Category Archives: Australia

Walkus Interuptus – Parenting Teens.

Late yesterday afternoon, Geoff and I made a hasty getaway to fit in a sunset walk over at Hardy’s Bay, about a 15 minutes drive away. Our kids are now 17 and 15 years old and hardly at that really young stage where we can’t get away without a minder. However, that doesn’t mean we’re not still attached to the leash. We are always only a phone call away.

As those of you who have lived through the teenage years can no doubt attest, you’re still not absolved of your responsibilities as a parent. Indeed, in some ways things can even ramp up. Even if the law doesn’t require you to provide constant supervision and your teens probably couldn’t think of anything worse, you’re still on a leash. Moreover, when they’re small you can delegate much of your supervision responsibilities to daycare, after-school care and grandparents. The former expire once your children start high school, and grandparents while willing are more than likely to be less mobile than they were once upon a time. Indeed, they could well appreciate a helping hand from them.

When it comes to Mum and Dad, they might not want to know or talk to you much of the time, but when trouble strikes, they certainly know how to find you. Overall, you want that. I want that. The alternatives can often be undesirable, and at worse, fatal. You don’t want teenagers in trouble trying to nut out complex situations for themselves, especially when they’re under the influence of drugs, alcohol, peer pressure, fear of being found out and the list goes on. It’s usual for me to pick my daughter and her friend up at odd hours. I never complain. Never lecture. Well, maybe sometimes. I do ask questions. Try to ensure everyone’s okay. I don’t portray myself as the cool mum, but I want them to know I care and I’d rather be the biggest dag and very uncool, and have them feel loved and valued.

A hastily taken snap as we returned to the car.

However, at the same time, we parents also need a break, a breather. We need to be able to walk out the front door and have a bit of down time. Of course, going on a date with my husband would be nice (especially after 4 months in lockdown). However, as I said, I’d much rather come home if there’s a problem. I’d much rather be there for our teens in the event of an emergency. I really do. You do believe me, don’t you?

What might’ve been – sunset at Hardy’s Bay on a previous trip.

Last night, Geoff and I headed over to Hardy’s Bay for a walk and to watch the sunset. However, we’d just managed to set foot onto the jetty and I’d managed to take a couple of photos, when the phone rang. I’d initially thought it was Geoff’s work. He’s in IT and on call. That could mean a trip into Sydney. However, this time it wasn’t work. It was Mr 17. He had a fire pit running at home. It all seemed pretty safe and he’s a scout, and Geoff made sure he had he hose set up beside him. What else could go wrong? Well, it turned out some burning coals had jumped out and he’d stepped on them. Of course, he was barefoot. That’s not because he wasn’t advised to put shoes . Of course, he knew better and living right near the beach, we’re pretty casual with out footwear and I must admit to going barefoot a bit myself, especially when I was younger. I don’t think you’ll ever catch Geoff without shoes on, although I just peered over to check and sure enough…bare feet. However, his shoes are right there beside him and I think he puts them on just to walk around the house. You know, it’s a minefield around here.

Anyway, Mr 17 had Googled his burn and rated it a second degree burn, and there were blisters. That meant a precautionary trip to hospital. Of course, you can just imagine the moans and the “here we go again”. It’s only been a few months since we were back there with our daughter. Surely, we don’t have to run up frequent flyer points going there? Geoff was all set to go and looked at me and said: “You’re not coming?” Well, I felt a bit of a piker. However, I needed to drive our daughter to dance and I’m immuno-repressed and it’s best for me to stay away. Of course, it would’ve been better if we could all have stayed away, but better to be safe than sorry. Geoff and Mr 17 were on their way. I expected to see them in upwards of 3 hours. It no longer amazes me that an emergency can proceed at a snail’s pace.

However, miracles do happen. Not only did they have an express trip through emergency. His foot was fine. Dad’s bandage and the betadine ointment would do the trick. By the time Geoff returned from parking the car, he was through.

We had intended to get out tonight, but time ran away from us. I had a very relaxing time reading out at the new table out the front, and then we had lunch together out there as well…a home date.

How do you find parenting your older children? Any stories to share? I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Mum’s Taxi Revisits Mt Penang Gardens, North of Sydney.

It’s been quite awhile since you’ve heard a peep let alone a loud beep from Mum’s Taxi (AKA the Tutu Taxi). Being in lockdown for the last almost three months and throughout the last 18 months, I’ve literally been able to hang up my keys, stay in my pyjamas and write to my heart’s content. As blissful as that might sound for any writer, writing in lockdown is quite different to being a poet ensconced in your ivory tower. So, it was hardly no prison cell and I was allowed outside for exercise and could go walking along the beach, bushwalking or visit my friend in his social bubble. However, it’s not the same when park benches are covered in red tape because you’re not allowed to sit down, everyone’s wearing masks unless they’re exercising, and you have to QR code to enterjust about anywhere. So, it was with a mixture of jubilation, trepidation and continued isolation, that the people of Greater Sydney welcomed Freedom Day a few weeks ago.

Anyway, on Tuesday our daughter told me I was driving her up to get eyelash extensions. She paid for them. I wasn’t going to spend out money on that. I’ve never been a fan of fake eyelashes. However, she wears them for ballet concerts, competitions etc and so I guess once you’ve crossed that bridge, it makes more sense.

However, what she didn’t tell me was how long it was going to take. Now, I should’ve been prepared to hang round for eternity. After all, isn’t that what parents do for their kids? Wait?!! I’m not into all this cosmetic beauty stuff and how it all works. However, I did take a book, my journal and regretted not taking my SLR and just having the camera on my phone.

I started walking around looking for a park bench in the shade to read my book. By the way, I was reading Julia Baird’s: Phosphorescence: On awe, wonder and things that sustain you when the world goes dark. It’s an absolutely brilliant book, and what I’d describe as a “slow read”. I wanted to savour and enjoy almost each and every word. So, it’s taken me a very long time to finish it. Indeed, I started reading it in September last year. Honestly I thought it had been a year or even three. Here’s one great quote from the book:

Life is tempestuous and life is precious, and recognising that those two things are twinned is part of the secret of the truly phosphorescent.”

Julia Baird

There wasn’t much left to read, and I seemed to finish it off in about an hour. Of course, there was that great sense of regret you have when you finish a book you love and wave goodbye to your new best friend. Although I immediately decided I was going to start back at the beginning again. I really want to etch this book into my psyche and remember it all. It’s filled with stories and quotes from numerous thinkers and poets and it’s so very me. It’s like exploring a fascinating and exhilarating world, and I have also made a note to self to head out on a night kayak run with my husband and experience the Phosphorescence first hand for myself.

After finishing my book, I walked around the gardens regretting I hadn’t bought my digital SLR. However, the camera on my phone didn’t do too bad a job. Yet at the same time, I wondering whether photographing wildflowers in a man-made garden really counted, especially after going on some magnificent bushwalks and photographing the wildflowers actually in situ and in the wild. Isn’t it just like photographing lions in the zoo rather than heading off to Africa? The photos still look good. Indeed, they probably look a lot better, but they’re simply not the same.

Anyway, while I was there reading my book, I glanced up and noticed what appeared to be a class or two of young kids running down a steep, small grassy hill. They were having an absolute ball, and there is something so liberating about running fast down a grassy hill as a young child which almost feels like flying and you’re about to take off. Apparently, when I told friend about this my face was so animated that he asked me what childhood memories it brought back. There wasn’t anything specific and I can’t remember a lot of hills, but the exhilaration is still with me and perhaps I should sneak in there after dark and let myself go.

Reading my book and watching all those kids running must’ve done my head in, because yours truly who has been to this park a couple of times before, got lost and couldn’t find the exit. Indeed, I found myself stuck inside a maze. This is what happens when you’re exploring man-made garden instead of the bush. The bush is simple. You go in. You come out. Well, it is where I’ve been going bushwalking but these are hardly complicated hikes. Of course, I blame lockdown for this. So many everyday kills have been neglected and have rusted away. Indeed, I’m sure four months of solid repetitive research and writing at home has literally rewired my brain and done all sorts to my neuropathways. Indeed, while being so focused on a lockdown project so I’d have something to show for all that time might actually prove a mixed blessing.

Anyway, two hours later, my phone rang and I was summonsed to pick her up. We were going to go for a bushwalk together, however, it was now raining and so we raided a local bakery and had lunch in the car looking out onto the beach.

My daughter’s glasses on the dashboard looking out across our local beach.

And yes, the eyelashes certainly looked spectacular. Not completely ridiculous either, but not the sort of thing a hibernating bear requires. I’m actually looking forward to going to the hairdresser next week, and guess who is coming with me…

Looking out at the beach through the rainy windscreen while eating our lunch.

Have you been on any good walks recently or read any book books? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 18th October, 2021.

Welcome to A Belated Weekend Coffee Share!

How has your week been? I hope you’ve had a good one, and there still might be some wind in your metaphorical sails to make it all the way to my place for your preferred beverage and a slice of Apple & Mulberry Pie with home made custard. You could do worse, although our son seems to prefer the Sara Lea variety himself. Obviously, he has no taste.

It’s now been a week since Greater Sydney had their Freedom Day, and had our restrictions eased. NSW has now reached an 80% vaccination rate and we’ve been allowed further freedoms – especially the vaccinated. Today, cases were down to 259, which is a big improvement, although they’re expecting cases to surge with opening up. In practical terms, it hasn’t made a huge difference to me because I’m still avoiding public places, crowds, people who aren’t vaccinated. That doesn’t leave a lot of scope. However, I have a few friends in the same boat and so I’ve been seeing them. I am trying to get down to Sydney to see my parents. That ideally means the four of us and the two of them, which is much more logistically challenging than I’d thought. So it hasn’t happened yet.

However, although we haven’t got straight back into it, opening up and returning to a state of relative quasi norm has helped. Things are starting to make more sense. At the very least, dance has returned to the studio which has really freed us up. People are starting meet up again and are less isolated. You can walk out your front door and not feel that Big Brother is watching you. It is a huge relief, although fast forward a week or two and let’s see how the case numbers and severity stack up. I am officially in “watch and see mode”.

The table was all ready for entertaining, but the weather had other ideas.

I was all poised to invite friends over for coffee last week on the very first day we opened up, and put the new table into action. However, the weather had other ideas and it rained for much of last week, which isn’t much good for an outdoor table, and the wind was also against us. However, yesterday a friend phoned up and had cupcakes and everything finally came together and we were able to launch the new table. Another two friends came over today, and we shared a few of yesterday’s left over cupcakes and an Apple and Mulberry Pie made from her homegrown mulberries. I’m quite well-known for turning something healthy into a fattening, unhealthy delight. However, “je ne regrette rien!”

On Saturday afternoon, Geoff and I ventured out to see whether a stretch of budding Flannel Flowers we saw at least a month ago had flowered. Sure enough, they had. However, it was getting late in the day, and they were closing up their pretty faces and nodded off for the day. So, we returned yesterday earlier in the day and they were just magical. Their faces were fully opened and just waiting to meet my camera lens. I wrote all about it here:

https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2021/10/18/floating-with-the-flannel-flowers/

I had a bit of a social experiment on Saturday after being challenged to go without screens for 24 hours one day this week. Considering I was halfway through the day at this point, I thought I’d give it a go. This screen-free existence excluded my phone, TV, computer but it didn’t mention anything about cameras that weren’t part of phones. So, photographing the flannel flowers was allowed. As a social experiment, we were asked to be conscious of our experience. I’m not one who lives on their phone, and I certainly don’t respond to every “ting”. However, there we were out in the bush, and the phone tinged. I thought it might be one of the kids, and so I had to check the phone. A friend was asking if I wanted to go for a walk. So, I felt I needed to give a quick reply. I felt caring for others was more important than rigidly sticking to the rules. Surely, 30 seconds out couldn’t do too much harm?!! Besides, not relying to a message could set off panic stations and launch a search party given my health situation and us being in Covid lockdown for so long. Going off the grid is a solid warning sign of troubled waters. Anyway, I kept going. Made dinner and decided just to ignore the TV, which my husband was watching. However, then “Letters and Numbers” came on and my husband and son were both watching in and nutting things out. Was it more important to stick to my guns, or connect with my family? Well, I sort of joined in just a little bit…just out of the very corner of my eye. However, next up was Dambusters – a documentary series about Britain’s WWII bomber pilots using these new bouncing bombs to blow up the German dams of the Ruhr region. I couldn’t miss this. So, once again I’d failed the test and proven myself of little willpower, but dare I say “flexible”, “accommodating”. However, I didn’t utrn my computer on for a good 24 -30 hours so I’m pleased I pulled that off. That, too, was probably my greatest challenge, because I sit on here for much of the day doing my writing and research. I don’t use my phone very often, and don’t watch much TV either. And what did I do instead? I saw all the stuff that had piled up around the house and cleaned and sorted some of it out.

Polish Pilots

I’ve been making really good progress with my research into the Polish pilots. I am currently reading Adam Zamoyski’s: The Forgotten Few: The Polish Airforce in WWII. I’ve flicked through it before and just read what I needed, but decided to read through it to soak up the full story beyond just my friend’s dad who served as a bomber pilot and later instructor. I have also been thinking what it means to be in exile like Roland’s dad, the Polish people and so many others escaping pat-war Europe, and troubles ever since. I also realized there are other points in time where we are also exiled, most notably I thought for the people who are left by their partners and simply told they want a divorce and to get out. Especially when kids are involved, that can also be an exile. The end of your world as you know it and absolutely devastating. I haven’t been through that myself, but it doesn’t mean I do not care.

Lastly, I did my first piece of flash fiction (100 words or less) in awhile last week. Inspired by my Polish research, I wrote; “The Woman in Kracow” who has a major life decision to make and has returned to her father’s grave in Kracow to seek his advice and attempt to connect with her Polish heritage when she was born in the UK. Hard to convey all of this in only 100 words, but the idea is that her mother was English and she doesn’t really relate to her father’s Polish roots. Anyway, here’s the link: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2021/10/14/the-woman-of-kracow-friday-fictioneers-14th-october-2021/

Humph. I’m now wondering whether I should’ve called it: “A Woman in Kracow”?

I’ll think it over.

Anyway, that’s about it for this week. I hope you’ve had a good week.

Meanwhile, you might like to join us over at the Weekend Coffee Share, which is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Floating With the Flannel Flowers.

Recently, photographs of the native flannel flower started appearing on friends’ Facebook feeds and as much as I’ve been a reclusive bear during Winter and enforced lockdown, the prospect of photographing flannel flowers lured me out of my cave. By the way, my trusty companion was also lured out. While fully vaccinated people in Greater Sydney have now gained considerable freedom, Geoff and I are still playing it safe due to my health and his work. However, you can’t catch covid from the trees…or these understated beauties, Flannel Flowers or Actinotus helianthi.

Closeup of the Flannel Flower

I don’t know why I find Flannel Flowers so captivating. They really do look rather ordinary, and to the best of my limited knowledge don’t seem to have any redeeming medicinal properties. While they’re more closely related to carrots, Flannel Flowers bear a striking resemblance to the garden variety daisy, and could easily pass under your radar. After all, when you compare them to the imposing Waratah with it’s grandiose red magnificence, or the masses of golden yellow flowers I’ve photographed recently illuminated by the glowing sun, they’re nothing much. Indeed, perhaps that’s why they’ve waited until all these beauties have done their thing before they make an appearance. At least, that’s how the timing has worked out here.

Yet, they’re still beautiful. Don’t ask me why. They just are.

Margaret Preston

Moreover, it’s not just me who fancies them, and finds them a source of inspiration. Artists, gardeners, photographers are somehow brought under its spell. Mesmerised. That includes artist Margaret Preston and much loved author/illustrator May Gibbs who created Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and the Flannel Flower Babies.

May Gibbs’ Flannel Flower Babies.

Anyway, I’m supposed to be sharing MY walk with the flannel flowers, and what I viewed through the lens, NOT what appeared on someone else’s canvas or imagination.

We spotted this promising patch of would-be flannel flowers on our favourite water tower walk a few months ago. I intentionally don’t go there too often, because I don’t want it to lose it’s awe and wonder. So, I was trying to guesstimate when they’d be in flower, and thought it would be months rather than weeks. I haven’t seen any flannel flowers out on our other recent walks, but friends started posting photos, and then I noticed some driving home through the week. It was time to see if they were out yet. It was almost like going celebrity spotting. Were they going to be there? I was rather excited. This could just be me, but I blame lockdown. We haven’t had much to look forward to for some time, and I was hoping our little white wonders had hit the stage.

We were not disappointed. While they weren’t quite waving to us, they were definitely there. However, it was late afternoon, and what I didn’t know before, is they close their little faces at night.

That was yesterday, and Geoff and I returned today.

It was good, because it meant I’d been out for two walks in two days. While they weren’t overly long walks, it was exercise and I have to admit that’s dropped off during lockdown, even although exercise was well and truly allowed. I just seemed to take the advice to “stay home” too seriously along with my determination to get my lockdown research project up and running. Now, that the weather’s improving and we’re mostly enjoying balmy Spring weather along with the end of lockdown, I am starting to crawl out again.

I ended up photographing the flannel flowers from a variety of angles and even sat down on the ground, which isn’t such a comfortable position these days. However, fortunately, I had my trusty Geoff to help me get back up again. Although they’re generally portrayed from a face-on perspective, flannel flowers also look quite intriguing and even a bit wild viewed from behind.

Don’t they look magnificent reaching for the sky?!!

It is also interesting to see a broader overall perspective, even if it’s not the most spectacular photo I’ve ever taken. They grow amongst the scraggly bush and you’d probably describe the effect as “subtle”.

Flannel Flowers in the Scrub

However, every now and then, the flannel flowers have a bumper season. That’s what’s happened in the National Park at Port Macquarie this year, which had been ravaged by our devastating bushfires two years ago (It’s also where the koalas live). Anyway, you might enjoy checking these flannel flowers out. They’re almost growing like triffids there:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-17/flannel-flowers-burst-into-bloom-after-bushfires/100458610

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed floating among the flannel flowers. I’m now thinking of finding some more.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – Freedom Day 11th October, 2021.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

I don’t know whether I should be shouting: “Hip Hip Hooray” today, or in mourning. Today, Great Sydney finally came out of its extensive 106 day lockdown now that we’ve reached a vaccination rate of 70%. After a peak of 1603 on September 10, we were down to 496 cases today. That’s not a perfect world, and not yet a safe space for vulnerable people like myself to enter yet. I was about to say it offers hope, but it could also demonstrate reckless abandon after being careful for so long. It’s interesting too to see where people head as soon as they break out? Is is to see friends and family they’re been shut away from for so long? I can’t blame people for possibly wanting to get to the hairdresser first. I was planning to have at least a friend over to christen the new table today, but of course, it rained and being an outdoor table, that’s not much fun unless you’re a woolly Border Collie with thick, protective coat. For those of you who still remember Bilbo, he was a great one for standing out in the rain and getting soaking wet.

Well, I know there’s been a lot of table talk going on around here, but this week I’m proud to announce that the table has been sanded back, restored and in situ. I have well and really rung the brass bell over that, as it would’ve been easier to move heaven and earth. I’m sure those of you with real homes can testify to that as well. That a seemingly easy decision to put a table out the front can require so much work, negotiation, acceptance and maybe even grief! Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to leave alone and just be able todo what I want, when I want and not have to consult ANYBODY – or have someone else scuttle my plans, especially due to a lack of planning on their part. (Speaking of which I’ve had two pairs of ballet pointe shoes and a sewing basket left beside my chair. One of the downsides about coming out of lockdown, is that the pointe shoes needed to be replaced. However, one pair is heading back to the ballerina to do herself. BTW She’s very excited because she managed to get a Billie Eilish ticket today).

You can read more about the table here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2021/10/09/table-talk-table-done/

Tis week, I slowed down over at my new blog: “Tea With Ethel Turner” this week with only adding one post. However, it was a post that meant a lot to me. I was reading her somewhat autobiographical novel, Three Little Maids, when almost at the end I found what I’ve dubbed: “A Writer’s Prayer”. Through this prayer, Dolly (who is said to represent Ethel Turner) tells her sister how she prayed to get a book published and that her calling might be to write books that “do some good”. As a writer with the same heart-felt desire in mind, it meant the world to me and perhaps you would love it too: https://teawithethelturner.com/2021/10/07/a-writers-prayer-ethel-turner/

By the way, I had quite a few technical issues with the new blog, and ended up changing format to sort them out. So, I apologise if you had any difficulties last week.

The other thing I’ve been working on lately, is the story of my friend’s father who was a Polish Bomber Pilot serving in the UK during WWII. It’s been my friend’s quest to write a book about his father’s experiences of escaping Poland and into Romania where he was interred, and smuggled out into France where he served before arriving in England. Roland’s father never taught his children Polish, and unfortunately the Polish pilot’s records in England are all in Polish. So it’s been a beast to sort anything out. Google translate has helped with clarifying online resources, but otherwise its a slow and laborious process. I had a bit of a breakthrough this week, when I found a pdf in Polish online. It was written by one of his Dad’s friends an was a story of the “Three Muskateers”. It even ad a few pages just about Roland’s dad. It was wonderful, except it was all in Polish. So, I tried a little experiment. I typed up the Polish and pasted it into Google translate. It’s the first time I’ve ever done anything like this. Well, it was like magic. There really was a story behind all those words which made absolutely no sense to me. Indeed, I thought the start of the story was very touching. There is this old Polish man with all the photos taken in his entire lifetime contained in a biscuit tin his cousin brought back from England. It was incredibly poignant but also pretty heart wrenching to all the photos of a lifetime can fit into one biscuit tin. It’s nothing for me to take 200 photos in a day. However, it would do me good to put the most precious ones in a tin so I can see the the trees. By having so many photos, we might as well have none in a way.

Anyway, who would’ve thought I’d be typing up Polish like that? In some ways my life feels incredibly random, and yet my insatiable curiosity won’t just let me settle with a fragment of such a good story even when I’m immersed in so many other gripping stories pursuing Ethel Turner and my WWI stories. I’m not going to be very good at interacting with people about the mundane realities of daily life if I ever make it fully out of isolation!

So, how are are things for you? Have you had a good week? I sure hope so!

Meanwhile, you might like to join us over at the Weekend Coffee Share, which is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share 4th October, 2021

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This is actually my second coffee share post this week, and while it’s too late for the blogshare, I wrote a post from my new blog: Tea With Ethel Turner, which got up in time. However, I still decided to put this together because so much is going on. At least, it seemed that way, but perhaps that’s only because not much has happened for so long what with being in lockdown for the last three months.

Well, the big news is that our NSW State Premier who is simply known as “Gladys” resigned after being hit with corruption charges by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). The irony is that the public and the media have almost unanimously come out in support of Gladys and feel ICAC’s timing stinks. We’re due to start coming out of lockdown on 11th October. Covid cases have dropped back own again which is encouraging, but Gladys has been our fearless warrior woman defending us from covid and trying to keep the economy going. Like Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews, she’s been giving a 11.00am daily update until about a week or two ago. I didn’t watch these very often, but they were repeated throughout the day and on the nightly news and they brought calm and stability during very tempestuous and uncertain times. Now, Gladys has gone and the Deputy decided to go as well. He’s had enough and is leaving politics. I think someone else has also left, resulting in three by-elections. Goodness knows what’s going to happen now without Gladys to keep covid out. I might be weird, but I already miss her. Gladys, don’t leave us!

Yesterday, Geoff and I went out in the kayaks. I’m not sure whether I’d go so far as saying we went kayaking, because we were test driving how I went in the red fibreglass kayak instead of the much heavier, cumbersome yellow bathtub. It went okay. It felt a lot more unstable and I almost had that sense you have when you’re first earning to ride a bike. I had to be very conscious and focused on what I was doing or I felt I’d lose my balance and end up tipping over. However, tipping over was very unlikely much of the time, and getting beached posed a much greater threat. It was low tide and we headed inland which was more like a wetland or swamp and there was only a depth of about 30 centimetres. We knew a friend of ours was also out kayaking and we eventually caught up with him and a friend. It was so exciting to see him. This normal thing of seeing friends, bumping into friends has become so precious after being in lockdown for 14 weeks now, you’re soon doing the happy dance (which isn’t such a good idea when you have lousy balance and your in a kayak).

The yellow bathtub

Meanwhile, the preparations for Freedom Day are starting to get under way at our place. Freedom Day is scheduled for Monday 11th October. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what so called freedoms we’ll be getting then, and it doesn’t really apply to vulnerable people like myself, because we have to stay on guard and if anything, be more cautious about who we hang out with. However, I think it allows me to go down to Sydney to see my Mum and Dad and that’s at the top of my out of jail bucket list.

Anyway, as I said, we’ve been doing some work around the house in preparation for being able to have people over here again. Geoff has painted much of the house, although we still have to get onto the front door. I was initially wanting to repair the table out the front, which has also been storing a large fish tank so we couldn’t use the table. A friend of mine had found a lovely old table beside the road and I’d fallen in love with it, and he was thinking it was too big for his room and he might get rid of it. Well, naturally I quickly put up my hand. However, we already have a few excess table inside the house, and I was trying to find the right time to mention the new addition to Geoff. A table is a very difficult thing to hide, especially when I needed him to pick it up! Meanwhile, my friend was starting to lose patience with the delays. I was getting frustrated with the delays. I could be sitting out the front in the sun reading instead of being stuck inside. I needed a reading nook. I needed somewhere covid friendly for friends to chat.

Picking up the table.

Well, we have now picked up the table, and today I started sanding the top back and I’ll finish it off tomorrow and also paint the legs.

Going against the grain like this, these scratches had to go.

It’s been an interesting process sanding back the table top. While some people deliberately destress their furniture, the table had some nasty scratches which looked like a cat had gone crazy. In another patch was very badly scratched after goodness knows what idiot madly tried sandpapering the varnish off working against the grain. These scratches didn’t add character and while I’d never be sitting at a friend’s place chatting and eating dessert and counting the number of scratches on their table, the thought did cross my mind. It’s probably that same part of my brain which frets about “red pen” (a writer’s nemesis) and having one comma out of place in a published work. Yes, I know. I need to go and get a life. Believe me, I would if I could. So, after using the orbital sander for the best part of 3-5 hours and still having scratches, but now having patches of light appearing through the immovable dark (the table is made of oak and had been vanished). I couldn’t see how I could get get the surface to a point of equilibrium. To a point where it didn’t look like I’d tried really really hard to get it right but had clearly given up and thrown in the towel. I asked Geoff if we could apply some varnish stripper to clean it up a bit. IT’s only at this point that he brings out the belt sander, which was clearly the right tool for the job and in minutes sawdust and varnish were flying and the table top was as smooth as a baby’s bot. Well, it will be when I’m done. The battery had gone flat and it was getting late. We didn’t want to disturb the neighbours.

A rare sighting of Rowie using power tools.

However, it’s now looking like I’ve become one of those fusspots who are never satisfied. As all that dark varnish disintegrated before my eyes and those immovable scratches were pulverised into sawdust, the tabletop started to look rather plain and devoid of character. It looked like it had had it’s personality removed, and that somehow even those very scratches which grated on me like fingernails scraping down a chalkboard, gave give it character. The table now had a perfect face, but it almost appeared unnatural. Or, at least it will when I finish it off tomorrow.

Anyway, with the way things are around here, it won’t take it long to get knocked around a bit. This house is the personification of “Misrule”.

Well, on that note, I’d better head off. I don’t think I’ve actually asked you much about how you’re doing and what madness is going on in your neck of the woods.

Meanwhile, you might like to join us over at the Weekend Coffee Share, which is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Take care and best wishes,

Rowena

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 -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