Tag Archives: baby

Charles Ernest Pierotti…A Father’s Great Love.

This morning I was reading was reading in the Good Weekend about Keith Austen’s visit to London’s Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. Although I’ve been to London, I haven’t been to this museum and it was simply something interesting to read about while having my morning cup of tea and bowl of porridge. Unfortunately, coffee’s verboten as part of my daily ritual these days and I restrict myself to cappuccinos in cafes once or twice a week, where I also allow myself two spoonfuls of sugar, which are also outlawed. Mind you, just to be deliciously inconsistent, chocolate in whatever guise it arrives in, is allowed free reign. I mightn’t have the most agreeable digestive tract and I might be generously proportioned, but I’m not on life support yet. I deserve a few of life’s simple pleasures.

In between mouthfuls of porridge and sips of tea, I read about what could possibly the world’s most tragic tribute ever produced by a grieving parent. Following the death of his infant son Patrick, famed English doll maker, Charles Ernest Pierotti, made an incredibly life-like replica which is on display in a glass case at the V & A.

Austen writes:

“To me the creepiest exhibit is also one of the most beautiful. It’s a pecularly life-like doll which lies in state in a glass cabinet, a wonderfully realized baby boy with curly blond hair and pale blue eyes. He is wearing a simple, embroidered christening gown. Then, you read the label: “Wax-headed baby doll, about 1900. Patrick Enrico Pierotti died as a baby. His father, the English doll-maker Charles Ernest Pierotti, made the dollas a portrait of him.”

Patrick Enrico Pierotti2

Charles Ernest Pierotti: Patrick Enrico Pierotti. Photo: V  & A Museum.

A quick Google search, took me straight into the V&A vault and I could almost reach out and and hold baby Patrick. Feel the weight of a thousand tears and their family’s grieving hearts. Most of us know someone who has endured the grief of losing a baby, or perhaps we have been there ourselves. It’s a shocker…an angst without end.

Interestingly, however, the online catalogue describes the doll in clinical detail without a drop of emotion:

“Wax portrait doll of a young male caucasian child, with blue glass eyes and blonde human hair curls inserted into the wax. It has a pink poured wax shoulder head, with a stuffed cloth body. The doll is dressed in in a long white cotton gown, with ribbon and a whitework trim and rows of tucks. There is also a cream carrying cape of cream patterned cotton, lined with cotton, trimmed with lace and ribbon ties. Long petticoat of coarse linen and whitework, a second petticoat of cream flannel. The chemise is of white linen.”

That I found creepy.

I needed to give this baby more than just a name. At the very least, a start and finish and if I could possibly ever find out, a cause of death. While child mortality was commonplace at the turn of the century, when it came to baby Patrick we have a such a life-like replica which is still in mint condition 118 years later, that I felt he deserved a word story as well as just an image.

Above: Dolls made by Charles Ernest Pierotti Photos: V  & A Museum.

So, I put on my researchers cap and headed off in search of a date of birth, a date of death, which I fully expected to find during that period. However, I found nothing. Nothing official to acknowledge that baby Patrick Pierotti was ever here.

I have to admit, that I’m a bit surprised, especially when this doll made in his very likeness is in the public eye. Surely, I’m not the only one who has probed a little further and asked these questions? So, now I’m off to contact the V & A Museum of Childhood and see if they can shed any light on it, and I’ll keep you posted.

There’s something for you to digest over your breakfast or whichever meal is next on your agenda. It’s rapidly creeping towards dinner time here and I still don’t feel like I’ve fully woken up yet. It’s a miserable, rainy Saturday and after doing my morning errands, I returned to my PJs and had a balmy nap with my electric blanket on. Life is good. That said, it could be a bit more productive.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS While researching this story, I came across an excellent post at Diyala’s blog regarding  Momento Mori: What is it? where she’s produced a very haunting piece of art featuring this baby doll.

 

Electrical Sex Fixing…What the @#$%!

Research was never meant to be a straight road. Quite often, there’s an astounding story right alongside the one I was looking for, which turns out to be “the find”.

Night, while reading through my grandmother’s music column from the 1950s, I stumbled across this gem:

Electrical Sex Fixing 1952

Unfortunately, a quick Google search fails to elucidate the matter any further. Does anybody know any more about this?

Best wishes,

Rowena

Puppies in a Carpark After Dark…

Last night, my daughter and I were recruited into a clandestine, underground movement, which rescues puppies and dogs from puppy farms and “bad homes”.

As you might have seen on the blog lately, my friend’s been fostering dogs and puppies. I never thought I’d be up for this, and thought I’d find it impossible to let them go. However, I was round at her place with the latest residents, and they were so cute and so much fun, that I thought we’d give puppy rescuing a go.

Then, like well-trained intelligence agent, my friend heard that a litter of Border Collie x Kelpie pups was in the pipeline. Me being me with my usual levels of resistance, I put my hat in the ring for two pups with a view of keeping one. This would be like a test drive where we could try before we buy.

You might recall, that it’s only been two months since our much loved Border Collie, Bilbo passed away. We’re still heartbroken and missing him in all sorts of ways. A few years ago, we adopted Lady thinking that he wasn’t well. Then, he perked up after she arrived and lived another 3 years. As much as we love Lady’s exuberant friendliness, we’re used to Bilbo’s Border Collie sheepdog ways, and she’s a very different dog.  That’s fine but when you’ve been living with the ball chasing champion of the universe and you get a dog who doesn’t fetch, it’s hard to compute…even if Bilbo’s ball chasing obsession drove us mad! I guess it’s a reminder, that you can’t simply replace the one you’ve lost and each of us, is an individual.

During the week, my friend forwarded photos and we selected one pup we particularly liked. Then, we received further intelligence, that the pups were arriving last night.

The pups had been rescued from out near Lismore, 10 hours’ drive away. This meant it was hard for them to give an exact pick up time. It was simply “late” and there were phone calls going back and forth updating their ETA. All I knew, was that we were meeting up in a carpark at a nearby pet shop some time after dark. It started to feel like I’d joined a clandestine smuggling ring, and the whole experience felt like a grand adventure. Yet, at the same time, I was also being drawn out of my comfort zone. I don’t like driving at night, and felt a bit uncomfortable hanging around in the industrial area late at night.

However, soon the other voluneers started to arrive. The scene reminded me of waiting for a country train and watching the cars pull in. We picked up puppy food, leads, collars and chatted to other volunteers and waited… and waited. It was so exciting. The puppies were coming!

Then, suddenly a car towing a dog caravan appeared. It wasn’t quite your movie star camper, but precious cargo was definitely onboard. I’m not entirely sure which other dogs were there, but there was a litter of black labrador pups as well as part of the litter of Border Collie x Kelpie pups. I also saw what looked like a family of semi-grown Maltese Terriors.

Zac & Rosie

At this point, it was about 10.00PM. A floodlight breaks through only a fraction of the darkness, backlighting the puppies. So, we can hardly distinguish which pup is which, and they’re just a squirming, wriggling mass of black and white fur and paws. There was one boy in the litter, who just happened to be the one I’d picked out from the FB photo and my daughter picked out one with a white stripe on her head and “ears like Bilbo”. They had their shots, were wormed, paperwork was completed and they were in the car and on their way home.

Home meant introducing them to Lady. I was hoping Lady might feel somewhat maternal and welcome the new arrivals. On the other hand, not everyone’s excited when a strange, spaceship-like contraption lands in your territory. As for calling you “Mum” and YOUR dogbed “home”, Lady muttered something about having no say in it, and no idea what was coming! Lady wasn’t thrilled and had a few growls. The puppies were disturbing her peace, quiet, and new found stardome as the only dog. However, she did give them a good sniff, and I’m sure she’ll come round.

Pups

Meanwhile, the pups who’d been cooped up in transit all day, did what all kids do after they’re released. They went beserk!!! Indeed, our boy pup, Zac, went psycho jumping and leaping all over the lounge room like he’d just arrived at a theme park. Rosie, his canine companion, wasn’t far behind him. At one point,  they’d converted Lady’s bed into a wrestling ring and were growling like a pair of Tasmanian Devils and gnawing at each other, having so much fun.

We were besotted.

Rosie & feather duster.JPG

As a parent myself, I was rather concerned by their wild behavior so late at night, wondering how they’d ever get to sleep. It’s been awhile, but I haven’t forgotten the difficulties of getting human babies to sleep. I even attended a week long sleep clinic with my son out at Karitane, after trying everything from singing Twinkle Twinkle, walking the streets with the pram, prayer and phoning my in-laws. In other words, we’re talking about reaching the end of the road and then some.

Clearly, it was starting to look like a sleepless night.

However, looking at the puppies bouncing off the walls exploring their new environment, I started developing grave concerns about how we were ever going to get them to sleep. Memories of frazzled sleepless nights trying to get our son to sleep, came back like a back case of reflux.

Amelia with crazy pups

A pair of rambunctious pups.

What have I got myself into?

By this stage, it was well after midnight and Miss was also still awake. We took the pups into the laundry, and tried closing the door. That’s when the howling began…and continued. These pups had no intention of going to sleep. Couldn’t slow themselves down to anything remotely resembling “tired”, and didn’t like being away from us either.

Although I remembered that you stick a ticking clock in with puppies to help them sleep, who has ticking clocks these days? Obviously, its digital descendants wouldn’t do the trick. Apparently, the radio’s the go these days. Oops! That reminds me, that I forgot to set up the music player for tonight.

Needless to say, just like a new Mum, I didn’t get a great night’s sleep.

The big difference was, however, that no one drops round with a meal when you have a new dog! The grandparents haven’t turned up either. Indeed, I haven’t quite mentioned the puppies to my parents…even though I’m obviously a grown up now and they’re in no position to say “no”. It’s just that given my health issues and a very busy family, adding a new pup to the mix and fosteringit’s sister, isn’t a logical decision. It doesn’t make sense, but the heart has its own way of thinking, which might not add up but usually makes sense.

Well, at least it makes sense to me.

Do you have a special dog and dog story to share? I’d love to hear it.

xx Rowena

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Let sleeping pups lie.

Nothing Said…Flash Fiction.

“You two look cosy,” Jess smiled, almost spilling champagne over her best friend and her ex-lover. They weren’t holding hands. Yet, she could sense that unmistakable sizzle. Almost convulsing, Jess said nothing. She kept her love life private.

Ouch! That Summer with Will stung like a bee. He’d seen straight through her with those damned blue eyes. Didn’t even need his lens.

That’s why she ran. By then, there was no turning back.

She was too broken.

The two people she loved the most and knew the best. Yet, she kept zipped.

She couldn’t tell him about their son.

This has been written in response to Charli Mills weekly Flash Fiction Challenge over at Carrot Ranch.

December 29, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a cozy story. What is it to be cozy, to experience Danish hygge? It doesn’t need to be culture-specific, but it can be an interesting point of comparison or contrast. A character might long to feel cozy, or you might describe the perfect cozy scene. It may or may not include Prosecco..

Respond by January 3, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published January 4). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

xx Rowena

Photo: Rowena Curtin

 

Weekend Coffee Share November 12, 2016.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

If we were having coffee today, there are no guesses about what we’d be talking about. Although I live on the other side of the planet, I’ve been following the US election. I was following along because I’m interested in current affairs but I’m also intrigued by people and what makes them tick. We really can be quite unpredictable. While I wasn’t entirely sold on Hillary Clinton, I’m no fan of Donald Trump. I am old enough to remember the horror of the Berlin Wall and what that meant and it makes me sick to think of a wall dividing the US and Mexico. Haven’t we moved beyond all of that? I hope so.

Anyway, I was doing some research today and I stumbled across a quote from Rumi, which I immediately related to the election. If you’d like to find out how Rumi ties in with the election, read on.

Moving on, I’d be telling you that my husband celebrates his 50th Birthday next weekend. We’re keeping things fairly low key as it’s a really busy time of year and we’ll do something later. However, we’ll be going out for dinner with my parents, his sister and niece and having a beach picnic as well. I’ve wrapped most of his presents and am now putting together a slide show of photos.

Putting together the slide show has put me through a whole gamut of emotions. Of course, it’s been wonderful to go through our wedding photos, photos of the kids as babies and rapidly growing up on my computer screen. Yet, at the same time, there’s this melancholy sense of loss. Wondering where all the time’s gone and there was an underlying anger about the severe auto-immune disease which was brought by my second pregnancy. The knowing of what those people were going through and how all that impacted on the smiling little man in the photographs before his world was turned upside down and all but blown up. It’s hard to re-live that, even though I love the photos.

I guess many of us have that mixture of happiness and sadness reflecting in the mirrors of the past.

While going through the photos, I found photos from our “before the second baby” trip to Tasmania in November 2005 and I decided to start sharing these on the blog. So far, I have posted about our trip to Coles Bay, which includes breathtaking Wine Glass Bay. It was a stunning spot but for me, the highlight of the photos was seeing our then 18 months old son without having to chase after him. He always has been Mr Personality. Here’s Coles Bay, Tasmania with our Little Man. He finally fell asleep at Sleepy Bay of all places.

Thursday night, I had my lyrical dance class. This is my second last lesson for the year and I’m going to miss it so much! Each week, we’ve been looking at various styles and influences on modern dance. We’ve looked at Martha Graham, Isadore Duncan and last week we looked at Doris Humphrey and her fall and recovery technique. I have to admit this felt pretty weird to me. I’ve had some nasty falls in my time and so it really went against the grain to push my body towards a fall if if I was going to save myself. I might not have pulled off these moves with a dancer’s finesse but I didn’t end up on the floor either.

I’ve been wondering where these dance lessons are taking me. What am I doing there?

When I first signed up, I just wanted to get out of my seat and have a go. After having a few dreams where I was dancing, I didn’t want to be a spectator anymore. I knew dance had somehow entered my psyche even if it didn’t make any sense.

Of course, so many things don’t make sense, especially at the beginning. You’re standing there clutching one piece of a 1000 piece puzzle and wondering why you can’t make out the picture but you just need to hang in there. Have faith. Trust that you’re heading where you’re meant to be. That’s a huge leap of faith for those of us without a crystal ball.

On the other hand, what have I got to lose?

I could be watching TV.

Wherever dancing is taking me, it’s definitely brought my daughter and I closer. I tried to show her the steps I’d learned on Thursday night and she said it wasn’t like anything she’d done before. That rang a few alarm bells. She seems to think I should be lifting my leg forward and up where I’m thinking it went behind and it really did look more like I was trying to climb over a barbed wire fence, which wasn’t very encouraging. By the way, while we were working out these moves we had had leg lift over the violin case and leg lift over the dog. Our kitchen was a veritable obstacle course.

Perhaps, I’m learning dance to go into stand-up comedy!

Meanwhile, I did manage to infuse a bit of dance imagery into a poem about trying to photograph some jacaranda flowers,  which were dancing in the wind: Jacaranda Dreaming

“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”

Leonard Cohen

Lastly, I would just like to make a tribute to legendary poet and song writer Leonard Cohen who passed away last week. I have barely touched the surface of his work but I love Alleluia. Had to share this quote:

“I think the term poet is a very exalted term and should be applied to a man at the end of his work. When he looks back over the body of his work and he’s written poetry then let the verdict be that he’s a poet.”

Leonard Cohen

How was your week? I hope it’s been a good and wish you a fabulous week ahead.

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana over at  Part Time Monster

Best wishes,

Rowena

Sleepy Bay & Our Sleepy Boy.

Thank goodness for Sleepy Bay and Daddy to carry our Little Man back to the car!

If you’ve read my last post Tasmanian Holiday featuring our exuberant Little Man on our pre-baby 2 Tasmanian trip in 2005, you’ll know what it meant for the energy to drain out of our little boy and to have a breather. After all, there’s a reason they say: “there’s nothing like a sleeping baby.”

Our Little Man turns 13 next year and is now taller than Grandma. Nothing little about him anymore!

Does this bring back any memories for you? I look forward to hearing from you!

xx Rowena

 

The Birth…Flash Fiction

Walking into the hospital with my suitcase packed, I had no idea this would be my greatest goodbye.

Rather, all I could think about was the birth and welcoming our tiny son into the world. After feeling him moving around like an exuberant butterfly, I’d finally see his face and hold him in my arms.

No longer a work in progress, he’d become real.

With such anticipation and a love I’d never known before, I didn’t notice the door slam shut behind me. That the woman who walked in, wasn’t the same woman walking out.

That Mummy was born.

13th September, 2016.

This has been a Flash Fiction Challenge from Charli over at  Carrot Ranch

August 31, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a goodbye. It can be the last polka until next time; a farewell without end; a quick see ya later. How does the goodbye  inform the story. What is the tone, the character’s mood, the twist? Go where the prompt leads.

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On Father’s Day, my cousin gave birth to her first born, a son, in the same hospital where I gave birth to our son 12 years ago. I had no idea at the time how  becoming a parent would change our lives in so many ways and how it would extend me in ways I never thought possibly but also take me away  from people and activities that meant so much to me…a world I never thought I’d leave behind. After all that initial excitement where I couldn’t keep my eyes off him, parenthood was also a struggle.

3enewton-family3-months

This was taken at my grandfather’s 90th Birthday Party. My grandfather was a Reverend and wore his suit a lot. So, it seemed only fitting for Mister to come formal.

As with so many things in life, there is that fusion of joy and struggle, hellos and goodbyes…the yins and yangs. I personally  feel it’s important to acknowledge both sides of the coin and not to deny their existence or how these contradictory forces interplay with each other throughout life’s journey. This is particularly true of parenthood where the positives are emphasised in glamourised commercials while the struggles can be very private.

So, often when you hear a parent open up about these struggles, there’s someone else in exactly the same boat and that relief of no longer feeling alone.

xx Rowena

zorro8 months.jpg

For all my dog loving friends, here he is with our first Border Collie, Zorro.  He was a fantastic dog!