Tag Archives: courage

Y- You…Motivational Quotes A-Z Challenge

Welcome to Y…the second last day of this very long journey through the alphabet during April. So far, I’ve talked about quite a few traits you need as a writer to see a big project through to the end. Or, as the case may be, the need to realize when it’s time to stop and try again from a different angle, or to simply walk away. Despite all that rhetoric about never giving up, sometimes it’s the right thing to do. After all persevering down the wrong path doesn’t do you any good! Then again, that perfectionist inside you can also be a false friend.

Anyway, when it all boils down to it, it’s up to YOU whether you’re going to get finished or even started on writing that book along with working on your writing to make what you write worth reading. There are quite frankly way too many books out there that should never have been published by both publishers and their authors. I started reading one book recently, which I really should’ve enjoyed. However, it soon became clear that this book wasn’t polished. Had been “finished” too soon. While reaching the end does feel like a race when you’re in it, it also needs to be a stroll…a bit of stop start. Well, that is unless you’re a genius. Then again, you can always get on a roll.

So, without further preaching from me, here’s today’s run of quotes which roll along quite well on their own…

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your

shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And

YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone

else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living

with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the

noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner

voice. And most important, have the courage to

follow your heart and intuition.

-Steve Jobs

“If you end up with a boring miserable life because you

listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your

priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do

your shit, then you deserve it.”

― Frank Zappa

“Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a

second rate version of someone else.” 

― Judy Garland

All of these quotes are good advice for all of us, not just for writers working to finish a book project. Indeed, I’m going to share them with my kids.

Hope you have a great week ahead and you’d better give me some applause. This is the first A-Z post which has been on time for quite a few weeks. I’m pretty chuffed.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Starting High School’s Eve

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Tomorrow morning, our “baby girl” starts high school. While this is something we’ve been working towards for some time, I still have this sense of impending doom. That we’ve forgotten something. That we’ve forgotten something of earth-shattering significance. The sort of thing that crippling anxious nightmares are made of. Sleeping through the alarm. No uniform. No shoes. What about what’s for lunch, packing and actually eating it?

High school is going to be a piece of cake compared to getting out our front door and as much as I’ve hoped for the best and prepared for the worst, I have this awful sinking feeling, that we’re doomed. To quote someone very dear to me: “That we were born under an unlucky star”.

Indeed, perhaps there’s no point even getting out of bed, and we can try again next year.

Thank goodness my alter-ego pushed that anxious sod off her perch and confiscated her scrapbook of memories as well.

Of course, you can’t turn up at the high school gate with a swag of baby photos and snaps of firsts to share with the other parents…Mum’s Bragbook. OMG! Talk about taking uncool to such unprecedented heights, that even I who is eternally impervious to embarrassment, would be cringing in my boots forever more.

I could never show my face again.

That’s if I was still alive after such an escapade. If my daughter didn’t kill me, I’d have to kill myself…or lock myself up in a crate addressed to deepest darkest Africa, or even post myself to Mars.

I guess this also reminds me that Mummy’s not allowed to cry. Mum has to be strong. Smile, wave and not cling onto my little girl like a limpet trying to stop her from growing up and stepping out the front door without me.

family portrait.JPG

Our Son’s Starts High School Two Years Ago in 2016.

Really, tomorrow’s just another day and it’s not like we don’t know the place. No, her big brother’s paved the way and for better or worse, we’re known at the school. Our daughter hasn’t been going to school locally for the last two years, so hasn’t really been round the traps but she’ll know a lot of the kids from her last school and round about. She’s also in a selective dance class within the performing arts and will automaticlly land on her feet with a few extra moves thrown in just because she can.

So, of course, tomorrow is going to be fine.

 

This is the broken record that I should be playing over and over in my head instead of feeling crippled by this shapeless, formless, sense of impeding doom.

After all, we’ve crossed the i’s dotted the t’s and like a airline pilot, double-checked that the hatches are shut. (See I told you things were a bit skewiff around here.)

How hard can it be to get one kid around the corner?

Or should I say, how easy!

After all:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Lao Tzu

footprints on the beach

I’ll be back tomorrow to let you know how it all went.

Fingers and toes crossed!

xx Rowena

 

Why Get Your Paws Wet?

Try telling this dog it’s not the Captain of the ship, Master of its domain?!! As I watched the boat powering through the river with the dog proudly standing at the helm, how could I let the moment pass by?

As a casual observer, I never had the opportunity to find out whether this dog was an avid swimmer and water dog or a land lover who couldn’t think of getting its precious paws wet.

However, after my recent post A Different Type of Rescue Dog where a Newfoundland Dog threw its anxious visitor far into the river to stop its yapping and get it where it wanted to go, this dog really caught my eye. He didn’t need to swim. He had a boat. No doubt a boat it considered its own.

How does your dog manage around water? Do they love swimming or perhaps they’re more into dry land. Let your stories flow!

xx Rowena

This photo was taken at Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River, Sydney.

Photo: Rowena Newton.

Courage At The End

Most of us have not had the privilege of caring for the dying. I was so moved by this beatiful story of caring for a loving husband and wife at the end xx Rowena

Sidereal Catalyst

They had hospital beds side by side in their apartment at the nursing home where they lived.  She had end-stage bone cancer, barely holding onto life.  He was diagnosed with failure to thrive, the only thing he was holding onto in this life was her.

She had weeks to live and every moment was wrought with pain.  They both had 24-hour care and the hospice nurses used everything at their disposal to make her comfortable.  Her words were barely audible and she was bed bound.  She had to be moved every few hours to avoid bedsores but every movement was agonizing.  He was constantly concerned about her, wanting to be near her, hoping to depart this world at the very moment she did.  He made that clear, announcing that he did not want to live a moment past her last breath – though his health indicated he would.  

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Character Undefined.

You have to watch out for characters, both real and fictitious.

Just when you think you’ve painted their portrait, they grab the brush, slap on a moustache or some other undesirable addition and ruin all your hard work. Change the picture.

No matter how careful you are, there are no guarantees. They could still develop a life of their own and escape from your clutches.

Moreover, if you’re writing about your dog, don’t be surprised if that darn dog doesn’t run off with your precious paintbrush and play fetch with it…even if they’ve never chased a stick before.

It can happen to the best of us.

Indeed, this morning it happened to me and I even have photographic proof.

DSCN0050.JPG

In middle ocean, doggy is swimming…

My dog Bilbo, who has found fame but not fortune on my blog, is renowned for being afraid of the water. Yet, this morning he went for a swim at the beach and totally messed up his character sketch.

I was absolutely flabbergasted!!

Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.

Abraham Lincoln

While parents might discuss their human children, dog parents hold nothing back. Indeed, they discuss the foibles of their “offspring” in embarrassingly personal detail, even comparing notes about their intimate mental health issues. Indeed, they name and shame their dogs, even posting photos of their most extreme mental health moments, without any shame at all. No sense of betrayal. That just because they’re talking about a dog, that it doesn’t mean it’s heartless gossip…even bullying!

How awful is that? Being bullied by your own Mum or Dad?!!

Well, I must confess that even I’m a bit guilty. I could have mentioned Bilbo’s water phobia. I might even have posted photographs of the same sorry mutt staring helplessly as his ball drifts out to sea because he’s too chicken to fetch it. I might have even called him a “scaredy dog” behind close doors or implied it on previous posts.

Fetching Bilbos Ball

Finally some assistance. Miss puts Bilbo out of his misery!

So, even I have probably said more than I should about my dog’s “quirks” but there’s no mistaking how much I love my dog! Besides, I should also point out that he’s also jumped on my blog a few times and spilled my beans as well!

All that aside, just because Bilbo has issues, it doesn’t mean he can’t change. That just because he’s a dog with very strong inbred character traits, that he can’t grow. Extend himself. Or, indeed, be an old dog showing off his new tricks.

He can.

Indeed, he did.

This morning, Bilbo went swimming at Dog Beach. He actually not only got his paws wet but ventured in and actually SWAM!!!

HOWZAT! (This is Australian cricket slang for “How’s that? Meaning: “It’s out!”)

DSCN0051

Almost Surfing.

Of course, now that the dog’s actually gone swimming, I’m not quite back to the drawing board but I’m definitely back in my philosopher’s chair and asking: “Why is it so?”

Professor Julius Sumner Miller famously coined that phrase in his children’s science show. However, I doubt he ever looked at how or why animals and people suddenly change their stripes like that. Or, at least, act out of character now and then. He was more of a physics man famous for being able to get a boiled egg inside a glass milk bottle.

Bilbo’s swim was, in effect, the reverse process… taking a dog who was set in his ways and setting him free from the confines of his self-imposed glass bottle…just like letting a genie out!

Unfortunately, I’m no expert in dog behaviour and indeed, this mutt has been testing all my philosophical and psychological powers lately what with him fretting with the kids being away. Let’s just say he’s been in a bit of trouble.

Anyhow, like any good detective, we return to the crime scene and examine the evidence. Investigate what actually happened. Move over Sherlock Holmes! Here I come.

On the morning of Friday 29th January, 2016 at approximately 9.30 AM Bilbo, a nine-year old Border Collie was running along Dog Beach with his sister, Lady, a three year old Border Collie x Cavalier and Mum, a They met up with a Rhodesian Ridgeback and a Boxer who were energetically jumping and chasing each other through the surf. Bilbo immediately started barking at the other dogs, we believe, warning them to get out of the water…the canine equivalent of “Danger Will Robinson”. Having too much fun, the other dogs didn’t respond, ignoring him completely. They kept playing.

DSCN0056

One exuberantly happy dog!

Meanwhile, Lady being more cavalier, joins the dogs in the surf. After all, it’s so hot, that you could fry an egg in the sand. It’s the perfect day for a swim, except you could potentially boil in the water! That is, unless you’re wearing jeans and a few too many Christmas chocolates around the middle.

The next thing I know, Bilbo’s gone from barking on the beach to wading into the water and even swimming, while still barking occasionally. Bilbo is swimming! I suspect he’s actually herding, rounding up his mates more than actually swimming but he’s still in the surf.

“My goodness!” a friend exclaims, totally stunned. “That one NEVER goes in”.

I have a group of dog walkers I usually meet up with in the mornings. I don’t know whether we’ve oversimplified their characters or whether dogs are just more straight-forward than people. However, somehow the dogs have all been categorized…ball chaser, stick chaser, swimmer, non-swimmer, introvert, extrovert, problem dog…unconsciously, of course. Then, there’s Lady who I’m now pretty sure pretends to be daft to do her own thing. She dabbles in a bit of everything but seems to love stick her head down sniffing the sand and running along. and wandering I’m pretty sure she’s hunting. She used to live on a farm but as the saying goes “we’re not in Kansas anymore”! No more rabbits.

Anyway, I doubt Bilbo’s suddenly developed a love of swimming. Rather, I suspect that he’s just trying to be the Good Samaritan, attempting to herd his crazy mates out of the water and back onto dry land. Who knows? Perhaps, while he was out there, he found out that he wasn’t going to die and that he even liked it? Was having fun? The other dogs sure were and who hasn’t experienced the thrill of the moment when someone else’s fun is so infectious that it carries you right outside yourself and all your pre-conceived ideas and sets you free? All of a sudden you realise, that you’re standing somewhere you never thought you’d be and you don’t even know how you got there!

That’s what happened to me yesterday when I was driving my daughter to school. It was a 45-60 minute drive in the rain and I wasn’t even nervous. I felt calm, capable and in control. Indeed, I was standing, or in this case, sitting where I never thought I’d be and I was fine.

My inner fortitude was further tested this afternoon when yet another nasty storm hit right before picking up our son locally. The heavens were falling down and of course, there was lightening, thunder but fortunately no hail. I looked out there, at what almost looked like the end of the world. As much as I wanted to stay at home, I braced myself and figured the sooner I left, the better the car space. I threw on my raincoat, grabbed my golf umbrella and drove off, arriving in one piece, albeit through floodwaters about 20 cm deep in parts. It’s very flat where we live.

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.

Helen Keller

Of course, driving through all of this, I’ve become Captain Courageous. Not quite Captain Invincible but I’m working on it.

So, as we write our characters, both real and fictitious, while also getting to know ourselves, we should always leave that gap. Room for doubt. Space for growth. No one is set in concrete. They can still wriggle free. Take on a life of their own.

Just ask my dog!

AND…

You can ask ME!

xx Super Ro!

PS If you are interested in character development or are a bit of a people person, you could well find the Proust Character Questionnaire useful:Proust Character Questionnaire It’s been used by writers, actors etc for character development and I’ve been going through it for the Book Project…albeit very slowly.

 

 

Learning to Fly:The 3 Day Quote Challenge.

“Come to the edge,” he said.
They said, “We are afraid.”
Come to the edge,” he said.
They came.
He pushed them…and they flew.”

― Guillaume Apollinaire

Earlier this week, my daughter and I attended an open day for what is called an Opportunity Class. Kids sit a test in year 4 for these classes which are held in Years 5-6 before starting high school. My daughter is currently on a waiting list but we were still invited to the introduction session and tour of the school.

For these students and their families, deciding whether to attend these classes can be a huge decision as it usually means leaving their current, local school and their friends, community and convenience to travel often quite a distance and starting from scratch. So, indeed, it can feel like sitting on the edge of a great precipice with your toes curled over the edge wondering if you’re going to make it.

Skiing down the mountain at Perisher in August 2013.

Skiing down the mountain at Perisher in August 2013.

These words deeply resonated with me too and remind me of my epic ski down the Front Valley, Perisher a few years ago, which was a huge thing to do given my disability and chronic health status. You can read the full sage here: Turning My Mountain Around https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/turning-my-mountain-around/

“The edge” doesn’t need to be so dramatic either. Just in our ordinary, everyday lives, we confront things we don’t want to do. Would rather avoid or even inspire incredible fear. That could be a spider in the house, driving someone out of your comfort zone. Difficulties with the family of some sort. In so many, many ways, many of us are everyday heroes who fly off that proverbial edge, usually without so much as a selfie to celebrate our triumph, let alone a film crew. I’m with you.

Stepping out and exploring the world on foot...Miss 2008 aged 2.

Stepping out and exploring the world on foot…Miss 2008 aged 2.

Many thanks to our friend Melinda from purpleslobinrecovery, who has nominated us for this Challenge. Melinda blogs about her journey from slob to clean queen, and her ongoing battle with the Clutter Fairies, who we think must be related to the Slapstyx Goblins!

Thank you to Annabelle Franklin from https://annabellefranklinauthor.wordpress.com/ who nominated me for the challenge.

Rules of the Challenge

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you
  • Publish 3 quotes on 3 consecutive days on your blog. It can be your own, or from a book, movie or from anyone who inspires you.
  • Nominate 3 more bloggers to carry on this endeavour

I would like to nominate:

  1. Geoff Le Pard from Tangental: http://geofflepard.com/
  2. Derek J Knight http://derrickjknight.com/
  3. Monika at Tails Around the Ranch https://tailsaroundtheranch.wordpress.com/

I hope you are having a great week. My cough seems to be settling down again (phew!) and Bilbo is looking so much better. Of course, we don’t have everything sorted but definitely an improvement.

xx Rowena

Going Home

While some might enjoy a spirit of adventure and exploration, for others, there is “no place like home” and they will do whatever it takes to get back…just think of Lassie!

No doubt, we all know someone who has attempted a sea or tree change. What starts out as some kind of glorious utopian vision, soon falls back down to earth…not unlike a pair of clapped out underpants with bung elastic.  For some, it doesn’t take long and they’ve soon sold up and moved back home finding happiness on those familiar, well-worn paths. After all, the grass isn’t always greener and in the case of Australian immigrants, the grass could well be brown.

ET Phone Home

ET Phone Home

If you traveled overseas in the days before email and Skype, then you’ll also know what it means to be homesick. Phoning was prohibitively expensive and you were pretty much dependent on the letter.

Due to the high costs of traveling to Europe, it has been a right of passage for many young Australians to do a stint in Europe, rather than a quick, fleeting visit. In 1992, after finishing uni, I also set off but rather than following the road well traveled to the UK, I lived in Germany instead.  Even though I’d traveled solo before, it was quite a different thing going for the long haul and being on the other side of the world. Humph, I admit to shedding more than a few tears in Heidelberg railways station and desperately feeding coins into a very greedy payphone just to say: “hello”. I was a wreck and if I hadn’t had such a big farewell party only a week before, I too could have found myself on a plane home.

So, I guess I could understand that being so far away from home isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. That home is where the heart is and sometimes that pull can be way too strong to stay away.

Rewinding the clock back to 1964, aspiring Australian athlete, Reg Spiers, was living and training in London. For me, I can’t think of much more exciting than being in London during the 1960s.  Being a huge John Lennon fan, The Beatles would have to top the list but the whole scene would have been incredible and I’ve provided a link through to this photo montage of 60s London to get you in the mood: http://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2013/08/snapshot-25-photos-of-1960s-london/

However, as the saying goes, home is where the heart is and for Reg Spiers, who desperately wanted to get back to Australia for his daughter’s birthday, London had become more of a prison. With no money to buy a plane ticket, he applied a bit of lateral thinking and decided to post himself home in a wooden crate. You can read about his incredible story here: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31700049?post_id=770163024_10152981388113025#_=_

Inspired by Spiers’ story, Welshman Brian Robson who was living in Sydney at the time, attempted a copycat manoeuvre and decided to post himself back to Wales. Although The Beatles came to Australia in 1964, it wasn’t exactly Europe. Here’s a link to a movie showing life in Sydney two years later in 1966: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vR1CU8NjGW0

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”-Steve Jobs

Robson had emigrated to Australia as part of the “10 pound Pom” assisted immigration scheme. However, almost as soon as he arrived, he’d had something of an allergic reaction to the place and had to get out.

Leaving, on the other hand, wasn’t going to be easy. While Robson had enjoyed subsidized travel costs to get here, the catch was that he was obligated to stay in Australia for 2 years.  Only then, would he be issued with a passport, which would allow him to leave legally. Two years felt like a death sentence at the time and so inspired by Spier’s story, he decided to do the reverse journey. However, his trip was fraught with struggle and complications, including an extensive detour to America where he was discovered barely alive. Naturally, his story attracted media attention and rather than being charged, he was flown back to the UK First Class.

So you could say all’s well that ends well.

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

Muhammad Ali

As a serious Australian history affectionado, I am quite surprised that I’ve never come across these stories before and am not impressed that I found out about it via the BBC. We live in such a fabulous country and yet there is still that element of cultural cringe. So many Australians know so little about our own history and culture.

While these stories are funny and entertaining, it resonates that although life might be a thrilling adventure, there’s no place like home.

Well, actually, to be honest, I’m currently on holidays and couldn’t wait to get away from home but that’s another story…

There’s no place like home: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJ6VT7ciR1o

"There's no place like home!"

“There’s no place like home!”

This is my contribution to the Blogging from A-Z Challenge.

xx Rowena

If Only A Dog Coat Had A Zip!

When you are afraid, even a few simple steps can turn into the journey of a thousand miles.

That’s what happened when it came to getting Bilbo, our mature-aged, introverted Border Collie clipped today. What could have all been very Simple Simon, turned into a drawn out ordeal…not just for him but also for all the humans involved.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we were getting Bilbo’s woolly coat belatedly clipped for summer. Or, as it turned out in the end, clipped to free him of his badly tangled coat. His aversion to being brushed while his winter coat was moulting as well as standing out in the rain, had caused serious matting and getting it all shorn off was the only way to go. The last time we had him shorn, I was grieving as the poor mutt faded from black to smoky grey as his coat disappeared.

This post covers Bilbo’s last encounter with the shears: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/summer-loving-a-dogs-perspective/

However, this time I was cheering. At least, I would be cheering if we could actually get him inside the mobile dog salon so operations could begin.

The dog salon pulls up.

The dog salon pulls up.

So the Dog Salon pulls up and we took Bilbo out the front on the lead. I felt like an absolute cad taking the dog out there to be “tortured” when he thinks he’s off for a walk. His demeanor quickly changed and he curled up inside himself on the front lawn and wasn’t coming out.

As I’ve said before, Bilbo is not good with strangers at our place  at the best of times. He is usually withdrawn and reticent in social situations and what you’d describe as an introverted introvert. He is very much our dog and he loves my Mum as well but he keeps close. Even when it comes to people who come to the house regularly, he’s apprehensive and I usually hold him back for about 10 minutes so he settles down. Then, he’s fine. I think people don’t always realise that some dogs like their space and need time to warm up just like some people. They also really don’t like being smothered with affection by strangers, which through their eyes, might simply be a pat. These are the sort of dogs who would enjoy sitting in the corner at a party if they were human and be quite content simply observing the proceedings. That said, he can be quite friendly and isn’t a risk.

At this early stage, now that Bilbo knows he’s not going for a walk and something strange is afoot, he is not in a good way. He is refusing to let the dog groomer pat him and he is looking quite frightened and skittish. I know what he was like when I bathed him and I am concerned about how the clip is going to proceed…or even if. Naturally, we are concerned about the dog groomer’s safety which is why Geoff is going with him but she also has to have enough faith to know she’ll be safe. She has been bitten before and working with dogs day in day out, Bilbo’s withdrawn fear has her on alert. An old hand, she senses serious trouble.

This whole battle of wills just confirmed my belief that dog coats should all come with a zipper so they can be conveniently removed for cleaning and seasonal adjustments.

However, that isn’t going to happen so it’s a case of smooth talking. Reassuring the dog he’ll be okay and also reassuring the groomer, which also involves having Geoff in there with Bilbo. The dog is afraid and no doubt can sense what is at least my concern. Not that I was afraid but I was  stressed about how Bilbo would respond. What’s more, given the state of his coat and some underlying skin irritation, all that fur urgently needed to go!!

There are advantages of having helicopter parents. We keep our offspring both of the two-legged and four-legged variety under some kind of control…or at least we try!! Bilbo was needing close-range helicopter hovering at this point. He really wasn’t happy!! However, our support and the groomers’ patience slowly won Bilbo over enough.

The groomer noticed the fur balls behind Lady’s ears and so we decide to give them a quick clip and hope that Bilbo settles down when he sees Lady “survive”. Lady wasn’t too keen to go in either. I think she remembered the last time she jumped into a car with a stranger and she never saw home again. That was when we picked her up. However, she emerged unscathed and was her usual sociable, tail-wagging self. Unlike Bilbo, she’s quite the extrovert and social butterfly! She loves people and any attention she can muster.

While Lady is being fixed up, the male husband groomer is sitting down with Bilbo and building a rapport. Bilbo is warming up a bit and he’s now deemed a reasonable risk but as I said, Geoff was still going in the float with him. No one was taking any chances.

Bilbo has been clipped once before and really was a lot happier after that. Once he was in there and the clip had got started, he was relatively calm. I think he might have remembered that losing his coat was going to be a relief  and started to settle. He was still a wound up spring but he was somewhat compliant.

The clip gets underway. Look at all that fur coming off. As I said, it was like shearing a sheep!

The clip gets underway. Look at all that fur coming off. As I said, it was like shearing a sheep!

The dog groomers were excellent and worked well with him. He wasn’t comfortable but he was clipped.

The clip is almost over...

The clip is almost over…

Then, it was time for his bath. Our poor boy. He really doesn’t like new experiences all that much and getting a bath is definitely something he files under “torture” and “over my dead body”. However, although there was initially a serious scuttle of claws, the bath went relatively well.

A shorn Bilbo having his bath. Looks like he much prefers the salon treatment to the hose.

A shorn Bilbo having his bath. Looks like he much prefers the salon treatment to the hose.

We knew from last time there would be no blow dry. Definitely no blow dry!! That sound was too much like the vacuum cleaner…his usual nemesis!

Suddenly, after all that kerfuffle, it was over. Bilbo was clipped and working as a very good team, we had all succeeded.

Bilbo's even starting to look like a happy camper!

Bilbo’s even starting to look like a happy camper!

“Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be. If we do our best, we are a success.”
Zig Ziglar

It was funny when his whole ordeal was over, you could see such a sense of relief. A burden had been lifted. He’s been freed, liberated. Vive la liberte. He was trotting back inside and when Lady saw him, she really did a double take: “What’s happened to you , mate?!! Had a fight with the lawn mower?”

You bet!

We also had a surprise after all that fur had come off. Bilbo has actually lost some weight. I had suspected he’d lost a bit and transferred it to Lady but the shorn coat doesn’t lie. It shows every single ripple and bulge and is just as  unforgiving as a human wearing a wet suit.

Bilbo is now trotting around the house with a real spring in his step. Grumpy dog is almost happy with a new zest for life.

Yes, he really has been set free!!

xx Rowena

 

Click Go the Shears, Dog!

“Click goes his shears; click, click, click.

Wide are the blows, and his hand is moving quick,

The ringer looks round, for he lost it by a blow,

And he curses that old shearer with the bare belled ewe.”

Click Go the Shears:  The tune is an adaptation of the American Civil War song “Ring the Bell, Watchman” by Henry Clay Work and the first verse follows closely, in parody, Work’s lyrics as well.

Tom Roberts: "Shearing the Rams" 1890.

Tom Roberts: “Shearing the Rams” 1890. Bilbo is almost as woolly as a sheep.

Bilbo, our very woolly, mature-aged Border Collie,  is about to get shorn like a sheep and it’s going to be a real test of endurance not just for the dog groomer but also for Geoff who will be standing in the dog float with him. Bilbo became quite disturbed when I unceremoniously bathed him a few weeks ago with the garden hose out in the back. We’re Australian and both humans and dogs are tough and it’s not often that they receive the royal salon treatment. However, when it comes to the hose and the vacuum cleaner, Bilbo is a pussy cat. Actually, he’s more of a chicken!

Instead of going to the dog salon, the salon is coming to us.

Instead of going to the dog salon, the salon is coming to us.

That’s right. All his glamorous fur is coming off. Not so long ago, Bilbo’s beautiful black & white fluffy coat would have been the envy of many a Hollywood starlet. That was until he stood out in the rain once too often while his winter coat was shedding and it fused into a wadded clump. Brushing, brushing and more brushing and even strategic snips, did little to improve the situation…especially as he was staging a stubbornly  determined campaign of full-scale avoidance, fleeing whenever  we approached his rump with the brush. It reminded me of the classic children’s book: Harry the Dirty Dog written by Gene Zion and illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham. Harry dug a hole and buried his scrubbing brush and ran away. Bilbo has come very close to doing just that.

Bilbo out on the kayak with Geoff.

Bilbo out on the kayak with Geoff.

I know I’ve shared about Bilbo’s intrepid adventures in previous posts. He’s gone sailing, kayaked and looking at the publicity shots, you’d have to say he is quite the intrepid adventurer.

However, contrary to popular belief, the camera lies. Indeed, it can tell the biggest, most seemingly believable, porky pies because, as we’ve been told, the camera never lies!! It sees what it sees. However, it makes the moment seem eternal and can give a fleeting moment a sense of eternity when it was perhaps a moment in time…and an exceptional moment at that!

Despite his bold, audacious and almost ferocious warnings to the postman, Bilbo is bark and all fright. Unlike Lady who greets anybody and everybody at the front door with enthusiastic tail wagging and thump thump thump at accelerating speeds, Bilbo avoids strangers. He generally doesn’t like being patted until he’s really warmed up to people, even those he sees regularly…except for my mother AKA “Ham-Ma”  who has been feeding him ham scraps even since he was a pup.He doesn’t even bark when her car pulls up. Like most dogs, even Bilbo’s love and trust is easily bought.

Perhaps, if I’d offered him food treats every time I tried to brush his rump, his fur might not have ended up in the knotted mess it’s in. Bilbo is the ultimate avoider and doesn’t understand anything about a stitch in time.

Hence, the clip.

I did try to attend to Bilbo’s woes myself and apart from nightly brushing and judicious use of the scissors, I also  gave the mutt a bath. Bilbo has only had a bath once before and to be quite   honest, he hasn’t needed a bath before either. He usually maintains his coat well himself with minimal intervention and never smells.

The beast looks relatively calm here but the hose is off.

The bath. Here the beast looks relatively calm  but the hose is off. He was wild…absolutely wild!!

That’s all changed and he currently stinks…I mean really sticks and his fur is greasy, matting and he seems to have a flea allergy. We’re getting the coat off and then expect to take him to the vet. Get him sorted.

Any moment now, the dog groomer is going to pull up and I am feeling quite nervous. I really don’t know how this is going to pan out. He went ballistic at the hose last week biting the water and lunging at me with his claws out. He gave mister quite a fright and left scratches in my legs. He can get quite skittish in some situations.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
– Nelson Mandela

Yet, Bilbo is not afraid. He’s asleep on the floor, oblivious to his impending ordeal. Instead, it’s me feeling the fear and trying to be brave.

Oh dear…they’ve just pulled up. Wish us luck. We’re going to need it!!

How do you have any tales to tell about your dog and baths and trips to the salon?

Meanwhile, have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Walking Through Martin Place: 6 Weeks After the Sydney Siege.

Yesterday, I walked through Sydney’s Martin Place for the very first time since the terrorist siege in December. It’s been 6 weeks. Experiencing something of a swirling vortex of emotion within, I felt unnerved, strange and just sad. Yet, with all the historic buildings still pretty much the same and the usual contingent of penguins in business attire, Martin Place was strangely business as usual.

Well…not quite!

“I am forever walking upon these shores,

Betwixt the sand and the foam,

The high tide will erase my food prints,

And the wind will blow away the foam,

But the sea and the shore will remain forever.”

― Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam

I wasn’t there as a voyeur but as someone trying to make sense of a horror which could never make sense. I had wanted to get in there earlier to pay my respects and leave some flowers. However, with my broken foot, I couldn’t get into the city. Now, leaving flowers no longer seemed appropriate and there was no means to express a grief which runs inexplicably deep, almost as deep as the historic Tank Stream, which lies buried beneath Martin Place’s  landmark GPO where most don’t even know it still exists.

Tank Stream. Photo: courtesy Sydney Water.

Tank Stream. Photo: courtesy Sydney Water.

A lot of tears have flowed into that stream lately and it’s been bursting its subterranean banks…or should I say through the pipes. Yet, now as time  passes, those tears are ever so slowly leaking through the cracks.

Above ground, everything appears almost, almost “normal” even though it isn’t. Not yet, anyway. We’re human…not machines. You can’t just press a stopwatch and your grief instantly goes away… along with your fear or at least a little reticence. After all, it could just as easily have been you, me, someone else we know and love and we know it. We’re no longer naive. It’s no longer “over there”. As I’ve said before, Australia has lost its innocence.

After a personally draining but positive day of medical tests topped off with a filling at the dentist, why did I feel the need to go to Martin Place? I really should have been unwinding and Luna Park or even a ferry trip would have been better options.

Yet, there was something stirring and resonating in my heart…a very strong, deep sense of grief..even a sense of anguish for all those who had been taken hostage and their families but mostly for Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson, who lost their lives. I needed to let that out.

I naturally feel a strong identification with Katrina Dawson, not only because she is also a Mum but because our family has been living with my tenuous health for almost 9 years and we have had some very, very anguished close calls. I have felt my children being torn away from me like having my heart ripped out of my chest and it is agonisingly painful. To know that her family is actually living that hell, that grief, makes my heart ache and there’s also anger because it didn’t have to be. Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson did not have to die that day.  This is probably some kind of survivor’s guilt. After all, it is hard to understand how I’m still here when my body has been ravaged by so much disease: my muscles, lungs, skin, bones. I doubt there’s a part of this body which isn’t being held together by safety pins. Yet, somehow I’m still breathing and even walking. Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson were fit, healthy good people who had done nothing wrong. They just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and through some absolute miracle, my kids still have their Mum.

Mister and I reading during my 7 week hospital stint in 2007 when I was diagnosed with dermatomyositis.

Mister and I reading during my 7 week hospital stint in 2007 when I was diagnosed with dermatomyositis.

The kids and I taken during my 7 week stint in hospital 2007. Mister was 3.5 and Miss was 18 months old.

The kids and I. Mister was 3.5 and Miss was 18 months old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It doesn’t make any sense but I’m incredibly grateful and also incredibly conscious of other families who are living this grief.

I have walked through Martin Place countless times before. The clock tower still looms over the top of the historic GPO almost like the moon, even in daylight. I pass by the Cenotaph honoring those who gave their lives during a different type of war where we seemed to know the rules. None of that has changed, although some extensive renovations are underway.

Then, as I’m making my way through Martin Place, I starting thinking. Nobody knows where I am. That I’m here. I started wondering whether I should just possibly call my husband and let him know that I’m in Martin Place. If something happens, not that it’s going to happen because it can’t, nobody knows that I’m here. Lightening doesn’t strike the same place twice although all the reasons why Martin Place was hit last time, are still there. That hasn’t changed. I feel like I’m walking through a minefield and I need to report in. That something could happen and nobody would even know that I’m here. That a confession is in order. Yes, instead of catching the train straight home from the dentist at Milson’s Point, I’ve caught the train into the city, traversing the imposing span of the Sydney Harbour Bridge alighting at Wynyard  Station. Despite my broken foot, I have managed to hobble up George Street to Martin Place and even up the hill. I can already hear them saying: “What was she thinking?!!!”

I’d already had a very emotionally charged, exhausting day what with medical tests and having a tooth filled at the dentist and I still had violin ensemble ahead. Yet, I felt drawn to Martin Place, needing to pay my respects and also to try to fathom the unfathomable.

I am walking up through Martin Place, which has a bit of a hill. Up, up, up. I’m not entirely sure where the Lindt Cafe is located but my foot is now starting to tire and I’m wondering if it’s all too much. I’m slowly putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

This iconic photo known as "Dancing Man" was taken in Elizabeth Street,  Martin Place celebrating the end of WWII on 15 August, 1945.

This iconic photo known as “Dancing Man” was taken in Elizabeth Street, Martin Place celebrating the end of WWII on 15 August, 1945.

A famous photo called: “The Dancing Man” was taken in Martin Place at the end of WWII of a man jubilantly dancing in Martin Place near the corner of Elizabeth Street. This photo has come to represent joy and celebration and yet it was almost taken right at the location of the Lindt Cafe…a scene where chocolate indulgence has turned into horror and tragedy. This paradox intrigues me. No one else seems to have made this connection.

Amidst all these questions, I wonder if place has a sense of memory? Does the soil buried beneath metres of concrete also wonder why all this has happened? Why it happened here? Who knows?

Slowly but surely I am nearing the Channel 7 TV Studios, which I know from the news broadcasts, are directly opposite the Lindt Cafe. This, it turns out, was no coincidence.

St James Church, Sydney. 1836, lithograph. Robert Russell, printed by John Gardiner Austin.

St James Church, Sydney. 1836, lithograph. Robert Russell, printed by John Gardiner Austin.

This is the Lindt Cafe.  It’s located on the corner of Phillip Street, metres away from the NSW Supreme Court and the Reserve Bank. At least in Australian terms, this area is steeped in history. It is also metres away from St James Church. St James, with its simple almost austere Georgian lines, was designed by former convict Francis Greenway, consecrated in February 1824 and became a parish church in 1835.

Breakfast At Tiffany's

A Very Different Breakfast…

A block away, there’s Tiffany’s jewelery store and I can’t help but think of the movie and see Audrey Hepburn in all her elegance. Moon River  flows through my heart like a stream https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7SI7N22k_A but then there’s this dreadful discordance…a Monday morning and a hot chocolate at the Lindt Cafe…

That certainly wasn’t Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

The Lindt Cafe is empty. Indeed, it hasn’t reopened since the siege. The entrance has been boarded up and there’s a slide bolt stuck on the front. It’s sort of bolt you usually see on a side gate in your backyard, not on the front of a cafe. It looks very weird and out of place like the can opener my grandfather used to shut his garage door in later life.

Lindt Cafe, Martin Place: a close-up of the slide bolt on the front door.

Lindt Cafe, Martin Place: a close-up of the slide bolt on the front door.

The future of the Lindt Cafe is seemingly coming out of limbo. Apparently, it’s being renovated and a memorial will be set up in the new cafe. As much as I’d always wanted to go there in the past, I don’t know if I could go there. Although I’m a serious chocoholic, there are so many other places to go where there are no memories…just coffee and cake. That’s what I’m looking for. I don’t need to be a hero. I don’t need to take such chances. I don’t even need to be brave. With more than enough adventure on my own journey, I don’t need to take on fresh, unnecessary challenges.

Phillip Street, looking towards the Lindt Cafe, which is on the corner on the left hand side.

Phillip Street, looking towards the Lindt Cafe, which is on the corner on the left hand side.

That said, I can’t just stay at home either. There’s that yin and yang…the tension where carpe diem seize the day becomes rather blurry. We know the world has changed…especially after events in Paris only served the reinforce the warning yet while need to be vigilant but not afraid.

There is a difference but the challenge is to find it and to stick with it.

XX Rowena

This is the fourth post I’ve written about the siege at the Lindt Cafe, Martin Place, Sydney. Here are some links to previous posts:

During the Siege: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/terror-in-australis-the-siege-in-sydneys-martin-place/

At the end of the Siege: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/only-9-sleeps-before-christmas/

This is Our Sydney: Originally posted on kazblah: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2014/12/24/this-is-still-our-sydney/  

Recovering From Trauma: Petrea King https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2014/12/24/recovering-from-trauma-petrea-king-a-must-read/

Send Christmas Cards to Katrina Dawson’s Kids: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/lindt-cafe-siege-sydney-please-send-christmas-cards-to-katrina-dawsons-kids/

Should We Have A Happy Christmas? https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/should-we-have-a-happy-christmas/

A New Year’s Wish: Ask What You Can Do for Your World: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/a-new-years-wish-ask-what-you-can-do-for-your-world/