Tag Archives: cricket

Accepting Our Mistakes…

“Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again.”

Vincent Van Gogh

As a parent, I frequently find myself encouraging the kids not to give up when they make mistakes.After all, making mistakes doesn’t mean you’re innately hopeless at the task. Rather, your mistake could just be a stepping stone to greater things further down the  track. There are also some tasks which just need to be done, mastered and you can’t just quit and give up. You have to persevere.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Calvin Coolidge

Knowing how to get back on your feet and without letting your mistakes get you down, is as important as growing taller and going through all the usual steps which growing up entails. Indeed, overcoming mistakes and starting over builds resilience… that magic ingredient, which almost guarantees you a happy life if you listen to the so-called experts.

However, does all this psychological mumbo jumbo mean you have to like making these mistakes?

I don’t think so.

Last night, former Australian Cricket Captain, Steve Smith and bowler Cameron Bancroft apologised on national television for their roles in the ball tampering fiasco which took place in South Africa. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone on TV as broken and contrite as these men, and it was painful to watch. Australians are fanatical about their cricket and it’s so easy for lounge room experts to criticize and judge. Something big went on over there. Something which caused three men in the team who from my knowledge, have always towed the line and been exemplary men. They desperately begged for forgiveness. Yes, I know they’ve been labelled cheats, but they are clearly exceptionally sorry. That’s enough for me.  I also hope those men come to forgive themselves, and that perhaps some good will come out of it, although it’s hard to see a sunny side now. Indeed, you have to be concerned. Will they be okay?

Fortunately, most of us don’t have to face the world for any of our mistakes. We can quietly hide away within our anonymity at home. Most of our mistakes aren’t as monumental either. Yet, it’s also important not to be swept away by the proverbial storm in a tea cup. It’s all too easy to cry over spilled milk, a burned bamboo steamer or even eggs that won’t separate.

This morning, our 12 year old daughter had an accident in the kitchen and burned the bamboo steamer. To be honest, she did a good job of it and over 12 hours later, the stench is still hanging round. Indeed, when you start thinking of burning wood, your mind does jump towards the worst case scenario and the potential dangers of cooking.

However, I didn’t want her to think she’s a bad cook, and that that’s an inherent, indelible part of her character. All she needs is more cooking lessons and to follow the cookbook. So, I told her about my own disasters in the kitchen, including burning the base off my mother’s saucepan making rice.

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery”.

-James Joyce

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This pep talk with my daughter this morning set me in good stead for my own cooking dramas tonight. We’ll be heading down to my parents’ place for an Easter dinner and I offered to bring a pavlova. I am well known for my pavlovas, which are made from scratch and are crunchy on the outside with lush marshmallow inside. Yum! Normally, I can whip up these pavs in no time at all, but tonight I just couldn’t separate the eggs and I went through something like twelve eggs to get six. Then to top off my troubles, when I successfully separated the final egg, I drop the yolk into the pond of 5 perfect egg whites. I’m surprised I didn’t scream.

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My husband always says that a sign of a good tradesman is that they know how to fix or cover-up their mistakes. So, there I was desperate to remove that offending egg yolk without even a smear of yolk being left behind (because otherwise the egg whites won’t beat up). I fished the egg yolk out with a large skimmer spoon. That went pretty well, but there was still egg yolk left behind. So, I spooned out what I could, and tried putting the whites through a tea strainer. That’s didn’t look good either and was seemingly too efficient. By now, I could only try beating them up and if it didn’t work, start over. Phew, it worked and the pavlova actually made it into the oven.

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My Miracle Pavlova…All’s well that ends well. 

Sometimes, you can only laugh at your mistakes and no one else will be none the wiser. The pavlova looks spectacular and I am still the reigning Pavlova Queen. I can walk through the door showing off the pavlova with pride and it looks like we’ll be having pancakes beforehand to use up the eggs.

How do you overcome your mistakes? Have you written any posts sharing your cooking mistakes. I’d love to hear from you!

xx Rowena

 

Australia Vs England…the Reliant Robin. It’s Definitely NOT Cricket!

It’s a shame cricket commentator Richie Benaud isn’t around to do the commentary on what might have been the greatest moment in the history of sporting battles. I can just picture him from up in the commentary box with a haircut and suit only he could get away with with his usual mantra: “marvellous!”.

However, given that Richie Benaud was a man of few words, he’d probably tell me:

“My mantra is: put your brain into gear and if you can add to what’s on the screen then do it, otherwise shut up.”

 Richie Benaud

A crowd full of Richie Benauds think the play is "marvellous"!!

A crowd full of Richie Benauds think the play is “marvellous”!!

However, sometimes what’s on the screen demands considerable explanation.

Such as a soccer match involving two teams of Reliant Robins and an oversized,  inflatable soccer ball.

Please explain!

Last year, the BBC’s motoring show, Top Gear, came out to Australia. While this event might not have been the official highlight of their tour, it was certainly the most outlandish.

There was a soccer game played between two teams driving a three-wheeled English car, the Reliant Robin. The aim was to knock the ball into the nets to score a goal and naturally, to also keep all three wheels on the ground so you didn’t fall over.

In the United Kingdom, the Robin is often the butt of jokes and is sometimes affectionately nicknamed the “Plastic Pig” due to its distinctive shape and fibreglass body shell. The Robin was first manufactured in October 1973 featuring a 750cc engine. In 1975, it gained a number of improvements including an engine boost to 850cc. The Reliant Robin was well received in the 1970s because of good design executed by Ogle Design, (who had previously designed the Bond Bug, and Reliant Scimitar) and affordable price[considering 70mpg and 85 mph is possible, and orders increased with the 1970s fuel crisis. You could also drive it with a motorbike licence at certain stages.

So, you could just imagine Australia versus England in these crazy, madcap contraptions..the laughing stock of the Commonwealth!

What you might not know is that there is quite a bit of rivalry between Australia and England. Some of it good natured but it also can get brutal. While we might have fought a few World Wars with England on the battlefield, there’s definitely no such allegiance on the sporting field…especially when it comes to cricket’s Ashes Series or the rugby. This is all out war and an absolute national disgrace if your team is thrashed!

Boys and their toys Top Gear's James May and Australian Top Gear Host, Shane Jacobsen.

Boys and their toys Top Gear’s James May and Australian Top Gear Host, Shane Jacobsen.

While I only found out about this epic race the other night, my husband Geoff and our son were actually there and saw the thing live. Not that they actually took many photos because they were too busy photographing big engines and Top Gear personalities instead.

The Red Bull Car as driven by Daniel Ricardo.

The Red Bull Car as driven by Daniel Ricardo. What a contrast to the Robin!

Anyway, in addition to my role as Australia’s self-appointed Cultural Ambassador, I thought we could all do with a laugh. This has to be the wackiest thing I’ve seen in awhile and that’s quite an endorsement!

Before I give you the link, it does warn of possible offensive language. I don’t have sound on my computer so I apologise if it’s too extreme. Surely, English gentlemen wouldn’t be too obscene?!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nORCM9rMvBo

I hope that gave you a laugh, especially if you’re in the throws of trying to get through the Nano challenge this month.

xx Rowena

Australian Cricket: It couldn’t get any worse BUT THEN @#$%!!!!

Cricket does strange things to some people…especially when it involves that greatest of grudge matches: The Ashes Test Series between age-old rivals, England and Australia. It brings out the sort of fierce national pride, which is really more at home  in a Neanderthal cave.

The Balmy Army

The Balmy Army

Usually, I blame the these antics on the beer or being out in the Summer sun all day. After all, the sun can do funny things to people…just look at the Balmy Army and all those clowns  dressed up as commentator, Richie Benaud, over the years. That has to be madness adopting a hairstyle which should have been “inimitable”.

Way to many Richies!

Way to many Richies!

Anyway, you could say that desperate times call for desperate measures.

In a move not uncharacteristic of your average boastful Aussie cricket fan, TV Presenter Karl Stefanovic put his clothes where his mouth was and tweeted:

If clarkey doesn’t get a hundred I’m gear off on the show tomorrow. Woohoo. Positives for everyone.

Well, even if you’re not a cricket affectionado (ie hate cricket), if you live in the cricketing realm, you’ll know that the Australian cricket team was slaughtered in at Trent Bridge in Nottingham and in the worst score since 1936, was all out for 60 runs.

So, this left our dear mate Karl in a bit of a spot…Would he? Or wouldn’t he? Unlike most of our politicians who wouldn’t know a promise if it punched them on the nose, would our Karl be true to his word or would he capitulate?

Well, I didn’t know any of this until the deed was already done and I strayed across the story online after the fact.

That of course means that I missed Karl’s mighty dash across the set but it turns out, just to spare the viewers vision, a cartoon cricket ball was placed not so discreetly across the screen.

Wait…there’s more:http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/karl-stefanovics-ashesinspired-nudie-run-on-nine-a-win-for-cricket-20150807-gitkdt.html

So, after that, I’m offering Karl to the highest bidder. I reckon he should go into politics where he could actually become one of the first politicians who actually follows through on their promises! I reckon he’d be a hit over in the US right about now as they prepare for their presidential elections. I’m sure he’d knock Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton, Jed Bush right out of the park. Let’s all vote: Karl for President!

For better or worse, here is a man who is true to his word!

By the way, I do have one explanation for Australia’s shocking defeat. That is, Robin Hood was stealing runs from the Australians and giving them to the English. I’m not quite up on the story these days but I’m sure there was a Sheriff of Nottingham???

Humph! Did legendary Robin Hood steal our runs and give them to the English? I wonder...

Humph! Did legendary Robin Hood steal our runs and give them to the English? I wonder…

Anyway, Robin Hood makes perfect sense to me!!

After all, our national pride is on the line. We are the champions…at least, we should have been!

Humph! That’s enough talk about cricket! Time to put another snag on the barbie. We’ve been on BBQ duty with scouts today.

Hope you’re having a better weekend than the Australian Cricket Team!

xx Rowena

PS A personal message for Geoffle: “We’ll be back!”…even if it isn’t in the second innings.

Here’s a rundown on the day’s play: http://www.news.com.au/sport/cricket/the-ashes-2015-live-blog-from-the-fourth-test-at-nottingham-australia-and-england/story-fndpt0dy-1227473148402

A bit of English vitriol from Geoffry Boycott: http://www.news.com.au/sport/cricket/geoffrey-boycott-slams-aussie-cricket-team-in-harsh-rant/story-fnu2penb-1227475251692

Richie Benaud…Oh What a Ripper!

Yesterday, Australia lost a very much loved, living legend, when cricketer and commentator, Richie Benaud, passed away aged 85. Richie Benaud was the “voice of cricket” and as Prime Minister, Tony Abbott said:Richie Benaud “was the accompaniment of an Australian summer, his voice was even more present than the chirping of the cicadas in our suburbs and towns, and that voice, tragically, is now still.”

There’s a fabulous cartoon by Shakespeare here:http://www.smh.com.au/sport/the-fitz-files/a-marvellous-man-and-a-true-gent-rip-richie-benaud-20150410-1mi854.html

Even though I’m not even close to being a cricket fan, Richie Benaud’s appeal went way beyond the pitch. Indeed, after commentating for so many years, he felt like something of an aged Uncle or Grandparent who chatted to us throughout the game, telling us what’s what. Like so many embarrassing dads, he had his own unique sense of style and a way with words that was legendary. Indeed, when you checked out the crowd at a cricket match, you’d find more than a couple of look-a-likes in the crowd. Golly, some of the interpretations of his hair, were almost as incredible as the man himself.

To see his loyal fans decked up in force: http://www.smh.com.au/sport/cricket/benaud-boys-pay-tribute-to-the-international-man-of-cricket-20120104-1pkog.html

A crowd full of Richie Benauds think the play is "marvellous"!!

A crowd full of Richie Benauds think the play is “marvellous”!!

Anyway, as I said, I won’t and can’t even pretend to be a cricket fan.

Indeed, I hated cricket growing up. Every Summer, my brother and I conducted our own fierce battles off the pitch as we fought for who controlled the TV.  I swear my brother could have spent an entire summer watching and playing cricket, which as I’ve found re-reading an old journal, drove me absolutely round the twist.

Back in the day before remote controls, that meant grabbing hold of the rotary channel  selector in one hand and the on and off switch in the other and somehow fighting off your opponent with any remaining body parts without letting go. It’s funny because even though a vehemently detested cricket at the time, that still remains the Golden Age of cricket for me and I now sing along with “Come On Aussie, Come On” choking back the emotions as I remember Dennis Lillee “pounding down like a machine”: www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qJLi5y2d2w

That said, I chuckled when I heard Richie Benaud talking about the upcoming Summer:”We won’t miss a ball of the cricket”. Thinking back to my brother, I now realise that things could have been an awful lot worse and I hope Benaud’s wife, Daphne, enjoyed being married to the game as well as to the man. She pretty much had to love cricket.

Richie, Richie and Daphne

Richie, Richie and Daphne

All I’ll say, is thank goodness for the Internet and two TVs. Geoff a serious cricket fan as well.

So, as a fleeting tribute to an incredible man who I’ve felt has been living in my lounge room for so much of my life, here are a few of Richie Benaud’s Classic Quotes:

BenaudEarly“The key thing was to learn the value of economy with words and to never insult the viewer by telling them what they can already see” – on commentary.

“And Glenn McGrath dismissed for two, just 98 runs short of his century” – on the Australian fast bowler, famous for his ineptitude with the bat. Just as well he could bowl!!

“Put your brain into gear and if you can add to what’s on the screen then do it, otherwise shut up”

“What I want most from being a television commentator is to be able to feel that, when I say something, I am talking to friends”: talking about his audience.

“There was a slight interruption there for athletics” – referring to a streaker.

“When my hair is long enough to be cut, I go to my wife’s hairdresser, and she generally ways for it.”

“I once said to (Australian all-rounder) Keith Miller how disappointed I was to have made my debut in the same year as Bradman retired. How wonderful it would have been to have watched him play at the SCG in 1940 and then to bowl at him on the same ground. Nugget remarked drily that everyone has one lucky break and that may well have been mine.”

Benaud said of his mother, “She improved my love of vegetables by introducing the phrase, ‘You can’t go out and play cricket until you have eaten all your vegetables.'”

Before I sign off in typical Richie Benaud style, I’ll play Anthony Lloyd-Webber’s Memory which was Richie & Daphne’s favourite piece of music, performed by Debra Byrne:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-osxc7JKXg

Condolences to Benaud family, especially his beloved wife, Daphne. From all accounts, they had an incredible partnership!

I will give Richie Benaud the last word:

“This had been a presentation from Nine’s Wide World of Sports.”

xx Rowena

RIP Richie Benaud.

RIP Richie Benaud. This was the old test pattern, which used to broadcast in the good old days when the TV went to sleep.

 

Should We Have A Happy Christmas?

Last night, I tried once again to write my Annual Christmas Newsletter but was getting stuck. After the last few weeks, I‘m finding it hard to get into the Christmas spirit. Australia has been in mourning following the accidental death of cricketer Phillip Hughes. Since then the shock, outrage and sadness has only got worse…so much worse! Knowing that these families are grieving, it is hard to feel positive about this Christmas or write about what our family has been doing this year, as though it’s all just business as usual. That said, I was having chemo last Christmas and every Christmas we have together as a family is very, very precious.

 

My grandfather reading his Christmas mail 2007. When he was a Pastor in Wollongong back in the 1950s in a congregation with mostly "New Australians", everbody would sing Silent Night in their own language together.

My grandfather reading his Christmas mail 2007, aged 93. When he was a Pastor in Wollongong back in the 1950s in a congregation with mostly “New Australians”, everybody would sing Silent Night in their own language together.

The Annual Christmas Newsletter is a tradition started by my grandfather. He quite literally belted out his newsletter on the keys of his pre-historic typewriter well after the days of computers. I’ve even seen newer contraptions preserved in modern museums. He was a Church Pastor and knew a lot of people and could have used a mail house to get his Christmas newsletter out.  Christmas was such a special time for him. Not just because it honored Jesus’ birth but because it brought Christians and families together. He loved nothing more than the annual Christmas Tree service on Christmas Eve where the children dressed up as angels and shepherds. If you’d been good at Sunday School, you might just be lucky and get the role of Mary or Joseph. That is, instead of being cast as the donkey!!

The kids dressed as angels for the Christmas Eve Service, 2008.

The kids dressed as angels for the Christmas Eve Service, 2008 aged 2 and 4.

However, I was not only struggling due to the usual writer’s block. I am still absolutely shell-shocked by recent events.

You know what I’m talking about.

I still haven’t started my newsletter and what I started writing has instead become this post. Quite unintentionally, it has ended up with two contrasting but interwoven stories. The words look at what’s happened as I guess I’m still trying to make sense of it all. The photos of our family tell a different story. They show those precious Christmas moments we all treasure and they really brought it home what these families have lost. Going through our many many Christmas photos  has also helped me appreciate our kids a lot more and what we have. That we shoud never take that for granted. Never ever!

Phillip Hughes’ death stopped the nation. That now seems a very long time ago in what I’m now calling “the Age of Innocence” before the events of last week. How a cricket ball could by-pass the helmet and hit him smack in the neck and kill such a fit and healthy young sportsman in the prime of life was beyond comprehension. Naturally, we support bowler Sean Abbott and the accident was clearly not his fault. It was one of those freakish things you can’t explain.

As I watched “Hughesie’s” funeral on TV, I heard his brother talk about the endless hours he spent bowling to his little bro who always insisted on batting first and took days and days to get out. Being the youngest, it was his sister’s job to fetch the balls. After hearing all those little anecdotes, we felt like we knew the cricketer in the green baggy cap with the enormous smile and such a joie de vivre. We felt shattered for his family and his cricketing family as well and we thought about his upcoming birthday and, of course, Christmas !!

However, last week’s dreadful siege in Martin Place’s much loved Lindt Café was in another league of shocked disbelief entirely. Of course, this tragedy wasn’t some statistically freakish accident. It was pure evil in action and it happened in our Sydney.

At any other time, any chocoholic would have been ecstatic to be locked up in the Lindt Cafe overnight and the contrast between chocolate heaven and the absolute hell that went on in there, is incomprehensible. I’ve never been there but so many friends have such special memories of that café. It is an indulgent treat. As the gunman forced the hostages up against the windows and we saw their hands, the window frames were decorated with “Merry Christmas” in fancy script. Again, this juxtaposition was yet another cruel irony. The siege ended on Tuesday 16th December with the deaths of Tori Johnson , the Manager of the Lindt Café and Katrina Dawson, Barrister and mother of three who had a love of hot chocolate.

An utter tragedy!!

You wouldn’t think it could get much worse, even though you know it does.

Only a day later, seven heavily armed Taliban gunmen scaled an outer wall of the Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar, Pakistan and began shooting indiscriminately. 132 children and nine school staff were killed in what has been the deadliest ever attack by the Taliban in Pakistan. As the Economist stated: “It takes something unusually vile for the world to pay much attention to a terrorist outrage in Pakistan”[1].

I doubt any of us can even name one of the children killed in that attack. Personally, beyond knowing it had happened, I didn’t really know many of the details myself. I have been immersed in the aftermath of the Lindt Cafe Siege. It wasn’t that I didn’t care but once again it was over there and I was still shell shocked by what had happened here. I think they’ve termed this “sympathy fatigue”. All the same, these kids are just like yours and mine. They no doubt also liked to play cricket. Perhaps, they eveh put their cricket bats out the front of their homes out of respect to cricketer Phillip Hughes just like kids all around Australia…not knowing the horror which lay ahead.

Yet, around the world, people know Phillip Hughes, Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson by name. Sir Elton John paused during a concert to honour Hughes and Martin Place is bursting and overflowing with floral tributes to these hero hostages who lost their lives protecting others.

Those children in Pakistan are just as precious!!

Mister pushing his little sister along George Street, Sydney 2008.

Christmas Shopping- Mister pushing his little sister along George Street, Sydney 2008

While it’s tempting to switch off and feel that the Pakistan massacre is just too horrific. Too dreadful. Can we afford to cover our eyes, our ears and simply switch off our TVs and somehow get back to Christmas 2014? Get back to wrapping presents, decorating trees, baking, eating too much chocolate, too much of everything including a few stiff drinks…especially after last week?

No matter who you are, we all have our own problems. While there are quite evidently a lot of people worse off out there, you also need to deal with your own stuff too. No one else is going to do it for you!! Perhaps, you just  haven’t got anything left to think about someone someplace else.

 

You also might just want to enjoy Christmas and honour the real meaning of Christmas…Christ’s birth and that God the Father sent him down to earth to save mankind from themselves. Save the lost. After this week, you’d think that Jesus might think it’s time to come back. How could there be so much hate and violence on our pretty blue planet which ironically looks so peaceful from space? I don’t know. Somehow, we need to start turning the tide around but how?

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke.

But what can we do?

Thousands have left flowers in Martin Place. You can send Christmas cards to Katrina Dawson’s kids. We can also make a start by living by the Golden Rule and treating others as we would like to be treated . We could perhaps even develop the empathy and compassion to consider how others would like to be treated as well. How many of us have people we don’t speak to or even worse spew out abuse at each other? If we can not show love, forgiveness and compassion in our own personal relationships, how can we possibly change our world? While we might not have physically murdered anyone, who have we damaged through our words or our deeds…or indeed, possibly even broken beyond repair? There is so much pain and heartache in our world and maybe we just need to listen to a troubled soul and that could be all it takes to make a difference and show love…that proverbial cup of tea.

Yet, even listening is not as easy as we think.

Mister at the Beach Aged 9 Months- Christmas 2004.

Mister at the Beach Aged 9 Months- Christmas 2004.

Just when we thought that it couldn’t get much worse, news came through from Queensland (Australia) that a mother has been charged with murdering 7 of her children as well as her niece. That’s eight children senselessly killed, seven by their own mother. This mother has at least one other child still living who has to live with that loss. He is just a young man and I don’t know how he’ll get through this atrocity. Apparently, these children had more than one Dad and these fathers have had their hearts ripped out as well. Why? Why does a mother kill her own children when your very instinct is to defend your children, even to the death?!! We’ve all had bad days with our kids but to do that…it’s incomprehensible. I am left numb. We have all been left numb.

Now, the fields of floral tributes are growing in Cairns as well. Too much tragic, needless heartache.

With the gravity of recent events, I haven’t heard any mention of the families who lost loved ones in the equally horrific shooting down of Flight MH17. It is their first Christmas without their loved ones. But given recent events, it’s like revisiting that horror is all too much. Yet, I still care. I haven’t forgotten.

MIss with her doll's house. We had to qwrap it up in a big white sheet to wrap it up and tied tinsel around it.

Miss with her doll’s house. We had to wrap it up in a big white sheet to wrap it up and tied tinsel around it.

 

Our daughter's first Christmas 2006 aged 10 months.

Our daughter’s first Christmas 2006 aged 10 months.

Mister and the old big red fella Christmas 2014

Mister and the old big red fella Christmas 2014

 

So after all of this, how are the rest of us supposed to have a Happy Christmas? Oh yes. I’m just swinging from the chandeliers in my Mrs Claus suit drinking champagne, even with my broken foot in its boot.

I don’t think so.

Yet, Christmas Day is too important for our family to write off or turn into a funeral. Life is precious and nobody knows what lies around the corner. Despite my many health scares, I’m still standing but none of us can take things for granted.

As a friend of mine who works in Martin Place has said: Every day is a gift.

We need to make sure we use that gift wisely. For me that includes being informed about these shocking events but also trying to be a counterforce for good. Right now, I really feel like marching down George Street (Sydney’s main street) wearing a huge heart suit to reinforce the importance of love. That love can triumph over evil. I’d probably look like an idiot and get locked up for disturbing the peace but I want people to remember that there is love and goodness in this world, even when we see the very worst of humanity flashed across our TV screens and even in our own city. We have to fight for goodness and for most of us, it will be in the little things. Baking a cake for a friend. Driving your friend’s kids home from school. Not walking into someone with a walking stick when you’re running desperately for that train. Keeping your cool with the kids when they’ve razzed you up for the hundredth time.

 

Showing off my new zebra PJs from Victoria's Secret beside the Christmas Tree in 2006. Lucky I didn't go skiing on all that wrapping paper!

Showing off my new zebra PJs from Victoria’s Secret beside the Christmas Tree in 2006. Lucky I didn’t go skiing on all that wrapping paper!

Mummy & Miss Christmas 2006

Mummy & Miss Christmas 2006. She is 10 months old and still crawling.

Mister & I with Santa at the Pearl Beach, Playgroup 2008.

Mister & I with Santa at the Pearl Beach, Playgroup 2008.

 

 

 

 

These random acts of kindness aren’t going to win you any awards and you won’t see your name up in lights but there is the personal satisfaction of a life well lived and having integrity and character…values that desperately need to come back into fashion.

That said, something tells me that the word Kardashian has more weight.

Somehow, you and I need to be the change.

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller

I have pretty much decided that from tomorrow, my blog will return to “normal viewing”. That it is time to celebrate and enjoy Christmas 2014 and that is not the crime. That said, for all of you who are grieving this Christmas, I send you my love!

Love & Best wishes,

Rowena

We've all got to start somewhere. Miss aged 1 2007.

We’ve all got to learn the Golden Rule sometime. Miss almost aged 2- Christmas 2007. The next photo showed Mister with the doll..She must have been told to share.

Who hasn't bought their little man a superman suit? Christmas 2008. Mister aged 4 and Miss aged 2.

Who hasn’t bought their little man a superman suit?
Christmas 2008. Mister aged 4 and Miss aged 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21636746-attack-sign-militants-are-under-pressure-pakistans-leaders-must-unite

Explorations with Google.

When considering great explorers, I usually think of intrepid adventurers who have “discovered” new continents, crossed frontiers and ventured into wild, uncharted places on this planet. People like Christopher Columbus, Captain Cook, Sir Edmund Hillary as well as adventurers like Dick Smith and Jessica Watson…  the youngest person to sail solo around the world.

Yet, thinkers are also great explorers and we also uncover new territory. Or, as is often the case, we build bridges across distinct islands and create new nations of thought.

Keats expressed such intellectual discovery beautifully in On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer:

…Yet did I never breathe its pure serene

Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies

When a new planet swims into his ken…

I don’t know if anyone else would consider me a great thinker. I’m a blogger and a very low-ranking blogger at that. Yet, I also explore foreign territory in my blogs and general writing, attempting to create new islands of thought or alternative ways of doing things.

Google has become an integral part of this process.

Google not only facilitates my research. It also takes me off on fresh adventures. You know how it is. You Google one thing and something else shows up in the search results and you end up pursuing a completely different line of thought.  Before you know it, you are a few mental light years away from where you started out and it’s all very, very exciting stuff! You’re mind is on fire!

Although it might be online, isn’t this is what learning is all about… going somewhere new and investigating, asking questions and sussing everything out? After all, isn’t this how so many of history’s greatest discoveries were made… by seemingly wandering off on a tangent, getting lost and then suddenly the light bulb goes off? Or, perhaps by putting a few random thoughts together creating something new and world-changing?

At the very least, Google allows you to check something out and reach your own conclusions.

Only yesterday, someone was telling me about a huge island of plastic rubbish in the Pacific Ocean. Now, I consider myself fairly well read with a keen interest in the environment but I had never heard of this island before. Thanks to Google, I was able to come home and not only read about it but I could even watch a documentary online. This thing (and believe me it really does sound like a “thing”) is called the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” or the “trash vortex” and while you can’t really spot it on Google maps, it is located in an area called the “North Pacific gyre” – a vortex where the ocean circulates slowly because of little wind and extreme high pressure systems. Due to these ocean currents, it seems that plastic rubbish pools here. As with most things scientific, there is considerable debate about this so-called island, which is also described perhaps more accurately as a plastic “soup”.  Thanks to Google, I was able to read numerous opinions on the subject and formulate a reasonably well-informed opinion without a science degree or PhD, all from the comfort of my own home.

Yesterday, thanks to Google, I was a budding “scientist”. Today, I was in much more familiar territory…poetry.

I recently bought some antique sheet music on eBay. One of the pieces was called My Heart is a Silent Violin. I noticed that the words were actually a poem by Eric Von der Goltz JR. It is a very romantic piece and being a lover of all things violin at the moment, I Googled the poem. Halfway down the list, there was a link to The Old Violin – The Touch of the Masters Hand . The link mentioned that it had been his late father’s favourite poem. As a poet and lover of poetry, I was intrigued about what made this particular poem, out of all the millions of poems which have ever been written, that one in a million million… so I clicked through.

I wasn’t disappointed. I was very moved by this poem, which talked about how an old violin was being auctioned. At first, the auctioneer was struggling to get more than a couple of dollars for it. However, a master violinist stepped up and played the violin beautifully and suddenly the price jumped up into the thousands. It is a religious poem and God is the Master who appreciates and brings out the best in us. However, I also saw an application in how we treat people who are different, or at least different from us and often dismiss them.

We all deserve to be given a chance to shine with our own unique beauty.

The humble violinist

The humble violinist

As a violinist and yes I know I’m only a beginner violinist but a violinist is a violinist…I also viewed this poem from the perspective of the player, the violinist and not just the violin.

Being so moved by the poem, I wanted to find out more about the poem and its author, Myra Brooks Welsh. http://www.aboutonehandtyping.com/storiesfolder/master.html

Back to Google.

Yet again, Google didn’t disappoint. I found a brief biography of Myra Brooks Welsh written by Lilly Walters, who has her own story of triumphing over adversity. Lilly Walters, whose story appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul 2nd Helpings, was inspired by the poem after she lost most of her hand in a farming accident as a child. Her mother was terribly distraught at the time but she was inspired to help her daughter learn how to type and Lilly went on to share these strategies with others. You can read Lilly’s story here: http://www.aboutonehandtyping.com/storiesfolder/angels.html

Science, poetry and then Google took me into the world of cricket…an exceptionally foreign land!

We have been watching the Sydney Cricket Test or should I say we’ve had it on in the background today. It’s a very hot, very sunny languid day outside and we are pretty much huddled indoors. We are having a day of rest, a non-day or what is often referred to as a pyjama day, although we have managed to get dressed. I must also say that the dog is walking around looking quite pleased that he’s lost his fur coat and has been spotted actually lying in the sun at times.

Anyway, the Cricket Show had been interviewing cricket legend and commentator Richie Benaud. I am not into cricket at all. In fact, I have historically detested watching the cricket in the way that only a big sister with an obsessed little brother could. Wars were fought not over who could control the remote but over who could keep hold of the on and off switch as well as the dial which manually changed the channels. It was such a different era!!

Watching Richie Benaud doing the cricket these days is like seeing a history in motion. Born in 1930, he’s now 82 years old and he actually retired from playing cricket way back in 1964, five years before I was even born! He has personally experienced such a vast spread of cricket history that even I find him interesting, just like I enjoyed hearing my grandparents talk about the olden days.

I have grown up these days and while I don’t watch the cricket myself, I no longer mind or even notice when it’s switched on and Geoff will often have it playing in the background at home. To me, cricket is still about Dennis Lillee, Rod Marsh and Kim Hughes and the West Indies were the ones to beat. Lillee retired in 1984 (Thanks again, Google!) That gives you some idea of just how long it’s been since I’ve watched the cricket!!

Back to Richie Benaud. Our son watches a bit of cricket but when I mentioned Richie Benaud, he hadn’t heard of him. Being a modern parent, I immediately looked up Google and was able to click on images and it brought up an entire gallery of portraits of a very young, muscular Benaud directly alongside his somewhat shrunken but ever so endearing, elderly self. There was even one of elderly Benaud checking out a much younger statue of himself: http://www.plowright.com.au/richiebenaudsculpture/richiebenaud1st.htm.

Harrods Bear Christmas 2001 in our daughter's pram

Harrods’ Bear Christmas 2001 in our daughter’s pram

I thought I had done just about enough googling when our daughter wandered in clutching what she described as her “winter bear”. Winter Bear is actually a 2001 Harrods’ Christmas Bear. Harrods has been producing Christmas bears since 1986 and each bear comes with “Harrods” stitched in gold on its paw along with the year. I have to admit that it’s looking very overdressed in its plush velvet snow coat in a sweltering Australian summer  (bring on the Speedos!)

Harrods 2001

Harrods 2001

I took this opportunity to introduce my daughter to Mecca of retail therapy and we googled Harrods. I have to admit that the website itself was a bit disappointing but I found this great blog post with a link to their annual Christmas parade: http://www.londonperfect.com/blog/2012/11/harrods-christmas-2012/comment-page-1/#comment-38637

So thanks to Google, I’ve covered quite a lot of intellectual territory in only a couple of days.

Like anything, Google isn’t perfect and like that vortex in the Pacific, there’s a lot of junk floating around in there. This might lead me into a whole new post about how we deal with information overload in contemporary world and the need for discernment. Just like any other source, we need to challenge and question what we find in Google.

My husband also mentioned another teeny little problem with Google… Internet Distraction, which I, of course, know nothing about!

Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever

Acute cyberchondria

Acute cyberchondria

There is also its evil twin, cyberchondria, which is well and truly fed by Google.

However, just a word of warning! Not all cyberchondria turns out to be chondria after all. Sometimes, all those dreadful imaginings actually do turn out to be real and when they do, we can’t blame Google.

Other times, somebody might just want a day off school!

So I guess Google is just like everything else.

It’s not perfect!

What are your thoughts about Google?

xx Rowena