This week, I’m going to make you a pot of English Breakfast Tea and make you a Marmalade Sandwich and we can pretend we’re the late Queen Elizabeth and Paddington Bear having lunch together at Buckingham Palace.
It’s hard for me to know quite what to say about the death of the Queen. She’s been the monarch for 70 years and at the very least, she’s been a constant all that time at least in terms of being a portrait in our school halls, classrooms, scout and guide halls etc seemingly watching everything that’s going on and being a part of things, yet not. It’s going to be very strange to see King Charles III there instead, especially when I’m a Republican. Personally, I think it’s time to have an Australian as our Head of State and quite frankly I don’t want to see them to have the same ubiquitous presence the Queen has always had. She was quite an exceptional human being, stuck to the straight and narrow and was a worthy role model and leader. Most of us are a lot more human and so many leaders both in and out of politics have let us down. It would be good to move on.
Meanwhile, we’re coming into Spring here. I’ve heard the local Waratahs are back in flower and I’ll have to drive out and have a look. They’re about ten minutes away and simply growing beside the road. We’ve also seen groves of golden wattle in bloom, which is absolutely beautiful. This is all a reminder to keep your eyes open to the positives around you, even when the going gets tough. There’s always something to make you smile and radiate joy!
Speaking of joy, we’re actually very happy and relieved to still have Lady, our Cavalier x Border Collie still with us. Last Sunday she vomited and the next day she went off her food and was barely moving. I had no idea what was going on with her and after her carrying her out to bed, didn’t expect her to be with us in the morning. However, there she was at the back door wagging her tail and full of beans. Far from being sick, she was actually more lively than usual. I was most surprised. We’re not real good at keeping track of how old our dogs are. Probably because we really don’t want to know. As we all know, they speed through life seven times faster than us and that’s a tough thing to contend with. However, we think she’s about eleven or twelve so she’s older than she looks.
Yesterday, was Father’s Day here in Australia. Unfortunately, my parents have colds so we couldn’t go round to see them. However, we were able to focus on Geoff and went to Church as a family for the first time in about 18 months (due to covid) and out for dinner to a fabulous local Indian restaurant. We couldn’t finish it off, and brought the leftovers home so the east will continue tonight albeit more of a nibble. Indeed, I’m about to head out to buy some more chicken to cook up with my leftover sauce.
Did you celebrate Father’s Day where you are? I also understand that it’s a day of reflection and grief for many so if that’s you, I send you a hug and my thoughts.
As you may recall, Geoff and I went to Bathurst what is like three weeks ago now, and I’m still in the very early stages of writing up about our trip here on the blog. I’m also wanting to write some freelance articles as well, but decided to write these posts for the blog first and use them as a launching pad.
However, my third post about a trio of marble sculptures in Machattie Park has become very complicated taking me down numerous deep and meandering research burrows without really feeling confident about the basic facts like who made the sculptures, and how they came to reside in a fernery in a park in Bathurst 200 km WNW of Sydney. My quest has taken me back to the Sydney International Exhibition of 1879 where a swag of nations set up camp and showed of their national achievements. In addition to the main exhibition hall in the Garden Palace a separate art gallery was built and two out of three of these sculptures were displayed there and bought by the Art Gallery of NSW who went on to loan them to the city of Bathurst to put in their you beaut park with the band rotunda and massive fountain. By the way, the sculptor was Giovanni Fontana who was a well-known Italian sculptor at the time, who was commissioned to produce a number of public sculptures in Sydney. So far, I’ve been able to trace back the providence of two out of three of the statues but the third one is eluding me and I’ve lost myself down so many rabbit burrows as I said just trying to put the basics together, that I’ve ended up terribly lost and confused to the point of losing what I actually know. Have you ever experienced that?
Meanwhile, the other big news around here, is that Miss sprained her ankle last Friday night at dance. When it happened, they all heard a loud snap and they were really concerned she’d broken it. I missed a call from an unknown number just as I was meeting up with friends, and that turned out to be her dance teacher. They rang Geoff instead who was at home and so he drew the short straw of taking her to Gosford Hospital for hours on end while we waited and prayed for a verdict and I was going through all her dance commitments in my head and wondering how bad this was going to be and the implications of it all. I was also rather concerned about how she was responding to all of this psychologically. For a mere mortal, a sprained ankle is a painful inconvenience but for a ballerina, it can so easily feel like the end of the world. However, fortunately the timing is fairly good and she doesn’t have anything big right away. Her dance teacher has also referred her to special physio, which is probably going hurt us more in terms of the bank account, but you do what you’ve got to do.
How are you all? I hope you are well and this weekend, I can offer you some cheese biscuits with a chive and parsley cream cheese filling along with your choice of beverage. They’re very addictive!
This last week has been a case of recovering from the adventurous week before, which is what I’m going to focus on today.
On Thursday 18th August, we dropped Miss at the local train station. She was heading off to Queensland’s Gold Coast with the school’s cheerleading team to compete at Nationals. She would also be competing in a few solo events as well. Although we seriously considered driving up there to watch and be a part of it all, it wasn’t long enough to pull it off and so Geoff and I decided to head off to Bathurst 200 kms WNW of Sydney. We live night near the beach, and I’ve never been out that way and was interested in its goldrush heritage and all the photographic opportunities it offered. Meanwhile, we stayed at Rydges Mt Panorama which was right on the race track at Conrod Straight. In case you’re not aware, Bathurst is also home to the Bathurst 1000 Supercars Race, which is what’s brought Geoff and Jonathon to Bathurst before.
I’m in the process of writing up about the trip. However, so far I’ve written up a fairly extensive overview which you might enjoy: here.
However, probably what you’d like to see most are some photos of kangaroos taken in Hill End. We were there past sunset into the twilight, which is when kangaroos become most active. Great for photography when we were walking around town, but potentially treacherous driving back to Bathurst. Indeed, we had a very stressful near miss when a huge male hopped in front of the car and instead of getting out of the way, he kept turning back in front of the car. Obviously, he was out to collect the Darwin award, but we didn’t want him taking us with him. Fortunately, Geoff grew up in rural Tasmania and is well-versed in country driving, but even he found this particular kangaroo too much.
In addition to all the architectural attractions, there was also the race track. The Bathurst 1000 takes place the weekend after the October long weekend, and will be held 6th-9th October this year. The track itself is 6.213 km long and runs on public roads 174-metre (571 ft) elevation difference between its highest and lowest points The race is 161 laps in length and generally takes between six and seven hours to complete, depending on weather and Safety Car periods. A likely race finish time can be anywhere between 6pm and 8pm AEDT and I can tell you, you don’t disturb Geoff too much especially towards the end of the big race.
Geoff has walked and driven around the track before. However, being my first trip to Bathurst, naturally I’ve never been and I made a decision to drive around the track myself. Normally, this wouldn’t be a small consideration because I’m quite an anxious driver. However, I seemed to get into a different zone and wasn’t nervous at all in the end. By this stage, I’d been round the track with Geoff a few times making note of where the trouble spots were and preparing to go at a snail’s pace if necessary. I didn’t care if I clocked up the slowest lap time in Bathurst history. No one was recording it and I truly enjoyed the experience.
However, before we left on the trip, I received some awful news. A friend of mine called to say she was having trouble reaching our friend, Stephen. His phone wasn’t answering and had a message saying it was out of power or something to that effect. I rang and got the same response and sent an email letting him know we were concerned and to get in touch. Nothing. I had to look up my old hardcopy address book and my friend and her husband went down to check on him. They spoke to his neighbours who were also concerned and they rang the police for a welfare check and both he and his cat, Pippa, were found deceased. At the time, we didn’t know how long it had been and I was initially devastated that my dear friend would die in such circumstances, even though he’d chosen to shut himself off. However, as time went by, it turned out family and friends had been keeping in touch with him and it hadn’t been that long. Well, it’s kind of inevitable when you live alone and don’t reach out. He was 65 and had some health issues, and we’re still waiting for cause of death.
Unfortunately, losing Stephen has reminded me of how many people I know in similar circumstances and as much as I would love to reach out to them all, my days simply go up in smoke often with very little to show for it. However, my heart is in it and I also recently did a suicide intervention program through Lifeline, which I found very helpful.
I realise that this is a rather heavy subject to consider while having a cup of tea or coffee with Rowie and I hope it hasn’t been triggering. As a positive, if each of us called someone we know who is doing it tough once a week, I’m sure we could make a difference.
This is a good reminder that I need to start thinking about having something to look forward to myself now this trip is over. I’m not sure whether living from holiday to holiday is a good thing, and so I might organise a few get togethers with friends as well. After all, we’re about to launch into Spring here and come out of hibernation.
Lastly, speaking of Spring, I was struck by all the daffodils and jonquils we saw while we were away. They were EVERYWHERE!! I felt so grateful and could’ve thanked each and every soul who’d planted each and every one of those bulbs. I’ve gardened myself and have only been thinking of my own enjoyment and making the place look attractive and cheerful. It’s never crossed my mind that a stranger could be walking past and get some enjoyment out of it. Better still, that someone who is doing it tough could feel a moment’s joy simply because a stranger had planted a bulb in the ground. While I was trying not to think about Stephen too much while we were away, it was inevitable and seeing all the daffodils and jonquils truly helped.
Indeed, I ordered in a couple of bunches of daffodils from our local florist when I got home. They are so happy! It’s like having my own personal cheer squad every time I go out into the kitchen. Such a blessing!
How are you? I hope you are well and not freezing or burning to death whatever your particular situation might be. It’s Winter here and we’ve had a chilly day here just when we were starting to dream of Spring and cutting back on all the layers.
How was your week? Good, I hope.
in terms of what I’ve been up to, I finished my Freelance Writing Course with the Australian Writers’ Centre a few weeks ago. Although I’ve paid for two more courses, I put them on hold so I could just let that one sink in. I’m also needing to reorganise the house and create some decent work and storage place for me to freelance. Being organised and on the ball will be very important and isn’t something which comes naturally.
Indeed, trying to set up a work area at home is almost as challenging as pitching to an editor(which I’m sure I don’t need to explain is rather scary!!) For the last two years, I’ve been set up with my computer etc in the loungeroom where I enjoy the comfort of reverse-cycle air-conditioning and a cosy leather recliner with a dog on my lap who doesn’t seem to mind the keyboard perched across his back. However, my desk is actually parked at the other end of the house looking out onto the garden. It’s quite a lovely room with plenty of natural sunlight. However, in Summer it turns into a furnace and you need sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen at the peak of Summer. The reverse applies in Winter and it turns into an icebox. (Well, at least, by Sydney standards). As you might’ve gathered, it doesn’t have air-conditioning or heating. In fact, at the moment, my desk doesn’t even have power. When we had the solar panels installed on the roof, somehow the installers managed to disconnect the back room from power.
As if my workspace wasn’t already seriously challenged enough, it was also buried alive under layer up on layer of detritus (that sounds like a much better word than crap and clutter is too refined.)
Please don’t fall over and die from shock. For a few hours today, the desk was completely clear. I could even admire the woodgrain, which is very rare indeed. However, my triumph didn’t last. Unfortunately, all the stuff I’d piled up on the kitchen table had to move. Fortunately, not all of it went back and I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to get it clear tomorrow. Of course, I’ll need to get the power sorted out. However, in the meantime, I’ll be able to read, plan and do some old school writing i.e.as in using pen and paper.
So, getting my office situation set up is going to keep me busy for awhile but I am on my way.
Last week, as some of you would’ve already found out, we had an intriguing visitor at our place -Tallulah who was one of the baby simulation dolls which are often used as part of sex-ed. However, in this instance, Miss is doing child studies and every student had the “baby” for two days where they were supposed to respond to their cries and either change the nappy or feed them and they also needed to change their outfit. All of these tasks were monitored by its inbuilt computer system with particular attention to supporting the head properly at all times and, of course, reporting any harm. Miss had really been looking forward to the doll coming home. However, after 24 hours she changed her tune and abandoned ship. She’s had a cold and is really busy with dance, working at McDonald’s and school and was quite rational about it all in the end. She needed the sleep. Meanwhile, I wrote a post about my experience: Becoming An Instant Grandmother.
This week, I also took part in the Stream of Consciousness Saturday #SoCS for the first time. I really enjoyed it and was very pleased with the results. Here’s a link to my story: The Network Guy. In case you’re wondering, it’s about an IT Network Engineer like my husband, but this story is fictional.
Lastly, I couldn’t write about my week without mentioning two Aussie singing greats who passed away this week. Firstly, we lost the great Judith Durham from The Seekers. You might want to join me is singing along to Georgie Girl.
Then, there came heartbreak. Judith Durham was more from my parents’ era. However, the death of Olivia Newton-John was something else altogether. She’s been fighting cancer for a long time. So, it didn’t come as a surprise, but I was sad. However, instead of feeling devastated, I reflected on many happy memories and the joie de vivre she carried with her everywhere she went with her “love and light”. Personally, I can’t go past Olivia in Grease. I had a slumber party for my 13th birthday and we watched Grease on the VCR which was new tech back in 1982. One of the girls had been living in America and she’d already seen Grease 13 times and I was so impressed. Of course, that launched my own Grease marathon rewinding the tape and starting over. I have to include two songs from Grease in my ONJ tribute: You’re The One That I Want and at a slower pace: Hopelessly Devoted To You.
Anyway, that’s enough from me for this week. Now, it’s over to you.
Well, today I can actually offer you some balmy, invigorating sunshine after months, and months of miserable, very heavy rain accompanied by serious flooding in many places around NSW. Indeed, I was almost in shock when Geoff told it it was 22 degrees Celsius today, although I must confess that I was still wearing a light jumper which sounds a bit odd. Although we probably should’ve spent the day outdoors especially as the rain is seemingly returning on Tuesday for another cold and miserable five day stint. However, we did get down to the beach, which was still covered in debris from the floods and there were also a few impressive structures which had been made out of sticks along the beach. The creek doing it’s best to impersonate rapids although it didn’t come close. It’s also gained a few handmade bridges which intrepid children were happy to cross and they didn’t care if they fell in.
Last Thursday was Bastille Day. Did you do anything to celebrate? Well, my friend, Lisa, and I celebrated in style at Sous le Soleil French Restaurant in Sydney’s Roseville. We were marking 30 years since we were in Paris together for Bastille Day. It’s hard to believe now that we were ever actually there: watching the military parade along the Champs Elysee and by night sitting in the shadows of la Tour Eiffel marvelling as it glowed in the dark. Of course, there was the piece de resistence…the incredibly fire works display. I watched it on YouTube and it was magnificent, and you can see it here. One day, I will return!
Meanwhile, I’ve temporarily returned to life as a student. I’ve just completed week four of Freelance Journalism – Part One with the Australian Writers’ Centre. This week, we had to develop a story concept focusing on research and who we’re going to interview. We had a session on interviewing techniques which was rather helpful. However, I really enjoyed writing the profiles last week and it was interesting to read everyone’s efforts more from a point of view of getting to know the people in the course better and I found I had a few things in common. There was even someone doing adult jazz and ballet classes. I was doing an adult ballet class about a year before covid hit and absolutely loved it, but the studio doesn’t run them regularly.
Doing the course has been exciting, interesting, challenging and terrifying. I’ve been writing seriously for about 35 years and after ten years of regular writing on my blog, I thought I’d have it covered. However, writing feature articles is quite different to blogging. It’s in the third person and your opinion doesn’t matter at all. Indeed, unless you’re writing something like a travel story or you’re very famous or interesting, your opinion counts for naught. Humbling. So, instead of writing about what I know, I’m looking for other people who know stuff and statistics and it’s how I weave all of that together which makes a good feature article. I’m not sure how easy it’s going to be to make a living out of it, but at least I’m not short of ideas.
It’s been school holidays here, which for Miss involves dance and more competitions, exams and photographs. However, there were also challenges off stage. I have mentioned the rain many times over. Well, she was performing her Jazz solo at around 8.00pm and a massive deluge hit while we were there and our poor car was parked on the grass a good walk away and it was not an unrealistic concern that the car might get bogged. Indeed, the wheels were spinning and I tried to think like Geoff to get out of there and we got out. Saw the spot the next day and it was a mud bath. Oh golly. The things we contend with as parents for our little darlings! I felt like quite the survivor!!
it comes to this last competition, I also have a confession. For the first time ever, I didn’t stay for the duration and I left her behind to head off to my Bastille Day lunch. I admit I felt guilty and wondered whether I should reschedule the lunch and go the next day. Did it really matter if it wasn’t quite Bastille Day? Not really, although the restaurant and some of the diners did make it special. However, with Miss’s dance commitments being so intense, I’ve just had to accept I can’t be there all the time and she’ll need to accept that too. I can’t keep up.
Anyway, this brings me to the end of another weekend. School goes back on Tuesday and a friend of mine from Sydney is catching the ferry from Palm Beach to Wagstaff and I’ll drive round and meet her there. So, that’ll be good.
Well, t feels like I’ve been lost in space lately. However, I enrolled in a Freelance Writing Course at the Australian Writers’ Centre a few weeks ago and I’ve been head down bum up reading magazines and writing bibs and bobs. Well, this week which is rapidly turning into last week, we had to interview one of our fellow students and write a 500 word profile. Just to make it extra tricky, they get us to undertake this exercise BEFORE we’ve learned about writing profiles. There’s apparently motive for their madness and they’ve found over time that this works best. Anyway, the idea was that they emailed us through the name and contact email of our person last Monday. However, I don’t know what was wrong with me, but I couldn’t find the email and contacted them on Thursday and I didn’t recognise the name in the email and didn’t hear back from her for a few days. Meanwhile, another student had their person fall through and so we profiled each other. Then, my person turns up. She lives in rural Norway about an hour’s drive North of Oslo and the idea of getting to know someone from Norway better was too tempting. So, we ended up profiling each other too. It was a very interesting exercise and I ended up capturing pages and pages of information on each of them. While that was great in theory and certainly far better than being stuck for words, it was quite daunting. After all, we didn’t know each other. All we know is that we write. My thinking was to go broad so if there was a good story there, I’d collect it. However, the obvious thing to look at was why they’d enrolled in the course and why they write.
What really came out of it, was that the three of us are juggling a lot of different things as well as our writing but naturally feel very drawn to writing as our thing and have varying degrees of faith that we can do it. Being so busy, it’s easy to feel that we’re procrastinating about our writing or letting it slide. However, there are only so many hours in the day. I am quite fortunate that I’m not trying to do this course while holding down a full time job, while also having the family to consider. I can largely put my heart and soul into it, and I am very grateful to Geoff for that luxury. He’s been working flat out lately.
The weather has been dreadful again here and it’s been absolutely pouring with rain. To be honest with you, it’s been getting me down. Rather down. We’re just not used to this weather even though it has moved in and well and truly over stayed its welcome much of this year. However, I need to be grateful. We are not flooded. We are not being flooded for the second or third time in 12 months. I have a warm dog on my lap who doesn’t mind having the keyboard slapped on top of him and is absolutely gorgeous.
Anyway, I did manage to get out for a drive to Putty Beach about 20 minutes drive away from here. I stopped off at a nursery on the way and bought two rose bushes: a pink Queen Elizabeth rose and a yellow fragrant rose. They’re to represent my mum and dad. They’re still in the land of the living but I guess I’m feeling their absence because we haven’t seen much of them over the last two years since covid came along. I also bought an Australian native called a Golden Gem and a few primulas. When I arrived hom with my stash, our son said: “You’ve bought more plants to kill, have you?” Deary me! Oh son of little faith!
The beach itself was showing the signs of all the heavy rains and flooding. I don’t know what this beach looks like normally but it had a few estuaries running through it, which might not be there normally. There were a lot of fallen trees around and a massive tree floating just off the beach and a few logs rolling around in the surf. There was also a lot of spume in the water. This is the excess foam which whirls up in storms and t’s a bit like foamy whipped cream.
However, what particularly interested me were the various structures made out of sticks which dotted the beach. These were very well constructed and I was very impressed and wondered who’d made them. There was even a cubby house built into the side of one of the estuaries and I just love it. They’d even managed to get a chair and table inside, and the whole set up showed impressive ingenuity and creativity. There was also a well-constructed tent.
Last week, I also went to see Aladdin the Musical at Laycock Street Theatre in Gosford. It was fabulous and a family friend of ours played the Genie and did a fabulous job. She was hilarious. It’s the first time she’s been able to perform in a musical for two years due to covid, which is really rough so she was really excited to perform.
Lastly, I’d like to mention an exhibition coming up at the Beinart Gallery in Melbourne Annie Montgomerie: Fitting In It’s amazing and I encourage you to click through and check out the portrait of her socially awkward creations gathered together as diverse community. I love them, and am feeling very tempted to jump on a plane to check them out.
Well, how about we shift a pile or two of paraphernalia off the couch so you can sit down, and I’ll return with your choice of beverage and a plate of one of my favourite supermarket indulges…Ginger Kisses. These are a two biscuits of ginger sponge sandwiched together with a lux cream filling. I go through phases with my late night snack, and these are a returning addiction. Don’t know what they put in them, but they’re irresistible. However, just when I reached a point where I couldn’t live without them, they abruptly disappeared from the supermarket shelves and I had to go without. Being a resourceful woman, I hit the other local supermarkets and on my third hit, I stuck gold and bought all four packets (which by the way was all they had!) So, I hope you feel privileged that I’m actually sharing my stash with you, even if it’s virtual.
Do you have food shortages where you are? While relative to how things are going in some parts of the world, we still have it very good here. However, the cost and availability of fruit and veg is skyrocketing. Even the humble choko which used to be dirt cheap, is now $9.00 a kilo. As for iceberg lettuce, it’s overtaken toilet paper in discussions here. The crop was wiped out in the recent floods and Coles is now asking for $6.00 but it’s been up to around $10.00 in places. KFC, as only one example, has been substituting cabbage for lettuce on their burgers. It’s a tough life for some, and while I’m talking about prices, there’s the obvious increase in fuel prices. I wonder how people are getting on…
Well, I should’ve been keeping a closer eye on the time. I jumped on here to get this post written (or at least my link in place) before link up closed, but I got too engrossed in the price of lettuce and while I was rabbiting on, time ran away. Oh well.
My troubles with missing this wretched deadline is that I have historically written my post on Monday nights Sydney time and written about my weekend. On the other hand, most people seem to write about their week and they’re sharing on the weekend. I haven’t adapted to this change in mindset, and this week I’m rather under the weather. I had my fourth covid vaccine on Friday and I’ve been feeling sluggish over the weekend and my lungs haven’t been in their A1 condition. So, this week being late will just have to suffice and I’ll try again next week.
My big news this week, is that I finally enrolled in a freelance journalism course with the Australian Writers’ Centre online: Freelance Writing Stage 1. I first heard about this course about 8 years ago via my friend Shelley but didn’t follow it up. However, the course has now moved online and I’ve also come to realise that freelancing could give me the flexible income I’m looking for. Moreover, with Miss still at school and her dance and cheer commitments, I’d be stretched to juggle regular employmentin addition to my health issues.
I have now completed my first assignment which involved analysing a magazine. I chose frankie. Have you heard of it? It’s a quirky magazine geared towards up and coming creatives, artisans and like-minded peoples. I don’t know whether my fellow students absorbed their magazines quite to the level I did and I probably went well beyond and above the scope of the assignment by checking out all the featured artisans. I had a ball. It was like visiting an enthralling artisan market from home. Understandably, however, it took me a little longer to actually get the assignment done and unbelievably the deadline started getting close. It was only a simple assessment, and I could’ve polished it off earlier if I hadn’t been so thorough and I was also a bit confused about how to pick out freelance contributions. However, I’ve also picked up Caravanning Australia as a magazine of interest, and eliminated Great Walks (this should be named exhausting never-ending hikes or Are We There yet? It’s way beyond my meagre fitness level). So, my market research has begun. The group also has an line chat function we’ve already begun bouncing ideas off each other.
Meanwhile, the Miss has been busy. Yesterday, she completed in the State Cheer and Aerobics Championships and her team were the State Champions and gold medallists. She also placed third and received a bronze medal for her individual cheer performance. This means she’s off to Nationals on the Gold Coast, which is very exciting and a bit of a what the? I’m not used to our family competing at that level on the sporting front. Meanwhile, on Thursday, she’s off to the Sydney Eisteddfod to compete with her ballet solo and lyrical number. Wow! She’s a busy girl and we are by default. Wish her luck. It’s the classical ballet solo which really matters!
Anyway, I might head off now. I managed to sleep through the first half of the day and jumped on here before I’d had breakfast or even my first cup of tea for the day. So, I’d better reverse engineer my day and get on with it.
How have you been? I missed last week. I was flat out and before I knew it, it was Monday afternoon. So, here I am on Sunday afternoon trying to get ahead of myself this week. By the way, I can offer you some home baked Chocolate & Pecan Cookies, which are pretty scrumptious along with a cup of tea, coffee or even something random if you like. We’ll look after you here. However, I should warn you that we have three dogs and they make things rather lively for unsuspecting visitors.
Before I go any further, I would like to invite you to check out a conference held in Sydney for Young People called Standing Tall. They had a day of speakers and the day was livestreamed and available online for three months. I watched in myself and really found myself changed at the end of the day and having faith that I can actually make my dreams happen. Wrote a post which includes links to other motivational videos posted by the speakers. I was stunned at the amount of really good quality talks available free online. While the program is geared towards young people, it’s suitable for all ages. It’s not often I say this, but I challenge you to check it out here via my post: Learning to Dream Again After Standing Tall.
It’s Winter here. However, the weather has been glorious lately albeit a little chilly at times. Last weekend, Geoff and I were finally able to visit my parents in Sydney after a 12 month break due to covid lockdowns and ongoing cautious isolation. My parents have a glorious, well-established cottage garden. The camellias are flowering and they have these massive camellia reticulatas whose flowers are as big as saucers and even stunning when they’ve fallen from the tree into the groundcover down below. https://www.camelliagrove.com.au/
We also went whale watching last weekend, which was more about water watching instead. We might have seen the odd flicker in the water, but that was it. However, as you’ve no doubt heard before, it’s more about the journey than the destination. I was proud of myself for getting up the hill and onto the headland, especially as the track was pretty rugged with plenty of rounded rocks just waiting to trip me up. Unfortunately, I haven’t been walking too much over the last couple of days and need to catch up. Apparently, I’ve only taken 110 steps today. That isn’t entirely true. I’ve been sorting things out at home and have physically exerted myself but didn’t have my phone on me.
Lately, I’ve stepped up more with my writing and have entered two competitions. There was a 500 word piece for a Furious Fiction competition run by the Australian Writers’ Centre, and I also entered a 250 word competition out in Mudgee in Western NSW which had to be based on a photo and you have include the photo. Note that I said “include” and not “attach”. They wanted everything hard copy and there will be an exhibition. I only found out about the competition the night before so I had to work pretty hard turning all that around and getting it in the post in time, and am rather chuffed that I pulled it off. I now have a list of upcoming competitions and am putting myself out there. Of course, everyone wants to win, but entering in itself is a win of sorts and far better to throw your hat in the ring and lose, than not having a go.
Well, we’ve been beavering away on the house, and it’s starting to pay off. We have way too much stuff, and we are trying to downsize but temptation keeps crossing my path. Yesterday, I just happened to find myself at another second-hand book sale. This time I didn’t count my haul, but it must be close to 50. That might sound insane, but when you consider I paid $25.00 for them, it makes a lot of sense. The only issue is how am I going to read them all? Anyway, I touched on all of this is my previous post for What’s On My Bookshelf? for June.
How has your week been? I hope it’s gone well.
Anyway, this has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Natalie the Explorer.
Let me offer you a warming tea, coffee or perhaps even a mug of hot chocolate. It’s freezing here, and it’s feeling like we’re down in the snow country, although I’m still able to move my fingers, so I shouldn’t be complaining too much. I’m just waiting to drive our daughter to school and filling in a few minutes, and I’m grateful for the warmth of Zac the dog on my lap who is no doubt reciprocating.
How was your week, and what did you get up to?
The highlight of my week was going to an art exhibition opening on Saturday afternoon at La Carta Art Gallery in Wyong, My friend’s teenaged daughter, TP, was among the exhibiting artists, which is what took me there. I love her work and it’s so good to see an artist in the making, and watch her insights and talent evolve. We rarely get that opportunity and usually only see the finished product, and by this stage, it’s usually well beyond our price range. During the week, I’d already seized the day, and had bought her charcoal sketch: The Cat. . It was funny because people seemed to assume I’m a cat person. However, as most of you know, we’re dog people here and have three lively dogs of our own. Besides, that wasn’t why I bought it. I thought the perspective was very clever and I loved the expression on the cat’s face and it’s huge, wide eyes. I wonder what it was looking at…
Meanwhile, I also fell in love with the work of another artist, Lena Nimmo, who is more around my vintage. She had quite a number of paintings in the exhibition, including many people. Should I be calling these portraits? I don’t know. I was captivated by quite a number of them, especially a woman with dark hair and some kind of look in her eyes. I’m not an art critic. I just found the woman intriguing and was drawn in. I almost could’ve bought that painting, along another painting of a young woman playing the piano. Pianos have been such a part of our family life, but I have so many of my own photos and the same old problem of limited wall space. However, then I spotted a painting of a woman praying, The Prayer, which had been inspired by a 1914 work by Felice Casorati. To be honest, I much prefer Lena’s version. It’s absolutely exquisite, and I’m giving it to my mum. It was her birthday on Saturday, and she is a woman of faith who always starts the day by reading her Bible.
By the way, I really enjoyed myself, and I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to immerse myself back in the art world again after being in lockdown and isolation for most of the last year, along with the year before. It gave me a bit of a jolt. This is what I’ve been missing out on. It inspired me to venture out further. Embrace more of living However, covid is still around, and it’s Winter and flu season here. I’m planning to get my fourth covid vax and the flu vax this week. Apparently, you can get them together which sounds practical, but I wonder how I’ll feel afterwards. Yet, there’s part of me that wouldn’t mind a few days in bed with a good book. One of the downsides of getting back to our so called “normal” is driving all over the place again. Some days I feel like a buzzing bee.
Over the weekend, I also submitted a 500 word short story into a Furious Fiction competition held by the Australian Writer’s Centre. I’m not sure quite what I can mention about my story online. However, I wrote about a family grappling with Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy. There are two sisters who find out they are carriers after Sally’s son is diagnosed at age four. Bridget has a daughter and because Duchenne’s is largely passed on to males, she’s okay but could be a carrier. The story is set just over a year after Sally’s son has died, and his massive electric wheelchair is still taking up most of their loungeroom, and they haven’t been able to part with it. I guess part of what I was looking at was that pressure to move on and what to hold onto and what to let go. As I worked on the story, I added in that he’d played boccia, which is a variation on bocce, which is played by severely disabled people, providing a sporting outlet. In my story, he’d been part of a fictional Australian team who’d won gold in Rio. In part, the story was inspired by Australian Paralympic gold medallist, Kurt Fearnley . I’ve heard him speak and he’s also written a very inspirational book Pushing the Limits: Life, Marathons & Kokoda. Many of you, would not be aware that following the birth of our 16 year old daughter, I was struck down by a muscle-wasting autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis, and spent eight weeks in hospital and rehab trying to get back on my feet. I was very debilitated, and to be perfectly honest with you, don’t know how I’m still here or how I’m doing so well these days. It’s a real testimony to the motto; “never give up”, because there were many times it was tempting, which at the same time, I fought like a bat out f hell to survive. I know that might sound contradictory, but that’s what it’s like with real emotions when the rubber hits the road. It’s tough. Of course, you’d rather be at the beach and chilling out. It is what it is, and I can’t describe the relief, especially now that the worst of covid has passed and we have a vaccine and anti-virals.
Well, that’s about enough from me for this week. However, I thought I’d share with you the link through to the past winners of the Furious Fiction competition because their stories have been published and the judges have also provided feedback, which is very helpful: https://www.writerscentre.com.au/blog/category/furious-fiction/
Wow! I can’t believe I actually went somewhere. In fact, I’ve even been to somewheres. It’s been an exceptionally busy week, but so very rewarding.
I’m going to get the ball rolling, by sharing what I’ve been up to first.
Firstly, on Thursday and Friday last week, I attended a Suicide Intervention Course called ASIST, which is put together by a telephone crisis service called Lifeline. The course usually costs $600.00 but they were offering it free of charge to locals thanks to Rotary sponsorship. I know that doing two solid days of this must sound incredibly heavy. There were parts where my hand turned noticeably red, and I gathered I’d got a bit too worked out. However, my overall feeling was that doing the course was more uplifting than heavy going since the training helped me feel much more capable and empowered.
Yesterday, we drove down to Sydney for Miss to compete in a lyrical troupe dance at the Sydney Eisteddfod. Because we’ve seen the dance before and it was going to cost $50.00 to attend, we decided to go out for an early dinner at an adjacent Vietnamese restaurant instead. We had been there almost precisely a year ago when she competed in last year’s Eisteddfod and we hadn’t been able to get back due to covid lockdowns and being cautious. So, this felt like quite a treat and I was so excited to enjoy scrumptious crispy chicken and prawn pancake known as Bánh xèo. it was so good. We also managed to check out an exhibition of street art, and we also came across two of the massive inflatable gnomes which are in Chatswood at the moment, and we also found an exquisite bakery and bought a chocolate mouse cake shaped like a very cute puppy dog and a mango coconut mouse cup. Yum.
Today, we ended up pointing the car in the opposite direction and driving to Newcastle for Miss to compete in the School Aerobics Championships where she competed in cheer and aerobics. Everybody did really well and they all made it through to the State competition which will be held in St Ives, Sydney in a month’s time. If they get through that, it’s off to the Gold Coast for Nationals.
Afterwards, we drove down to The Junction, a popular part of Newcastle where Mum’s cousin’s family owns a wonderful restaurant, Tallulah, but it had just close when we turned up, and so we headed across the road to the Grumpy Baker. Well, the baker might be grumpy, but we can assure you, none of the patrons were grumpy indulging in their scrumptious sensations. Even their sausage rolls had been elevated to highly delicious heights and we were most disappointed that we missed out on seconds after someone else bought the last two from under our noses. Golly, it all made a very strong argument for heading back North up the freeway.