Monthly Archives: November 2016

Amnesia…Paris ‘92

I’m digging around

at the back of my head,

but all neuro pathways

are hopelessly dead.

 

I can’t resurrect them.

Their heartbeats have stopped.

Help can’t get through.

All roads have been blocked.

 

I fumble around for a sign,

For some clues.

Return to the scene,

where I hope to find you.

writing in Paris

Writing on the Window Sill at the Hotel Henri IV July, 1992.

 

But almost a lifetime’s

flowed along down the Seine,

although ancient Pont Neuf

still looks much the same.

 

I return to the cafe

where you broke my heart.

Still bearing the scars,

you said weren’t your fault.

 

The City of Love,

Was my city of pain

where romance turned to heartbreak,

and sun turned to rain.

 

And now I am back there,

with my husband and kids

not saying a word

about that Summer we kissed.

 

Rowena Curtin

30th November, 2016.

 

A fictional poem, although the heartache was real.

I am currently writing about the two months I spent in Paris as a backpacker in 1992. That’s over 20 years ago now and the memories are very strained despite having my own diaries, photos and letters to refer to as well as the net.  I was making very good progress on this project a year ago. That was until the office roof was destroyed in a hailstorm and then the hard drive developed “complications” and not everything could be salvaged. So, I am starting over trying to re build the patchwork quilt almost from scratch and trying to cover the gaps. It’s incredibly difficult but I am thankfully making progress.

xx Rowena

The featured image was a selfie taken in the Luxenbourg Gardens, Paris, July 1992.

 

Watching Crowded House.

Last Saturday night, Crowded House performed live on the steps of the Sydney Opera House.

Unfortunately, we missed it, but the concert was televised ABC TV on Sunday night and we were all parked in front of the TV reminiscing with Neil Finn and the band. Indeed, they were playing in our very own lounge room. Weren’t we lucky!!

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Neil Finn

In case you haven’t heard of Crowded House, it’s an Australian rock band. It was formed in 1985 by  New Zealander Neil Finn and Australians Paul Hester and Nick Seymour. They were later joined by Neil’s older brother, Tim Finn. Both Neil and Tim Finn hailed from Split Enz.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not a band person and there have never been any bands I’ve hero worshipped, longing for their next album. However, there were favourite songs, which I’ll never forget, but you probably need to be 40 something or over to know any of these.That said, I can mention Electric Blue by Icehouse without embarrassing myself.

Anyway, getting back to Crowded House…

I got quite a rush hearing many of the old Crowded House songs again. Not that I could’ve picked them as Crowded House. Yet, the songs were very familiar like running into an old friend. Crowded House was always there.

Actually, I’m quite grateful that I’ve had this opportunity to reconnect with Crowded House now and intend to buy their CD. Well, at least a CD. No doubt, they’ve put out more than one. It will be joining me in the car. I do a lot of driving!

So, having confessed that I’m anything but a Crowded House expert, I’m obviously breaking the most fundamental rule of writing… writing about something I know very little about. While I understand that this could be my undoing given there are  obsessive fans who know each and every hair on their heads.

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Tim & Neil Finn

However, there can also be a different kind of story. More of a getting to know you, dipping my little toe into the waters and sharing the journey kind of story. Moreover, while many people would be interested in pulling their music apart , I found myself watching and absorbing the band as people.There was something intangible about each of them which really touched me.  They all came across as really interesting, warm and genuine people with a very strong sense of something like a cross between empathy and compassion. I’d really like to sit on a beach watching the moon rise listening to these guys talk. Not about the band, being in a band or being a star but to hear their philosophical observations of life. I could sense wisdom, which isn’t a trait I usually attribute to band members but it was there. I know it was there.

So I wasn’t really surprised when I came across these quotes from Neil Finn:

“I try to put myself into unusual and difficult situations as often as I can in order to capture the element of struggle in the music.”

-Neil Finn

“So I think rather than being attracted so much now to working with my heroes, I’m sort of more attracted to working with completely unlikely strangers because it’s more exciting really.”

-Neil Finn

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Tim Finn…you could really tell he was having a blast!

There were also some poignant quotes from his older brother, Tim Finn:

“True contentment comes with empathy.”

Tim Finn

“Weave me a rope that will pull me through these impossible times.”

Tim Finn

“I’m a live performer and I love playing live.”

Tim Finn

Anyway, on that note I’ll leave you with a few songs:

 

Enjoy!

Crowded House: Don’t Dream It’s Over.

Do you have a favourite Crowded House song? What is it?
I find it hard to pick out of these three.
xx Rowena
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The End.

The Reflective Sailor

Not sure what the reflective sailor’s thinking. If it were me, I’d be thinking about where my next coffee is coming from. Even a 9.00 am start on a Saturday morning seems a bit cruel, especially when we had to leave “the Peninsula” to get there. You just ask anybody who lives on a peninsula what it’s like travelling abroad? We’re all inclined to be rather insular…at least, geographically speaking.

Anyway, on Saturday morning Mum’s Taxi found itself feeling rather confused driving the sailor to his lesson, rather than ducking around the corner to drop our daughter at dancing. I quite enjoyed the change and having time driving along with my son and hanging out at the waterfront. Would’ve loved to go for a sail myself, although can’t sail and would need to hitch a ride. (Sounds like I need to do something about that!!)

Of course, I couldn’t go anywhere near the waterfront without packing my camera and I wasn’t disappointed.

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Moody Skies.

Not only was the sailor a little reflective, dark brooding storm clouds also obliged. Indeed, looking at the photos, you can’t help wondering how I let our son sail out in that weather.

Anyway, of course, he survived.

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Looking after the boat. The kids are taught that the boat looks after you, you look after it. I love the sound of that!

I’m so pleased our son loves sailing. Seems like a great stress release for the “reflective” teenage years. After all, I haven’t forgotten what sailing through the swirling vortex of pubescence was like. I’m sure most of us had moments where we’re surprised we made it through.

Do you sail? Feel free to share links to sailing posts in the comments.

xx Rowena

Sense-sational Schools Spectacular 2016.

If you are one of those people who experiences creative overdrive when all your senses get stimulated at the very same time, then perhaps you’d better stay away from Schools Spectacular. It’s the largest variety show in the world and included 5,710 performers, which also gives the show its other name: “Schools Specktacular” as most parents require the Hubble telescope or a telescope to spot their kid. You’ve just got to hope you can find them at the end.

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Our daughter heading in to perform.

Anyway as you’re well aware, I see through the lens of my SLR camera. It gives me much better vision than my glasses and not only that. It saves that vision for later and I can watch it again and again and again.

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Photo: Rowena Curtin

However, those “Spectacular Powers That Be” banned so-called “professional” cameras. So, for the first time EVER, my extra long lens worked against me. My poor camera was banished to the boot.

Down but not out, I took over Geoff’s “camera phone”. Desperate times called for desperate measures. I was back to being a mere mortal again. It felt like the photographic equivalent of riding a bicycle in a Formula One race. Although the phone might be good at taking selfies, that’s not what I was there for.

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The Dancers…Rowena Curtin.

However, all wasn’t lost. It turns out Geoff’s camera phone has a curiously abstract perspective, capturing some interesting effects.Well, it wasn’t just his camera phone because there was still a photographer’s eye hard at work. I thought I’d get some interesting effects with the dancing sea of arms and legs. I  just didn’t know  how they’d turn out.

I would also like to recommend reading my previous post about some of the disability access struggles I had at the venue… Qudos Bank Arena at Sydney’s Olympic Park. I didn’t write this for my own benefit. These issues need to be raised for the greater good. Here’s Accessing Schools Spectacular.

xx Rowena

Accessing Schools Spectacular.

Last Saturday night, our family attended the NSW Schools Spectacular held at Qudos Bank Arena, at Sydney’s Olympic Park. Schools Spectacular is the largest variety show in the world and features students from NSW Public Schools and guest artists. Our daughter was performing in the 3,500 strong mass choir and I was really looking forward to a fantastic night out.

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However, as a someone living with disability and chronic illness, I naturally had some reservations. Large crowds throw up all sorts of unpredictablities  for me. It doesn’t take much for a simple fall to have major consequences…a broken foot a few years ago being case in point.

However, despite these hazards, I carpe diem and seize the day. I get out and about and I would move heaven and earth to see our daughter perform.

There were simply concerns about THE HOW and that meant reducing all the unpredictabilities. It’s not rocket science. It’s just like making sure you pack a water bottle on a hot day. However, I usually have a lot more variables to consider and most of them are unpredictable. We have to think on our feet.

That’s also because I’m on my feet using a walking stick, not in a wheelchair. I thought I’d better point that out because it makes quite a difference to the types of accessibility problems I face.

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The Finale.You can feel he electricity, can’t you!!

As much as we all loved and enjoyed the performance and can’t wait to see it all over again on TV next weekend, we did experience some difficulties accessing and leaving the venue.  After trying unsuccessfully to have my needs accommodated at the time, I’m sharing my experiences with a view to implementing change through greater community awareness. After all, people living with disability and chronic illness are entitled to a fun night out, without needing to advocate for disability access rights!

To give you an idea of what it is like for a disabled person with a walking stick to attend a big concert, I thought I’d hobble you through the highs and lows of our evening.

Starting out with the positive, I have a companion card. This entitles me to a free carer to accompany me to a huge range of venues. This meant that as my companion, my husband’s ticket for School Spectacular was in a sense free. However, it also meant that he was also his wife’s keeper and he was on duty  (Confirmation that there’s no such thing as a free lunch!).

Secondly, we were able to get subsidised disabled parking a short walk from the venue. I can’t overstate how having a Disabled Parking Permit opens places up for me. Of course, it’s great to be close to the venue. However, that proximity also reduces unpredictabilties, producing something of a protective bubble. There’s still that element of risk, but it’s much reduced. This allows me to lead something close to a “normal” life.

However, on the down side, despite having the Companion Card and disabled parking permit, I was deemed capable of queuing up with the crowded throngs to get through the security check. Given that the show had 5,000 performers, the crowds were phenomenal. So, we’re not talking about a trickle. Such crowds pose a genuine risk to my physical safety and my concerns have nothing to do with being “anxious”!.

I politely asked the ticket office about disabled access and was told that everyone had to go through the security checks. But I wasn’t asking to by-pass the security checks. Nor would I want anyone to by-pass them. Obviously, they’re critical. However, there should have been a way for people with disabilities to by-pass the queue and go straight through the checks. I was using a walking stick, had a Companion Card and a Disabled Parking Permit.  So, these people at the ticket office knew I wasn’t well. They could’ve walked me to the front of the queue and helped, but instead they stuck to their officialese.

That’s when I donned my political hat. Not because I couldn’t wait for the queue to die down or take my chances in the crowd. I did it because there should have been decent disability access. Somebody needed to speak up for those who can’t or struggle to speak up. I clearly expressed my right to disabled access and was bluntly told the queue was the only way. I spoke to the supervisor and received the same rule-driven response.

Of course, I was the problem!

We were naturally unimpressed (read understatement!!)

However, very soon our experience dramatically improved.

Having made it through the security check, I confronted a metal turnstile and wasn’t feeling comfortable. This time the staff member asked me if I could get through and guided me around the turnstile. My husband and I almost hugged him, thanking him profusely for his attitude. It was such a welcome contrast to the people at the ticket office who had their rules, which clearly made no allowance for disabled people.

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So far so good. We made it to our seats and really enjoyed the performance. It was superlatively sensational and we want to thank and acknowledge all those beautiful performers, the teachers, and everybody who put so much into this incredible event. In no way do I want my concerns about disability access to lessen what was a truly unforgettable experience.

Naturally, after the performance was over, we had to get home.

As I said, we had a very convenient Disabled Parking spot. However, we hadn’t anticipated that being on level 1 would make it incredibly difficult to exit the car park with all the cars pushing down from upper levels. While there is a sign warning that it takes an hour for a full car park to empty, for many people living with disability or chronic illness, that’s a very long time…especially if you’re stuck in the queue for an extended period.  There are seriously disabled and chronically ill people who can’t wait around in a car park for an hour to exit. These families live on a very short piece of string and need to get home like a bat out of hell.

As we were parked right next to the toilets, my husband decided we were better off waiting and staying put rather than getting stuck in the stationary traffic stampede. This gave me a chance to watch the panicked pandemonium. It was like someone had yelled “FIRE” and everyone had to get out immediately, right now and the thinking part of their brains was definitely switched off. At one point, we saw people converge on one exit point from five different directions, which clearly wasn’t “legal”. Drivers behaved like crazed maniacs in a case of:  “Just get me out of here. I don’t care about anyone else.”

While I was watching all of this, I came up with an idea.

What about if the people with Disabled Parking Permits were allowed to leave first and other motorists had to give way?  It would probably cause an outrage, but it wouldn’t hurt most people to wait an extra 15 minutes or even half an hour. However, knowing we could exit a venue quickly would provide seriously disabled and chronically ill people with much greater community participation.

What do you think?

For our family these recommendations also have further application. My Mum had bought a ticket to the lunchtime matinee concert but seriously put her back out and couldn’t attend. I’d actually encouraged her to have a go, because I thought the venue would help us find a way. However, I’m glad she stayed home because it would’ve been too much. She would’ve needed a lot of extra support and as much as catering for one little girl’s Grandma isn’t much to ask, that crowd was brutal and to be fair, she’s nowhere near well enough.

My intentions here are not to criticise or throw stones but to raise awareness. Let you travel in our shoes for a night and open your eyes to our struggles. Before I became aware of my own disabilities, I never thought about such difficulties either. I was young and only thought about number one too. However, all I ask is that you open your eyes and respond from your heart, instead of your rule book. Have compassion.

I am not talking about making huge changes, but together we can move mountains. Not just these mountains, but all sorts of mountains which make it harder for anyone to fully participate in the seemingly simple things of life.

Okay. So where’s your shovel? Let’s start digging!

xx Rowena

Further Reading
Here are some other posts about living with disability:

Beyond the Flow: A Wheely Good Night at the Opera House

Beyond the Flow: Forgiving the Unforgivable (your chronic illness).

Living in a limited world: NHS Cruelty

Weekend Coffee Share November 27, 2016

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Not quite sure what type of beverage to offer you today. Being Summer over here, a glass of water might hit the spot and you might want to save your hot drinks for cooler climes.

How was your week?

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Miss outside Qudos Bank Arena. “Dream Big”…the theme for School Spec this year.

After celebrating my husband’s 50th Birthday last Sunday, the big event this week has been attending NSW School Spectacular held last night at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena. Our daughter was singing with her school in a huge mass choir with 3,500 students all dressed in matching white skivvies. It’s been a full on week. She had two full days of rehearsals midweek followed by two performances on both Friday and Saturday. So as much as being a part of School Spec is fun, it also takes commitment, hard work and a lot of organisation behind the scenes. Unfortunately, as we forgot to plant a locating beacon  or  take the Hubble telescope, we didn’t actually see our daughter perform but were with her in spirit.  Meanwhile the featured acts were very impressive including Fletcher Pillon, who won Australian X-Factor this year with a heartbreaking song about his little brother Benji who was tragically killed when he was run over riding his skateboard. I must also mention that I took much more notice of the dancing this year and even recognised many of the steps from my lyrical dance class. Not that I’d pulled them off with such agility, grace and finesse. However, I wasn’t watching myself dance in my lessons. Both eyes were focused on my teacher and naturally, I absorbed her moves as my own.

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The Finale.

Quite aside from School Spectacular, I’ve had a  creatively productive week.

Firstly,  Merril Smith put me onto an online  magnetic poetry site. They provide you with a selection of words to a theme and you try to build a poem out of it. You can get words relating to various themes such as nature. I’ve written a few magnetic poems this week and found the exercise extremely encouraging. The words gave my poetry rich symbolism and stretched my thinking. I was thrilled with the results and recommend you have a go. Please pop back and share your efforts. I’d love to read them. You can also read my efforts: The Path and The Poet Muse.

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In addition to the magnetic poetry this week, I’ve also started reading an absolutely incredibly amazing book: Messy: How to Be Messy in a Tidy-Minded World.  I recommend you all rush out and buy it. I promise it will significantly expand how you experience creative inspiration through opening your mind to messy and chaotic approaches, which often yield surprisingly impressive results.

One of the things I have found most interesting is the idea of jolting yourself out of a creative block. I was so intrigued by a set of random cards created by Brian Eno called Oblique Strategies, that I wrote a post about them and intend to try them out. After reading about choreographer Twyla Tharp, I read elsewhere that she advises dancers to “jump” when they experience a creative block.

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© CEayr.

I also participated in  Friday Fictioneers. This week’s prompt was a locked, chained door set into a sandstone structure. It looked quite intriguing and reminded me of a door I’d seen attached to a sandstone cave on the waterfront at Palm Beach. Naturally, this door has always intrigued me and I thought it would make a perfect pirate’s lair and pictured mermaids swimming through the sea around their ship. However, instead my flash was called: “Never too old for Divorce”. It’s the story of a retired gent whose wife is a monomaniacal cleaner and he’s withdrawn to his cave to have some breathing space. Unfortunately, I had to cut a lot out to meet the 100 word limit. In the original version, his cave was decked out with a flat screen  TV, microwave, boxes of Chardonnay and he’d also salvaged his trophies from the roof. Of course, she’d banished them up into the roof calling them dust traps although her precious collection of tea cups was okay. Indeed, the tea cups had moved into his trophy cabinet. It was hard to leave all of that out so I’m working on an extended 1500 word version.

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Our son seems to enjoy sailing in a bathtub AKA the Optimus.

Yesterday morning, I also had some photography fun. While I usually do the dance run and my husband drives our son to sailing, we switched roles yesterday and Geoff took Miss to School Spectacular and I found myself at the Sailing Club with menacing storm clouds on the horizon. Yummy! Well, perhaps Yummy is not the right word but I LOVE photographing clouds and the darker the better. While these clouds weren’t quite up to the hail clouds two years ago, I’d rather watch those clouds on TV these days. Getting caught in that storm was pure terror.

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By the way, in case you’re wondering what Mister was sailing, he had a go in the Optimus better recognised as “the bathtub” and then moved onto a Feva (I thought it was a “Fever” but what would I know.)  As much as I love sailing, I’m pure ballast and just strive to keep my head away from the boom.

Now, we’re switching gears as Christmas parties and the end of year dance concert approaches. Unfortunately, yours truly won’t be performing. The adults have respectfully been shown to our seats.  I’ve also bailed out on my violin concert. With so much going on, I decided not to do ensemble this year and decided to perform early in the new year at a soiree in the studio. As much as I love performing, with so much on, it’s been a relief.

What have you been up to? How’s your week been?

I hope things are going well.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Deborah over at  Part-Time Monster  and click here for the linky http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=680139

xx Rowena

 

Never too old for divorce…Friday Fictioneers.

Since retiring, Bill’s been escaping to his cave.

Constantly under attack by his wife’s monomaniacal cleaning, he couldn’t put his feet up in the house, let alone put a glass down.

Now, he could finally breathe without her pissing all over him like a territorial cat.

“Bill, why don’t you leave?”

“But there’s nowhere to go.”

“You could just go…”

Instead, he nailed up The Scream 1. and drew a mustache on her face.

“Lady, I’m your knight in shining armor and I love you
You have made me what I am and I am yours…2.”

Bill switched the radio off.

References

  1. Edvard Munch, The Scream

2. Kenny Rogers, Lady.

This has been part of Friday Fictioneers. The featured image is PHOTO PROMPT © CEayr.