Monthly Archives: September 2016

On Being A Cartoonist- Leunig

“I give thanks for the fact that I can get this stick with a bit of steel nib on the end, dip it in some black carbon stuff, and draw on paper. Now, people did it the same way 2,000 years ago. And there’s something lovely about that play, and making mud pies and a mess. That’s a lovely privilege.”

– Michael Leunig, Australian Cartoonist.

I was thrilled to bits to hearing Michael  Leunig speak at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. Indeed, I actually caught the lift with Leunig on the way to the session and of course, yours truly was gushing unlimited praise all over the poor guy, without so much as offering as umbrella. How rude!  He must’ve been soaked by the time he got out.
You can read about it here: Catching The Lift With Leunig.
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By the way, if you’ve never read Leunig poems and cartoons, you’re really missing out and you can duck over to his website  and click on Works. I promise…no regrets just mind-blowing morsels of inspiration.
Enjoy!
xx Rowena

Compassion…it’s Complicated.

Around 18 months ago, I joined a revolutionary blogging network called: “One Thousand Voices for Compassion”. We not only write about compassion, empathy and trying to make the world a better and more connected place, we try to take that out into the real world and translate these thoughts into action. Naturally, we feel a strong need for compassion, or we wouldn’t be part of the group.

This month, we’re addressing whether compassion is innate or learned. Are we born caring about the welfare of others or is it something we learn along the way?

While I could’ve written this from my gut, instead I fleetingly perused “the science”, which seemed to support that we’re at least born with some level of compassion and that our life experiences can either nurture or diminish our compassionate selves . If you’d like to read more about the nature versus nurture debate, there’s some recommended reading.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-it/201306/compassion-our-first-instinct

The Compassionate Instinct

This leaves me doing my usual thing of exploring yet another tangent, looking at why people don’t help or respond to someone’s pain, loss, discomfort…you get the gist. Why do people do nothing?

More pertinently, why do I do nothing?

That’s right. I’m just as guilty as everyone else. No matter how hard we try, people fall through our cracks, even when we know they’re falling through a dark abyss. Even though we love these people with all of our hearts.

For those of us who are part of this 1000 Voices for Compassion Movement, these personal failings are even more frustrating. After all, we are striving to be that compassionate caring person… the Good Samaritan who stops and takes care of that person in need…not the person who walks past. We think from our hearts, not from our heads and would be willing to leap tall buildings in a single bound for anyone in trouble.

So, why can’t we do it? Why can’t we always be the person we’re striving to be?

The trouble is we’re only human. That as much as we might strive to be that superhero…Don the cape, flex out muscles and take to the skies,  we have so many limitations, frailties and who hasn’t ended up somehow paralyzed and glued to the spot in a stressful situation . Who hasn’t forgotten to phone a friend when you know the proverbial’s hit the fan?

Guilty as charged.

Compassion guilt…send me straight to jail…directly to jail. Do no pass Go. Do not collect $200.

BUT…

We can’t be in two places at once. We can’t clone ourselves and even help everyone in our own backyards, let alone to try to save the world as we would like.

That learns us having to make choices.

Or, circumstances can also dictate our response.

This brings me back to what I’ve written before about being kind to ourselves. Understanding and being compassionate to ourselves when we don’t live up to our own principles, ideologies, which includes fighting whatever negative stuff someone else might send our way when we let them down. We’ve done our best and even when we haven’t, know we can take that life lesson back to the drawing board and hope to be a better friend or person next time.

I am rushing this through to get this up before the link closes. So I hope it make sense. I’ll be back to straighten up the rough edges.

Or, perhaps writing rough is good enough, after all.

Well, at least once and awhile.

This has been part of 1000 Voices for Compassion and if you’d like to read other contributions, please click on the Linky.

xx Rowena

PS: I just came across a great hymn “Brighten the Corner Where You Are” over at Ann’s Corner. It guess it’s a precursor to a great slogan from our times: “Think global. Act local.” https://annofgg.com/2015/03/07/anns-corner/

Why Get Your Paws Wet?

Try telling this dog it’s not the Captain of the ship, Master of its domain?!! As I watched the boat powering through the river with the dog proudly standing at the helm, how could I let the moment pass by?

As a casual observer, I never had the opportunity to find out whether this dog was an avid swimmer and water dog or a land lover who couldn’t think of getting its precious paws wet.

However, after my recent post A Different Type of Rescue Dog where a Newfoundland Dog threw its anxious visitor far into the river to stop its yapping and get it where it wanted to go, this dog really caught my eye. He didn’t need to swim. He had a boat. No doubt a boat it considered its own.

How does your dog manage around water? Do they love swimming or perhaps they’re more into dry land. Let your stories flow!

xx Rowena

This photo was taken at Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River, Sydney.

Photo: Rowena Newton.

Day Trip to Brooklyn, Sydney.

After intense winds swept away our sailing plans, we decided to drive home via Brooklyn, on Sydney’s Hawkesbury River. We were there a few weeks ago for a cruise but our connection with Brooklyn goes back even further. Geoff and I seriously considered buying a block of land in Brooklyn when we got engaged…almost 16 years ago. So, when we cam back for this wander around Brooklyn, it was also a case of exploring what might have been…our other life.

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Brooklyn is in the centre of the map.

The railway arrived in 1877, making it less than an hour’s journey from Hornsby. A ferry service then conveyed passengers to Gosford.

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When you first arrive at Brooklyn, you’ll soon notice this stone obelisk commemorating Governor Arthur Phillip’s first expedition of the Hawkesbury River. In March 1788, little more than a month after the arrival of the First Fleet, Governor Arthur Phillip led an expedition which explored the mouth of the Hawkesbury as far as Dangar Island, near Brooklyn. In June the following year, his second expedition reached as far as Wisemans Ferry. It was on this expedition that Phillip identified the river and named it in honour of Lord Hawkesbury, the president of the Board of Trade in Britain.

Fast-forwarding one hundred years, in 1877 the railway came to Brooklyn, although the town wasn’t established until 1884 when the Fagan Brothers subdivided their 100-acre grant. A ferry service conveyed passengers to Gosford, on the other side of the Hawkesbury River, until the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge was completed in 1889.

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I was receiving subliminal messages telling me I needed hot chips.

However, while they might have sold fish and chips, we had a a few chickens and even a rooster thrown in.

Indeed, the rooster had quite a lot of attitude.

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I also admired this anchor hanging on the wall.

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As we walked around the streets, we stumbled across the old Brooklyn Post Office with its very old mail slot referring to “GR”.

Ferries, fishing boats…the Brooklyn Marina is a great place to poke around and explore. This place is rustic with a capital R with all sorts of nooks and crannies which were paradise for the kids. It was hard work trying to keep them on the track but they weren’t the only ones who wandered off either. Remember, I was there with the Nikon Beast looking through my lens at every step, seeing through 6 x 4. That made for numerous detours and so much fun.

We also found some stunning native flowers:

I also loved this incredibly beautiful gum tree:

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I wonder how old this tree would be and what it has seen. If only trees could talk!!

 

In case you get lost in Brooklyn, this sign could give you some idea of just how far you have to walk home:

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However, you can easily visit Brooklyn by train, alighting at Hawkesbury River Station in  the centre of town. Indeed, if you love a bit of train spotting, Brooklyn is a great place to see the trains up close just don’t brhereeathe in as the trains go past. The stench of burning brakes could seize your lungs. You might also enjoy watching the trains pass over the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge.

Also, if you’re thinking about visiting Brooklyn , you could enjoy a Hawkesbury River history cruise. We took the cruise a few weeks ago and you can read about it here.

Meanwhile, we’re signing out for our first day of the school holidays.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

 

The Fork in the Tree.

What do you see when you look at this tree?

Initially, I saw the fork in the road but when I look at it now I see a very flexible, headless dancer whose toe is pointing up into the clouds. Mind you, when I came up with that image, I’d chopped the top off the photo on my laptop screen. or, maybe, the dancer hasn’t shaved her legs?

Unfortunately, I also noticed this tree isn’t looking very healthy.While it is deciduous, it’s neighbours are all sprouting Spring leaves and there isn’t so much as a bud on this one. I’m hoping my suspicions are wrong but is this tree deceased?

“C’mon! Grow, baby. Grow!…Just a leaf? A sign? A glimmer of hope?”

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My Pathway is Lost in a  Jumble of Twigs. Where am I going?

Meanwhile, looking further up the tree, I spotted “chaos central” where there is no clear-cut fork in the road… the A & B options. Rather, these twigs graphically portrayed:

“My life is such a Mess!” or “I’m soooo confused”.

There are no patterns and no pathway through. No exit from the maze but at least there is no minotaur but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a spider’s next in there…a tribe of Huntsmen.

When you have complicated decisions to make, what do you do? How do you choose which way to go? Toss a coin? Phone a friend? Write about it? Make a list of pros and cons?

I use a range of these strategies but what I’ve finally come to appreciate the hard way, is that action outranks procrastination. That even if you make the wrong decision, that’s better than doing nothing at all. Procrastination is not my friend and yet…

Hey, I just went chasing up a quote to illuminate this post and this was the first quote I found and it was so about this tree. It must be a sign:

“Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.”

Robert H. Schuller

Perhaps, this tree should be renamed: “The Philosopher’s Tree”. Well, it’s certainly got me thinking and fired up a few brain cells. Dare I say, cleared out some “dead wood”?

Surely, there’s life in the old tree yet!

xx Rowena