Author Archives: Rowena

Penguin Gaol – Thursday Doors

Before you start getting up in arms about penguins being locked up,  I should let you know that Penguin is a town on Tasmania’s North-West Coast. The town was named by the botanist Ronald Campbell Gunn after the little penguin rookeries, which are common along the less populated areas of the coast. Not unsurprisingly, the town is now home to the Big Penguin.

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Introducing the Big Penguin, who is looking more like a stunned mullet.

We spent a few days in Penguin in January last year. Not just because it’s a quaint coastal town which some very photogenic natural features. You see, my husband’s father was born there in 1927 and his mother away when he was only 9 years old leaving three kids aged 9, 8 and 2 or thereabouts. Geoff’s father passed away when he was 16 so visiting Penguin was almost like visiting a haunted village but in such a beautiful, incredible poignant way. We were walking in the dust of their footprints.

Penguin Gaol

Old Penguin Gaol 

 

Old Penguin Gaol’, circa 1902–1962. The old gaol was originally located behind Penguin’ s courthouse, but was restored and resited in 1992 by the Penguin Apex Club. I haven’t actually seen inside it so I’m not sure how much room is inside, but it looks like standing room only and not the sort of place you’d want to spend the night especially if you have to share.

 

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That’s quite a lock. 

Here’s a newspaper story about a former inmate of the gaol in 1903:

A Sham Constable

SEVERAL HOTELS SEARCHED AN ACTIVE “OFFICIAL”

An individual possessed either with the idea of perpetrating a practical joke or of levying blackmail paid several coastal publicans a visit on Sunday night, and representing himself as a constable in plain clothes put them to considerable trouble by making a methodical examination of their bars, and with searching for persons who might be unlawfully on the premises. He gave the name of Constable Robertson

and is now in the Penguin gaol, and will today be brought to Burnie and charged with impersonating the police. The Bay View Hotel, Burnie, was visited about 10 o’clock on Sunday night and the landlord, Mr F. H. Furner, was interrogated by what he describes as a stout burly man with .suspicious looking brass buttons, although dressed in plain clothes. He was told in a perfunctory way that he (the visitor) had to perform the ‘painful duty’ of having a look at his bar. Mr Furner complied, after questioning the visitor’s bonafides, and wondering inwardly at meeting a man in his hotel to whom it was a”painful’ duty to enter the bar. After a casual inspection the visitor in pompous tones ex pressed his satisfaction, and after visiting several of the rooms to satisfy himself that none other than lodgers were in. the place he left, after having, of course, tasted something in the matter of liquid refreshment. And he confided to the licensee that he had secured the names of 40 residents that day at Ulverstone for being unlawfully in hotels. He proceeded to the Burnie Hotel, and Mr W. H. Wiseman was attracted by a loud knock. ; Opening the door the question was put to him that the visitor supposed he (the publican) did not know who he (the visitor) was. Mr Wise* man did not, and told: him so.’ ‘Another leading question as to whether his coming had been announced ; also drew forth a negative. Next ‘ came an off-handed request to be admitted to the bar, which done, the visitor, laid hold of sundry bottles of liquor, and uncorking smelt the contents. After several queries he appeared . satisfied. This examination over he ‘liquored up,’ entered the parlor and questioned the right of two gentlemen there to be in the hotel on Sunday. .’. He was assured they were lodgers, and after a while waxed communicative. He volunteered the information’ that he was a .Swiss, and offered to ‘ tie -anyone up in that language,’ He also confided to. the proprietor that, he .was. stationed at Devonport, and had instructions to visit and search the coastal hotels. He did not want the police to know of his visit, as he was watching them as. well as. the publicans. He was going to be lenient for the first offence, but after that ‘.no mercy would be shown. The man visited the Central Hotel and also the Commercial Hotel. He told Mr Pearce that he had taken the names of 120 persons found in hotels on Sunday since he started out, but he had to congratulate him and his fellow publicans that the Burnie hotels were the best conducted on the coast. Mr Pearce was naturally pleased at this information. The

Visitor then confided he was about to search the house of a leading religious man in Burne. Here, he lowered his .voice as the intelligence seemed to warrant He was sorry that a scandal should be caused, but the fact was sly-grog selling was suspected. He then made an admission which lowered him considerably in the estimation of Mr Pearce. When he went back to Devonport he was going to tackle collecting dog licenses! He left Burnie late at night, driving a horse and trap, which he had stated he got from Johnston’s Bridge Hotel, Forth. At 3 a.m. yesterday he roused ‘ up Mr B. McKenna, of the Middleton Hotel, and wanted to know if he had any persons on the premises other than lodgers. Mr M’Kenna thought the man must be mad, but the brass buttons in the night light were suggestive, and a peremptory order secured an examination. .. The denouement thus came about. Yesterday Mr P. H. Furner visited Ulverstone and. naturally made inquiries as to the 41) names secured by Robertson. He was surprised to find that ‘no visitation had been made as alleged. The truth at once dawned on him, and on returning he saw Acting-Sergeant Fidler. They both set out to .overtake the imposter, and did so at Penguin, where he was putting Mr Coram of the Penguin Hotel, through his facings. He protested when taxed by the Acting-Sergeant to produce his authority tbat he was in structed by Superintendent Armstrong at Latrobe. On being told : that there was no Superintendent Armstrong at Latrobe, he said he meant Trooper Armstrong. On being further told there was no trooper of that name in the Tasmanian force, ho looked foolish. His arrest followed, as stated, the man still contending that a member of .the force was being lodged in gaol. It is believed that the man is a returned soldier, Henry Robertson by name. He is a young fellow of about 26 years of age. North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times (Tas. : 1899 – 1919), Tuesday 23 June 1903, page 3

Thursday Doors is hosted by Norm 2.0 at Thursday Doors.  Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Cupid’s Last Stand…Friday Fictioneers.

Cupid was watching his latest targets with great anticipation. Being the Roman God of love, he didn’t need a computer. He instinctively knew Matt and Sophie were perfectly suited.

However, despite his match-making prowess, the humans kept shooting themselves in both feet, screwing up their chances of love. Indeed, Matt who was the personification of Superman without a hint of Clark Kent, reeked of garlic breath. Too paranoid to wear her glasses, Sophie had almost walked past him blind as a bat.

“That’s it!” Cupid fumed throwing down his bow and arrow. “I quit! You humans are on your own.”

……..

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

It’s been years since I’ve been on the dating scene. However, I’ve been watching The Batchelor tonight where I suspect Cupid’s been in overdrive. Bows and arrows shooting all over the place. At least, the was it seems.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Inside Skin…Ahn Do Paints Professor Fiona Wood.

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”

― Aldous Huxley

So often, language is hopelessly inadequate. Last night, I found myself profoundly moved and yet despite all my years as a wordsmith and a thinker, I was left stammering unable to communicate.I guess that’s what happens when your doors of perception suddenly swing open, and you have a eureka moment.

I’d been watching a past episode of  Ahn’s Brush With Fame where he’d painted and interviewed Professor Fiona Wood, Australian plastic surgeon and burns specialist.  Professor Wood and scientist Marie Stoner developed a revolutionary spray-on skin to help burns survivors. This technology was a world-first and has been used on more than 1000 patients around the world. In 2005 they won the Clunies Ross Award (Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering) for their contribution to medical science in Australia. In 2005, Professor Wood was named Australian of the Year.

So, let me bring you into the studio now where Fiona is sitting on Ahn’s distinctive yellow chair. While Ahn’s secretly painting away behind the canvas, Ahn and Fiona’s conversation criss-crossed through her professional and private lives, and there were so many pearls of wisdom. Fiona is such an amazing thinker, and Ahn has a way of drawing people out, although I also understand that painting someone’s portrait tends to do that. Ahn is also deep and profound himself.

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.”

Leonardo Da Vinci.

However, as much as I was touched by much of the interview, there was a particular part of their conversation which stopped me dead in my tracks. Indeed, today I’ve paused and rewound this section many, many times trying to capture the exact wording. With these two kindred’s swept away into their own little skin paradise, pinning down their words wasn’t easy.

The conversation began when Fiona was admiring the other portraits in the studio, particularly their eyes,  and it flowed on from there and they started discussing skin, almost as an entity in its own right:

“When I’m trying to teach surgery, it’s like teaching shades of white (Yes) and some people just get white. That it’s a 3D  or 2D surface. It’s layered isn’t it? It’s the layers of the system.(Yes! Yes! Yes! It’s not just skin colour) It’s not skin colour. What colour is it? Skin Colour? I mean give me a break.

(As a kid, you get a packet of coloured pencils and there’s one skin colour.) Like nuh (It never works. No. That’s not how people look.)

“Round face, skin colour…Hmm probably not going to fly really.”

(Ahn’s comments are in brackets here. Please forgive my dodgy transcribing.)

As you could imagine, as a burns specialist, Dr Fiona Wood has an exceptionally intimate knowledge and understanding of skin, which flies right over the heads of us mere mortals, including myself. However, her appreciation was not lost on Ahn who has appreciated similar complexities of tone through the lens of an artist…a painter of portraits.

“All our knowledge has its origin in our preceptions.”

Leonardo Da Vinci.

Unfortunately, as much as I love the written word, these black and white words on the screen fail to convey the animated intensity of their conversation. That sense of not only seeing eye-to-eye but soul-to-soul. That rare synergy where you become lovers of the soul and that fusion is just as intense. As Dr Fiona Wood said at the conclusion of the show:

“My highlight today was actually talking about how images go from 2D to 3D and how the light reflects off the skin and how amazing skin is  and talking to someone who gets that. Cause skin is amazing.”

Professor Fiona Wood

As a writer or creative person, I’m naturally interested in how other people see and perceive the world, particularly when they re-frame something ordinary and present it   through a different lens. I’ve tried with all my might to try and walk in someone else’s shoes. Moreover, I’ve left my own shoes out, hoping someone else would try them on and gain more than just an inkling of the inner me. So, seeing how two people could get so animated and excited about skin and perceive it as more of a complex and detailed landscape than a continuous monotone, intrigued me. I also found it unusual to hear two people discussing skin tone, because it can be a real taboo.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view — until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

HARPER LEE, To Kill a Mockingbird

Not unsurprisingly, I’d never stopped and appreciated what an artist and plastic surgeon might have in common… a shared fascination with the human body and in this instance skin. Indeed, I’ve never even thought of skin in this way. That’s also interesting to me on a personal level as one of my uncles is a plastic surgeon and another is a dermatologist and this would be familiar territory for them. I also have my own take on skin because my autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis, also affects my skin. However, I’ve never had to think about reconstructing a severely burned body and all that entails. Moreover, when it comes to paint, abstract is my friend. Indeed, I’ve never even considered what goes through the mind of a surgeon who is wanting to reconstruct a severely burned or injured body and trying to get it as close as possible to its “before”. It’s a form of art and yet so much more because the patient’s life and contentment are in their hands. The more you can reduce the scarring, the better the outcome for the patient and Fiona has clearly devoted herself to that end.

So, now I’d like to encourage you to watch this episode for yourself. Even if their discussion on skin doesn’t appeal to you, the are plenty of other pearls to treasure.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share – 16th September, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This week, you’re in luck. You can fight my husband and I for the remains of the  Lemon Meringue Layer Cake I made on Friday. The cake has two layers of butter cake which are both covered in a thick layer of meringue and then baked. To assemble, you sandwich the layers together with the lemon curd and whipped cream. This was the first time that I’ve ever made this cake and it was a rather ambitious project. More ambitious than I realized because I’d already separated the eggs, when I read that the lemon curd needed to set for four hours or overnight. I didn’t have four hours. At best, I had three including travel time. I was taking it to a friend’s place, which was also why I was making this fancy cake. It was quite big and I knew our family never get through it. So, you don’t need to be psychic to know trouble’s brewing and well you might ask whether the cake part has learned to swim. That’s before we even consider surviving the drive there and going round corners. However, I’m getting ahead of myself. The cake is still in the oven. I have to duck out to pick my daughter up from dance but my support worker is here to keep an eye on it and turn it around. However, somehow the dial on the oven got bumped and in what is starting to sound like a screw up of Masterchef proportions, the temperature has jumped from moderate to hellishly hot and the perfect setting to scorch the outside and leave the inside raw. In other words…DISASTER. Well, it would’ve been a disaster if I wasn’t the master of disaster and know how to cover things up. Snipped off the burnt bits and praised God for the invention of icing sugar. Meanwhile, the lemon curd had magically set in the fridge. It was all a bit flowy and unstable but it looked and tasted spectacular with a luscious lemon zing.

Last week, wasn’t just about cake.

It’s Spring here and all that increased sunshine and balmy warmth, went to my head. Lights. Camera. Action. I accepted that our garage sale wasn’t going to be happening any time soon and sorted through the mountain of clothing and kept the best of put on eBay and filled up the car and took the rest to the charity shop. Walked out of there with a new slow cooker and a Wedgewood jewelry box for my Mum. She had something like this when I was little and I’m not sure if she still has it. I remember poking around it looking at her jewelry which a special treat.

Wedgewood box

Do you remember something like this from your past? 

I’ve also gone through some of my writing and am trying to do some editing and find some direction for some dog stories I wrote almost ten years ago. I’ve been thinking about them as kids’ books, which clearly they were not and I’m now revisiting them as potential short stories or even a series of interconnected stories. Either way, there’s a fair bit of work ahead, but the foundations are there. It would be such a relief to get something finish and in a format that works.

Do you have a few projects up your sleeve like that? Isn’t it a writer’s lot? Well, this writer is trying to convert a few goals. Or should that read trys? I’m not into sport.

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My husband’s lawn protection growing device is achieving wonders. 

The garden is also progressing nicely and we even have lawn in our backyard. That was such a breakthrough, that it warranted a post all by itself: Making the Grass Greener

The other big news this week, is that the family and I attended a disability access meeting run by our local State MP Paralympian, Liesl Tesch. A new disability access web site, Wheeleasy which is like an equivalent of Trip Advisor was being launched and the idea was for us to go out for lunch afterwards and rate the access of local cafes. We skipped that part but I appreciated the opportunity to raise a few of my local frustrations and know Liesl takes my opinions seriously. Hopefully something will get done. By the way, while I’m not in a wheelchair myself, I have some mobility issues stemming from an autoimmune disease which attacks my muscles, but which is fortunately in remission. Yet, I am still part of the disability community, and also not. Having an invisibility puts me into something of a No Man’s land.

Road Kill CafeIn terms of what I’ve posted this week, for Friday Fictioneers, there was Cuckoo Clock House and for Thursday Doors, we were off to Tasmazia’s  Road Kill Cafe.

No wonder I’m feeling tired.

How was your week? I hope you’ve had a great one!

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Ecclectic Ali. We’d love you to come and join us.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

 

Making the Grass Greener.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

A few short weeks ago, we looked out over our backyard the same way Moses saw the Promised Land. However, all we saw was a dust bowl with three dogs standing somewhere in it and a few holes dug in for good measure. Indeed, if I hadn’t seen the three dogs, I might’ve wondered whether a wombat had taken up residence in our backyard. Some of these holes were huge.

Needless to say, the grass wasn’t happy.

“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.”

Walt Whitman

Moreover, just to add to it’s struggles, we’re in the throws of a serious drought and just because we’re not farming out on the land, doesn’t mean we haven’t been affected by the lack of rain. It might not be affecting our livelihood but our backyard was a dust bowl.

“The moment one gives close attention to anything,
even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome,
indescribably magnificent world in itself.”

–   Henry Miller

So we have digging dogs, dry drought and then there’s the sandy soil. We live metres away from the beach and while this very same sandy beach might be a thing of beauty, our sandy soil is largely infertile could go a few rounds of IVF. Indeed, even the weeds had given up trying to grow in our backyard. There was just bare sand.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t hold out much hope of ever seeing green grass out the back, let alone anything approaching a lawn. I’d more or less assumed that my husband had also given up. After all, it had been awhile and there wasn’t exactly a lot of activity out there.

However, I don’t know what happened, but my husband sent up the backyard sprinkler system again. That was step one. Then, he built a very clever lawn growing contraption of the likes I’ve never seen before. Just like Australia has the rabbit proof fence, my husband built the dog proof lawn protector by simply nailing four planks of wood together and covering it with chicken wire. Just like the Parable of the Sower, my husband sowed out the lawn seed, covered it with the protector and then it was on with the sprinklers every night.

Then, miracle of miracles, we now have lawn. Indeed, the dog proof lawn protector has been moved onto its second location and much of the grass in the first plot is still alive.

Sometimes, I think we can settle where we are believing that things can’t get any better. That this is as good as it gets and we can forget to prepare the soil, sow the seed and water our dreams or just even our basic needs. It’s too easy then to fall into an engulfing sense of despair where there is not point lifting a finger or even trying to get up off the ground and pick up our mats.

I also want to say that I’m proud of my husband for coming up with our dog proof lawn protector. He commutes to Sydney puts in a long day’s work and is my carer 24/7 as well as being a father to our kids and the three crazy mutts. In so many ways, that’s life. We’re all busy. We each have our lot. Our hardships and our blessings. Last weekend, he started a sailing course. So, now he’s not only enjoying some green grass, he’s also experiencing some smooth sailing. Well, perhaps in time.

Is there something that’s changed recently in your life that’s made a difference? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Road Kill Cafe…Thursday Doors.

Welcome to Another Thursday Doors.

At the risk of repeating myself, I’ve returned to Lower Crackpot, Tazmazia again and this week we’re off to the Road Kill Cafe. While this might appear to be in bad taste, it’s actually making an important environmental statement. On average, 32 animals are killed every hour on Tasmanian roads. Indeed, ‘More animals die per kilometre on Tasmanian Roads than anywhere else in the world,’ says Don Knowler, author of Riding the Devil’s Highway. ‘The scale of road kill in Tasmania is just colossal,’ he says, adding that almost 300,000 animals are killed a year, with some groups putting the figure as high as half a million. Another problem is secondary road kill. Animals like the very, endangered Tasmanian Devil, are run over while feeding on the road.

Road Kill Cookbook

We saw this for sale while we were in Tassie.

Addressing serious issues through humour is surprisingly effective, and much better than pointing the finger. Indeed, the message seems to filter in through the cracks, as humour allows us to approach threatening subjects in a non-threatening way and makes people more receptive to new ideas. Clearly, this is important when you’re trying to change someone else’s behavior or raise awareness of an issue which has previously passed under their radar.

Before I head off, I thought I’d leave you with one last comment from Lower Crackpot on global warming:

Global Warming

 

Thursday Doors is hosted by Norm 2.0 at Thursday Doors.  Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Cuckoo Clock House…Friday Fictioneers.

As soon as he walked in, Jan was at peace. The boy with the cuckoo clock heart, had finally found his tribe in this museum of intricately carved clocks. No longer an outsider, they even shared the same heartbeat.

Unable to afford a human heart, his father had found a mysterious cuckoo clock at the local market, which he prayed would save the life of his beloved son. Yet, although the operation was a success, there was a strange side-effect. Dvorak’s American Symphony played like a broken record in his head.

At last, he understood. It was all about the house.

….

Welcome to another contribution for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. This week’s photo prompt is © J Hardy Carroll and was taken at the Bily Clock Museum in Spillville, Iowa. The museum building was the residence of Antonín Dvořák during the summer of 1893 where he composed his String Quartet in F (also known as the “American Quartet”) and his String Quintet in E-Flat. You can hear it Here