Tag Archives: elf

Merry Christmas – Weekend Coffee Share.

This is just a brief message to wish you and yours a Merry and Blessed Christmas and a Happy, healthy and Wonder-filled New Year.

As you may be aware, I live in Sydney, Australia where it’s looking like we’ll be having a scorchingly hot Christmas and Boxing Day. We’re heading out to Church tonight for Christmas Eve and will be heading to my aunt’s my parents and extended family for Christmas Day. We’ll be catching up with Geoff’s sister from Boxing Day.

I’ve written a few Christmas posts in the last week which may interest you:

Silent Night

A Stinking Hot Christmas (written 2015 for Solveig Warner’s Advent Calendar)

A Sydney Christmas

Christmas Door – David Jones

St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney

 

We would like to wish you and yours a Merry and Blessed Christmas. Happy Holidays isn’t a phrase we use here in Australia, but I understand it’s used a lot in USA and has its place.

Yet, at the same time, we understand that this time of year is very difficult for many for a variety of reasons and we would also like to acknowledge that. We hear you and I put my hand on your heart and stand alongside you. It’s not easy and while I’ve experienced the most amazing miracles myself, they haven’t come about like clockwork. I haven’t clicked my fingers and hey presto, pulled a rabbit out of my hat. I’ve also found there’s a lot I can do to both improve my lot and also completely shoot myself in the foot and make things worse.

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.”

-TS Eliot

Well, that’s a rather large dose of philosophy and reflection for what’s supposed to be a coffee share. However, so much is shared over a cup of tea or coffee in the real world. Why shouldn’t that be a part of our virtual coffees?

“Way too much coffee. But if it weren’t for the coffee, I’d have no identifiable personality whatsoever.”

-David Letterman

Best wishes,

Rowena

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

PS The photo of me as the elf was taken in the Cancer Centre at Royal North Shore Hospital. I popped down there to pick up some resources for a friend. However, 6 years ago I had a round of chemo (cyclophosphamide) to treat my auto-immune disease, which had started attacking my lungs. Treatment began the week before Christmas with my second dose on Boxing Day, when there was plenty of parking for a change. The treatment worked and I’ve been in remission for 6 years. So, I have much to be thankful for and it’s a reminder not to take the seemingly hum drum and every day for granted.

Christmas Door…Thursday Doors.

Well, I couldn’t resist returning to Thursday Doors this week with a photo of Elf trying to open the door at David Jones’s flagship Elizabeth Street store. Elf said he much preferred the good old days, when they had doormen on hand, but understood that this is just one of many sacrifices to modernization and economy.

Celebrating its 180th birthday this year, David Jones was established on the 24th May, 1838, when a Welsh migrant named David Jones opened a department store on the corner of Barrack and George streets. His aim was to offer luxury goods in a commodious space. The store was located opposite the General Post Office and the small store prospered. David Jones and Co. received patronage from not only the Sydney gentry, but also the country settlers. Everyone flocked to the store to buy buckskins, ginghams, waistcoat fabrics, silks and cotton tick. The flagship Elizabeth Street store opened in 1927 opposite Hyde Park.

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Queen Elizabeth II at David Jones in 1954

For those of you who haven’t been to Australia and are unfamiliar with David Jones or “DJ’s” as it’s affectionately known, it could well be described as Australia’s interpretation of Harrod’s and has always been considered exclusive, and a place where shopping was an experience where only the best would do. Indeed, in 1954 when Queen Elizabeth II became the first British Monarch to step foot on Australian soil, the Great Restaurant on the 7th Floor of David Jones Elizabeth Street was chosen as the venue for a State Banquet in her honour. Indeed, the largest Union Jack in the world, measuring 50ft x 100ft was hung from the Elizabeth Street wall of the main store…no doubt part of its history which would make many more republican-minded Australians cringe to their bones. You can view the Union Jack in situ HERE

One of the seemingly timeless features of the Elizabeth Street store is their in-house pianist and the Steinway grand. Indeed, you can see pianist Michael Hope through the doors down below.

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Michael was not only a fantastic and entertaining pianist, he was also very obliging. When I asked him if I could photograph him, he pulled me alongside him and I was to pretend to play while a complete stranger filmed me on my phone. He even gave me directions. Then, being the complete nutter that I am, I pulled Elf out of my bag and Michael played along with him. Indeed, it looked like Michael had spent years working on a very popular Australian children’s show called Play School. It is actually quite difficult to get a gig on Play Group and it attracts the cream of Australian talent. So, that endorsement is a real feather in his cap.

I know how much you people love doors and it might be stretching your outlook a little. However, David Jones’s Elizabeth Street store has the most amazing Christmas windows and I just couldn’t resist sharing a few from the Nutcracker Suite.

 

Lastly, a few of you might like to read Australian Vogue’s article on 180 years of David Jones: Vogue Australia- 180 Years David Jones

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The Soda Fountain in David Jones’ Sydney c.1928 photograph by Cecil Bostock courtesy of David Jones, Australia

This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0. Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors. It’s a lot of fun and helps you see parts of the world you’ll never get to visit.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Hospital Cheer…Thursday Doors.

Welcome to Another Thursday Doors.

This week’s Featured Door is attached to the Respiratory Investigation Unit at Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney.

When you think about having a Merry Christmas, the last place you want to end up, aside from the local morgue is in hospital. That also applies to the weeks leading up to Christmas where it seems like the rest of the world is floating in bubbly and doing the Christmas party circuit, while you’re shuffling from appointment to appointment. That’s not all bad if it’s all routine, good news and you can wipe all that off your radar.

However, it doesn’t always work out that way. Six years ago, after my auto-immune disease flared up again and was resisting conventional treatment, I found out that they were bringing out the big guns and I was having chemo for Christmas. Yet, while this might seem like the worse Christmas present EVER, we actually viewed it as a blessing, a heaven-sent answer to prayer, and not a curse. They could do something.

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I wasn’t intending to revisit this journey today for Thursday Doors. Although I had lung function tests followed by an appointment with my lung specialist, I was intending to focus on my apres-appointment trip into the city (Sydney) where I photographed oodles of intriguing, eye-catching and even historic doors.

However, before I sorted them out, I wanted to acknowledge the efforts hospital staff have made to brighten up the place, trying to lift your spirits through what are often very traumatic, bleak and desperate times. News you don’t want at any time of year, but especially not at Christmas. Bad things aren’t allowed to happen over Christmas. That should be written into the fine print. Moreover, you wouldn’t be the first person to try to sue God either. Do you remember Billy Connolly in The Man Who Sued God?

Anyway, when I turned up for my lung function tests today, they’d decorated the doors for Christmas and clearly I had to take a photo for Thursday Doors.

I still remember when I walk out of those doors when I was first diagnosed with the fibrosis, and was absolutely distraught. My kids were only seven and five at the time and obviously needed their Mum. I felt bad if I was even five or ten minutes late to pick them up from school, and it was incomprehensible that I wouldn’t be there to pick them up at all. I left the lab with a single tissue and ended up in the hospital chapel sobbing my heart out, and there wasn’t a single tissue in the place. As hard as that tissue tried to cope with the deluge, it was overwrought. I ended up having to sneak back into the hospital toilets, get myself together and buy some tissues. I distinctly remember saying I had hay fever. What a duffer. A year or so later, when things deteriorated, I burst into tears in the hospital shop and the pink ladies rallied around me with such love. They were beautiful.

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Christmas Decorations in the Northern Cancer Centre. I think they’re Santa Kangaroos.

Anyway, as I mentioned, my specialists decided to treat the flare up using a chemotherapy drug called cyclophosphamide, which then introduced me to the Northern Cancer Centre on level 1 for my treatments. While I was there, I found out they had a resource centre and I came across a series of work booklets put out by the Cancer Council. These were really helpful for dealing with those really hard questions around death and dying, especially for families with kids. I was mentioning these booklets to a friend recently and that’s what brought me back to lvl 1 today. _DSC7625

Christmas Raffle at the Northern Cancer Centre downstairs.

Having photographed the doors upstairs, I asked the staff if I could photograph their Christmas decorations. I felt like a bit of an idiot, but I wanted to back up the doors upstairs with a another example of how the hospital was getting into the Christmas spirit. Anyway, much to my delight, they upped the anti and asked me if I wanted to have my photo taken in their elf frame. Being an irrepressible extrovert, of course, I jumped at the chance. It was a lot of fun.

 

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Before I head off and while we’re talking about the hospital’s Christmas celebrations, when I was there on Tuesday, a jazz band was playing the foyer and it’s something they’re doing during December. I couldn’t thank them enough. I’d actually just been to see a friend and it was an emotional time. So, it was really therapeutic to listen to the beautiful music and feel soothed. It was so thoughtful!

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Well, I realize that talking death, dying and hospitals is a rather gloomy subject at this time of year, when I reflect that I’m still here six years later and in reasonable health, it actually becomes a celebration. A good news story which might touch somebody else’s troubled heart with a touch of hope. After all, as much as we might not want to be in hospital, the alternative is far worse and rather permanent.  So, I’d better close off this Thursday Doors with a huge shout out to all the doctors, nurses, physios, OT’s and support staff who help get us back on out feet and out the door.

This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0. Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors. It’s a lot of fun and helps you see parts of the world you’ll never get to visit.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share: December 10, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Well, you’re in luck this week. We’re off on an adventure, but you’d better get your coffee to go. We have some important elf business to attend to. Indeed, we’re off to our local beach to photograph the elf doing what elves do best…getting up to mischief. However, our elf’s protesting that he was actually trying to help our local lifeguard on beach patrol, but I don’t believe him. I’m pretty sure he was trying to steal the lifeguard’s sunglasses, the beach buggy and probably the surf board as well. Once upon a time, these elves were Santa’s little helpers. However, there was a revolution somewhere along the way, and now the elves have taken the easy way out. Instead of building and creating the presents themselves, they’ve become a bunch of freeloading kleptomaniacs.

Quite aside from chasing and photographing cheeky elves, I’ve had quite a busy week. Saturday was my daughter’s dance concert. She learns ballet, tap, jazz, modern and is also part of Dance Team. This meant she had six costume changes, which necessitated a portable wardrobe, which my husband had to assemble with a screwdriver. While dance parents aren’t expected to have dancing ability, we’re frequently expected to morph into an all-conquering superheroes and the demands, as you can see from the screwdriver, go way beyond standard taxi driving duties. Indeed, I think we perform too well most of the time, and should drop our bundles more often. This way our dance charges might actually realize what it actually takes to fly to the moon on the way to a concert to pick up those theatrical pink tights, and not rely on teleportation.

Yesterday (being Sunday), I had my annual violin concert where I played Danny Boy as a duet with my teacher. The concert was held outside at a pecan farm up at Somersby, which is such a relaxing setting and you feel totally bathed in green. Compared to getting ready for the dance concert, getting ready for the violin concert was easy. Just needed my violin and music and you always have to doubt check your bow is in the case. It was too early to practice at home before I left, and so I took my chances on a quick warm up when we arrived. It went well with a couple of mistakes but you need those just to prove I’m human and the music wasn’t produced by a machine. I’d been making a few jokes during the week about my violin letting out a diabolical screech right at the emotional climax of the piece and killing the sensitive mood of the song. However, it behaved itself. As much as good playing requires talent and dedicated practice, there’s always a role for luck…good luck and bad and it’s important as a performer of any description, to keep that in mind. That it’s not the end of the world if your worst ever performance is on concert day, although I’m mighty glad mine wasn’t!!

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Performing Danny Boy at the end of year concert. Note the tractor in the background.

It’s now 17 days left until Christmas and I’m sure somebody has pressed a fast forward button and the Earth is spinning round four times faster than usual. I usually do quite a lot of Christmas baking and we also decorate the tree but I’m not sure how much of that is happening this year. I’m thinking of making a tree out of driftwood which we could somehow attach to the ceiling or the wall away from the dogs and to be perfectly honest, there isn’t a square metre of space in this place for a tree. Indeed, we can’t even stick it in the bathtub.

The other issue I have is with the Christmas baking. As much as I’m big on Christmas traditions like making your Christmas cake and pudding, the kids don’t really like it and it’s so hot here that it feels rather heavy, particularly after a big meal. My personal tastes head more towards something chocolatey and cool. Pavlova is also good. We’ll be spending Christmas Day with my parents at my aunt’s place. So, I don’t need to come up with a menu for the big day. However, I would like to create a special meal for our own family to celebrate. I’ll have to get myself motivated and start going through my recipe books. Goodness knows I have enough of them. So, there must be something there!

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Homemade Christmas Cake made to my mother’s recipe.

By the way, here’s a post I wrote a few years ago on The Meaning of Christmas Cake

Shortbread Christmas trees 2015

Do we need to break with tradition?

Do you feel that you’ve outgrown some of your family traditions but aren’t too sure quite how to proceed? Are perhaps also looking to create some Christmas traditions of your own?

Anyway, I don’t have to worry about Christmas too much this week. There’s still plenty of time to prepare without needing to panic.

How are your Christmas preparations going? Perhaps, you have different beliefs which you are celebrating or just believe in Happy Holidays…a phrase we don’t really use here in Australia. A more generic Christmas greeting here would be: “Merry Xmas”.

My grandfather opening his Christmas cards went into his 90s.

By the way, I almost forgot to mention that I took part in Solveig Warner’s Advent Calendar again this year where I wrote about Silent Night with an Australian twist: Silent Night. By the way, during my research, I found out that this Christmas Eve will mark the 200th Anniversary of Silent Night.

Anyway, how has your week been? I hope you’ve had a great one and all your preparations for Christmas and/or the holidays are going well.

Well, on that note, I’m heading off. I hope you’ve had a great week. This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Alli.

Best wishes,

Rowena