Category Archives: weekend coffee share

Weekend Coffee Share… 22nd June, 2020

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How was your week that was? Perhaps, you might need a cup of tea or coffee while you reflect on that and a Tim Tam might also get the brain cells moving. They were on sale this week, and we have what would be a year’s supply of Tim Tams for the more restrained consumer stashed away in the cupboard. However, please don’t accuse us of food hoarding in these lingering days of Covid 19, as these supplies could well only last us a week, especially if the teenagers stage a raid!

It’s Winter here, and to be honest, it feels like I’ve spent the last week snuggled up in my dressing gown and ugg boots. However, I know I’ve been out and about within a fairly confined circuit because I’m still social isolating and being careful as much to avoid Winter colds and flus as much as Covid 19. I don’t know how I’d go living somewhere it actually gets cold. I’ve been huddled by the heater rugged up and it’s been 18°C. I clearly have no resilience to the cold at all!!

Lady June 2020

Lady is clearly thinking mischievous thoughts and is in stealth mode.

That said, I did manage to get Lady to the beach for a walk and I actually clocked up around 5000 steps. However,  I wasn’t so virtuous on Saturday. I talked instead of walked and the sun set before I managed to get going. As I picked up dinner, my phone flashed a report on my screen usage and congratulated me on 5 seconds of exercise. How’s that for impressive!! Well, at least I went for a walk while I was waiting for our meal.

Lady & Ron Kallmier

Lady and I ran into a friend who’d caught this huge salmon down at the beach. As I took the photo, I wasn’t watching the dog and as you can see, her nose in only millimetres away from the fish… the scallywag!

I’ve done a lot better on the research front. I’m continuing my research into the stories of Australians serving in France during WWI. I’m really excited about how this is going and how lucky I am to be putting these stories together in 2020 when I have so many resources online at my fingertips and I can flit around all over the place to build really comprehensive profiles. It really enhances my capacity to get inside their shoes, slip inside their skin and try to get some idea of how they lived, breathed and possibly even viewed the world around them. Or, at least, I can delude myself into believing I can. After all, these people aren’t going to be so obsessed with themselves on so many different levels as I am, and they might even appreciate finding out what I’ve put together and would get quite a surprise. I certainly haven’t allowed for things like getting a song stuck in their heads for hours on end. Or, what it’s like to basically be a bloke. That is exceeding the realms of even my over-zealous research. Moreover, I also need to factor in what goes on in my own mind. Sometimes, there’s absolutely no traffic at all, and at other times, the same thought can get stuck driving round and round the roundabout, and there’s equally very little to report. So after that rethink, I’m going to retract my great confidence about stepping into these soldiers boots and confess that no matter how much research I do, they’ll still be characters where the facts will always be infused with a dose of me along with the effects of being buried in history for over 100 years.

The other thing I wanted to mention this week, is that I am now well on the way towards resetting my sleep patterns. I’m not sure whether I’ve ever truly confessed about just how out of synch my sleeping habits have become during lock down. Although I’ve been a night owl for some time and might get to bed around 1.00 am, this has slipped back a considerable notch and I was going to bed at 3.00 am most nights and waking up at midday. Indeed, some days, I was waking up in the afternoon. I was rather embarrassed about this, and it wasn’t working for me or anyone else. It was like I’d become a shift worker living in a time zone all of my own, and it needed to change. Now, I’m gradually working towards waking up at about 7.00 am to help get the kids off to school. Geoff’s still working from home, so I’ve been let off the hook. So, next week, I’ll  be down to 9.00 am. Being Winter and losing so many hours of sunlight, sleeping through the day simply doesn’t make sense so I’m pleased to be seizing more of the day.

Lastly, I wanted to update you on the story of Will Callaghan, a non-verbal teenager on the Autism Spectrum, who went missing for two nights in bush land in Victoria a few weeks ago. A friend of his mother’s is now hosting a fundraising campaign to help make the family’s life a bit easier. As you could imagine, looking after Will and his brother, who is also on the spectrum, has additional challenges and it’s also equally important to look after carers and ensure they are not stretched to breaking point. If there’s a way we as the community can help lighten the load, we need to try to do what we can. This is most certainly challenging atm when so many people are in need. However, what strikes me about this family is that their needs are long-standing and ongoing. There isn’t that capacity to plan for a rainy day or build a nest egg. It’s more a case of getting by and hoping the wheels don’t fall off. Anyway, here’s the link: https://www.mycause.com.au/page/229759/will-callaghan

Anyway, I’d like to have something more exciting to share with you next week, but it looks like that will have to wait. Excitement seems to involved large crowds, partying, swinging from the chandeliers. However, I’m hoping to find somewhere new and interesting to explore on foot and through the lens, and there’s always the possibility of unplanned excitement in this household, but that wasn’t the kind of excitement I had in mind.

So, how was your week? I hope you and yours are staying safe from the dreaded Covid 19. Melbourne’s having a few troubles, but it’s all good here.

Take care and stay safe!

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Ali

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share…15th June, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This week, I have a very special treat to share with you…a magical chocolate cupcake. After watching Masterchef, I went the extra mile on these and pulled out the piping bag, giving them a knockout chocolate fettuccine hairstyle. However, you have to fight for them. Before I’d iced them, the dogs stole seven of them. Can you believe it?!! What’s more they didn’t left any evidence. Not even a crumb on the bench. It’s like the simply vanished. That’s why they’re magical cupcakes. Anyway, I took them along to Church for morning tea and they were shown off under the glass just like in a real cafe and they looked a million dollars. So, I hope you enjoy them.

chocolate cupcake

As we meet up for another Weekend Coffee Share, I wonder what’s going on in your neck of the woods and how you’re going.

Our world is so churned up at the moment, it’s hard to know quite where to start and considering I’ve been living in my cave, I’m not even going to try to comment on what’s going on out there. I keep seeing flashes of things on the TV and no longer know what to make of anything. I just can’t understand why people can’t all just be people, see others as people and just show some respect. For me, the Golden Rule offers a simple guideline on how to treat people. It’s not rocket science…treat others as you would like to be treated. You can even take it a step further and apply the inverse Golden Rule, which aims to treat people as they would like to be treated. Of course, this has nothing to do with racist violence.

However, here in Australia, we had a magnificent example of how we can get it right when rescuers developed a personalised rescue plan to find a missing non-verbal youth, Will Callaghan, who is on the Autism Spectrum. The outpouring of love for Will and his family was really phenomenal and truly warmed my heart. So much so, that I had to write about it myself: Finding Hope On Mt Disappointment.

After that, much else fell into flat relief.

However, I had a bit of a turning point for myself.

I went to the shops.

I didn’t immerse myself in the shops. Just popped in to pick up a lay-buy and was twinkle-toeing like a burglar trying to get in and out without coming into contact with anyone, and most importantly maintain social distancing so I didn’t inhale the same air. However, the shop is still closed until further notice, which was rather disappointing after working myself up so much just to be able to walk in, pull out my credit card and pay for my grey tutu skirt.

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Even sitting at a humble picnic table has been mission impossible during the coronacrisis. 

OMG! Living during this coronacrisis has taken the simple, and turned it into the ridiculous. However, I still can’t be too careful. The virus is out there, although in the case of the Australian context, that’s becoming doubtful. However, there’s still the odd isolated, unexplained case and I don’t want those to include me. Moreover, now it’s cold outside, it’s becoming more comfortable at home.

After navigating my way around the shopping centre successfully, I decided to attend our Church life group on Friday night. It was being held at our friend’s place which is perched up on poles in the gum trees. I love his place, as it’s filled with all sort of eclectic vintage and antique treasures and looks like a cosy museum. Everyone was really upbeat to be back together again, but it took me a bit of time to get my bearings, find a seat which social-distanced effectively and I was really grateful that my friends understood and didn’t treat me like a fruitcake, because I’m not naturally a germophobe. This has been thrust on me by my damaged lungs and the virulence and sneaky habits of Covid 19.

On Sunday morning, I went to physical Church for the first time in about 3.5 months. Our Church used to meet at the local community centre. However, the local Anglican Church went on the market and we decided to throw our hat in at the auction. Then, there was an anonymous million dollar donation and a phone call to the bank to find out about those mysterious zeros in the balance. Anyway, Sunday was our first service in the new building and what with us all coming out of lock down like something off the set of Sleeping Beauty, we were all so happy and bouncing all over the place. We had a BBQ afterwards of bacon and egg rolls and I was too embroiled to eat it and after having two friends pass me wipes to remove dripping egg from my personage, I decided to take it home where I could concentrate. I’m one of those people who spills their coffee while their talking on an ordinary day, let alone when I’ve been let out of isolation after 3.5 months, we’re in our new church home and surrounded by dear friends. Indeed, this is the sort of thing which can light all your matches at once and you can combust like in that book/movie by Laura Esquivel: Like Water For Chocolate.

By the way, my weekly walk continued. I went for a walk along Pearl Beach with my friend Roland on Thursday. We’ve walked along Pearl Beach before, although last time we took on the Western headland and walked around the rocks. This week we stuck to the sand and walked along the beach. There was a massive white cloud hovering above the horizon which looked like a massive white cauliflower with dense, tight curls. It was quite mesmerising and it had that feel that it could “beam me up, Scotty”, like a spaceship.

Ferry and big clouds2

The Spectacular Cauliflower Cloud. 

Then, we a pod of dolphins a few metres out. They seemed to be forming a circle around a school of fish. They were so much fun to watch, but unfortunately eluded my efforts to capture them with the camera. I wasn’t surprised as they’re difficult if not impossible to photograph but it would’ve been nice.

I turned back and noticed our footprints stretching back behind us in a perfect trail. There was perhaps one other person on the beach and we were just out of reach of the waves. I quickly took a few photos, as I sensed a poignancy there. Walking with my friend. It’s not something I do very often. It’s usually more of a case of “coffee”, which lately has been more likely to be a cup of tea. Thinking about it, that’s something I’d like to change as I like being in the outdoors and I need to do more walking.

By the way, I’d lost track of how long we’ve been hibernating at home. We checked out the usage on Geoff’s train Opal card, which he uses to get to work. That was last used on the 17th March, and I was probably in isolation a week or two before that. That means I’ve been in iso now for roughly 3.5 months with only going out for exercise until last week. So, i’m feeling a bit like Sleeping Beauty heading back out there again. Or, perhaps I’m just Sleepyhead.

The strange thing I found stepping back out there again, is that some people haven’t been out of action at all and have been out and about. They almost don’t comprehend that people like me have been out of circulation for 3-4 months and for some of us, we were also in a different form of lock down escaping the bush fire smoke last Summer. I’ve been very grateful to have my writing and research and indeed this time being locked away has really made a difference on that front. Doing my writing and research at home is my usual modus operandi but there isn’t that menacing threat out there and I can have a more balanced lifestyle and not be shut away from my friends both the ones I see on a more intentional basis but also the ones I see regularly when I’m out and about, especially at the dance school. I want you all back. Is that too much to ask? That said, I’ve been mighty grateful for all my friends on the blog. You’ve got me through, not only the coronacrisis, but life and I appreciate you so much.

Anyway, I asked you at the start how things are going in your neck of the woods, so that’s where I’ll finish up. how are you?

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Ali

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 8th June, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you and what is going on in your neck of the woods? I’d like to offer you a slice of Lemon Meringue pie with your cup of tea, coffee or whatever. I made it for my parents who both celebrated their 75th birthday this week. I added some raspberries to it, which made a wonderful addition. The raspberries were a bit light on as I wasn’t too sure how they’d go However, they went really well and I’ll add the full punnet in future. Not that I make Lemon Meringue Pie all that often, but I’ve been doing more baking since Covid 19 came along and Masterchef 2020 is also on at the moment giving me plenty of inspiration and intimidation.

 

If we were to meet up for coffee in person, I know we’d probably be talking about the riots and #blacklivesmatter. I live in Australia. So, I’m geographically removed from what’s going on in America, although the TV brings it into our living room and it’s hard to know how much the news represents what’s going on over there. While I think the original #blacklivesmatter hashtag was a great rallying cry following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police, I’m not so sure about using it in such a broad-sweeping sense because every life matters and there are a lot of people who are equally being discriminated against, killed and also dying from neglect. As a person living with a disability, people in my community have been denied access to wheelchairs or basic equipment needs and lack a voice. A woman with cerebral palsy recently died due to neglect by her carer. Aboriginal people here have adopted  #Blacklivesmatter to raise public awareness of Aboriginal deaths in custody which really does need to be acknowledged and addressed. It slips so easily under the carpet, and it’s hard to keep up with all these horrid things in our communities which definitely need to be addressed and fixed now and not consigned to some politician’s eternal inbox where it never sees the light of day. I personally believe that if we treated everybody with respect and applied the Golden Rule and tried to put ourselves in other people’s shoes, as Harper Lee says in To Kill A Mockingbird, that much of the discrimination, inequality and hate would at least be reduced. However, some communities have particular areas where more is focus and action are needed and I understand the need for the slogan #blacklivesmatter even though every life also matters. It’s to draw attention. Have an impact. Make us sit up and notice, and that’s important too because it’s very easy for each and every one of us to get very comfortable in our easychairs at home and be oblivious to what’s going on beyond our own four walls. My own ignorance abounds and I’m generally living back in WWI with my research. It’s such a long way away from the present, that it’s easy to forget anything is going on beyond what I can see.

While it’s important to highlight discrimination, struggles, hate etc certain groups might be experiencing, it’s also important, indeed critical, to keep building bridges between people and we’ve seen so many examples of that during these protests. People coming together across that so-called black-white divide and embracing each other in love (and despite Covid 19 restrictions). There is good and bad everywhere, but it’s important that we stay informed somehow of what is going in the bigger picture and don’t close our eyes to suffering, injustice, cruelty and neglect.

Anyway, I don’t know if you wanted to come over here and talk about all of that over coffee. However, I couldn’t not talk about it and I’d really like to see some really strong role models rise up out of this to lead us forward and on a global scale. Let’s see humanity unite and connect building bridges right around the world and make everyone feel at home, safe, valued and at peace.

 

 

Meanwhile, my photography walks continue. Last Friday, I decided to head over to another local beach at Killcare about a 15 minute drive away. However, in the absence of any signage, I took a wrong turn and ended up at MacMasters Beach 10 kilometres further down the road. It also turned out that the battery for my SLR had failed to charge. That left me taking photos with my phone. Being a committed SLR photographer and unashamed snob, as far as I was concerned, I might as well be taking photos with my shoe. However, while they turned out quite well, and using my phone is certainly much easier than lugging the camera around, I’m not a convert yet.

Despite all these mishaps, MacMasters was breathtakingly beautiful. I stopped off at the Barefoot Cafe for some homemade prawn spring rolls, which were scrumptious and deliciously crunchy and I’ve been plotting my return ever since. Meanwhile, rather than walking along the beach, I decided to walk across the rocks to the headland and watched the surfers as I went. It was all quite mesmerising, particularly as I reflect back on it now from the relative blandness of our lounge room. Indeed, from that perspective, it was absolutely magnificent!! I’d love you to join me at: Surfing Through The Lens.

Meanwhile, yesterday, we drove down to Sydney to celebrate my parents’ 75th Birthdays. It was Dad’s birthday yesterday and Mum’s through the week. Thanks to the blessed coronavirus, we just celebrated with our family and my brother. As I mentioned before, I made an Leon & Raspberry Meringue Pie and Dad picked up a chocolate meringue cake from a local French Chocolate shop. It’s to die for. Except if you die, you can’t go back for a second piece. It was a shame not to catch up with my aunts, uncles and cousins, but getting all of that crew together isn’t as easy as it used to be either. We’ve scattered and outgrown a standard table as well.

MacMasters Beach feet

Lastly, I’m trying to find a way forward for my violin and have taken up the piano again hoping they’ll fuel each other on. I’d like to record my piano playing and accompany myself on the violin and put together a CD just for myself. Something to work towards. The music school has been closed for a couple of months now due to covid restrictions and i’m going to take the next term off as well to fund a keyboard synthesizer. My son who is studying entertainment and sound at school and helping out at Church, tells me that a note on a keyboard is like a button which triggers off a chain reaction of sorts. I’ll be interested to see it in action. Meanwhile, I’ve been playing Leonard Cohen’s Alleluia on my daughter’s keyboard and setting it to tenor saxophone, which sounds very moody and atmospheric. I’m also playing New York and pretending I’m a violin-version of Frank Sinatra in a pink dressing gown, spotty pink PJs and ugg boots. It’s not quite the New York look, but that’s me in lock down.

Daleys Point2

Sunset Daleys Point 

Anyway, it’s really got very late and I need to get to bed.

I hope you and yours are keeping safe and are finding a way to navigate a path through everything that’s going on at the moment.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Ali

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share – 1st June, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share.

How are you?

I don’t always ask that first up. However, given everything that’s going on at the moment, I wanted to see how you are and hope you’re going okay. It’s fine if you’re not. Well, it’s not fine, is it?!! However, with so much going on in some parts of the world, it can be very overwhelming. I wanted to acknowledge that and simply say: “we’re thinking of you”.

All of this seems so far away from our backyard, which has been receiving considerable attention during “iso” and is actually improving. On the other hand, so much else has gone down the toilet along with all that precious loo paper. Yet, in this modern world, nothing is faraway. Much of the time, we end up absorbing foreign news as though it were our own. Besides, many of these issues such as the coronavirus and inequality, are global concerns. Our daughter’s been following the George Floyd protests very closely via Tik Tok and wanting to join a local protest march here in Australia supporting Black Lives Matter. I said no due to concerns about the coronavirus. However, I’m also concerned about her safety if things get out of hand. Although protesting and having having a heart for social justice are in her genes and I’m proud of her, I’m still her mother and it’s my job to keep her safe.

school whiteboard

Our Daily Timetable Provided A Phantom Framework to School At Home. 

Meanwhile, last week was fairly stressful. The kids returned to school after being in lock down for a month, and that was stressful, chaotic and strangely felt just as weird as doing school from home. Students across the board aren’t themselves. My SIL also started treatment for breast cancer and I feel like hitting someone, something over the head with a baseball bat over that. How dare they! I’m sure many of you would also like to join a protest march against cancer. The chances of survival have improved a lot, but that still doesn’t mean you want your loved ones going through all of this. My other concern is trying to be an adequate support person. I know all of us have done it. We’ve meant to write the card. We might even have bought the gift. However, nothing makes it into the mail. You don’t ring. Time drifts by and added to procrastination, there’s the guilt, embarrassment, even shame. After all, don’t we all want to be the one who drops off a meal just when it’s needed? Buys that much needed soft blanket to keep them warm during treatment? Anyway, I finally managed to post a card yesterday about 4 days after I wrote it, and I stuck in a shell I found on my walk around Patonga. At least, now I’ve done something.

Like many others, I’ve also been struggling to sleep and have found myself in a dreadful cycle of going to bed around 3.00 am and waking up at Midday or even later. Indeed, I’ve ended up on “Rowie Time” and it isn’t working for me, or anyone else. While I’ve heard about how to break challenging sleep patterns, I haven’t really wanted to until now that I’m ending up with a few scant hours of disappearing sunlight every day, and I also need to help get the kids off to school. Anyway, you’ll be proud of me today. I actually got up at the official wake-up time of around 7.00 am. It’s the first time I’ve seen the morning for quite awhile and I’ve been quite energetic and productive, which has surprised me.

DSC_0004

A Molten Sunset Through the Norfolk Pines, Patonga.

Although it’s the first day of Winter, I also managed to lie on a blanket outside on the grass in the sun and read a few chapters of my book. I was pretty stoked, as I can’t remember ever doing this. Two of our three dogs, Rosie & Zac, were just as happy. A human lying the grass on a rug, made for an easy target, and Rosie repeatedly dropped the rope toy on my back and waited beside me with baited breath.  Clearly, she had no respect for my serenity, and Geoff wasn’t any better. He said I’d invaded the dogs’ territory. What did I expect? As usual, I was out numbered.

Meanwhile, last night was a dramatic night on Masterchef. As I might have mentioned before, Masterchef started filming before Australians went into lock down, and this very weird, unnatural state of “social distancing” became our way of life. While it might be a relief for those who don’t like to be touched, not being able to hug our non-residential family members and friends has been difficult and quite frankly weird for most of us. Moreover, for some people living alone, the complete lack of physical contact from anyone, has been exceptionally hard. One of my close friends is a swinging from the rafters character who lives alone, and all the venues from Churches, gyms, cafes to pubs and clubs are all closed. It’s the sort of thing you’d do to torture someone, not to be kind.

Anyway, while we’ve been doing social isolation with the family and dogs at home, I’ve loved watching pre-iso Masterchef with everyone hugging, talking, laughing being friendly. It was so good to be surrounded by normal and leave this fruitcake world behind for a few hours. However, now the madness has caught up. Last week, the contestants were spread-out through the kitchen “social distancing”. However, nothing prepared me for young Jess’s heartbreaking elimination where the tears started to flow, she crumpled, imploded and no one could reach out to physically touch her. It was hard to watch on TV, and I had a pretty good idea that she was going from the ads. Moreover, I know, we all know, NO HUGS. However, how unnatural and unhuman is this? There wasn’t one person on that show who wasn’t shattered and feeling the need to come together. However, instead of their usual huddle, everyone went through this standing alone. It must’ve been so very hard for everyone there, her very close friends and  Masterchef Family not to be able to comfort her in a physical way as was their norm only a week or so before. It is madness. If I didn’t already know this strange world we’re living in is utterly mad, I knew it then as Jess exited the Masterchef kitchen distraught and alone (no doubt some assistance must’ve been given off camera). It was heartbreaking.

Gee, I wish this virus would go away! Pack its bags and never come back!!

Talk about understatement!!

Meanwhile, I made it out for a walk and a paddle this week. For the walk, I drove about 15 minutes away to Patonga and walked along the beach and onto the rocks and photographed the sunset. Then, yesterday, Geoff and I drove round to Tascott on Brisbane Waters (a 15 minutes drive the opposite direction) for him to get out for a sail on the laser while I paddled around on the kayak. The Sailing Club is starting to open up again, and Geoff wanted to get the Laser out for a test sail as the winter series starts up next weekend. It was good that he did, as there were a few problems to iron out. Although there was no wind, and so he didn’t manage to get the boat set-up and ended up Sailing In The Park. However, we did make it out on the kayak. I went out by myself while he was working on the boat and then we went out together. This was in our big yellow two-seater plastic kayak we affectionately call “The Bathtub”. For awhile there, I was Paddling Through the Clouds. I could’ve been a thousand miles away from civilization, except main road traffic was rumbling past beside us.

Tascott

Tascott Looking Towards Woy Woy

Aside from waking up early this morning and lying out in the backyard soaking up some rays reading my book, I also managed to fit in some gardening. We visited our elderly neighbours on Saturday and we’ve been very close to them the whole time we’ve been living here. They’re about 90 and they’re English. As children, they were living in London during the blitz and were sent away to the country for awhile, but ended up going back and Mr attended Sandhurst Road School which was bombed on Wednesday, 20 January 1943 when a German fighter-bomber dropped a single 500-kilogram (1,100 lb) bomb on the school at 12:30 pm, killing 38 children (32 killed at the school and 6 more died in hospital) and 6 staff and injuring another 60 people. He and his mate were walking back to the school after lunch and the plane actually shot at them as they walked down the street. It was terrifying, but makes for a great story now. Anyway, they have quite a lovely garden, and I took some cuttings from the geraniums and planted them in compost from the worm farm. They should take off like Jack’s bean stalk with all those nutrients. 

Sunset Tascott 2020

A Much More Muted Sunset At Tascott than Patonga.

Lastly, I managed to get a contribution off to Friday Fictioneers again last week. I was quite thrilled with last week’s contribution which drew from such a plethora of sources to build a story all of its own. This piece was called Salvaging The Masterpiece.

As I head off, I wanted you all to know that I’m thinking of you. Some of you I know quite well and have a reasonable idea of your whereabouts on this big small world of ours. Others, I don’t. However I am conscious that we live in troubled times and I am thinking of you wherever you are.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Ali

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Weekend Coffee Share – 26th May, 2020

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

I’m not going to lie to you. The weather today is absolutely appalling. That’s not just because I’m some wussy Australian who can’t handle  the rain…or the cold.

Well, maybe I am.

However, it’s beyond my control. My DNA’s been reprogrammed by the heat and rain is such a rare thing here at times, that I almost don’t know what it is when I see it.

Moreover, I’m not alone in this either. Lady, our Border Collie x Kelpie wanted to go outside tonight but as soon as she stuck her nose out and saw the rain, she changed her mind.

Well, we had some big news here. Last Monday schools here in NSW were literally ordered back full time by the Minister for Education , just like a frigging dictator. There’s been little thought or accommodation for people in high risk categories. We’ve simply been told that zoom won’t continue. Unless you provide medical documentation, your child will be marked absent and consult your school principal. As you can see, it really annoyed me, and put me in a really dreadful position of having to choose between my kids’ education and potentially my own survival. However, the incidence of the virus here in Australia is seemingly so low, that I do think and hope that the risk is minimal.

So, we’ve had to get the household adjusted and prepared for back to school. It’s all been made much easier by having Geoff working from home. He’s showing no sign of needing to go back to working in the office, which is great.

Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to get our for some exercise. I can’t quite recall whether it’s only been the one walk. However, last week I went on a wonderful walk   to the Mt Ettalong Lookout which is about 10 minutes drive from home and on the way from Umina Beach to Patonga. From the road, it’s pretty unassuming. So much so, that it’s simply known as “the water tower walk” locally. However, it has breathtaking coastal views over natural rock lookouts and you almost feel like an intrepid explorer looking over the headland out to sea. I also loved the trees and wildflowers, which really came alive to me. I call myself a tree gazer. I find so many shapes and forms in their exquisite boughs and branches and I was there right on magic hour right before sunset when the magic was at its best. You can read more about it HERE.

Matchsticks

What with the whole Covid 19 situation, I’ve found myself in a fairly reflective mood at times. In fact, I’ve caught myself going through my misery list a few times. You know that list of losses and everything that’s gone wrong and been totally unfair. Well, I pulled myself up on it and decided to reflect on the first six months of 2020, through the framework of Acknowledgement & Gratitude. Acknowledgement recognizes those disappointments and setbacks without dwelling on them. You’re just visiting, and in the case of the Monopoly board you’re not going away to jail and staying there. I was quite surprised that my gratitudes outnumbered and also outweighed my acknowledgements by more than two to one. Indeed, that proved to be a very useful exercise and I encourage you to check it out here: Acknowledgement & Gratitude- 2020 Revisited.

I also got back into flash fiction this week, contributing to Friday Fictioneers. My flash this week as: Inside-Outside.

So, how are things going over in your neck of the woods? I hope they’re going well and you’re all keeping safe.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Ali

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 19th May, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Well, I guess I’d better ask all of you how you’re going first up and what’s happening around Covid 19 in your neck of the woods? You might need something stronger than a tea or coffee to get through that conversation. So, I’d better off you some chocolate. What do you prefer? We’ve acquired quite a stash in lock down. I’ve been doing the shopping online and snapping up chocolate on sale. It’s much tastier than toilet paper.

Quite frankly, I don’t know whether I’m Arthur or Martha at the moment. While I’m “creative” and not necessarily a great one for routine, I usually have the bare bones in place. Those activities which form a scaffolding and framework for the week and some sense of direction when you wake up in the morning. Indeed, you might actually wake up in the morning even the most chaotic and disorganized people and the freeist of free spirits have their anchor points. Indeed, I’m sure I had more structure when I was backpacking through Europe wandering like a cloud without a watch and no itinerary whatsoever, than living like this in Covid 19 lock down. What am I supposed to be doing? Where am I going?

Well, most of the time, the response to the latter is nowhere. Although I have been out for a few walks. This is what you term “exercise”, which sort of takes the buzz out of it to be honest, even if it does involve walking along our gorgeous beaches.

Oh, and before one of you remembers that I went down to Sydney to see my parents last weekend, I’ll stop being melodramatic, and express some gratitude for how well Australia’s getting through the coronacrisis and what a difference this has made to people like myself who are at high risk, and also to people with chronic or life-threatening conditions who depend on hospital beds. We’ve seen horrific scenes around the world but somehow we’ve been spared. It’s hard to understand, and I hope we have a handle on it now that restrictions are being lifted. It would be an absolute miracle.

Personally, I have to admit that the stress of having the coronavirus hanging round, particularly after having a few major asthma attacks during the Australian bush fire crisis and being locked away for a few months n the air-conditioned loungeroom, it’s a lot to deal with. The fact I’ve survived and got through without a scratch,  seems to minimize the battle and it’s like it never happened. My house didn’t burn down. I didn’t lose the lot. Nobody died. No trips to hospital. However, what our family has been through wasn’t nothing, and we’re not the only ones fighting these invisible battles beneath the radar either. It’s very hard, because it takes so much energy and thought to speak out that your emotions become quite intense and if the person you open up to doesn’t at least acknowledge your experience, you just give up. You don’t try again. Rather, you become silent, even though you might still be talking and the words are still coming out and your face, all except for your eyes, are smiling. In so many ways this is dangerous territory, because you’re rapidly disconnecting not only with those around you, but also to much of your self. That’s something those of us who know somebody who is going through a bit, especially an invisible battle, need to keep in mind.

Anyway,  restrictions are easing throughout Australia. Last Wednesday, our son returned to school for one day. That was quite interesting. When I asked him how it went, he mentioned the absolute silence. With so few students there, it was so quiet. He said that he could even hear the local trains going past, where usually he could only ever hear the horn. Our daughter hasn’t gone back to school yet. However, it looks like they’ll both be back to normal school hours next week. To be honest, that really freaks me out, and yet it’s perhaps a return to normal that we need, although I’m still concerned about them bringing home the virus and you just can’t presume that the kids will be okay themselves if they catch it. Meanwhile, having them home has felt like an extended holiday and it’s been great not having to drive them around. My son and I have been doing some cooking together and our daughter’s painted the back of her bedroom door cow pat, which looks really cool.

While some people have been Spring cleaning as their lock down activity, I’ve been writing but we’ve also been working on the house and yard and getting some renovations done. As you may recall, we bought a camper caravan for me to escape to if I need to quarantine from the family. It’s still parked out of the house, while Geoff sorted out the backyard, repair the garage roof and trimmed the bougainvillea before we could even start on restoring the camper. Then he won a few pallets of floorboards last weekend at an auction and  now I’m slowly moving the china out of the cabinet and relocating it wround the house. I don’t know if you’ve quite been on the hunt for real estate like this trying to squeeze your treasures into every nook and cranny. My friend works in a giftware shop and she does this all the time, and has a few casualties along the way. So, far so good. The piano is also going to be dismantled and put out for council cleanup. It’s really crappy, but I’m hoping I might be able to salvage some of the bits to stick them up somewhere around the house. I also want to make a sculpture of my grandmother the concert pianist where the pedals could become her feet. I’m not sure about how I’d build the rest of her, but I have some brass cuckoo clocks up in the roof, which I also thought about incorporating into a sculpture. By the way, what with storing up all these components, you might actually get the idea that I can actually sculpt, when I’ve never made a sculpture before in my life. That said, i did buy some wire and glue to make these papermache figures. Anyway, needless to say our house is bursting at the seams from all my inspirational ideas.

Meanwhile, I’ve been getting back into blogging again. I did my first Friday Fictioneers post for quite while and I also wrote  couple of poems which were inspired by Henri-Frederic’s: Journal Intime. I haven’t posted these as that limits what I can do with them. However, I did write a three part series reflecting back on our precious dog, Bilbo, who we lost three years ago. This wan’t soemthing I’d planned and to be perfectly honest, I woudl’ve opted for something more uplifting and funny at this point in time. However, there is humour in these posts as I reflect on Bilbo’s antics and I share about how we worked through our grief in perhaps some unconventional ways, which might help someone else get through their situation and perhaps feel less alone. I also want to leave these memories and reflections for our kids. They don’t pay much attention to Mum’s scribblings at the moment and I often feel I’m writing to myself when I really am often writing for them. That’s just the way it is and at least i have you friends out there who appreciate and encourage me in the present.

Anyway, here’s a link to the first of these stories which talks about Bilbo’s diet: The Dog We’ll Never Forget

My apologies for scooting off. Time has just flown away and I need to get to bed before sunrise this morning.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share.

Best wishes and please stay safe and well.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 11th May, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Yesterday, was Mother’s Day here in Australia. Geoff gave me a beautiful bunch of flowers, the kids did nothing and I ordered myself a book I’m really looking forward to receiving through the mail…Julia Baird’s: Phosphorescence. I can’t wait to read it, especially because I have a dreadful track record for buying books and not reading them, which mirrors my approach to gardening….buying plants and leaving them out the front dying of total neglect. So, wish me luck and I think you’d better hold me to an update next week. Hopefully, it should be here by then, but you never know with the post. Like everything else, it’s not running on all cylinders either.

We went down to my parents’ place in Sydney yesterday for Mother’s Day lunch. Up until a year or so ago, my mother had been coming up to our place once a week for something like 14 years, but we haven’t seen them since Christmas Day this year. It’s been so long that it even feels like a mistake. I’ve got it wrong. Geoff and I ended up with chest infections so we didn’t go down for the kids’ birthdays back in early March and then lock down slapped us in the face and cancelled Easter. And my brother’s birthday….So, our Mother’s Day Cake actually had Happy Birthday on it.

Happy Birthday Cake

An update on the coronavirus  here in Australia, We’ve currently had 95 deaths and have around 750 active cases. You could say we’ve been very lucky, and I guess in many ways we have. However, it’s more a case of wise judgement, quick action by the government, heeding the examples of Wuhan and Italy and knowing just how rampantly infectious this virus is before it got here.

I’ve also wondered whether there’s some kind of correlation between Australia’s response to the coronavirus and gun control. You might recall that Australia dramatically changed its gun laws following Tasmania’s Port Arthur massacre on the 28–29th April 1996 where 35 people were killed and 23 wounded in a mass shooting. Australia’s response is often used as a shining example of what is possible whenever America experiences another mass shooting. Once again, our infection rates are sending the rest of the world a message…Stay home and stay safe.

The big question for Australia and New Zealand is… where to now? Each state in Australia has different incidence rates and so there’s no overarching national prescription. At the moment, where we live in NSW, two adults and dependent children can visit someone at home, which allowed us to visit my parents for Mother’s Day yesterday. On Friday, restrictions will further ease  with 10 people being able to meet indoors and non-essential shops are starting to open. For many, this will be an alleluia moment. However, when you listen to our Chief and Deputy Medical Officers and our State Premier, there’s definite caution and the situation is described as “precarious”. We still need to social distance and people in high risk categories are still being told to stay home. I’m planning to lie low over the next two weeks and if the stats remain low, I’ll ease up a bit. After all, amidst all the optimism, there’s also the expectation of new cases and I need to ensure that’s not me. Indeed, we all need to think about how to keep our immediate circle and ourselves safe and work out from there and not necessarily just go by the rules. The more people we can keep out of circulation the better.  This is no time to be a lemming!

Billy the Bantam crop

Billy the Bantam arriving home in Sydney on board the China in 1919. 

Meanwhile, my research into WWI Australian soldiers serving in France continues. Last week, I found out my Great Great uncle’s battalion, the 13th, had a lively animal mascot, Billy the Bantam Rooster. He travelled all the way to France via Egypt and even managed to return home, unlike way too many of his human mates. On arrival at their billets in the French village of Steente-je near Bailleau, Billy immediately set about showing those French coq’s who was boss and defeated four roosters well over twice his size in a battle of David meets Goliath. Indeed, to use an old-fashioned Australian colloquialism, you could say Billy was as mad as a two bob watch (that was a cheap watch back in the days before decimal currency arrived in 1966.)

Amiel's journal

I was also chasing up on a quote which took me on a thrilling literary adventure. While reading a NSW Red Cross Journal from December 1916, I stumbled across this quote from Swiss philosopher and journal writer Henri-Frederic Amiel:

“Never to tire, never to grow cold; to be patient, sympathetic, tender; to

look for the budding flower and the opening heart; to hope always; like

God, to love always–this is duty.”

Henri-Frederic Amiel

This has led me to his Journal Intime, which was published by friends after his death and completely eclipsed his other life’s works. I have read throiugh the introduction and a couple of entries and am intrigued and gripped by what I’ve read so far. Have you encountered his work at all? I wrote an introductory post the other night: Midnight With the Philosopher’s Journal and will be posting more and would love you to join me.

I’ve also been watching Masterchef, which I’m enjoying as much as ever and the other night I watched Graeme Murphy’s production of Romeo & Juliet featuring the Australian Ballet. It’s possibly only the second ballet I’ve ever watched from start to finish, and to be honest, I prefer more of a medley with acts of various works put together. I couldn’t see the point of the start which was the court scene, but the death scene at the end was amazing and as tragic as ever. I’ve also been listening to podcasts from the Irish Times. I haven’t listened to a podcast before so that was yet another new thing I’ve tried since lock down and I’m pretty chuffed by my capacity to branch out and explore these new things.

No one is bored here, and we will be craving boredom over the next couple of weeks. Geoff noticed a few pallets of floorboards on an auction site and won the bid at 25% of retail. They come from a movie set and have barely been used. While FINALLY replacing our very cruddy carpet in the lounge room and conquering the adjacent kitchen dining areas sounds very exciting, there’s a staggering amount of work involved moving all the stuff out and it doesn’t help that i collect very delicate and fragile antique china. Indeed, our numerous collections aren’t going to make this much fun, and in the meantime we’ll be needing to store the floorboard. I can already feel a massive headache coming on. Indeed, make that a massive, skull crushing migraine. However, it will make a world of difference to our place. Wow. I can’t wait. I can’t wait until it’s OVER!!

Before I head off, I just wanted to tell you about a heart warming touch of human kindness we received on the weekend. We’ve had friends from Church offer practical assistance and some groceries. We knocked these offers back due to social distancing concerns on the practical assistance front, and we felt there were people who had lost jobs who could use the groceries more than us, and we switched to buying our groceries online. Anyway, just because you’re being self-sufficient doesn’t mean you don’t need connection, friendship, love and encouragement particularly at the moment. The very morning after a rather melancholy and reflective night, the package arrived. We waited for all the family to arrive home before we opened it, which naturally fuelled our curiosity. Who had sent it? It had come from Melbourne, which threw us a bit. We’re from Sydney. Finally, we opened our box of tasty snacks and there was a card from our niece, who was simply thinking of us. I was so touched and it really warmed my heart. We tucked a bit more in my brother’s birthday card. I didn’t want to be tight after being so blessed.

Panorama Yattalunga2

Pano sunset Yattalunga….Geoff and Rowena Newton 

Lastly, my local walks have continued. I managed to spot a pelican at our local beach on Wednesday afternoon on sun set, which was quite unusual. I don’t think I’ve even seen a pelican there before and we’ve been living here for 20 years. Thursday, I met up with my usual coffee friend, Roland, but we’re now walking instead and we walked along the rocks on the Southern end and sat on a rock inhaling the view across to Umina Beach (home) and the sea air. Driving home, I saw possibly the most electrically beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen. There were magically layers of glowing pink and orange cloud and I was almost delirious…and annoyed. I didn’t have my phone or my camera, but managed to catch the moment past the moment on my SLR when I got home. I had to drive a bit down the road to escape all the power poles. (Who put them there??:?)

sunset

I didn’t quite capture the moment, but it’s still stunningly beautiful. 

On Friday night, I desperately hoped for a repeat of the previous night’s sunset and so I rallied up Geoff and a friend and headed over to her place at Yattalunga. It took a bit longer to get there than anticipated and I lost my phone (yet again) before we left, which also delayed things. So, the sun had actually set by the time we pulled up, but it was still beautiful and serenely atmospheric!!

Yachts Yattalunga pano

Yachts at Yattalunga.

Jetty Yattalunga

Low tide Jetty At Yattalung, NSW Central Coast.

Yachts Yattalunga

It’s amazing the different colours you can bring out. 

I am finding my time beside the ocean very therapeutic. I’m sure so many of us are just longing for those waters to wash over us and take everything associated with this rotten coronavirus away. Cleanse away the grief, weirdness and stress of trying to keep ourselves and loved ones safe go to work and juggle school at home for the kids. Indeed, I might head back to the water tomorrow and cleanse my soul again. This is also a spiritual thing for me, and I can feel God with me through all of this, but it always gets complicated.

Anyway, what’s been going on in your neck of the woods? I am quite interested in what it’s like for people in different countries as we make our way through the coronacrisis as well as some of the artistic and creative responses.

Anyway, this has been another Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to come along and join us each week.

Best wishes and please stay safe,

Rowena

 

Z- Taronga Zoo, Sydney…A-Z Challenge.

Welcome back to Place I’ve Been,  my theme for the 2020 Blogging From A to Z April Challenge. Today, we’ve finally reached the end of the road. Z is our last stop, and today we’re heading of to Taronga Zoo, with its magnificent views across Sydney Harbour.

Giraffes Taronga Sydney Opera House

The Giraffes can look across Sydney Harbour to the Opera House.

Today, we’re hopping back in the time machine and switching the clock back to 2009 when we went to the zoo to celebrate our son’s 5th birthday with my parents. By the way, this isn’t the first time I’ve reflected on this very special birthday celebration and you can read about it: HERE. This was the kids’ first time to the zoo and my last, although Mum  bought annual passes for herself and the kids, and a trip to the zoo became a special day out with “Mama”.

 

That’s where zoos become rather enchanting and it’s absolutely magical to see such a diversity of animals from right around the world almost within arm’s reach where you can almost feel part of their orbit. However, on the flip side, animals belong in the wild and deserve to be free. After all, I certainly wouldn’t want some other species to keep me in confinement for their own personal entertainment (even if I do sometimes wonder if that’s what the dogs are up to when I keep throwing the ball).

Jonathon & Amelia Sunbear

However, just to really confuse the picture, zoos have now become sanctuaries for endangered species and are running breeding programs. Animal habitats in zoos have also improved significantly over the years. I still remember seeing the orangutan’s in their previous caged enclosure at Taronga back when I was at university many years ago now, and seeing their sad eyes peering out between the gaps.

It is also possible that we idealise life in the wild. After all, it’s not free of predators, loss of habitat, food and water shortages either.

Amelia & Bear

Thomas French addressed these contradictions in  Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives:

“Despite all their flaws, zoos wake us up. They invite us to step outside our most basic assumptions. Offered for our contemplation, the animals remind us of nature’s impossibly varied schemes for survival, all the strategies that species rely upon for courtship and mating and protecting the young and establishing dominance and hunting for something to eat and avoiding being eaten. On a good day, zoos shake people into recognizing the manifold possibilities of existence, what it’s like to walk across the Earth, or swim in its oceans of fly above its forests—even though most animals on display will never have the chance to do any of those things again, at least not in the wild.”
― Thomas French, Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives

handprints & pawprints

Hand Prints & Paw Prints.

I also came across this from excerpt about a lion at the zoo:

“See this abdicated beast, once king
Of them all, nibble his claws:
Not anger enough left—no, nor despair—
To break his teeth on the bars.”
― Cecil Day-Lewis, The Complete Poems of C. Day Lewis

So, I’m not sure where that leaves us.

Indeed, perhaps it’s a good time to offer you a piece of birthday cake, or perhaps some pavlova?

Jessie the elephant

Jessie the Elephant.

Meanwhile, I want to share an interesting story with you about the opening of the zoo back in 1916 and the challenges they faced moving the animals from their previous location at Moore Park in the city, on the other side of Sydney Harbour a good 15 years or so before the Sydney Harbour Bridge had been constructed and ferry was the only way across the harbour.

I’m not sure whether I should start a guessing competition to see which of the animals was the most difficult to relocate and why. However, it wasn’t the lions and tigers. It was Jessie the much beloved and only surviving elephant. Rather than paraphrasing, I thought I’d share the full story with you even if it does add significantly to the word count. It appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 10th November, 1911. It takes you away to another time and place, and if you’re anything like me, I’m always willing to travel.

REMOVING JESSIE. HOW IT WILL BE DONE.

THE NEW ZOO SITE. WORK. TO START IN JANUARY

 

The animals went in one by one – into the Sydney Zoo – but they will all go out together.

Presently they will be in the midst of packing up and moving. They are to have a new home. From Moore Park they are to go to Ashton Park, which is on the other side of the harbour.

The elephants went in one by one, and one by one they died, until today only one remains. Every Sydney child knows Jessie. She is one of the oldest inhabitants of the Zoo, having been there for 30 yoars. And the question is, How will she take this breaking up of the old home?

Jessie, the elephant, is not only the biggest animal in the Zoological Gardens, she is also the biggest problem in the way of “moving.” You can manage the monkeys and the apes, for they will do as they are told, you can open the door of the tiger’s cage, or that of the lion, and tiger or lion will walk obligingly into a portable cage, ready to be carried away; the crocodiles and the pythons present no insuperable difficulty, so long as they are handled with care. But you can’t put four tons of elephant into a cage – or, if you could, you wouldn’t be able to move the cage afterwards.

So Jessie will walk. It remains to to be seen how the airing will agree with her. She is not familiar with trams, or lorries, or motor cars. She has never paraded up and down our busy streets, and the strangeness of it all may not be to her liking. She is, however, a wonderfully good and sensible elephant, and it is not anticipated that she will give much trouble. But, in order to keep her in a good humour, she is to be given two nurses, who will walk one on either side of her – two of Wirth Brothers circus elephants if they are to be had. The only fear is lest evil communications may corrupt Jessie’s good manners, and lead to her running away to join the circus.

Jonathon Fenec Fox ears

My What Big Ears He has!

A START IN JANUARY

Anyway this is not to be for some time yet. The decision to move the Zoo from Moore Park to Ashton Park – that magnificent stretch of natural bush lying between Whiting Beach and Athol Gardens – has only just been arrived at; but assuming that it is gazetted without undue delay, it is hoped to make a start in preparing the new home for the denizens of the Zoo in January next – building, surveying, fencing and cleaning. First, there will be a topographical survey and then part of the area – the site to be set apart for the Zoo is 60 acres in extent, the total area of the park being 140 acres – will be fenced, probably 40 acres of it. The other 20 acres will be kept as required for zoological purposes. As soon as the surveying and cleaning of the land has been completed, the laying out of the grounds will be proceeded with. Paths will be made, and the quarters fixed for the various orders of animals: and when the money is available the buildings will be erected.

Taronga Zoo Dome

The Government intends to do all it can towards making the Zoological Gardens of Sydney not only the first in Australia, but, ultimately, one of the first institutions of this kind in the world. Indeed, no other Zoo in the world can boast such a magnificent site as this one at Ashton Park. There are zoological gardens covering a larger area – as at Bronx Park, New York – but there is none as beautiful. It is proposed to begin with an initial outlay of £20,000 or £30,000, spread over a period of four years, and this is a modest enough beginning. ‘We must cut our coat according to our cloth,” said one of the directors yesterday. “In time Government and people will come to realise what a fine asset these gardens can be made.”

The council of the Zoological Gardens is fortunate in numbering among its members two such enthusiasts as Mr Fred Flowers (Chief Secretary ) and Mr Hoyle, M L.A , both of whom have thrown themselves heart and soul into this forward movement.

NATURAL BEAUTY

The natural beauty of the site will remain. From the harbour one will see no sign of habitation. No bricks, no red tiled roofs, will mar the beauty of the bush. There will be no high buildings. Nothing will be used except the rock which is lying there. Green trees and rugged rocks will be all that will meet the eye. There will be as little fencing as possible and wherever it is feasible sunken fencing will be introduced, leaving nothing to interrupt the view. Straight lines and all formality will be tabooed. There will probably be no flower gardens – only the natural features of the ground showing the Australian bush.

It is probably that there will be a special endeavour to make the new Zoological Gardens typically Australian, with masses of beautiful wattle trees, bright-flowering eucalypts and brilliant creepers everywhere in evidence. Here we shall be given to us a piece of Australian bush under the very best conditions. The creek running through the centre of the ground will become a fern gully, with an abundance of tree ferns, staghorns, and palms. We shall have birds’ nests in plenty. Lyre birds and many other Australian species will flit from bough to bough. Large ponds will be made by blocking the creek, and the ponds will be full of our water-lilies. Upon them and around them will be a multitude of birds, foreign as well as Australian.

Another advantage in not having flower gardens will be that many of our Australian animals, such as the native bear, the opossum and rock wallabies will have the run of the whole grounds, though there will be little sanctuaries for them to go into when the grounds are unusually full of visitors.

BARLESS CAGES

For the housing of the carnivora, the latest system of barless cages will be adopted, as in Hagenbeck’s world-famous gardens at Hamburg, There are natural rocky enclosures in the park, and these with little difficulty, can be made into large cages – walls of rock, with moats, are aimed at the different orders of the animals will be grouped together, so as to make the whole collection valuable from an educational standpoint.

The birds will be kept in large cages, enclosing trees. Instead of having one small cage for each species, a whole family of birds will be put into one large cage – all classes of cockatoos, for instance – and they will have ample room for flying among the trees. There will also be cages where many different species of birds will be seen together.

Three years ago the Director of the Zoological Gardens, Mr Le Souef, took a trip to Eugland and Europe, and visited the principal gardens. Speaking to a “Herald” representative yesterday, he said ‘The whole point of usefulness, as far as I was concerned, centred in Hagenbeck’s Gardens in Hamburg. I consider that the style adopted there must sooner or later be copied by every zoo in the world. It is a privately owned zoo. Like his father before him, Hagenbeck has all his life been dealing with animals, and he conceived the idea of this new type of barless cage that we propose to introduce in Sydney. It completely revolutionised all previous ideas of housing animals.”

MUSIC IN THE OPEN AIR

Mr Le Soeuf makes another interesting proposal. “All the gardens of Europe contain excellent features in the accommodation provided for out-of-door life” he said. “All the music and refreshments arrangements are out of doors. For instance, in the Berlin Gardens there were two magnificent bands, around which were about ten thousand chairs and little tables. The people go in there of an afternoon or evening, and drink beer or coffee while listening to the music. There are red tables and white tables, if you sit down at a red one it signifies that you drink coffee, if at a white one it signifies that you drink beer, It saves time and trouble – your coffee or beer is brought to you at once.

“Sydney has never had an opportunity of enjoying this kind of thing, and I would like to see it introduced in connection with our new gardens. In our climate it is exactly the thing required, instead of sitting in stuffy restaurants.”

Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Friday 10 November 1911, page 8

 

Jonathon Giraffe Taronga

…….

This brings me to the zoo today which is closed due to the coronavirus just like all museums, galleries and places where the public congregate and actually have fun. However, they’ve taken Taronga online and you can check out some of the animals on  Taronga TV . I’m sure many parents have appreciated having the zoo online with the family kept at home on lock down. It’s a great idea, I’m just a bit surprised they haven’t featured our Australian animals. So, just to make sure you’re not disappointed, I’ve included a link to a koala talk at the Australian Reptile Park.

Anyway, on that note, it’s time for me to hit the sack. Actually, that time’s been and gone and it’s very late.

So, this brings the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge for 2020 to an end, although I think I might continue this series. I’ve really enjoyed it.

The End

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Weekend Coffee Share – 27th April, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share.

How are you all holding up under the varying strains of the coronavirus? Although they’re calling it a pandemic, it’s not affecting all countries equally and there’s also such a variation in how it affects those who’ve become infected, that there’s far from a shared, universal experience.

I suspect I’ve now been in lock down now for about six weeks with Geoff and the kids being home for four. The kids have been on school holidays for the last two weeks, although I don’t really feel it’s quite fair to call what they’ve had “a holiday”. It’s really been more of a continuation of limbo, and at times lock down feels very much like being in jail. Australia’s a pretty mellow country most of the time, however, Police powers have ramped up and we are living in a Police state. Of course, it is for our own good, and some idiots need to be controlled by external forces. However. that doesn’t mean we need to like it.

DSC_9231

A sign of the times- local picnic table wrapped up in red tape to due social; distancing restrictions.

I’ve also been getting a bit annoyed with people in the media calling this the worst thing that’s happened. It’s not. There are still survivors from Jewish concentration camps alive. There are still others who went through the horrors of WWII. Our recent bush fires here in Australia, have affected us a lot more than the cononavirus has so far. I simply don’t see the need for them to turn this crisis into anything bigger than it already is. It’s already bad enough.

What we have really enjoyed and appreciated lately on TV, has been two music specials. There was One World Together At Home organized by Lady Gaga. However, we also had our own Australian version, Music from the Home Front which was held on the night of our ANZAC Day to honour those who have served our country in war as well as those in our hospitals who are the front line warriors in the battle against Covid 19. Fortunately, the Australian concert overcome the sound engineering difficulties which made it difficult to hear some of the performers in the world concert. I absolutely loved it, and much preferred the Australian concert. These were my people.

I have also been getting out for “My Walk”. By the way, you can put that up there in lights. Due to my health issues, Geoff is doing all the shopping and the odd bit of other running around. So, the only time I’m legally allowed to leave the house, is to go for my walk. If I didn’t know better, I’d be thinking this was some sort of conspiracy between my physio and the WHO. She’s been trying to get me to go for a daily walk for years. Of course, in the end I had to accept that this was fake news. As if the physio could conjure up the coronavirus and kill all these innocent people just so that Rowena  in distant Australia would finally go for her daily walk.

However, while there are some days where I can’t be bothered and doing exercise comes  with its usual expletives. However, I’ve also found there’s a fine, almost imperceivable line between being a proud Super Sloth on the couch, and doing a Bruce Banner metamorphosis into the Incredible Hulk. Indeed, cabin fever’s snuck up on me a few times, usually late at night or when I’m trying to sleep. OMG! It’s unbelievable. It’s like an insatiable itch you just can’t scratch. I had a couple of really difficult days last week, where I felt totally trapped, and there was a blast of unbridled angst  surging through me body and soul. It was quite horrible and for awhile there I felt like I was going to self-destruct, only I’ve been through this before and knew I just needed to ride it out. That like all storms, this too would pass.

 

That’s why I’m trying get out for my walk most days now, and I’ve even taken the camera with me a couple of times. Last week, I went for a walk around the Woy Woy Waterfront right on dusk. The sun was setting and I managed to get some beautiful photos of the orange sun setting behind the silhouette of the wharf. I also spotted some kind of white crane, which was quite resistant to letting me get close up for that knockout shot. It was also rather confronting seeing the local playground closed up due to the virus and there was one park bench in particular which brought it all home. It was wrapped up in so much red tape, it could have been a government department. The mannequins all lined up in the opportunity shop, also seemed rather eerie and goodness knows how long they’re going to be shut away behind the glass.

Umina Beach from Pearlie

A Paddle-boarder making the most of social isolation.

Later on in the week, I went for a walk at nearby Pearl Beach. I’ve been finding the repetitive routine of simply walking down the road to our beach a bit tiresome and I’ve needed a change of scenery. I went walking with my usual coffee and writing buddy Roland, who is in his 70’s and lives alone. Whil we were there, a kookaburra came right up behind us and sat on the park bench. I was pleased Roland pointed it out and the kookaburra didn’t seem at all camera shy, although it did seem to be looking for a feed.

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Kookaburra close up at Pearl Beach. 

I’ve also been continuing through the Blogging From A to Z Challenge. My theme this year is Places I’ve Been, which I chose to overcome the claustrophobia of being locked down at home. I’ve accomplished quite a lot, and it’s great to have collated this collection of my personal travel stories. It’s actually helped me to appreciate how much I love travel and exploring places both through the lens and my pen, and how that hasn’t changed although I haven’t been overseas for almost twenty years. It’s been such a long time, and something I fully intend to rectify once these travel bans are lifted. This jail bird will be fleeing the coup!!

The series has also re-engaged me with blogging, which is good. It’s been an excellent tonic during the madness of the covid 19 pandemic and it’s helping to keep me somewhat sane.

 

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.

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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