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

 

 

One More Sleep for Our Swan…

“Consciousness expresses itself through creation. This world we live in

is the dance of the creator. Dancers come and go in the twinkling of an

eye but the dance lives on. On many an occasion when I am dancing, I

have felt touched by something sacred. In those moments, I felt my

spirit soar and become one with everything that exists.”

Michael Jackson

Tomorrow, our daughter takes to the stage in Swan Lake Act II and as her greatest fan, I absolutely can’t wait. She will be performing with the Central Dance Company where professional dancers fill the lead roles while the youth form the corps de ballet. This gives the young dancers a taste of what it’s like to be in a professional ballet company and step out beyond the walls of their own studios. Moreover, it also provides additional hours of expert teaching, and improvement simply through the sheer number of hours of rehearsal. If you have read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, you’ll know all about that magic 10,000 hours of practice which lifts you out of mediocrity into the meteoric heavens.

“Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all

obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of

inviting the perfection desired.”

― Martha Graham

 

However, there are some downsides to pushing yourself to the max and beyond. Not unsurprisingly when you push your body so far, there’s that omnipresent risk of injury.  There’s also a fine line between pursuing your passion and giving it everything you’ve got, and flying straight into the candle flame and burning up. Just ask the moth.

Yet, in pursuing a career as a professional ballerina, staying upright on top of that pointe shoe is about the only kind of balance available. Ultimately, as in any other demanding field, you sink or swim. However, the extremes are far more intense and burn out can be psychologically and physically destructive, which was almost portrayed too well in the movie Black Swan.

“Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

If you have seen Black Swan, you well might ask why I signed our daughter up for ballet. Why would I put her through all of that, when she could have followed her previous dream of becoming an astrophysicist?

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Our daughter at her first ballet concert aged 4.

The truth is that as a parent, I don’t really have a lot of say in all of this. All I did was book her into a local ballet class when she was three turning four. The earth didn’t quiver and shake as she disappeared with her teacher and the other kids behind the closed door, although I do remember wanting to go in there and see what was going on. We even have the concert video from that very first year of ballet, and while she was very cute up on stage in her tutu, she wasn’t extraordinary. She even made mistakes.

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

Michelangelo

If we fast-forward to when she was about 10, she was very unwell and also couldn’t seem to get to class or would get there with one or both shoes missing and her hair all tangled up in a veritable bird’s nest. However, despite these outward appearances, her teacher and I still managed to see the dancer within, just like Michaelangelo saw his angel in that lump of stone. It was hard to spot, but she was there. It was also thanks to a few of her friends who took her under their wing, that she was able to catch up for the end of year concert. I’m still not sure how things turned around. However, it was like a switch had been turned on. Or, she’d been struck by some kind of cosmic lightning. A passion for dance was ignighted, and she’s never turned back. She absolutely loves dance to an extent where it goes far beyond just being her thing to somehow becoming part of her being.

“Hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, they danced by the light of the moon.”
Edward Lear

Every time I see my daughter dance, I celebrate this progression from struggling to hold her fingers in a diamond shape above her head, to the young woman who is now en pointe and learning the cygnet routine from Swan Lake. There’s a lot of pride in that, but also an acknowledgment of the sheer hard work we’ve all put in right down to driving her to classes and rehearsals, and almost piercing my fingers and drawing blood sewing ribbons and elastics on shoes. Our swan didn’t just fall out of a box of cereal and land on her feet.

Pointe Shoe Fitting

Getting her first pointe shoes was such a special day.

On a more personal note, seeing our daughter dance in Swan Lake in a beautiful white tutu is like a precursor of seeing what she would be like walking down the aisle on her wedding day. Naturally, I remember our wedding day. I was so happy my face was aching and I loved getting all dressed up in my absolutely beautiful dress and in a sense being the swan for the day. However, since our daughter’s arrival, I’ve had my moments of playing the dying swan. On too many occasions, I’ve been living it as I battle along with dermatomyositis and associated lung fibrosis. It is impossible to describe what it’s like as a seriously ill mum to face leaving your young children behind and you’ll never be waiting for them at the school gate again. Indeed, to be very honest, we didn’t think I was going to make it this far. Yet, despite time being my enemy, I’ve actually improved quite a lot overall and am strangely doing okay. However, that doesn’t mean that when it comes to seeing my daughter all dressed up as a white swan, that I’m not going to make the most of that. Carpe diem seize the day. This memory will be etched into my retinas and in my heart. After all, before she became my swan, she always was and still remains my girl. My family are my greatest treasures.

Rowena & Amelia Coastquest

Dance Mum and daughter

It is very easy to get caught up in the hoopla of dance. Being a Dance Mom and allowing your love and pride for your own child, overtake all sense of reason and perspective. Our daughter takes part in eisteddfods and of course, I think she’s the best and I felt a bit devastated when she doesn’t place. “You got rocks in your head?!!!” Of course, I don’t say anything and we talk it up. However, it’s important to keep all of this dance stuff in perspective and what really matters to me, is that my kids are decent people. That they stop and help others, don’t set out to win at all costs and are good losers. Of course, I’d love them to be happy, but I’m more of a realist and simply hope they get through life’s up and downs relatively unscathed and can keep smiling.

Above: When our daughter performs in Swan Lake, she’ll dip her toe into the very same pond traversed by the likes of Anna Pavlova (who even had her own pet swan) and Dame Margot Fonteyn.

In a sense, we have been very lucky that the dance school we attend encourages teamwork and kindness. I just took her down to the local dance school and didn’t shop around or ask for advice. Our choice was all based on convenience. However, our dance school actively promotes supportive and encouraging friendships and the parents are friendly and help each other out. Indeed, we’ve been sharing lifts back and forth to rehearsals for Swan Lake and we’ve got to know each other better. It’s been great. I don’t think we’d have stuck with dance if our studio had been anything like what you see in Dance Moms. Values come first.

“You dance love, and you dance joy, and you dance dreams. And I know

if I can make you smile by jumping over a couple of couches or running

through a rainstorm, then I’ll be very glad to be a song and dance man.”

Gene Kelly

Reading back through all of this, I realized that I haven’t really touched on what dance does for the spirit and how it can create that all-encompassing joie de vivre or even a sense of absolute peace. I have been doing some adult classes and really only dipping my toe into dance, but I have also had a taste of the magic which inspires my daughter. It’s electric.

So, we now only have one more sleep until our daughter becomes a swan whatever that entails. However, I know that for me, it will be pure magic.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Trials of The Good Samaritan…Friday Fictioneers.

“Trust it to rain on RUOK Day,” murmured Jane from accounts. “If we were meant to feel okay, it would be sunny.”

Ever the Good Samaritan, I invited her out for lunch. However, Sydney’s Martin Place was wet and dreary, only intensifying her despair and my frustration.

“Umbrellas and raincoats protect you from the rain, but nothing can save you from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. ”

It was hopeless. The power of positive thinking sank to the bottom of my chai latte and drowned. No point applying CPR. I gazed heavenward and admitted defeat.

“Lord, she’s all yours”.

……

100 words

This has been another contribution for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. PHOTO PROMPT © Na’ama Yehuda. Click here for other stories inspired by the prompt.

In Australia, we have a program geared towards improving mental health and preventing suicide called RUOK and every year we have RUOK Day,  which was held just a few weeks ago on the 12th September. However, naturally the idea is to use this question to start a conversation any day of the year.

I’ve been battling with this for awhile, because while it’s all well and good to ask if someone’s okay, you generally know they’re not which is why you’re asking the question. So, when they say no, or they deny what’s going on, what do you do then?

While they might even need professional help, it’s often difficult to get someone into treatment and we as family, friends, work colleagues and even strangers are called in to bridge the gap. It is fundamental to my personal ethics to stop and help someone who is suffering and not be that person who walks away, turns a bling eye. Yet, people who are doing it tough can be difficult to be around…depressing, angry, poor communicators, smelly. So these were some of the issues I wanted to raise through my well-intentioned Good Samaritan who finds it all a bit too hard in the end.

Although the situation doesn’t resolve well in my story, more than likely it takes a number of attempts to get through to someone who is doing it really tough. There’s an ad which encourages people not to give up trying to quit smoking because they’ve already failed before. They say that it takes a few attempts to quit. It’s probably the same with encouraging someone to open up. We need to keep the lines of communication open, have a few people to share the load and do not give up.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share…23rd September, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

My Goodness! I don’t know where today went, but it feels like it disappeared like a rat up a drainpipe and I’m left sitting at my desk peering through the window up into a sky of scrambled blue and white wondering what happened.

My apologies. You’re a bit early for cake. I’ve taken the eggs out and they’re slowly warming to room temperature. I’m going to make another sponge cake with passionfruit icing. I made one about a month ago and the cake wasn’t quite right and I’d like to perfect it. It was my mother’s specialty, and like many great bakers, they add these magic ingredients and fiddle with the process in some way that it is almost impossible to replicate. Fortunately, Mum is still with us but she hasn’t baked a sponge in over five years and I think she’s lost the knack. I’m just waiting for the right time and I might just be able to extract her secret, although I might also need to get her back behind the wheel of her Sunbeam Mixmaster.

How was your week?

Despite the photo of me cruising along on a boat, last week was quite stressful as I had my review for the NDIS. That’s the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It was put in place to help people with disabilities lead more independent lives and to reduce the economic impact of buying equipment etc and I guess it also aims to get people back into the community, back to work and functioning at their best, which is also what gives many of us a better quality of life and an increased personal well-being. While the NDIS has helped in many ways, it’s also challenged medical reports provided by the best specialists Australia has got and refused to acknowledge certain disabilities such as epilepsy at all and for me personally, they don’t see to understand that I can walk okay but getting out of chairs, especially multiple times during the day and especially on bad days, is a strain and I usually tend to stay put. I have a lift chair but I got it through Freecycle and it’s 15 years old and pretty disgusting after being here for three years. The NDIS doesn’t seem to acknowledge the importance of parenting responsibilities and the need to be with my family and not shut away in bed. So, I have a few fires to fight and am currently well enough and fired up enough to fight them, which isn’t always the case. Wish me luck.

In between working on my review, I’ve also been fired up on my family history again. You’d wonder if there was still a leaf unturned after researching all these years. However, my Dad’s second cousin got in touch the other day and that’s fired up a whole new line of inquiry. His mother’s parents passed away when she was a child and she was adopted by my Great Grandparents. However, although I’d heard of Nancy growing up, I didn’t know how she fitted in and they lived in Victoria somewhere and my parents didn’t travel very much back then. However, I did have a few photos of Nancy as a young girl and I wanted to get them through to her family, which has now happened which is great. While working on all of this, I realized that my Grandfather’s grandparents were actually Irish and not just in the sense of being of Irish descent, but had actually been born there. Edward Quailey (or Quealey) came from County Clare and Margaret O’Neil was from County Limmerick and they married in Christchurch, New Zealand before coming to Sydney. Most of my ancestors came out to Australia much earlier and my sense of them being from over there is more of an intellectual awareness than a lived and breathed experience with its inherent cultural and social values and experiences.  Of course, it would help if I’d been to Ireland, but at the moment, that is but a dream but not too distant I hope.

Jonathon Laser

Our son sailing his Laser.

This brings me through to Saturday when our son had his first sail for the season. Just to remind you, that it’s Spring here and things are starting to warm up and get re-energized around here including the start of the sailing season. Our son has been sailing in a Flying 11 for the last couple of years along with a crew member. That was getting too small and uncompetitive for them and now he’s sailing solo in a laser. It was great to get back to Gosford Sailing Club yesterday on a beautiful sunny day and catch up with our sailing cronies. Much to much delight and surprise, I actually made it out onto the water in a powerboat. As you can tell by my smile, I had an incredible time. I’ve never actually been out on the water there and it was interesting to check the area out as well as being able to terrorize our son the Laser and get some great photos up close.

Amelia CDC Audition

This photo was taken when my daughter auditioned for Central Dance Company. Stay tuned for the swan.

Meanwhile, yesterday was our daughter’s last Sunday rehearsal before next Saturday’s performance of Swan Lake with the Central Dance Company. They will be performing next Saturday at the Art House in Wyong, which is about a 40-minute drive from here. I can’t wait to see her and the production, which is why I’ve booked myself in for the matinee and we’ll be attending the evening show as a family. I figure I’ll be watching her for the first show and will be able to enjoy the whole show for the second performance. They’ll also be performing Laycock Street the following Friday night and guess what…I’ll be there too. It’s not that I’m one of those over the top dance mums. I just figure this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see my daughter as a swan and I want to make the most of it. By the way, that also means I’m off to the hairdresser tomorrow. I don’t want the mother of the Swan looking like a dead duck!

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The epic hole and the buried dog blanket. 

Over the weekend, I wrote a post about our dogs digging up the backyard and wanting to identify the guilty party. Well, it appears that Rosie has well and truly dobbed herself it today after she dug an adjacent hole with very fast-moving paws and I think you’ll agree that it could accommodate a small cat. Maybe, I shouldn’t have mentioned “cat” and just left it as something more nebulous like a giant dinosaur bone. We have nothing against cats.

So here are some links to last week’s posts:

Sailing: Launching the Laser.

Who Was the Diggingest Dog?

Anyway, that’s our week done and dusted. What did you get up to? Did anyone or their kids getting involved in these protests against climate change? My daughter really wanted to go but she’s missing school for the show this week and I was also concerned about her getting there. They didn’t seem to have a reliable group of friends organized. It struck me as a time when predators could be out preying on kids and that concerned me. As it turned out, there were so many people there and parents went along as well so it would’ve been fine. We’ll know for next time.

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

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

Sailing…Launching the Laser.

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”

– Lao Tzu

Yesterday, the sailing season launched again for our son and this was his first time out on his new-to-him Laser. For the last two years, he’s been sailing in a Flying 11 along with a crew member. However, the two 15-year-olds were weighing it down. It wasn’t competitive and quite simply, they didn’t fit. That’s what happens to a lot of things with teenagers, and I don’t believe ours has had his major growth spurt yet. We’re expecting him to be around 6ft-6ft2 so he still has a way to go and he’s only just taller than Mum and Dad.

“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”

Abraham Maslow

Of course, the cobwebs had set in over Winter and they were compounded by the new boat and the current situation of having to store the boat at home instead of the sailing club. So, that also meant Dad was driving with the trailer out the back, which I guess really took us into the league of serious sailors. We weren’t just part of the champagne set who keep this yacht thing on a mooring so we can boast to people that we have a yacht, even though we never take it out. Oh no! Our son is a sailor and he’s out on the water at every opportunity and my husband and Dad are the same.

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“Self-transformation is not just about changing yourself. It means shifting yourself to a completely new dimension of experience and perception.”

—Jaggi Vasudev

As you could imagine, taking the new boat out for the first time, there was going to be some teething problems, potential nerves and drama even before the boat hit the water. We had a packing list for the Flying 11 and I should’ve twigged that this needed updating for the new boat. Moreover, taking the boat with us, that included the proverbial kitchen sink.

I saw my role yesterday as observation and potentially a second pair of hands. However, that all changed when we started rigging the boat and Tweedledum and Tweedledee had not communicated well and a sail was left at home. Although Geoff knew how to rig the boat and would’ve been more useful there, he also knew what needed to be found. That meant I stayed put. helping Mr set up the boat…Yikes!!

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He makes it out onto the water and on time. His boat is called “Enjoy” and as he set out, I hope that would sum up his sail.

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

– Albert Einstein

If you know me at all, you’d know that means trouble…unless, of course, he could do it all by himself. He did most of it himself. After all, he’s new to this boat, but not new to sailing and he’s sailed Lasers before. However, there was the difficulty of attaching the sail to what might’ve been the boom, and we didn’t have the right gizmo to tie it on. This meant he was trying to tie a fiddly piece of rope, while I was simultaneously holding onto the boom and trying to pull back the sail with the limited strength I have in my hands. I am not Tarzan. Indeed, as many of you know, I have a disability. However, it’s usually an invisibility, and even though my son knows all about it and has lived with it most of his life, he doesn’t always understand its practical application and simply expects me to pull my weight. Be the parent he needs me to be, and I usually try to fit the bill and ignore the personal cost. Besides, I must admit that there’s a lot of pride when I can do whatever it is, and I’m really chuffed. I’ve not only come through for our son, but I’ve also stretched myself and had a small win. A can-do experience, which obviously feels so much better than the “I can’t”.

“A man’s true delight is to do the things he was made for.”

– Marcus Aurelius

While Dad was off fetching the missing sail, we were welcomed into the Laser fleet by the other sailors. So far, it appears that our son is the only youth sailing a Laser and the “oldies” were very welcoming and we had three enthusiastic helpers with rigging the boat. This was fantastic. There were a lot of subtleties with the rigging and the sort of tips you learn first hand, not in a book.  A few years ago, I was made aware of the “you know what you know”, “know what you don’t know” but there was also this square in the diagram for “what you don’t know you don’t know.” I’ve since kept an eye out for this stuff and when I’m listening to someone and it doesn’t make sense, it’s a pretty good indication that I’ve plunged into this territory and it’s time to use my two ears and only use my mouth for questions and clarification.

“What holds most people back isn’t the quality of their ideas, but their lack of faith in themselves. You have to live your life as if you are already where you want to be.”

– Russell Simmons

Needless to say, I fell deep into this camp yesterday as these experienced sailors were offering advice and I dearly wished Geoff would hurry back and pick up the conversation. However, at least I came prepared and had my notebook and pen in hand. That’s my unofficial brain.

We got the boat rigged. Bought him his pie to sustain him through the race and he was off to the briefing to sign in. Apparently, he needs to finish three races to get a handicap. So, the idea was for him to simply do three laps yesterday. I don’t think he was particularly focused on finishing though, and was just trying to get a feel for the boat. That was a more realistic objective.

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Downstairs at Gosford Sailing Club

Once we got him out on the water, Geoff and I retired to restaurant upstairs and enjoyed the view over wedges and a divinely creamy Chery Ripe Cheesecake.

Rowena sailing

Then, Geoff saw a boat being towed in and since we didn’t have our binoculars, he went off to investigate. It wasn’t Mr but while he was down there, he managed to get us a ride onboard a powerboat. Wow. It’s not often I get to go out on the water, let alone onto something fast. Remember, we’re a sailing family.

Geoff sailing

My husband Geoff was also enjoying a bit of speed. 

We spotted Mr and tried to rough up conditions just enough to challenge him, without knocking him over. It was great to see him up close and I’ll also reiterate to be out on the water myself!

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Unfortunately, he didn’t finish. He had a sore knee and I think he capsized a few times. However, as I said, I don’t think he was particularly focused on finishing and was more concerned with finding his duck feet.

“What we call our destiny is truly our character and that character can be altered. The knowledge that we are responsible for our actions and attitudes does not need to be discouraging, because it also means that we are free to change this destiny.”

– Anaïs Nin

Now, I’m back to thinking about learning to sail myself. There’s a group called Sailability, which takes people with disabilities out for a sail. I figure that’s a great place to start and start I must. I’ve been procrastinating about this for over a year now. Time to get on with it.

Are you a sailor or have you ever been interested in sailing? Do you have any adventures to share? I’d love to hear from you!

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Who Was the Diggingest Dog?

This is what we woke up to this morning… a monumental crater in our backyard. A crater so big, you could almost park a Mini inside it, and we weren’t happy!

Well, you might think we’d been struck by a meteorite. Indeed, given the smattering of holes around the backyard, a meteorite shower.  However, this particular hole is much larger and deeper than the rest and might even be considered impressive. Meanwhile, thanks to all these holes and the grey, sandy soil, our backyard resembles a moonscape and there’s barely a blade of grass in sight.  It looks pretty desolate to be honest and I don’t really go out there unless I have to.

As soon as you step foot in our backyard, the cause of these holes is obvious. It’s our three dogs… Lady and the “pups” Rosie and Zac. However, this hole was most likely the work of one dog, and the other two are innocent. However, how do we find out who done it when we don’t have the forensic resources of the FBI, Scotland Yard or NSW Police at our disposal? We obviously won’t get far by interrogating the dogs. Moreover, each dog is very good at feigning innocence. So, I guess this all means the guilty dog has got away with it. Committed the perfect crime.

Above: Lady is adamant it wasn’t her…”I’m an absolute angel.”

Pity that, because I really would like to have a backyard, which hasn’t literally gone to the dogs. Last night, this question raised it’s ugly head again when I had the chance to nip over to London via the blog and was able to check out  Geoff Le Pard’s backyard. His garden not only has flowers. It also has that lush green expanse otherwise known as “a lawn”. A lawn is a luxury. Yet, Geoff also has has a dog.

“Get close to grass and you’ll see a star.”

― Dejan Stojanovic, The Sun Watches the Sun

How does this man manage to have a perfect backyard and an incredible almost glowing green lawn when he also has a dog? How is it so? Does Geoff have direct access to Flora, the Roman goddess associated with flowers and Spring? Or, is it just a case that God has blessed the gardens of England and cursed the gardens of Australia, or even the backyard of this Australian in particular? It’s not that I feel like I have a target painted on my back. However, sometimes I do feel the man upstairs has made my journey that bit more difficult than most, and I could well throw “gratitude” to the wind. Indeed,  I could walk straight up to God and ask him straight out: “Please explain”.

Many of you won’t understand what I mean by “please explain”. It’s a phrase made famous here in Australia by our controversial Federal politician Pauline Hanson. While I might not like Pauline Hanson or her politics, the phrase has stuck moving into common usage, often with comic effect.

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Our Family

Mind you, I can’t really blame God for the state of our backyard and in many ways, the dogs aren’t to blame either. Having the perfect backyard, the perfect house aren’t achievable at the moment with two kids, three dogs, sailing and dance activities, work and chronic health. It’s relationships which matter, although I will confess that’s not as easy as it sounds and fueling relationships over the longer term isn’t easy. There’s a big difference I guess between where we aspire to be and where we’re at. That’s what it means to be human.

How is your garden going? Do you manage to have dogs and a decent garden? What’s your magic secret?

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I found this beautiful quotes which related so well to our battles to grow grass in our backyard of beach sand:

“The children had had an argument once about whether there was more grass in the world or more sand, and Roger said that of course there must be more sand because of under the sea; in every ocean all over the world there would be sand, if you looked deep down. But there could be grass too, argued Deborah, a waving grass, a grass that nobody had ever seen, and the colour of that ocean grass would be darker than any grass on the surface of the world, in fields or prairies or people’s gardens in America. It would be taller than tress and it would move like corn in the wind. (“The Pool”
― Daphne du Maurier, Echoes from the Macabre: Selected Stories

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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