Weekend Coffee Share… 5th August, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This week, I’m a year older and wiser, after celebrating my Birthday on Monday. I’m not going to get into the specifics. However, I can still claim to be in my 40’s, although I’m now hanging on by my fingertips!!!

My birthday was fairly low key. The kids went away skiing at Perisher with the Scouts, and my husband and I stayed home. From memory, we crashed out most of the time and slept. It’s still Winter here and I’m still inclined to hibernate. That said, we’re now starting to head into t-shirt weather by day, although it’s still pretty cold at night. Just to put you in the picture,  it was 9-19°C today.

Masterchef Australia 2018 Title Goes To Indian Origin Prison Guard Sashi Cheliah

Last Tuesday night, was the Finale of Masterchef Australia 2019. Have you ever watched Masterchef? You guys come from all over but the show seems to have something of a global audience. I’ve been a diehard, loyal fan since it first appeared 10 years ago when Julie Goodwin became Australia’s 1st Masterchef. Given how much I’ve always loved cooking, especially baking, it’s no wonder I love the show. However, I don’t just watch it as a cooking show. Rather, I’m lured right in, watching the highs and lows, the conquests and defeats of the human spirit. While I’m sure all these contestants are perfectionists by nature and extremely driven, making mistakes on the show is par for the course. The key, however, is not to have two bad cooks in a row, because that’s what sends you home. I made no secret at home, that 19 year old Jess Liemantara was my favourite, although as she faced pressure test after pressure test, it didn’t seem likely that she was going to last the distance. However, she eventually survived long enough to place fourth…a great achievement. The finale saw Ben and Sashi fight it out. While Sashi had been a strong contender throughout and an obvious winner, his form dropped back a bit in those last final cooks and I thought Ben had the title in the bag. However, it wasn’t meant to be, and Sashi romped home with the largest score in Masterchef history.

I’m not much of a TV watcher, but I’ve been left feeling a distinct void since Masterchef ended, even though it’s clearly time I caught up on my violin practice which has been an unfortunate casualty. I’m also waiting on the transcripts of the bigamy case I’ve mentioned a few times. My 3 x Great Grandfather, John Johnston was convicted of bigamy in New Zealand in 1864 and I’m waiting on them to arrive before I do more research on that front.

Asher Hart 1931 record Breaker

Instead, I’ve dug up my research on my grandfather’s second cousin, Asher Hart, who was a swimming champion during the 1930s. However, in 1932, he contracted polio and spent four months in Sydney Hospital in plaster. I didn’t expect Asher to rise from the horrors of polio and certainly not return to competitive swimming and being a lifesaver at Sydney’s Bondi Beach. However, slowly but surely he got back on his feet and into training and his father, Reg, massaged his legs every night for 18 months. He didn’t throw him back into competition either. Rather, he valued rest as much as training and instituted what seems to be a pretty level-headed training regime. I’m still nutting out all his various achievements. However, in 1938 a mini tsunami hit Bondi Beach and hundreds of people needed to be rescued. Moreover, most of them couldn’t swim. Five people drowned that day, but Asher Hart saved four lives. I am so proud of him. Not just because he’s family, but because I’ve also survived the horrors of debilitating illness and for him to be able to do all of that, blows me away. I’m in awe. Indeed, when I first put the pieces of his story together five years ago, my muscle disease had flared up and I had my own questions of whether I was going to get my own muscle strength back, along with very real concerns that my lungs were steadily turning into concrete. I needed a hero. Not any kind of hero, but someone who was where I was at and climbed out. I’ve recently found out that he didn’t recover full strength in his legs, but his arms and shoulders compensated. He was certainly an extraordinary man, and from what I’ve also read, his character was equally inspiring. I am yearning to find out more.

Black Sunday SMH Feb 7 1938

Black Sunday Bondi, 1938. 

Speaking of which, I read a fantastic book this week: My Australian Story: Black Sunday by Evan McHugh. It recounts the story of “Nipper” a 12 year old Bondi lad who is desperate to become a lifesaver. However, it is 1938 and back then you needed to turn 16 and get your Bronze Medallion before you could join up. However, keen as mustard, Nipper starts training, swimming in the surf. The story goes off on many twists and turns and doesn’t just focus on Black Sunday itself, but provides more of an overview of what it was like to grow up and live in Bondi Beach at the time. It also places it within its historic context of the Great Depression, and the rise and rise of Adolf Hitler as the world steadily marches towards another world war. One of Nipper’s friends was a Jewish regugee from Germany.  I found it a gripping, easy read and couldn’t put it down. Read it in a day. Highly recommend it.



I’ve also started reading Raphaelle Giordano’s: Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One, which I spotted while on holidays at Blackheath but requested as a birthday gift from my mum when I returned home. I’m really enjoying it so far. I love a philosophical, reflective read and so far, this one shows promise. However, it didn’t get a very encouraging review from Sydney Morning Herald Reviewer, Cameron Woodhead, who could well be true to name:  “This awkwardly titled, though bestselling, French novel claims to have made 2 million readers happier. It didn’t make me happier. But then, I didn’t grow spiritually from reading Eat, Pray, Love. Raphaelle Giordano has created the kind of shallow feel-good novel that resembles a self-help book, with the same tiresome platitudes, the same hyper-focus on personal fulfilment.”

However, life hasn’t been all about reading during the last week and indulging in Masterchef. Today, we helped one of my support workers move house. Her situation was untenable and she needed to move in a hurry. I rang a friend from Church with a van and trailer and recruited my husband and son and off we went. It’s not easy to move in a hurry and while I kept myself pretty light when I was in share accommodation, she had the full kaboodle and was moving to a first floor flat with a narrow staircase. So, the guys hoisted the bed up over the balcony and my dear son proved himself a man and quite a rock helping without complaining and doing what needed to be done. Our team of men, and our friend’s son, showed how male strength can be used for good and make a difference. I was not only very proud of them. It touched my heart. I was really thrilled we pulled off the move because it’s not easy for me to help other people in practical ways with my health issues and just this once, we pulled it off. I was able to be the sort of person I admire and want to be…a helper and not a drowning soul myself. I have grown so much stronger.

In terms of what I’ve posted this week, I did my usual contribution for Friday Fictioneers. This week’s contribution was : Secret Shed Business. I also posted a newspaper clipping I came across of my grandmother, concert pianist, Eunice Gardiner. I’ve never seen this photo before, but it showed my grandmother carrying her first son in a backpack and talking about how she attaches the baby on the front to go to the shops. Meanwhile,all in the same breath, she talked about giving a Beethoven recital at the NSW Conservatorium of Music. The baby was three months old at this point. My grandmother was something of a superhuman, although she didn’t go it alone. She had considerable support, despite my grandfather being away with the Army. In was 1943. The Japanese had already knocked on Sydney Harbour. These were very difficult times and yet she played on.

Lady & pups sleeping

Lady with the pups when they first arrived a year ago. 

Lastly, I just thought I’d finish up with a  bit of a tribute to the dog. It seemed everywhere I turned last week, people were caught up in serious trouble and needed an ear. Indeed, I was starting to wonder if there was anybody who was feeling on top of the world. That life was good. By this point, my own gear had moved into neutral, the observer…it’s an easy place for a writer to sit and turn into something of a home.


A simplistic interpretation…or is it?

Then, I looked up at my dogs…Lady, the Border collie x Cavalier and Rose and Zac our year old Border collie x Kelpies who are brother and sister from the same litter…our “twins”. Just the sound of the car pulling into the driveway, is ecstasy. Rosie is always there with her ball, stick, or fragments thereof, full of drive and enthusiasm. Zac is inclined to whimper when a door closes on him but he doesn’t forget how to wag his tail. It is no coinsidence that we have three dogs in our family and if we lived on acreage, there’d be a fourth…one each. They are simply the best!

Hope you’ve had a great week!

Love & best wishes,






25 thoughts on “Weekend Coffee Share… 5th August, 2018.

  1. Gary A Wilson

    Hi Rowena.
    Lots of stuff from your corner this week.
    The account of your distant cousin, Asher & your grandmother are evidence that you really do come from stout stock, i.e.can be slowed down but nearly impossible to stop.

    I already think you are the person to have handy when something difficult needs to be accomplished. Your body may restrict what you can lift, but your mind and spirit more than make I for that it seems. Sometimes the best person to have around is the one with strength of heart.

    I’m always happy to hear how life is treating you and those fortunate enough to be nearby.

    Have a great week.

  2. Léa

    JOYEUX ANNIVERSAIRE! Better late than… Here it is 37 degrees celsius and I am loving it as I can’t stand the cold. Thanks for sharing info on the book, Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One. I have discovered a number of French authors this year that keep me unable to sit without a book in my hands. Discovering Antoine Laurain’s The Red Notebook was such fun that I had to find more of his books and so it goes. Happy Reading!

  3. gaiainaction

    Dear Rowena, how lovely to hear your story of the past week, so interesting and enjoyable to hear what you have experienced and your thoughts on it. Wishing you a belated birthday too of course. I like your book reviews as I am always on the look out for good books and to hear what other people read and their thoughts about what they have read. What an amazing person you are!

  4. trentpmcd

    I think we all need to feel useful, be it going from a “polio invalid” to a life-saving-life guard, or a mother of very young children during a war who can play beautiful music to help the homefront, and even someone whose health has been awful being able to help a friend. Enjoy your week!

  5. TanGental

    love the story of the swimmer, Ro. What a lad to overcome such adversity. Good on you for helping your friend too. Not a bad birthday girl, really even if you do veg in front of masterchief! Happy birthday, you baby. 40 a small change? Ha! You’ve barely started!!

  6. NorCal Zen

    Happy, happy birthday my friend!! That cake looks so yummy!! I bet it was 🙂
    Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One, seems like a book I would enjoy. I’m going to look for it. Thank you for the tips. Have a wonderful week ❤

  7. Rowena Post author

    I think you’d enjoy the book too. It has these tips to find clarity etc in your life…action steps. There was one to throw ten things you don’t need out. I’ve put a plastic crate on the couch to gather my ten things together to make more of a statement. Then I started philosophising about what those ten things could be. They could be really small items and their removal doesn’t make a huge difference. Or, in my case, I could move on the piano and the car bed which clearly involve more effort but they’re departure would make a monumental change. Meanwhile, I went to the op shop today and I only bought little things but I wondered whether I should be factoring the number in, into this number out. I know quite a few people who have that rule. For everything you bring in, something has to go, although I’ve never heard anyone talk about the size of the objects. After all, isn’t it more the amount of space the thing takes up that’s important and not just the numbers?
    Certainly, many would say I’m overthinking things too much, but if you’re going to set yourself up with some kind of philosophy about this stuff, you need to know why you’re doing it and not just ticking boxes because someone else told you too.
    This is why I get to bed too late and why I haven’t thrown out my box of stuff. I found a few moldy makeup bags in the bathroom and they actually took up a bit of room but it hasn’t helped save my desk which just seems to get things layered on top of each other, despite clearing the front of it most weeks. It’s indicative of an active mind, which seems to be darting all over the place with ideas but I do bring them back together in the end.
    How are the fires going? We have terrible drought conditions in Australia atm. Not as bad as it gets but alot of farmers and towns doing it tough. Need rain.
    Enjoy the rest of the week.
    Best wishes,

  8. Rowena Post author

    I’m working on the story of the swimmer. Clearly, much could be done with that. So inspirational. Thanks for the birthday wishes. These days, I’m heading down the slippery slope of the 40s but it’s okay. Always grateful to be here. The lad is doing really well atm. Spoke to some of his teachers tonight and glowing reports. He seems to be getting better with age, which makes me wonder how all those kids are going who were early starters. He could well put his foot down and overtake the lot. Well, make that a couple.
    Best wishes,
    PS Not sure if you read this flash I wrote last week but there’s been an interesting discussion in the comments touching on intimacy and solitude in relationships. Thought you might enjoy it and perhaps it will light a spark…not that you’re short of them: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2018/08/02/secret-shed-business-friday-fictioneers/

  9. Rowena Post author

    That’s well put, Trent. Being useful, also enhances our sense of belonging, which is something which many of us value highly. Being a part of something. I really appreciated that helping my friend move. I could actually do something.

  10. Rowena Post author

    Thank you so much, Gaia. I really have to be tough with myself to finish books, and I actually lost the most recent book I started before these two. There are so many books in our house, and yet I keep buying more. I can’t help myself and I still believe that I’m going to read them too. That this will be different. I know I’m not the only one like this either.
    Hope you have a great week.
    Best wishes,

  11. Rowena Post author

    Thanks for the tip, Lea. I’ll keep my eyes open for that one and will Google it. Hope you have a great week..
    Best wishes,

  12. Léa

    My p leasure. I’m always ready to share good books and films, especially foreign ones. I don’t think violence is entertainment.
    Best wishes, Léa

  13. gaiainaction

    Yes, I recognise that 🙂 get sheer pleasure from buying books that I intend to read, some make it that far and some don’t, and it’s all good. Enjoy a lovely week too Rowena.

  14. NorCal Zen

    I don’t seem to be able to reply right below your reply, so here it goes 🙂 When it comes to things, there’s that obvious question of available space of course. I like my house to be clean, and smell good, if I have lots of little things, that takes so much longer. Time that I’d rather use doing things I enjoy, instead of cleaning. It might sound silly, but to me that is an important factor for my peace of mind. I think our time is our most precious commodity. I also have a hard time thinking if it’s to cluttered around me. I have a few items, that are memories, less than ten, that I will always keep. For everything else, I have a six months rule for most things, the only exception is seasonal clothes/equipment, that I have a one year rule for. If I haven’t used my things, or enjoyed them during the past 6 months, (or a year for seasonal things,) then I either sell or donate them. Every spring and fall I go through my things according to this selfamplied rule. LOL. It works for me, and makes my life easier.

  15. TanGental

    Funny how kids progress at different speeds. When the vet won a prize in her first year at senior school, her smarty brother told her not to peak too soon… fortunately she never listened because if there was one motivation above all others that worked with her it was beating him.

  16. Rowena Post author

    That’s often a great motivator with kids. I am mindful of kids peaking too soon or studying really hard in early high school and then finding new horizons when it’s time to knuckle down. My kids are going to a co-ed school which also seems infinitely more sensible than my experience of single-sex schools. Most of us went more than a little boy crazy. The lad is only 14 so I’ve probably just been lulled into a false sense of security.

  17. Rowena Post author

    You definitely have a good system there. Now that I’ve got started, I’m really feeling the benefits and am continuing. It’s a slow process and my research takes up much of my time as well. It’s also hard to maintain order with the four of us and then the three dogs as well.
    Best wishes,

  18. Sagittarius Viking

    Thank you my friend. It sounds like you are making some good changes in the right direction yourself 🙂 It all starts with a willing mindset, right?

  19. Rowena Post author

    Co-ed makes much more sense to me. A much better preparation for the so-called: “real world”. BTW I met the son of a Polish fighter pilot yesterday in the bookshop who is starting to write his father’s story. After getting a wiff of another writer and storyteller a rare breed, I suggested we meet for coffee. Two hours later I returned home. I grew up with a hotvh potch of German/ Lithuanian immigrants at Church and through my mother’s side so it was all very familiar territory. Two random people thrown together with so much history. Geoff has even been in share accommodation with a WWII Polish pilot years ago and he’s very into planes and flying etc even though he’s grounded. I also got the wiff of a great story perusing the old newspapers last night. Stimulation from all angles and my brain’s almost bursting out of my skull. Need to get back down to earth and practice my violin before my lesson. I’ve been quite rusty so that will definitely sent me back to ground zero with a thud and a sore head.
    Hope you’re having a great day and making the most of your sunshine. It’s starting to warm up here and we’ll soon be pinching your sun. xx Ro

  20. TanGental

    On sunshine I’m in Edinburgh for the Fringe seeing many shows. It’s at best 19C. It’s been raining. Blissful. Saw one by an English comedian of my age, Arthur Smith whose set was about his dad, Syd, a police constable. He’d been captured in the Middle East in 1942 and a POW until April 1945. He read out the section of Syds memoir about how he then got home and, esp. the bit about how eventually he arrived st his family council house to be met with flags and friends and family. I was in bits, mainly I think because now with children of my own I can walk in Syds parents footsteps imagining what that was like. 5he release of emotion must have made their chests burst. Not sure I’m going to cope with the remainder of the week if they are like that.

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