Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Galloping Little Man.

The Cathedral was packed.

“Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Black and yellow, red and white
They’re all precious…”

Suddenly, the unholy little terror broke free from his mother’s grasp.

“Gallop! Gallop! Gallop!” He squealed, charging down the aisle riding his horsey. Even overpowering the organ, his clip-clopping sandals thundered over the floorboards.

Heads turned! Eyes glared!

Exhausted, his mother unconsciously staggered in his wake. Number Two on the way, she was no longer “Princess” but “Mummy”. No more putting her feet up!

“Such is life!” her mother always says.

And yet…!

And yet…!

xx Rowena

February 24, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about galloping. It doesn’t have to be about horses. Is galloping a burst of energy, a run for freedom? Or is it a sense of urgency that borders on anxiety to get tasks accomplished? Explore the motion in different ways — a galloping stride, a galloping relationship or a galloping mind.

……

Today, I was on the train down to Sydney and decided to write my take on “Gallop.”

I’ve been writing flash fiction for a few weeks now and have really been surprised at what I’ve been able to write within this very short word limit.

You see, while Dorothy Parker might have said: “Brevity is the soul of lingerie”, getting to the point has never been my strength. Indeed, I’ve often had trouble finding it at all. But John Lennon was on my side: “Life is what you live while making other plans.”

It really is quite challenging to create a character, a complication and any kind of resolution in only 99 words and yet it’s much more doable than I thought. Indeed, these stories can pack quite a punch.

Anyway, here I am back on the train thinking about galloping. Of course, my first thought was about how time is constantly galloping away but that’s nothing new.

Next, I thought about how my Great Grandmother went to the horse races back in the Great Depression and used to bet on a great Australian horse called Phar Lap and had won enough money to buy my grandmother a coat. This story had legs but required further research.Not something I could put together on the train.

 

However, while all these ponderings were in motion, I was distracted by a little boy aged about three or four who was seemingly travelling with his Mum and Grandmother. He was absolutely gorgeous and reminded me of my son at that age. Mister loved anything even remotely to do with trains and both kids have loved catching the train into the city. Indeed, I still remember how much I loved it and I get a thrill when the train rumbles over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s truly exciting…even for a grown up!

So, I’m writing and yet captivated by this little boy and also by how his Mum and Grandmother are engrossed in conversation and he’s an interruption. Well, at least most of the time.

As the train rumbles towards Milson’s Point Station which is located right on the Northern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, we go through a tunnel and I hear his excited little voice call out: “Tunnel! Tunnel! Tunnel!” The rest of the carriage is virtually silent so his little voice really carried but rather than being annoyed, it seemed that all of the passengers were just struck by how melt-in-the-mouth cute he was. His enthusiasm was so infectious (not unlike a cold on the train!!!)

“Tunnel! Tunnel! Tunnel” became “Gallop! Gallop! Gallop!” There are few worse places for little kids to go for a noisy gallop than in Church, especially in a very stiff upper lip kind of Cathedral…the sort with an organ.

Managing boisterous children in Church has inevitably always been an issue. After all, sitting still and being quite is mission impossible for most young children. That is, unless you’re blessed to have one of those angelic colouring-in types. The kids kids don’t even need to be “bad” to offend. Or, have any kind of diagnosis. Just being a kid really seems to be enough.

I do sometimes wonder whether children are truly welcome at Church or merely tolerated. That said, we’ve attended a very child-friendly Church for the last few years. They’ve gone to a great deal of trouble and have a special family service on Friday nights where we have a meal together and the service itself has songs where the children can dance as well as dress-ups to enact the stories. These are simple things really but they work more with the nature of children than being diametrically opposed.

Mind you, after advocating for making Church more child-friendly, I must admit I really do enjoy my peace and quiet.

Indeed, silence is golden!

xx Rowena

 

 

Coffee To Go!

Ideally, we’d all be sitting around in some sort of magical flying cafe zooming all around the world spreading around our caffeinated bliss. Instead, I’m throwing this coffee back like John Wayne in some dusty old Western.

I’m on the run.

No! Not from the cops but from my life-long nemesis…the wretched clock.

It’s Sunday night and at the stroke of midnight, the fun ends and another week begins…Tick! Tock! Tick! Tock!

You see, living in Sydney by the time you’re having your weekend coffee in America, it’s at best Sunday morning here and if I’ve had a busy day, it’s Sunday night. This means I’m far from relaxed. However, the benefit is that I sort of get the equivalent of extended shopping hours because I can still post to the linky on Monday. It’s still open for business.

At the moment, my head is still buzzing from practicing my violin and helping my daughter get through her violin practice after she’d already practiced her Baritone Horn. She also had handwriting homework after spending much of the weekend working on a fascinating project on the effects and management of a range of natural disasters. Not content to just get the kids to look at things like flood, fire, drought, the teacher set a specific location for each disaster. This made it much more interesting but also more complex. We were looking at how the monsoons in India are vital for the Indian economy on one hand but can also flood villages, leaving people homeless and prone to disease. Our bush fires in Australia not only destroy the bush but paradoxically fire is also required for some native seeds to germinated. Yes, bush fire is actually part of their life cycle. It’s also interesting to think of people living in the middle of the bush in bush fire areas, on the edge of volcanoes or on the San Andreas Fault. Why do we humans like living in these extremes?

Make that some humans.

Not me!

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Our previous Border Collie, Zorro, checking out a local Bush fire in 2003. Our house is well away from the bush but we do get some nasty local bush fires.

Speaking of my children’s education stretching my rapidly declining brain cells, my son had to write a poem for school this week. It was quite an interesting topic, which might also stimulate your creative juices: “Through My Window”. It had so much scope!

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Not quite the view out his window but a beautiful gum tree photographed at Pittwater, Sydney.

Of course, I couldn’t help myself. A poem just flowed through my pen about when he was younger: Night Music about all those spooky sounds of branches scratching against his window pane at night. This was followed by: Somewhere In Between. This addressed the topic from quite a different perspective of what it’s like to be a tween.  He’s about to turn 12.

I wasn’t sure how my son would go with writing his poem. It seemed like an ambitious project for any kid his age, especially as you couldn’t get away with stuff like: “roses are red, violets are blue”. I wasn’t sure about showing him my versions before he’d done his as I didn’t want to discourage him. Yet, at the same time, I thought a few examples might be helpful. After all, through the centuries the apprentice has observed the master at work and then had a go. Student artists would copy the Master’s work as an exercise in how to learn techniques. It wasn’t a crime.

Anyway, I opted for showing him because I figured he knows I’m a writer/poet and that’s my strength just like he is good at Maths (especially where no English is in involved). He’s also quite quick to point out my weaknesses.

Much to my excitement, he emerged from his room with his poem: Through My Window. I was really impressed and incredibly proud and not just because I’m his Mum either! He needed some help with layout and punctuation and meeting the teacher’s check list but he wrote it.

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Happy Birthday Miss!

 

I know I’ve probably got this all back to front but this week we celebrated our daughter’s 10th Birthday. Yes, she’s finally reached double figures. She is among the youngest in her year at school and so she feels like she’s forever playing catch up. Unfortunately, celebrations were fairly low key so far. She was sick the day before and had the day off school but did manage to feel better for a birthday dinner at McDonald’s. She doesn’t like cake and so she had a Chocolate Bavarian as her birthday cake which I decorated with strawberries. I felt so slack but I’d also had a touch of her stomach bug and was feeling green half the day myself.

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Miss and BB8.

The big excitement on her birthday was receiving BB8, the droid from the latest Star Wars Movie. I wrote about him here: BB8: Welcome to Our World He operates from the iPad, which works like a touch screen remote control. Although I’m a serious technophobe, BB8 even whirled straight into my heart with his chirpy electronic bleeps and his eloquent command of the English language:

“Aggressive life forms detected”…This was the dogs.

“Debris detected”. This was the waste paper bin.

“Unidentified humanoid life forms detected”…us.

“Distress signal detected”…BB8’s head had fallen off.

I am still in the process of putting together a slide show of her first 10 years but while gathering photos, strayed across this letter I wrote to Big Brother about the impending arrival of his Little Sister in three days time. I was stoked to find it.

So, it’s been a big week.

Somehow, I also managed to head over to  Carrot Ranch. for their weekly flash fiction challenge. You have to write 99 words on the set topic…no more, no less. This week’s topic was: Diversity.

I am quite intrigued with cultural diversity in ourselves. After all, so many of us is a mix of different ethnic groups. In Mirror! Mirror!  I wrote about an Australian Indigenous woman who’d been told she had Indian heritage as a child to conceal her heritage. She was also told to stay out of the sun to, in effect, “stay white”. This wasn’t so much fiction but what friends have told me. However, I did come up with the idea of her tracing her features in the mirror…something we all do. I sometimes look in the mirror and see my Great Grandmother staring back at me as I get older.

Well, for so much for having Coffee to Go tonight. I’ve certainly been chatting for quite awhile. However, if you speak to my kids, they’ll tell you that’s no surprise. You could say that I’m a bit of a talker. Indeed, that I can talk underwater.

So, what have you been up to?

So, thank you for joining me for coffee and I hope you’ve had a great week and I look forward to catching up.

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster Part-Time Monster.Here’s the linky

xx Rowena

BB8… Welcome To Our World!

This week, we celebrated our daughter’s 10th Birthday.

Happy Birthday Miss!

So far the celebrations have been fairly low key as she’s just started at a new school and we’re still getting organised.

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However, we did manage to get her BB8, the cute little droid from Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens. He’s a fantastic toy, which you control via the touch screen on your iPad. As he glides along the floor, he babbles away in electronic gibberish, similar to R2D2. Not only that. He even writes you text messages:

“Aggressive life forms detected”…This was the dogs.

“Debris detected”. This was the waste paper bin.

“Unidentified humanoid life forms detected”…us.

“Distress signal detected”…BB8’s head had fallen off.

So, just like we welcomed Miss into the world ten years ago, this week she welcomed BB8 into her world.

I don’t know what it is about him but he’s absolutely irresistible…even to a serious technophobe like me, who still goes into daily battle with the TV remote!

Perhaps, it’s because he’s fun…loads of fun. Fun is good.

But is being “fun” enough? Don’t you need to have some sort of purpose, goals, function, destination and ideally all of the above?

I would like to think so but maybe I’ve over-rated their importance. Perhaps, I should thrown away my Clark Kent glasses, roll aimlessly across the floor while chirping incomprehensible nothings and when my sweet little head falls off, just wait for someone else to put me back together again?

Be fun-tabulous!

I don’t know.

After all, is that really how to win friends and influence people?

I didn’t think so.

However, when you compare my popularity with that of BB8, you know who’s winning and it certainly isn’t Madame Smartypants! Oh no! Not at all!

So what makes BB8 so irresistible and please don’t just tell me it’s all just marketing hype. I haven’t been anywhere near any of that !@#$ and I’ve fallen head over heels in love with the little guy.

There has to be more to it. Something deep and subliminal and also a bit sneaky so you can’t quite work it out. It’s definitely not a conscious thing. At least, not for me.

Of course, I could go and research how his carefully chosen features somehow trigger some sort of psychological response. He is small, vulnerable and his electronic mutterings do sound quite a lot like a chirping baby bird. All of this might trigger some innate urge to protect him…especially if you, like us,  have pets in the house who could well decide that he’s their kind of toy. After all, if you were a Border Collie obsessed with chasing tennis balls, wouldn’t a robotic ball just be your idea of heaven?

Exactly!

So, BB8 was very astute to flag the dogs as: “Aggressive life forms detected”.

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Bilbo & BB8: “This is NOT a tennis ball!”

Meanwhile, my parents rang up to wish Miss a Happy Birthday. While I chatted with Dad afterwards, he mentioned how amazing it was that a kid could get a robot for their birthday. Then he added, almost apologetically, that when he was ten, we didn’t even have TV in Australia. With that comment, Dad suddenly aged and then I also remembered how the ice man used to get round in a horse and cart when he was a boy. That’s right. There weren’t electric refrigerators in Australia then either. As for computers, the closest thing could well have been the slide rule.

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Miss on the phone to my parents.

I don’t remember a lot about what I received for my 10th birthday but my grandfather gave me an electric blanket for my 9th birthday. These were pretty new back in the 70s. Papa arrived at my party looking so chuffed with this huge box tucked under his arm looking like Santa (he wasn’t exactly slim!) I still remember my incredible excitement! My other grandparents used to send me $5.00 notes through the mail. $5.00 actually bought you something then!

All this reflecting wasn’t doing us any good. Although Miss was the one who’d turned a year older, it was actually my father and I who had suddenly aged, as we were brutally reminded that we’re not children anymore!

Indeed, it was far worse than that!

Somehow, we’d both become living dinosaurs…wonders to modern science.

I have no idea how this came about but it was definitely a good time for my head to fall off so I could bury it in the sand.

Another birthday? I really just don’t want to know!

How about you? Do you have any special birthday stories? Funny presents? Then and now stories? I’d love to hear them!

xx Rowena

Mr’s Poem: Through My Window

Looking out my window,
I hear a sound.
Scutter scutter.
Scutter scutter.
Out in the garden,
there’s a little white rabbit.
Mum!
Dad!
But when we get back,
it’s gone…
just like a puff of smoke.

No one believes me.
They just say
that I’m dreaming.
Imagination overload
all over again.
But I know what I saw.

Now,
that I’m back here alone,
the rabbit returns.
It’s glowing gold,
red eyes flashing
in the darkness.
What is it?
Why has it come?

rabbit

Then, I blink again.
The rabbit burns up into flames
with an even brighter glow
and is gone.

In the morning,
I found no rabbit prints

in the grass.

No sign of the rabbit at all.
Yet,

I know what I saw…

a mysterious rabbit

hopping outside

my bedroom window.

By Mister J

23rd February 2016.

P.S. Sorry about the spacing in between lines. Between Word and WordPress something has gone awry.

If you have been following our Through My Window Poetry Series, this is my son’s interpretation of the theme. He had to write this poem for school. I came up with two versions of my own, which I was quite pleased about. Initially this was just to provide him with an example, but I became inspired by this theme and the range of perspectives it offered.

When I first found out that he had to write a poem, I was quite concerned. It sounded like a pretty ambitious undertaking to me. We never had to write a poem at school and even I was a long way from being a born poet. I remember my own embryonic efforts back at high school (all about unrequited love of course) which I poured out to my friend on the bus. These poems could have induced paroxysms of severe vomiting. I still have them but they are kept very much under lock and key.

However, Year 7s have to be pretty grown up these days. No sooner had they walked through the gate and they were given their jabs, had school photos and also had to write a real poem. None of this “the cat sat on the mat” or “roses are red” stuff but something original and Mister more than succeeded. I gave him a bit of a hand with punctuation and layout and we talked through his ideas so he could really clarify what he wanted to say. This included some heated moments but he did really well and I didn’t write it for him. He had a vision and he pulled it off. That’s something for anyone to celebrate…young or old.

Once again, I’m left to say that school is stretching my children in areas I never thought possible and I’m just left dumbstruck on the sidelines wondering what they’re going to get up to next.

I am Mum in a magical yellow taxi waking up every day wondering where we’ll be heading to next. It’s becoming an incredible journey but I also have to admit it’s a bit surreal and way beyond the scope of GPS.

Thank you for joining me for some of the drive!

xx Rowena

 

 

 

Poem: Night Music.

Outside my window,

there is no moon.

Through midnight’s murky darkness,

the branches twist and turn,

sharing their whisperings,

rousing me from the very depths

of sleep.

I hear voices.

There’s somebody out there.

 

The leaves are rustling,

whispering their precious secrets.

Something important

or perhaps it’s just

some silly shopping list.

 

Yet, in the wind,

their chattering sounds serious.

Forgetting all about the leaves,

I can not sleep.

I can not sleep a wink.

The shadows are growing

larger and larger.

Infused with evil,

they’re haunting and tormenting me.

Drawing closer and closer,

they’re now whispering in my ear:
“We’ve got you now!”

Their putrid, rotting breaths

sticking to my skin like toxic slime

I can not peel off.

 

On the very brink of death,

I run,

diving into Mummy and Daddy’s bed.

An impenetrable fort

immune from all beasts.

I am safe at last.

 

The beast deflates.

Phew!

It was all just branches

dancing in the wind,

brushing against my window pane…

night music.

Our son had to write a poem for English at school…”Through My Window”. He’s about to turn 12 and is in his first month of High School. As much I have been thinking about this exercise to try and help him, I also appreciated the topic myself. It was an excellent writing prompt.

There are so many different perspectives he could pursue. I know he actually loves going to sleep with the curtains open so he can watch the sunset but when he was younger and the wind was blowing  through the tree out the front, he would think someone was out there and get scared…a natural reaction for young kids. I still get scared myself in big storms when all sorts of things go bump and thump in the wind and the house feels like its about to fly of to the Land of Oz.

There is a fig tree growing outside his window. It’s an overgrown pot plant the kids call their climbing tree. They have shared occupancy with a succession of native pigeons who have nested there. A few years ago when the kids were about 6 and 4 they ran inside each carrying a baby bird saying they needed to look after them. I promptly told them that’s what the birds had parents for. Obviously birds can’t look after their own young…!

For two days, we were feeding those baby birds while trying to re-home them with their parents. While it was kind of fun and an experience we’ll never forget, I was so stressed trying to make sure those baby birds didn’t die and somehow made it back to Mum and Dad. We even stuck their flimsy nest in an ice cream container when we put it back in the tree. I remember waiting and waiting for any sign of their parents and listening out for their “coo”. It really was incredibly stressful.

Eventually, our story had a happy ending, although it seemed to take forever. Here’s the full story here:

Pigeons still nest in that tree and you can see the parents nesting through our son’s bedroom window.

xx Rowena

 

Poem: Somewhere In Between.

Neither tall,

nor small

but somewhere in between…

my feet now touch the ground

though my thoughts are

somewhere in the clouds.

 

I look out my bedroom window

at the road which lies ahead

wondering how to get from A to B.

Do I really have to walk?

Why can’t I take a jumbo jet?

 

I don’t have all the answers.

Indeed, I don’t even know

which questions I should ask.

Yet, everywhere I seem to look,

all I find is rules.

Rules on rules on rules!

 

Be here!

Go there!

This is how to do your hair!

Living by this ringing bell,

has to be a form of hell!

 

Neither tall,

Nor small

but somewhere in between…

why can’t I just enjoy the view

before I grow too big?

23rd February, 2016.

 

My son was given an assignment this week to write a poem “Looking Through My Window”. He is about to turn 12 and has just started High School. I wanted him to see the topic from a different angle and that looking through his window could refer to what he sees as well as how he views the world…his perspective.

As it was, his poem came from another perspective entirely and he wrote from an imaginary point of view about a mysterious rabbit which he spotted out his window, which no one else could see. This rabbit took on surreal qualities and started glowing, combusting and then in the morning there was no trace of the rabbit at all. It struck me as being a bit Steven King but well done. I gave him a bit of help with punctuation but it was his own piece.

I am trying to work out a good balance on the homework front. Every kid and his dog is being tutored these days and I figured my husband and I are qualified enough to handle this. Geoff is one of those lucky few who are good at maths and English. My maths ability was never strong but after putting so much effort into my creative side, it fell into some kind of swamp years ago.

So, who does our daughter come to for maths help tonight? Ha! Yes, yours truly. Well, they’ve even changed the way you do subtraction since I was at school and so Geoff ended up giving the pair of us a Maths lesson.

I would have thought that being a poet would’ve automatically disqualified me from all of that!!

By the way, it was sweltering here today and I caught the dog lying in front of a small fan we had running to redirect the air-con into the bedrooms….just like many of you in the North must have pets in front of the fire/heater this time of year. I was very tempted to grab that sun today and stick it in an envelope and post it to you all…no returns. Yes, I know I’d regret it in the morning and the temperature is supposed to be much more comfortable tomorrow. It’s really been a scorcher today!

Anyway, all too soon, I’ll be complaining about the cold!!

xx Rowena