Category Archives: weekend coffee share

Weekend Coffee Share from the Bunker.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How do you like my photo this week? I was looking for a cafe scene but couldn’t resist the pink flamingo. I hope it lifts your spirits at this challenging time.

Well, I guess I ought to ask you if you’ve managed to get out of your pyjamas today, and do you actually have enough changed of PJs to get you through the working week in social isolation at home? Fortunately, i have been somewhat prepared. Thanks to my health issues where I can spend long stretches sick at home, I’ve indulged in a few pairs of Peter Alexander Pyjamas so I can feel creatively colourful while bunkered in at home. Today’s pair is covered in colourful tea cups, which is very appropriate and quite a coincidence for our weekend coffee share.

So, how are you? What is the state of play with the Coronavirus where you live? I live just North of Sydney, Australia. Australia has 4093 cases of coronavirus and here in NSW we have the most with 1,918 cases. I had hoped it had mostly stayed in Sydney, but local cases are starting to increase to 90 cases. Most of these have apparently come from overseas. These infections largely focus on the cruise ships and in particular, the Ruby Princess which has now been re-cast as a vile super-spreader of the virus with almost 2,700 passengers disembarking in Sydney without health checks, despite passengers showing symptoms. It was an absolute debacle and quite culpable under the circumstances. Around 130 passengers are known to have contracted the virus. However, as usual those responsible are passing the buck, the ship’s still parked in Sydney Harbour with 1700 crew members on board. Three crew members were taken off the ship to hospital today. Needless to say, that ship will be going through a major re-branding exercise after this. It’s currently perceived as the plague ship. 

Before I move on from the Coronavirus, I wanted to share a link with you  through to Australian aid worker and Mr Compassion Australian himself, Tim Costello, who talks about the social impact and how to respond the the level of community grief. Here’s the link.

family zoom

The Family

Well, during the last week, our home has become and office, school, hospital, ball and stick throwing centre for dogs and in about 30 minutes, the kitchen will be metamorphosing into a dance studio right during dinner time, which is going to be interesting. While it’s all very well to be flexible and adaptable, it’s also a lot to process and it’s not easy to juggle with so many balls in the air. Our son is in year 11 at the pointy end of his education, so we’re at least trying to get that right, but right now it’s very tempting to just let all those balls crash down to earth and let them smash like raw eggs on the pavement. As long as we don’t get the virus, especially me with my acute lung issues, the rest doesn’t matter. We’ll get to it when the cloud has lifted.

Meanwhile, my WWI research continues and I wanted to share something absolutely horrific that I only just came across. Perhaps, you have already heard about the British soldiers who were executed for desertion and other causes during WWI. However, for me it only rang a very faint bell and it was only when I heard about the case of Private Jack Sweeney that the full of horror of this practice was revealed. Jack Sweeney was born in Emu Bay Tasmania and later moved to Lietinna near Scottsdale in the North-East where my husband and his mother’s family were born and bred. So, this story wasn’t about some stranger. It was about somebody who lived alongside Geoff’s two Great Uncles who served in France…Ralph French who was killed in Action in 1918 and Len Brooker who returned home. However, because he was working in New Zealand when war broke out, he enlisted with the New Zealand Army, which made a big difference to his future on two fronts. Firstly, the New Zealand government concurred with the British government and allowed deserters to be court-marshalled and shot. Secondly, it took Jack away from his Tasmanian social and family network where he could well have found greater support for the ravages of war he experienced, including shell shock. I was horrified to find out that this could happen and so silently and swept almost under the carpet. Yes, indeed There’s been a cover-up and I was quite shocked the New Zealand which is generally known for it’s compassion and progressive policy-making could be so barbaric and take such a different road to the Australian government. It’s probably the most gut-wrenching stories I’ve come across in the 9 months I’ve been doing this research and that says something. By the way, I should also add that Jack had a daughter, Doris who was about 11 years old who was left with her dad and in 1925 his father committed suicide after telling family “I’m a broken-hearted man”. As you would expect, this is a story I’m pursuing further.

DSC_9030

This dog is a good lookalike for  our Lady, but I left our dogs at home to keep my walk simple and uncomplicated. 

Not much else has been going on. I’ve been on two walks along the local beach. Even this simple, ordinary activity had been impacted by the virus. I’m an uber-social extrovert so the whole idea of avoiding people in case they’d been infected by the plague, felt very unnatural. If anyone looked like coming near me, and I’m talking 4-6 metres away, I flinched like I’d developed some kind of allergy to people. Dogs don’t catch the virus, but their fur is just like any other surface so patting dogs down there was also off limits, although I could still photograph them from a safe distance. I also happened to witness a rather nasty dog fight involving 3 dogs and it took about 5 people to separate them, and then there was a clash between the owners. That’s not exceptional at the beach, but with concerns about social distancing and my own vulnerability to the virus, I felt like shouting out to them to step back. Of course, I didn’t. Instead, I tried to remain invisible. This was not the time to play the hero.

Rowena Victory

I will leave you with an uplifting photo of myself at the beach a few years ago looking triumphant. Something to focus on during these difficult times.

How are things going where you live? I hope and pray you and yours are okay and are able to steer clear of this horrible blight. If you are struggling, please share with me in the comments. A trouble shared, is a problem halved.

Lastly, are you taking up the A-Z April Blogging Challenge? I’m intending to do it, but had trouble signing up yesterday, which I need to look into. If so, what is your theme? Mine will be something along the lines of Australians serving in France during WWI with some kind of twist. I have a gazillion stories to inspire me, even if time’s rapidly evaporating.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to come and join us for a virtual coffee.

Love & best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 16th March, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This week, I thought you might like to be a bit adventurous and and a bit of the mug cake our daughter has made. She found the recipe on Tik Tok (a Chinese video-sharing social networking service). However, from my point of view, it seems to be home to the weird, wonderful and everything teen. Accordingly, Facebook is for old fogeys or “parents” like me. Well, anyway, getting back to this recipe, it’s hardly Masterchef. Indeed, you chop up Oreos, add milk. Mix. Cook in the microwave and hey presto watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat, you have instant cake. I made mug cake years ago with the kids. So, it’s not as though I have anything against making cake in a mug when a seriously uncontrollable craving hits, but at least my cake was made from real ingredients. You know the stuff. Or, maybe you don’t. However, it had an egg, oil, flour, sugar, cocoa and real chocolate bits. So, while it might’ve been fast, it wasn’t fake and I had made it from scratch.

Now that you’re snuggled up in your chair with your mug cake and your choice of beverage, let me ask you about your week? How are you?

For many, if not all of us, the coronavirus is making it’s presence felt. We live about an hour North of Sydney, which puts us a little out of the way. However, my husband commutes to work at Macquarie University in Sydney during the week. As luck would have it, some of the first cases of Corona Virus here in Australia were at the university’s child care centre and the nursing home next door. Then, there was a case at a nearby boys’ school where one of our close friends from Church up here works.  Considering that I am at a higher risk of both catching the virus and having a more serious outcome, alarms bells went off. Not panic. I am trying to isolate myself as little as possible at the moment, especially as this might go on for several months, so I don’t want to prolong the agony unnecessarily. At the same time, I’m lucky that I love research and writing and don’t mind being at home, aside from missing my friends and having  people contact which is so important to me. That said, I am also quite prepared to isolate for a few months to save my life, but hopefully it won’t come to that.

DSC_8970

By the way, when I was in the opportunity shop today, I found this grumpy-looking Minion in prison stripes which looked like he was in quarantine for the coronavirus. So, I just had to set him free, bring him home and have a bit of fun. Here’s to: The Cranky Minion in Corona Quarantine..

DSC_8940

Attack of the killer toilet paper. 

Over the weekend, my husband and I binge-watched an American crime drama series, The Bridge. You might’ve already seen it considering it came out in 2013, but it was the first time I’ve seen it and it really drew me in. That’s a real shame considering it only ran for two seasons. However, we’ve still got the second season to go. I’m not much of a TV watcher so getting me hooked, says something for the series if it was short-lived. There were some scenes depicting some very raw emotion in a way I haven’t seen before. It certainly wasn’t your usual American TV crime show, although since it was based on the Swedish series that make a lot of sense.

My research into my Great Great Uncle’s WWI service in France is progressing well. I finally found his battalion’s diary online. I knew it was there somewhere, as I’d seen these online years ago, but I hadn’t been able to find it on the Australian War Memorial site. I don’t know who set up their web site, but it isn’t very user-friendly and let’s just say you need to know where it is to find it. Now, that I have, it’s naturally given me a much better idea of his pathway through the war and where he served. This should have been so much easier, but I don’t regret the 6 months of research I’ve put in trying to get to this point. I realized that I actually knew very little about what happened in the war and I’ve learned so much. Not only about history, but also about how people get through severe adversity and contrary to all the shooting up and blowing up we see in war movies, there was also a lot of compassion out there on the battle field. People sticking their own necks out in a very literal way to save a mate. Lastly, just so you don’t get the idea that these guys were all work and no play, they did manage to get away on furlough and see something of the world, especially London and Paris.

Anyway, that’s about all at our end and I’m starting to nod off.

So I hope you all stay health and out of harm’s way.

This has been another contribution for the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.
Best wishes,
Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share…9th March, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

It’s now Monday afternoon here and I’ve finally managed to levitate myself from the comforts of bed. I suppose I should be embarrassed and a tad ashamed for sleeping through much of the day, but it felt so good and I also read about 20 pages into Thoreau’s Walden, which I should’ve read years ago, but I haven’t. Have you?

DSC_8929

This is the only red Alfa our son is getting hold of. Ours are off-limits.

Anyway, the last couple of weeks have meant birthdays here. Our daughter turned 14 a few weeks ago and our son turned 16 yesterday. He’s now able to get his Learner’s Permit (his L’s) and would’ve been there yesterday if it wasn’t a Sunday. I don’t know why we didn’t book him in for today, but he still hasn’t been booked in. He’s as keen as mustard, but his father and I are justifiably hesitant. I’m sure he already believes he can drive better than me, and I’m not sure whether it’s better or worse to put someone who is wildly over-confident into the driver’s seat for the first time, or a nervous Nelly like I was who ducks beneath the dashboard praying to escape (along with the instructor). We’ve heard stories of friends’ sons wanted to drive home from the registry or drive to school the following morning through heavy peak-hour Sydney traffic. Fortunately, that’s left us forwarned. He’s been told that he’ll be having his first lesson in the car park at our local community centre and I think he’d already chosen his Dad for the first drive. Hey, that could well be all driving lessons, except he’ll get his hours up with me.  I don’t like driving and can’t wait for him to get mobile!

Their birthdays have changed now that they’re teenagers. Gone are the days of making them a fancy cake out of the Australian Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake Book. In fact, gone are the days of us being invited along to festivities with friends. Our daughter requested a pavlova at home and went out with friends and our son almost had to be dragged away from his Youtube videos for us to sing Happy Birthday.

DSC_8931

The Cake of Carnage. A scrumptious Bienstich from our local bakery. The candles had to go in the cracks in between the slices and after the dog got to it, there was no chance of decorum.

By the way, I should point out that the dog didn’t need to dragged anywhere near the cake.  Well, to protect the innocence of the other two dogs Zac and Lady, I’d better name and shame Rosie. While I was trying to round the family up, she chomped a good eighth of the cake away and I hastily had to rearranged what was left to try to get something of a circle. It’s not the first time a dog has helped themselves. They’re so much more switched on than us humans and rearing to strike. No doubt, all her ball and stick chasing has enabled Rosie to gulp up a cake just as quickly with but one snap of her trap.  I won’t go into details, but you can be sure family tensions rose after that the by the time everybody was back seated round the table, it was a case of “you will have a Happy Birthday!!”

I was particularly trying to give our son a Happy Birthday because he had some rather devastating news during the week. The NSW Education Department canceled the school’s Europe trip due to the Coronavirus. I was so devastated when we found out and the school held a meeting and I was so emotional and shaken up. We’d given our son this trip of a lifetime from the very depths of our hearts. It wasn’t something we could afford and my husband’s never been to Europe, and it’s been over 25 years for me. The depth of the history teaching in this tour was so good that we found the money. As turned out, my husband got a lot of overtime last year and that covered it, but it meant he was working six days for three months. It wasn’t something that came easily and I’m sure the other parents from this tour are in the same boat. At the moment, it looks like we’ll get some of our money back but it’s a complicated process. That hurts as well. However, we just have to do the whole life goes on thing. They were meant to be leaving in six weeks.

Speaking of the Coronavirus, what if any impact is it having over your way? The most obvious sign of the virus here, is the empty spaces on the supermarket shelves where the toilet paper is supposed to be. For some reason, people have bought up huge volumes of toilet paper and it really does seem rather strange. Has that happened over your way? I remember when we were kids we used to play a game in class where you said what you wanted to taken if you were deserted on a desert island and you had to remember what everyone before you had said. I don’t remember ANYONE saying a 50 pack of toilet paper. Rather, you can put me down for Tim Tams, chocolate, tea and some blueberries just to be a bit healthy.

Toyota Corona

Do you remember the original Toyota Corona? Could this be the original source of the virus?

Jokes aside, I am in a high-risk group maybe not of catching the virus, but certainly of having a serious response if I do catch it. I have an auto-immune disease called dermatomyositis and a complication of that called Institial Lung Disease. This has left me with 50% lung capacity and fibrosis. So, I get a flu vaccine every year and try to keep away from crowds etc. Meanwhile, my husband works at Macquarie University in Sydney and that is at the epicentre of cases there. At this point, we’re talking about a handful of cases but there has been at least one death. Epping Boys High School nearby had a case, and so on Friday the school was closed down and teachers and students were in isolation for two days. That included a friend from Church.

Corona Beer

Could this be the possible cure?

It’s hard to know at this stage what this virus means for our global community. Is it going to become a great pandemic rivaling the Spanish Flu of 1919? No one knows at this stage, but it’s good to see that health authorities aren’t taking chances and it seems isolation is reducing the spread.

Meanwhile, I am continuing with my research into WWI Australian soldiers serving in France. I can now appreciate how all these months and months of research are consolidating into a solid knowledge base. I really knew nothing about the actual running of the war before I started, although I’d studied the cases of the war and how it led to WWII in a lot of detail at school and uni. I’m only now starting to appreciate the distinction between artillery and infantry and how that shaped a soldier’s experience of the battlefield and I’m picking up great stories and insights into the battles themselves. This all started out with trying to find out where my Great Great Uncle Jack was wounded (Mouquet Farm), which has evolved into an obsessive ques to try to work out what he went through back then. The records of the day were very scant and nowhere near enough for anyone truly wanting to build a solid picture of what their family member went through. Geoff’s Great Uncle was Killed in Action at Mont St Quentin in September 1918, but at least he left us his diary and some sense of his experience was passed down to my husband. However, that was not the case with his relatives who returned. understanding what our people went through over there, and back here at home, is very important to me. It’s clear to me that our younger generations don’t know what happened so it’s no longer a case of “lest we forget”. We do not remember. We do not know.

I’m not sure what else I’ve been up to. How about you? How have you been?

I hope you are keeping well and staying clear of the Coronavirus and other nasties that are out there.

This has been another contribution for the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.
Best wishes,
Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 17th February, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you after another week? I things are going well and you’re ready to face another week with a smile, and not a sense of impending doom. I’m not a morning person and Monday mornings usually hit me like a concrete slab crashing down to earth and of all the places it had to land, it was on on poor little ol’ me.

Anyway, I don’t want any of you to think of me as a “snowflake” or even from the “snowflake generation”. While I had heard of this term before, a conversation with our 13 year old daughter brought it back to mind. She told me that my generation were the snowflakes, not hers. Well, in case you’re not familiar with the term, the term “snowflake generation” was one of Collins English Dictionary‘s 2016 words of the year. Collins defines the term as “the young adults of the 2010s, viewed as being less resilient and more prone to taking offence than previous generations“.

The reference originally hails back to Fight Club’s Tyler Durden who blurts out:“You are not special. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same organic and decaying matter as everyone else”

While I’m here, there are two other bits of teenage slang you might appreciate. Firstly, there’s “boomer”. According to my kids, this has now extended beyond the original baby boomer generation to include anyone who is clueless, especially when it comes to global warming.

As far as being a “Karen” is concerned, the urban dictionary writes:

“A Karen is a kind of person who is unhappy when little things don’t go their way. They are a, “Can I speak to your manager?” kind of gal. The bitchy soccer mom of her friend group that nobody likes.
“Do you see her over there? She’s such a Karen.”
The Sydney Morning Herald’s, Julia Baird, tackled the Karen issue in the Saturday paper and raised some interesting points. For starters, there’s no male counterpart to Karen giving the term a sexist stance. My question is that if girls and young women are using this term (and just let me add that I’ve never heard a male use the term), what does that say? I’m planning to have a chat about this with my daughter and perhaps also her bestie. After all, her mum’s name is Karen.
If you’d like to check out Julia’s article, you can click HERE. By the way, I’d also like to point out that Julia was in my Australia Women’s History tutorial at uni and shes a really top-notch journo and well worth reading.
Anyway, I can’t believe that I actually posted this without mentioning Valentine’s Day! What is wrong with me? Have I developed total amnesia? Well, I think it’s probably been more of a case on being so focused on my research that I forget what else is happening. Moreover, I’ve shared the Valentine’s Day stories a few times in the real world and have moved on a bit since Friday. However, I did want to share with you how Valentine’s Day for me has changed throughout the years. Here in Australia, it’s not as big as in America and it’s more something for singles. When I was younger, I’d go to great lengths to send someone I like an anonymous card, which reached its zenith when I had a backpacker write two in German and another backpacker posted them for me from Berkeley, California. I didn’t think things through very well because I invited both of these prospectives to a dinner party at my place. They’d never met before and surprise! surprise! They’d both received Valentine’s in German from Berkeley, California. Well, I just hope they saw it as a joke.
Those days are gone now that my husband and I have almost been married for 20 years. That said we went out for dinner at a scrumptious local Italian restaurant, but that was also after driving the kids around and doing an emergency dash to buy my son a belt to hold his formal pants up. They both went to a formal Valentine’s day dinner with their youth group. BTW before I get off the subject of Valentine’s Day, each of them received something like 5th hand plastic roses which had done the rounds at school. It looks like Cupid wasn’t having much success.
Meanwhile, my research into the stories of WWI stories continues. I’m still not sure whether it is taking shape or just growing into something like a massive mushroom cloud about to envelope the earth. Yet, at the same time, there are such gaps in the historic record or difficulties trying to find out where someone was wounded or died and to me with my very strong sense of place, these details matter. Moreover, since I’m writing non-fiction, I can’t just make it up either. However, that works both ways and most of the time the real stories and the raw emotions which go along with them, are so much better than anything I could manufacture.
One of the challenges I’m facing is my lousy sense of direction and spatial relations. There are people like my Dad who only need to go somewhere once, and they’ll always find their way back. Of course, it makes perfect sense that there’d be outliers at the other end of the  spectrum who can’t even find their way out of their own driveway. That’s me. So, compounded by the fact that I live way over here in Australia and can”t just jump on a plane and walk around the battlefields of France, I’m having a lot of trouble tracking down where everyone was. Moreover, since I’m focusing on individual stories, I don’t have that big picture stuff and that understanding that these were big groups of people moving around under the direction of Captains, Generals etc. They weren’t wandering round the French countryside like lost sheep. That said, prior to the Battle of Amiens 8th August, 1918, all the Australian divisions on the Western Front hadn’t fought together before so you had to check what they were up to and even then you have to ensure they were still there, weren’t in hospital, or on furlough. You can’t assume anything. So, you can see how writing these seemingly simply stories can get rather challenging.
Tonight, I posted a few photos of the magnolia flower out the front. This magnolia is known as a “Little Gem”. However, it’s flowers are massive and would easily fill both hands. They’re the size of a saucer. Anyway, after researching these incredibly intense WWI stories and accounts of the battlefield, the magnolia flowers almost assumed an ethereal glow.
Anyway, unfortunately, time is running away. Or, to be honest, it ran away a few hours ago and I’ve made no effort whatsoever to catch up and am about to start paying for it.
So, I hope you have a wonderful week ahead.
This has been another contribution for the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.
Best wishes,
Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 10th February, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

I should preempt today’s coffee share with a few “Glub! Glub! Glubs” because after surviving extreme bush fires and choking smoke, we’re now experiencing damaging heavy rain and winds and flooding. Indeed, you don’t even need to live near a river to be affected and today our daughter had a day off school because a tree had fallen across power lines and the school was also flooded. Her older brother wasn’t impressed. He had to go to school.  As far as the impact on us is concerned, our back room which is one of those atmospheric indoor-outdoor rooms with Laserlite to let in the balmy light, leaked like a sieve. This is the third time we’ve had to virtually everything out of the room. The last two times, hail had peppered holes through the roof like machine  gun fire. This time there were numerous gaps for no explained reason and my husband superhero that is, had to get up on the roof armed with goodness knows what goopy sealand stuff and paint to seal it up. I told my son that’s what his job will be when he grows up. Something tells me our daughter will never get up there in her pointe shoes and she’ll need to find equality in other areas, especially something which doesn’t involve removing spiders from the house!

Without any further ado, I’d better check whether you’d like tea, coffee, hot chocolate or some other beverage of choice. I thought you might like to join me and dig into one of these biscuit sandwiches I found at a cafe in Newtown, Sydney today. It was absolutely scrumptiously divine  with rich butter cream in between two chocolate biscuits dipped in sprinkles for a bit of festive colour and crunch. Wow! I feel like getting straight back on the train for more, except the trains were out today after the storm so I’ll have to exercise some uncharacteristic patience.  Meanwhile, I’ve sitting next to a chunky caramel kit kat. Have you tried one of these? I’m a recent convert and they’re sooo good!

So how are you and what have you been up to?

King Street Newtown historic

Last Monday, I met up my friend Stephen who was part of a group of friends I had in my early 20s and we’d largely lost touch I got married and moved a little North to the Central Coast, which is part of Greater Sydney. We met up at Sydney’s Central Station and caught the train to Newtown which is 4 kms South-West of the CBD. Traditionally, it’s had a large student population and was rather grungy and bohemian. However, now it’s become highly expensive and let’s just say the place has had a face lift. Stephen and I found a cafe where I found the biscuit and walked down King Street onto City Road past Sydney University. .

 

We had planned to go to a lecture but I’d mixed up the date and we were a month early. So, we went out for dinner at a Chinese restaurant off Broadway, called the Holy Duck. It was wonderful and we had a cocktail each. To be more about our adventure, click HERE

My adventures researching the stories of WWI to gain a better understanding of our family’s involvement and what happened in general continues. This project has been like jumping off a cliff clutching an octopus. I just keep ploughing deeper and deeper with no idea where the next soldier’s letter will take me. It’s been a real confirmation of that old proverb…”everybody has a story”. It’s interesting rebuilding the story of WWI through the eyes of the little people. Privates who had no say in what happened and were simply flotsam and jetsam ordered around by top brass or shot at by the enemy. However, they still had concerns of their own like the rest of us and reading through y husband’s Great Uncle Ralph’s diary, right before the Battle of Amiens which proved to be a critical turning point in the war, he’s writing about not getting mail for awhile with the underlying implication that he was missing home. Or, perhaps there was a certain someone we don’t know about who he was missing in a special way. That said, he does express hope that the war will soon be over: “Let us hope that Providence will be kind to us this stunt and enable us to make a move that will go a long way towards winding up this ghastly business.”

The new school year kicked off a week ago. Getting the family and the house ready for this is to be a logistical nightmare. Now that I’ve been studying more of the logistical side of managing a war, I realize the operations side of the household has been sadly lacking. That love isn’t enough to get the troops moving. We need to get all that boring stuff which feminism and equality was supposed to do away with, done. Speaking of this reminds me that I’m intending to have a talk with the kids about equality. How’s this for a bumper slogan…”Equality begins at home”.

Anyway, the start of the new school year, is always when the rubber hits the road with my new year’s resolutions. After all, it’s virtually impossible to stick to just about any resolution during the January holiday period in Australia. We’ve all gone troppo. So, now I’m trying to get into the routine of going for a walk after I drop the kids at school in the morning. I managed to pull it off on the first two mornings. However, on the third, I ran into a friend and went for a talk instead. Since, then I made up for a few walks almost reaching 10,000 steps on my rip to Newtown, although I don’t done much walking since. It’s been raining. Yes, I know it hasn’t necessarily rained all day everyday but it hasn’t exactly been inspiring and like most of us with our best-intentioned resolutions, I’ve fallen off the wagon.

My other resolution is to try to do at least 30 minutes of daily violin practice. This has been rather hit and miss as well. Some nights, I forget. Others, I’ve been too busy and others I simply can’t be bothered.

So, perhaps I need to add reading motivational books to to list of resolutions.

Yet, all the same, there’s another school of motivational thought which is geared well towards limping and impaled failures. That’s the idea that something is better than nothing and not to let a mediocre effort convert to giving up. That the person who cuts back the number of cigarettes is still making progress even if they haven’t quit. That it’s better off to be an imperfect vegan who cuts back their consumption of plastics and fossil fuels than making no change at all. That our instance on perfection, can inherently cause us too fail. I get that. Yet, at the same time, I still want to tick all the boxes. Get everything right.

I know we’re almost heading into March, but how have you been going with your resolutions? Are you still chipping away at them? Or, have you moved on altogether?

Anyway, I thought I’d give us a few motivational quotes to spur us on…

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent” – Calvin Coolidge

“If you fall behind, run faster. Never give up, never surrender, and rise up against the odds.” – Jesse Jackson

“Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way. And don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.” -Richard M. Nixon

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” ―Harriet Beecher Stowe

“There is no failure except in no longer trying.”– Elbert Hubbard

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”

–Robert Collier (1885-1950), American self-help author

 

“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”Confucius

 

“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.”F. Scott Fitzgerald.

 

Well, I’m not sure whether all those quotes are enough to get me away from my writing to clean up the incredible mess from last night’s storm and leaking roof, but they were encouraging. Indeed, they actually pose a strong argument for ignoring the mess and just keep researching and writing until the book’s done. If only! However, something tells me that could be rather catastrophic on too many fronts. Better have a look at Plan B.

This has been a return to writing for the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Last Weekend Coffee Share 2019

Welcome to the Last Weekend Coffee Share for 2019!

My apologies for taking an unscheduled blogging break over the last couple of months. It hasn’t been intentional, and I haven’t fallen off the perch. Rather, I’ve been deeply immersed in a research project which could well turn into a few books, articles and goodness knows what. I’ve also been having serious breathing difficulties from the bush fire smoke. However, that’s cleared up lately. Well, at least it has for me. So much of NSW on fire and it’s absolutely devastating.

As you may recall, I’ve been working on writing up some historically based family stories and while I’d been trying to work through them chronologically, I ended up taking a serious detour and researching a few family members who served in WWI in the Australian Army. Their service records were rather scant and so I’ve filled the gaps by reading letters sent back from the front by other soldiers and I slowly started getting the picture…along with being seriously distracted. I periodically try to remind myself that I’m a writer first researcher second. That while research for research sake can be edifying, that my mission is words on the page. With so many material being available online these days, I find it very easy to move dart around and not actually document my findings as I go. Of course, that’s way more methodical, and like tying  lead weights to your wings , which really slows down the flow. Yet, somehow when you’re writing history, you need to do both. Multitasking has never been my thing. Anyway, that sort of explains where I’ve been.

Geoff Amelia Jonathon

This brings to up-to-date. Time to wish you all a belated Merry and blessed Christmas. What did you get up to? Christmas is such a varied time for people and it can magnify that sense of grief and loss along with feelings of self-doubt and criticism.

Santa and Sticks.jpg

Caught Santa red handed leaving sticks for the pups.

We had a wonderful Christmas Day. We attended Church on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, we opened presents at home. This year we had our first ever fake Christmas tree, which has taken some getting used to but it was better than nothing and the real real was very expensive this year thanks to drought and bush fires. Our kids are now 15 and 13 and so Christmas has matured with them and we enjoyed something of a sleep-in. We drove down to Sydney to my aunt’s place for Christmas lunch, which the kids invariable spend in the pool. I always pack my swimmers just in case but never get in. I’m too busy listening to family stories and talking. Naturally, food is also a priority and this year I took down my Caramel Nut Tart, which really was a sensation. We also had traditional Plum pudding, hard brandy sauce and custard. It wouldn’t be Christmas without it. This year Mum wasn’t feeling well and didn’t make it to the big family Christmas and Dad left early and had clocked off by the time we reached their place. It’s hard to get everyone coordinated.

Since Christmas Day, I’ve gone into some kind of comatose inert state. All that end of year stress has wiped me out and I feel exhausted and the cogs need to start unwinding and returning to normal. Doing my research or curling up with a book is ideal for this time of year. I’m sure some of you must relate to that!

This brings me to the New Year and that dreadful process of setting goals, making plans and hoping that you’ll wake up January 1 as someone else…an entirely new and improved version of you! It’s never happened before and yet I live in hope. The only trouble is that some of my goals, objectives and fantasies clash with each other. I want the house to organized and clean without spending my entire life doing housework. Indeed, my main goal is to get a book published next year. That one has carried over since forever. Indeed, I might actually get somewhere if I do go with keeping the house clean. It does seem to be more achievable and if you saw our place, you’d be shaking your heads…”Are you really sure about that?!!” I think if I got everyone else to move out, I’d probably succeed on both fronts but I’d be absolutely miserable. As they say on Facebook, life is complicated.

We need to be more organized next year. Our son is going into year 11, which is his second last year of school. So, this place needs to transform from Chaos central into a well oiled machine.  I’ve bought myself a diary and calendar. He’s actually reorganized his room after weeks of refusing to tidy it up. So, that’s looking very promising. We still need to get rid of a lot of stuff.

Anyway, that’s enough talk about being organized. We’ve also been enjoying the festive spirit. Last night, we saw Jumanji with friends and had dinner at a local Chinese restaurant we hadn’t been to before. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the movie and was mainly going to hang out with my friends. However, I really got into it and it was probably good for me to give a movie all my attention instead of half watching it while I’m researching or writing on my laptop. Dinner at the Chinese restaurant felt like a trip down memory lane. It’s been close to 20 years since I last had dinner at an authentic Chinese restaurant and by that I mean one with the red covered menus and serves Fried Ice Cream. I was full to exploding and yet I had to share a Fried Ice Cream with Geoff for old time’s sake. It was divine.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve also been going to trivia nights with a friend and we’ve won a couple of meals and drinks. The categories don’t really suit me. I’m great at history (no surprises there!), but am hopeless at sport and music questions and bomb out completely. However, as a team we perform well and have won a few dinner vouchers and Geoff and I went out for dinner there last Saturday night.

Violin & concert violinist music

The other news is that I performed at my end of year violin concert. This year I played Where Is Love from the musical Oliver. We chose this piece because it wasn’t going to over-stretch me and I was really busy at the end of the year and not in good shape to conquer something challenging. The plan was to play it as a duet. However, the day before I received a text from my teacher saying she was in hospital with a kidney stone, but that I “could do it”. Humph! Fortunately, I was playing the melody for all but one line of the piece and so a tweaked that and said my prayers. The violin can be a  very disagreeable instrument prone to terrible squeaks and it doesn’t care that you have an audience. It likes to remind you who’s the boss. With this in mind, I gave my performance a brief intro and said that I usually go for safety in numbers, but that hadn’t worked out this year. I also mentioned that many of us have asked “Where is love?” or “Where is hope?” “Where is good luck?” Some times, you just need to open your eyes, turn a corner or keep your fingers crossed…like I’m doing now.” Phew! At least I had the audience on side. It didn’t really matter how I played now, although it did and I was told I gave my best performance yet. What a relief.

I’m sorry my thoughts are all over the place tonight. It’s been such a long time since I’ve even checked in on my blog and I had a lot of catching up to do.

Anyway, this has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.

Best wishes and Happy New Year!

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 11th November, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

I’m not so sure you’ll be wanting to come round to my place this week. Not only is the house a disaster zone, but the air is redolant with the aroma of choking bushfire smoke and while I was  picking our daughter up from school today, a warning siren sounded on the radio from the Rural Fire Service warning that the fire status is catastrophic for Greater Sydney tomorrow. People have been warned to get out and not to expect assistance from fire services. They could well be overwhelmed with not enough resources to go round. Many schools will be closed and there really is that sense of Armageddon in the air. Meanwhile, I’m trying to “Keep Calm & Carry On”. We’ve had dire warnings like this before about others pending catastrophes (Y2K for example) and nothing’s come of it. Just because the conditions are condusive doesn’t necessarily mean disaster. That said, there have been over 70 bushfires raging over the weekend. However, aside from the smoke, they haven’t impacted on us here.

DSC_7080

This photo was taken later in the afternoon just as we were leaving. The Jacaranda tree has a very special place and was in full bloom and absolutely stunning. 

The highlight of the last week was heading down to Sydney on Saturday to attend The PLC Garden Party. That’s what my old school calls their annual fete, which pretty much gives away that I went to a high faluting school. I met up with a group of friends for traditional lunch of champagne and chicken sandwiches at the ex-students stall (usually known as the “old girls”). I skipped the champagne and bought myself a $6.00 chocolate cupcake with a mountainous swirl of butter cream on top. It was interesting trying to eat that elegantly in front of my friends as I face-planted into the icing, resembling a grubby two year old. Of course, I should’ve known better but clearly my sweet tooth overrode all sensibility.

The cake stall wasn’t my only point of weakness.

There was also the book stall. No doubt many of you have also succombed to this weakness and like any other form of addict, really should go cold turkey and implement a firm policy of total avoidance. 100% abstinance. However, when it’s the end of the day and you can fill a box for $10.00, practicality sets in although many would see this as a guised form of FOMO (fear of missing out).

The other aburdity of bringing home even just this relatively small box load of books, is that I’ve put the house on a diet and I’m actively putting this bookcumulation process into reverse and clearing the shelves, piles, columns away so we can aquire that very rare commody…breathing space.

DSC_7054.JPG

Before I move on from the school Garden Party, I wanted to share one of our important annual rituals. Every year the Knox Pipe Band plays at the Garden Party. They’re our brother school and that also btw was where actor Hugh Jackman went to school and I’m not sure if he was the only lure for some of my school mates to audition for the Knox Musical, but he was the lead male back in the day and not a bad incentive. Thoought you’d appreciate a few photos. BTW I should also point out that my school used to be the Presbyterian Ladies’ College and both Knox and PLChave Scottish heritage hence the pipe band.

DSC_7056

 

It was actually quite a social weekend. It started on Friday night when we attended a birthday party at the “The Treehouse”. That’s what my friend calls his pole home up among the gum trees and it appears that the local wildlife have also made themselves at home, which includes at least one possum, rainbow lorrikeets and cheeky sulfur-crested cockatoos which my friend refuses to feed because they’ll chew up your house. I made an ambitious Caramel Nut Tart. It’s taken me two years to muster up the courage to make it. We have it at the Macadamia Castle up near Byron Bay and the recipe was published in a local cookbook. Yum. So proud of myself for doing this and I’m planing to make it for Christmas Day.

Rowena Japanese dinner

Out for dinner at a Japanese restaurant with a friend.

I stayed with my parents on Saturday night and spent the day in Sydney. I went back to the Church I grew up in on Sunday morning nad chilled out for the rest of the day with my parents and brother and even tinkered away on the piano. I’m rather deluded when it comes to these piano efforts. I expect to be able to pick up the music I used to play back in the day and play it like no water’s passed under the bridge and I’ve been keeping up my practice. Yes, very deluded. However, I’m adding ambitious to that description because I’ve photocopied the music for Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and Phantom of the Opera’s Music of the Night. By the way, I probably should mention that my mother is a piano teacher and accompanist and has loads of music at my fingertips. Indeed, her loungeroom with the grand piano and all the music is a musical bonanza. I often take my violin down but didn’t this time as it would’ve spent the day in a hot car, which it doesn’t like. 

Jack Quealy WWI

Private Jack Quealey

Lastly, I’m still deeply embroiled in my research. The twists and turns keep changing. However, I’m fundamentally researching my Great Grandmother’s family, the Quealys of Lisheenfurror, Moyarta, County Clare. My Great Grandmother’s brother, Jack Quealey, served in WWI and I was researching his war service in more detail this week. Trying to nut out even a general idea of what he went through is very difficult , despite reading through his service records with a fine tooth comb. However, they mentioned he was wounded and that put a sort of stake in the ground. I was able to work out that he was was most likely wounded in the battle of Mouquet Farm near Pozieres. I then turned to the old newspapers which are online and found some gripping letters home which were published in local papers, which gave incredible insights into what our soldiers and my Great Great Uncle went through.It was incredibly humbling and I don’t know how anyone made it out alive. By the way, working on these war records atm has been great timing. Today, is Armistace Day. 

So, that sums up last week.

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

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

Best wishes,

Rowena