Category Archives: Love

The Drowning – Friday Fictioneers.

Watching myself through an oblique lens, I’d blown to the four winds. Defragged like a faulty hard disk. Mid-40s, degree, career …now stealing food off strangers’ plates and sleeping rough.    

“No, Julie! Don’t do it!”

Ravenous, she’d snatched the pizza straight off the table, and was scoffing it on the beach like a Bangkok stray… twisted, distorted, wild.

“Julie! Julie!” I slapped. “Wake up”

“Nobody gets me. Never has.”

“What about me?”  I beseeched, but my words fell flat.

Praying for eternal nothingness, destined for oblivion, she slipped into the surf. Floundering. Gasping…

I ran.

Safe on the beach, slowly our breathing merged…again.

…..

This week’s prompt brought many things to mind for me. The first thing which came to me, was backpacking through Europe and being so tight with money and rationing our food and then watching others leaving food behind and feeling like we could almost lick their plates. I still remember that ravenous hunger!

From there, my thoughts drifted towards being homeless and being that hungry, you could snatch that pizza out of a restaurant in what felt like an act of utter desperation. Who would do that? How bad would it have to get to take you there?

I wonder…

I don’t know whether you’ve ever wrestled with yourself like this before where you’re split in two. Perhaps, not in such an extreme situation, but a time where you’ve been through hard times and you end up talking to yourself. Or, you’ve experienced God comfort you. Or both.

Becoming homeless and being swept along that dreadful downward spiral, is only be a paycheck or two away for most of us. I’ve never been homeless, but I have fallen on hard times and have often found this voice within myself guiding me along. Giving me encouragement and strength I didn’t know I had.

Given the very dark nature of my piece this week, I just wanted to explain it a little further. After all, when you play with words arranging them into very dark and foreboding pictures, I felt the need to debrief in a sense. Let the reader know that all is well.

Well, almost!

xx Rowena

This has been another contribution for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff. This week’s photo prompt kindly comes from © Dale Rogerson.

H- Home: A-Z April Challenge.

“The real voyage of discovery, as Marcel Proust famously said, consists not in seeing new sights, but in looking with new eyes. And of course, once you have new eyes, even the old sights, even your home become something different[1].”

-Pico Iyer, Where Is Home? TEDGlobal 2013.

Welcome to Day 8 of our Alphabetical Tour Around Tasmania for the A-Z April Challenge.

Today, we’re going “Home”.

Not that you’ll find “Home” on the map.

Indeed, the more I think about it, so many of us have moved around so much, that pinpointing “Home”on the map, is almost impossible.

Yet, we still carry that core of where we grew up somewhere deep inside us, whether we acknowledge it or not.  Not that I’m suggesting that we’re controlled by our environment or pre-programmed in some way. However, place does have an undeniable influence.

For us, so many of these notions about Home came to a head while we were travelling around Tasmania.

As I’ve mentioned before, my husband Geoff is Tasmanian and was born and raised in Scottsdale in the North-East.

So, as we were travelling around Tassie and people asked us where he came from, I was quite surprised, when he referred to our current home on the Mainland instead. After all, when we’re back at our home, he says he’s from Tasmania.

So what’s the story?

I guess it gets back to what I said about “Home” being complex, and much more of a composite of several different places, than just where we were born.

My dear friend Google, introduced me to an insightful TED Talk by Pico Iyer: Where Is Home? Here’s some of what he says about home:

“…when I go to Hong Kong or Sydney or Vancouver, most of the kids I meet are much more international and multi-cultured than I am. And they have one home associated with their parents, but another associated with their partners, a third connected maybe with the place where they happen to be, a fourth connected with the place they dream of being, and many more besides. And their whole life will be spent taking pieces of many different places and putting them together into a stained glass whole. Home for them is really a work in progress. It’s like a project on which they’re constantly adding upgrades and improvements and corrections. And for more and more of us, home has really less to do with a piece of soil than, you could say, with a piece of soul. If somebody suddenly asks me, “Where’s your home?” I think about my sweetheart or my closest friends or the songs that travel with me wherever I happen to be. And I’d always felt this way, but it really came home to me, as it were, some years ago when I was climbing up the stairs in my parents’ house in California, and I looked through the living room windows and I saw that we were encircled by 70-foot flames, one of those wildfires that regularly tear through the hills of California and many other such places. And three hours later, that fire had reduced my home and every last thing in it except for me to ash. And when I woke up the next morning, I was sleeping on a friend’s floor, the only thing I had in the world was a toothbrush I had just bought from an all-night supermarket. Of course, if anybody asked me then, “Where is your home?” I literally couldn’t point to any physical construction. My home would have to be whatever I carried around inside me. And in so many ways, I think this is a terrific liberation. Because when my grandparents were born, they pretty much had their sense of home, their sense of community, even their sense of enmity, assigned to them at birth, and didn’t have much chance of stepping outside of that. And nowadays, at least some of us can choose our sense of home, create our sense of community, fashion our sense of self, and in so doing maybe step a little beyond some of the black and white divisions of our grandparents’ age.[2]

Anyway, moving forward from these semantic and philosophical wonderings, welcome to Scottsdale.

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I’m not quite sure how long Geoff’s mother’s family has lived in Scottsdale, but his parents, grandparents and Great Grandparents are all buried in Scottsdale Cemetery. I’m not sure if that’s a measure of being a local. It’s been about 30 years since Geoff and his immediate family left Tasmania and although he has a number of cousins living in the district, I don’t believe the ones in the cemetery still count.

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Yet, Geoff can still go into town and ask for a “Curley”, which is local lingo for a Cornish Pasty, a local delicacy as far as Geoff’s concerned. According to him, you can’t buy an authentic Cornish Pasty anywhere else. Indeed, we bought at least a dozen, which we froze to take home. That is, to our current home.

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Geoff with his brother outside “Home”.

Anyway, Geoff was born at the local hospital and grew up in a white, weatherboard farm house set on 10 acres on the edge of town. By the time he’d arrived on the scene as the much youngest of four, his mum had learned to drive and had a car. She’d also stopped milking, so Geoff was spared that “joy” growing up. He swung from the walnut tree out the back, fought off allergies to the masses of farm cats and longed for the time he’d be old enough to drive his brother’s old car.

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Looking over the home paddocks to the swamp.

So, not unsurprisingly, the family home was our first port of call in Scottsdale. It was a very powerful and emotional time for the four of us. Geoff has shared so much of his time in Scottsdale with the kids, and this was the first time they were old enough to acknowledge: “That was Daddy’s house”. You could almost sense a solemn silence, a reverence. Of course, we paused for photos out the front, hoping the current owners weren’t home. Isn’t it funny how you still feel you “own” the family home generations after you’ve moved away?  That is, even after the house has changed hands a couple of times and the Newton era has all but been erased.

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After stopping off for Cornish Pasties, we drove into town and drove up and down the aptly named Main Street. I could hear Geoff’s Aunty Joy and Geoff’s sisters talking as we walked past the Lyric Theatre, where his mother sung Gilbert & Sullivan and school speech nights were held. He drove to check out the Scottsdale Football Club where his Dad had played and the trotting track with horse hoofs still indented in the grass. We even managed to go on a tour around Scottsdale High School, where Geoff and his siblings, cousins and his mother and her siblings all went to school. We walked also walked along the old railway track which ran behind the house where his mother grew up in. Geoff told the kids about how his mother had nightmares about getting the cows stuck on the line in front of the oncoming train. I remembered Aunty Joy telling me about how the family sold cream and butter back in the Depression to make ends meet and how proud she was to have home-baked bread and hand-knitted  jumpers. I also remember laughing because I remembered how Geoff loathed having a hand-knitted jumper when he went to school and yearned for a machine-knitted jumper like everyone else. Times had changed.

The only trouble was that these weren’t Geoff’s memories. They weren’t what he knew as “home”. Indeed, he ended up telling me that he rarely went into town and spent most of his time at mate’s places. It also sounded like there was quite a bit of time flogging that Datsun 120Y to nearly to death on dirt roads. Roads which I suspect were a lot more rugged than those in the John Denver’s Classic.

So, this leaves us with a concept of home which is far more complex and not very concrete at all.

Indeed, it just leaves me confused. It’s much easier to relate and connect to these buildings I can see, than the intangible experiences of an 18 year old male…a world I’ve never known, and can’t step into no matter how much I try. Geoff can’t experience it anymore either. He turned 50 last year and is hardly 18 himself anymore.

I guess this is what I like about that saying: “Home is Where the Heart is”. That’s because home ultimately is something within….be it in our hearts, our heads, our souls. It’s not caught up in a house, building, people, experiences or memories. Rather, it’s some mysterious and magical infusion or concoction of the lot…some kind of alchemy.

On that note, I’ll leave you with the words of -Pico Iyer, Where Is Home? TEDGlobal 2013:

“Movement is a fantastic privilege, and it allows us to do so much that our grandparents could never have dreamed of doing. But movement, ultimately, only has a meaning if you have a home to go back to. And home, in the end, is of course not just the place where you sleep. It’s the place where you stand.”

What about you? What are your thoughts of “home”? Where does it take you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Pico Iyer

 

[2] Pico Iyer

Mummy’s Littler Miss.

This is the inimitable Miss, Age 3…a long 8 years ago!

I’m currently riffling through photos on my hard drive, searching for a photo of my daughter with her ballet teacher, which was taken about 5 years ago. That’s how I chanced upon this stunner,  which grabbed my heart with both hands.

The things is, eight years down the track, I’m struggling to remember why she’s covering her eyes. Is she playing hide-and-seek? More than likely, she’s hiding from my flash.

So, I return to the scene of the crime.

After all, I never take just one photo. There’s always a series!

 

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Someone loves Mummy’s lipstick a tad too much!

 

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Look at me!

I’m not going to show the next image of her contorting herself to escape from the flash. However, there’s no doubt she’d had enough of the paparazzi!

Fast-forwarding to 2017, her make-up is impeccable and the lipstick well and truly stays within the lines and yet it’s so lovely to hop into my time machine and celebrate this exuberant moment… three year old’s passionate journey into Mummy’s world.

She has plenty of time to grow up!

xx Rowena

 

Thou Shalt Get Walking!

After weeks of torrential flooding rain, the damn sun came out today and dried up all my excuses.

That meant, that I finally had to get outside and do “the 20 minute walk”.

Even if you barely know me at all, you’d know that I’m not the sort of person who goes timing their activities without some kind of outside intervention.

Enter the physio.

After two weeks on the “ten minute walk”, I’ve progressed to the “twenty minute walk” and while this should’ve generated that warm glow of achievement, it also pressed the panic button… just a little.

You see, doubling the distance, also meant twice as much opportunity for DISASTER!!

This wasn’t just anxiety speaking either. My tripping and crash-landing abilities are  legendary! Indeed, only two weeks ago, yours truly swan-dived right outside the test centre where my daughter was sitting for the illustrious Selective Schools’ Test. Of all the times to have a fall, this came pretty close to  being the worst. That said, at least I had loads of help getting back up.

So, this is why I was a bit wary of going for a 20 minute walk all by myself, even if it was a beautiful sunny day and the beach was calling. Our local footpaths are so bumpy, cracked and overgrown that they’ve become ridiculously rustic, death traps. You don’t even need to be accident-prone to fall.

However, being accountable for my exercise and needing to tick the all-important box on my exercise plan, magically propelled me out of the couch and onto the footpath.

First, however, I recruited Mummy’s Little Helper to act as walk buddy. This was not only so she could not only call 000 in the event of emergency, but also so we could also take the dogs for a walk. Miss took Lady, while I took a much stronger Bilbo and off we went….Miss telling Lady to stop sniffing and keep walking. Their pace helped to propel Bilbo along, although Miss did observe him trying to sniff every single tree and post along the way!

That reminded me of a couple of old dog jokes:

What’s the definition of torture?

A dog in a desert with no trees.

What’s the definition of confusion?

A dog in a desert with two trees.

However, Bilbo didn’t have the luxury of any lingering sniffs. That’s because he too was under the physiotherapist’s regime. The goal, or should I say the prescription, was 20 minutes of brisk walking, which is going to boost your heart rate and build a sweat. Obviously, this is not  a leisurely stroll smelling the roses…or anything else!

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Bilbo…  who is either admiring the view or contemplating why he can’t smell the roses anymore.

By the way, the idea behind the 20 minute walk is to do a 20 minute walk…no more, no less. It aims to create frequency by surreptitiously sneaking into your daily routine, so you almost don’t realise it’s there. As if!

So what’s motivating my walks:

  • Increasingly the number of steps and kilometres on the health app on my phone. I have found this very encouraging and motivating….both when the results are positive and negative. You find out what you’re capable of and when your steps are low for the day, it encourages you to get back out there. Keep moving. Worth noting, though, that you do need to walk around with your phone to get accurate results. If you feel like cheating, you could also attach the phone to the dog, but you’d only be cheating yourself.
  • Increased fitness and strength leading to greater endurance.
  • Exercise helps prevent chest infections and improves lung health, which is critical for me!
  • Exercise & sunshine boosts your endorphins boosting your mood.
  • Enjoying the beautiful outdoors and spreading my wings by getting out of the house.
  • Running into friends on my walks.
  • Possibility of losing weight.

Before I head off, I’d like to exercise my bragging rights. Although I was feeling that a 20 minute walk was going to do me in today, by the time we reached the beach, we felt like talking the dogs down to the off-leash, dog section of the beach. I lost track of how long we walked for  but it was probably more like an hour. We ended up walking for 3.5km and reached 5,600 steps. This was a vast improvement on 824 steps on Friday and 2,650 steps on Thursday.

So, I deserve a huge pat on the back and my daughter gets a huge thanks…both from me and the dogs!

I thought you might find my walking progress encouraging and that if you’re having trouble getting started or sticking with it, that you can do it. We can do it. Please keep me posted on your progress.

xx Rowena

Colette…Friday Fictioneers.

“Colette, ma Cherie. Je t’adore! Ma belle…”

Oh! How the mighty have fallen!

The glass smashed against the mirror and champagne dripped over her shattered reflection. Almost blurred beyond recognition, yet still there…along with an anguish so intense, it burned. Filled her veins with such fury, she had to let it out.

Showered in roses. No broken bones. No bruises. Then, there were the gates. The constant surveillance. Always breathing down her neck, following her every move. She couldn’t breathe.

“Mrs Windsor, back to bed. Your husband’s on his way.”

Colette smiled. The staff were always so obliging.

Rowena Curtin

This was another contribution for Friday Fictioneers. PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

 

A Pathway to Heaven.

Brian put on his very best thinking cap and mustered all his concentration. As golden rays of sunlight beamed through the clouds, he could see heaven. Surely, if he looked hard enough, he would find Mother.

Moreover, in his nine year old mind, it wasn’t a huge leap of faith to believe an angel might bring her back. That just like Lazarus, Mother would miraculously rise from the dead.

His faith was bigger than a mustard seed.

Yet, Mother never came back. The gates of heaven stayed shut.

That’s when Brian stopped looking at the clouds.

There were no dreams.

Rowena Newton

This has been another contribution to the Friday Fictioneers . This week’s photo prompt comes from our host, © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

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The inspiration for this story, comes from my late Father-in-Law whose mother died when he was nine years old. He grew up in Penguin, Tasmania and we spent a few days there while we were in Tassie recently. We visited his old school (which now opens on Sundays for a market) and I looked through the windows to the clouds and thought of him grieving through class and missing his Mum.

After his mother died, family took in his sister and his Dad went away to work, leaving the two boys to fend for themselves. At 12, Brian left home to join the railways, despite being a bright pupil.

Brian died when my husband was 16. So, we’ve never met and we know very little about him and while I’ve used a real name and situation, it’s a purely fictional account of his response.

 

 

Breakfast With Rabbit & Julie

This morning Mum’s Taxi was on a mission. Dare I say, it was on a quest of epic proportions.

You see, our local radio station, Star FM, was broadcasting from my daughter’s school and we I was going to meet the hosts, Rabbit and Julie.

Sorry, Rabbit. As much as I love you and I truly thrive on the banter between you and Julie every morning, I was there to see Julie.

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“Yoo hoo! Julie! Rabbit! Look at me!”

I know that being a crazed, obsessed fan can be frowned upon. It’s not like the good old days when Davy Jones kissed Marcia Brady and she swooned: “I’ll never wash this cheek again.” Even if we laughed, we understood and such undying adoration wasn’t considered “odd”. These days, this kind of uber-fanaticism can land you in jail. Or, at best, you’re at the top of the suspect list if anything ever happens to your star…your guiding light.

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At least I didn’t  go to these lengths to get Julie’s attention. (The breakfast was supported by Poppy’s Pretzels…a great prop.)

However, at times, my enthusiasm gets the better of me, overtaking all restraint, decorum and anything approaching “cool”. Although I didn’t call out: “Yoo-hoo, Julie?!! It’s me!!!” while they were on air, I was a bit OTT (over the top).  As my daughter would attest, I am THE embarrassing Mum, but hopefully in a warm, infectious kind of way. At least, I hope that’s how my manic desperation to meet Julie Goodwin came across this morning.

You see, Julie and I go way back.

I first “met” Julie back in 2009 when she won the very first Masterchef Australia. It might have been eight years ago, but I still remember hanging out for the results. It was almost like waiting to hear who was going to host   the 2000 Olympic Games: “The winner is…”

What I liked about Julie back then, was just how unashamedly real she was and how she oozed personal warmth and love. Although, despite my best intentions, I’ve only used her cookbook a couple of times, I’ve felt her beside me through the last eight years, while I’ve been cooking meals for my family. Moreover, I’ve also talked to her in my head, when the kids’ their meals went untouched and she helped dull the rejection.

This is a form of rejection nobody prepares you for as a parent, and it’s very difficult not to take it to heart. Of course, your child isn’t simply rejecting their meal. They’re also rejecting your love. After all, we all know that a good dose of love goes into everything cooked at home.

Food rejection was and remains a serious issue with our kids. While the rest of the known universe is focused on reducing childhood obesity, my kids have been non-eaters. People would reassure me and say: “I’ve never seen a child starve to death”, but they weren’t the ones with a child struggling to stay in the 10th percentile for weight and about to pass out after school…and still not eating!

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I thought Rabbit & Julie might want to try one of my daughter’s glow in the dark birthday cookies. Then again…

As time went by, we found out our son was lactose intolerant and our daughter has gastroparesis. This slows her digestion and she doesn’t get so hungry and gets a lot of stomach pains. I also found out that both my kids are sensitive to food textures. They don’t like mushrooms as they’re slimy and don’t like “bits” in their food like sultanas either. I hadn’t really thought so much about the texture of food before, but I do now.

Back in those days when I had no idea what was going on, I thought about writing to sales guru Anthony Robbins, who could sell ice to Eskimos. See if he could get my kids to eat. Find out how he’d respond when: “Choo! Choo! Choo! Here comes the train!” doesn’t work. I truly wondered whether my kids would be his undoing. The only humans Tony Robbins hasn’t been able to budge.

Being a parent can get very lonely, especially when you’re battling something weird and unexplained. When other children need to lose weight but yours won’t gain, it does throw you. Moreover, with skinny being associated with beauty, its associated health problems can fly under the radar. At least, that’s until you hit the teenage years.

So through all of this, I’ve fiddled with food. Tried new recipes and I’ve even been teaching the kids how to cook for some time.

Julie Goodwin has been there beside me through all of that, patiently listening as I ramble away in my head or even have a full-on rant. And you know what, Julie never complains or criticizes. Indeed, there’s only been one downside…Julie’s never turned up at my door with a meal!

By the way, I should also throw in that while my kids weren’t eating, I was chronically ill and at times, fighting for my life. Through many of those years, being able to cook for my family was a luxury and nothing was taken for granted. Indeed, friends and people from Church helped us out with meals and so much more. So, the fact I was struggling to prepare the meals the kids refused to eat, really did add fuel to the fire…”Not happy, Jan!!”

When you’re living with chronic illness day in day out, those voices on the radio can provide some kind of salvation. I might not have had the energy to go out for a chat and catch up with friends, but I could listen to Rabbit and Julie.

By the way, there’s another little detail I wanted to share. If you were sitting in the back seat of my taxi, you’d hear that Julie and I have a very similar, beautiful yet unrestrained laugh. Our laughter ping  pongs back and forth at each other in my car, and I’m quite surprised the roof hasn’t blown off. You could say we don’t have the quietest laugh and when you times it by two, I’d say it’s infectious but others might day something else if you could hear them over the din.

Every morning, this laughter is life changing and the best exercise or therapy anyone would ask for. So, I thank Rabbit and Julie for that.

Moreover, I’ll just footnote that by saying that you never know how you might be impacting someone’s life and how easy it might be, to be that difference.

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It also says to me that if you are having a tough time or have simply been overwhelmed by the black dog, do something to help yourself feel better. Find someone, something which will help you laugh even if it is only for a few minutes while you’re driving along. Turn your radio on.

After all, a huge life lesson for me has been that it’s not just what happens to you, but how you choose to respond. That might not make immediate sense and you might find yourself saying but you don’t know what I’ve been through. You might even start going through “your list”. Well, I’d be recommending you throw that list out and start a new one… “The how am I going to get myself out of here list”.

It will be very empowering and the victim will become victorious!

Bring it on!

Is there somebody who brings a sparkle to your day? Please share!

xx Rowena