Tag Archives: decluttering

Finding Time…

What with living only 10 minutes walk from the beach, you’d think we’d be down there everyday trying to carpe diem seize the day – especially at the moment during the peak Summer holiday period, where even our dog is sunning herself for hours out in the midday sun. Indeed, this is when all the ring-ins descend on the beach like “plagues of locusts”, as though they own the place. Clearly, if the crowds are any indication, the beach is where we’re supposed to be (although social distancing, of course, this year!)

However, just because we live near the beach, doesn’t mean we don’t have to get on with the realities of life just like everyone else. There’s going to work, school, and our endless battle with trying to sort out, maintain and renovate our house and garden. On top of that, there are the personal crises which affect most families from time to time and despite all the advise to take time out for self-care, it’s very hard (at least for me) to fight my fixation on the problem and a need to get it sorted, which isn’t going to happen if I’m swanning down the beach.

Moreover, this Summer has been uncharacteristically cool, and we’ve also experienced frequent heavy rain. While there are some who still feel the need to get outside even in the rain (and they often have a dog or two in tow), I don’t like get wet at the best of times and being rained on is just plain yuck.

Yet, at the same time, there’s still been enough sunny days to at least encourage me to go for a swim, for Geoff and I to go for a walk, and maybe even the four of us to venture along the beach as a family. That is, if we could actually hit our teenagers over the head with a baseball bat so they don’t mind being seen down at the beach with mum and dad…HOW EMBARRASSING!!

Yet, sometimes, you just need to be forceful. Make it happen.

Finally, Geoff and I actually made if over to Patonga Beach, a 15 minute drive away, and walked along the beach and rocks together where we could soak up each other’s company, and also immerse ourselves in such natural beauty. I really love walking along the rocks, and even though I’m now 51 and have well and truly outgrown my spade and bucket, I still remember going exploring through the rockpools with my dad as a kid, and my incredible delight at finding little crabs and shells. Indeded, even now, exploring the rocks reminds me Keats’ immortal poem: On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer:

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

Such incredible markings in the rocks.

What really struck me about visiting the rock platform at Patonga, was the swirling pattern in the rocks. As Geoff pointed out, the swirls were created as the sandstone was being deposited, seemingly by the ocean currents. We don’t know. We’re not geologists, but we do have inquiring minds. So, if any of you are any wiser and know how these swirls got into the rock, we would love to know.

How were these interesting and very striking markings in the sandstone formed?

I have spent years climbing over rocks at the beach. Back when my parents used to have a place at Whale Beach, I used to spend hours down there by the myself, and I’d go down on to the rocks and watch the furious encounters between land and sea. I’d sit on this massive rock, which jutted out into the waves like a mini headland and the waves crashed out the front and swooshed up the side. It was very spectacular, and I almost felt consumed by the ocean, I was that close.

I almost always walk over the rocks in bare feet. Of course, it feels very footloose and fancy-free. Indeed, feeling the sensation of the rough sandstone underfoot, the discomfort of stepping onto those pokey blue periwinkle shells which jab into your feet, is such a sensory experience. It’s just not the same in shoes where your feet can’t see, feel or even breathe it all in. it is as real as real can be especially with the sea breeze slapping your hair into your face. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind at all. I’m fully and completely alive.

It’s interesting too, because each beach is unique. They might look similar, but each and every beach has its own fingerprint embedded in the sand and surf, and it’s own soul bellowing out through the waves and making its presence felt. You can even drive from one beach to the next around here, and the motion of the waves, the action and intensity of the surf, and the nature of the rocks all vary. You could never get bored. Or, at least you shouldn’t. There’s always so much to explore and absorb and it’s all different.

Looking across to Palm Beach from Patonga. You can barely see it, but the Palm Beach Light House sits on top of that headland.

It’s not often Geoff and I go to the beach together. I’ll blame him for that. He goes sailing most Saturdays, and is more of a flat water soul. I enjoy going to the beach, but not when it’s really sunny and I’m likely to fry like an egg and just get burned. I also enjoy sailing, but more on my Dad’s bigger yacht or going out on the kayak. I don’t know how to sail the laser myself.

The other trouble Geoff and I have is trying to find some spare time. Time is constantly going up in smoke, and although our kids are teenagers, they still take up a fair bit of time and emotional energy, and are more likely to need us spontaneously. Indeed, that’s why they have the mobile phones. It’s not so we can keep track of them. It’s so they can keep us on a constant leash…”Taxi!”

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Our Family Taken Christmas Day 2020

However, it’s also important for Mum and Dad to have time together and not just so-called “quality time”, which to me is the biggest cop out ever. From where I sit, it’s very hard to have true quality time if you don’t spend enough quantity time together. Indeed, there’s a lot to be said for just sitting a long side someone for awhile, and simply going fishing or going for a drive. By spending time together, you gain a sense of the whole person, and not just a series of disjointed snapshots. You can tell a few stories, and create a few as well. Indeed, being close to someone is being able to read them like a book. I don’t know about you, but when I read a book, I don’t just speed read from cover to cover. I usually read with a pen in hand and underline my favourite bits. Indeed, I also read in between the lines. After all, good writers don’t spell everything out for us in the text, especially when it comes to poetry. (Humph! No wonder I haven’t read many books lately!) WE have to go looking.

“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.”
― Anais Nin

Meanwhile, Geoff and I were looking at going out for dinner tonight. However, most of the local venues are closed tonight and the weather’s a bit blah. So, we’ve ordered takeaway instead. Now that the house is looking better, it’s much more relaxing to eat at home and we’ll head out for lunch when we’re in Newcastle tomorrow.

How to you juggle relaxation, relationships and the never-ending to-do list? Have you been for any great beach walks or activities lately? I’d love to hear from you!

Best wishes,

Rowena

The Only Departure Lounge We’re Going To See.

Isaac Newton Border Collie x Kelpie pleads not guilty. That the stuff on the departure lounge isn’t his. Indeed, it’s never been in his. Indeed, in a situation that’s starting to sound very reminiscent of the notorious Shapelle Corby of I didn’t put that marijuana in my boogey board bag, he says: “I know nothing”.

However, of course, we all know that Border Collies are smarter than the average dog. Of course, he does jigsaws and loves reading reading chunky books to expand his already astounding intellect. That’s why he’s deemed this pile surplus to requirements. Been there, done that, and being a good dog, has piled everything up all by himself ready for departure to the charity shop. (Humph his kennel must’ve been packed with all of that inside with no room to swing a cat.)

Lady’s working hard…

Well, Zac’s not the only dog working to get this load out the door. The others decided to pitch in.

Well, at least, they turned up.

Better still. I’ve cleared out more stuff, and the house is looking so much better.

Indeed, it’s grateful.

Meanwhile, the rocking horse is starting to look nervous. Am I going to be the next to go?

How is your new year going? You got something more exciting to deal with than sorting out the house? It’s been pouring with rain and there are covid clusters in Sydney, so staying close to home’s the way to go for me atm, while Geoff’s had to go back into work for the week.

Best wishes,

Rowena and the doggies.

Weekend Coffee Share – 22nd December, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Well, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve popped by for coffee. Of course, I’m full of excuses and, of course, they’re all very compelling. Top of the list, is the house situation. We’re having my parents over for Christmas lunch, which has somehow necessitated a major renovation of our house in just a few weeks. Fortunately, my husband Geoff has been working from home much of this year, or it wouldn’t have been possible. Not that he’s been renovating on the job. It’s just that he hasn’t been commuting around 2 hours each way to work, and is actually alive at the end of the day.

Geoff cutting up the old carpet. Good riddens, at last!

We’ve actually been trying to launch this reno project for the last six months. The floor boards have been waiting in the garage for us to find someway of magically caterpulting the old piano out the front door. In the end, it turned out to be a classic case of “divide and conquer”. We couldn’t give the piano away as a whole, but it ended up leaving the house in pieces. We’ve kept the keys and pedals, and our friend loaded up the rest on his trailer and disappeared into the sunset. Well, it hasn’t entirely disappeared and a friend did mention something about seeing piano parts outside his place. It does sound a bit suss.

Deconstruction in progress….

As any of you who have renovated will agree, one thing leads to another. Once we moved out the furniture and got the new floor down, it became pretty clear a wall needed painting and then the room. I wasn’t much chop on the painting front, and so I drifted out into what really should be known as the “dump room”, and steadily started making progress and soon I found myself swept up in a whirlwind. Or, more to the point, hundreds of books found themselves caught up in the whirlwind and swept out the door to the charity shop. I decided I’d disposed of enough books to send an entire bookshelf packing, enabling us to turn the dump room into a retreat and we’ll be moving a couch out there tomorrow.

While it’s very satisfying to be on such a roll, with three days to Christmas, it’s hard to know quite when to call it a day and start shoving everything back in, not pulling more of it out. Yet, I’m planning to drop another load off to the charity shop tomorrow and the car’s not full yet. What else can go? What else can I turf and release that bit more space? It’s a sort of mania once it gets hold of you, but while we need to get the house as clean and spacious as possible, we also need to cook and cooking requires ingredients. Yikes, how does a simple lunch become so complicated? I’m sure if Jesus was in charge, he’d just tell me to make them all Vegemite sandwiches and be done with it. Keep it simple, Stupid.

Anyway, what else has been going on?

Well, we were relaxed. Being part of Great Sydney, we watched Melbourne go into lock down and we were just a little superior about it. After all, we always knew Sydney was better than Melbourne. However, Melbourne’s got it’s revenge. Covid’s back with a vengeance with a cluster generated out of Avalon just down from Palm Beach. This general area known as “the Northern Beaches” is now in lock down and people will be doing Christmas at home, potentially alone. It’s pretty tough, especially when people do so much to prepare for the big day, and I know I’ll really be spewing if my parents can’t come up. Christmas is Christmas. It is more than sacred.

How is Christmas looking in your neck of the woods? Are you catching up with family or friends? Or, are you playing it safe, or possibly in lock down. It’s rough when Christmas gets cancelled. I think even the great Scrooge would complain about that.

Anyway, I’d like to wish you are yours a Merry and blessed Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Cooking the Books.

We’ve all seen some weird things in 2020. However, things have really gone mad around here now. Indeed, even madder than usual, if that were possible. As you can see, I’ve starting cooking the books, and we’ll be eating words for Christmas.

Well, we will be unless our renovations and reorganizations get a wriggle on.

Indeed, being typical renovators, we’ve taken two steps forward, three steps back, on the hope that we’ll have a place for everything and everything in it’s place by Christmas Day. This hope is now starting to look like a fantastic dream, and I should be a lot more worried than I am. However, I’ve had good training. You can always hide a few things in the oven, the clothes dryer or under the bed at the last minute if you have to. Failing that, there’s the car.

The car bed finally leaving the house.

Of course, the road to renovation didn’t start 5 days before Christmas. Rather, the wheels were set in motion a few months ago when our son’s car bed finally left the house for an extended holiday at a friend’s place.

There’s a bear in there, and a piano frame as well…

Yet, there was still the problem of the old piano no one wanted in the loungeroom. However, it turned out that deconstructing the piano solved that problem and a friend of ours was quite happy to take it away in pieces, although we have kept the pedals and the keys. Then, it was full steam ahead, which also included an incidental painting of the room.

Geoff finally cutting through the carpet.

While Geoff was busy there, I started getting quite ruthless with the books and realized we probably needed to halve the number of books in our place. Well, that’s if we were ever going to be able to have people over once again. In other words, be able to open the place back up again, and not be afraid of somebody coming over.

Indeed, it’s been all too easy to forget we used to have people over, including holding the kids’ birthday parties. Whatever happened to us?

It’s called dermatomyositis an auto-immune disease where you’re muscles attack themselves and it’s been compounded by Interstitial Lung Disease, which has left me with 50% lung capacity. We’ve been in survival mode for so long, but with Geoff working from home this year due to Covid, we’ve finally been able to get ahead. Indeed, we’ve even saved money. So, 2020 hasn’t been all bad.

Well, it’s actually because of Covid that the renovations had to get a wriggle on. Usually, we go to my aunt’s place every year for a big Christmas with the extended family. My dad is one of seven, so what with all my cousins and now their kids, it’s become quite a tribe. However, they’re not getting together this year, and so my parents are coming to our place, and there’ll only be the six of us. Indeed, with such a small group, I feel we need to include the three dogs in on the head count. Nine sounds a lot better!

Lady’s keen to join us at the dinner table for Christmas lunch.

This means, of course, that I’m needing to cook, and not just cook the books. However, that can wait at the moment. We have a ham in the fridge, and I’ve made a Christmas cake and there’s also a pudding. So, I’ve made a good start.

All these books ended up in the kitchen while we were moving furniture around. Our dump and run room is now in the process of being cleaned out, and we’ve swapped the lounge and the dining table over so we’ll have two tables for Christmas Day, while creating a potential place for our teenaged kids to hang out. Or, perhaps it will be for us parents when, and if, their friends ever come over. I’m really looking forward to this new chapter, and it feels quite liberating.

Yet, at the same time, we still need to find a place for everything and have everything stashed away in its place by Christmas Day.

What have we done????

How are your Christmas preparations going? I hope yours are a lot less chaotic, and your plans are going well. Yet, at the same time, there’s also Covid to consider and its intent on ruining quite a few Christmases this year. Nearby Sydney has a cluster on the Northern Beaches and they’ve gone into lock down, and I’ve hearing of a few cancelled plans. However, cancelled lunches is nothing compared to the incredible loss of life the virus has claimed on a global scale, and there will be a lot of empty chairs this Christmas Day, and a lot of heart-ache. We are thinking of you and sending our love!

Anyway, I’d better get back to it.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 23rd August, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This is the first time I’ve actually written my coffee share post on the weekend for a very, very long time. I usually leave it til Monday night when the weekend is done and dusted. However, I’ve missed a few weeks as Mondays have been busy. For me, the start of a new week is a bit like starting a new year every seven days. Monday is the day when everything needs to be in order, so we can all get off to a fresh start. It doesn’t always work and there even times where the kids’ uniforms sometimes even miss the wash and pandemonium reigns. This has been happening more often since the so-called kids became teenagers and the relaxation of parental vigilance on part isn’t usually matched with an increase of responsibility on their part.

Anyway, I can offer you a choice of banana muffins with macadamia nuts or chocolate chip cookies with dark chocolate and macadamia nuts. Both are home-baked and a scrumptious treat.

We went on a picnic across from the beach today with some friends and decided to go for a beach walk together afterwards. Going walking with Geoff along the beach is a very rare event. Although we live right near the beach, he seems to be allergic to sand and much prefers the still water where he goes sailing most weekends or occasionally out on the kayak. I took some photos of us down at the beach. I particularly like taking shadow photos. They always intrigue me and you can see my scarf blowing in the wind, which was rather strong and definitely unsuitable for sailing unless you want to end up in New Zealand.

You’ll notice that Geoff had adopted a new look. He usually keeps his hair and beard short. However, hewas avoiding the barber during lock down and his hair now reaching down to his shoulders. In keeping with the longer ahir, the beard has followed suit and he'[s stareting to look like his 4 x Great Grandfather Robert Sleighthom who had what Crocodile Dundee wouldcall: “Now, that’s a beard!!” I don’t know what the meaning of all this is. Or, how long this look will be hanging round. Not unsurprisingly, it’s attracted quite a lot of comment. I call him Moses. He’s also been called Santa. Yet, there’s still no snippers in sight.

I can understand in a way. I haven’t had my hair cut for over six months. I couldn’t be bothered doing much with it when I was just at home, and perhaps Geoff’s had the same idea but he’s out and about more than me and has also been back to work for a bit. I didn’t bother to get my Winter clothes out of storage.

Clearly, Covid isn’t doing much for our motivation.

Well, at last not in some areas.

Although Geoff was going to be replacing the floors throughout the house, he’s been diverted into car maintenance. This has been a frustrating business. We have, among other cars, a bright red Alfa Romeo which was my pride and joy until she started making fearful screeching, scraping noises leaving little doubt she was requiring emergency surgery. While Geoff works in IT, he’s also very good with cars which is the only reason we’d buy a finicky Italian car which looks absolutely gorgeous and goes fast, and is as temperamental as any hot-blooded Italian. There often seems to be that trade off between style and reliability and any character car, usually seems to have plenty of character (or is it just old age?) Anyway, Geoff sent the turbo down to Wollongong to be reconditioned. That came back, but unfortunately so did the screech. He’d narrowed the noise down to three parts in the same general vicinity so he order the lot and now we’re just waiting for them to arrive. Geoff’s having great fun watching the exotic list of destinations they’re passing through. I think collectively they’ve come from Estonia, London and somewhere else and they’re seemingly hopping all over Europe whilst most of us poor humans are stuck at home since Covid’s turned travel into a dirty word. Oh to be an exotic car part travelling the world…Gee. Now, I’m really getting desperate.

Meanwhile, my research continues. That’s my research into WWI. What started looking at the experiences of a couple of family members, expanded into soldier’s bios and then took another twist and turn and now I’m putting together a series of bios of people from the home from who made a difference in some way. I’d collected these together while I was researching the soldiers and found them very inspiring. Most of these stories are about ordinary people who took a simple step, which proved extraordinary in some way. Given my own personal limitations due to health and disability issues, I found the whole idea that you could write a letter which could trigger off a movement rather extraordinary and highly motivational, especially in these current times.

However, while the concept is good and I’ve collected an amazing amount of information, it’s quite something else to convert facts into lively story telling without losing the truth. This is why any authors change the names and it becomes “based on a true story”. I’ve found myself trying to turn the engine over and really get into the flow and its a lot more difficult when you’re dealing with facts. The pace can feel quite jerky and it can read like a boring business report too. However, there’s that balance somewhere in between and that’s what I’ve striving towards. Indeed, last night I finally had a taste of what it is like to write at full flight and really get some lively words down on paper. It was such a relief and I would’ve been thrilled to bits if the flow didn’t wait until 2.30am to kick in and it was close to am by the time it stopped. I sort of cared. I am trying to be responsible. Follow regular hours. However, it’s hard to be regular when you’re simply not.

Can any of you relate to that? I’m sure you can.

The down side to all my hours of research and writing, is that I’ve been doing a lot of sitting. While I thought it was really positive to be working so hard and being so dedicated and focused, apparently I need to be distracted. Go for a walk. Move my feet. fidget. This is apparently why I’m ending up with annoying sciatic pain which is also affecting my legs. Indeed, since yesterday I’ve had a clicky knee and that really doesn’t feel good. So, I’ve pulled back a bit and went for a beach walk with Geoff today while the cold August winds swept across the beach and we could’ve been in the Sahara if it weren’t for the ocean lapping at our feet.

Meanwhile, we’re still in need of a major overhaul at home. I’ve taken a boot load or so to the opportunity shop and I have another load ready to go. However, we’re looking at dismantling and throwing out an old upright piano. I’m hoping to salvage some of the parts to display around the house, and I’d also like to make a sculpture of a person out of it using the pedals as feet. This project is even more ambitious than it sounds, because the only sculpture I’ve even made was out of papermache when I was about eight. However, as you might’ve gathered by now, I’ll be counting on Geoff to come to the rescue. He comes to my rescue a lot!!

Lastly, speaking of pianos, I don’t know whether I’ve mentioned that we recently bought a new keyboard synthesizer after I decided to get back into playing the piano during Covid. My initial plan was to accompany myself on the violin and to play the same tunes. However, I’ve expanded from there after picking up a book of easy classics from Mum and I’m now playing Clair de Lune in addition to Fur Elise and the first bit of Moonlight Sonata which I’d kept up. I’m really enjoying my playing, although I’d like to be progressing a bit faster and making less mistakes. In other words, that the rust would fall off immediately along with the realities of what amounts to almost a 20 year break. I’m now playing for at least 30-60 minutes a day so hopefully I’ll be sounding reasonable soon.

Well, that’s about all to report here. What have you been up to? I’m looking forward to popping round to your place and catching up with you soon.

This is another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Ali.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Home On A Saturday Morning…2020.

This morning, I became strangely captivated by the absurdity of our kitchen table. Or, more to the point, by the macabre and unlikely pairing of random objects which had simply been placed one on top of the other just waiting for someone to come along and put them in their rightful homes.

That might have been a job for Friday night so we could start the weekend off with a clean slate, open space and an outlook uncluttered by the detritus of four people and three dogs living under the one roof under the somewhat trying circumstances of informal isolation. Well, at least, that’s largely the go for my husband and I while we’ve loosened the noose for the kids who are on school holidays. Even still, they’re told to wash their hands as soon as they come home, and are interrogated about who they’re catching up with before they leave, and where their friends have been, as well as where the people they’ve been hanging out with have been. Any mention of Melbourne, and it’s out to the dog house. Fortunately, we live just North of Sydney and are still well away from experiencing what’s going on in America and other virus nightmare zones. However, we’ve not letting our guard down, and security is tighter at our place than the Queensland border.

Spoons 2020

2020 will go down in history as a year we don’t want to repeat.

Anyway, I’m sure our kitchen table was clear last night. Or, at least, it was some time yesterday. Then, Mr 16 returned home from a day out with his mates and pulled a gazillion plastic spoons out of his pockets and dumped them on the table. He thought they were a great joke, and I reminded me of a friend of mine who used to do that, and earned himself the inevitable nickname of “Spoon”. Spoon was tragically killed in a car accident in his early twenties when he swerved to avoid a koala. One of my best friends had gone out with Spoon for a few years, and my connection with him was more second-hand, although when someone in your circle dies young in a tragic accident like that, you can feel a misplaced closeness. That somehow you knew them better than you did. Or, perhaps you just remember every single little detail and they’ve become frozen in a poignant time capsule in your heart for eternity.

However, my son knew nothing about that when he brought all these spoons home and spread them all over the kitchen table. Not only that, he left them there almost like a piece of ephemeral street art. Just to compound matters, he dumped them on top of my latest attempt to maintain some kind of diary and routine during 2020 when I have nowhere to go and virtually nothing to remember. I have no reason to routinely open a diary and be concerned with where I’m going, which is making it very hard to keep track of that rare random place I’m supposed to be (Is anyone else struggling with that? I know it surely couldn’t just be me?)

Anyway, after deciding that the image of my 2020 diary buried in plastic spoons somehow encapsulated the weirdness of 2020, I noticed a few other “curious points of interest” on the table. While we would usually hide all this unsightly kitchen and family clutter to produce a Insta-perfect shot, I was suddenly struck by all the personality and character which had been thrown together here, and how it possessed a strange kind of beauty which ought to be shared before it was swept away like detritus on the beach.

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First up, there’s this combo of a chocolate biscuit with a touch of lime resting on my tablet box. For the last 13 years, this tablet box has been part of my day more regularly than clockwork. Every day, I take a good handful of tablets to stave off my auto-immune disease, dermatomyositis. While photographing the spoons and my diary, I must’ve been in between thoughts and hadn’t quite managed to get my biscuit onto a plate. The biscuit was made by a friend of mine are chocolate with a hint of lime and rather special. They were left over the other night, and being kind and thoughtful, she divided the leftovers up into Chinese containers for us all to take home. Although I was also taking home the remains of a chocolate macadamia cake I’d made, I was looking forward to having her biscuits with a cup of tea. They were a real treat.

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Personally, I don’t feel the chewed up rubber innards of a tennis ball warrant an explanation. However, there might be those of you who don’t have scraps of tennis ball deposited all over the house like we do. Indeed, tapping away at my desk, I’ve spotted a streak of fluoro-orange felt with a few bits of cracked rubber still attached. Indeed, on the other side, I’ve just spotted one of my son’s disposable plastic spoons. How did it migrate out here? Surely, it wasn’t me?!! I don’t know. However, I’ve clearly been persecuted by crappy paraphernalia at every turn, and I can assure you most emphatically that”it wasn’t me”. Moreover, I’m sure sure that everyone around me, both human and canine, would agree. Of course, no one ever owns up to their crap, and the miscellaneous layers just keep building up until you pop out one morning, and a strange sedimentary rock is sitting there. Or, perhaps it’s more of a sandwich. I don’t know. All I do know, is that I don’t see this on anyone else’s Facebook pages, and I clearly don’t live an Instagram-able life!

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The quest for meaning continues…

Of course, the chaotic state of our kitchen table could well be a cause for prayer. Indeed, our house probably needs more prayer than most. Feeling that the state of the house was heading irretrievably down a precipitous cliff, I finally brought back the cleaner yesterday. By the way, I should point out that my cleaner isn’t some uppercrust indulgence. Rather, she’s a disability support worker and more of a vital necessity, except that the risk of catching the coronavirus far exceeded the need for a squeaky-clean house and we’ve been “doing alright” on our own. Anyway, when the cleaner found a stray rubber band, she hung it over the praying hands which I’d bought from Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral, and I thought it was a good laugh.You can’t take life too seriously, especially at the moment.

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Along with humour, nature has also been getting me through this year which just keeps doing my head in on so many fronts. I picked this shell up on one of my photography beach walks, either at Patonga or MacMasters. I’m not sure. I have a scattering of shells on our kitchen table from these walks. They’re ostensibly nothing spectacular, but they hold memories for me of those beautiful walks in the bright sunshine now that it’s Winter here, and I’ve had a cold for a few weeks and have switched into hibernation mode. I know it’s not good psych, but outside can wait.

Meanwhile, the outside is peering in through my window…the vast expansive branches of the Jacaranda tree just outside the door, a white camellia from our next door neighbour’s garden’s been keeping me company for awhile now, along with the chatter of the birds. There usually a dog (or all three) at my feet or even sleeping under my desk, although they’ve abandoned me today. The kids are home and no doubt they’re far more exciting. Moving humans are far more interesting than stationary ones tapping away on keyboards, and they have no concern for my ideas.

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Proof a mother’s work is never done.

Last, but by no means least, are my daughter’s pointe shoes and the accompanying post-it note. She bought a new pair of pointe shoes during the week and while they might dazzle you with their starstruck beauty, they not only torture your feet, but also your fingertips as you sew on elastics and ribbons which keep them attached to your ballerina’s feet. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried sewing into these beastly instruments of torture. However, jabbing a needle through leather is impossible for mere mortals. I snapped one needle and drew blood on separate stitch, and yet there was no respite for this ballerina’s mum. I just had to keep going and find a way. I ended up with a very strong, sword-like needle and pushing it through with the back of the dog’s brush. The dog had chewed it and there was a little tooth mark in the tough plastic where I could position the needle and push it through. Indeed, it almost appeared purpose-built, as long as I didn’t think to hard about it. Indeed, it didn’t even cross my mind at the time about how weird and absolutely bonkers it was. By 3 am, I only had one shoe done and decided my duty was done. That I was never going to have it finished in time for this morning’s class, and left an apologetic note… all on the kitchen table.

Meanwhile, I’m finding that our kitchen table’s being used less and less for its intended purpose. That it’s either too hot or too cold to sit out there in the kitchen, and i’s much more comfortable to sit out in the lounge with the reverse cycle going and the TV on. Just to compound the disintegration of family connection, our daughter usually eats in her room and our son often eats at his desk in the lounge while either playing games or watching videos. I really didn’t want us to go down this path. A path I know will lead to wrack and ruin. However, there are times I feel like Atlas carrying the weight of the family on my shoulders and I have to put the load down for a bit and recuperate a bit.  Stretch out. Extend my wings and do something without resistance. I don’t know if people realize they put themselves in the too hard basket and what that means, but sometimes, I run out of words to keep explaining and hope maybe a thought might pop into their heads without me putting it there myself. That, at the very least, they might actually stop to ask…Are Mum and Dad okay? Now, there’s a novel thought. One I didn’t consider myself when I was their age but surely something they could learn…

Anyway, it’s now Saturday afternoon and with my back turned on the tide, I have no idea what the table’s like now, However, it’s time for another cup of tea and I did just happen to see a faint ray of sunlight through the clouds.

So, now I wanted to ask you about your kitchen table. What does it say about you and what’s going on at your place? Although showing off your unkept table going against the grain, I’d love you to join me in this and have a bit of fun and please share your efforts in the comments. It could be really interesting to see a range of kitchen tables around the world and how different people live.

Meanwhile, I hope you and your loved ones and communities are safe and if they’re not, I’m thinking of you!

Love & best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share…14th January, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you and how has your week been? Are you settling in well to the new year? Or, perhaps you’re like us and still on holidays and haven’t had to face the real world yet.

This week, I’m back in my chair at home and I’m quickly belting this out before I get back to trying to salvage the house before the kids get back from the Australian Scouting Jamboree in the morning. I know that probably sounds rather confusing. What am I doing trying to clean up the house BEFORE the kids get back? Have things gone that topsy turvy, that the parents have messed up the house while the kids are away? Isn’t it supposed to be the kids creating all the mess instead?

Well, the trouble is that they and one in particular, left the mess behind and I made the huge, ginormous mistake of sticking my nose under the bed a few days ago. Let’s just say its become more of an intervention than a clean-up. This offspring will be read the riot act tomorrow and some new guidelines and will be receiving close parent intervention until capacity to manage room independently has been established. I usually have a fairly laissez-faire parenting style and haven’t really needed to be stand over Mum that often. However,  I can and I will. (Humph! Yes. This is also a pep talk to self. I can easily get derailed.)

 

Humph. I can’t believe I started this coffee share post off with a rant about cleaning the house, when we’ve just returned from a week’s holiday up at Byron Bay on the NSW North Coast. Well, to be precise, we were staying with Geoff’s sister and her husband at Newrybar about 15 minutes drive away in lush, green farmland. Concerned about home security, I didn’t post about our whereabouts while we were away and I’m  in the process of writing up abut our travels. So far, there’s been:

Saturday Night in Byron Bay

Byron Bay Markets

Main Beach Byron Bay

Macadamia Castle & Ballina

Tomorrow, we’ll be heading off to Bangalow.

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Nothing like being swept off the rocks to get that selfie.

While we were away, I managed to do a bit of reading. I finally managed to finish Raphaelle Giordano’s Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One. I highly recommend it, especially early into the new year. I’ve certainly been wanting to start start 2019 on the best possible footing and this book really walks you slowly through a host of strategies for pulling that off and converting your resolutions into realities. Despite being classified as a “novel”, it actually reads like non-fiction.

We had an absolutely wonderful time away. However, the night before we left, I was checking out my brother-in-law’s secret garden, when I stepped off the gravel path and through the leaf litter to photograph a bromeliad. In hindsight, this was just as stupid as that the guy perched on the edge of the rocks to get the ultimate Byron Bay selfie. Byron Bay is actually Snake Central and only that morning a deadly Red Belly Black Snake had been spotted near the secret garden heading for the wood pile. I should’ve thought about that before went out there still wearing my red sandals. Clearly, I wasn’t thinking about anything much at all. Well, that is except for taking photographs which is an activity that’s got me into trouble many times before and no doubt I still haven’t learnt my lesson…look before you click!

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Waiting in Emergency at Ballina Hospital. 

Anyway, I didn’t step on the Red Belly Black Snake or a Diamond Python, which is also a known resident of my inlaw’s place. Instead, and thank goodness for that, I stepped on a sharp stick which stabbed the arch of my foot through the side of my sandal. The pain was intense and when I looked down, I thought I’d severed an artery because not only was there a lot of blood but something was also sticking out. I called out to Geoff, who by the way, thought I must’ve stepped on a snake and was no doubt relieved only have a cut to respond to. He knew right away that it wasn’t an artery, but he could’ve told me that. Fortunately, my brother-in-law is a retired nurse so he was fetched for and bandaged the foot very professionally and dispatched us to Ballina Hospital for stitches and a tetanus shot. As you probably recall, I have some serious health issues so spending a night in Emergency was particularly annoying, although we did joke about extending our tour of hospital emergency departments. Indeed, in the interests of dramatic storytelling, I should remind you that when I took our son to our local Emergency Dept, I managed to write off the car in the multistory car park when I hit a concrete divider on the down ramp and cracked the radiator and goodness knows what else. So, you could understand why I try to stay away from hospital emergency departments. They’re TROUBLE!! Anyway, four hours and four stitches later, we were on the way home. On the upside, I must say that I felt very much loved and I had to feel rather sorry for Geoff as he held my hand while they jabbed the wound with local anesthetic. I have a reasonable pain threshold and that was a ten!

As I explained earlier, our kids get back from Jamboree at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning. I don’t know how Scouting parents coped in the olden days when they couldn’t keep up with their kids on Facebook and they actually had to wait for a letter or their Scout to arrive home. Perhaps, they might’ve had a phone box or two to call home. I don’t know. However, our Scouts could phone home. Well, they could if they wanted to. We had two calls from our daughter and none from our son. According to our daughter, he’s become quite the celebrity at camp.

You see, for Christmas our son requested a Ghillie suit to take away to Jamboree. A ghillie suit is a type of camouflage clothing designed to resemble the background environment such as foliage, snow or sand. Typically, it is a net or cloth garment covered in loose strips of burlap (hessian), cloth, or twine, sometimes made to look like leaves and twigs, and optionally augmented with scraps of foliage from the area (Wikiupaedia). If you remember the kids’ show Sigmund the Sea Monster, he looks vaguely like someone wearing a Ghillie suit.

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Our son AKA Ghillieman looks about 10 ft tall and incredibly strong in this photo. What happened to our Little Man?

Anyway, it turns out our son’s been a bit of a hit wearing this ghillie suit. The first thing we got wind of, was that he won a dance competition and won six backstage passes to see a band, Justice Crew. That particularly attracted our attention as his sister is a serious dancer and we knew she wouldn’t be impressed. However, she was on an excursion at the time and wasn’t bothered. Indeed, I think she might even have been proud of her brother. The next Facebook sighting of Ghillieman, was at the open day when he was seen carrying another scout up on his shoulders walking around camp promoting their market stall selling bin juice. By the way, our kids troop had called themselves the “Bin Chickens” after an Australian Ibis which has moved into the cities and become a dreadful scavenger earning itself the nickname: “Bin Chicken”. Ghillieman was last spotted in a photo taken beside the River Murray with the heading: “Spot the bin chicken”. He was very well camouflaged and just asking to be left behind. It will be interesting to see how Ghilli man and Jane adjust to their return to civilian life. I am yet to hear any stories about what our daughter got up to at Jamboree. She left here with freshly manicured nails, which were painted pale pink so I look forward to seeing how they survived and reckon they’re a good barometer for how much she enjoyed and participated in activities at camp.

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Spot the Bin Chicken. Ghillieman strikes again. 

Well, I’d better get to bed before the Scout bus arrives back. It’s been an exciting couple of weeks for the whole family and I can’t wait to see the kids in the morning. Or, should I say, later this morning.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Ali.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

Main Beach, Byron Bay…Sunday 8th January, 2019 (continued).

“At the beach, life is different. Time doesn’t move hour to hour but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides and follow the sun.”     

Sandy Gingras

After spending so long dawdling around the markets and waxing lyrically about my first trip to Byron Bay in 1995 or thereabouts, I thought I’d better start a separate post to write about my trip to the beach. To be precise, my trip to Main Beach. Byron Bay has been blessed with many beaches.

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The view from my parking spot under the tree.

Well, to be honest, I didn’t quite make it onto the sand and as for getting in the water, you must be delirious or dreaming. I bought myself some sushi and parked myself on a seat underneath what I think was a huge Norfolk Pine Tree. I was in the shade with a view looking out to Julien Rocks and I was listening to a group of young German tourists and noticing how young, skinny and tanned everybody looked and how I didn’t fit the demographic. Indeed, I’d become OLD!

Anyway, I managed to levitate out of my seat and go for a bit of a walk along the path beside the beach heading to the left in the photo above, which I think takes me due North. However, with my lousy sense of direction, I could’ve been heading South so I try not to be too specific or simply use hand signals and point.

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Although you can’t see the shadow of Mt Warning in this shot, I still love is mysterious layers of mist. Anything could be hiding there.

I’ve always loved this Northerly aspect with it’s view towards Mt Warning and the stunning volcanic mountains. It’s so relaxing and reminds me of the Lord of the Rings for some reason. I’ve taken some magnificent photos of these hills at sunset over the years. However, I wanted to share with you what I saw and experienced on this particular day more than showing off my photographic skills.

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The Post-Hippy Era in Byron Bay

While I was photographing these misty covered hills, I spotted a young man walking out along the rocks with what looked like a cape tied around his neck. Could he indeed be a contemporary incarnation of Superman? I was intrigued and my curiosity was rewarded. He walked out to the edge of the rocks and pulls out his phone and started posing (and I mean posing) out there risking life and limb to get some selfies. Apparently, your more likely to die from a selfie than a shark attack and if you’d like to read more about the dangers of selfies, you can read this grueling story from RollingStone Magazine.

 

Meanwhile, I am now back home. The kids get back from Jamboree on Tuesday morning and while a certain mouse was away, the cat has pounced in her bedroom. Actually, I’ve done more than pounce and have been undertaking serious excavations and archaeological digs in there. Don’t worry. I’m not doing it all for her. She had a good crack at it before she left, but I’ve since got in under the bed and I think that just about sums things up. I’m sure I don’t need to spell out the subterranean world under a teenager’s bed. I’m just happy to report that I made it out alive and there were no dead bodies of any variety under there. Phew. Thank heaven for small mercies!

Well, that finishes up last Sunday and I think we’re off to the Macadamia Castle for coffee tomorrow and a quick drive around Ballina.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Clean Desk, Clear Mind…

The day isn’t over yet, and it is entirely possible that I could have a clean desk, and a clear mind before the moon sets. I’m just not so sure about the kitchen table. At this point, it’s been buried and more like a case of RIP. Then again, there might just be enough air pockets to sustain life. Indeed, I can just detect a feeble heartbeat.

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This is where I could have been today.

Just to clarify things a little. It’s Monday afternoon here and it’s a public holiday to celebrate what has become the mythical eight hour day. Being Spring with a bright blue sky and lashings of sunshine, we could be down the road at the beach right now. However, Geoff had the audacity to remind me that I still haven’t cleared my desk to set up the stereo we bought last December. It’s only October. A full year hasn’t expired yet. In terms of procrastination, this job is only half baked.

So, instead of going to the beach and carpe diem seizing the day for pleasure and relaxation, the day has grabbed me by the short and curlies and taken everything off my desk and dumped it onto the kitchen table for sorting. The desk is looking fantastic and leaping for joy in shocked amazement. I can now see a gloriously clean wood grain finish and I’m listening to Icehouse. The stereo is all systems go and my in-tray is an empty as a dry creek bed in a drought.

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Shame about the kitchen table. Moreover, it just struck me that I have somehow been diverted into writing about this earth-shattering cleanup exercise and photographing the evidence while the kitchen table is beyond gasping on life support. However, don’t worry. This is just a perfectly natural phase of procrastinating. Nothing has collapsed…yet!

There are certain truths they leave out of declutter manuals. Of course, we’ve all heard about their do-gooder deeds: “Something in, something out”, “If you haven’t used it in six months, toss it”. Indeed, the zealots have turned decluttering into a religion, don’t you think? They even have confession.

However, all of this just leaves me a sinner. If our stuff actually manages to get off the ground at all, it’s more likely to be a case of only moving from A to B. Indeed, we’ve perfected the “Great Declutter Shuffle”. Yes, much of my stuff is very well travelled moving from one part of the house to another. Goodness knows how far some of the stuff I’ve picked up at the op shop travelled before it actually reached me? Much of it could well have a full passport and a truckload of postcards from a lifetime of travel.

I shouldn’t jest.

This is a serious business. I need to clean up my act. Having clear real estate on my desk feels so much better. I feel cleansed. All sorted. Ready to tackle all those outstanding writing projects. Indeed, this could well be the jolt I need to finally get some runs on the board and venture further afield with my writing than my blog. There are so many opportunities out there. As many possibilities as stars in the sky and yet I’m hiding behind my pile of books…all written by someone else.

Well, I guess that’s my cue to exit stage left and work out where the hell all that crap’s going to go and how and what we’re going to have for dinner. As much as I’m tempted to  throw the lot out, I’ve stumbled across some great memories and I really can’t understand these people who keep nothing? Do they even exist?

Are you a clean desk or messy desk person? Does it make a difference to your capacity to think and write? Get things done? I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS The sun has just set and the pile on the kitchen table is steadily shrinking. Hey, the table cloth is even starting to peer through without compromising the wood grain on the desk. The in-tray isn’t empty anymore. I’ve set up two folders. One with letters and bits and pieces and the other has short stories I’m working on. There’s also a stack of notebooks. Consolidation required. It does feel good!

 

Weekend Coffee Share – October 1st, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Pinch and a punch for the first day of the month. No returns.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, could I offer you a stick? Well, I’m not exactly the one offering you the stick. That’d be Rosie whose dropped the stick right on my keyboard for you. Zac’s parked himself a bit further back but though he’s hiding in the boon docks, he’s just as keen. Lady, our 6 year old Border Collie x Cavalier couldn’t care less about chasing sticks or tennis balls. She parked herself next to a bag of dog food for the afternoon desperately willing it to levitate and magically fill up her bowl.

It’s now Monday night here and today was the Labor Day Long Weekend here in NSW and Geoff had the day off. The kids are on their first week of school holidays. We couldn’t quite get ourselves organized to go away. Amelia will be in a dance production next week and the kids are taking turns staying with my parents in Sydney. Term 4 gets incredibly busy for us what with dance concert, sailing and Christmas. So, I just feel like l needed to get things sorted out at home and start the term ahead, not from behind. I remember getting back from holidays the night before school went back when the kids were younger and she could sort of get away with it. Now, there’s so much to grapple with and get under our belts and I just want us all to pass muster.

On Saturday, Geoff and I drove over to Pearl Beach about 15 minutes drive away. We’d planned to go to the Pearl Beach Food & Wine Festival but got the date wrong and went to an art exhibition instead and then went for a walk along the beach and onto the rock platform, camera poised. I picked up on the limpets which seemed to be sitting on the edge of a pool sunning themselves. Their miniature underwater wonderland was quite mesmerizing.

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The  Pearl Beach Garage Sale.

Driving back from Pearl Beach, we stopped in at an art and garage sale. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven, although for some of you, you’d probably think it was a funny kind of heaven. Three artists lived in the house. The garage sale was on one side, which looked like something out of my grandparents’ place and I could’ve bought the place out if I had the money and the space. One of the artists took dressmaking mannequins, laquered them and turned them into lamps. They were stunning and so unique. My grandmother had one of those things and used to make me dresses. Indeed, her mother was an accomplished dressmaker and used to make my grandmother’s gowns for her piano recitals. I have a thing for antique and vintage sheet music and they had a pack of 60’s Beatles sheet music with Can’t Buy Love on the top. I really wanted it but came across an antique photo frame with waratahs carved into the wood. This is the only one of these antique carved frames I’ve ever seen which has depicted Australian fauna. I’ve studied Australian cultural history at uni and ever since and really believe Australians need to know their own culture. I put that under a very broad heading because we’re a very diverse people but when I’ve travelled overseas, I’ve known that there’s something, that mysterious X-factor which runs through us. Hold us together.

Oops. I was supposed to be giving you a bird’s eye view of this garage sale, not beating you over the head with a sermon about what it means to be Australian. As we pulled up out the front, we couldn’t miss the laminex table with orange vinyl chairs. I remember having something very similar as a kid and being overjoyed when it found its way to the tip. Yet, I was so excited to see it again and if we didn’t already have about three tables surplus to requirements, I would’ve brought it home. I quite literally felt my heart jump out of my chest when I saw it. I must be a fairly simple soul, because it wasn’t anything flash, designer or unique. It was just a memory. A kitchen table. Our kitchen table.The heart of the home. Geez, I’m a sentimental sod and it’s no wonder the place is packed to the rafters.

I was pouring over all the stuff and came across a violin. As you might be aware, I’ve been learning the violin for about five years but lately my confidence has taken a nose dive and I’ve been feeling self-conscious. I think I’ve outgrown beginner’s pluck and am much more conscious of my mistakes rather than being thrilled to play anything at all. However, a moment of madness, or to be honest it was the real me breaking out because I’m a performer at heart. An extrovert. Someone was interested in buying it and taking up the violin at 51 and I did my very best to convert her to what must surely be one of the most difficult, cantankerous and beautiful instruments in the world. I tried to play a few bars of Danny Boy, which I’m preparing for the end of year concert but without the music I was flying blind. It was fun though and more like a stand-up performance.

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The kitchen table mid clean-up.

Today, was D- Day. That is D for Desk and this was operation clean-up my desk to set up the stereo Geoff bought me last Christmas. It’s been sitting in its box all that time, which I know was an incredible waste but in addition to finding room for it, I also had to set it up and that was a huge unknown. I hate anything technical and Geoff’s been so busy plus he always seems to want me to do these things for myself when all I want, is for him to take care of it. I’ve never felt the need to learn how to change a tyre either. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in feminism or equality. I’m sure there are a lot of men who can’t change a tyre either. No one has to do it all. Fit all of humanity in their own two shoes. Indeed, we can’t. That’s why we have community.

Anyway, I’ve managed to set up the stereo and spent the afternoon listening to Icehouse: Man of Colours while carting stuff in between my desk, the kitchen table and the bin.

These cleanups are all great at the beginning when you’re making great progress. However, as the hours go by and you’re down to the nitty-gritty sorting and there’s no end in sight, it all seems like a very bad idea. Yet, this blitzkreig or clear-felling approach to sorting out my desk has been tried and tested. It works, but the mess gets so bad that you really wonder if you’ll ever find the surface of the kitchen table again.

Creative Genius at Work

For some strange reason, this desk is looking more than a trifle staged. BTW do you like my creative genius?

Well, the kitchen table wasn’t even clear beforehand. I’ve started packing up our lounge room so we can replace the flooring and I had half a dozen items on there which still needed to be packed up. They’re now gone back where they came from for the time being. Rome wasn’t deconstructed and rebuilt in a day.

Well, the table passed muster and we had supermarket lasagna for dinner to keep things simple.

In terms of this week’s posts, I shared about a new stick swing Geoff built for the pups in Exhausting A Working Dog. For Thursday Doors, we went back to Penguin in Tasmania for Penguin Doors. Then, for Friday Fictioneers, I wanted to incorporate Macbeth into my plot this week, after re-reading it during the week to encourage my son who has had to study Shakespeare for the first time at school in The Wake. Finally, I wrote about our trip to Pearl Beach

How was your week? I look forward to catching up with you and thanks for popping round to join me.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Ali.

Best wishes,

Rowena