Weekend Coffee Share Catch Up.

Welcome to an Extended Catch-up Coffee Share!

I’d better offer you a rather comfy chair today and at least some kind of snack (if not a meal) in addition to your beverage of choice. The last couple of weeks have been full-on. So, this coffee share gets quite philosophical.

Sorry, I’ve been MIA the last couple of weeks. While the saying goes that “no news is good news”, the reality is often quite the reverse. That no news is bad news and it takes time for you to emerge from your rock and return to the land of the living.

Bilbo going home

Bilbo leaving the beach for the last time. 

On Monday 26th June, our beloved Border Collie, Bilbo, who has featured on Beyond the Flow, passed away in the early hours of the morning. We’d taken him to the vet on the Saturday and found out he was severely anaemic and most likely had a severe auto-immune disease. The vet hoped for the best and didn’t write him off. However, when a ball-obsessed dog stops chasing his beloved ball, you are prepared. While in a sense losing Bilbo could seem like the worst, he passed away peacefully at home. It was his time and felt like part of the natural order of things. I’m also relieved we were spared making difficult decisions and didn’t have to weigh up expensive treatment for an elderly dog because we loved him too much to let go. Ever a considerate dog, he spared us that and I’m incredibly thankful and relieved.

Meanwhile, we go on.

For better or worse, we are not “Keep Calm and Carry On” people. Yet, at the same time, we’ve had things to do and places to go. No doubt, you’ve also had those times where you’ve wanted to switch out and hibernate. When, although you know it’s beneficial to keep going, that’s about as palatable as a spoonful of liquid antibiotics. No matter how much they try to disguise the taste, it still tastes “yuck”.

Unexpectedly, the kids went off to school on the Monday and Geoff and I stayed home. Monday night, our daughter was in the local Dance Festival with her school and that worked out well. I kept thinking about the dog throughout the performance, but dance is such a tonic. Tuesday, the kids stayed home and we were all subdued by an overwhelming blanket of sadness. I personally believe in indulging your grief when it happens, as I think that actually helps you to let it go. You go deep in and you come out of it faster rather than expending energy trying to keep the door shut while the monster’s trying to bust its way out.

What do you think?

lady walking in clouds

Lady has been pretty quiet without Bilbo.

We have another dog, Lady. So, we won’t be rushing out to buy another dog. Indeed, we adopted Lady 3 years ago thinking Bilbo wasn’t well and she gave him a very strong second wind. I’m not sure if he was trying to impress her but he lost weight, got fit and learned how to socialize with other dogs. He was quite an introvert, but he gained a lot more confidence. Lady, on the other hand, loves everybody, aside from the odd dog and wags her tail like a maniac.

Jane Grover

Jane Grover: Photo from her website.

That Thursday night, I attended a cooking demonstration by chef Jane Grover at Church. I really wasn’t sure about going and felt like I was dragging a sack of potatoes a hundred miles to get there. However, I had a nap and when I woke up, the clouds had lifted and I felt so much better. Going to see Jane, was such good medicine and without the awful aftertaste I mentioned earlier.  She had me in stitches and I felt very much in synch with her sense of humour and general zanyness. Of course, I had to buy her cookbook  Our Delicious Adventure

Here’s a link to her promo video.

Amelia with ballet shoes

Miss with dancing Shoes

This Monday, was the first day of school holidays. I drove the kids to my parents’ place in Sydney and Geoff and I stayed for dinner. Our daughter came home on Wednesday night to attend dance workshops on Thursday with Daniel Russell  from West Side Story International Tour. These were such a blessing. It is hard for me to introduce Mr Daniel in a few sentences. His parents are the Principals at the dance school and quite aside from his professional success which has taken him to Broadway, he has a special place in our hearts. Our dance school is a close, loving family and we count on each other.


Daniel Russell, West Side Story. Photo: © Johan Persson

I have mentioned before that my grandmother was an International concert pianist and this has given me a different appreciation of what it means to be a star. That while you have that stage and professional life, you are still human. Unless you’re incredibly wealthy, you still have the everyday and you are still somebody’s son, cousin, friend who’ll always know you without all of the trimmings. Personally, I think that’s critical for some kind of balance. After all, the clouds roll in, and you can’t always see the stars. Everyone needs some kind of grounding.

Eunice 1948 USA

My grandmother, Eunice Gardiner, at the Australian Embassy in Washington, 1948. She juggled having seven children and a successful career as a performer, critic and professor of piano at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. There’s almost too much to fathom. 

Anyway, I really appreciated Mr Daniel and Miss Carley putting back into the kids and giving them such encouragement and for giving us parents a smile, as we were treated to a brief performance at the end. We deserve it, you know. As much as I love and support my daughter’s dancing and love dancing myself, it is a sacrifice. While I spent hours working on her knotted hair last night, I can’t remember when my hair last got seen to. Unfortunately, I just can’t drop it off at the dry cleaners and pick it up later.

Today, my daughter had in-house dance exams…ballet, modern, jazz and tap all in one day. One day was great, as they didn’t take up the entire school holidays. However, this was very stop-start and loads of deadlines and this is not my thing. Time to leave the house, arrive, exam start time, pick up multiplied by four. This was exacerbated by disentangling a bird’s nest the night before, despite weeks of coaxing to apply the treatment sitting in the bathroom to her hair, me not sewing the elastic into her ballet shoes until this morning and finding out when I dropped her at the studio that she didn’t have a hairnet, hairpins or any organization whatsoever. I did ask her last night. I have bought it all before. But, who am I? Mum is about as useless as those flaps of skin hanging off the side of her head…ears. I don’t get worked up easily and I was fuming. I am also going back to the drawing board and devising: “Standover Mum”. This is anything but a helicopter parent. This is tough love on steroids.

Yet, we survived.

Being a dance mum isn’t a glamourous occupation. While the swan’s shining like the sun up on stage, you are the feet madly paddling in the dirty pond, doing all that hardwork behind the scenes. However, you can rise to the surface and there’s nothing quite like seeing your own up on stage…any stage. It doesn’t have to be Broadway. It could be your loungeroom at home. You don’t care. This is your child, your star and not even the most discerning of audiences, could ever love them quite as much.

Speaking of performances, our son will be appearing in The Gang Show next week, an annual variety show put on by our local Scouts, Guides and their leaders. They rehearse for months and really put heart and soul into it. I almost split a gut laughing through last year’s performance, which incorporated Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes. It was fantastic. Our son is singing and dancing and I can’t wait to see him up in lights.

This leaves me searching for a light.

My next challenge is writing a short story for the local short story competition. I don’t write short stories and had been meaning to get some practice in after last year’s story didn’t place. That said, I have been writing flash fiction almost weekly so hopefully I can expand on that and put out a winning entry with a 1500 word count.

I’m sorry this update has sprawled on for so long. It’s a cold Winter’s night here. The heater’s on and the neurons are defrosting, and starting to fire up again. So, you could say I’m clearing the backlog. Indeed, it’s been good to share the last couple of weeks with you as I’ve been feeling bottled up on so many fronts and after almost 1500 words, the cork has popped off.

How has your week been? I’d love to hear from you.

xx Rowena



24 thoughts on “Weekend Coffee Share Catch Up.

  1. New Journey

    MY Oh My….even when my kids were in school and younger, they were never into the extras….my son tried soccer, but hated it….we did the boy scouts, but a bunch us got asked to leave as we didn’t believe in begging from the neighbors for food, money etc….so we started our own boys group….they weren’t at all into it, so we stopped that…my daughter loved to read, she would read 3 or 4 books at once so she was always sitting around with her nose in a book or two..lol she also went to her fathers almost every week so she was busy…we lived where there was a pool in the complex and my son loved to swim didn’t matter what the weather was, so we spent a lot of time at the pool…I think I would of pulled my hair out with your schedule…I admire you and my hats off to you…lucky kids to have you for their mum….and what fun to get to see the shows after all there hard work and yours!! loved the videos….you ask what has been going on here for the last couple weeks….well a whole lot of nothing…the heat/weather has been insane….close to 120 daily….seems like its a hot summer for sure…we sis escape to San Diego for a few days and have another get away planned on the 18th….can’t wait to walk in the ocean again…..hopefully it will be really foggy…LOL we have been getting caught up on our card playing..lol can’t say we have done much else…LOL just hanging out staying cool…today the wind has showed up, its blowing 23mph today. Was gong to head to the pool but with wind is blowing dust/sand…so staying home….so here I am getting caught up on my communications….have a fantastic week ahead…..xxXXxxkat

  2. Kathleen Howell

    Sounds like a rollercoaster week for sure! So sorry about your fur baby.. Glad to hear you still had some happy moments..

  3. trentpmcd

    Sounds busy! In many ways I’m sure that is good – even when we lose a loved one, life goes on. I hope you have a great week ahead!

  4. bettylouise31

    Condolence on the lost of your friend He took piece of your heart with him and left piece of his with you. Best wishes to your son and daughter in their dancing. It has not been an easy week for you.

  5. amiewrites74

    I am so sorry to hear about Bilbo. I believe grief has its own unpredictable timetable and I agree with you to indulge it when it happens. You had such a busy week, the duties of a dance mom never end. Good luck with your short story!

  6. Rowena Post author

    Thank you so much, Vernette. He was such a character and I’m fortunate to have all my blog posts and photos to remember him by. I’m going to see what I can do with them too. Put a book together.
    Best wishes,

  7. Rowena Post author

    Thank you so much for caring, Amie. I really appreciated what you wrote about grief having “its own unpredictable timetable”. I really missed him today and felt a bit guttered but grief is the inevitable consequence of love at some point, especially with your dog. Knowing he was such a special dog, he is really worth missing and walking through the valley for awhile. After all, we’re not always going to be feeling all happy, happy joy joy and that’s okay. This is also an important life lesson for our kids, learning that difficult emotions are okay and how to manage them without being crushed.
    School holidays are on for another week, then I’m onto that short story. Meanwhile, I’m nibbling away at the edges inbetween taxi runs trying to get the framework together.
    Hope you have a great week.
    xx Rowena

  8. Rowena Post author

    Thank you very much, Betty Louise. I am taking a few deep breaths as I face up to the second week of school holidays and praying for a smooth run.
    xx Rowena

  9. Rowena Post author

    Thanks very much, Trent. I have marvelled in the past about how life goes on after what can be a truly seismic event like 9/11 and it seems brutal and cruel at the time and yet, we can spend our lives face down drowning in our own tears and that momentum carries us forward like it or not at the start but being busy definitely helps.
    Busy week ahead again but hopefully all good. I’m really looking forward to seeing my son’s show next Saturday night.
    Hope you have a great week too.
    xx Ro

  10. Rowena Post author

    Thanks very much, Kathleen. It’s interesting what you miss about someone and not always what you’ll expect. I’ve been taking our other dog out with us a lot more, but when I’ve left her at home a couple of times, she’s cried at the gate, which she never did before. She’s always lived with other dogs and has never been alone. I’ve definitely needed my thinking cap on and feel we’re starting to get through the worst of it.
    I hope you have a great week, Kathleen.
    xx Rowena

  11. Rowena Post author

    Thinking of you with that heat and dust, Kat. I know what that’s like and I don’t blame you for retreating and playing cards.
    We went to a Church picnic in the park today. It was really sunny and about as sunny as you’d really want for being out there for so long. It was 17 degrees celsius today and really nice.
    You wouldn’t believe the transformation in my daughter’s hair. It was sooo bad and I was caking it in conditioner and still had knots and had cut a few knots out. Now, it’s looking good. Needs a cut but it looks like she’s wearing someone else’s hair. I don’t think she has any idea how much energy she extracts from me by letting things get out of hand like that. She’s bouncing around and I’m flat.
    Now, know how much you are missing your Chika. Bilbo used to lie beside our couch with his paws out, just waiting to trip you up. Lady’s paws are all feathery like a cavalier and very different. My daughter mentioned missing his ears, like you’ve mentioned. I just used to give him the biggest hugs and he used to make this sound like the sort of hum I made when I hugged him. He was such a beautiful boy!
    I am so grateful for being able to share how I feel with you and others on the blog. Not everyone’s a pet person and gets the depths of that grief and just because it’s commonplace, that doesn’t mean losing a much loved pet is easy.
    xx Rowena

  12. Tara

    Wow. So much to read about! Thanks for all that info. I love the pic of Miss with her ballet slippers. And so sorry about Bilbo.

  13. Tails Around the Ranch

    Sounds like things are settling back into life’s routines after Bilbo. There will always be ups and downs, you can’t help it with a wonderful pet like him. The fact that you have other obligations to make the loss easier, just know it’ll always be felt. Part of the bad part of life. Loved the ‘Sunday brunch” GoPro video.

  14. amiewrites74

    There are good days and bad days, the path of grief is not a straight line. I’m sorry you were hurting today. Like you said, it is an inevitable consequence. Great love begets much grief. I agree, it’s an important lesson for the kids. Best wishes for the week.

  15. New Journey

    Ahhh this brought tears to my eyes….I miss my best friend more than I generally admit to…I was with her longer than I was with any of my husbands….LOL whats that tell you…LOL on the Fourth with all the loud bangs and booms I kept glancing around for the dog….old habits are hard to get over…its been a full year already…I am ready to get another but my husband isn’t and its true, were traveling a lot and using hotels, motels and AirBnB’s and they don’t all take pets…and then there is the heat and leaving a pet in the car…so for now I will just close my eyes and think about her….my daughter had long hair….she hated, really hated me to touch it, so we had a deal…she had to brush it every day 100 times to make sure all the rat tails ad snarls were out….she was very good about it, otherwise it was in the chair with mom attacking it….did you try olive oil on the knots….sometimes that works well…my daughter finally ended up with a pixie at 6 or 7….she liked that for awhile but went back to long hair…even to this day her hair hangs over half her back….be well my friend…I knew you would understand about the heat…monsoon season has started….yuk…we had sticky weather this morning but the sun is out again….yay only 103…not bad…xxkat

  16. Rowena Post author

    Hi Kat,
    It’s good to share our grief for our beautiful borders. There is this grief, which is all consuming and yet, it’s pushed into the background. Shoved in a cupboard while I drive the kids around, chat and theoretically “move forward”.
    I did something a bit out there today. I think I’ve mentioned to you that I have been receiving assistance and funding through the National Disability INsurance Scheme. Well, there’s a local shop which sells equipment as well as all those fidget toys etc usually used for kids on the autism spectrum. Well, there on the shelf was a toy Border Collie and let’s just say it’s currently on my lap under the laptop as we speak. We call it “FB” standing for Fake Bilbo. Here’s a link: https://www.bocchettaplushtoys.com/product/oscar/
    He’s a weighted toy designed calm and he really does and his fur almost feels life-like. The ears aren’t the same but the paws are pretty good. Face, not quite there either but he feels like a real dog on your lap. I thought to warn my husband before he came home but hadn’t thought that Lady would take it too seriously. After all, dogs are all about smell. However, she was excited and has sniffed it quite a few times and wagged her tail the first time. I feel sorry for her.
    My son thought we’d got another dog without him when he arrived home from rehearsals tonight.
    I loved reading about your daughter’s hair and could obviously relate. It seems to have come good now and I brushed it tonight. I am going to be stepping in a lot more with her at the moment. Get her on track somehow. Might be needing a bulldozer, however, to pull this off!
    Monsoon weather doesn’t found like much fun. I’ll stick to my heater.
    xx Ro

  17. New Journey

    I love FB…when my daughter lost one of cats, the brother was devasted….so I bought a fake Cooperfield cat…LOL I told her to rub it with his toys and bedding to hope he would bond with it….it didn’t work for the brother cat, but my daughter and her husband loved it…I love the way the FB looks…my Chika had one black eye and one white….but the black and white colors of the border….keep at that head of hair….hopefully it will become habit for her….yeah I know, I can see you rolling your eyes…LOL I had a girl too!!! we can always hope and wish…LOL happy days….glad FB is working for you….xxKat

  18. Mabel Kwong

    So sorry to hear about the loss of Bilbo. He sounded like every bit the energetic dog the more he grew up, and he sounds like he will be remembered for a long time. Good to hear that the family has been occupied for a while – sometimes you just have to roll with the punches when it gets busy and really get the most out of life, and take your mind off some things and move along 🙂 Congrats to your daughter for making it through her dance exam and it must not only be a proud moment for you, but for her as well.

    Good luck with your short story competition. Writing more is something I’ve been wanting to do of late, but with work and finding my next step in life, that has fallen by the wayside. These days I’m focusing a lot on decluttering and tidying my place, so that has been keeping me busy too 🙂

  19. Rowena Post author

    Thanks so much for your message. I’ve been decluttering our place for sometime and it’s going to take a long while yet. The trouble I have is just trying to maintain the status quo is hard enough. All of us leave things all over the place and trying to contain that tide is hard and the decluttering is going into more of a backlog. I went to Kiki K and bought a recipe folder for improving the organization of my recipes and I also bought some photo albums which you can sit up to display your photos. As exciting as that is, it’s still more work. Putting my feet up has a lot of appeal at the moment.

  20. Rowena Post author

    Thank you very much, Pamela. It’s been about 3 weeks now and it’s getting easier. He was such a beautiful dog and he will stay with me forever. He never wandered away from me in life and I can’t imagine him going far in death either.

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