. He’s the canine equivalent of a bloke standing alone holding his beer in the corner at the pub.

Although the day started out at a brusk 9 degrees Celsius, it rose to a glorious 20 degrees. Talk about spoiled! Indeed, I was.

Returning home, I started cogitating about the Winter Solstice, reading about festivals held overseas as well as scientific facts about the seasons and the rise and fall of the moon and the sun.

Even seaweed takes on an incredible beauty through my camera lens.

Even seaweed takes on an incredible beauty through my camera lens.

What with all this juggling of snippets, facts and reflection, I started wondering about the feet which used to walk along these shores not that long ago and what their traditions for the Winter Solstice might have been.

Aboriginal Language Map of Sydney.

Aboriginal Language Map of Sydney.

Our local area was home to the Guringai Australian Aboriginal tribe. This tribe stretched from the north side of Port Jackson, North through Pittwater, Broken Bay and Brisbane Water, to the southern end of Lake Macquarie.

Another fallen tree in the surf.

Another fallen tree in the surf.

In March 1788, just a couple of months after the English first settled at Sydney Cove, the first Europeans arrived in our local area when Governor Arthur Phillip landed with a party at Ettalong Beach. In June 1789, a more thorough investigation of Brisbane Water was conducted. A rest stop was made at Ettalong Beach before the group passed through ‘The Rip’ (a dangerous passage leading into Brisbane Water). On return, the party camped at Ettalong Beach before sailing to Dangar Island in the Hawkesbury River.

Here are a few quotations from that trip which appear on a a local plaque:

Plaque no 2.: “Monday 3rd March, 1788 When the tide had slacken’d we picked up and found several small inlets between mangroves on one of which island we stop’d and pitch’d the tents: had a very hard rain all the morning Lieut. Wm Bradley March, 1788”.

Plaque no 3.: “Tuesday, 4th While the tents and clothes were drying… a crab was caught and proved very good AM, at day light proceeded up… we found natives all the way up. Lieut. Wm Bradley March, 1788”.

Plaque no 4.: “This plaque was laid on the 3rd of March 1988 to commemorate the landing in this vicinity of Gov. Phillip, Lieut. Hunter and their party on 3rd March 1788”.

Feet…despite my love of history, I’ve never really considered whose feet I am following in as I walk with the dogs along the beach and chat to other dog walkers. By the time we arrive, there are hundreds of footprints in the sand and it’s no longer a fresh canvas.

However, these footprints dig deeper…Governor Phillip, the Guringai people… into a timeless land.

Turning back the clock even further, Aboriginal people observed the solstice long before Stonehenge was even a dream.

Found on a property near Mt Rothwell, 80km west of Melbourne, there’s an ancient Aboriginal sundial dubbed Wurdi Youang, which was built by the Wathaurung people before European settlement. CSIRO professors believe the ancient Aboriginal sundial could be more than 10,000 years old, an estimate that would have it pre-date the famous neolithic Stonehenge and the only remaining ancient wonder of the world, the Egyptian Pyramids.

CSIRO astrophysicist Professor Ray Norris said the precise alignment of the stones proved beyond a doubt it was constructed to map the movements of the sun, in order to track the seasons.

“What we have found with this stone arrangement, which is a circle of about 50m across, is it’s aligned east-west and what is really interesting is that if you stand at the top and look through this particular gap over the stones, you look at the exact position of where the sun sets on summer and winter solstices and at the spring and autumn equinoxes,” Prof Norris said.

“This can’t be done by guesswork. It required very careful measurements.

“If it goes back, let’s say, 10,000 years, that predates the Egyptians, the Pyramids, Stonehenge, all that stuff. So, that would indeed make them the world’s first astronomers.”

Head of Sydney University’s Koori Studies, Janet Mooney, said the discovery would be an inspiration for young Aborigines and help address what she claims is a fundamental oversight of the skill of the ancient race.

“This discovery has huge significance for understanding the amazing ability of this culture that is maligned,” she said.

So many stories have been etched into the sand, reading like a book.

So many stories have been etched into the sand, reading like a book.

I felt quite a sense of pride learning of these Aboriginal achievements. So often, I hear comments about how Australia has no history. That we only go back 227 years, as though Australia didn’t exist beforehand. Indeed, it was terra nullus…a blank sheet of paper just waiting for the English to start writing its’ story.

Not so. Definitely, not so!

Anyway, none of this crossed my mind as walked with the dogs this morning. All I was thinking about how good that sun felt and how blessed we are to live in an absolute paradise. Of course, this is totally forgetting about the dreary, wet days we had last week and it is this contrast against that cold gloom, that made today so much better. It isn’t like this every day!

So, now the march towards Spring and those scorchingly hot Australian Summers has begun and yet I’m sure you’ll understand why it’s so easy to fall in love with a sunny Winter’s day at the beach!

xx Rowena


Further reading About Wurdi Youang

A Blog About Aboriginal Astronomy:

Loving the Misunderstood: When Our Kids Hurt.

Yesterday, I had two kids home from school. Mister had a cold, sore throat and could barely keep his eyes open and Miss had been wiped out by too many late nights along with a cold.

While you’d expect sick children would by definition be too rundown to engage in mortal combat, you’d be surprised! In their weakened states, they almost killed each other, trashed the house and were absolutely obnoxious!! At my wits end, I rang my husband at work and asked him to come home. After all, I’d been up most of the night with a dreadful cough and all this coughing has left me with dreadful backache. I mean, if ever there was a case where Mary Poppins needed to fly in with magic umbrella, this was it.

It is the first time in longer than I can remember that I actually asked Geoff to come home but when he reminded me that he was two hours away and in the middle of touring a construction site hard hat and all, I took a deep breath and decided to “mum up”. Surely, I could mount an effective counter-attack and neutralise the little peoples? After all, as I am reminded, I am the adult. Surely, size and experience should be enough to combat youth, sleep-deprivation and impulsive thinking?

A little bit of green paint can go a very long way.

A little bit of green paint can go a very long way.

I don’t often write about the more negative aspects of my children on my blog because I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. While I might vent with a friend, it’s quite another thing to plaster their more dubious antics on the world wide web. I might as well stick up a billboard on the main street. That sort of thing is private, not public and children actually have rights to their privacy…even if a family member is in the media in any capacity. Too many writers exploit their children.

At the same time, I also don’t want to create the wrong impression. That just because they might look cute in the numerous photographic images I’ve plastered on my blog, that they’re perfect. Indeed, like all kids, they have an instinctive eye for mischief and a young and speedy mind and body to swoop into action before I’ve even sniffed trouble on the horizon.

Moreover, I don’t want to convey the impression that our kids just coast along having a Mum with a chronic life threatening disease and that there isn’t any fall out. Because there is.

At times, they really don’t cope and nor should they be expected to be okay all the time…just like the rest of us. They get angry. They get upset and not all of this manifests itself in what I’ll term: “socially unacceptable behavior” but is really a cry for help or at lest, a bit more attention. If adults struggle to survive in a pressure cooker, how can a child? Yes, we get on with it but there are times when the pot explodes and everything goes splat on the ceiling. We are anything but superhuman.


While some children compensate for a sick parent by becoming overly protective and in effect little adults, my kids seem to react by running amok and regressing, sometimes quite significantly. So, instead of being helpful, they’re quite dependent and want and demand everything done for them. When this doesn’t happen, which is inevitably the case, there’s payback…anger, tears, screams.

You get the picture.

As you can imagine, when the kids erupt like this, things can get incredibly difficult, especially as this tends to happen when my health deteriorates and I’m least able to handle the meltdowns. To be perfectly honest, at these times, I wish I could just stick them inside an envelope, whack on a few stamps and post them somewhere else. I know that sounds bad but when you’re struggling to walk, breathe and essentially stay alive and you’re kids are going feral, what can you do? We have friends and family who help out but they can’t live your life. Moreover, although these meltdowns are very intense, they’re usually short and life soon returns to some kind of equilibrium.

Over the last few months, things have been brewing with our son. He’s seen stars and vomited. Had bad headaches. A dreadful asthma cough and really not looked very well either. He’s missed quite a lot of school.One morning when he couldn’t put his finger on his nose and was seeing stars, I took him off to Emergency. Nothing showed up and the vomiting stopped but he still hasn’t been himself. Then, yesterday, I found a tin of salmon with knife marks jabbed through it and it looked like it had been mauled by a shark with metal teeth. This precipitated a huge worry. Why couldn’t he just use a can opener like anybody else? Why doesn’t he know how to open up a can after helping out with cooking? He’s also a Scout. Now, I understand that scouting can make you more resourceful and inventive but surely a Scout can open up a tin by themselves?

One mauled and mutilated tin of salmon...none other than John West: the Best!

One mauled and mutilated tin of salmon…none other than John West: the Best!

I’m sure you can understand my concern!

Not only had he opened the tin with a knife but he’d also spilled the stinky fishy oil over the kitchen table when I was still sorting through cookbooks and a cookbook my grandmother had helped put together back in the 1950s had been smeared with the stuff.

I was livid.

You can also imagine after working so hard on the decluttering and kitchen renovations, that I was just a little bit precious and didn’t appreciate a tornado of a kid thrashing through the place.

But what can you do? Padlock all the cupboards? Lock him in his room? Lock myself in my room? You can also take your kid to a supposed expert but I’d already tried that and it was inconclusive. He is actually having some counseling about what’s been going on. You see, it’s not just me who’s been sick but his sister’s been in hospital and his aunty has cancer and Grandma was in hospital for tests yesterday as well.

As I said before, you can’t expect kids to cope any better than an adult when they’re submerged in “shit”. It’s to be expected that when a kid is hurting, they’re not going to be smooth sailing. More than likely, they’re going to bite the hand that feeds it and that’s not easy to take.

That said, we all have to get on with it. Keep going. When you’re living with a chronic ongoing situation, you can’t keep dropping your bundle and have any hope of getting anywhere. You have to keep fighting straight through that savage head wind and keep going. Surprisingly, this resistance actually builds you up and makes you stronger and we’re meant to take it on. We’re not designed to slump in a chair and give up. Yet, that doesn’t make the process “fun”.

Anyway, after more downs than ups during the afternoon and a few stern words from Dad who wasn’t happy being called at work or finding the house in such a state, Geoff had a chat with the Mister.

Geoff had Mister on his knee and started asking him questions and talking and eventually, the story tumbled out. Mister was worried that I was going to die. That having a chronic illness means that you’re dying.

Finally, we had something concrete, which made some sense.

It also turned out that he couldn’t get the can opener to work.

Mister spontaneously made a heart with his Incredible Hulk green hands. It really touched my heart!

Mister spontaneously made a heart with his Incredible Hulk green hands. It really touched my heart!

As you could imagine, we’ve had many talks on this subject over the years with the kids. As my health is pretty precarious even though I’m currently in remission, I don’t lie to them and promise some rosy-coloured vision of the future…especially as we’re currently in Winter and a chest infection is the most likely thing to cause me grief. I had pneumonia two years ago and it almost got me so I know life is fragile but it’s like that for all of us. Anyone, could be run over by that proverbial bus and it’s all over in an instant. It’s just that we’re more conscious of the fact.

Mister’s relief was immediately evident, although he still had trouble sleeping last night. These are big concepts for anyone to process…especially a kid who really needs and is still dependent on his Mum. I’ve also heard that having a parent hanging in the balance like this can be worse than the actually loss of the parent. There’s that omnipresent shadow. The knife hanging above my head. The boogey man, in the form of my illness, is always there making faces and scaring us. Yet, as close as it’s been, I am still a few steps ahead. Indeed at the moment, aside from the cough, I’m doing very well. However, the kids aren’t always in synch with my health status and can pick up on some random thing we’d never considered and react, leaving us wondering why they’ve lost the plot.

Also, in addition to living with my health issues, they also have the normal everyday issues kids have, although these can also get magnified when they’re not handling things well.

So, when you see my children mucking up, or other kids for that matter, instead of judging them or their parents’ disciplinary enforcement, perhaps you could ask a couple of simple questions:

Are you okay?

What can I do to help?

Another good idea is to run through all the people they can turn to for support. They can draw a hand on a piece of paper and write those name on each finger. Having a list of contacts on the fridge can also be helpful. Our kids really don’t seem to know important contact numbers other than 000 (our emergency number).

I’ve jotted down a few things here which have helped us get through those really tough times. They’re not an instant fix but over time have helped them and me.

Suggestions for Helping Kids Get Through a Rough Patch

• Some kids appreciate more physical contact such as hugs, sitting on your lap, holding your hand even though they might be older. Physical contact is a powerful way to convey love.

• Go for a walk or bike ride etc (exercise).

• Get a bit of sun. Sunlight helps you cheer up.

• Find a way to have a laugh. Laughter is known as the best medicine. A

• Play with a friend and or a pet.

• Write in a journal and/or draw some pictures.

• Listen to music.

• Having a break from the situation by going to a friend’s house or doing after school activities.

• Become an active member of an out of school community such as Scouts, Church etc where the kids can feel love and support beyond the family unit.

• Having an outlet for expressing anger such as drumming, jogging, boxing. Getting those emotions out is very cathartic.

• Talking regularly with kids about what is happening and keeping them updated. This is very easy to overlook and can be seen as protecting them but kids have good ears when you don’t want them to listen and it’s better to have a more structure conversation, rather than them picking up on bits and pieces and potentially getting the wrong idea.

• I haven’t been very good at this but meditation and slowing down anxious breathing is fantastic and helps keep a level head. The best way for me to do this is to go for a walk along the beach and focus on the water or by doing my photography. Focusing on a point is a relaxation technique.

In the meantime, if you know a kid who is going through a rough time and seemingly spiraling out of control, please don’t judge or condemn them. Perhaps, all they’ll need is a hug or a compassionate ear.

All our children need love, compassion…especially when they might “deserve” it least! Indeed, that’s when we need to push through the pain barrier with that desperate determination of a professional athlete and keep striving with everything we’ve got…including our community, which is so often right under our nose when we just have a look!

Our children, and especially our youth, are too precious to ever give up!

Love & Blessings,


This photo was taken when I was on weekend leave from hospital back in 2007, when I was first diagnosed with dermatomyositis.

This photo was taken when I was on weekend leave from hospital back in 2007, when I was first diagnosed with dermatomyositis.

Lost Sock Saga Resolved.

Rewinding back to my previous post about where all the lost socks go, for all of you who nominated the dryer, you were on the money! Here’s Geoff dismantling the greedy dryer to retrieve one, measly white sock which managed to choke the whole machine.

Here’s the original post:

As if having to fix the machine wasn’t bad enough and indeed, I did put off telling him for over a week and was pegging the washing out on the line despite the Winter weather, retrieving that sock was no easy task!! Geoff not only had to unbolt the @#$% machine from the wall. He also had to remove at least three of the panels to extract its latest “meal” before putting it all back together again.

Why dryers haven’t been built with something like a mailbox where you can: “Collect Your Lost Socks Here”, I’ll never know.

Meanwhile, I’ll conveniently leave out that I forgot to put the lint filter back in the machine. So, perhaps it isn’t quite fair to blame the dryer after all.

That perhaps, I should claim responsibility…a bit like a rogue laundry terrorist.

“It was me!”

By the way, this incident also confirms that great relationship adage: “opposites attract”.

You see, I break things and Geoff fixes them…a perfect match!

Do you have any entertaining fix-it stories from your place? Do tell!

xx Rowena

Walking Along the Storm Ravaged Beach.

A few months ago, I wrote about some terrible storms which ravaged Sydney and our normally placid, local beach. While you usually hear about the calm after the storm, there is also the carnage. Naturally, the  electricity is well and truly back on and the streets have been cleared and the fallen trees pulverized into mulch.However, the beach is another story. There is still ongoing  sand erosion and trees have been uprooted and devoured by the angry surf. Still on the rampage, the surf has set its sights on the road, as it carves through the dunes with determined persistence.

Trees have been uprooted and strewn along the beach and buried in a sandy grave.

Trees have been uprooted and strewn along the beach and buried in a sandy grave.

While the environmental impact of the storms has been quite severe, from a photographic perspective, it’s quite another story. The interplay between surf, sand and the trees is rather captivating.

Moreover, it’s also a magic wonderland for little hands, feet and eyes to explore.

Miss climbing up the decimated tree scape.

Miss climbing up a tree skeleton, which was buried in the sand.

Most days, I walk the dogs along this stretch of beach solo but given the glorious Winter sunshine, I encouraged the kids to join me. Despite her action-packed, sleep-deprived weekend at camp, Miss came along. I pulled out the camera and followed her, the dogs and an incredible bank of billowing, white cloud.

Aren't those incredible clouds so mesmerising!

Aren’t those incredible clouds so mesmerising! That’s the Palm Beach headland in the foreground and Whale Beach in the background.

After being outside while the vanished dried on the kitchen floorboards, the dogs almost flew into the car…not that I ever need to tell them twice!!  Actually, all I need to do is get my handbag and head towards my keys and they’re both standing at the front door tails wagging and then there’s almost a draft as they zoom out. There’s no stopping them!

A Dog's Life...isn'tt it tough?!!

A Dog’s Life…isn’tt it tough?!!

We’re in the middle of Winter here and although we’ve had some wet, damp and gloomy stretches, we’ve also had more than our fair share of glorious, sunny weather. When that magical Winter sun is shining , your soul starts to warm up and dance on the inside as you stick your head out the door.

 Even in the middle of Winter, you can muster a smiley face.

Even in the middle of Winter, you can muster a smiley face.

I don’t always take the camera to the beach and I’ve been a bit reticient since we recently updated the lens and it’s still “precious”. After all, getting sand all through your swimmers and your shoes is one thing but it really does nasty things to a SLR camera lens.

Miss in the dunes.

Miss in the dunes looking like an advertisement for some form of  miraculous stain remover.

However, that combination of girl, dogs,beach and sun was too hard to resist and I was thrilled to spot a bank of huge, billowing clouds on the horizon and the light was absolutely perfect as well…the magic hour!

I was in heaven.

Now, I hope you enjoy sharing a touch of our heaven too!

I could almost inhale the incredible beauty!

I could almost inhale the incredible beauty!

Never forget that even in darkest depths of a freezing Winter, the sun is always just behind the clouds waiting to come back out.

xx Rowena

Miss goes bush. Mummy goes bananas.

What nobody tells you when you sign up for this crazy parenting caper is that this whole business of  teaching and educating your kids is a two-way street. That they stretch, extend and educate you at least as much and you can’t just sit back and rest on your laurels. Oh no! Instead you have to work hard, stretch until you feel like each and every fibre in your mind, body and spirit are about to snap and you’ll be put back together with sticky tape. At least, if my daughter is patching me up, that’s what she’ll be using.

Miss trying out her pack in her zebra onesie the night before camp.

Miss trying out her pack in her zebra onesie the night before camp.

So it was last Friday night, that I found myself driving up and down a street after dark looking for my friend’s house so I could drop Miss off for a 2 day cub scout camp. This wasn’t the sort of so-called camping where you’re living it up in a hut. Rather, they would be sleeping in tents and roughing it in the inimitable Australian bush.

Strangely I wasn’t worried about the snakes, spiders and drop bears which threaten death and panic throughout the Australian bush. Instead, I was much more concerned about the possibility of rain. I really didn’t like the idea of my little darling sleeping outside in the rain in a flimsy tent. After all, I don’t even like the dogs sleeping outside in their kennels in the rain, despite their thick, woolly coats. Just call me soft but I usually leave them inside.

Yet, I digress.Back to dropping Miss off.

Looking a bit tired but putting up with posing for photos inside the trunk of a scribbly gum.

Looking a bit tired but putting up with posing for photos inside the trunk of a scribbly gum.

It’s pitch black outside and I’m driving up and down this road trying, against all hope, to find any street numbers. I’ve been to their place once in daylight but I was a passenger, which usually doesn’t make for good recall. After a few U-turns and zero recognition,  decided to admit defeat and call for directions. There’s no shame in that. Besides, my friends are pretty understanding when it comes to my foibles and have the same fondness for me that they usually reserve for garden gnomes.

Bush toilet.

Bush toilet.

Of course, by the time I pulled over and actually called for help, I was starting to stress. Not quite a full-blown panic attack but I was definitely working on one. Although I’m often Captqain Courageous, I have some trouble with night blindness and, of course, as I start to stress my disorientation only got worse and the world started to spin and do some kind of incredible dance.

I don’t use my mobile a lot and being cold and stressed and, of course in the dark, my fingers had seized up and I wasn’t pressing the buttons properly. Moreover,  apparently my ear somehow managed to disconnect my phone all by itself. At least, that’s what my daughter said but what would she know? She doesn’t even have a phone or access to one and yet she does seem to know her way around my phone with the expertise of an Aboriginal bush tracker.

Yes, it appears that I have very wiggly earlobes!!

Anyway, when we pulled over, I forgot to turn my lights back on and I was only driving literally around the corner but there my friend was now playing sentry outside his place looking for me and then I turn up totally lost in our suburban back streets unable to operate my mobile phone with my head lights off. Talk about a Wally! All I can say, is thank goodness I wasn’t made in a factory. I would have been stamped defective and turned into landfill.

Reflections on the creek.

Reflections on the creek.

All I’ll say is thank goodness I can make yummy choc chip cookies. These have made me very popular with the scouts and their parents. Given their popularity, I’ll never have to worry about navigation again. They’ll all be looking for me!

Anyway, after my incredible success on Friday night, I dobbed Geoff in to pick Miss up on Sunday afternoon but we all went up to meet her and caught the end of closing parade.

Much to my delight, I managed to go on a mini bush walk as we picked up her gear and checked out the camp site. I really enjoyed that walk because bushwalking with my medical condition when I have fallen over and even broken my foot on plain grass, means I just don’t go. I don’t think I’ve bushwalked for at least 2-3 years. I’ve been skiing but bushwalking can present a lot more immediate hazards.

When you’re an outdoorsy scouting family, that’s quite a gap.

By the way I mention that not to whinge but to raise awareness and to remind people not to take walking for granted. It could all change in the blink of an eye!!

Heath-leaved Banksia, Banksia Ericifolia , Kariong,, New South Wales.

Heath-leaved Banksia, Banksia Ericifolia , Kariong,, New South Wales. Miss told me they collected the honey off the dew left on the flowers early on those frosty mornings.

We always need to carpe diem Seize the Day!!

As you can see, while my feet don’t always cooperate, my click-happy finger went into overdrive taking dozens of photos of these precious camping moments in the Australian bush.

Just like what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, what happens at camp, stays at camp so I’ve only had a very sketchy description of what happened. Needless to say, there was possibly more talking than walking, not a lot of sleep but a lot of fun. As usual, I take my hat off to their dedicated leaders who volunteer their time so that our kids can grow.

This Banksia bush reminded me of a straggly Christmas Tree. what with its stunning golden

This Banksia bush reminded me of a straggly Christmas Tree. what with its stunning golden “candles” and its somewhat triangular shape.

Meanwhile, I am still thinking about how I can get myself up to scouting speed. Rather than driving too much at night, I might just tie myself up in knots instead.

Her bags in the bush.

Bags in the bush.

Has your family been involved with Scouting or Guides at all? Any stories you’re willing to share now that you’re too old to get busted? Much to my disappointment, I wasn’t involved and the closest I came was going camping, was at school when I was about 15. There was quite a fuss at the time because many of the girls freaked out about having to dig a hole to go to the toilet. We were a tough bunch which also had to be reminded not to wear high heels. Golly, now there’ s a scene for a movie!

xx Rowena

PS I should point out that while it looks like this camp was held at some remote location deep in the Australian bush, Camp Kariong is only 20 minutes up the road and is in Greater Sydney.

The Dog and her Castle

Apparently, humans are not alone in needing their castle. It appears that a certain dog also needs her own castle. Once again, Lady has usurped her position in the hierarchy and has taken over our home and made it HER castle!!  After all, why stop at a kennel when you can take over the entire house…especially when you’re a “Lady”!By the way, she’s also set her sights on our car and world domination is only a few paw prints away.

Not that our place is a castle. It’s actually more of a “renovator’s dream”, which as is often the case, has become more of a “renovator’s nightmare”. It’s now 14 years since we bought the house and although we’ve made some progress, we’ve been stuck in some kind of perpetual holding pattern for a considerable slab of time. Actually, we’ve steadily been going backwards.

The iconic Australian movie.

The Castle…an iconic Australian movie.

Now, if you’re not from Australia or New Zealand, you might not pick up that there are castles and then there’s: THE CASTLE!! A movie which turned a humble weatherboard home located right on the edge of Sydney Airport into the Taj Mahal.After receiving a resumption notice to extend the airport, blue collar worker Darryl Kerrigan,went all the way to the Australian High Court to save their home, saying:”I don’t want to be compensated. You can’t buy what I’ve got!” This is, therefore, your classic tale of David versus Goliath and even though it parodies the working class Aussie battler., it does so with a sense of admiration and near reverance, not ridicule.

The Infamous Pool Room.

The Infamous Pool Room.

The Castle’s inner sanctum was the “Pool Room” where anything special was proudly put on display:Now, when someone receives a present they really love, you’ll often hear: This is going straight to the pool room.”

Son Dale and father Darryl comb through the pages of an Australian classified adveretisments newspaper called the Trading Post. Dale would find the most extraneous items such as jousting sticks and Dad would ask how much they want for them. and in a phrase that has now been incorporated into the Australian vernacular, Dad would reply: “Tell him he’s dreaming!!”

Another interesting scene in the movie is a trip to the family’s holiday house at Bonnie Doon. which is surrounded by a veritable jungle of towering powerlines. I’ve actually driven past where that scene was filmed and those powerlines truly dominate the landscape! You’ve got to say that it was definitely a case of  “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.  or that “life is what you make it”.

As far as our place is concerned, I certainly don’t consider it my castle but perhaps once the renovations are “done”, I might be able to view it as more than some kind of sandcastle. To be honest, it would be great to denote the place and rebuild rather than renovate but small steps…

Meanwhile, Lady is back out to her kennel. Actually, it’s Bilbo’s kennel and we’re not exactly sure who’s sleeping where but they have been spotted sharing Bilbo’s kennel. However, as they’ve both had the snip, this isn’t quite as “romantic” as it sounds. They’re probably just cold…lonely…

Meanwhile, I’m dreaming of a different sort of castle. Indeed, I wouldn’t mind a chateau but right now I’d be ecstatic just to have a house that didn’t need any work and was “done”.

I’m sure Geoff would more than second that motion!

xx Rowena