Monthly Archives: June 2015

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 Castle...an 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.” www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBXHTvgN5ko

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!!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jL2DH-nKBeA

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

 

Renovating Uncovered.

A fortnight ago, spurred on by our decluttering efforts, we finally started putting in the new kitchen cupboards. This was the first step in ripping out the cupboards under the sink so the dishwasher can go in. Not simply a matter of just supergluing the cupboards to the wall,, we had to dismantle the shelf first and somehow rehome a hell of a lot stuff… mostly treasured collectables.

The- contents of the shelf downloaded onto the kitchen table. Shame they could be uploaded quite so easily.

The- contents of the shelf downloaded onto the kitchen table. Shame they couldn’t be uploaded quite so easily.

A ceramic plate I painted andan envelope written by Miss is hardly "clutter".

A ceramic plate I painted and an envelope written by Miss is hardly “clutter” but expressions of love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, as I’d booked a council clean-up, the cupboard building and moving the dishwasher went on hold for the weekend as we ripped up the vinyl in the kitchen instead. Then, along came sanding, vanishing and moving a hell of a lot of stuff. The dogs weren’t too keen on all of this. Once the vanish was down, they were outside. After all, we didn’t want pawprints and dog hair entombed in the  wet varnish. As much as we love our dogs, there are much better ways of remembering them for eternity!

Not Hppy Jan! Inside dogs put outside made numerous complaints to management!!

Not Hppy Jan! Inside dogs put outside made numerous complaints to management!!

So, after all of this activity, it’sofficial. We’re renovating.

If you’ve ever renovated, then you’ll know that renovating is a state of being, not just something you do. Indeed, to be perfectly frank, launching into a new renovation project is like getting engaged and the newspapers really should add a “Now Renovating” column to the hatched, matches and despatches.

Mr & Mrs Smith of 35 Jones Street, Greensville have just announced that they’re renovating their one storey shack and will be adding a second storey and a luxury heated dog kennel.

Moreover, just like you don’t announce that long anticipated engagement until there’s a ring on the finger, the more discerning don’t mention we’re renovating until the job is well underway and almost finished.  There needs to be sufficent evidence to satisfy Blind Freddy, not just the likes of Sherlock Holmes with his huge magnifying glass or the CSI team, who could even view you’re most miniscule efforts under the microscope. You see, “gunna renovate” has about as much cred as “gunna write a novel”.

Geoff at work, while I take the photos. That's what I call a real team effort!

Geoff at work, while I take the photos. That’s what I call a real team effort!

See what I mean about wanting to get something simple done but all you find is jobs on jobs on jobs. Now, we have some extra painting to do and a powerpoint to replace as well! It's no wonder the road to renovation is paved with skeletons!

See what I mean about wanting to get something simple done but all you find is jobs on jobs on jobs. Now, we have some extra painting to do and a powerpoint to replace as well! It’s no wonder the road to renovation is paved with skeletons!

Another intriguing thing about renovating is just how difficult it is to stay on track.Indeed, there’s no such thing as a direct route. Instead, you dart all over the place like a crazed ant because even a simple task, requires something like ten steps before you can get started and and all of these miscellaneous tasks not only send you off all over the house but also on multiple trips to the hardware store. Naturally, all this meandering with all its inherent delays can be absolutely infuriating and you can’t help feeling you’ve developed a severe case of: “Renovator’s Curse”. I can testify that this allfliction is even more severe than cyberchondria! It’s almost fatal!!

 

Renovating has also made me more aware of how much you can put up with before you actually get it fixed.

For us, the glaringly obvious involves our dishwasher. You won’t believe this but the dishwasher has been out in the laundry for the last 14 years and we’ve been lugging the dishes in and out throughout all the flare ups of my muscle disease. Most of that time, I was the one doing the carrying. It’s only been recently that the kids have been promoted to “Dishwasher Managers” and that hasn’t been ideal either. They’ve each dropped a stack of bowls.That not only compromised their safety but bowls have also become an endangered species!

Yes, you could say that things have been rather precarious around here but given the intensity of the disease itself and my treatments, we’ve been a little distracted. So distracted that we’d switched off to our struggles and just pushed on. It was only once we were on holidays, that we realised how easy things were when the dishwasher is in it’s rightful place. That finally spurred us into action. Plus, I’ve been in remission for a year and the broken foot has also healed so we need to move quick!

Moreover, while we’ve been trying to decide whether to tile, add a floating floor or go with the original floorboards, the kitchen floor’s been getting ragged. A few years ago, a friend pushed me to bite the bullet, encouraging me to “just rip it all up”.

Well, you know how it is. I blame my writing and my health for my procrastination. As you might appreciate, before such a significant decision could be made, I had to write a blog post at the very least, if not an entire book. I couldn’t possibly by-pass all of that kerfuffle and simply get something done!!

No, not at all!

This sensational headline was the first thing we saw when we liefted up the vinyl. How incredible. All the newspapers were a bit of a time capsule from 1995-1996.

This sensational headline was the first thing we saw when we liefted up the vinyl. How incredible. All the newspapers were a bit of a time capsule from 1995-1996.

So, after much ado, we have finally ripped up the vinyl. Salvaged armfuls of newspapers dating back to 1995 for “later”and we have varnished the floorboards. This is a temporary step until we pull out the kitchen cupboards and put down a floating floor. Unfortunately, the floor boards weren’t great and remind me of that kid who can fit a coin between their front teeth. Yes, they’re a bit too spaced out with veritable ditches between each plank but they’ll do for now.

Another striking flashback. Imagine finding Princess Diana under the vinyl. I guess that's what happens after the limelight fades...even just a little.

Another striking flashback. Imagine finding Princess Diana under the vinyl. I guess that’s what happens after the limelight fades…even just a little.

Next weekend, that dishwasher will finally get its marching orders. I can’t wait. A pile of plates is just about to be lifted off my shoulders and perhaps those little dishwasher managers of mine will be a lot more productive as well. You could well say: “Dream on!”

After sanding the floorboards.

Bilbo inspecting the floor after sanding the floorboards.

After putting up with all this for so long and feeling like the house was the one thing that I couldn’t change despite all the other miracles I’ve been able to pull off, we are finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Indeed, we’ve actually discovered the tunnel.

Do you have any renovation stories you’d like to share?

xx Rowena

 

 

 

Self-Portraint in Rainbow Paint. Day 5: Five Photos Five Stories.

It looks like Mister reinterpreted what it means to paint yourself and painted on himself instead.

Actually, this shot was taken in the lead up to Christmas 2005 when we were1 making Christmas cards to send to the family. For his first Christmas, we’d pretty much stuck with footprints but it looks like we became a lot more ambitious for his second Christmas. You can see paint all over the paper as well as the boy. Howeever, even though it was so incredibly messy and it felt like I hasd to scrub out the entire house by the time we’d made it through the bath, we had a fabulous time taking creative self-expression to new heights.It also reminds me of the value of letting creativity run its course and actually flow rather than being caugyht up in being neat or having the perfect child. A child who sits perfectly still and colours in instead of painting themselves, the table the floor and even the bathtub as “Operation Scrub” goes into full swing.

Too often, we put on the brakes. Lock our child up in a cage. Force them into a mold.

Love that paint job!

Love that paint job!

Believe me! It is very tempting. It is so much easier thasn allowing them to be themselves! I’m not just talking about cleaning up the mess here or all those trips to Emergency patching up the scapes. I’m also talking about managing a non-conformist and all that means when it comes to interacting with other kids, parents, teachers and just about anyone. It would be so much easier for them all if we could just run kids through a factory to a set of “standards” but easy doesn’t stretch our horizons or challenge our thinking. It doesn’t give us texture, colour. Indeed, there wouldn’t be any rainbows anymore because we’d love all those beautiful colours without that mix of sun and rain.

I’m guity of this myself. I remember the first timew Mister mixed the different playdoh colours together that I almost had a heart attack. There his was squeezing those beautiful rainbow colours through his little fingers when I heard this chastising voice from somewhere in my deeply repressed past: “Do not mix the colours”. Playdoh was considered expensive when I was a kid and something of a luxury and we all knows what ultimately happens when all those rainbow colourss mix together for too long. They turn “poo brown”.

Seeing this photo also reminds me how long it’s been since we’ve done paintiing at home. I even enjoy doing a bit of painting myself but got a bit turned off by all the cleaning up afterwards and what with trying to keep up with writing, photography and playing my violin, it’s been awhile.

That’s about to change. I think we’re well and truly overdue for a paint date.

I was nominated by Geoff Le Pard fromTanGental for the Five Photos Five Stories blog Share: http://geofflepard.com/2015/06/10/five-photos-five-stories-day-two/

I would like to nominate Eli from Coach Daddy at https://coachdaddyblog.wordpress.com/ We met through the April Blogging A-Z Challenge and I thought he might enjoy another one.

The rules of the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge are:

1) Post a photo each day for five consecutive days.
2) Attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or a short paragraph. It’s entirely up to the individual.
3) Nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation. This is fun, not a command performance!

xx Rowena

Revisiting The Very Hungry Caterpillar

One of my secret passions is reading children’s books and I’ve also been working on a few of my own. I thoroughly enjoyed Norah’s post which looks at a range of issies re reading to kids and kids literature xx Rowena

Norah Colvin

Recently, in a post introducing the idea of S.M.A.G. (Society of Mutual Admiration and Gratitude), I reflected upon my blogging journey and the gradual growth of readership and development of a S.M.A.G. over time. With this reflection came the realisation that many have missed earlier posts. That realisation, along with a comment by Sarah Brentyn, prompted me to share a few of my favourites.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The first posts I will revisit are from a series about using Eric Carle’s picture book The Very Hungry Caterpillar for educational purposes in an early childhood setting.

The series of four posts;

  • explores benefits of reading picture books to children
  • questions the place of factual information in fictional texts, and
  • suggests the importance of teaching critical literacy from a young age.

Nor and Bec reading

I will provide a brief overview of each post. I would be delighted to have you  follow the links to read…

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Centre of Our Universe: Day 4: Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge.

There’s the honeymoon.

Then, there’s the “before the baby arrives” holiday and the one before the next baby arrives.

While anticipating our daughter’s grand entry into the world, we flew down to Tasmania with Mister and stayed with Geoff’s cousin in Brdport, NE of Launceston. Geoff grew up on a 10 acre farm in Scotsdale. He is a dyed in the wool Tasmanian and has the scar tissue to prove it. His family has been living in Tasmania since the 1830s and includes free settlers as well as a convict who was accomodated at the notorious gaol: Port Arthur.

So, continuing the theme of posting photos of us behind the lens, here is Geoff photographing Mister at St Columbas Falls, Tasmania. From memory, I think Geoff was photographing the falls when Mister jumped in front of the lens, insisting on being the subject. Didn’t like being ignored! Reminds me of how dogs sit in front of the TV driving you crazy trying to get your attention.

Even though this blogshare is about sharing one photo a day, I couldn’t resist adding this photo of Mister, which conveys his dare-devil spirit. He isn’t quite so daring these days but he still has an eye for adventure. It was taken at Tomahawk Beach in NE Tasmania, which is 111 km NE of Launceston and looks out onto Bass Strait, which can be a gruelling patch of sea..

Mister, Tasmania aged 18 months.

Mister, Tomahawk, Tasmania aged 18 months.Has pram will travel!

I am, having a ball trawling through old photos for this blogshare and am truly coming to realise how much work lies ahead sorting our my photos into some sort of retievable system. This is proving quite a challenge. In case you hadn’t noticed, “systems” is a foreign concept.

I was nominated by Geoff Le Pard fromTanGental for the Five Photos Five Stories blog Share: http://geofflepard.com/2015/06/10/five-photos-five-stories-day-two/

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The rules of the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge are:

1) Post a photo each day for five consecutive days.
2) Attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or a short paragraph. It’s entirely up to the individual.
3) Nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation. This is fun, not a command performance!

xx Rowena