Category Archives: Love

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.

—-

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.

dsc_4138

“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.

dsc_4205

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!

dsc_4056

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.

dsc_4122

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

 

 

Penguin…On the Road Around Tasmania.

 

After so many early starts what with driving to Melbourne and boarding the Spirit of Tasmania, we slept in past midday on our first full day in Tasmania and decided to have an easy day and stay local. We are staying with friends in bushland outside Devonport most of the time. Therefore, a 30 minute drive to nearby Penguin made sense.

Yet, for us, Penguin is so much more than a tourist destination, or random spot on the map.

Geoff’s father was born and raised in Penguin. He was born in the late 20s and much of his childhood was during the Depression. Obviously, times for most were incredibly tough. However,their struggles were seriously compounded when his mother died when he was only 9. That’s dreadful for any kid but his father was often away for work, leaving the two boys to pretty much fend for themselves. I can’t even begin to understand what this was like, but my father-in-law was always a cautious man. Not that I ever met him. He passed away when my husband was 16.

geoff-on-the-rocks-penguin

Geoff retracing his father’s footsteps.

So, our trip to Penguin was much more of a pilgrimage. It was a heartfelt effort to do the very best we could to put ourselves into his father’s shoes and walk with him for a bit.

Of course, this “we” also included our kids. This young boy grieving for his dead mother, was their grandfather. While they’ll never be able to know him, go fishing, do the things you do with grandparents, we at least wanted them to have a sense of him. For them to know, that he was just as real as you and I and should never be left out of our story simply because he left too soon.

Not unsurprisingly, when it came to retracing the family’s steps, we had so little to go on. An address where they used to live up the West end of town, which we found out is called Mission Hill. They farmed up there and that’s apparently where Geoff’s uncle was bitten by a deadly snake and his Dad had to get him to safety. I don’t know if his views on snakes were defined by that moment. However, I’ve been told that he was renowned for saying: “the only good snake is a dead snake!”

Unfortunately, the houses on Mission Hill have been cleared and new housing has taken its place.

penuin-figurines

Penguin had a drive to collect 2000 penguins.

However, we stopped in at the Visitors’ Centre asking about where they lived after leaving the farm, when times got really tough after Geoff’s grandmother’s death. Apparently, they lived above a bakery. Fortunately, there was only one option there and we were put onto HG Brown’s old bakery. Apparently, it was rebuilt in 1912 after a fire destroyed the bakery in 1911. A homeware’s shop is now located on the ground floor. They were lovely letting us take photos and as I was sticking my camera lens down the side of the building, the guy living upstairs introduced himself and I asked if we could have a look. He agreed and I can’t tell you what that meant to us. We were so stoked. Overjoyed to actually get inside where Geoff’s Dad had once lived. Indeed, our son said it was one of the best things he’d done on our first days here.

browns-bakery-penguin

I had quite a heavy heart walking around Penguin. We crossed what has become a rather omnipresent railway track and went onto the beach. Our son climbed a huge rock projecting out of the sand and then we headed over to the rocky point.

dsc_6551

This is when I switched gears entirely and turned on my photographic eyes and started viewing the rocks in 6 x 4. All my senses switched on and I was on full alert. There were these rugged, black,  basalt boulders protruding out of the sand, many painted with bright orange algae. It was so WOW!!! The shots were fantastic!

penguin-lolly-shop

Penguin’s Lolly Shop.

At some point through all of this, we took the kids to the Penguin lolly shop. It was like they’d been lured away by the pied piper. It was a great place where they could fill a plastic cup up with lollies… the sensational Jersey Caramels being their faves.

dsc_6764

Given our late start, it wasn’t long before we were thinking about dinner. We ended up buying fish and chips. They were really good, although I was struck by the colour. The batter was bright orange and I’ve never seen batter that colour before. We have since had discussions about what makes it orange, considering such things as the type of flour, perhaps a different type of beer. I later found out that many of the fish and chip places around here add orange food colouring to the batter. They also mentioned they can accidentally add too much food and it goes a really bright orange. We avoid colours so wasn’t real happy about that but I survive. Didn’t get too OTT.

As we went to go home, we realized that we’d almost left Penguin without taking our obligatory photo with the fake Penguin. I swear this Penguin looks like he’s had way too much caffeine, drugs or something. Definitely looks odd!

I’d definitely recommend a day in Penguin with its friendly locals, great food and stunning coastal scenery.

Tomorrow, we head for Penguin’s Ferndene and a drive West to Wynyard.

xx  Rowena

PS While we’ve been enjoying lovely mild Summer temperatures down here, Sydney is sweltering at around 40ºC. Our houseminders have been taking particularly good care of our dogs and we’re so grateful!

The Great Esky Wall.

Tomorrow, we are leaving on an epic family holiday to Tasmania and we’re taking along the ultimate must-have holiday accessory…”The Great Esky Wall.”

The Great Esky Wall conveniently fits into the back seat of your car absolutely filling up that space that could have been number 3 if it hadn’t been for Numbers 1 & 2.

Indeed, our Great Esky Wall conveniently sits right on the seams of the backseat upholstery. This means that if either child tries to invade the other’s territory by even a millimetre, the battle lines are clear and action can be taken.It’s time to pull out the cannon. No, actually it isn’t!

You will notice in the photograph provided, that our Esky  is poo-brown ugly and beyond a retro-statement, but it’s made of good, old-fashioned plastic which could withstand a hit from a truck.

However, that still doesn’t mean the Great Esky Wall is going to endure 3 weeks of pretty intense driving with two kids living and breathing the same air all that time.

Even a tough and rugged Esky can only endure so much!

Have you ever been to Tasmania? Or, perhaps your family has been on an epic family car trip somewhere else, which you’d like to share.

xx Rowena

History. The Esky was created by Malley’s, a Sydney refrigeration business. Some historians have credited Malley’s with the invention of the portable ice cooler. According to the company, the Esky, was “recognised as the first official portable cooler in the world.”

PS While we’re away we have house minders in and two ferocious guard dogs. Well, make that one.

New Beginnings.

Being creative, is rather like stacking Lego bricks of all shapes, colours and sizes together blind-folded and having no destination at the start. Much of the time, at least for me, there’s no “end” at the beginning. So, it was when it came to photographing the diminishing remains of our gingerbread house…a Christmas treat. I had no idea what a few simple photographs would become.

dsc_5485

The Gingerbread House in its Pristine State. Made by Bremen Patisserie, Australia.

Last night, after my daughter and I sliced off a few more walls of the gingerbread house, it looked like it had been bombed. The walls were barely upright and overnight the roof caved in and the house was all but destroyed. Yet, the little icing figurines were still smiling, which is a lot easier when you’re an icing figurine and your smile’s permanently drawn on.

Being the end of a year which many decreed an “annus horribilis”, I decided to photograph the crumbling gingerbread house and post it under the heading: “The End of the World”.

Rowena

Getting treatment in hospital a few years ago.

No doubt, I was subconsciously relating back to a few years in my life where I couldn’t wait for the calendar to flip over to the new year. Times when I could sense a dreadful, all-pervading terror permeating through my bones, invading each and every cell. It was vile. Fortunately, my situation turned around but I’ll never forget. Nor, am I meant to forget because that pain is a hand reaching out to those who are still in that house of horrors and maybe, just maybe, I can help ease someone out. After all, I have been there. I know a way.

Perhaps, that’s why I decided to photograph its demise. There was that sense of connection…recognition of an interior state reflected in its crumbling exterior.

At the same time, the ongoing demolition of the gingerbread house, had great comic appeal. What started out as a perfect work of art with its gingerbread walls, iced snow and gorgeous little icing people, was being eaten alive by yours truly relaxing in her chair with a cup of tea. I could see a children’s movie with me cast as the giant villain…Nightmare on Gingerbread Street.

Anyway, as I said, this post was going to read: “The End of the World”.

However, when I took the house outside and photographed it with the sunflower rising behind it like the sun, the post turned on its head and became: “New Beginnings.”

Suddenly, there was hope.

sunflower-and-hand

Holding the sunflower.

That was when things started bubbling away in that great melting pot inside my head. That place where one idea not only leads to another, but somehow they also melt and fuse together, making something new and ultimately significant.

Sunflower letter

Sunflower seeds from the Ukraine

You see, the sunflower growing in my backyard is no ordinary sunflower. Rather, it was grown from seeds salvaged from the crash site of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 in the Ukraine. It’s grandparents witnessed the horror of that explosion in the sky and crashing devastation.

Yet, being sunflowers, they have no memory of that being passed down from generation to generation. Rather, oblivious to the past, their seeds keep falling to the ground, being eaten by birds and re-sprouting…ignorant.

While initially this might seem a better path, those aching memories also keep those who died alive in our hearts. Ultimately, as much as it hurts when we lose someone we love, we don’t want to forget. We don’t want to let go.

I didn’t take this photo thinking of the people living near Torez in Donetsk Oblast, a Ukrainian with their horrific, graphic memories set in stunning, sunflower fields. It was just like so many other creative  ideas. What started out as photographing the leftovers of our gingerbread house, metamorphosed into something else.

It was only when I saw the little family with the sunflower rising up behind them like the sun, that I thought of the people in the Ukraine.  I thought of the sun still rising and setting in the middle of their war torn homes, where a foreign plane fell like murdered bird from the sky. The plane and all its passengers and crew crashed into their backyards. That’s intimate, personal and sticks to your soul like glue.

I have never met and will never meet these people. There is nothing I can do as a distant Australian to ease their trauma and grief other than knowledge it with this photograph and send my love…the love of a stranger.

That is even though MH17 was shot down on  17 July 2014…two and a half years ago . Yet, just because these were civilian war time casualties, it doesn’t mean we’ll forget and ever stop striving for peace in our time and beyond.

Let’s keep sowing these seeds and helping them grow.

Love,

Rowena

PS I have wondered why my sunflowers don’t look like conventional sunflowers and thought they must’ve been a different type. However, when I saw the photo of the original sunflower in the field, they also had the broad centres, which grow into vast numbers of seeds. This does concern me.

So, today I went and bought two bags of enriched potting mix and have planted 3 seeds in a small pot, saved one seed and planted the rest of the seeds in a huge pot.

I never pictured myself as a sunflower farmer. Or, you could just called me a “Sunfarmer”.

It has a certain ring to me!

 

Nothing Said…Flash Fiction.

“You two look cosy,” Jess smiled, almost spilling champagne over her best friend and her ex-lover. They weren’t holding hands. Yet, she could sense that unmistakable sizzle. Almost convulsing, Jess said nothing. She kept her love life private.

Ouch! That Summer with Will stung like a bee. He’d seen straight through her with those damned blue eyes. Didn’t even need his lens.

That’s why she ran. By then, there was no turning back.

She was too broken.

The two people she loved the most and knew the best. Yet, she kept zipped.

She couldn’t tell him about their son.

This has been written in response to Charli Mills weekly Flash Fiction Challenge over at Carrot Ranch.

December 29, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a cozy story. What is it to be cozy, to experience Danish hygge? It doesn’t need to be culture-specific, but it can be an interesting point of comparison or contrast. A character might long to feel cozy, or you might describe the perfect cozy scene. It may or may not include Prosecco..

Respond by January 3, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published January 4). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

xx Rowena

Photo: Rowena Curtin