Tag Archives: courage

Weekend Coffee Share – 4th April, 2022.

Welcome To Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Miracles do happen! We are experiencing two consecutive days of sunshine and I’m almost beside myself after that eternity of rain. I’m surprised I’m not outside soaking up some rays, but I have a few things to do, and even in Autumn the midday sun can be a bit much, and I’ll head out later this afternoon.

So, what tickles your fancy? Tea, coffee or something more exotic?

How was your week?

Last week, was pretty incredible for me.

Above: The Young Endeavour sailing in to dock.

The excitement and dramas began last Monday night when we received a surprise call from our son onboard the Young Endeavour. He wasn’t allowed to use his phone onboard and they had no WIFI access, so we weren’t expecting to hear from him at all while they were away. Of course, that should’ve alerted me to something being wrong. However, he was in good spirits and it wasn’t one of the “Navy Higher-ups” calling on his behalf to say he’d fallen from the top of the mast and was incapacitated. However, the news wasn’t good and I should’ve been expecting the clanger. That morning, they’d all had covid RATs, and three of the youth crew known as “youthies” had tested positive and had to leave the ship. Fortunately, they’d already arrived in Sydney and were docked off Watson’s Bay at the time. So, although their journey was cut short, they did manage to complete the journey from Geelong to Sydney. The news hit the crew hard, as even in those brief seven days they’d bonded really well and had become one. Obviously, there was also the question of whether the rest of them would come down with it either onboard or when they arrived home. Golly, don’t you hate how covid just has to go and rain on your parade?!! Meanwhile, there were even implications for us parents. We wouldn’t be allowed on the base to greet the ship and be a part of their disembarking ceremony, although we could watch them land from the nearby Coal Loader Wharf which had a breath-taking view across the Harbour towards Balmain and Birchgrove (we were out of sight of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.) My parents and our daughter were all planning to be there. However, Dad is having an operation today and had to pass a RAT and be well) and our daughter has a lot of school assessments and dance commitments. We’ve managed to avoid covid so far, and were hopeful that him being triple vaxed and the power of prayer would spare him (and it did). Meanwhile, we cleared out the caravan in case, but he’s mostly been confined to his room.

Youthies on Floral Shirt Day

Of course, for a storyteller like myself, the return of the sailor was a bonanza and fortunately he was really chatty and didn’t object to a gazillion questions from mum, while I was hastily writing down everything he said as close for word to word as I could. I’m a pretty rapid notetaker so I was more than up for the task. Then, we rang my Dad who sails and so was well versed to ask him pertinent sailing questions and I jotted all his replied down there. By this stage, I had pages of notes and was feeling pretty chuffed. However, this was only the beginning and I’m now behind and have pages to type up. I had another win when he got onto Google Earth and took me on the journey from Geelong to Sydney and telling me stories of what happened along the way. Unlike his mother, he has really good navigational skills, and he was very specific abut where they’d stopped. Btw I thought you’d love to hear that they were moored near Taronga Park Zoo on their last night, and he could hear the elephants trumpeting, especially at 8.00am for some reason and he could also see the seal show.

However, the return of Popeye the Sailor wasn’t our only news this week. We actually had quite a busy weekend. On Saturday, it was Open Day at the dance studio and they gave us a sneak peak into the excerpt of Swan Lake they’ll be performing at production later this year. Miss also performed her new ballet solo for the first time, and it was also her first time wear her new tutu. I was absolutely dazzled, although it seemed strange because I’m so used to the old ballet solo and it’s a very different look. It will be really good to see it when she competes in the competition in a few weeks’ time up on stage and under lights.

That afternoon, I drove up to Long Jetty about 30 minutes or so away where my cousins were holding their studio opening. Gina and Katie are sisters. Katie’s business is Mudita Collective https://www.mudita.com.au/. I must admit it’s funny seeing my younger cousins all grown up and a real businesswoman. This is how she describes what she does: “Inspired by nature’s earthy tones and bohemian vibes, Mudita bursts with femininity and whimsical feels. All of our fabrics are ethically sourced and produced by talented artisans.” Meanwhile, I quite fancied this article from her blog about salvaging your old clothing and turning it into beeswax wraps. I see so much beautiful fabric at the charity shops in clothing that’s too small for me. It’s often really cheap, and I have bought a few pieces with grand ambitions of rebirthing them. So, perhaps making these beeswax wraps might be the way to go. You can read about it here: https://www.mudita.com.au/blogs/mudita-blog/upcycle-your-old-clothing-with-beeswax-wraps

Meanwhile, Katie’s sister, Gina’s business Ginagee Creations has a completely different vibe. This is how Gina describes herself:

“Ginagee creations is a reflection of my creative journey. This forever evolving array of hand-crafted pieces started from a very young time in my life where I was drawing, sewing and crocheting. The more I created, the more I was able to learn and grow as I explored new techniques and ancient crafts. I have not stuck to one particular idea or craft. I am constantly expanding and trying new things to make unique creations. Combined with a deep passion for mother earth, I also source as much sustainable, local, recycled, second-hand materials as I can, so I leave less impact on this precious land. It also allows me to bring a second life and a story into my handmade treasures.” https://www.ginagee.com.au/

Yesterday, the action continued when I went for a picnic on the waterfront with some friends. It was wonderful to see them again.

So, as you can see, I’ve been out and about a lot more this week, but with covid still around, this will probably be more the exception than the rule.

Meanwhile, you might like to join us over at the Weekend Coffee Share, which is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

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!