Monthly Archives: February 2018

Ghosts of Memphis…Friday Fictioneers.

The stench of raw sweat and the blood of a thousand broken dreams permeated the decaying walls of the old boxing gym, and Hope Unlimited Church had bought it for a song.

This was where Australian boxer, Les Darcy, had fought his last fight. The grim reaper might’ve claimed his body. The Lord had claimed his soul. Yet, all the boxers knew that a part of Les Darcy still lingered in the ring and wasn’t giving up.

There must’ve been something about Memphis, because Les Darcy wasn’t the only king, who’d come back from the dead to haunt the living.

……

Les Darcy 1910

Australian Boxer Les Darcy in 1910.

James Leslie “Les” Darcy was born on the 28th October, 1895 at Stradbroke, near Maitland, NSW, Australia and he had all the makings of a folk hero. His remarkable ring record—he lost only four professional fights and was never knocked out—was associated with a quite extraordinary physique: a muscular body apparently impervious to the heaviest blows and a reach 7 ins (18 cm) greater than his height of 5 ft 7 ins (170 cm). He neither smoked nor drank, and spent most of his income on his family; he attended Mass most mornings, one of his closest friends being the local priest. His decision to leave Australia secretly, in breach of the War Precautions Act, provided the controversy (and the enemies in high places) without which no hero-figure is complete: his lonely death in Memphis, Tennessee at the age of 21, gave him an aura of martyrdom. So powerful a legend did he become that fifty years after his death flags flew at half-mast, and a memorial at his birthplace was unveiled by Sir William McKell, former governor-general. When he had been dead for two generations, he was still inspiring the pens of Australian nationalist writers- Australian Dictionary of Biography

Australian author, D’Arcy Niland, had a life long interest in Les Darcy and spent many years compiling notes and stories and even traveling to America and interviewing those who knew him back in 1961. However, Niland died suddenly and was unable to complete the story. However, later in life his wife author Ruth Park took on that challenge. Using the extensive material they had collected over many years, Park wrote Home Before Dark: the story of Les Darcy. It was published in 1995 by Penguin Australia.

As a personal aside, my grandparents were close friends with D’Arcy Niland and Ruth Park. Indeed, the night before D’Arcy Niland passed away, my parents met for the very first time when my grandmother held a soiree in their Lindfield home for upcoming young pianist, Gerard Willems. My grandmother was teaching my mother the piano at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music at the time, and my father was sent up to the station to pick her and Gerard Willems up. So, it seems that night marked more than one line in the sand.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. You are more than welcome to come and join us either as a writer or a reader. Simply click Here to go through to the linky.

Beached Yacht, Ettalong, NSW, Australia.

This afternoon while walking the dogs, we spotted the wreck of a yacht beached upon the sand. Of course, it immediately caught my attention, and I wished I’d brought my camera with me. Wrecks make for great for photography. So, after our walk, I dropped our son and his mate home, and headed back with the camera and Geoff. We’ve been living here for over 15 years, and this is only the first yacht wreck I can recall. Initially, I didn’t know how long it had been out there. The entire hull was missing, while the mainsail was still tied around the mast and our son, (AKA Popeye Junior) noticed the pump was still in situ. Seems that wasn’t enough to save it’s life, or perhaps there was no one on board to perform CPR when tragedy struck.

I don’t know much about yachts, but this one looked a little on the mature side and, as I said, the hull was missing. Indeed whatever had happened to it, it was clearly an “insurance job”, although my husband joked to other walkers that it would be a “challenging restoration project”. As a car enthusiast, my husband has a few of these in our backyard.

Of course, the questions were mounting. Where did it come from? How did it get there? As boat owners ourselves, I naturally felt sorry for whoever owned it. While it wasn’t the latest and greatest, the little blue yacht could well have been someone’s pride and joy. Equally, it could well be like most of the boats out there on their moorings. I might onlyly get out once a year, and spend most of it’s time entertaining the sea gulls.

It was right on dusk when we turned up, and there was the usual scattering of dog and power walkers moving a long the beach and adjacent promenade. Many stopped and paid their respects to the poor little yacht, taking photos and also wondering what had happened. There was a night of strong wind and rain two days ago, which could’ve washed it up , but where did it come from? Where is home?

Eventually, we spoke to some walkers who’d seen it out sailing on the weekend. They’d also been there earlier in the day and had seen the hull washed up on the sand at low tide. However, the tide had come in since then and reclaimed it and as the tide rushed in, I couldn’t help wondering what if anything would be left of it tomorrow.

I’ll have to pop back and see and keep my ears open. There’s no such thing as private around here, and no doubt words gone round the sailing club…or maybe not.

Has anything mysterious happened near your place lately? Please share in the comments.

xx Rowena

Ettalong Beach is located 86 kms North of Sydney and is a half hour ferry ride from Palm Beach where they film Home & Away. You can see Whale Beach Headland, Palm Beach and Lion Island in the background of the featured image as you scan from left to right.

Map from Ettalong Beach, New South Wales 2257 to Palm Beach, New South Wales 2108

PS I forgot about a possible Home & Away connection for our beached yacht. Do you think Alf sunk the boat and has gone missing? Not sure of any of the other current characters, but Alf has to be immortal by now.

Home & Away

Home & Away

Weekend Coffee Share February 26, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

If you’re joining me for coffee today, you’re in luck. You’re welcome to check out my daughter’s gallery of birthday cupcakes which she and a friend decorated with a veritable rainbow of artificial colourings. She’s gone away to camp for a few days, and I’m seriously hoping she hasn’t gone all twitchy. We don’t usually have colours around here, but every now and then I forget or I let the festive spirit over-ride my better judgement.

My daughter turned 12 on Saturday, which felt like an absolute whirlwind swept through the place. It wasn’t any ordinary whirlwind either. This one had swallowed up half a dozen tins of paint and then proceeded to spew the contents out all over the place. The colouring-in began at our local Sephora makeup store where my daughter and her friend went “swatching” through the store trying out a multitude of lipsticks, eye shadows, blushers, foundations and lets just say there wasn’t much skin on her arm which hasn’t been swatched. She also ended up wearing some blue mascara which looked very striking, which she paired up with cobalt blue lipstick. Meanwhile, after feeling like a fish out of water on our previous visits, I got into it this time and sported mauve lipstick which I kept on to go home. That was so liberating and I felt like I could be anybody and express myself in unreserved abandon in there and it felt so good.

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After our shopping expedition, the party started back at our place. A few of the girls were staying over and we’d set the tent up in our poor excuse for a backyard better known as The Wasteland. With the dogs outside, I didn’t have any concerns about the girls being safe, but I hadn’t factored in the dogs’ determination to get inside the tent and join in on the fun. Lady, our 5 year old border collie x cavalier is very mellow these days. However, our 8 month old pups, Zac and Rosie, are too intelligent for our own good. They found  way into the tent and chewed up one of the girl’s prized makeup, which I’ll need to replace. Grr. Actually, Rosie’s been chewing up everything lately and the pair of them have de-stuffed a second dog bed.

Anyway, the party was a lot of fun and a good way to help our daughter make friends at her new school. You can check out the photos and read about it Here.

Also during last week, our son took part in a program at our local sailing club where the juniors had the opportunity to skipper a member’s yacht for the twilight sailing race. I could only stay long enough to see him climb on board, but the owner of the boat greeted him with a warm handshake and treated him with warmth and respect. I managed to photograph a heartwarming handshake and it was great to see he was going to have a fabulous time. As it turned out, they also came first. So, he had a wonderful time, and you can read about it Here

Less exciting news from last week, was that I developed a severe sinus infection. I didn’t know what was going on for a few days and I was becoming concerned. My eyes were aching and really heavy and I also had the tell tale facial aches. Anyway, I was almost relieved to blow what looked like an alien out of my nose and finally find out what’s going on. So, I’m back on the strong antibiotics again and filled the repeat today. BTW I thought you’d love this. When I blow my nose, my son says I’m playing my “nose trumpet”.

Thanks to the sinus infection, productivity has plummeted and I’ve been sleeping a lot, drugging up on Codral and trying to ward of fierce headaches while being the mother of the birthday girl and trying to ensure she had a Happy Birthday. That’s been a difficult balancing act. She’s missed out on really celebrating quite a few birthdays because I haven’t been well, and I naturally feel bad about it, even though it’s not my fault. Every parent wants their children to have a “normal” childhood, even though we don’t exactly know what it is. That said, I mightn’t know what’s normal but I can certainly pick was isn’t.

In terms of the blogging I’ve done in the last week, I wrote a contribution for Friday Fictioneers: The Last Rose of Summer. I also wrote about the Sinus Attack. 

So, how was your week? What have you been up to? Hope you’ve been keeping well.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Alli.

xx Rowena

An Extreme Colour Weekend.

Why is it that we tend to paint ourselves grey, when we were born with such stunning butterfly wings painted in a kaleidoscope of colours? Indeed, why are we so afraid of colour? Could it kill us? Give us cancer? Mentall illness? Possibly even bring on the plague or ebola? Is too much pink, red, turquoise or even periwinkle, is going to kill us? The way we hide away from it, you’d think so. Why is it so hard for us to live as butterflies? Spread our coloured wings out against the sun and radiate magic sparkles across the sky? Or, even colour ourselves in with a thick brush oozing with luscious paint…

“Color possesses me. I don’t have to pursue it. It will possess me always, I know it. That is the meaning of this happy hour: Color and I are one. I am a painter.”

– Paul Klee

“With color one obtains an energy that seems to stem from witchcraft.”

– Henri Matisse

“Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways”.

-Oscar Wilde

“Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.”

-Claude Monet

Rather than embracing colour, we’ve been taught to fold up our wings. Blend in. Don’t stand out.

Yet, how would we feel, if we could only view our world in shades of black & white? As bad as that sounds, if that’s all we’ve ever seen, we wouldn’t even know that the world had any colour in it at all. We’d think that’s all there is. We wouldn’t know that the sky is sometimes blue. That the sun is golden yellow and that the grass comes in many varied shades of green and brown. Unfortunately, I suspect this is how way too humans actually perceive our world and themselves. So, they just stick to the tried and tested black & white and shades of grey or beige and wonder why there is no bounce in their step at all.

Life is like a box of crayons. Most people are the 8 color boxes, but what you’re really looking for are the 64 color boxes with the sharpeners on the back. I fancy myself to be a 64 color box, though I’ve got a few missing. It’s okay though, because I’ve got some more vibrant colors like periwinkle at my disposal. I have a bit of a problem though in that I can only meet the 8 color boxes. Does anyone else have that problem? I mean there are so many different colors of life, of feeling, of articulation. So when I meet someone who’s an 8 color type… I’m like, hey girl, Magenta! and she’s like, oh, you mean purple! and she goes off on her purple thing, and I’m like, no I want Magenta!”

– John Mayer

Perhaps, I should apologize for having this rant about colour. However, this weekend as we celebrated our daughter’s 12th birthday, there was so much shameless colour and it felt so good. Indeed, as I applied a generous layer of mauve lipstick at Sephora and left it on for the rest of the afternoon, I felt quite liberated..like I’d been let out of a vault. Wearing purple lipstick also felt a bit naughty, breaking a tabou and openly flaunting it, but for once it didn’t matter. No one was judging or condemning me or calling me a “weirdo”. I just was. That was a huge step forward for me, although it shouldn’t have been. As an extroverted extrovert, I should be allowed to be me.

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Stepping out there in mauve lipstick.

While I’m not into make up and fashion and it’s taken me awhile to feel comfortable at Saphora, I am starting to love it. This is more than picking up on our daughter’s infectious enthusiasm. Rather, I’m finding my own way, which started out with seeing the eye shadows as palettes of colour, paint for your eyes. Yes, that’s what it is…paint and as with any true artist, you can create a masterpiece. When we were in there yesterday, the staff had made up their faces into national flags. For the Greek flag, one consultant had applied cobalt blue eye shadow with some white eyeliner and paired it up with matching lipstick. It looked so amazing and other worldly and definitely belonged in the category of art.

Not unsurprisingly, I’ve never thought about wearing blue lipstick, but my daughter put it on along with some blue mascara and it looked amazing. Then, just for the hell of it, I put on the mauve one and much to my surprise, I didn’t die and no one mocked me either.

However, the wild colours didn’t end there. My daughter had a Rainbow Cake for her birthday cake. This was very easy as we just bought it from our local Coles Market and saved me from tackling something highly creative and risky in the Australian Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake Book, which is an established Australian birthday tradition, also with all the nail-biting stress.

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Then, there were the home made cup cakes with vienna icing. The girls were all too full to serve them up at the party and I was thinking today that they were going to get tossed Out, when Miss and her last surviving friend, were going to decorate the cupcakes. Although she’d initially asked me to leave the icing white, they ended up mixing so many colours together and being so creative that I was really impressed. There was a blue Cookie Monster wearing a red bow tie, another cupcake became some movie star my daughter has a thing for. All of them, were brightly coloured and I confess, loaded to the hilt with artificial colouring.

It’s not that long ago that artificial colourings were banned in our house and were even banned at school and social activities for our kids. They really responded badly. One holiday camp, they fed our daughter orange cordial and fairy bread and she was speaking like a chipmunk afterwards and was almost flying. That was stopped immediately. Mum was bad cop.

As the kids have grown older, they handle the colours better, but that said, they’re not a part of our diet. I make most of our food from scratch and don’t touch the stuff.

“The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.”

– Marcus Aurelius

However, like most households, things creep in. Just as she likes bright colours in her make-up, she also adds food colouring, coloured playdoh or paint to the numerous slimes she makes at home. If you don’t know what slime is, consider yourself lucky. Also known as flubber, making this stuff at home’s become a huge crazy and bedrooms around the world are being turned into slime producing labs. The kids add foam balls, glitter and all sorts of stuff to varying the texture and the slime itself is made from a variety of ingredients depending on the desired effect. There’s shaving cream, borax, PVA glue. From where I sit, it’s art meets science which could be considered educational but you also need to be careful in confined spaces or it becomes glue sniffing and bad for the brain.

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However, tomorrow it’s back to the real world and all our colours have been packed up and it’s now raining cats and dogs outside and we’re back to grey skies.

I don’t know how I’m going to maintain a bit of colour from now on. Perhaps, I should get the paints back out and use some of the empty canvases still floating round the house like lost sheep. I also have some beautiful Prismacolour coloured pencils which have really vibrant colour…yum!

Anyway, it’s very late here now. The Internet slowed right down and time ran away.

How do you feel about a little bit of colour? Are you daring or do you prefer to play it safe?

xx Rowena

 

When Your Baby Turns 12…

“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.”

William Barclay

So what if it’s my daughter’s birthday? That’s hardly newsworthy. After all, she’s not Princess Charlotte, and the only paparazzi hanging around when she blew out her candles, was her Mum.

Yet, that doesn’t mean that her birthday didn’t mean anything beyond our four walls and her beaming grandparents.

Amelia Geoff Ro

Our daughter turned 12 yesterday. While she’s still not officially a teenager, she’s in her first year of high school. So, this birthday marked a definite transition from childhood into something else. Entré into a zone where it can be difficult for parents to find their way. Are we wanted, or unwanted? In the way, or ignoring them and giving them too much space? Are we expecting them to be kids and adults all in the same breath and setting all sorts of unrealistic expectations? Or, are we feeling like little more than a taxi driver? An ATM only good for more money?  I’ve heard a lot of parents lament that their teens only grunt, and shut them out. Lock themselves away in their rooms. There’s also the great electronics challenge. How do we tear our kids and teens away from Minecraft long enough to even look us in the eye and say “hello”?

Amelia baby

These are challenging times. After all, the teenage years come with the same kind of flashing neon signs as the terrible twos. Having been through that, I’m no idiot. I know it’s virtually impossible to come out unscathed, but I also feel empowered. I make things  better or worse.

However, none of that was at the forefront of my mind yesterday. That all came afterwards, as I reflected on how well everything went and how I’ve built connections with my daughter, her friends and their parents. Also, I’m pleased to say we passed muster. So, I’m feeling really stoked…content.

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Miss in Saphora Sporting Blue Lipstick.

The big birthday, began with a morning of dance rehearsals and classes for Miss, and I set about trying to find the carpet in her bedroom. Even though the girls would be sleeping in the tent in our backyard under the watchful eye of the dogs, kids always end up in the bedroom and hers needed major reconstruction. I’m still fighting off the sinus infection too so wasn’t 100%. Meanwhile, Geoff was salvaging the backyard from the pups. There isn’t a blade of grass out there, and there was all sorts of chewed up detritus. With only hours to go, we had a lot of work ahead. Fortunately, I did my baking on Friday, making Mars Bar Slice, Pavlova, cup cakes. Dinner would be pizzas.

However, before the party began, Miss wanted to go to makeup Mecca, Saphora, with her friend, so she could go crazy with her birthday money from her Godmother and earn double points and a birthday gift. We also spent awhile in Lush.

Saphora really is a kind of fantasyland and they let you play around with a kaleidoscope of eye shadows, lipsticks and highlighers so you can even glitter and sparkle in the dark. It was so much fun. After all, how often do we have the opportunity to colour ourselves in using the brightest of brights without any limitations and get away with it? At Saphora, our face is a blank canvas only limited by our imaginations and our arms are our palettes. Indeed, there’s even a word to describe trying out this multitude of product…”swatching”.“

Not unsurprisingly,  I don’t keep up with make up or fashion trends. I was chaperone. My daughter’s friend’s Mum likes the girls to be accompanied, and that makes the decision easy for me. I’m a slow walker. So, they’re always a metre or two in front and I probably look more like a stalker. However, this means they have their own space, can do their own thing and have an old head with them if required. You just don’t know what those unpredictables can be, and they’re not quite at the stage where they have the life experience to deal with all of that on their own. Also, my daughter is tiny and younger than many of her friends and I’m quite conscious that a stranger could pick her up and cart her off without any effort at all, aside from her resistance. In Australia, we had a young man called Daniel Morcombe who was abducted from a bus stop, violated and murdered. He was 12 years old. That puts things into perspective for me. While a 12 year old might be sensible, trustworthy and intelligent, they are still a child and need a backstop.

I don’t know how parenting a teen will look down the track. Her big brother turns 14 in a few weeks and hasn’t brought us the usual problems of teenagers yet. We tend to be late bloomers in the puberty stakes, so perhaps all of that is just around the corner. You sort of hope it is as a parent, as much as you want to keep pushing it off into the future. After all, they really can’t have a relationship with their electronics. Or, at least not one that’s going to produce any grandchildren (not that I’m wanting them any time soon).

Anyway, my modus operandi for parenting teens at the moment, is to get to know my kids’ friends and their parents. Keep those lines of communication going. After all, what I’m finding so far, is that they’re all quite chatty and we’re all getting on really well and they trust me. This might not matter much at the moment, but it might down the track.

So, I’m now positioning myself as my kids’ parent and their friend. Trying to make the hard decisions and enforce boundaries and deadlines, while also being involved enough that they feel I know them,that they know I have their back and can see their point of view, even if I don’t agree with it. It can be very tempting to think that now our kids are growing older, that we can get more “me time”. Work more. Pull back. I’m not too sure.When they were younger, they could go to daycare or before & after school care but once at high school, they’re home alone…or not. Unfortunately, that doesn’t address the family finances or the need for both parents to work, sole parent families and the complexities of life. My complication is my disability and chronic health, which has ruled out paid work for the last 5 years, although I am now starting to set the wheels in motion. I’m currently looking into freelance writing opportunities.

I’ll write more about how the birthday went in my next post. In the meantime, I was wondering what your view are about parenting teens. What are your hot tips for parenting teens? What helped you? I have definitely found that we often have our best chats in the car or around the family dinner table. I’ve also been playing quite a lot of board and card games with our son lately at his request. That’s usually when the wifi gets turned off, but it’s him seeking me out, not vice versa. These games might be old-fashioned, but we’ve had a lot of laughs, the competition is fairly intense, and I can feel the bonds knitting together on the spot.

On that note, I’m off for slice of pavlova. Birthday party leftovers are the best.

xx Rowena

 

A First For Our Young Skipper.

“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.”

Thomas Merton

In the throws of victory, it is easy to forget the snags we overcame along the way which were just as much a part of our victory, as crossing the line first…the winner!
Our son’s been sailing for a few years. He first had a go at Sea Scouts and did a few training courses there and then he headed off to our local sailing club and became a member. It’s been a long way just to get to the bottom, the start, the beginning. He’s now officially a junior. Ideally, he would’ve been a bit younger, a bit smaller and had a go racing the Optimists (Opties), which would’ve given him the chance to enter competitions at other clubs, but also tearing his father out of bed earlier and driving to whoop whoop with a boat and trailor weighing down the car. Instead, he’s sailing in a Flying 11 and has had trouble finding a permanent crew member and he’s also had a lot to learn about the rigging, winds, keeping the boat upright and out of the water. More importantly, there’s also what he’s learning about himself and pitting himself against the vagaries of nature with varying wind speeds and weather conditions.
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Each of the Juniors, have no doubt had their day. That time when they fall on their sword, or more likely their wooden paddle (a sailor uses it to bail themselves out of trouble like a capsize or lack of wind). That moment when they say they’re giving up. Hate sailing and you can sell the boat. Of course, they don’t usually express themselves quite so eloquently when they’re caught up in the moment and I should just warn you, this is not the time for you as a parent to jump in and throw up golden classics like: “I never had an opportunity like that when I was a kid”, “Get up you lazy oaf and get on with it!!” No, this is the time for you as a parent to just merge into the landscape for a bit until the storm has past. It’s all frustration talking and rather than being a sign they can’t do it, it could well mean that they’re on the cusp of taking the next leap forward. They can see where they want to be and are frustrated because they can’t quite get there yet.
Anyway, on Wednesday night they had a special event on where the juniors could skipper one of the member’s boats during the weekly twilight race. Our son jumped at the chance and I had the job of dropping him off and photographing what I could and Geoff would pick him up while I went to violin and picked our daughter up from dance. I don’t get to the sailing club very often and despite being a social member, I was very much just there as “Jonathon’s Mum”. Geoff usually goes out on the safety boat each Saturday and seems to be fairly involved.
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Unfortunately, I didn’t really get a chance to see him sail, but I did see him climb on board his boat for the night where the owner greeting him with a respectful hand shake and welcomed him on board not as a kid, but as a young man. I really appreciated the faith he and all the other participating members had in our kids, because faith breeds confidence, belonging and a sense of being valued. Special. While these are attributes all our young people should experience just like brushing their teeth, all too often they’re greeting with suspicion. A group of young people hanging out can be perceived as a gang and they’re not doing anything wrong. Indeed, they could well be doing nothing at all.
However, the juniors were also there to learn more about sailing and what it’s like to steer a bigger yacht versus their little bathtubs with sails. The Flying 11s have a tiller whereas the yacht he skippered had a steering wheel like my Dad’s boat and that takes some getting used to. He could also observe the other sailors on board and learn a few things.
Anyway, as it turned out our son’s boat came first. I was stoked for him. We don’t get a lot of firsts in this household so they really need to be observed. He has received a glass with the sailing club’s emblem on it, which we’ve been advised not to get wet. As they said it the Australian movie The Castle, “that’s one for the pool room”.
So, congratulations to our very own Popeye the sailor. We’re very proud of you!
Have you even been sailing? What are your thoughts about it? Please share in the comments below.
xx Rowena

Ouch! Killing a Killer Sinus Attack.

Only a few days ago, I was jubilantly chirping about finding my happy feet. Well, I should’ve held onto that thought. Stuck it onto my forehead with superglue, although it would need to be written backwards so I could read it in the mirror. “Life is Great”. However, please don’t ask me to actually write that backwards at the moment, as I’m not thinking clearly. I was simply being dramatic.

For those of you who’ve been following my trials and tribulations, you might recall that I was fighting off Fergus the Omnipresent Operatic Cough for about 6 months and it was getting me down. He was so darn persistent that he could’ve taught Calvin Cooledge a thing or two about persistence.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Calvin Coolidge

Well, I managed to have a good couple of weeks, but then Fergus decided to get sneaky. Or, perhaps like me, he has no sense of direction and he was actually heading back down to my lungs, but ended up in my sinuses by mistake. I don’t know. Either way, the results are the same. I’ve been in excruciating pain and my entire head felt like it was being compressed in a vice and the evil Fergus was turning the handle and laughing, of course and his evil eyes glowing like Christmas lights.

Actually, that shouldn’t be written in the past tense. That’s because Fergus is still at it and flaunting his malevolence. Nothing makes Fergus happier than a bit of torture.

Anyway, I’d been having these intense headaches for a few days, and wondering why my eyes were aching and was getting a bit concerned. Other than having Fergus is my sinuses, I have hydrocephalus and a shunt in my head and these were all the kind of symptoms associated with a block shunt and a trip back to the brain surgeon. With my daughter’s birthday tomorrow, slumber party and associated comings and goings, brain surgery wasn’t exactly on my list.

So, I was starting to get concerned. Just a little concerned. Nothing approaching a major, full-on panic attack with all the bells and whistles. However, then I blew my nose, and I swear a real, living breathing alien jumped out. It was freaky, weird and almost terrifying. I’m not going to thrill you with a graphic description or photographic evidence, but let’s just say this thing was a cross between a Killer python and a jelly rat. The sort of thing that has the infection control Police out in their lab coats, masks, rubber gloves and buckets of Domestos. It’s Quarantine.

Fortunately, I was booked in for an appointment with my rheumatologist at Royal North Shore Hospital. This is one of Australia’s top public and research hospital and home to weird and wonderful conditions like my dermatomyositis. My husband, offering whatever encouragement he could to his embattled soldier, said I was going to the right place for the day. True! Why would I want to go to a tropical island when I could be at the hospital? Well, when you’re feeling that crook and concerned your brain’s being devoured by infection, the deserted island can wait. I was looking forward to going back to my familiar stomping ground where there’s enough expertise from rheumatology, lungs, brain, exploding sinuses to handle whatever Fergus was going to dish up this time.

Well, much to my relief, they let me go and I left with a script for more industrial strength antibiotics, and I actually managed to have an extended coffee with my best friend from school at a cafe near the station.(I perk up well).

I should also mention that I was reading Markus Zusak’s: The Book Thief on the train and in the waiting room. It’s a funny book to be reading when you’re feeling really crook and wondering if your number’s about to come up, but it’s beautifully written. I loved the film and started reading the book and got distracted, but wanted to have another go.

Train trips are always a good way for me to really get stuck into a book as it takes about 90 minutes to get to the hospital. Moreover, it’s uninterrupted time and not that jerky stop start reading you have when you’re going off to sleep. Have you read The Book Thief? It’s just brilliant and the language is so poetic and beautiful. It’s also very philosophical, which I love as well. So, after a day of train trips and waiting rooms, I’m now up to page 164 and I take my time to absorb the prose as well. It hasn’t been an express read. I like to let the words and the magic settle like Autumn leaves in the snow (not that we have either here).

Anyway, I woke up at midday today after my husband handled the morning run. I can’t begin to describe the throbbing pain. However,  even walking a metre or so to the bathroom was a huge agononizing effort and I had a glass of water hoping that would help. It was a separate trip to get some Panadol out of my husband’s drawer. I have never experienced pain like this. I had to let those process before I could even ring my husband to tell him how sick I was. That was very humbling, scary. Nobody wants to be that vulnerable. So stuck in a dreadful situation and unable to respond.

Fortunately, for me it was temporary. I rang my husband which perked me up a bit and the Panadol and water were starting to work. With a huge blow on my nose, there was also more relief. I’ll be heading off to pick the kids up from school soon and I’ll be back on my feet in my usual style. Rowena is fine.

I’m glad I’m feeling better and finding ways to keep going, get back on my feet and not let chronic health control my life. Yet, on the other hand, I could use some TLC and my own private nurse to take care of me. Peel me grapes. I know I need to rest.

Do you live with anything ongoing, which is challenges you? Please share in the comments and upload your inner Fergus.

xx Rowena