Category Archives: Writing

Weekend Coffee Share – October 28, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you? How has your week been? It’s now Monday morning here for me, which is my usual time for checking in with you after the weekend is done and dusted. I don’t really have much to offer you this morning unless you like a fresh roll with butter and Vegemite on top. Otherwise, you might have to come back later. I’m currently sipping on my cup of English Breakfast Tea, which I re-heated in the microwave after dropping the kids at school and running through the chemist and supermarket. Turns out yet another prescription’s expired. Humph! This is all too much for a Monday morning, especially after things on the home front blew up last night. Like all families, stuff brews for a bit them blows, but it’s not good when more than one person blows at the same time. It’s hard to know how to divide my attention, and not ignore somebody.

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Last week, we drove up to Queensland for my sister-in-law’s wedding on the Gold Coast. It was a beautiful wedding, especially because they’ve both been through a lot and against the odds, they’ve found love again. We had the wedding ceremony on Saturday at 6.00pm and on the Sunday we had what could be described as a post-wedding wake where we met up for lunch at this historic mill site with a large sprawling cafe and an animal farm. It was not only an occasion of catching up with family. I also had some rather deep and probing conversations with a few people, and experienced that sense of delight and disappointment when you meet someone you connect with but doubt you’ll see again. Meanwhile, we were staying with Geoff’s other sister just South of the border at Nureybar, in the hinterland behind stunning Byron Bay. What with going up for the wedding, we didn’t get to go anywhere else, although it was novel to be in the country listening to fruit bats fighting in the fruit trees at night, which to the city person to me sounded rather sinister and macabre.

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Lady at Ocean Beach, NSW.

Talking about not getting out and about, that reminds me that our so-called “holiday” was cut short a day after two of the dogs got out and Lady was missing overnight. Geoff had been working on the car to get it ready for the trip and didn’t quite latch the back gate properly. When our daughter went to feed them, she found the gate wide open and Rosie and Lady were gone. Just to compound the difficulties, Lady’s tag had fallen off a few weeks ago and I’ve had a chest infection and hadn’t quite managed to get a new tag. So, while she is microchipped, she didn’t have a tag. Rosie had a tag, but as we later found out, she refused to be caught. So, when they were found on the road, they managed to catch Lady and they dropped her at the vet in the morning and we picked her up. Meanwhile, Rosie arrived back at home about 11.00pm looking absolutely exhausted. She’s a border collie x kelpie and she looked like she’d been running all that time and had well and truly overdone it. While the two dogs were at large, my daughter and I were driving around the streets and stopping off at the beach trying to think like a dog so we could find them. Geoff hit the streets with our other dog, Zac, hoping he’d draw them out. They walked about 10 kilometres without finding any trace of them at all.  It was so eerie being out there. The whole place was just silent. There were very few cars or people out and about although we saw quite a few cats roaming about, their eyes glowing in the headlights. It was like we’d escaped from planet Earth and landed on “Planet of the Cats”. Well, that’s an exaggeration, but it certainly wasn’t “Planet of the Dogs”. Ours were nowhere to be found.

That was enough excitement.

Bridget O'Donnell and children

Meanwhile, I’ve been digging deeper into my family history research along with pursuing that burning question…how did they survive the horrors of the Irish Famine? This branch of my family, the Quealy’s, came from Lisheenfroor, Moyarta, Kilrush, County Clare. I don’t blame you if that all means nothing. Lisheenfroor sounded like somewhere out of an Irish fairytale when I first heard about it too. To put it simply, we’re talking about West Clare and if you’re familiar with the famous etchings of the Famine which appeared in The Illustrated London News, 1849-50 that’s the area I’m talking about. It’s been pretty confronting knowing my ancestors went through all of that and I dread to think of what they saw and experienced themselves, and yet this is what I need to know. I can’t turn my back on what happened. It is a part of me.

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However, none of that pays the bills. It doesn’t help organize the family and keep the household running smoothly either. Indeed, it has quite the opposite effect. It sends me into my research tunnel and the world around me could disappear. Moreover, to be able to write this all up in any meaningful fashion, I need to go into this tunnel and nut things out. Distraction is clearly distracting, unproductive and to put so much energy into the research without grabbling with all and writing it up is somehow self-destructive. I don’t know if you agree with that. Yet, the cost of getting to the end and getting it all finished, if that is even possible, is very high.

If you’re a writer yourself, perhaps that rings true to you too.

That constant tension between survival in the real world versus knowing what you’re made of and striving towards that elusive creative or storytelling goal.

Anyway, perhaps I should’ve stuck to offering you tea, coffee and a Vegemite roll. Perhaps, you’re chilled, relaxed and don’t grapple with these tensions. Indeed, I could easy walk down to the beach and post a very pretty photo of the golden sand and rolling ocean glistening in the sun. Some times, it’s not a good idea to think. Worse to dream. Just stay in your rat-run and not take the blinkers off.

Rowena Pearl Beach 2018

Here’s a relaxed outdoor shot I prepared earlier. It’s me on the rocks at Pearl Beach, NSW and that beach in the distance is home. 

Meanwhile, Lady our fluffy Border Collie x Cavalier who is losing black clouds of fur as we head into Summer has plonked herself under my desk and on my feet. She tells me not to grapple with anything and sleeping through life in your bed is okay, as long as a cat doesn’t move into your territory. She tells me that it’s okay to plunder food off the table or the bench and that being in a little bit of trouble is worth a tasty morsel in your belly. She also tells me that life is too short to wait until you get it right to tell a story. Start telling and the story will tell itself if it wants to be told.

Deary me. I would never have thought that Lady could be such a fountain of wisdom. Trust me. She keeps it a closely guarded secret stashed behind her gorgeous floppy ears and fluffy coat.

I think that just about covers things here. How about you? What have you been up to lately? I look forward to hearing from you.

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

Best wishes,

Rowena

Rosie and ball

PS Rosie insisted I included photo of her. 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share – 7th October, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

My profuse apologies. If I’d invited you round earlier this weekend, you could’ve been having some caramel slice with your beverage of choice. Unfortunately, the last piece went last night so I can only offer you Vegemite on toast, which for most of you will evoke grimaces of torture.

How was your week?

Last week, was the first week of school holidays. Our daughter spent much of the week in Sydney with my parents. This is code for going shopping with my mum, and they seem to get caught up in the moment. My daughter doesn’t go completely overboard, but she gets mighty close and there always seems to be something my mum doesn’t quite get her head around. This time it was ear pods. The teenager is an expense beast.

Meanwhile, her brother was sick at home and was very kind to share his bugs with me. With my health issues particularly the lung disease, chest infections can become life threatening but there’s also a lot that can be done to ward them off even without taken antibiotics. So today, I took my spoonful of olive leaf extract and I’ve also got a few other tricks up my sleeve. Wish me luck. I’ve dodged a few bullets over the last couple of years, avoiding a serious problem. Phew!

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On Friday, our nephew was visiting from Canada. We took him for a bush walk with magnificent views over Pearl Beach and Broken Bay, which is just around the corner from our place. Towering over steep bush-covered cliffs tumbling down into the ocean, the views are absolutely majestic.

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Paradise. Pearl Beach is in the foreground looking out towards Lion Island. The body of water RHS is Pittwater.

You really get that sense which Keats describes so beautifully in: On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer:

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies

When a new planet swims into his ken;

Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes

He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men

Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—

Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

Swans

Our daughter is in the front row second from the left.

Friday night, Mother Swan was back for the Central Dance Company’s final performance of Swan Lake & More. In case you’re the only person on the planet who doesn’t know our daughter was part of the corps de ballet, now you know. Being the third performance, I went solo this time, although the dance school filled the row behind me. It did take me long, however, to strike up conversations with the four people beside me. That’s what I call my gift of being able to talk to strangers. It comes in handy and we were all quite friendly by the end of the show.

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Guest Artists Cieran Edinger, Gary Bowles and Rebekah Petty photographed with Artistic Director, Patti Gleeson (second from the left).

They had the cast party afterwards. At this point, I became official photographer. We were also celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Central Dance Company. So, I was photographing dancers, the cutting of the cake and that’s when my daughter pointed out that my camera lens was smashed. Yikes. My anxiety almost hit the roof, except the lens has a lens protector and I was fairly sure that the lens would be okay. However, I couldn’t work this out at the time because the lens protector was jammed onto the lens and wouldn’t come off. I had to confess all to my husband when I arrived home and he asked: “What have you broken this time?” Phew. It wasn’t the lens.

After watching three shows of Swan Lake & More what with the sensational dancing, magnificent music and all those emotions both on stage and watching our daughter and her friends, I was completely overstimulated on Saturday and my mind was flying. During the last week, I’ve written two skits for the Scout Gang Show, 3 poems and a short story for the Australian Writer’s Centre’s Furious Fiction Competition.

Speaking of of the Furious Fiction Competition, I’m furious with myself. I misread the deadline and was also second-guessing myself and caught up in my perfectionist nitpicking and I missed out. That’s particularly annoying because the competition has a setting and a list of words which need to be included. There’s also a $500.00 prize. I’d have been lucky to win the prize, but I was pretty pleased with my effort which I’d set in the Shakespeare and Company Bookshop in Paris where I’d done a poetry reading in my early twenties. Oh well. All is not lost. I’ll have to see what else I can do with it. Perhaps, it will suit another prompt down the track.

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Jazz in the Arboretum, Pearl Beach.

In addition to going to the ballet and doing so much writing during the week, I also managed to go to Jazz in the Pearl Beach Arboretum yesterday. My school friend’s son was performing and she initially invited me out for coffee, but a free ticket came up and off I went. That was great, because although this annual concert is local, I’ve never been before and it was great to check it out. The show was essentially John Morrison with the All Stars and the Australia Institute of Music’s Big Band (which included my friend’s son). In addition to the fantastic music, the bush setting was wonderful sitting on the grass surrounded by towering gum trees. At one point, a kookaburra appeared and was working hard to extract a large morsel from the ground, which might have been a beetle. Of course, the kookaburra thought he was the star of the show.

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Performers Jazz in the Arboretum, Pearl Beach.

So, as it turns out, I had an eventful week.

What did you get up to? I look forward to hearing from you!

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

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Weekend Coffee Share 30th September, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share.

If we were having coffee this week, I’d be showing you some beautiful photos of my swan. You see, our daughter performed in Swan Lake & More with the Central Dance Company on Saturday and in all seriousness, I wish I could just bathe in that magnificent music and gaze at that dancing forever. It was magic. Well, not pure magic because they’ve been rehearsing every Sunday for five months. There’s also been a few injuries, not to mention the usual aching feet. Ballet is legalized torture, especially for the feet.

Amelia Swan Lake Waltz

Our daughter dancing in Swan Lake Act 1: The Waltz.

The night before her performance, I wrote a post capturing all those anticipatory emotions and thoughts including a photographic tour of her ballet journey so far from when she started out at four to where she is now at 13, a year after she stepped into her first pair of pointe shoes.

I have also been transformed by her journey. Not just as a bystander. I’ve also done some adult classes myself. There’s been ballet, lyrical, contemporary and tap. I’ve learned so much through these classes and have made the transition from being a taxi-driving dance mum to becoming a dancer myself both in terms of physical capability and in spirit. I’ve also watched a lot of dance to and find myself observing ballet type poses out in nature in how a dying flower might bow its head and wilt or how a towering tree raises its branches up into the sky.

Anyway, she still has one more performance to go. Otherwise, my mood would be a lot more sombre.

Meanwhile, yesterday I sat in on a script writing meeting with the Gang Show looking at generating material for next year’s show. That was quite interesting because I have quite strong views about promoting and maintaining Australian culture and fighting back against the tide of American culture. These aren’t always shared so I have to keep a lid on it. However, that doesn’t stop me from voicing my opinion here. I also feel our days of excluding our Indigenous Aboriginal people from our popular culture are gone. However, if we don’t have any Aboriginal people in the Gang Show, that’s pretty difficult to do. We can’t have someone dress up and pretend. We just have to leave it out. It was also interesting talking about our contemporary world and incorporating some of that into the show.

Aside from a poor excuse for a play I wrote back at uni, I haven’t done any script writing before. So, writing these skits is new ground. Moreover, I’ve never been in Guides or Scouts and my only understanding of the movement is limited to my observations as a parent. However, although writing these skits is going to be challenging, I’m determined to give it a shot. See what I’m made of. I’ve been working on some concepts today and they’re coming together surprisingly well. I’ll keep you posted.

Last week, I drove over to Terrigal for a hair cut and explored the beach afterward. Terrigal is 88kms North of Sydney and really is a beautiful spot. While our beach is less built up and developed, Terrigal has it’s stunning honeycomb cliffs and memories of going there for holidays throughout my childhood back when we didn’t know the dangers of coating ourselves in coconut oil and getting fried under the harsh Australian sun. I also remember almost drifting out to sea with my brother on these inflatable lilo things. It was a simpler world back then. Well, at least it was for me.

The kids started school holidays today. Next week, my husband and son will be heading up to Bathurst for the Bathurst 1000, a 1,000-kilometre touring car race held annually on the Mount Panorama Circuit in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia. It is currently run as a championship event for Supercars. They can’t wait and will be camping out there with Geoff’s sister and her son along with their friends. It was all too much for me and I’m staying home with our daughter who will be performing in a dance production.

Anyway, I’d better keep moving and finalise dinner. I had a crazy idea of making an apple pie and while I’ve had assistance with the apples, it still has a way to go.

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

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share… Gunners’ Barracks and Balmoral Beach, Sydney.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This week, you’ve hit the jackpot. You’ll be joining me for a Sparkling High Tea at the Gunner’s Barracks at George’s Head near Mosman overlooking the magnificent Sydney Harbour. We’re here to celebrate my friend Jody’s 50th Birthday and I’m sure she won’t mind having all of you along…the more the merrier, especially a virtual crowd. You can all eat as much as you like and sip on that never-ending glass of champagne without any repercussions. You also won’t get in trouble if you accidentally on purpose eat someone else’s allocation of that exquisite but ever so tiny sliver of chocolate cake indulgence. I totally understand the temptation. Enough is never enough when it comes to anything to do with chocolate.  I had to be very restrained.

Naturally, being a high tea extravaganza, we had a selection of exotic teas to choose from. I chose a black tea called Red Roses, which is described as: “A blend of the finest China tea with rose petals and the delicate aroma of the rose; flowery, mild and light”. It arrived in a classic silver tea pot. I was also very tempted to try the Irish Whiskey Cream with “the extravagant flavour of Irish whisky with a hint of cocoa blended with an intensely malty Assam Tea. Served with hot milk.” I guess that gives me a good incentive to go back (as if I needed one!!)

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I should’ve photographed this before we’d consumed all those tasty morsels, but I’m sure you get the drift. 

 

However, although the dainty morsels were delicately scrumptious and I did develop more than a casual attraction to a teeny chocolate dessert, the absolutely breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour, historic architecture and unique history, placed Gunners’ Barracks in a league all of its own.

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The view across to Macquarie Lighthouse, Vaucluse from the Barracks’ Gunnery. 

While I should apologize in advance for my non-existent sense of direction in advance, I’ll have a go at showing you around. As I mentioned before, Gunners’ Barracks is located at George’s Head on the North-Eastern side of Sydney Harbour closer to the Heads and those two omnipresent icons of Sydney Harbour, the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, are conspicuously absent. However, you can see the historic Macquarie Lighthouse at Vaucluse poking its head over the hill. You can also see Watson’s Bay and Camp Cove, where my Mum used to take me swimming when I was a toddler.

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Please don’t ask me where my camera was pointing, although if you could tell me where this is, I’d be mighty grateful. I’ve scoured maps and images online but it’s beyond me. 

 

 

 

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My beautiful new shoes. I might even be elegant. Fancy that!

There’s another view I wanted to share with you. That’s the view of my new shoes. Indeed, I was so over-the-moon about my new shoes, that I even captured them in all their glory at the Gunners Battery. They’re beautiful with pointed enclosed toes, shiny patent leather and a small heel. Miracle of miracles, they not only looked amazing, I could even walk in them. That might be something you take for granted, but with my disability issues, it’s more of a case of wishful thinking. Dream on! I was also stoked to find a pair of strappy shoes with an enclosed toe. After all, those distant appendages at the end of my feet are meant to be concealed.

Balmoral rubber ducky

After the party, I drove over the hill  to Balmoral Beach. It’s funny how somebody who balks at walking along our local beach only metres away, goes out of her way to visit a different beach. However, I appreciate that just because you’ve been to one beach, you haven’t seen them all. Balmoral Beach is also known as one of Sydney’s most beautiful beaches and has some photogenic heritage architecture to attract my interest. I’ve made no secret of my passion for photography and how I’m sure I see so much better through the camera lens. Indeed, thanks to a combination of short and long sightedness, at times it feels like I can’t see anything clearly at all.

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Southern end of Balmoral Beach. Balmoral Beach is lined with massive fig trees, which create a park environment by the sea.

Right now, I’ll just post a couple of photos, but I’ll take you for a walk along Balmoral Beach later in the week. As I’m sure you’ll appreciate, when you’ve been busy in the real world, it’s hard to keep up on the blog.

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Balmoral Beach, Sydney

How has your week been? What have you been up to? Have you been to high tea before? Was it your scene or do you prefer something else? I’d love to hear from you. 

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 Bathers’ Pavilion, Balmoral. 

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

Best wishes,

Rowena

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The Odd Couple: Friday Fictioneers – 4th September, 2019.

They called themselves the odd couple. Yet, ignoring all the warning signs, Katherine fell madly in love with Pete, a self-confessed slob, while she was Queensland’s Lacquer Queen not a hair out of place.

It wasn’t just that his tie was crooked. None of his books were straight either. Some were tipsy and leaning over ever so slightly, while others were drop dead drunk.

In a jiffy, she’d automatically straightened the books while he was cooking dinner, but didn’t know what to do with his feral pot plant. So, she threw it out. Unbothered, Pete just thought he’d got lucky.

……

100 words

PHOTO PROMPT © Penny Gadd This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. Every week we write 100 words to a photo prompt.

Best wishes,

Rowena

On The Run…Friday Fictioneers.

“Over my dead body! Dot thundered. “You won’t get me into a nursing home!”

However, the good Lord had other plans. Sent a blood clot to her brain. It wasn’t strong enough to take her out, or destroy her mental faculties, but it had left her paralyzed in a wheelchair.

Dot was sure she could manage at home. Yet, her daughter had her assessed and off she went. Worse than jail, and she’d committed no crime.

However, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Her daughter locked her up, but her grandchildren set her free.

Grannie was on the run.

….

100 Words

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. Every week we write 100 words to a photo prompt. This week’s PHOTO PROMPT  Linda Kreger.

My take on this week’s prompt was inspired by my husband’s aunt who was a strong-willed, intelligent and independent woman who lived at home with her son for many years after a stroke left her in a mobility scooter. Unfortunately, she had another fairly massive stroke which didn’t kill her but she couldn’t go home and it was hard for all of us when she had expressed her wishes so clearly but there was nothing anybody could do. That was her lot. This stroke, by the way, had again only really affected her mobility and she was still as bright as a button and it was a tough cross to bear. I would’ve liked to set her free.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Día de los Muertos…Friday Fictioneers.

 

Tony was in Mexico for a conference. Yet,he somehow wound up in the backseat of a VW heading out to San Andrés Mixquic, southeast of Mexico City to celebrate the Day of the Dead. The streets were packed, but he soon spotted the most exquisitely beautiful woman he’d ever seen. She was almost floating up to the altar and left behind a handful of marigolds along with a black and white photograph. They exchanged smiles and she whispered:”todas somos calaveras”. Cupid’s arrow struck fast. Yet, as he reached out to touch her hand, she was nothing but air. A ghost.

…..

100 words

Phew. This week’s prompt was rather challenging and I’m not sure if the decor in this cafe was connected to Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations which are held annually on the 2nd November. However, that was the approach I took. Being from Sydney, Australia, Mexico is a long way from home and quite a bit of research was required to pull this off. I only heard about the Day of the dead for the first time a few years ago.

Naturally, I’d be very interested to hear from anyone who has actually been there.

Catrina August 21

José Guadalupe Posada, Calavera de la Catrina (Skull of the Female Dandy), from the portfolio 36 Grabados: José Guadalupe Posada, published by Arsacio Vanegas, Mexico City, c. 1910, printed 1943, photo-relief etching with engraving, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum purchase funded by the friends of Freda Radoff.

In the National Geographic article listed below, I found a reference to Mexican political cartoonist and lithographer José Guadalupe Posada who created an etching to accompany a literary calavera. Posada dressed his personification of death in fancy French garb and called it Calavera Garbancera, intending it as social commentary on Mexican society’s emulation of European sophistication. “Todos somos calaveras,” a quote commonly attributed to Posada, means “we are all skeletons.” Underneath all our manmade trappings, we are all the same. I really liked that sentiment and hence incorporated it into my story.

Meanwhile, you might enjoy this further reading:

National Geographic – Day of the Dead

The Cultural Trip – Celebrating the Day of the Dead in San Andrés Mixquic

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. Every week we write 100 words to a photo prompt. This week’s PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

Best wishes,

Rowena