Today, I was trying to find my very first Weekend Coffee Share post and got as far back as this post covering our trip to Byron Bay date 15th October, 2015. That means I have at least six years worth of these online weekly diary posts. What an amazing time capsule of our family life, and in the course of these posts our kids have grown from12 and 10 to 17 and 15. Such a difference!
I hope you enjoy!
If we were having coffee right now, I would never get to sleep.
So, I’m drinking a decaf tea served in a Tim Tam mug by the way. If you haven’t tried Australia’s favourite biscuit which is best eaten as the “Tim Tam Explosion” (one of the more polite terms I’ve heard), you haven’t lived. By the way, this is where you bite off both ends of the Tim Tam and dunk the end in a hot drink and suck through it like a straw. The chocolate melts and if you’re not careful, you’re Tim Tam falls in the drink and drowns. Such a waste!
This is an exceptionally rare packet of Tim Tams. The tray isn’t empty!!
Returning home from Byron Bay is never good but the fridge/freezer had seemingly died but miraculously returned to life once it had defrosted and the new fridge had been ordered. But the…
I was so exciting to go whale watching vicariously from my couch in the Sydney lockdown. I have never been to Hervey Bay but it’s now on my bucket list. Absolutely breathtaking. Thanks so much Joanne for sharing and making my day so much brighter!
Hervey Bay, on Queensland’s Fraser Coast, is known as one of the best places in the world to watch humpback whales. Yes, you read that right – in the world. Don’t believe me? The waters off Hervey Bay have been scientifically recognised as a rare stopover site for migrating humpback whales and was the world’s first Whale Heritage Site. It’s where the whales stop, stay, and play during their winter migration. Rest and relaxation whale style. It’s also where mums bring their young – a safe place to nurse and teach them before heading back to their feeding grounds in the Antarctic. For young whales, it’s also a place to flex their muscles.
Twenty years of scientific research has proven that Hervey Bay is the only genuine stopover in what is one of the longest mammal migration journeys on the planet – a 10,000-kilometer round trip from the southern ocean…
Well, just as well we can share coffee online, because there’s not a lot of coffee sharing going on in the real world in my neck of the woods at the moment. We live in one of the most undesirable places in Australia right now , Greater Sydney, where that dreaded pestilence, Covid 19 Delta variant is on the move. 77 cases and one death were recorded today (Sunday) and they’re expecting over 100 tomorrow. So, it’s our turn to not only eat humble pie, we have to stay home and eat it alone or with members of our own household. The dogs said they don’t mind sharing humble pie with me, but hey don’t know what that is and are thinking more along the lines of meat pie.
So, how was your week?
I’m going to be honest with you, and say that the last six weeks for me have been really difficult, and if they hadn’t been difficult and if I wasn’t grappling with difficult emotions, there’ll be something wrong with me. I have had four close friends die in the last six weeks. One was 76 but the others were early 40s, 50, and 60 and they all had school-age kids. Sometimes my grief is focused on my friend, and what they are missing by dying so young, and in one instance it was right out of the blue and she and everyone who loved her, had no warning. It was such an enormous shock. She had a lot of much closer friends than I, but losing her still felt like being hit by a tonne of bricks. A few days later, I found out one of the closest friends I’ve ever had had passed away from cancer. She’d mentioned something to me about being sick a few years ago, but I had no idea she was fighting cancer. Her funeral was held last Thursday and due to covid restrictions, I watched it via live stream sat home. It’s something which is becoming more familiar, and it’s emotionally easier than being there. I didn’t cry until the end when they played the song she had as the ringtone on her phone: “What I did for Love”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxyaIYWpS3g I have ask my daughter if she would put a dance to it for my friend’s mum. My friend used to dance and I think it would mean a lot. Well, it would mean a lot to me anyway.
Meanwhile, it’s been school holidays here. Our daughter has been making candles and decorating them with crystals. They look quite pretty and I should post some photos. She’s also been doing some cake decorating and making things out of moulded clay. The dog has also appreciated some walks. I say dog because she only took Rosie because Lady keeps stopped all the time and Zac takes off like a bat out of hell. By the way, I should mention that Zac was the perfect therapy dog during my friend’s funeral. Geoff picked the sleeping Zac up and put him on my lap and said: “this is a job for a dog”. I should mention that Geoff held my hand as well.
I almost forgot, but my daughter and I went out and fed the local ducks, which we haven’t done for years and years since she was such a little girl. It was wonderful.
I am making good headway with my researching and writing up of the WWI soldiers’ bios. Over the last couple of weeks, I’m been writing the actually bios up so it’s really gaining momentum. I was stoked to find out that the nephew of controversial Australian ranger Ned Kelly served in WWI and so I’ve written up his story, which will add a bit of life to it, don’t you think?!!
My week seems to fall under one very simple word – stressed!
As you may recall, our daughter was in hospital having tests last week, and since she’s come home she’s generally improved and is having more good days than bad days, although can’t always arrange the good days where they’re needed most, and is still needing to get her head around changes to her diet, which will hopefully settle things down as well. She has a condition called gastroparesis, and has been having a tough run of it lately.
Anyway, where some of the stress crept in this week, was that she was due to compete in a jazz dance duo at the Sydney Eisteddfod today, and there was a huge question mark about whether she would be well enough to go. Dancing at her level is full-on. So, she’s not just pointing her toes and smiling at the judges. The dance is fast paced, acrobatic in a sense, very precise and clearly demanding top physical fitness. It is also a duo. So, if she didn’t compete, she’d be letting down her friend and this is her very best friend who she’s known since she was a baby through playgroup. It’s a very personal, intimate thing they’re doing together, and to miss the premier competition would have been very disappointing. It also starts redefining her as “sick person” and “dancer” as more of a dream, and that was also something to be cautious of. We were leaning more towards pulling them out. However, they went well in class yesterday and so Thunderbirds were go!
They were on, and the madness was back on with the addition of a fairly extensive detour to buy some new jazz shoes which pushed the departure time forward by a couple of hours. I didn’t feel like a detour. Indeed, to be perfectly honest, I just wanted to stay in bed. The weather was wet, freezing, and horrible. I don’t cope well with wet, freezing, and horrible. That’s code for staying in bed. Or, at the very least, staying home. Yet, off we went. However, the performance went really well, and although they didn’t place they scored an impressive 87.
Meanwhile, Geoff and I caught up with a school friend and had Vietnamese for dinner. Tickets to watch were highway robbery and I was also concerned about covid as cases in Sydney are almost at double figures and we need to be careful.
We spotted a few unnatural kangaroos out and about in Chatswood
Last week, my son and I attended the funeral of a dear friend, Tom. He’d had a stroke a four months ago, and you could just imagine his horror when he comes to and found he was paralyzed on one side. It was cruel. However, it gave him extra time with his family and the opportunity for a slow, lingering goodbye, even if his passing was ultimately a relief. We’ve been friends with Tom and his wife or about ten years. They’re in their mid-70s, but fostered two children as babies who are the same age as our kids, and all the kids did dancing together, which is how we met and the kids used to ride their bikes together and we talked. You can get quite close to people in these most simple of circumstances. Anyway, our son reconnected with his friend via our Church youth group and they have a very tight group of guys. He rang our son just after pop had the stroke and I went round as well and we were right in the thick of it and drove my friend to hospital after the ambulance had gone. So, needless to say, by this point, we were tight.
Even though Tom had reached a good ag, led a good life, and t was a relief to see him released from a body which was no long his friend, a funeral is still a funeral. Unless you’re a robot, you’re not just going through the motions. There are memories, grief, sadness, joy – a real kaleidoscope of emotions. Then, there’s also being confronted by death, which is obviously very different from having a friend move away (which also happened last week). The funeral was held at the grave side and was right near the entrance to the cemetery and I was watching hearses coming and going, which was a macabre and almost troubling experience. After all the cemetery is an airport for the deceased – a one way departure lounge and of course, this was very different to visiting the old cemeteries for my family history research and there’s been no one new for 50-100 years and you’re talking to the birds.
However, in between all these thoughts, I focused on a stunningly beautiful Autumn tree, which was decked out in all its splendour and even though it was a cold, Winter’s day, the sky was a dazzling blue and the fusion of intense colour was absolutely magnificent. although I know Tom is now spirit and has gone to heaven to be with the Lord, being human and still of the earthly realms myself, it was rather comforting to think of Tom resting there looking up at that beautiful tree and just being. It was a very pretty spot to spend eternity and he might also enjoy watching the people and the cars come and go. Welcome in the newbies. He would have loved that.
On Saturday, I went to the dance studio to watch the singers perform. It was magic and such an antidote to dealing with hospitals and funerals. I do try to do that. Throw in something uplifting in the midst of the stress. While it might not seem appropriate to enjoy yourself when someone you love is very sick, dying or gone, you need to be able to pace yourself so you come out the other side and most of us don’t have the luxury of going down for the count.
Anyway, as you can tell it’s been a pretty deep week I’d better get this posted before cut off.
Today, we’re heading down to Kirribilli, located smack bang on stunning Sydney Harbour. Indeed, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is parked here with one foot in Kirribilli, and the other planted across the water in Miller’s Point. Not unsurprisingly, the Bridge dominates Kirribilli with its sheer physicality, but also in terms of sound, whenever a train rumbles across all that steel with its echoing, idiosyncratic roar.
In a sense, our trip to Kirribilli represents the opening of an invisible door. This door marks the dividing line between the safety of home, and the more risky context of Sydney and Covid 19. Although there hasn’t been a case of community transmission for over a month, clusters have seeming sprung up out of nowhere, but usually connected somehow to the hotel quarantine program. While contact tracing does a fabulous job of identifying potential spread, it doesn’t actually prevent you from catching it. It only tells you after the fact. Due to my auto-immune disease and associated lung fibrosis, I am at a heightened risk of catching the virus if it’s around, and also having a more dire outcome. So, for me, caution makes a lot of sense, especially with the vaccine around the corner so I don’t have to lock myself away forever.
However, there’s also a risk that avoiding medical treatment for these conditions could also be harmful, and all my specialists are located at Royal North Shore Hospital about a 15 minute drive North of Kirribilli, and I often go to Kirribilli afterwards as a reward.
So, that’s how I ended up having lunch with my husband, Geoff, in Kirribilli and comin across this really beautiful and richly ornate door as we walked down to the water’s edge.
Isn’t it something?!!
However, even to the most one-eyed door lover around, it still couldn’t compete with this…magnificent Sydney Harbour.
The thing that particularly struck me about Sydney Harbour today was just how empty it was. It’s usually a hive of activity with ferries criss-crossing the waterways and people moving around on the foreshore. There could well have been one of those towering cruise ships in port, as was often the case before covid. Sydney Harbour isn’t usually this empty, even on a weekday.
Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed our trip to Kirribilli, and I apologize for being a one-door-wonder this week, but hopefully this is a sign of things to come and I’ll soon be able to get out and about more and venture further afield.
This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Dan Antion.
Good morning All.
I came across this post on my phone as I was waking up this morning. We’ve had a couple of really hot, humid days here and my breathing’s been really bad. It’s been tough.
I also try to impact some wisdm into my kids, who are now teenagers, so even catching them on their way out the door can be difficult and what does mum and dad know anyway? Enough to know we need to apply the KISS principle when talking to our kids…Keep It Simple, Stupid.
This poem is an excellent encouragement.
I was around 13 or so when I first read this poem by Langston Hughes. I remember thinking… wow, now there’s someone who’s telling the truth about life!
Around this age is when childhood starts to end… innocence gives way to experience. It’s a sad thing if you think about it… the loss of innocence… having to come to terms with the black and gray areas of life.
This poem gave me a lot of comfort during that time in my life and ever since then when my life has gotten crazy and out of control.
I always marveled that Hughes chose the image of a crystal staircase. Why this image? Why not a vase or something… silly kid thoughts, right?
Now that I’m in adulthood I know that a crystal staircase is what makes a poet a poet and what transforms a good writer into a great writer.
Welcome my friend! Thank goodness for these weekend coffee shares. Lately, they have been the only time that I have focused on connecting with you. I’m hoping to improve that!
If we were having coffee, I would, as usual, be so happy to spend some time with you. We are all in the midst of the holiday season. How is that going for you? A friend of mine always called this time of year the HoliDAZE. That seems especially apt this year.
If we were having coffee, I’d want to talk to you about something I’ve been batting around in my brain this week. I recently read an article about two French women who were resistors during World War II. They were friends as children and then became a couple. Same sex relationships were obviously challenging back in those times.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence […]
This week, I can actually share a good dose of balmy sunshine with you. It’s a lush Spring day here (just North of Sydney) and I’m feeling rather re-energized, and the bear is out of hibernation, and almost active. We dropped another carload of stuff off at the charity shop and we booked a council clean up for tomorrow. However, although large bulky items are disappearing left right and centre, our place is still packed to overflowing.
Well, we still live here, and we haven’t moved for 20 years. So, you could say we’re very settled. Alternatively, you could say we’ve been buried alive, but that wouldn’t be very nice and not a good way to start off a friendly chat over coffee, tea and left over Sticky Date Pudding. My Sticky Date weaves a strange spell over people. So, you don’t want to come in with a barrage of criticism and miss out, do you?
How has your week been? I hope it’s gone well. It’s been getting easier to escape the omnipresent influence of the coronavirus here now that cases in Melbourne are coming down, and Sydney didn’t take off and has managed to avoid lock down. I don’t know whether that’s because we’ve all been careful, but I know we’ve been lying low for a long time and didn’t go down to Sydney for Father’s Day with everyone out and about. A bit of short term sacrifice made for long term gain.
Last Wednesday, Geoff and I celebrated our 19th Wedding Anniversary. We got married two days before 9/11 and flew to New Zealand first thing on the morning on the 12th having watched the destruction and tragedy unfold on TV the night before Sydney time. Mum mentioned the other night that we must’ve been brave catching a plane at the time and heading overseas. However, flying to New Zealand felt like an even safer option. It’s even more isolated than Australia. However, as we toured Rotorua with its gurgling thermal pools and returned to our hotel to watch the coverage at night, the two landscapes made a ghostly parallel with the steam rising out of the geysers and the ash rising out of Ground Zero. No one will ever forget where they were and what was happening for them at the time and how we all were gripped in the wake of those attacks. Life has never turned back.
It’s unfortunate that talking about our Wedding Day invariably involves 9/11. It was such a magical day and the consumate fairy tale. It was held at Curzon Hall which is just like a fairytale castle. I’d always wanted to have my wedding reception there. It’s so magnificent, especially here in Sydney which is largely a modern city. By the way, let me just say, I’d love to live there. However, after we returned from our honeymoon, we were back to our “Renovators Dream”, which was meant to be a stepping stone but we’re still here 20 years later and the renovation still isn’t done yet.
As I mentioned, Geoff and I went out for lunch for our anniversary at a local nursery. In addition to lunch, we’d decided to buy a Cymbidium Orchid, which I’d had in my wedding bouquet and in pots at the Church. However, although the nursery was out of stock and so we we ended up buying a couple of Gardenias and some ornamental cabbages as well. I haven’t done a great job with gardening in recent years. However, I saw some photos of when our son was learning to walk and I’d planted heaps of bulbs in the garden and really took care of it, and it looked quite pretty. Of course, I’ve been very ill since then and I’m not getting younger either. However, it gave me a flash of hope. Or, at the very least, a maybe…
It would be lovely for our house to become a home again!
Meanwhile, my research continues. I’m now reading Louise Mack’s A Woman’s Experiences in the Great War—was published in 1915. Louise Mack was an Australian journalist and author who was based in London when the war broke out. Of course, all journalists were vying to cover the war and it was unlikely they’d send a woman. However, she spoke four languages, had her papers all ready to go and was very persuasive. That, along with having a lot of pluck, courage and determination. The book outlines her eye-witness account of the German invasion of Antwerp and what it was like living in occupied Brussels. After she returned to Australia in 1915, she gave a series of lantern tours around much of Australia talking about her experiences in Belgium, which particularly brought the sufferings of Belgium to life. Although they were outlined in detail in the newspapers here, it must’ve been much more meaningful to meet someone who had been there and lived through it. Australia responded generously to help the Belgians and extensive fundraising was undertaken right around the country, which I only found out about while doing this research project.
Are you reading anything at the moment? I always seem to be reading a lot of different things without getting them finished, which concerns me. Somebody more disciplined and regimented would finish one before they start on the next, and if they were iffy about finishing it, they’d pass it on. I have been reading some books I really love for awhile. Some, I really don’t want to finish, and this includes Julia Baird’s Phosphorescence: on Awe, Wonder and Things That Sustain You When the World Goes Dark. It’s a brilliant book, but it’s also one you can draw out and don’t need to read it in one sitting for it to make sense. I’m also reading Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. A few years ago, I started reading: The Book Thief . Although I absolutely loved it, I’ve started it twice and haven’t got through it, and I don’t know why. Perhaps, that’s one I really have to focus on. Meanwhile, this morning I started reading Selwyn Hughes’s How To Help A Friend. This book is brilliant too. While this might be stating his message too bluntly, e argues that everyone who considers themselves a Christian not only has a responsibility to care, but should have the heart for it as well. Just to share one quote I particularly appreciated from this book: “Harvard psychologist Gordon Allport called love `incomparably the greatest psychotherapeutic agent in the universe.'” I can see this book is really going to fire me up, although it might make me a bit disillusioned as well. After all, it is usually difficult to translate visions into reality, but I have to believe that if our hearts are in the right place, that we’ll at least offer some difference and a bit of hope.
Anyway, I’d better keep moving. I’m trying to get things sorted out for the council clean up. Our Rome took almost 20 years to construct, so it’s not going to disappear overnight. However, we’re at least we’ve making some good progress, and are trying to keep the momentum going.
How has your week been? What have you been up to or have you read something you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you and hope you and yours are keeping well and safe.
It was our 19th Wedding Anniversary on Wednesday a figure which automatically takes me through to next year which will be our 20th and worthy of all the pomp, circumstance and luxurious travel it deserves. At this juncture, I don’t know whether I’m looking forward to the same time next year, or whether we should be carpe diem seizing the day while the going is good. After all, everything is relative and 2020 hasn’t been our worst year by a country mile.
Rather, while there have certainly been some struggles, we’ve also had some surprising good luck and overall I think we’re coming out ahead. Not that this stops us from being very conscious of the horrors, disappointments and draining inconveniences which are still being endured globally. However, I don’t want to appeal to the sympathy vote ourselves when compassion, understanding, financial support and love really need to be channeled towards those who need it most and that isn’t us.
However, I did want to celebrate and acknowledge that Geoff and I have made it this far. Share that we actually did manage to get out for an indulgent, romantic lunch at our favourite special venue…the Impact Plans Cafe at nearby Empire Bay. Although we’ve had quite a few luxurious sunny days, this wasn’t one of them. Indeed, it was cold and wet and we even wondered whether the cafe would still be open for a late lunch after Geoff had attended a zoom meeting for work. However, it was like they were just waiting for us and only a couple of tables were taken, which was wonderful in terms of staying covid safe. I’m naturally cautious about going to cafes even though there’s virtually no known covid around here.
As I considered this post, I wondered whether to to put the wedding photo first as the featured image, or whether to start off with our older, more decrepit selves and then flash back to Cinderella and Prince Charming on their big day when, to use the Australian vernacular “we scrubbed up awlright”.
Knowing what lies ahead, I feel tired just looking at those two naive “babes in the woods”. This is actually how my father refers to himself and my mother when my birth started going horribly wrong like an express train accelerating straight over cliff, except I was stuck and not moving anywhere. I can relate to that ourselves looking back. No matter how prepared or cocky you might be, you simply have no idea what’s going to hit you right between the eyes. That’s what we should have been prepared for, instead of thinking about a five year plan.
Nineteen years down the track, it only natural to ask whether we’d go back and do it all again?
“Can it be that it was all so simple then Or has time rewritten every line If we had the chance to do it all again Tell me, would we? Could we?”
-The Way We Were.
Or, would we run, possibly even in two opposite directions?
I don’t know. There’s a big part of me now that thinks Geoff and I should’ve boarded a yacht and just kept sailing continuously out towards the sunset. Don’t go chasing rainbows. Stand tall like a sunflower and stare deep into those rays and not turn round.
However, I suspect this life of simplicity, without the love and responsibilities of becoming parents, wouldn’t be as rich. That a life well-lived is a textured tapestry filled with ups and downs and no one’s trajectory usually keeps just going up and up.
That’s not to say I’ve given up. As a writer, I still believe in stories and one day I’ll get there after all these years of scribbling and tapping away. I’ll have that published book clutched firm in the palm of my hand.
I don’t know what that has to do with our wedding anniversary, except I do. Our marriage is a partnership and due to my disability and severe health conditions, I haven’t been able to work in the way I expected and to maintain my career in marketing. Indeed, after going through chemo and almost giving up the ghost a few times, it no longer seemed quite so relevant either. I didn’t care how many widgets were sold. I wanted people to be content. I wanted our world to be a better place. All the extra layers of fluff really didn’t matter most of the time. That good loving, caring relationships were more important and I also felt I had a lot to relay through my writing and research. Not just my own observations and opinions, but also those gathered up along the road. Wisdom, after all, is a collective “being”. It’s not just the product of one mind.
Meanwhile, I want to go and dig up our wedding photos etc and show the kids. We also have our wedding video which we’ve never edited and have certainly never shown the kids or any of our current friends. I wonder what they’ll think of the two glamorous love birds? I wonder if they even see a glimpse of us?