Monthly Archives: December 2016

Goodbye 2016…The Words They Left Behind.

Make yourself a cup of tea, pour a glass of wine, grab a snack and absorb the words of wisdom left behind by some of the very inspirational souls who passed away this year. True wisdom to eat, savour, swallow and absorb into our deepest selves . Who knows where living these words could take us? Indeed, who needs champagne when you could be touched by even a sprinkle of  Ziggy’s star dust?!!

dsc_9077

Last night, I was thinking about putting something together for New Year’s Eve. At my stage in life, this means writing something for the blog and the family rather than organizing a raging party. Not only do we have the kids to consider, but also a dog who’s allergic to fireworks. She is guaranteed to be trembling on Geoff’s lap and I just remembered we didn’t get any medication…for her, or us!

While I’ve read advice and wisdom for the New Year, my mind was blank. If anything, I only had questions. At the top of that list was: “Do you really think you’re going to get it together next year when you specialize in chaotic thinking and travelling through life with no road map whatsoever?”

As we all know, NYE is an important night and it’s critical to get our affairs in order. More important than dying, NYE is that magical night when our old self dies and our new self is born. Indeed, at the tick of 12.01 AM, there’s an entirely new you with no commonality with your past self whatsoever. What? You didn’t know your entire DNA changes every New Years Eve on the stroke of midnight? Oh! Happy Days!

As I said, I get new DNA at midnight and I just hope I don’t come back as an accountant at 12.01, although I’ve vowed to manage my “what the?” finances better in 2017.

Anyway, since so many inspirational people left this world during 2016, I decided to put together a compilation of inspirational quotes.

Of course, my selection of quotes says as much about me, as it does about them. I haven’t included every famous person who passed away. Moreover, I won’t be calling these people “celebrities”. Rather, they were people of substance who inspired the world, not a candle flames fart-arsing in the wind.

These are “my people”.

So, I ask you to join me in my writer’s chair. We’re parked in front of huge screen basking in flashbacks of Carol Brady, Laverne & Shirley, Pretty Woman, Kingswood Country, Ziggy Stardust and my friends cutting out pictures of WHAM! and pasting them in their school diaries. All of these memories, images, words and music all swirled together into a dazzling kaleidoscope and I’d love to invite you along for the journey. Alleluia!

Who knows? You might even be inspired!

The Words They Left Behind

bowie

David Bowie

David Bowie 1947 – 2016

“There, in the chords and melodies, is everything I want to say. The words just jolly it along. It’s always been my way of expressing what, for me, is inexpressible by any other means.”

“As an adolescent, I was painfully shy, withdrawn. I didn’t really have the nerve to sing my songs on stage, and nobody else was doing them. I decided to do them in disguise so that I didn’t have to actually go through the humiliation of going on stage and being myself.”

Prince 1958 – 2016

princepurplerain

“Compassion is an action word with no boundaries.”

“There’s always a rainbow at the end of every rain.”

“When I’m writing [songs], some days the pen just goes. I’m not in charge and I’m almost listening outside of it. That’s when I realize that we all have to start looking at life as a gift. It’s like listening to a color and believing that these colors have soul mates and once you get them all together the painting is complete.”

Muhammad Ali 1942 – 2016muhammad_ali_nywts

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”

“The man who has no imagination has no wings.”

“A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.”

“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.”

“Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are.”

“I’ve made my share of mistakes along the way, but if I have changed even one life for the better, I haven’t lived in vain.”

“Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.”

Harper Lee 1926 – 2016

mockingbird

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.”

“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”

“The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

“It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.”

“Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”

“Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”

“Many receive advice, only the wise profit from it.”

Nancy Reagan 1921 – 2016

nancy-reagan“To my young friends out there: Life can be great, but not when you can’t see it. So, open your eyes to life: to see it in the vivid colors that God gave us as a precious gift to His children, to enjoy life to the fullest, and to make it count. Say yes to your life.”

“For eight years, I was sleeping with the president, and if that doesn’t give you special access, I don’t know what does!”

“A woman is like a tea bag, you can not tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”

Leonard Cohen 1934-2016

leonard-cohen“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

~ lyrics from Anthem, off the 1992 record ‘The Future’

“Out of the thousands who are known or who want to be known as poets, maybe one or two are genuine and the rest are fakes, hanging around the sacred precincts, trying to look like the real thing.”

“Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act.”

“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”

“I did my best, it wasn’t much. I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch. I told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you. And even though it all went wrong, I’ll stand before the Lord of Song, with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah…” ~ lyrics from his 1984 masterpiece, Hallelujah

“I don’t really understand that process called reincarnation but if there is such a thing I’d like to come back as my daughter’s dog.”

Carrie Fisher 1956-2016

carrie-fisher “One of the great things to pretend is that you’re not only alright, you’re in great shape. Now to have that come true – I’ve actually gone on stage depressed and that’s worked its magic on me, ’cause if I can convince you that I’m alright, then maybe I can convince me.”

“I always wrote. I wrote from when I was 12. That was therapeutic for me in those days. I wrote things to get them out of feeling them, and onto paper. So writing in a way saved me, kept me company. I did the traditional thing with falling in love with words, reading books and underlining lines I liked and words I didn’t know.”

Debbie Reynolds 1932 – 2016

debbie-reynolds

“If you’re a dancer, study singing. You have to do everything and do it well. You have to study acting. You have to study all of it. You have to find workshops, get out on the stage…and fail.”

“You have to keep practicing, if you’re really going to be good.”

“Anything worthwhile is hard, and dancing is very hard, and if you’ve ever studied dancing of any kind you’d know that to be in precision, three people dancing together.”

George Michael 1963-2016

wham“You’ll never find peace of mind until you listen to your heart.”

“Because of the media, the way the world is perceived is as a place where resources and time are running out. We’re taught that you have to grab what you can before it’s gone. It’s almost as if there isn’t time for compassion.”

Ronnie Corbett 1930-2016

“Have you ever noticed? Anybody going slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac.”

“We’ll be talking to a car designer who’s crossed a Toyota with Quasimodo and come up with the Hatchback of Notre Dame.”

Florence Henderon 1934-2016 (AKA Carol Brady from The Brady Bunch)

Florence Henderson.jpg“I had four children … and sometimes my kids would say to me, you know, how come you don’t scream at those kids on television like you do us?”

“A lot of women say to me, ‘You know, I really hated you because my kids wanted you to be their mother.'”

“I firmly believe […] you have to cherish your past. If you did it, it’s a part of you. I would be foolish to ignore that or go, I wish I’d never done it, i hate it.'” (on playing Carol Brady).

Zsa Zsa Gabor  1917-2016  (for a bit of humour. She was incredibly funny!!)

zsa-zsa-gabor-240I never hated a man enough to give him his diamonds back.”

“I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man, I keep his house.”

“I want a man who’s kind and understanding. Is that too much to ask of a millionaire?”

“I don’t remember anybody’s name. How do you think the ‘dahling’ thing got started?”

“To be loved is a strength. To love is a weakness.”

“One of my theories is that men love with their eyes; women love with their ears.”

“If you’ve got the comedy eye, you can look at any situation and see the humor in it while others don’t.”

“The only way to learn a language properly, in fact, is to marry a man of that nationality. You get what they call in Europe a ‘sleeping dictionary.’ Of course, I have only been married five times, and I speak seven languages. I’m still trying to remember where I picked up the other two.”

Garry Marshall 1934-2016 , Director

garry-marshall“Learn to work with people you wouldn’t go to lunch with.”

“One of my thrills of the business is to find young people, there’s a window. I like young people who are in that brief window between on their-way-up and rehab. In that window I can make stars. It’s not really true but it’s not so far off.”

“I think a lot of creative people have no sense of numbers and economics.”

“I’m basically a writer, it’s who I am. I direct and I like theatre directing very much. But I’ve done 17 movies, they don’t say ‘Let’s get Garry, he’ll make a helicopter shot,’ they say ‘Get Garry, he’ll fix the script.'”

“When I edit, I’m not from the school of Hello, I’m a genius, so everybody shut up. I’m from the school of Let’s play it once in front of an audience, and then I’ll tell you where it is going.”

“I think men should go see Beaches too. I think they’ll understand women better.”

“I’m a little older and I’m gonna do a bunch more movies and then they’re gonna put me in a home for old directors.”

“My mother worked all of her life, she was a dance teacher and I also noticed, to be honest, that most of the male directors wanted to blow things up so there was like an open area for somebody who wanted to direct women movies, chick flicks, whatever you… I don’t call them chick flicks.” www.movieweb.com

“I don’t know about immortal, but I must say that to me to touch more women and to have them understand friendships, is important. I’ve had girls come up to me who said, “Yeah, after I saw ‘Beaches’ I called up my friend Denise who I was really mad at. She got me so aggravated and I called her and we made up.” So if I could do that with this new release, yes, that would be very pleasing to me because, hey, it’s a tough world. You need friends out there.” www.movieweb.com

Ross Higgins AKA Ted Bulpitt from Kingswood Country

ted-bullpittFor those of you who are heading out to party tonight, I’ll leave you with two quotes from Kingswood Country‘s Ted Bulpitt, Australia’s version of Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers. This show couldn’t appear on modern TV yet it was viewed in every loungeroom round Australia. RIP Ted.
Ted Bullpitt: You’re not taking the Kingswood…

Ted Bullpitt: Leave your money on the fridge!

———————————————————

I’ve decided to print these quotes out for the family tonight and we’re going to pluck them out like a lucky dip.

Which quotes appeal to you? I’d love you to share your thoughts!

Thank you for reading through to the end. After taking in all that wisdom, who knows who or what we’ll become when the clock strikes 12.01?!!

Love & Blessings,

Rowena

 

 

 

I Never Liked WHAM! but…

Rewinding back to 1984, I was 14 going on 15 in Year 9 at school. I never liked WHAM! and definitely NEVER bought an album or single and especially NEVER wore a WHAM! T-Shirt. Indeed, it never crossed my mind. How embarrassing!

Yet, although I was anything but a George Michael’s fan, I still felt a deep shock when I heard the news…even sadness.

Why was it so? Why did I even care? I didn’t know the man. Wasn’t a fan.

Do I have some weird fatal attraction towards dead celebs?

I don’t think so. Indeed, I don’t even watch the news much anymore.

However, what with the Christmas break and Sydney experiencing heat wave conditions, I’ve been hibernating in front of the TV a bit while writing. I also call this recuperating from the stress of Christmas past and a busy year.

This naturally meant that I not only heard that George Michael had passed away, but much of the media follow-up and it drew me into its orbit.

Well, I was genuinely sorry to hear that the man had died at 53. Not because he was George Michael, but because he was human. Had hopes and dreams and they were cut short. Moreover, when you’re talking about someone with such immense musical talent and influence, even I think about what might have been. After all, we’ve all moved forward since WHAM! and 1984.

Or, have we?

Although my memories are rather hazy, George Michael’s death took me straight back to 1984. It was like I’d just boarded a time machine and was back in my old school uniform, wearing my old (or should I say young) skin. We were all writing notes in class and I’m not talking about class notes. There were much more important things to discuss. I clearly remember two of my fans were crazed, obsessive WHAM! fans. One adored George and the other one was equally “in love” with Andy. These friends were joined at the hip just like Kath & Kim. They were so into WHAM! that it was almost fused into their DNA.  They had WHAM! on everything. I love WHAM! scrawled all over their pencil cases, folders and their cassettes playing in their Walkmen. You get the drift. WHAM! had become a disease…not terminal but still a disease.

Yet, over the years, somehow WHAM! songs have crept into my psyche  and I’ve even found myself singing along to the car radio. Shock horror! I even knew all the words. Not that I’ve ever been a fan, but WHAM! was like that. It somehow became a part of me without my knowledge, awareness or consent.

How do these things happen?

Then, George Michael died this week. I didn’t even know the man. Yet, there’s media coverage everywhere and you don’t even need to go looking for grief, fuel for grief and stories to change your impressions of the man. They’re knocking on every door you’ve got. Indeed, I found out about his incredible anonymous acts of generosity and how he didn’t come out for some time, because he didn’t want his mum to worry about the horrors of AIDS. Sure, there were less noble moments, but I began to feel humbled, apologetic and even a tad ashamed. We judge celebrities on the scantiest of information, if you could even call it that, and are so damn sure of our opinions. I didn’t think twice.

Indeed, it reminds me of an Elton song: Candle in the Wind.

Yes, we didn’t know George Michael either.

So, George I’m sorry.

Meanwhile, I’m firing my time machine back up again. This time, we’re off to 1977 when my uncle took my brother and I to see Star Wars. Star Wars at the movies. That was when we first met R2D2, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. Not that I went crazy over it, but I still remember going to that movie and that my uncle took me. I was 8 years old. That was so many lifetimes and goodness knows how many versions ago and I’m now taking my kids to see it.

However, that wasn’t why I was sad when Carrie Fisher passed away.

Again, it was because she was human and no mother should ever have to bury their own child and tragically, Debbie Reynolds didn’t. She had a stroke planning her daughter’s funeral, overwhelmed by grief. They might have know fame and been Hollywood royalty but they were mother and daughter first…family.

Sailing With the Sea Plane.

Yesterday, we went sailing at Sydney’s Palm Beach with my Dad. For sailing affectionados, the yacht was a 34 ft Catalina. Given our close encounter with the sea plane, I should also clarify the yacht wasn’t a WWII aircraft.

More of a photographer than sailor, it was my job was to sit in my Princess seat, making sure I didn’t fall overboard. Same with the lad, except now that he has his level 2 sailing certificate, more was expected from him…especially knowing the difference between port and starboard,  stern and bow. Actually, even I know that.

You could say that the Catalina has a few bells and whistles. This includes an in-mast furled mainsail, which means you just need to use the winch to get the sail up and down. By the way, I’m merely ballast on these sailing trips, so that’s the full extent of my technical expertise.

Jon & Geoff sailing

Geoff and Mister finally out in the Laser. Sailing on a much different scale.

Yet, sailing on the Catalina is obviously much more luxurious than our humble Laser. At the same time, I miss being right on the water, though I love not having to keep a constant eye on the boom. Ouch!

Naturally, we’ve been out on the Catalina before. However, we’ll dubb yesterday’s sail: “Who Has Right of Way?”

Dad was letting the rest of us steer, which was great fun but we don’t know all the intricacies of sailing etiquette. This meant we were constantly checking …especially being the Christmas holiday break. There was a huge cacophony of craft on the water. A veritable fruit salad of yachts, water skiers, kayakers, paddle boarders, ferries and even the sea plane thrown in.However, being under sail and something about being under a starbord tack, the lot moved out of our way…even the ferry.

rowena-sailing

While I know I said I was ballast, I did have an extensive turn steering the yacht. That is, under my father’s much needed supervision. You could also say that I had considerable assistance from my husband and son. I have no sense of direction and could get lost in a paper bag.

Yet, since I can drive a car, you’d probably think steering the yacht would’ve been second nature…a proverbial piece of cake. However, steering a yacht is a very different kettle of fish (thought I’d sneak that one in too!). After all, the road has lanes, which prevent me from swerving all over the place. However, you obviously don’t go sailing in the local pool and there are no marked lanes. Moreover, there’s no auto-correct built into the steering either. So, every time I over-correct, I have to compensate.

It wasn’t pretty.

Indeed, no doubt to the trained observer, our meandering yacht appeared very confused. Indeed, perhaps the Water Police were all set to arrest the “drunken sailor”. Not that I’d had a drop. Indeed, I was stone sober.

That’s when my Dad kindly suggested:”maintaining some kind of course and not moving the steering wheel quite so much”!

dsc_5332

Our son having a contemplative moment inbetween giving his mother advice.

Meanwhile, my son wasn’t so kind and my husband “helped” whenever we passed another craft.

I didn’t mind. I have no ego and would rather bumble along having a go, than staying in my Princess seat being decorative. After all,when you carpe diem seize the day, you get used to wearing egg on your face. Moreover, you get less and less self-conscious when you step out of your box onto someone else’s turf and don’t need to get it right. Be perfection personified. You can just be your pure, unadulterated self in its shining glory.

other-yacht

As it’s hard to photograph yourself sailing, I photographed this passing yacht.

By the way, if you’re not into sailing, you might not fully appreciate its complexities. That there are actually many restraints and limitations you can’t appreciate from land. So, you’re not as free as a bird and sailing isn’t a surrealist dream.

Far from it.

Rather, all of your senses are constantly switched on looking out for other craft, reading the wind and maintaining an equally keen eye on what’s going on beneath the water. You’re especially needing to monitor the depth of the water and changing underwater landscapes. After all, while the dangers of crashing into another boat are more obvious, you don’t want your keel getting stuck…or worse. Fortunately, the yacht has sonar which provides a depth reading and underwater map, taking away much of the dodgy guess work. Yet, you still need to be alert and Captain the thing. Machines are simply there to assist, not take over.

Consequently, sailing is like watching that proverbial duck gliding along. Serene and peaceful from a distance, there’s a lot of work going on beneath the surface to keep the yacht moving, safe and on track.

seaplane-in-the-clouds

It’s not a bird or a giant Australian mosquito. It’s the Sea Plane. Photo c: Rowena Curtin.

However, all these safety concerns ramped up a notch, when I noticed the sea plane coming in to land. The sea plane flies from Rose Bay on Sydney Harbour to Palm Beach and is an incredible site to watch…theatre in motion.

I was tracking the sea plane through the lens, when it suddenly took a sharp turn and we were staring eye to eye. That’s right. The yacht was smack bang on the runway.

seaplane-landing

That’s when Geoff asked Dad who had right of way…the yacht or the plane?

If you don’t sail, you might not appreciate that sailing is like a game of chess. That determining who has right of way, is an intrinsic part of sailing and this fundamental rule can determine the safety of the players. One false move could prove deadly…especially when it means taking on the sea plane head on.

At this point, I didn’t care who had right of way. I was all for exit stage left. After all, as Geoff’s uncle, a returned serviceman, used to say: “Some rights are worth dying for. The right of way isn’t one of them!”

However, although it felt like the sea plane missed us by a whisker, there was never any doubt. The plane was in like Flynn.

Mind you, I felt sorry for the pilot trying to land in that dog’s breakfast, wondering how many of them actually looked up? Indeed, did they even know it was there?

Of course, this is where I came into my own. The rest of the world might have disappeared, but my zoom lens was fixated on that plane tracking its every move. Indeed, it was glued. The plane was zooming in closer and closer just about to land and my trigger finger was going ballistic.I was in photographic, wow! wow! heaven.

Just as well Geoff was steering! I was so single-focused that the lens could’ve smacked straight into the sea plane before I’d registered any form of contact.

What a day! Sailing, photography, scenery, sea air…

Oh happy days!

xx Rowena

Neon reflections (Friday Fictioneers)

As a bird-lover and as a fellow-Australian, I had to share this. There’s a link to Jessie’s short story which sent shivers through me. A must read!

Jessie Ansons

PHOTO PROMPT © Shaktiki Sharma Image by Shaktiki Sharma at https://shaktikisharma.wordpress.com

 

It rained on our last night in New Orleans.

But it wasn’t the rain that stopped us going out.

Strong, stable, always-in-control Jay had finally let his emotional guard down. Hunched on the bed, his shoulders jerked with each silent sob. He cried for his dad, for the emptiness and regret that comes when someone close to you dies.

I looked through the window at the glistening street below. The neon pinks and blues reflected in a puddle and shattered when a large water drop fell from the awning above.

It was ever more beautiful than I could have imagined.

*********

I’ve been selected as a finalist for the Newcastle Herald Short Story competition this year and my story was published today in print and online. It’s a 1000 word piece called Bloodstained about a bird and a woman who find they have…

View original post 52 more words

Slaying the Beast.

Frantic, Sue scoured the gaunt shadows waiting for the night bus to Byron Bay.

“Jazzy! Jazzy!” She screamed, her throat constricting until she couldn’t breathe.

She’d found her daughter’s note, her scrambled handwriting running away in a river of tears. No surprise, it was only the latest chapter in her exhausting, soul-wrenching battle to reclaim her precious baby from the devil ice. Watching Jazzy turn inward, closing all her petals around her like an impenetrable shield, Sue had become a frigging smiling alien. Now, she could only pray. Be her daughter’s shadow…her guardian angel.

Feeding her baby organic, wasn’t enough.

…….

This was a contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. This week’s photo prompt from © Shaktiki Sharma.

 

For readers unfamiliar with Byron Bay, it is located in Northern NSW, Australia. Known for its incredible lighthouse overlooking vast sandy beaches, it used to be a hippy haven but has long had a dark undercurrent. Many flee to Byron with serious drug, alcohol and mental health issues searching for answers or simply to run away. We have family living nearby and go up to Byron Bay at least once a year. Our kids have their climbing tree at the railway park where there are some homeless people camping out and is also a focal point for groups reaching out and giving away meals.

So much to think about…

Further reading: The Dark Side of Byron Bay

xx Rowena

Lugubrious Dark Gully, Sydney.

Yesterday, we levitated out of our post-Christmas slumber to go sailing with my Dad. His yacht is moored at a mysterious location known locally as: “Dark Gully”. Before you start thinking he’s a pirate or smuggler of sorts, Dark Gully is in Palm Beach, a place made famous overseas by the hit drama series: Home & Away.

map-palm-beach

Map of Palm Beach, Sydney. The Left or Western side is Pittwater with still water and the right or Eastern coast has waves.

dsc_5425

Mind you, just because Dark Gully gets its name from being sheltered from the sun, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its mysteries. Top of the list, is a sandstone cave which has a window and a door. Of course, it doesn’t take much imagination to view this mysterious hide-out as an Aladdin’s Cave. A treasure trove overflowing with some kind of stash more interesting than broken boat parts, tangled fishing lines and last year’s empties. Unfortunately, despite extensive surveillance while we were living in the area, I’ve never witnessed even the twitch of a twig outside that place. I swear they come and go by moonlight and yes, the moon is on that side of the hill.

By the way, speaking of not seeing things in the area, the late George Michael lived just over that hill and I didn’t see him coming or going either. Not that I was operating some kind of amateur surveillance or stalking operation down there. As far as I was concerned, the water was always an empty, black ink. Of course, I sort of knew there were flying mullet, stingrays and sharks lurking beneath the depths, but I never saw much action on top of the water. There was just the huge yacht which moored a few metres away from our boat ramp  every Christmas. Humph… there could well have been activity there. However, I was too busy photographing the moon to notice. Yes, that’s right I was stalking sunsets and moon rises with my camera, not celebrities I didn’t know were there.

Next up…sailing at Dark Gully and you can also read about exploring Dark Gully and Palm Beach in this previous post: Exploring Palm Beach…Our Borrowed Backyard.

xx Rowena

Christmas Post.

We hope you and yours had a Merry Christmas.

Ours was a wonderful Christmas. Indeed, what I think was my best Christmas in quite a few years. My health is really good. I’ve been in remission for almost 3 years now without having the blood transfusions of IVIG I’d been having every 3 weeks for the preceding 5 years. Finally, I was actually able to raise my head off the tarmac and enjoy take off…yippee!

I obviously don’t know what Christmas was like at your place, but it was chaos at ours. Yet, amidst the multifarious layers of ripped Christmas rap rolling around like tumbleweed underneath the Christmas Tree, there was some structure, tradition and a respect for the true meaning of Christmas.dsc_5189

I won’t go into all of the presents but my husband bought us a double hammock each in a frame for Christmas. This will be great for getting through all the books I gave the rest of the family, some I must confess with a vested interest. After loving The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, I gave my husband The Best of Adam Sharp. Of course, he was cynically wondering whether this book was going to live up to his first two novels. I bought my daughter an intriguing book with some text but largely drawings which had been recommended by my friend’s teenage daughter. My Dad thought the book was a crock and that her “gums were flapping”. However, when it comes to picking a book for my daughter, a girl a couple of years older is a better judge in my mind.

Gee, isn’t Christmas fun?!

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself because we haven’t left the house yet and I’ve accelerated right through Christmas lunch, afternoon tea, the pool, the royal splinter. I’d better watch out. I’m accelerating so fast, that I’m about to get a speeding fine and double demerits are in force. Just as well Santa’s already been, or I’d be at Number 2 on his Naughty List. That is after Lady, who is still sitting at Number 1 after devouring our home-made Christmas Cake last week.

Somehow, we managed to force the front door shut without the rising tide of pre and post Christmas whatsymecallits falling out the door. Actually, make that a tsunami, not that I’m being melodramatic and pushing the limits of exaggeration beyond all credibility. I’d never ever do anything like that!

Our approach to cleaning up for Christmas? Abandon house!

The dogs didn’t even get a bath and did I hear the roar of lawn mowers somewhere in the distance? Well, they mysteriously by-passed our place as well. Then again, you need to have a lawn to mow. I haven’t had time to give our lawn much of an inspection lately, but I think it’s been burned to a crisp. Incinerated by the hot Australian sun… a bit like a snag on a BBQ. They’re supposed to be charcoal, aren’t they?

Next, we all piled in the car to drive down to Sydney via the M1 Freeway.

Every year, we regret leaving late and think about the dream run we would’ve had if only we’d left an hour earlier. However, it turned out that leaving our neck of the woods, was pretty much as bad as it got apart from a small stretch of bumper to bumper traffic right near my aunt’s place. By this stage, the turn off was in sight and we could cope with that. By the way, I’d packed two books by Dodinsky for the trip, and they were done and dusted by the end. Have you ever read Dodinsky? I highly recommend it!

My Dad is one of seven and we celebrate Christmas with his family at my aunt’s place. While you’d be excused for thinking there was no structure or order amongst the throng, our day runs like clockwork. My aunt sets the arrival time and the rest of us operate on our own clock. Yet, we somehow conform to the same routine every year. There are the lunchers, the afternoon tea crowd, the early departures, and the lingerers. Among the cousins, there’s also the turn taking now they’ve got married. My husband’s parents have passed away, so we spend Christmas with my extended family every year. A small Christmas isn’t Christmas to me.

I’m not going to go into a blow-by-blow account of Christmas Day, but there were a few stories worth a special mention.

Firstly, beyond the dinner table, my aunt’s swimmhumouring pool becomes the epicentre of our Christmas. Funny that, because it’s been at least a decade since I last made it into the pool. I did take my swimmers yesterday, which was a step forward. However, for some reason, I couldn’t get in.   Didn’t even try. Although it was a hot day, I seriously didn’t want to get wet. Moreover, I wasn’t too sure about revealing so much of my royal whiteness either. Some things are meant to be left covered up.

However, my kids had a ball in the pool. Two of my cousins do a great job entertaining them every year and there’s loads of rough play, horsing around and they really appreciate their exuberance. Naturally, Geoff and I are always most grateful for this…my parents as well. We are well and truly past all of this and much in need of deck chairs instead.

dsc_5193

My cousin approved the use of this photo.

After all my discussions lately about Christmas traditions, Christmas tree decorations and even Christmas Decoration OCD (CDOCD), I thought I’d share my cousin’s addition to the family Christmas Tree. We’re a creative family and a few years ago, my cousin did a course in making theatrical props. By the way, we’re not talking about making sets out of MDF and slapping on a coat of paint either. I don’ t even know what you call it but he make a few hands  and painted them up and over the years, they’ve found their way into the Christmas decorations. So, I wasn’t surprised to spot the hand at the top of the Christmas Tree this year. Apparently, it’s become tradition. I like that because Christmas can become so stiff and stifled by perfectionists getting it uber-right that it’s tied Christmas up in a straight jacket and has no sense of fun. No place for anybody even slightly lateral-minded. This tree was like a celebration of the individual, being yourself and accepted no matter who or what that might be, and almost giving the judgement crew “the bird”.

I’m proud to be a part of this family with all its flotsam and jetsam where we’re all accepted for whoever we are in all our creative or otherwise glory.

So far, we’ve covered the pool and the Christmas tree and next we’re moving onto the royal splinter.

A splinter? How does a splinter become newsworthy?

Well, when my son is involved, even breathing can easily be turned into a drama of epic proportions. Since he was not the recipient of the royal splinter, there was bound to be some form of “interesting” live entertainment. As he’s now almost thirteen years old, it takes more than a small splinter to get the waterworks going. Yet, oh ye of little faith, there was still plenty of scope for drama. Well, he was actually rather restrained, especially for him but there was still the matter of getting the splinter out and not being at home, this was naturally more complicated. We needed implements…needle, tweezers and we were in luck. After my aunt offered to remove the splinter, we announced “we have two doctors in the house, why am I doing this?” So, the royal splinter, which was a couple of millimetres in length and lodged at the very end of his finger behind the fingernail, was to be removed by my uncle the plastic surgeon borrowing my aunt’s reading glasses. My son was in good hands. This uncle is a plastic surgeon who’s known for reattaching and no doubt detaching all sorts of bits and pieces in very extensive operations. Yet, although the royal splinter was obviously well beneath his capabilities, he approached it with the very same thought and concern. We were given a thorough report and advised to apply antiseptic when we arrived home. It was touching to see my uncle at work and appreciate his bedside manner and compassion. That we’re never too big or too great to help out with life’s splinters with love, compassion and respect.

By the time we went back to my parents’ place for “dinner” and presents we were more stuffed than the Christmas turkey itself. So, all I managed to squeeze and I mean SQUEEZE in was a small slice of pudding, with Mum’s homemade hard brandy sauce and equally homemade custard.

amelia-gingerbread-house

Aside from the long drive home, Christmas 2016 was done and dusted. Well, we still had a Gingerbread House to demolish but that could wait.

How was your Christmas? Hope you had a great one but if yours was reflective and touched by sadness, I send my love and hugs. Take care.

Love & Christmas Blessings,

Rowena