Monthly Archives: September 2021

Launching New Blog – Tea With Ethel Turner.

Last week , I launched a new blog – Tea With Ethel Turner – and I’d love you to come over and and hopefully follow me over there as well.

Ethel Turner is such an inspiration. Best known for her 1894 classic: Seven Little Australians, she wrote 40 novels for young adults, diaries, and edited children’s pages in a range of publications. Obviously, she was a very prolific writer, and I doubt she ever suffered from writer’s block for long.

It’s also worth noting that Ethel Turner wrote with a view of having her work published and read widely. Unlike so many writers, her work didn’t spend years in her bottom drawer. Indeed, even when she was at school, she and her older sister produced a rival school newspaper after her work had been rejected.

Then, as time went by and she was editing the Sunbeams pages in the Sun newspaper, it was Ethel doing the rejecting and lamenting a lack of space to publish the works of more of her young contributors. She also encouraged young children to write and gave them writing advice as well as broadening their general knowledge and exposure to literary classics. It also seems she was trying to build a new and better world after the horrors of the Great War, and these children were that future.

Above: Ethel with her older sister Lillian.

So, bearing all that in mind, I had enough material and inspiration to sink a battleship, and I felt she deserved her own bubble, and Beyond the Flow should remain my own space. That as much as I revere and admire Ethel Turner, I didn’t want to become her alone. I still have such a diverse range of other writing interests.

Here are links to my posts so far:

Ethel Turner enjoying her chair in the sun at home 1915.

Meanwhile, now that I’ve launched into this, I can’t help wondering what I’ve got myself into. Sure, I’ve unearthed a a veritable treasure trove, but I’d only read two of her books, and barely stuck my nose into her biography by AT Yarwood: From A Chair in the Sun and a complication of her diary entries by her grand-daughter, Philippa Poole. What was I thinking? Yet, I’ve also been working incredibly hard. I’ve read years worth of her “Chief Sunbeamer” columns as well as numerous press interviews and reviews. The advantage of blogging is that you can in effect publish as you go, and you can also correct any mistakes, embellish here and there before it’s set in stone in print. I am also a firm believer in collaborative research, especially when it comes to such an superlative shaper of Australian literature, culture and young minds. She is too big for one mind.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and hope you might join me on this exciting journey of discovery.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share!

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you? I hope you are doing well. This week, I’m able to offer you a slice of yellow sponge cake complete with jam, cream and fresh strawberries and blueberries. It’s all rather delectable, even if I did make it myself. Meanwhile, no doubt you’re wondering why it’s yellow. Well, I’d run out of cornflour and my husband had already does a lengthy trip to the shops, and so I used custard powder. It made a slightly difference to the taste, but it rose perfectly and the texture was fine, although with a few minutes less in the oven, it would’ve been perfect.

Well, yesterday marked three months in lockdown, and I’m pretty sure this week marked a turning point for people’s sanity. I won’t get into the details. Let’s just say there was tension in the air and it wasn’t just at our place. I sat in on a webinar with Sydney University and they’re saying that people have been feeling more tired during lockdown. That certain describes us. I’m feeling like a bear curled up snugly in its cave.

However, fortunately hope is in sight – what’s been heralded as “Freedom Day”. That’s set for the 11th of October – three weeks away. It’s going to be bigger than the end of WWII when the Dancing Man was photographed celebrating in Sydney’s Martin Place. Well, our beloved NSW State Premier Gladys is thankfully warning people no to go crazy, and the unvaccinated are in a league of their own unless they have medical exemption and the requirements for that are pretty stringent. The other thing our happy would be revellers might not have heard is that covid cases in our hospitals are still increasing and they’re expecting to reach capacity around the time we break out. It’s been challenging in the reporting of the covid crisis, but now more than ever we need to listen out to the small, quiet voice that’s asking questions and challenging the status quo. This could well be our scientific community. Someone with a more educated and informed opinion.

Anyway, I launched anew blog last week and I was actually intending to write a post from there this week, but I’ve had a major distraction which I’ll get onto shortly.

For a few weeks now, I’ve been mentioning my emerging obsession with English-Australian author, Ethel Turner, who is best known for her 1894 novel – Seven Little Australians. Well, I’ve been thinking about what to do with my research and how to progress it, and I decided to start off with a blog: Tea With Ethel Turner. Aside from having written these coffee share posts for about eight years, cups. f my grandmother’s had special, much treasured cupboards where they lovingly kept their “old ladies” as I think of them. Visitors were asked to choose a cup and family generally had their favourites and my dad’s mum used to point out who drank from what while I was choosing mine out. It was in its own way our own variation on the tea ceremony.

Anyway, having tea with Ethel Turner seems like a good idea. I can’t actually have tea at home with anyone outside the family atm unless there are compassionate circumstances, or I’m part of their singles bubble (which does apply to my 76 year of buddy, Roland). So, having tea with Ethel Turner at the moment isn’t quite as crazy as it sounds and at east it’s “allowed” within tightest interpretation of our covid restrictions.

So far, I’ve had two posts and a third is almost done. Here are the links and I’d really appreciate your support. It’s a bit daunting starting a new blog, when Beyond the Flow is up and running and it took quite a lot for it to start kicking over. However, I’m not starting from scratch in a way because hopefully it will attract some of my readers here.

So, here are the links:

As if I wasn’t researching enough with all of that, received a message which has taken me off to WWII and the escape of the Polish pilots into Romania, into France and into Britain. Four years ago, I met a Polish-English gentleman, Roland Chorazy, whose father Edward Chorazy, had been a bomber pilot during WWII. Roland and I met in our local independent bookshop where he was enquiring about books to research his father. As you know, I’m right into history research and have been researching WWI and we started to chat and agreed to meet for coffee. We’ve been having coffee once a week now virtually ever since.

Researching Roland’s father’s wartime service has been incredibly difficult. Firstly, there’s the usual thing of parents saying very little or not quite knowing how all the threads come together. In this instance, Poland was closed off for so many years and Roland wasn’t aught Polish growing up for this reason, and it was probably something that grieved his father deeply. There was obviously a point of no return under communism and finding a new home was the only option for a very long time.

So, already you have a research rift between Poland and Australia both in terms of language and communication. Then, it turns out that the Polish pilots service records in England are in Polish so future generations growing up in English-speaking countries can’t understand them. When you think about the outstanding contribution the Polish pilots made to the British war effort, this is obviously quite an oversight and a slap in the face.

However, thanks to the Internet, connections are being made. I have been contacted by a family who met Roland’s father while they were staying at a hotel in Blackpool, along with the best man at his wedding, Alojzy Dreja. He’s sent through a photo. Meanwhile, I found a post by an English woman whose mother had been friends with Alojzy Dreja and she posted a letter he’d written and two beautiful hand-painted cards. You can read her posts here:

Anyway, this has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share -19th September, 2021.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you? I hope you have had a great week and that all your stars are aligning. I thought that sounded better than having all your ducks lined up, which really makes them an easy target. There are no worries about me on that front. My ducks were rogue years ago, and there’s not a chance of ever getting them all lined up lose to the same location.

Path through the wildflowers

know I keep updating you every week about how long we’ve been in lockdown. We’re now just a week shy of three months and no end in sight. Our state premier is raving on about vaccination rates and getting jabs in arms, and yet the infection rates are still over 1000 per day. She’s also talking about opening up, especially for people who are double-vaccinated. This has resulted in talk of a vaccine passport. This hasn’t gone down well in some quarters, especially in religious organizations. They don’t want to refuse entry to anybody who has not been vaccinated. Yet, at the same time, they seem quite happy to exclude people with disability and chronic health conditions who can’t risk catching covid. After all, the vaccine itself isn’t 100% effective and we still need to wear masks and social distance especially in an indoor community setting.

Patonga from the Warrah Lookout

While we’re on the subject, I also want to point out that while our government prioritised vaccination for adults with disability and chronic health conditions, it hasn’t done the same for teenagers when they became eligible recently. It just goes to show me how little people consider our needs. We’re invisible. Anyway, I rattled a few cages and our kids were vaccinated with Pfizer on Friday and it all went well. However, after having to agitate to get our kids vaccinated, I wasn’t in the mood to deal with anti-vaxers.

Egg and Bacon

All of this covid stuff can really do your head in, and I realized I wasn’t doing so well. So, today Geoff and I drove to the Warrah Trig trail and walked to the lookout. The sign said that it was only 500 metres away. However, what it didn’t mention was all the steep stairs and vertical climbing coming back up, which should come into the equation somewhere. Geoff wasn’t too sure I was going to make it back up, but I figured I’d be okay if I took it slowly and kept stopping. So, we certainly didn’t lock the fastest track time but I did clock up 2,237 steps. You can read more about it here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2021/09/20/wildflower-walk-to-warrah-lookout-greater-sydney/

Grevillea

On Thursday, I submitted my entry for the SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition. That was a massive effort. I obviously can’t say too much about it. However, your contribution needed to be less than 2000 words on the theme of living between two worlds. SBS is our multi-cultural TV station. So, the theme naturally leans towards living in between two racial cultures. It’s very tempting to go into it further but you’ll have to wait. Suffice to say I’ve been working on my entry on and off for the last month and with a day to go was advised to cut back on detail. So, I cut that out but in the process, the whole story seemed to fall apart and I wondered whether I would have it all stitched back up together again in time. There were no guarantees. however, gradually I felt it coming together and before I knew it I was on the homeward strait adrenalin pumping and feeling pretty chuffed by my efforts. I read it and read it and re-read and it felt like the words were swimming around inside my eyeballs. I also felt tired and was concerned I no longer had the focus to pick up mistakes. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a huge believer in editing your own work. You see things that aren’t there and gloss over things that are. Have you found that? Well, anyway, time was running out and so I had to press send and be done with it. No more fiddling or bristling around. It was now a done deal. Now, I’m onto the prayer part of that journey.

Lastly, I’ve been getting right into Australian author, Ethel Turner who wrote Seven Little Australians lately. At the moment, I’m reading through her diary and found a list of poems she had memorised. Among them, was Matthew Arnold’s Self-Dependence which I’ve posted here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2021/09/18/poetry-memorised-by-ethel-turner-self-dependence-mathew-arnold/ In this post, I also touched on how I’ve turned to Ethel Turner as a mentor. There will be a lot more where that came from, and I’m actually considering setting up another blog.

Well, that brings me to the end of another week. A friend very kindly popped over on a rescue mission. I was feeling like blowing things up yesterday. So, she brought us some muffins, biscuits and a lot of love. It was wonderful and much appreciated. I hope you are doing okay and I’m thinking of you.

Anyway, this has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Love and best wishes,

Rowena

Wildflower Walk to Warrah Lookout – Greater Sydney.

It’s Spring over here, and it’s amazing how our ongoing lockdown has done wonders to cause of wildflowers to go ballistic. There’s such a diversity and abundance of wildflowers this year, although it certainly helps to go bushwalking. We usually have so much on, and this almost forgotten phenomenon known as a “social gathering” that we don’t get out there as much. So, lockdown isn’t all bad, and it’s certainly led many to discover a new-found love of nature and the outdoors.

The Hawkesbury River Looking East from Warrah Lookout

Today, Geoff and I drove past the Waratahs you’ve seen in previous posts, to find the turn off to Warrah Trigg which has a breathtaking lookout over the Hawkesbury River and across to Patonga on your right and Palm Beach on the left.

There were a few walkers out today, and a few boats out on the water, but not many. We largely has this magnificent place to ourselves.

I was blown away by all those beautiful golden flowers.

The walk to the Warrah Lookout is about 500metres one way, and trust me one way was very tempting. While it’s not a long walk, it carves down through the side of a very steep hill. That’s all very well when you’re heading down, but blue murder heading back up, especially considering I only have 50% lung capacity. As we’re heading down, Geoff did ask me a few times whether I wanted to call it quits and head back. “Remember, you’ll need to climb back up!” I did make a joke about being air-lifted out. I wasn’t entirely sure it was a joke.

However, years ago, I had very good advice about breaking tasks down and taking lots of breaks to overcome a challenge. So, I had this real confidence that if I kept stopping and pacing myself that I could make it back up. It was just a bit unfortunate that on this walk the toughest uphill sections and some stairs, would be right at the end. What a relief it was to see our little red car down in the carpark below.

Egg & Bacon

Meanwhile, as I said there was such an abundance of stunning wildflowers, a magnificent floral scent and the sound of buzzing bees. There were absolutely masses of golden flowers Eutaxia obovata but known as “egg and bacon”

Grevillea speciosa

There was also this stunning red grevillea, Grevillea speciosa, where its red tendrils dangle like spider’s by what appeared to be a solitary stem. They’re quite captivating.

The Banksia later in life.

This character, the Banksia, is not as glamorous as the more colourful flowers, but has plenty of personality.

Me on the left at the lookout.

Well, I hope you enjoyed our walk to Warrah Lookout as much as we did. It certainly helped me detox from lockdown, and also beavering away on my entry for a short story competition.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Poetry Memorised By Ethel Turner: Self-Dependence – Mathew Arnold

Tonight, I’ve been reading through Ethel Turner’s diary. You could say I’ve become totally obsessed by this incredible author of Seven Little Australians, and around 39 other novels written for children and young adults. Ethel Turner also had a passion for educating and mentoring young Australians through children’s pages in a number of publications. I don’t believe this is a quote, but if you want to be like Rome, you have to act like Rome. That’s another reason why I’m ploughing the depths I’ve never aspired to write a novel. Poetry, flash fiction and possibly the short story are more my forte. I also have fits and starts at writing a diary. However, I don’t just write a few lines – a bare skeleton of what’s happened. Rather, my entries are far more voluminous and I’m pouring my heart out onto the page. It also means I don’t necessarily write that often in my diary. I don’t have the time, and a simple notebook hardly has the space. I could fill one book in a sitting some days.

Anyway, aside from her success as a published author and journalist, I also appreciate Ethel Turner’s perceptive insight into people, the human condition and the ups and downs of life. Even more than a hundred s later, her insights and observations are just as true to life now as they were then.

So, if I want to write and be published like Ethel Turner, I need to do what she did. Although she didn’t have a formal university education, it seems she developed her own educational program which not only included extensive reading, she also actively worked to maintain her maths to the matriculation levels she’d achieved. Indeed, after her beloved friend Annie Christian passed away, she seemed to find comfort in doing quadratic equations. I’m not going to go that far to keep up with her, but I am going to chase up the list of poems she memorised.

So, in sharing this poem with you, I’m not sharing her words, but some of the fuel which nurtured her incredible mind. This poem by Matthew Arnold certainly speaks to me. My serious health issues have all but scuttled my career. Yet, I haven’t given up on finding some form of meaningful paid work. During the week, I finally pressed send on my short story for the SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition. Could this be the vehicle for getting myself established? I am down on knees and praying this comes through, although goodness knows what it will means if my dreams actually start to unfold.

Anyway, without any further ado, here’s the poem:

Self-Dependence – Mathew Arnold

Weary of myself, and sick of asking

What I am, and what I ought to be,

At this vessel’s prow I stand, which bears me

Forwards, forwards, o’er the starlit sea.

And a look of passionate desire

O’er the sea and to the stars I send:

“Ye who from my childhood up have calm’d me,

Calm me, ah, compose me to the end!

“Ah, once more,” I cried, “ye stars, ye waters,

On my heart your mighty charm renew;

Still, still let me, as I gaze upon you,

Feel my soul becoming vast like you!”

From the intense, clear, star-sown vault of heaven,

Over the lit sea’s unquiet way,

In the rustling night-air came the answer:

“Wouldst thou be as these are? Live as they.

“Unaffrighted by the silence round them,

Undistracted by the sights they see,

These demand not that the things without them

Yield them love, amusement, sympathy.

“And with joy the stars perform their shining,

And the sea its long moon-silver’d roll;

For self-poised they live, nor pine with noting

All the fever of some differing soul.

“Bounded by themselves, and unregardful

In what state God’s other works may be,

In their own tasks all their powers pouring,

These attain the mighty life you see.”

O air-born voice! long since, severely clear,

A cry like thine in mine own heart I hear:

“Resolve to be thyself; and know that he,

Who finds himself, loses his misery!”

I’d be interested to hear if this poem touches you in any way.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share- 13th September, 2021.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you? I hope you and yours are going well. I should’ve hot-footed it out the door as soon as I woke up this morning, because it was sunny, and I knew the rain was coming. However, you can’t carpe diem, and seize every day, and some days will just pass through to the keeper. That’s not to say I’m not seizing the day in other ways. I’ve been writing, and it’s a shame it doesn’t count as exercise, because I’d be very fit.

Yes, the word count is doing so much better, than the step count!

Last Thursday, was Geoff’s and my 20th Wedding Anniversary. We were married on the 9th September, 2001 at my school chapel, which was rather interesting because I went to an all girls’ school and we weren’t allowed to talk to boys in school uniform. Well, of course, I was hardly in school uniform when we got married, but I couldn’t resist having this kiss in front of the school office. I was a bit cheeky. However, when you go to a very strict, single-sex school, it leaves an impression.

Being in lockdown has presently seriously restricted our capacity to celebrate our wedding anniversary, along with Geoff’s work. The IT network at the hospital not unsurprisingly knew it was a special day and didn’t want their guardian angel actually having sometime off- especially with his wife. (The dogs weren’t impressed with it either, and Geoff was besieged by dogs armed with tennis balls when he arrived home last night). However, overtime does have it’s perks and it will help to fund our getaway if we ever manage to escape!

In the plane over New Zealand.

Anyway, thanks to lock down, I needed to get creative about celebrating our wedding anniversary. Although we went to New Zealand for our honeymoon, I decided we’d “go to Tassie” and relive a number of magical holidays in one of the few ways open to us – food. Geoff’s from Tassie and his father’s cousin’s own Ashgrove Farm Cheese in Elizabeth Town, somewhat near Launceston. We order a box of assorted cheeses from them, and a kilo of gourmet alcohol truffles from The House of Anvers nearby. Talk about pure indulgence. They’ll last for awhile, which is probably just as well, but it’s good to know that beautiful memories can taste good too.

The other aspect of our wedding, and in particular our honeymoon, is 9/11. We were married two days before the terrorist attacks, and flew to New Zealand 6-8 hours afterwards. It is hard to remember the sequence of events and it’s all complicated by the huge time difference. However, I think we worked out that the first plane hit around 10.45pm Sydney time and we were at the airport about 6.00am on the 12th. It was pretty terrifying, and the other complicating factor was that one of Australia’s major airlines, Ansett, went belly up that week and so my poor 87 year old grandfather from Brisbane who wasn’t much of a traveller, was suddenly abandoned in Sydney Paddington Bear style and couldn’t get home. This caused him and my Mum a lot of stress, but fortunately Qantas came to the rescue and got him home.

You can read more about that here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2021/09/10/honeymooning-through-9-11-2001/

I also posted a letter which appeared in the order of service at the wedding: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2021/09/13/a-view-to-eternity-a-letter-from-the-bride-9th-september-2001/

Before I head off, I just wanted to share an incredible duet which appeared on The Voice last night. It was the Australian finale, and in addition to performing their solo numbers, each artist also performed a duet with their coach. Bella Taylor-Smith and her coach, Guy Sebastian performed The Prayer and it was out of this world sensational. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. Here’ the link:

Anyway, I’d better head off and get this posted quick smart. I must be the last person to post every week. However, I’m busy most weekends.

Anyway, this has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

A View to Eternity – A Letter From The Bride – 9th September, 2001.

Last Thursday, Geoff and I celebrated our 20th Wedding Anniversary. Well, being in lockdown, “celebrated” might be exaggerating just a tad, especially as Geoff kept getting called into work. However, we had dinner with the kids, zoomed my Mum and Dad and then had a zoom with some friends. These were current friends who weren’t there on the big day, and we’re still to get in touch with our Chief Bridesmaid and Best Man. I don’t know what happened to the weekend. Oh yes I do. Geoff was working.

Anyway, I decided to share a letter I wrote which was printed up in our Order of Service. It turned out to be a good idea, as I was half an hour late.

The Letter

Geoff and I would like to thank you for attending our wedding and being part of our special day! I decided include this letter in the order of service to personalise the service and to share our thoughts, feelings and wedding experience with you. We also wanted to have a solid reminder of our priorities when we first entered into marriage to keep us on track for the future.

Geoff and I met on New Year’s Eve, 1998 when our mutual friend, Emma Longstaff, invited us to watch the fireworks over Sydney Harbour. Meeting Geoff was one of those frozen moments in time. Not because I thought I’d met my future husband but rather he is one of those few people you meet in life that somehow calms the storm within. Geoff gave me some very sound advice that night – look for friendship and stop trying to find a relationship. It lasted a few days, however, some New Year’s resolutions are made to be broken! After an all night conversation in my parents’ driveway, exchanging a few emails and a trip to the zoo, the rest as they say, is history.

Geoff and I not long after we’d met photographed in his Austin Healy Sprite…not as romantic as it looks!

The last couple of months have been hectic as we have bought our first home, started a business and have been planning the wedding. It could have been very easy to get wrapped up in all the preparations and smothered by the trimmings: finding the dress, arranging the engagement party, designing the wedding invitations, choosing the florist, the flowers, the reception, the cake… With all these details to sort out, the preparations for the service almost became the wedding itself and it was a battle to remain focused on what really mattered – our love and commitment to each other and how we were going to spend eternity together.

For so many of those around us, our marriage seemed a foregone conclusion. The inevitable destiny of two people who are in love. Rather than rushing down the express lane, Geoff and I have taken our time in approaching a future together. There is a time for everything and this is our time…not a moment too soon and not a moment too late. This is the perfect wedding – knowing we are marrying the right person at the right time and knowing we have laid the groundwork for the journey ahead – not having the right flowers!

In the midst of planning the wedding, I have also been establishing our new garden. Establishing our garden provides a good analogy for our preparation for marriage. When we bought the house, there were only two trees and compared to the garden I’d grown up with in Pymble, the place looked pretty bare, lacking in warmth and imagination. Before we’d even moved in, we had bought packets of bulbs to establish our Garden of Eden only to discover we had sandy soil that wasn’t unsuitable. Not to be discouraged, I dug vast trenches through the grass, ploughing in cow manure, soil and compost to prepare the ground. I continued watering the dirt throughout the winter months, plucking out the weeds and bits of grass, wondering whether those bulbs would ever see the light of day! It didn’t help either when the local nurseries had daffodils in flower while mine were still lying dormant. Night after night, I checked the garden with my torch until finally, row by row, the bulbs started to shoot.

Meeting Geoff didn’t happen overnight either and it took time for us to get to know each other well enough to make this commitment. Unlike flowers, though, you can’t just put a relationship in a hot house pumped full of fertiliser to accelerate the process and expect it to survive long term. You need to do the groundwork. It is only by sowing the seeds, fertilising the soil, pruning the branches and pulling out the weeds that a marriage can last. And for that extra special garden – making sure there is always something in flower through every change of season and every type of weather! Geoff and I are committed, with God’s strength and your support, to have a bountiful and enduring relationship.

You will notice several pots of flowers here in the Church instead of the customary floral arrangements. These started out as a way of financing more plants for our garden, however, once I put more thought into it, they came to represent a number of things for us. I liked the idea that these plants would be flowering every year on our wedding day to remind us of our special day. I also appreciated the promise of hope that they offered. Just like the tall poppies, there are so many forces at work to cut down a marriage and Geoff and I are determined to grow together with our branches entwined yet nurturing separate root systems to establish a healthy relationship. I also felt like a flower cut down in its prime when I got sick a few years ago and am thankful for the personal growth I have experienced during my recovery.

There are some very special people with us here in spirit today. Geoff’s parents have passed away. Fortunately, I was able to get to know his mother, Margaret, and were able to spend Christmas together. Geoff’s mother embroidered the ring cushion. Geoff’s brother, Terry, has also passed away and we have received much love and support from his widow, Gaye. We would also like to remember my grandmother, Mama Haebich who passed away a year ago. Mama loved Geoff and we spent some special times with her and Papa and Anna. Mama always seemed to get teary in Church and I have one of her special lace hankies with me today. We have also included the 23rd Psalm in the service today in her memory. I would also like to remember my grandfather, Papa Curtin who would wholeheartedly approve of me joining a family of stirrers.

Just so you don’t think planning the wedding was all work and no play, we have enjoyed our engagement and preparing the wedding. One of the highlights was Geoff’s Valentine’s Day proposal. Instead of proposing straight away or giving me my intended gift, Geoff wrapped up an electric sander for his car and presented it to me as my Valentine’s present. The look on my face, he says, was priceless! Another magic moment was finding my engagement ring. It has white and yellow gold meeting from opposite directions twisting together around a beautiful, perfect diamond, symbolising our marriage. There was also trying on the wedding dresses with Mum and Lisa and seeing myself transformed into the glowing bride. The wedding has also been an excuse for catching up with family and friends. And not to forget the Father of the Bride. I think Dad was the only one who was surprised when we announced our engagement. Or was that denial? He enjoyed his medicine though…watching both versions of the film Father of the Bride. Given that Dad looks like Basil Faulty and anything was possible, the movies seemed like good insurance!

Once again, we thank you for sharing our special day!

Love and God Bless,

Rowena and Geoff

Honeymooning Through 9/11/2001.

Today, Geoff and I celebrated our 20th Wedding Anniversary. We were married on the 9th September, 2001 in Sydney. While, I was going through our wedding photos, I came across this photo of us sitting on the plane heading off on our honeymoon in New Zealand. It was taken on Wednesday 12th September our time, which was still the 11th over in America.

Our Wedding Day….The Happiest Day of My Life. I smiled so much, my face hurt!

In case the dates have slipped your mind (“as if” from my perspective, but not everyone was around back then either), the 11th September, 2001 is better known as “9/11”. Looking back on this photo of the two youngish newlyweds now, I was not only struck by the fact that the two of us look so much younger. Indeed, I was immediately struck by the fact we were up in the air on an international flight while ground zero was smouldering and all flights in America were grounded. Moreover, at the time, worldwide security was extremely tenuous. We had no idea what horrors lay ahead for our troubled world, and we at least expected immediate and decisive American retaliation.

Our Wedding Day

Of course, when Geoff and I were married, we had no idea that two days later a different date was going to be etched in our minds for eternity. However, it has always struck me as being rather prophetic that the closing hymn was: The Peace Prayer of St Francis. Although we’d chosen it as a prayer for peace on our domestic front, it was always more about striving towards love and peace on a much grander scale:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

My grandfather Geoff and myself at the airport.

Anyway, early on Wednesday 12th August, 2001 Dad pulled up outside Sydney’s Kingsford Smith International Airport and dropped Geoff and myself, mum and my grandfather off while he went off to park the car.

Although Sydney was a world away from New York and Washington, as soon as we pulled up at the airport we noticed an overwhelming Police presence. There was a row of something like six Police cars parked in front of us like taxis queued at the taxi rank. We didn’t know what it all meant, but it couldn’t be good. Of course, the wisdom of flying had crossed our minds. However, New Zealand seemed even further off the grid, and what could go wrong in the land of the long white cloud, green hills and loads of sheep?

My grandfather wearing his beanie waving goodbye alongside my Mum and Dad.

Innocence is a beautiful thing, and that’s what I see in Geoff and I sitting on this plane…newlyweds, just married. Sure, we had a mortgage, and both of us had been through considerable adversity. However, all of that was in the past and we were onwards and upward together, and dare I say it…living in the clouds!

Geoff and I in Rotorua. It reminded me of Ground Zero.

Where were you on 9/11? or, perhaps you’d like to share some special or funny memories of your wedding or honeymoon. I’d love to hear from you!

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I had to post this photo of my grandfather and I. We were very close and while we tend to think of the very young as being so sweet, he was adorable at the other end of time.

Bright Eyes on Death and Despair – A Gum Tree.

Please forgive me for my recent negativity, pessimism and lack of gratitude. However, there are times where the glass is neither half-empty, nor half-full and no matter which way you look at it, it’s still bone dry. There’s not even a drop of water left to relieve a parched thirst, or even a longing imagination.

It is what it is, isn’t it?!!

That’s what we’ve come to say about those interminable patches of grinding difficulty.

Well, thankfully, my glass isn’t empty yet. Rather, I was even starting to think my glass was starting to refill, as I meandered through the wildflowers with my camera and feasted on such indisputable floral beauty through the lens. Moreover, although I was only a ten minute drive away from home, I could have been miles away from civilization. Off with the bunyips even!

Could be anywhere!

That was until a friend sent me a text while I was out there. I’m not one to be glued to my phone, but I do keep it on me in case of emergencies when I’m out, and I’m sure it pinged. I think I was sitting down on a log at the time reflecting on life, the universe and everything and decided to reply. Things have been pretty rough for her, and she’s spent the last couple of weeks in hospital with her back against the wall. It was the right thing. After all, there’s finding things hard, and then there’s scaling vertical cliffs by your fingernails. I’ve done that a few times with my lung issues, and wouldn’t wish that horror on my worst enemy. I wanted to be there. Yet, at the same time, I also have to pace myself. As you may recall, I’ve lost four close friends recently and my daughter’s unwell. With my own capacity so overwrought, I’ve largely had to withdraw and regroup.

However, whether you say it was God, destiny or being technically inept, somehow we ended up on a Facetime call together. In case you don’ t know what that is, it’s a mobile phone call with visual. I thought she’d called me. She thought I’d called her. Neither of us meant to, and yet this accidental call was freakishly phenomenal.

It all began when she asked me how I was. Well, I have a bit of a dry sense of humour, and joked: “at least I’m doing better than this tree!” I turned my phone around to show her the charcoaled cavity that was once a gum tree. There wasn’t much left of it. It was as dead as a doornail, the embodiment of hopeless despair. I was in fine form by comparison, and I actually started to perk up. Moreover, although I’m not be the world’s best photographer, I have an eye, and appreciated the way the hole blazed through the empty trunk, created a window frame out onto the bush.

The healthy top of the tree

I don’t know why I looked up. There was no reason to. Yet, I did. Much to my surprise, it turned out this dead lump of charcoal was actually still a living tree. There were healthy branches and a thriving crown of leaves up above. I couldn’t believe it, and have no idea how it’s even possible, although gum trees are famed for their resilience. They grow right on the edge of rocky cliffs with only a smattering of sandy soil to sustain them, and they somehow recover from horrific bushfire damage like this one and defy all logic. Mind you, gum trees are also known to fall over at the drop of a hat, and aren’t called “widow-makers” for nothing.

Anyway, all of that had a profound impact. Restored my faith in miracles. Reminded me to keep seeing things sunny side up and holding onto my faith in better days, which it’s starting to slip. Believe that God actually can and does answer prayer. He hears me. I am not forsaken.

However, that wasn’t my only discovery for the day.

I ended up taking my friend on my walk through the wildflowers and stuck my phone inside a lush bush of glowing yellow flowers which simply made my heart sing. She absolutely loved it…not only the capacity to enjoy the flowers, but she also loved my commentary. It was very simple and even child-like as I bumbled around the flowers chatting away like a much younger, female, Australian David Attenborough. It was all completely spontaneous, which was its beauty.

As it turned out, I’d stumbled across a way of taking somebody out of their world and transplanting them somewhere else.

That was, perhaps, the greatest miracle of all, and I fully intend to expand on it!

Do you have any survival stories you’d like to share? Please leave a link in the comments below.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 6th September, 2021.

Welcome To Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Some days, you need to tell Winter it isn’t Spring. However, today it’s the reverse. Now, we’re into Spring, it’s cold and the heater’s on again. Of course, yours truly who was quickly jumping on here before going on a walk, is now re-evaluating the state of affairs outside and considering hibernation instead. I think I might’ve mentioned “tomorrow” before.

Yesterday, was Father’s Day here. It wasn’t the most exciting Father’s Day we’ve ever had. We couldn’t even get out there and go shopping due to lockdown let alone get down to Sydney to see my dad. Our daughter also worked at McDonalds all afternoon. However, I did manage to order Geoff a great t-shirt from Tasmania. My friend was telling me about how she visited this place that handmade spoons when she was down there, and while we were chatting on the phone, I Googled the place. I thought very seriously about buying one of their spoons for our 20th wedding anniversary this Thursday. However, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it, and so I just went for the shirt. Geoff is very handy, and while he isn’t into wood turning, he’s always fixing something at home and using tools so it seemed like a great gift.

Anyway, we had a bit of unexpected theatre with the packaging. The t-shirt arrived very well camouflaged inside a cute little cardboard box so I decided not to interfere with it and give it to him as is. However, what I didn’t notice until he came to unwrap it, was that it had been sent in a re-used box from Lush Cosmetics. They make handmade soap which we’re usually really allergic to. On top of that, even those of you who don’t know Geoff very well, would spend a minute with him and know he just not a Lush kind of bloke. The other angle to this story, is that Geoff often wraps presents in deceptive boxes, especially computer castoffs from work. So, he’s giving you a $20.00 book, but you think you’ve received a $2000 laptop. So, it was quite apt that Geoff’s t-shirt would come disguised as fancy soap albeit without the scent. He deserved it.

Meanwhile, we are still in lock down. Overnight, 1, 282 cases were reported, which is pretty shocking for us when we were used to having no cases at all. I don’t know whether this increased case load was inevitable and we were just lucky it didn’t hit sooner. However, the way I see it, we were given this incredible gift of being covid free, and we needed to maintain and protect that with zeal. To have the gift and break it, to me is a greater loss. We knew what was at stake, and I wouldn’t say we’ve blown it yet but we certainly need to play our cards very carefully. We also need to know that those who are playing our hand, are being cautious and yet at the same time trying to get us out of this wretched lock down soon. I know that might sound like mission impossible with one leg going forward and the other leg in reverse. However, perhaps that’s what wisdom’s all about – a precarious balancing act. Not only that. I think it also takes listening to advisers and a diverse range of opinions, and above all else, individuals who don’t believe they have all the answers themselves. Consultation is important, and it certainly isn’t a sign of weakness.

I managed to get out more last week. Geoff and I went out to check out the local wildflowers, especially the Waratahs, which are conveniently growing beside the road not far from here. These magnificent grand flowers are our state floral emblem and are very rare in the wild and such a treat. There was also an abundance of these captivating golden flowers from the pea family. They glowed like lightbulbs in the sun and were pure magic. So, you could say I was rather blessed, and I am definitely most thankful, but I still miss my close friends and my mum and dad, aunts, uncles, cousins – a wealth of people I always took for granted. I don’t anymore.

You can read more about my walk in my previous post here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2021/09/06/going-on-a-waratah-hunt/

Meanwhile, I am rapidly advancing down the pathway towards obsession. It’s a quality not unknown to myself, but I’ll blame lockdown for the latest development. I’ve become absolutely obsessed with Australian author, Ethel Turner, who wrote Seven Little Australians and 39 other novels in addition to editing children’s columns in several newspapers. Seven Little Australians was published in 1894 when she was 24 years old and so she’s hardly current. Yet, that doesn’t mean that she’s not contemporary in that way that very perceptive people are. She seems to have an incredible insight into people, and characterization and the challenges they face. One of the issues I find particularly interesting is how she writes about death and characters facing death. I don’t know about you, but I’ve prayed for people who are dying and some of them pull through and others don’t and it does make me ponder about the point of it all. So does young Nell in the sequel to Seven Little Australians, The Family At Misrule. So much has changed in the last 120+ years. Yet, we’re still human and growing up is still a complicated and challenging business. Anyway, my obsession is on hold at the moment pending the arrival of my eBay packages. Don’t you just love eBay especially in lock down?!! I’m not the only one here eagerly awaiting packages either.

Well, that’s about all I’m allowed to share.

I hope you’ve all had a good week and things are going well!

Anyway, this has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena