Monthly Archives: December 2015

Sydney Fireworks: A Prelude to Midnight.

As the clock struck three hours to midnight, the first blasts of colour exploded over Sydney Harbour and the entire city  magically came to life. These are the nine o’clock fireworks put on for the kids and the midnight fireworks still await!

DSC_9054.JPG

Not a bad shot from the TV!

Naturally, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is the focal point of celebrations in Sydney, culminating in an absolutely dazzling shower of colour over the water. Some years, this brilliant yellow shower has looked just like melted cheese.

You haven’t lived until you seen it, even on TV. I know I might be from Sydney but I’m not biased

Once upon a time, Geoff and I first met on NYE at a mutual friend’s party overlooking the harbour, although we were looking from the rear-end and had a backwards or “arse-end” view of The Bridge.

That was 17 years ago!

We’ve also sat on a wharf on the harbour with our legs dangling over the edge munching on Brie and crackers with friends while taking photographs.

Back then, I never thought I’d choose to stay home to watch the fireworks on TV instead of being out amongst it. Talk about being a Nigel No-Mates. Get a life!

Fast-forward to 2015 and we’re spending NYE at home for the umpteenth time with the kids and even having to babysit the dogs.

Lady has been parked on Geoff’s lap like Puffing Billy, anxiously demanding comfort every time another bang explodes outside. I doubt all these backyard pyrotechnicians have permits but it’s never stopped them in the past.  The fireworks used to send a previous mutt crazy and when we were out, he jumped the side gate and joined a throng of spooked dogs wandering the streets. Lady would no doubt do the same. There’s also been quite a chorus of howling dogs outside.

DSC_9066.JPG

Mister showing how to make a smile when things  don’t go your way.

 

You could say that in many ways this NYE is a bit of a fizzer. You see, we weren’t only home to watch the fireworks. We’ve spent most of the day cleaning,  frantically searching for our son’s scout gear which has mysteriously vanished. In just two sleeps, he leaves for Jamboree extremely early in the morning.

Remember. The Scouting motto is “Be Prepared”. NOT “lose your brand new uniform before you’ve even left home”.

Humph!

 

Moreover, searching for the missing gear revealed a serious underbelly. After all, what kid hasn’t “cleaned-up” by shoving everything magically out of sight? Under the bed, in the cupboard? Been there done that myself and could never understand how Mum always caught me out.

However, now I’m the Mum and it’s my job to clamp down on such behavior with ruthless force. No excuses. A place for everything and everything in it’s place!! Be militant!

I’m sure you agree that’s a New Year’s resolution hitting us straight over the head with a proverbial lump of 4 by 2 (Aussie slang for a wooden plank).

Well, that’s what I’m telling the kids but personally I’ll be happy if the most important things find a home. I am quite accustomed to living with strays but that’s no doubt a big part of the problem.

So, NYE here has involved serious cleaning up so far. Cooking dinner and having to wash up everything which doesn’t like the dishwasher. I’m starting to feel like my NYE could well be represented by a huge pair of pink washing-up gloves suspended from the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Feels like I’ve tripped and fallen deep into a sewer of domesticity where there’s no hope of a fairy Godmother, magic wand or even going to the ball in a pumpkin. It’s a life sentence.

Okay, I know! Life is good. I’m living the dream. You’re full of sympathy swinging from the chandelier in your leopard skin suit clinging to your bottle of champagne.  I hear you loud and clear!

Things are looking up. All of that’s now done and dusted and we’re relaxing watching U2 in Paris. They’re not as young as they used to be either!

DSC_9053.JPG

To be honest, NYE is not a good night to go out on the town anyway. Drunks, heavy crowds and being thrown up on have lost their appeal and ironically you pay a premium for all of that. These days, I’d prefer something more low-key anyway. Some kind of mountain top experience.

So, watching the fireworks on TV is fine by me and it looks like it’s going to be a long night with the dog. She’s since been evicted from Geoff’s lap and has invaded mine. I could well be needing windscreen wipers on my glasses, a demister, a raincoat and some breath freshener wouldn’t go astray either! She’s a mess!

DSC_9067.JPG

One frantic puppy dog.

Now, we are too…so much for romance!

I’m sure this scenario is being played out in dog households right around the world tonight.

But once upon a time, we were out there roaming the streets ourselves in search of true love with heavy hearts. I still remember that lost and broken feeling not knowing when or even if I’d ever find the one.Now, we’re at home on the couch.

You can’t put a price on that. It mightn’t be utopia but we’re home …and I can relax watching the fireworks in my pyjamas!

You can spend your entire life chasing your tail. Or, you can simply sit still and smell the roses.

Life, complete with it’s ups and downs, is good.

I’ll briefly be back at midnight.

Happy Almost New Year!

xx Rowena

PS Somehow it’s almost taken me 3 hours to write this post and it’s now almost time to countdown to midnight.

 

Christmas Around the World

I know Christmas is done and dusted and if you’re extremely efficient, you’ve already packed up your tree and are ready for the New Year.

However, personally Christmas is like birthdays. Why not stretch it out as long as possible and fully embrace the Spirit of Christmas? After all, Christmas comes but once a year.

santa

So, let me encourage you to pop over to Solveig Werner’s blog to savour her Advent Calendar. It will take you  on an incredible Christmas journey around the world including Australia, USA, France, the UK and Italy http://solveigwerner.com/2015/12/28/advent-calendar-overview/

I loved it and felt my Christmas was so much richer for it.

That said, thank goodness we weren’t eating all the way or the sleigh would have been well and truly grounded.

Jonathon Santa Baby

Our son posing at the beach for his paparazzi Mum back in 2004.

Here’s a link to my contribution: A Stinking Hot Australian Christmas:http://solveigwerner.com/2015/12/17/advent-calendar-day-17-a-stinking-hot-australian-christmas-by-rowena-newton/

Love and Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

When Dogs Fly…

While life as a backyard dog can get a bit boring, Bilbo and Lady are thanking their lucky stars that they’re not outback dogs living along the flooded Daly River in Australia’s Northern Territory.

crocodile.jpg

Not only are they battling raging flood waters, they’re also contending with crocodiles patrolling the swollen floodwaters.

http://www.ntnews.com.au/news/northern-territory/breaking-your-heart–dogs-rescued-from-floods/news-story/ba0eafa3b143e468bda985a0451a2269

The latest news is that 60 animals including dogs have been airlifted in a crocodile cage to safety. I saw footage on TV and believe me, I’d be terrified and I’m not even scared of heights. You can click on the film footage in the story above.

So, if you had to conduct a Dog Poll, I don’t know whether our canine companions would rate flying in a helicopter better or worse than getting their paws wet. However, with dog-eating crocodiles cruising the floodwaters, there would be no debate. All paws would vote for evacuation.

For the rescued animals, the helicopter ride took just 10 minutes and they were taken to temporary kennels at Five Mile. Half a tonne of dog food was also airlifted in to ensure all remaining animals have enough feed while the town is evacuated.

I’ve never really considered what happens to pets during a State of Emergency. However, it’s comforting to hear that pets are being cared for so compassionately. Knowing that their pets are safe must be such a comfort when locals could well have lost all but the shirt on their back.

Personally, I suspect these outback dogs are made of tougher stuff than ours. I don’t know how our dogs would cope with such contingencies.

Fetching Bilbos Ball

Finally some assistance. Miss puts Bilbo out of his misery!

While Lady is a bit more daring, Bilbo’s even refused to dip his precious paws in the water to rescue his much loved tennis ball as it drifted downstream. There was no doubt he was in anguish, questioning would he or wouldn’t he…However, he ultimately succumbed to his fear and was mighty lucky to fetch his ball later at low tide.

Obviously, you’ll find no hero there!

Amelia & Lady

A rather pampered Lady!

Lady is marginally more audacious but generally prefers a pampered existence…sleeping on her quilt and even on the sofa as long as she doesn’t get sprung. Even though she comes from a farm and is actually registered as a Working Dog, she wouldn’t know work if she tripped over it. After all, she’s a lady! She might not be quite royalty but don’t tell her that! She tells the world she has blue blood!

We pray for all those affected by flood, bush fires and tornadoes around the world. While the plight of animals being flown to safety makes for an interesting story, I don’t for a moment forget the heartache and devastation experienced by people and animals. I hope you’re okay.

Thinking about rescuing pets, I’ve had to save Bilbo a couple of times when he’s fallen in the swimming pool and couldn’t get out. He also tried to climb on board Mister’s kayak and up-ended the lot and they both ended up in the water. The dog became quite distressed and tried pulling him under. I ended up picking Bilbo up in my kayak. Fortunately. it was shallow water.

Lady was also rescued from the main road after hunting rabbits and nearly being hit by a bus. I received a phone call from the local vet to come and pick her up. That was quite a relief because she just vanished on our walk and being such a black dog, she blends in with the road, which obvious dangers.

Have you ever had to rescue your pet? Do tell!

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrooge’s New Year!

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!

–Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

No point adding any commentary to the mighty words of Dickens.They stand alone.

dickensSC918_pref

As we move into a new year, which doesn’t really have such a  clean slate after all, I pray for peace in our time for 2016 and that love may fill our world and every and every breath.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, I remain a believer.

How about you?

Thanks to Merrill Smith from Yesterday and today: Merril’s historical musings for putting me onto this brilliant quote!

dickens

Wishing you an “Almost Happy New Year” with two days to go. Our peace and quiet will be turned up several decibels this afternoon when the kids arrive back from their grandparents’. Then, the sounds of kids, dogs and “Ollie” the robot will replace the sounds of silence.

We love our rich and busy lives but a little pause every now and then is also appreciated!

xx Rowena

Australia: You’ve Been Warned!!

You don’t have to be Einstein to know Australia is a land of rugged extremes. A place where you just need to dip your toe in the water and it could became a battle of life and death against any number of foes.

Naturally, you’d be mad to ever set foot in the place. Indeed, it really is a mystery to modern science how locals have ever managed to survive.

Of course, all sorts of theories abound. Personally, I reckon that daily dose of Vegemite toast probably makes us so toxic and unpalatable to wildlife, that they don’t even want to take a bite.

Our climate is just as extreme, dangerous and potentially deadly as our wildlife.

Moreover, it’s almost ludicrous to think that while one part of the country is experiencing ferocious, destructive bush fires, the Northern Territory has severe flooding. Moreover, the fact that it’s Christmas never seems to enter the equation either. Nature doesn’t care.

Vintage Ettalong Santa Truck 2008 Pearl Beach

An Australian Christmas, Pearl Beach, New South Wales.

So, if you’re in the UK experiencing floodwaters, thank your lucky stars you’re nowhere near the Daly River in Australia’s rugged Northern Territory where rising flood waters are the least of your worries.

Those very same waters are infested with large, man-eating saltwater crocodiles. Snap! Snap! While most of Australia’s dangerous wildlife doesn’t actively seek out humans, crocs are a different story. They’re aggressive predators and quite happy to add you to the menu. You can read the full story here: http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/animals/daly-river-residents-alarmed-after-spotting-crocodiles-in-town-during-flood/news-story/786cad8139b22f7e0c5092f5988eb629

Meanwhile, on Christmas Day, 116 homes were lost in horrific bush fires on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. An incredible inferno, this blaze is still going.

The extremes of the Australian climate and landscape are encapsulated in a historic poem written by Dorothea McKellar, which probably rouses more national pride than our national anthem. It has quite a number of verses but this is what usually gets recited:

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!

Indeed, it is a land where drought and flood have somehow become strangely interconnected.  Bush fire is so common that it’s even required  for some plant species to germinate, bringing about new life. You’d have to say that’s just proof this place is insane. How could anything so destructive ever have any redeeming features?

Meanwhile, Geoff and I are enjoying a very lazy, comfortable day parked in the couch at home. Geoff’s watching the cricket while I’m blogging while the dog sleeps on my feet. I should tell him to thank his lucky stars he’s nowhere near the Daly’s River either. Dogs have sadly become snack food up there, while Bilbo and Lady and been enjoying eating post-Christmas treats.

dogs

Enjoying the easy life!

One of these days, I’ll be expecting complaints from the Australian Tourism Commission: “Stop scaring away the tourists”. I know I should only be sharing the nice fluffy stories about lush green pastures and stunning golden beaches but where’s the fun in that? Snakes, spiders, crocodiles, bush fires, floods, crazed drop bears…this is the real Australia.

Enter at your own risk!

Have you been game?

xx Rowena

 

 

 

Goodbye 2015 Weekend Coffee Share

Welcome to the Goodbye 2015 Edition of the Weekend Coffee Share.

We hope you and yours had a Merry Christmas. You can read about our Christmas here as well as about the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race which set sail on Boxing Day: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/12/26/an-aussie-boxing-day/

I’ll also mention that during the last week Beyond the Flow hit 30,000 views and kept going. I am pretty stoked with this as I’ve reached about 20,000 view this year and the blog is really starting to make steady progress.

All up, 2015 has been a pretty good year for our family. Of course, there were the usual ups and downs but we’re all good.

However, unfortunately the same can’t be said about the wider world. While there is so much beauty in our natural world, the human element is questionable at best.

What are we doing to each other?

Even though we might not like the answers to this eternal question, we need to keep asking, we need to keep striving for peace on Earth and equality and freedom for all peoples as well as respect for all living creatures and the Earth itself.

Earth from space

Our planet needs compassion + action.

Although we’ll no doubt never create heaven on Earth, we still need to keeping trying to make things better. We need to keep searching, keep asking and keep trying to make some kind of difference…not matter how small. Both good and evil build up like Lego bricks and it’s up to us which tower rises and falls.

So, as we head towards another year, I am reminded of these inspirational words:

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_DxNpW1kHQ

While I used to have quite a local focus when it came to social justice, since I’ve been blogging, my backyard has extended, becoming more global. Just because something is happening overseas, I can no longer just switch off and ignore what’s happening. Be unaccountable. Once you become informed, either you respond or you are also guilty of neglect turning your back. Not being the Good Samaritan who stopped and helped and made a difference.

 

Hercules

Hercules holding the world for Atlas.

That said, we can’t be like Atlas carrying the world on our shoulders. We can’t save everyone.

Creation of Adam

Michelangelo: The Creation of Adam c 1512.

So, we are left with that gap. A gap that shouldn’t stop us from trying but which reminds us that as individuals, we can not do it all.

In February 2015, I heard about a global blogging network called 1000 Voices for Compassion and while we are still only a small group, we have stuck together and I do believe that through our monthly posts, that we have made some kind of difference in 2015. You can read more about the group here: http://www.1000voicesspeak.org/

Through this group, I have really been able to spread my wings and be part of something truly inspirational.

So, as we head into the New Year, I pray that our world will be a safe place full of opportunity for all. That we humans can overcome so many of the differences which divide us and come to appreciate our commonalities more.

Lastly, if we were having coffee I’d wish you a Happy New Year and ask whether you’ve set any New Year’s resolutions? I am still working on mine and I am taking the whole process quite seriously and I’ll get back to you next week on what I’ve put together.

In the meantime, I’m going to tackle the pile of photo frames stacked up around the house and finally get them up. We’ve only been in the house 15 years! On that note, I’m heading off real quick before I really start to freak out at a rather lengthy “Should Have Done List”.

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Part Time Monster and please check us out at the linky http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=593302

Love and best wishes,

Rowena

PS Update on the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race: Wild Oats XI retired with broken mainsail last night. In the greatest resurrection since Lazarus, Comanche just resumed the lead after announcing last night that it had retired with a broken rudder. The two leaders are halfway across Bass Strait.

 

 

 

 

 

Your Favorite 2015 “Weekend Edition” and “Short and Sweet” Writing Posts

Great idea to list your top ten posts for 2015! I really gained a lot of encouragement from these writing tips and thought you might do the same xx Rowena

Live to Write - Write to Live

Your Favorite Posts for 2015:

Another year has come and gone, but before we leap into 2016, I thought it’d be fun to take a look back at which of the Weekend Edition and Short and Sweet Advice for Writers posts were your favorites this year. The Top 10 lists below are ranked based on the number of comments each post received. I’ve had a great time writing these pieces and been so grateful to have such a loyal, active, and insightful group of writers (that’s you!) to share this journey with me. Though writing is a mostly solitary pursuit, I feel very fortunate to have a community like this one where we can share our stories, ideas, and observations. I always learn something new, and am constantly inspired by the time we spend together. So … thank you.

Here’s to another year of writerly musings ahead. See you…

View original post 2,288 more words