Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Lean, Mean Herding King

Welcome back to the Royal Sydney Easter Show. The family headed off there yesterday where we were able to see this very smart Border Collie rounding up the sheep, responding to hand signals. Unlike the dog, I didn’t pick up everything the trainer said. However, he clearly spoke up how he is training the dog to “use his brain” and he mentioned something about building up and I guess using the dog’s natural instincts. That makes a lot of sense.

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That’s one clever dog!

When I was at school and we’d be running around the oval, there was a Border Collie, which we nicknamed “Flash” who used to run with us. He was very lean like the dog I’ve photographed here. The coat also doesn’t look as fluffy as Bilbo’s coat and indeed, the show dog we met.

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The Sheep.

I can certainly attest to the Border Collie’s herding instincts. When Bilbo thinks it’s dinner time, he either rounds up Geoff or I to remind Miss to feed him. He doesn’t waste his energy going direct to her. He is a true mirror how how things operate around here…right down to sitting next to my chair when I’m eating toast. He knows I don’t eat my crusts. Smart dog. Or, as Geoff puts it: “You’ve trained him well.”

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Border Collie…the “show” variety.

As anybody who has ever had a Border Collie can attest, when a Border Collie doesn’t have any sheep to chase, they will always find an alternative…their sheep substitute. While their fixation with chasing tennis balls can be as irritating as fingernails scraping down a chalkboard, it’s nothing compared to being herded up yourself.

I made the huge mistake of walking the dogs every morning after dropping the kids at school. When the kids changed schools this year, the routine changed but their expectations haven’t.

Being rounded up by one Border Collie is hard enough but two is torture. Fortunately, Lady is only half Border Collie and she’s a lot more mellow but those big brown eyes of hers are hard to resist.

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Obsessed…Bilbo appropriating another dog’s ball at the beach.

The other query I have about the Border Collie’s rounding up abilities, is why can’t they get the kids tidying up their rooms? Why can’t they get the kids to take them for a walk? Why can’t their herding abilities be put to good use instead of rounding me up, chasing tennis balls and helping themselves to food which is temporarily left unattended.

Perhaps, I’ve just been using the wrong hand signals!

xx Rowena

By the way, the Royal Sydney Easter Show is held out at Olympic Park, the site of the Sydney 2000 Olympics. While these photos look like they were taken in the outback, this is urban Sydney.

Fetching Bilbos Ball

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

Best In Show & A Right Royal Mutt.

Not unsurprisingly, while we were at the Royal Sydney Easter Show yesterday, we ended up at the dog pavilion. Indeed, it would have been our first port of call but you know how it  is. You have to be practical when it comes to getting around a huge event. We start at the front and work our way around.

So, you could say: “we were on our way.”

As luck would have it, our trip to the show just happened to coincide with the judging of the Best In Show. This meant there was a huge range of Best of Breed to check out and I even finally managed to see a Lassie Dog at the show.

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It’s Lassie!  Photo Rowena Newton.

I’d had a Lassie Dog as a child and when we never saw one at the show, there was always that disappointment. So, now that I’m 40 something, we finally saw one. It was such a long time to wait but I was just as thrilled. Of course, I had to tell the owners how we’d had a Lassie dog. His father had actually been an Easter Show Champion too and I couldn’t help wondering if this dog was somehow related. It doesn’t matter how long ago you lost your beloved dog, there’s still that love and also that grief!

Of course, I wasn’t the only one who loved Lassie. Lassie was very popular.

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Old English Sheepdog…even the show variety struggles to stay clean!

As was the Old English Sheepdog.

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Face In White Fur. Photo Rowena Newton.

And this fluffy white dog who was something like a fluffy white cloud being blown around by the cooling fan. It was quite a hot day.

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We nicknamed his Chinese Crested dog: “My Little Pony”. It was Runner Up to Best in Show.

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Bilbo & Lady just oozing with show potential. Just don’t look too close!

Not unsurprisingly, getting caught up in all the hoopla of The Show, our daughter announced that she wants our Lady to become a show dog and to bring her to the Easter Show next year. This is Lady of mixed parenting, scruffy paws, fur balls behind the ears and a total disregard for authority. Being a pure bred Border Collie, Bilbo stands more of a chance but he’d no doubt have to entire a Veteran’s category. However, I wouldn’t even get the chance to ask Bilbo if he wants to compete. He doesn’t take kindly to brushes and blow drying. Let’s just say he gets “cranky”. That’s him scratched off the list as well.

Moreover, a glance through the rules did make mention of being “entire” and if that’s the case, both of our dogs are out. They’re both missing “bits”.

So as much as I hate to break a little girl’s dreams, our dogs have… other talents!

Don’t we all?!!

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Only fleas with mountain climbing equipment need apply! Photo Rowena Newton.

Mind you, some of us just have it all.Such as the character pictured above.

This brings me to the Best In Show, Nathaniel the Lhasa apso, who probably should’ve been at the top of the list but since he’s been on the news and in the paper, it’s also great to give the other dogs their moment in the spotlight. We didn’t actually get a chance to meet Nathaniel. Being the undisputed star of the show, he was swamped with attention…especially from the hairbrush.

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Photo Rowena Newton.

I wonder if Nathanial is a slob at heart or if he really enjoys have every follicle in place? He certainly didn’t try to bite or escape while being brushed like a certain other canine who will remain nameless.  He just lay down thinking of lamb chops. Indeed, if he’d gone for a bit of a wander, he could’ve caught his own.

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Monsieur Brushed-A-Lot …5 hours of brushing before a show! This was his last show. He’s retiring. Going out while he’s at the very top!

We’d already been to see a working dog in action. Learning how to “use his brain” to round up the sheep. No wonder we get rounded up when ever Bilbo decides it’s dinner time. We are his flock.

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A Border Collie sniffing or a canine cow grazing?

We also found what could be a Canine Cow.

Others just needed a rest:

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There were also dogs who needed a little R & R and just to be left alone:

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As you could imagine, we had such a great time meeting the dogs. After all, if one dog can make you happy, just imagine how we felt after meeting all of these luvlies!

You’d never ever pick that I was terrified of dogs as a kid, would you?!!

xx Rowena

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Paws At Pittwater: Lady says that while she wasn’t Best in Show, she’s a blogfamous Supermodel.Apparently, her cheque is in the mail! Photo: Rowena Newton.

The Greatest Roller Coaster Ride-Flash Fiction.

Obviously, catching the roller coaster, was her boyfriend’s idea. She couldn’t wait to get off!

Terrified and tortured, the young woman tried maneuvering into foetal position. Yet, constrained by the seat belt, was a contorted knot, her tiny hands shielding her face. Squirming with every twist and turn, she embodied The Scream. Yet, she didn’t make a sound.

Why couldn’t she tell him she was scared of heights?

Why didn’t he respond? Try to help?

Too late! Her stomach betrayed her. The Dagwood Dog chasing her milkshake spun out of control. A cyclonic catastrophe struck.

That woke him up!

March 23, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write an adventure, experienced or witnessed. Explore your own ideas about what makes an adventurous spirit. Is it in the doing? Does standing witness count, and if so, how? Be adventurous!

Respond by March 29, 2016 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

….

Today, our family had the most incredible fun at the Royal Sydney Easter Show. This was quite an adventure for us because tackling such huge crowds and walking long distances is difficult for me what with my “small engine”. So even though I had grown up going to the Show every year well into my thirties, we’ve never taken the kids before. From my perspective, this was a very serious breach because that’s what families do in Sydney abnd we couldn’t do it.

Anyway, we had such a great day and you’ve never seen such cheeky grins as the lot of us tearing round on the dodgem cars trying to wipe each other out. Don’t know why the sign says “No Bumping” because we all know it’s inevitable and a huge part of the fun!

After the dodgems, there was a big discussion about which ride they’d go on next. Both kids were looking at a fishing game, which was pretty elementary but then our son decided to go on this rollercoasters of rollercoasters, “The Spinning Coaster”, which promoted itself as the Greatest Rollercoaster in Australia. This ride was pure torture with sharp 90 degree turns and sense you were about to shoot over the very edge. Our son mentioned something to my husband about how he should’ve gone fishing instead.

Meanwhile, my husband noticed the couple who were sharing their compartment on the ride. He mentioned something to me afterwards about whether she’d be talking to him afterwards. It clearly wasn’t her idea to have a go. As I teased out what happened, this picture emerged of this absolutely terrified young woman who had tried curling herself into a ball but was tied into her seat by the seat belt and instead had covered her face with her hands and was trying to bury her self in the seat. Our daughter is pretty scared of heights and spent the first half of our ride on the Ferris Wheel with her eyes very tightly shut. Although I know it’s better for her to face her fears, particularly as a child, that doesn’t mean I’m oblivious to her pain. I feel it. I know it. Not that I’m afraid of heights but I was absolutely phobic of dogs as a child or more precisely, the sound of barking dogs and I know that crippling level of fear. For those of you who know how much I love dogs now, that’s a real encouragement.

Why did I write about this couple? I guess because I remember going on dates to the Royal Easter Show when I was in High School and that awkwardness of first dates where you might not have the courage to admit to your weaknesses. You want to impress and it can be a huge thing for someone to admit and share their very personal fears. Much easier to simply avoid them but then you can’t.

Of course, being fiction, I just had to make this poor woman’s misery even worse and make her sick.

By the way, I asked my husband how her boyfriend responded. After all, I would’ve been trying to help her. However, Geoff said he didn’t really seem to notice. That while he wasn’t quite as terrified as her, he was barely getting by himself. I asked Geoff how he noticed all this detail and he said that with our 12 year old son sitting next to the woman, he needed to make sure he was alright. Geoff was being a good Dad.

The other point of this story is that it’s better to admit your fears rather than covering them up or you could end up confronting them in a way that only makes them worse, fueling your anxiety.

Mind you, falling in love doesn’t always help our logic, does it?!!

xx Rowena

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Born To Crash.

Ȕber-pumped, Fangio’s poised in the driver’s seat. His foot’s on the accelerator ready for blast off! Mightn’t have a licence but this is the Dodge Em’s.

What a misnomer! Although the sign states: NO BUMPING, we’re all out to crash.

Caught up in “The Siblings’ Revenge!” my husband and I fight on opposing sides.

Disco lights flash. The hunt begins. Where are they? A hunter stalking his prey, he was born to crash!

Bang! Got them! Again! Again! Again!

“Yahoo!” We’re in the zone… until retaliation hit.

Ouch!

Siren rings!

Adventure over, we’re laughing like a bunch of crooks!

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March 23, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write an adventure, experienced or witnessed. Explore your own ideas about what makes an adventurous spirit. Is it in the doing? Does standing witness count, and if so, how? Be adventurous!

Respond by March 29, 2016 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

…..

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Setting out on our big adventure…standing at the entrance to the show.

Yesterday, we went to the Royal Sydney Easter Show and had the best time ever. I will never forget our ride on the Dodge Ems where I teamed up with my son and my husband teamed up with Miss.

My son and I chased them round the track like a crazed stalker. He was driving and a couple of times, I actually grabbed the wheel and tried to get up out on the edge where he could actually drive. He wasn’t interested. Just wanted to crash…especially into Dad and his sister. She was just as bad. The looks on their faces were quite priceless…grinning from ear to ear with the most fiendish smiles. They just loved being legalised villains. All the other drivers were the same. We all just wanted to crash.

I laughed so much my face hurt. Much more fun than driving a stupid car and you don’t need a licence!

This is my second flash fiction this week. After writing about the personification of fear on the rollercoaster, I wanted to write about a happy adventure. Take the topic a different direction.

Hope you’ve had a Happy and Blessed Easter!

xx Rowena

 

A Philosophical Sunday Afternoon.

Writing letters to dead poets has led to a philosophical Sunday afternoon…even after eating loads of chocolate!

You see, this week, I’ve been preparing for the Blogging A-Z April Challenge. My theme is: Letters to Dead Poets. Like so many participants, April has crept up behind me and grabbed me by the throat, while I was otherwise occupied. So, this week I’ve been head down, bum up and hard at it.

I can’t even begin to describe the journeys I’ve been on. It’s been absolutely extraordinary. You could just imagine what it’s been like immersing myself in the works and bios of over 26 poets who have inspired me throughout my life. It’s been incredibly uplifting and equally intense. There have also been some macabre discoveries as well!

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When I drew up my list, I simply chose a poet who had touched me, which corresponded to each letter of the alphabet. Of course, some letters had multiple options and there were other letters where I was absolutely stumped and relying on Google. This was good too because I discovered some incredible poets from Japan and China which helped me out with letters I, Q and Z.

While I’m not going to spill the beans on my selection,what has shocked me is the number of poets who took their own lives. There were also others who just seemed to combust or died as a result of misadventure. There was one who was shot and another who shot himself. How do you make sense of that and what would they say to each other? Nothing because they’re both dead and the past is the past?!!

Yet, there are also others who endured incredible hardship and survived.

Why is this so? I don’t know.

 

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Sea Gulls Flying Towards the Sun….Rowena Newton.

So, when it’s come to writing letters to many of these dead poets, its been incredibly intense. That probably doesn’t surprise you but it did surprise me. I’ve sort of found these poems one by one and hadn’t really discerned any patterns before. In many cases, I had no idea how the poet had died. So, what started out looking like a fairly random selection of poets, has been transformed into themes and variations…alarming ones in many ways.

What has also emerged is that there are people who go through incredible suffering and somehow survive and yet others take their own life. I’m not going to call that giving up because it’s not an easy decision but it’s incredibly hard on family and friends who are inevitably left behind, wishing they’d done more. Tried something else. Somehow managed to save this person they love and cherish. When someone loses a parent or a child, it’s their own flesh and blood… more precious than life itself and their anguish has no end.

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Walking Together Through the Fog- Rowena Newton.

So, you could say it’s been an intense week but a rewarding one because a these letters are now becoming a book. I’ll be putting more abridged versions up for the challenge as these posts need to be a quick read. After all, the challenge is quite the blog fest trying to make your way around as many blogs as possible hoping some of these relationships will be more ongoing.

Thinking of the challenge like that, makes me think I could have chosen a more light-hearted topic. However, meaning is very important to me. My writing has to have meaning, even if that’s humour but there has to be a purpose. There’s so much rubbish out there and I don’t want to become part of that just to boost my stats. For me, it’s much more important to touch hearts, particularly the hearts of the hurt and hopefully give them a touch of hope. As Emily Dickinson once said:

“If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.”

This approach is reassuring for all of us who want to help others but feel overwhelmed. One person can not save the world by themselves but if we could each “stop one heart from breaking”, that would truly turn things around, wouldn’t it!

Anyway, after all of this, I knew I need to step out but I wasn’t quite sure how. When you’re mulling over details which are speeding round and round your head in a cyclonic yet inspirational vortex, it’s hard to step out. Incredibly hard, at times.

Then, this morning, my incredibly happy Black Dog, Lady, greeted me with such enthusiastic gusto, that I felt good. My spirits lifted. Lady is such a happy little dog who  wags her tail with such vigor, that she whacks it on the floor. Then, as she hears you walk closer, the whacking speeds up. Well, when she saw me this morning, it was like I’d risen from the dead. She was THAT happy. The tail was wagging and her entire body was quivering and she was jumping all over me.

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Those big brown eyes say: “I love you!”

I think she was hoping for a walk.

As soon as I saw her, though, I thought: these poets didn’t have a dog. I don’t know whether that’s true but my dogs certainly cheer me up and do their best to keep me on an even keel.

Also goes to know that just because Lady is a “Black Dog”, that she doesn’t have to be depressed. Rather, she’s as happy as…a dog!

While I found serious depression revisiting my favourite poets, I also found much encouragement, resiliance and amazing determination to overcome the odds.

Issa-snail

The Haiku writer Issa survived incredible adversity and yet still still appreciated and honoured the incredible beauty found in nature and pushed on. I shared this Haiku with the family last night:

O snail

Climb Mount Fuji,

But slowly, slowly!

You can read more about it at: Snailing Up the Mountain

Out of interest, thought I might ask you all to share your survival strategies for getting through a tough week?

I have quite a complex web of survival strategies. There’s my family which gives me so much motivation to overcome anything which crosses my path and my friends, some who are like family. There’s my faith and that knowledge that God is with me all the time no matter what. At the same time, that doesn’t mean that I don’t ask him questions and wonder why things pan out the way they do and that’s why community is important. That you need to be part of something bigger than you. I have my puppy dogs who give me so much unconditional love and that huge crazy tail wag every single morning and if I’m having a sleepless night, they are also happy to join me. I could almost hug them to death and they’d never tell me to leave them alone. That said, they can drive me a little crazy pestering me to throw the tennis ball and every time I’m going out is somehow perceived as a “walk”. Yet, this also reflects their undying optimism, faith and hope. They never let a setback stop them from believing that the next time the door opens, they’ll be off.

Exercise, socialise…these are really important.

As an over-arching principle, I strive for balance. If I am going through a hard time and immersed in the dark, it’s really important to take myself the other way and find the light. I do that by viewing the world through my camera lens and particularly love photographing the clouds at sunset. They are so beautiful and just watching nature, calms and restores my soul. Nature is such an incredible tonic.

I also believe you need to have a sense of humour and being able to laugh at yourself and your adversity can be strangely very therapeutic.Don’t know why but it’s worked for me.

That adversity doesn’t hunt you down.You’re not the only one going through hard times. Although it might look like others have the perfect life, you usually don’t know them well enough to know their truth.

chair Umina Beach

Rather, life ebbs and flows. There are ups and downs and we just need to learn to swim, improve our stroke and build up those muscles to survive. Alternatively, we build a boat and learn to sail. The how doesn’t really matter but do nothing and there’s only one result. You sink.Drown.

When you live a very rich and varied life, you’re much better prepared when adversity knocks. With your eggs spread throughout multiple baskets, you’ve spread your risk and you’re not sunk in the first strike. You have something left  in reserve.

This is why I was off at the beach with the family and the dogs yesterday afternoon and off to Church this morning. I also specifically spoke with my Pastor about my Dead Poet Project as well as some friends. I am dealing with some very tough philosophical questions and I know this isn’t something I should be doing alone. I need to go into that space of solitude to write but I also have to come out and get back into life, the universe and everything. Hug and be hugged by both humans and dogs!

These are important issues for our creative community. Too many creatives have been swallowed up by all-consuming darkness or the brilliance of the flames. Somehow, we need to reach out to each other and truly hold on. Hold on when we’re sinking and hold on as our neighbour goes down. Likewise, we can also go up and I’m all for flying a kite..just as long as I can get down once again!

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A Helping Hand- Rowena Newton

When I was back at university, a friend of mine shared the analogy of the rock and the kite. The rock and the kite are friends…buddies. Yet, they are also opposites. The kite with it’s tendency to fly away and get carried away by the wind,  is tied to the rock and grounded. Meanwhile, the rock has a tendency to get too heavy and sink into the ground. Get depressed. However, the kite lifts it up out of the ground and cheers it up. I have always seen this as an explanations for why opposites attract in relationships. We help balance each other out.

It’s funny how I’ve known this analogy for over 25 years yet writing this now has given me a whole new perspective. I’ve always thought of the rock and the kite as separate people but but they are also opposing forces in ourselves…the light and the dark, which wrestle each other within to determine our mood, outlook, the status quo. There’s a  constant, grueling tug of war within, as the rock and kite fight it out while we manage the battle. While all light and no darkness or heaviness might seem like the goal, we need depth, reflection and even sadness or we will, in effect, float away. All froth and bubble without any substance!

I’d be really interested to hear your feedback about all of this. I am not a mental health professional but I am a survivor. There are no medals or public acknowledgment for most survivors but we have more than learned life’s lessons along the bumpy road.

Take care and if the dark side is eating you up, please reach out. Keep reaching out. I promise we care!

Love & best wishes,

Rowena

Happy Easter: Church, Chocolate, Coffee!

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share and we wish you all a very Happy and Blessed Easter!

It’s already Sunday here in Australia. Would you mind please waiting for a minute. I’ve been to Church. Had a coffee but I need to bite into the Cadbury Crunchie Bunny that’s calling my name. Actually, that might be the other way round. After all, if I  was a chocolate Easter rabbit I wouldn’t be calling out to get eaten. Oh no! I’d quietly exit stage left without making a sound.

Yum! That’s soooo good. Nothing like biting a bunny’s ear off, although now that my daughter has live rabbits in her class room,  I’m supposed to be nice to rabbits. This is a crisis of conscience for me. As much as I love those cute fluffy bunnies as individuals, as a species, they’re not my friends. They’ve done catastrophic damage to the Australian landscape and are a pest. They do not belong here.

So what are you doing over Easter?

lady and Easter Egg

What do you mean I’m only after your Easter Egg?

So, far we’ve been hibernating. I was going to try to work in some kind of scientific or technical term for hibernation but while reading through Google, I only confused myself and thought I’d better stick to plain English. Being Australian, hibernation is a foreign concept. That is unless you include falling asleep on the beach, which could be re-classed as suicide these days. People have been hospitalised for sunburn after falling asleep on the beach. In the longer term, Melanoma loves Australians and looking at the way Aussies bake themselves, the feeling is mutual.

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Oops! I almost forgot to mention that we went for an afternoon beach walk yesterday with the dogs. It was so good and I don’t know why I don’t get down there every day like I used to. It was right on sunset and while the sun doesn’t set over the water here, it was still very serene. We also came across three baby bronze whaler sharks lying on  the sand, which had been caught. We kept the dogs out of the water, not that they needed to be told. Lady occasionally goes for a brief swim but Bilbo not only stays out of the water himself. He also barks out to other dogs who are swimming and tries to round them up out of the water…without getting his own paws we…of course!

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The kids at the beach- Easter 2016.

This week, I’ve been preparing for the Blogging A-Z April Challenge. My theme is: Letters to Dead Poets. Like so many participants, April has crept up behind me and grabbed me by the throat when I was busy elsewhere. So, this week I’ve been head down, bum up and hard at it.

So, you could say it’s been an intense week but a rewarding one because a these letters are now becoming a book and I’ll put more abridged versions up for the challenge as these posts need to be a quick read. After all, the challenge is more of a blog fest where fidelity has nothing to do with trying to get around as many blogs as possible hoping some of these relationships will become an ongoing concern.

Are you taking part in the A-Z Challenge? If so, please let me know in the comments and provide a link through to your theme reveal. Here’s a link to mine.

Tomorrow, we’re all heading off to the Sydney Royal Easter Show. I’m really looking forward to it. This is the first time we’ve taken the kids to the Show.

Going to The Show was such a part of my childhood and I went every year without fail when it was out at the Sydney Showground which was out at the Sydney Cricket Ground. There are so many memories out there of the laughing clowns, Kewpie Dolls (which my husband just called crappy dools…Gee! No respect!) Dagwood dogs, Showbag Hall and walking around looking at animals and cattle, dogs, horses and seeing all those Christmas cakes and incredible embroidery. I can’t wait but at the same time, it’s going to be a huge day. It’s tiring for anyone but when you have a small engine, big events are daunting.

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Bilbo is not so sure about the kids’ engineering exploits. “Hey, trying to fight the ocean is futile guys!”

So, how was your week? I hope you’re had a great one!

The Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Part Time Monster and you can click here for the “Linky“.

Love & Easter Blessings!

Rowena

PS Just found a great article: Life Lessons of a Speeding Train.

 

 

Snailing Up the Mountain.

O snail

Climb Mount Fuji,

But slowly, slowly!

-Issa

Yesterday, I felt the entire universe quake when I discovered  this incredible Haiku. Of course, I am not alone in my response. This Haiku is widely known in Haiku circles. However, that doesn’t stop me from feeling that Issa wrote it just for me. That despite living long before my time, he knew me so intimately that he actually heard the silent cry in my heart.

Ever since I developed a muscle-wasting auto-immune disease ten years ago, I’ve felt the need to climb a mountain. After all, isn’t this what everybody does after they face a serious setback? Of course! Naturally, I never felt this compulsion when I was capable. That said, I have climbed Australia’s tallest peak, the Mount Kosciuszko which at  2,228 m barely scratches Everest’s knees.It’s not what I consider a serious challenge, even though I couldn’t do it now.

Given my disability and other interests, I put my mountain climbing dreams long ago and instead, turned my energies towards a more achievable challenge…skiing down the mountain, which I achieved in 2013.

Anyway, tonight over dinner I decided to share the snail Haiku with the rest of the family. Indeed I couldn’t wait. When something hits you straight between the eyes like that, it’s hard to concede that anyone could interpret it any differently. Surely, they would be equally blown away and appreciate how slow and steady can get you over the mountain…be it physical, psychological or spiritual.

However I’d forgotten that the kids had studied Japan at school and might have their own perspectives.

My daughter, who has a long history of asking difficult and lateral questions, didn’t disappoint.After I’d finished reading the Haiku, she asked:

“How does the snail climb up Mt Fuji if there’s snow? It wouldn’t stick.”

Of course, this necessitated yet another Google search. I sweart hat site could well be re-named “The Dumb Parents’ Salvation”.

In the past, kids’ questions like this were admired, considered rhetorical and left unanswered. Parents were let off the hook, although there could well have been the “Go ask your Father/Mother” to pass the buck. After all, nobody likes to be outsmarted by their ten year old kid even, if we do appreciate their intelligence!

However, you can’t get away with that any more. If you don’t know the answer,  you’re expected to find out, even if that means exploring the very frontiers of human understanding to get the answer…the intellectual equivalent of landing on Mars.

While I realised that my daughter’s question focused on a more literal than symbolic interpretation of Issa’ s Haiku, I still decided to follow through on her question. How could a snail climb to the top of Mt Fuji? I’d never even considered how a human could do it, let alone a snail, so I really did need some help.

That’s when I stumbled across a fabulous and very human account of climbing Mt Fuji and I thought that anyone who appreciates the Haiku, would also appreciate their journey: Climbing Mt Fuji

That’s helped me formulate a sort of answer to my daughter’s question. That the snail would need to climb Mt Fuji during the Summer months but given the huge number of human climbers, it could very well hitch a lift to the summit…even if that’s cheating. I also made a mental note to warn the snail to be careful. With that many climbers about, it would be all too easy to get stepped on.

If you are interested in Haiku, you might want to check out my previous posts:

My First Haiku

Haiku & Mash

Haiku for Four Seasons

Roses Aren’t Blue

Do you have a favourite Haiku? If so please share it and likewise, if you have climbed Mt Fuji, I’d love to hear how it went.

xx Rowena