Tag Archives: family

Weekend Coffee Share- 5th September, 2022

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Yesterday, was Father’s Day here in Australia. Unfortunately, my parents have colds so we couldn’t go round to see them. However, we were able to focus on Geoff and went to Church as a family for the first time in about 18 months (due to covid) and out for dinner to a fabulous local Indian restaurant. We couldn’t finish it off, and brought the leftovers home so the east will continue tonight albeit more of a nibble. Indeed, I’m about to head out to buy some more chicken to cook up with my leftover sauce.

Did you celebrate Father’s Day where you are? I also understand that it’s a day of reflection and grief for many so if that’s you, I send you a hug and my thoughts.

As you may recall, Geoff and I went to Bathurst what is like three weeks ago now, and I’m still in the very early stages of writing up about our trip here on the blog. I’m also wanting to write some freelance articles as well, but decided to write these posts for the blog first and use them as a launching pad.

However, my third post about a trio of marble sculptures in Machattie Park has become very complicated taking me down numerous deep and meandering research burrows without really feeling confident about the basic facts like who made the sculptures, and how they came to reside in a fernery in a park in Bathurst 200 km WNW of Sydney. My quest has taken me back to the Sydney International Exhibition of 1879 where a swag of nations set up camp and showed of their national achievements. In addition to the main exhibition hall in the Garden Palace a separate art gallery was built and two out of three of these sculptures were displayed there and bought by the Art Gallery of NSW who went on to loan them to the city of Bathurst to put in their you beaut park with the band rotunda and massive fountain. By the way, the sculptor was Giovanni Fontana who was a well-known Italian sculptor at the time, who was commissioned to produce a number of public sculptures in Sydney. So far, I’ve been able to trace back the providence of two out of three of the statues but the third one is eluding me and I’ve lost myself down so many rabbit burrows as I said just trying to put the basics together, that I’ve ended up terribly lost and confused to the point of losing what I actually know. Have you ever experienced that?

Miss with the ankles in action.

Meanwhile, the other big news around here, is that Miss sprained her ankle last Friday night at dance. When it happened, they all heard a loud snap and they were really concerned she’d broken it. I missed a call from an unknown number just as I was meeting up with friends, and that turned out to be her dance teacher. They rang Geoff instead who was at home and so he drew the short straw of taking her to Gosford Hospital for hours on end while we waited and prayed for a verdict and I was going through all her dance commitments in my head and wondering how bad this was going to be and the implications of it all. I was also rather concerned about how she was responding to all of this psychologically. For a mere mortal, a sprained ankle is a painful inconvenience but for a ballerina, it can so easily feel like the end of the world. However, fortunately the timing is fairly good and she doesn’t have anything big right away. Her dance teacher has also referred her to special physio, which is probably going hurt us more in terms of the bank account, but you do what you’ve got to do.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Bored…Stream of Consciousness Saturday #SoCS

“Why did you do it?” The judge asked Jane Sutton, a 16 year old student from Queen’s College. Academic, popular, beautiful, rich and from an impeccable family… why did she go on a staggering shoplifting spree totalling over $20,000 on a fake credit card? “You didn’t need any of this stuff! You had it all.”

Jane didn’t want to speak or acknowledge her crimes in any way. Indeed, she was on suicide watch, and no one would’ve blamed her for taking her life. They would’ve done it too if they’re been this stupid and brought such unfathomable shame and disgrace, not only on her own name, but also her family. Her mother was the Australian CEO of the Red Cross and her father was the Bishop of Sydney, although they were both feeling pressured to resign. After causing so much trauma to those she loved and loved her more than life itself, she couldn’t bear to admit why she did it.

She was bored.

163 words

Carcoar Courthouse, NSW, Australia

Geoff and I were in Carcoar, near Bathurst last week and marvelled at this gorgeously quaint village time forgot. Such a shame the courthouse wasn’t open while we were there. It really is a step back in time.

Featured image: https://www.centralnswmuseums.com.au/museums/carcoar-court-house/

This has been a contribution to Stream of Consciousness Saturday hosted by Linda G. Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “board/bored.” Use one, or use them both for bonus points. Enjoy!

Best wishes,

Rowena

Happy Mother’s Day 2022

“If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.”

Jackie Kennedy

“The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.”

Honore de Balzac

“Having kids — the responsibility of rearing good, kind, ethical, responsible human beings — is the biggest job anyone can embark on.”

Maria Shriver

“All that I am, or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

Abraham Lincoln

“We are born of love; Love is our mother.”

Rumi

“When you look into your mother’s eyes, you know that is the purest love you can find.”

Mitch Album


“Women, who struggle and suffer pain to ensure the continuation of the human race, make much tougher and more courageous soldiers than all those big-mouthed freedom-fighting heroes put together.”
― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

Just wanted to honour Mother’s Day today with some photos of me with my Mum, my grandmothers and with our kids. Relationships tend to be much more complex than Hallmark sentiments, and our relationships with our mother’s are often fraught and go through the wringer….as do our relationships with our children. A mother gives birth to us, but this may not be the person who raises us and we know to be mother. There are also so many mothers who have lost their babies, and today brings an unfathomable and often very private grief. Many have lost their mums, and many way too soon before they had a chance to grow up. I’m sorry. I had friends who passed away last year, and left their kids behind, which goes against every instinct you’ve got as a mum. However, they had no say in that. It is what it is. Isn’t that the phrase we apply to unfathomable, inexplicable pain?!!

For me, I’ll be grateful for the good today. I thank my mother for being my Mum, and I’m sorry and regret I didn’t always know or understand how much she loved me, or that she understood me better than I ever gave her credit for. However, I am lucky that it’s not too late, and I can’t help wondering whether there is even that opportunity to make amends, and that they might just hear us from heaven. We don’t know.

Lastly, let Holocaust survivor, Eddie Jaku, have the last words. I read his book: The Happiest Man On Earth last week:

“I try to teach this to every young person I meet. Your mother does everything for you. Let you know you appreciate her, let her know that you love her. Why argue with the people you love? Go out on the street, stop a person littering and argue with them. There are a million better people to argue with than your mum.”

Sending you love this Mother’s Day!

Best wishes,

Rowena

Midnight With “The Secret Wife”.

If you go digging through my archives, you’ll notice that despite being a self-confessed book addict, I rarely write book reviews. That’s because I’m unfortunately more of a book collector than a voracious book reader. Of course, I have good intentions, and get carried away on the wings of fancy, but all too often the rubber doesn’t hit the road.

Anyway, today I’m breaking with tradition because I’ve just finished reading Mark Lamprell’s: The Secret Wife, and I’m too excited to keep it to myself. I absolutely loved it, and thought you might love it too. I rarely read non-fiction, and despite my best intentions, have often failed to finish even novels I love. So, the fact I was sticking matchsticks in my eyes to stay awake and finish this book, is a very strong endorsement. Indeed, to quote Australian music legend Molly Meldrum: “Do yourself a favour”, and read this book.

So, what was so good about it?

For me personally, I’m Australian and I enjoy stories from my own backyard, as well as reading foreign literature. Indeed, I suspect each of us likes to see our own world reflected back to us through the arts, as much as we also appreciate a more cosmopolitan diet. Yet, at the same time, it wasn’t consciously Australian and would easily translate elsewhere.

Secondly, I really appreciated the highly developed characterisation with his profound understanding of human nature. The storyline hinges on the friendship of two very different women, Edith and Frankie, their husbands and children and is mostly set in the 1960’s. Naturally, as characters in a novel, they go through many ups and downs, dramas, catastrophes and successes. Lacking in self-confidence myself too often, I related very strongly to Edith even though I’m a born extrovert and would’ve loved to be Frankie in my dreams.

I also really appreciated how Lamprell handled the interaction of this wily cast with the finely-tuned precision of a symphony conductor, yet with casual realism. There were times the characters became people I know, but I also felt Mark knew me like the back of his hand. I’m sure I got goose bumps more than once.

Another point I greatly appreciated about the book was Mark’s dynamic and complex vocabulary. Not all writers appreciate words, but I love words with a passion and am quick to take my hat off to those who make the effort (or even flourish). My kids have told me off for writing in books, but I always read books with a pen in hand, and my pen was very busy throughout (which is a great sign, btw.) I even jotted a few words in the back.

It is also worth noting that The Secret Wife is a historical novel. I was touched and impressed by Lamprell’s eye for detail and accuracy. It’s so easy to Google these things now, that there’s no excuse for getting them wrong. There is just enough detail to add flavour and authenticity, but not too much to bog you down.

All of that makes me sound intensely critical and punctilious (to steal a word from Mark). However, what we’re all looking for is a gripping story. A tale which draws us in and keeps throwing us bait until we’re caught hook, line and sinker. Where we can’t put the book down, yet we don’t want the book to end either. That is certainly true of The Secret Wife. The plot is also refreshingly unpredictable. He leads us up one path, and then we are taken somewhere else entirely, although not left alone lost in the dark either.

I know I’m saying a lot without saying much at all about this book. That’s because I know how much I hate spoilers. I just want a “yay” or a “nay”, and something to back it up. Yet, I’m busting to talk to someone about it.

However, I’m also into biography. So, once I like a book, or fancy an author, I want to delve into their head, their heart, their past, present…the works. (Indeed, I’ve been doing just that with author Ethel Turner over at my other blog Tea With Ethel Turner.) So this leaves me asking: “Who is Mark Lamprell?” and I suppose you might be wondering the same thing, and why I read: The Secret Wife, especially when I could’ve been reading your blog posts and works of fiction instead…

Mark Lamprell – Photo Ian Erick

Well, the official answer is: “Mark Lamprell is an (Australian) writer of novels and children’s books published in sixteen countries and twelve languages, including the novels The Full Ridiculous and A Lover’s Guide to Rome. He also works internationally as a writer and director in film, with movie credits including Babe Pig in the City, My Mother Frank, Goddess, A Few Less Men and Never Too Late.

There’s a more complex answer here, where Booktopia asked him Ten Terrifying Questions: https://www.booktopia.com.au/blog/2022/04/21/ten-terrifying-questions-with-mark-lamprell/?fbclid=IwAR10IScuXeqzO3eEluwWUtZb9ICn93sRAXkHBCS8JUqbAwLBQxZpsZ6Kwwk

However, for me, Mark Lamprell was also my uncle’s school friend. My dad was one of seven, and being the eldest grandchild, I was only ten and eleven years younger than my youngest uncles. So, it wasn’t unusual for me to be down at the house when their friends were around. Moreover, their house was a sprawling Californian bungalow. None of the doors were ever locked, and people simply came and went. Oftentimes, we’d be gathered around the kitchen table philosophising. One would be having breakfast, another lunch and someone else having a snack. It was definitely laissez-faire, although there were still non-negotiables like my grandfather wanting my uncle to get his hair cut.

My grandmother in a professional capacity. This was for the BBC around 1938.

Yet, as I’ve mentioned before, my grandmother was Eunice Gardiner, an international concert pianist, music critic and later professor piano at the NSW Conservatorium of Music. In the loungeroom, there was her Bechstein grand piano, and after my grandfather passed away, it was joined by a large concert-sized Steinway grand, which she’d brought out from England. Having two large grand pianos in your lounge room, certainly makes a statement.

My Great Grandmother, Ruby Gardiner (McNamara) was in some ways Edith to my grandmother’s Frankie. Both of them stood their ground at times, and were still their own people. I look at this photo now with Ruby looking across and even deferring to her daughter as though she’s not expecting to be in the shot. Hadn’t picked up on that before.

So, the house had this sort of dichotomy, and that fits in very well with Frankie’s world in The Secret Wife. Moreover, like Frankie, there was so much we didn’t know about my grandmother’s career, and who she was. Indeed, I venture to suggest that everyone probably has their secrets. Things even our nearest and dearest know nothing about.

While The Secret Wife and I were obviously a very good fit, I ended up reading it because the publisher sent me a copy to review. I was attending a novel writing workshop with Graeme Simsion (author of The Rosie Project who I’ve reviewed before). I mentioned that I’d attended a similar workshop with Mark Lamprell at the Sydney Writer’s Festival, and the publicist said she’d send me a copy of his new book. I was delighted, and mentioned he was a family friend. The book duly arrived, and I thought I’d better read it tout de suite to honour the deal. No forgetting to read this book. By this time, I picked up an extra 38 “friends” at the Pearl Beach Book Sale. So, it wasn’t that The Secret Wife was without competition. I clearly needed to get reading.

Family Press Photo 1960 around the time of the TV interview.

However, reading The Secret Wife now was mind-blowing timing. A few weeks ago, I was contacted by historian, Ann Curthoys, who let me know that back in 1960 my grandmother had appeared on an ABC TV panel interviewing Paul Robeson, an African-American singer, actor and civil rights activist and soon of a former slave when he toured Australia in November 1960. The interview covered racism, equality and freedom and was recorded on the 5th November, 1960. Three days later, JF Kennedy defeated Nixon in the US presidential election, and it was broadcast on the 13th November, 1960. It was just under three years before Dr Martin Luther King’s famous  “I Have a Dream” speech, which followed a march by over 200,000 people on Washington on the 28th August, 1963. I was able to order a copy of the interview, and have been working on a transcript. I am gobsmacked.

A media shot – my grandmother with the eldest boys at the piano around 1942.

So, reading: The Secret Wife which is set in this similar social context, was an incredible fusion. However, my grandmother was leading a different life to anyone really what with her prodigious talent and being married with seven children and still pursuing her career. But I think she just had this trajectory in her mind and it just kept going. She probably knew nothing else.

As for my grandfather, there was a miniature grand piano on their wedding cake. So, I doubt he had any illusions. My grandmother, her piano and her career were a package deal. There was never any suggestion she was going to stop.

Wow! There’s been so much to think about, and more to come. For now, I’m going to let the book settle. I really want to talk it over, and share it with someone (something I obviously can’t do in a review.) Maybe, I’ll start talking to myself.

Best wishes,

Rowena Curtin

PS One thing I didn’t mention was that my grandfather was the consummate book collector and my grandparents’ house was overflowing out the back and under the house with boxes, and boxes of books. Indeed, when my grandparents first got married, my grandfather’s mother sent over his books to their new home, and they apparently arrived even before the furniture.

Don’t you just love family stories?!!

Featured image: Geoff Newton. Thank you Zac the dog for posing for the camera. Since he spends much of his life sleeping underneath my keyboard and while I was reading the book, it seemed appropriate for him to appear in the photo.

Weekend Coffee Share – 4th April, 2022.

Welcome To Another Weekend Coffee Share!

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

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

How was your week?

Last week, was pretty incredible for me.

Above: The Young Endeavour sailing in to dock.

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

Youthies on Floral Shirt Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes,

Rowena

Dinner For Four – Milky Lane, Terrigal.

Many moons ago, I used to lament not having that special someone, and being able to go out for that much longed for dinner for two. These days, however, Geoff and I have been married for just over 20 years, and those days are long gone. Indeed, these days a family birthday dinner out is our mission impossible. Traditionally, these have included my Mum and Dad taking the festivities to six. However, thanks to a nasty combination of covid and covid lockdowns, Mum and Dad are still in isolation and the “kids” wanted to celebrate their birthdays with friends and also have oodles of activities on. This means the family dinner has been hard to squeeze in.

A rather dramatic Door Shot to satisfy door aficionados from Thursday Doors

However, we finally managed to get out to what is most definitely a young person’s hangout, although they didn’t turf us old fogies out. Well, make that one old fogey and one well camouflaged one who apparently lost ten years a week or so go when I got my hair done again.

So, we ended up at Milky Lane in Terrigal. You might recall seeing Terrigal Beach during my recent beach-crawl driving round and round with our daughter who is learning to drive. Milky Lane classes itself as a “burger restaurant”. However, that’s the understatement of the century. McDonald’s is a Burger restaurant and Milky Lane is in a different league. The only trouble I had was trying to ensure I didn’t fill up on my burger, and miss out on dessert. Or, worse still, overeat and make myself dreadfully ill.

The Mister now 18.

Meanwhile, while I throw rapturous praise around the food, the decor was out of this world, and so mind-blowingly atmospheric and a great backdrop for photography, especially if you could find more enthusiastic photo models. People who aren’t more interested in eating their meal (what I came here for) than having their photo taken. I could’ve taken photos for a decade in their especially if I had a revolving cast.

The Miss now 16.

Obviously, the last two years in more on than off lockdown has knocked me about. I’m not what I was. Who is? Two years is too long for anyone to sit still anyway.

Me age unspecified.

Anyway, we had a wonderful night out, and afterwards we crossed the road and walked along the beach a bit.

The moon looks like Saturn speeding past.

There was an almost full moon which was hanging over the beach like a golden beacon. A row of ships waiting to access Newcastle Harbour to the North were lit up in lights, and along the promenade a row of massive Norfolk Island Pines were lit up in lights like Christmas trees, although it’s March. The Rainbow Lorikeets had also congregated in the tree and were conducting a noisy chat. The waves were rolling in, and I could’ve stayed there for hours, but the kids wanted to go home.

Terrigal Beach by Night

So, Happy Birthday Mister and Miss!

Love,

Mum

Weekend Coffee Share – 28th February, 2022.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Naturally, my heart goes out to the people of the Ukraine. I pray that they are able to resist and withstand invading Russian forces and this doesn’t escalate further. Call me a dreamer if you like. However, the alternatives are too awful to contemplate.

Meanwhile, the East Coast of Australia has been inundated with ridiculously heavy rain, which in parts of Queensland has been described as a “rain bomb”. I saw a video today of someone doing laps up and down their backyard on a standard suburban block. That was freaky.


How has your week been?

So, I am feeling grateful. I have a roof over my head, food, water, my family with me and our three dogs.

Actually, speaking of dogs we’re p0articularly grateful to have Lady back with us after she squeezed out the back gate yesterday when we were out and strangers brought her home and secured the gate. So kind of them!!

Despite the rain, I’ve managed to get out for a few short walks this week.

I Saw the Light

There was the Mt Penang Parklands at Kariong. Our daughter gets eyelash extensions up there every fortnight and I walk in the park while I’m waiting. However, the park itself closes at 4.30pm so I walk down to the pond and through the slushy grass (yes, it is a wetland area) and photographed the reflection of the muted sun through the reeds. It was quite stunning.

Saturday, we had our power switched off for the day for repairs, and so we went out for lunch, and then drove over to Patonga on the Hawkesbury River as it enters Broken Bay. We couldn’t walk far with our shoes on and the sodden beach wasn’t very inviting either. Thought you might appreciate the photo.

Yesterday, we drove over to Terrigal for doughnuts and a walk, which we just managed to squeeze in between heavy downpours and the naughty Lady dog getting out and necessitating a speedy trip home.

Meanwhile, my Google Earth travels through Ireland continue as I continue to research how the Irish Famine impact various branches of our family. Two of the books I’ve ordered arrived: Ciaran O Murchadha: The Great Famine: Ireland’s Agony 1845-1852 and John Quealy’s book of short stories set around Loop Head in County Clare. I don’t know whether he is related to my Quealys from the region, but he provides an insight into being a local and I’m turning to Google Earth while I’m reading along to see the places he’s talking about, which really helps bring these places to life. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get over there.

Now, I need to get moving because our daughter is sitting for her Learner’s Permit and I need to find the paperwork.

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

Best wishes,

Rowena

Doughnuts at a Stormy Terrigal, Australia.

Normally, our daughter works at McDonald’s on a Sunday afternoon. However, she was free this afternoon and she bounced into my room suggesting donuts and a walk at Terrigal. We had discovered this donut shop during the week and had fallen deeply in love. I also was keen to go for a walk, despite the rain. Indeed, just as we’d decided to go, the heavens opened up and the Pacific Ocean came down. We checked the weather radar, and it wasn’t hanging round long. So, off we went.

Terrigal looking towards The Haven

It seems strange and perhaps lacking in respect to actually enjoy oneself at the moment. Russia has invaded the Ukraine, goodness knows what that means. Of course, that situation downplays the floods in Brisbane, Gympie and the usual suspects are also appearing on the news. However, we’ve barely been out since June last year, and I make no apologies for actually having fun, or spending time with the recently turned 16, Miss.

Terrigal Haven and the fishing co-op where we used to buy fish on our holidays when I was a child.

It is strange in a way to think that with everything that’s going on, that so many places are so unaffected and the rhythms of life and nature go on as normal. C’est la vie. When Lady Luck, God or whoever, lights up your path, you’ve got to seize the chance with both hands and make a run for it.

Photo sourced from their Facebook page.

So, we bought a tray of six very scrumptious doughnuts. I won’t go through all the variations, but they had a luscious Creme Brulee Doughnut with toffee on top and a veritable subterranean lake of custard inside. As our daughter mentioned, the doughnuts aren’t too sweet, the doughnut itself is thick and doughy and there’s a luscious generosity about them. They’re a definite treat, and probably something which should be classified as a “sometimes food”.

Terrigal Pool

We headed across the road, and chose a dry section of wall by the beach, and sat down to consume our hoard. After all the rain, the ground was still wet and the beach itself was covered in seaweed and didn’t smell the best. From here we not only had a stunning view of the beach, we could also watch the brewing clouds which were getting darker, full-bodied and you didn’t need to check the radar to know rain was on its way.

Meanwhile, the promenade beside the beach was pleasantly populated with dogwalkers without being crowded. Now that out kids are older, small children have regained their charm and they were incredibly captivating. We could smile and wave without needing to keep up 24/7. We’re definitely beyond that now.

Miss and Geoff watching the crabs and the waves

Doughnuts eaten, exercise began and we walked round the rocks on this new fangled walkway the council has constructed. It’s all terribly civilised and extends access beyond the young and intrepid adventurer, but its a huge contraption superimposed on nature and I much prefer the Terrigal of my childhood. It was an unsophisticated, regional seaside town. Now, it’s Australia’s incarnation of Monaco by the sea with high density living and something in between Byron Bay and Surfers Paradise. That, I guess, makes it uniquely Terrigal and I do like it. I love seeing all the people there and there is something to be said about living it up at times too…fine dining, dressing up, and not just getting around in kayaks, sail boats, water shoes and having a real swim at the beach.

We were enjoying watching an abundance of largish rock crabs scuttling over the rocks while large waves smashed against the rocks launching a myriad of sounds something in between an orchestra and a choir as the water flowed through holes and caves. It was magic.. nature’s music.

Then, my phone rung. The number wasn’t in my contacts, which is rather unusual for me, especially when our daughter is with us and isn’t calling from one of her friend’s phones. “I think we’ve found your dog. Do you have a Lady Newton?” In hindsight, I felt like denying all knowledge of a Lady Newton. There we were on a rare outing with our daughter. Indeed, we’d actually gone out. However, annoyance was overcome by relief and gratitude and these strangers safely secured Lady in our backyard and sealed the back gate up which had become ajar in the rain.

So, the magic was over. Like Cinderella at the stroke of midnight, we were off home.

Well, I hope you enjoyed our trip to Terrigal.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Book Launch of “Murdering Stepmothers” & the Case of the Rambunctious Child.

“Never work with animals or children.”

-W. C. Fields

There are times when every parent, and maybe even doting grandparent, wants to disassociate with naughty or over-exuberant children, and pretend they’ve never seen them before. Whether we admit to that in public or not, is another matter. However, we all know it’s true.

Things were doubly complicated with my two, because from the time our daughter was born and our eldest was only two, I developed a debilitating muscle wasting disease called dermatomyositis, and I couldn’t keep up. Hence, my parents had a much more active role with the kids and often had to step up and into my shoes. Well, that’s my justification for why my father was in charge of our rather unruly four year old daughter better known as Miss who could do no wrong.

My dad with a very unruly Miss Four while her mother hides behind the camera. Or, perhaps that was Geoff but this photo looks more like my handiwork.

This wasn’t the only sign of misbehaviour either, and to be perfectly honest I’m sure someone gave her red cordial, orange Fanta or something else along those lines` that night. Our kids were strictly “no artificial colours or preservatives”. However, strict adherence doesn’t mean the system was foolproof.

Anyway, my aunt was having an official book launch at Gleebooks in Sydney by Julianne Schulz from the Griffith Review. This won’t mean much to many of you who are overseas, (or in Australia beyond academic circles for that matter). However, my aunt is a professor and an award-winning author and she’s spoken at numerous writer’s festivals, including the Sydney Writers’ Festival ( which gave yours truly access to the Writers’ Greenroom. I was in heaven!!)

So, in other words, this was no backyard launch, and quite a serious affair. One of those events where parents always give their kids a talking to before you all arrive about being on their VERY BEST BEHAVIOUR!! They are to be seen and not heard. Of course, “not seen and not heard” is capital letter TROUBLE in these situations, and to be avoided at all costs.

However, 12 years down the track from said book launch, the behavior of Miss Four, (and indeed it was only Miss Four who was playing up) appears rather funny. She was pure mischief that night, and her brother and their friend were pretty good. Indeed, when I look at the photos, I think the friend is wondering what she’s on. Mind you, both the boys were already at Big School so they had an unfair advantage.

Legitimately drawing on the wall in the boardroom at Concordia College, Toowoomba while my grandfather’s portrait watches second from the left.

While we’re on the subject of taking unruly kids into adult situations, I also found a photo of the kids when we were visiting Concordia College in Toowoomba. My grandfather, Pastor Bert Haebich, was the first Acting Principal there back around 1948, and we were given a lovely tour of the school by the Communications Manager. She was such a kind soul and as we’re in the very prestigious boardroom which has my grandfather’s portrait in the very stately line-up, she gave them whiteboard markers and allowed them to write on the whiteboard. She was someone who really understood young kids and parents. At the same time, it does look funny and out of place.

They really look like they’re plotting and planning future mischief over dinner here.

As for the title of my aunt’s book, it’s full title is Murdering Stepmothers: the Execution of Martha Rendell. Martha Rendell as the last woman to be hanged in Western Australia, after being found guilty of poisoning her three stepchildren with medicine. It’s a great read but might be hard to get hold of.

Not the best photo of the kids with my aunt. I’m on the look out for a better one.

Of course, my aunt adores my kids, and still believes they can do no wrong, despite this eventful night.

Do you have any stories of your kids having a moment? Of course, you do. Even parents of cats and dogs have stories of pure mischief.

Well, my two are about to turn eighteen and sixteen and let’s just say the perimeters have changed, but we’re not out of the woods yet.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 17th January, 2022.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Believe it or not, it is actually Sunday night. Or, more accurately early Monday morning, because it’s after midnight and I’m not about to confess just how far after midnight it might be. Let’s just say the cow jumped over the moon quite awhile ago now. So, I’ve actually made good headway and hopefully won’t be rushing it through on deadline again. After all, it’s a whole new year, and I’ve been reformed, transformed but strangely still look, feel and act much the same as I did last year.

Awhile back, I remember hearing someone say covid was from the Devil. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that. However, as time goes by, I’m increasingly pointing the finger at the man downstairs and wondering whether he does have something to do with this mess after all. After all, he’s not going to leave his calling card out as he spins his evil web. If he’s really smart and let’s just say he’s had a lot of experience at being the Devil, he’s cunning and knows how to cover his tracks. He’s not like the two year old who stole the chocolate bar and is denying it while having chocolate smeared all of his his face and tiny hands. He slips right under the radar and probably even convinces you it’s all your fault when it was him all along. Anyway, we have people like myself boarded up at home avoiding covid. We have people holding covid parties to try to catch the darn thing now and get it over and done with. I even read a story tonight about someone who hosted one of these parties and everyone else caught it but him. In the last 24 hours, NSW had 48,768 reported cases. However, that’s a spit in the ocean. It’s mission impossible to get tested and the big question on everyone’s lips is where can you get RATs? Perhaps, I should start selling off the residents of our roof if they’re still up there. They could make me a pretty penny right now.

How many of you have had covid or had someone in your household with it?

You know things are weird when you’re teenager goes shopping with her friend and brings home a slab of toilet paper.

I live in Greater Sydney, and until now we’d largely been spared. I didn’t know anyone locally who’d acquired covid and we could do our typical Australian thing of thinking we’d be right. Being relatively isolated, we can hide away from quite a few of the world’s ills. However, our politicians in their infinite wisdom, decided to “let it rip”. Now, to quite a friend, “it’s everywhere”. The NSW Health Minister says “we’re all going to get it.” Sounds like I might as well just throw myself under the bus and get it over with. However, my dad heard that the health department expects only 50% of the population to get it, which is much better odds, and he’s determined to be in the 50% that doesn’t get it. I’m out to join him. Meanwhile, our son is at youth camp and very likely to bring it home. We’re trying to be prepared for that. A number of my friends have caught it, and are still isolating at home. Where it gets tricky is how to manage it when you have a household especially where someone is vulnerable, how to you contain the contagion? As the days go by, things have escalated so quickly and we’ve gone from very low cases numbers to an explosion and it’s no longer in Italy, USA, UK it’s our our favourite cafe. It’s at church. The hardware store…but only a case here and there, but now it’s in our homes. The Grim Reaper MKII is actually in our homes. Indeed, it’s even invaded some of us. It’s not very nice.

Meanwhile, I’ve been beavering away on my family history, and trying to enter it into Wikitree. I’m really pleased to be getting it online to share it, but also if something happens to me, my research will be out there. I’ve been doing it for years and my kids aren’t hugely interested. At least, not yet. Hopefully, someone or someones will appreciate it all or in part.

One of the interesting things I found out a few years ago is that two of my Great Grandfather’s uncles married Aboriginal women and that he had cousins who were Aboriginal and a number had been put in orphanages, and were part of the stolen generation and really had a rough time. I’ve known about the Stolen Generation and known members of the Stolen Generation and heard their stories. Indeed, my aunt wrote the national history of the Stolen Generation and I was living with her at the time and read through some of the drafts. She was so strong reading through all their stories and interviewing these people and taking all their heartbreak on herself. Of course, I cared about that and was outraged. However, it’s quite a different thing to know that someone from your family went through that, and to hear how that not only impacted on them personally, but also for generations to come. It’s made the racism in the country which is directed at our indigenous people even more abhorrent. You might not be aware of this, but Aboriginal used to be classified as fauna on the national census. They weren’t even considered human. So, I’ve entered all these names into Wikitree and hope it helps someone out there to find their roots.

He hasn’t quite hit the road yet, but he’s turned on the ignition. Geoff is talking to him through the window. Must remember to keep it simple. He asked which pedal was the brake. We do so much on auto-pilot.

I’m inclined to tell you that nothing much has happened around here, because truly it hasn’t. I’m locked away avoiding covid, and it’s very humid outside and I’m struggling to breathe outside and need the air-conditioning on. However, this I remember and it’s so bad that I guess I filed it in the denial basket. A 13 year old local boy was stabbed and murdered by another 13 year old about a 15 minute drive away. To be honest, we assumed initially that it had happened in our local park after dark. However, it happened further afield but that won’t make a different to the family and friends. My daughter’s friend’s brother was good friends with the boy via the football club and the two families are friends too. I bought a succulent in a pot for the brother and wrapped it all up in cellophane just to acknowledge he’d lost his friend and that mattered. I also gave a bunch of sunflowers to his mum. It’s just awful. This fight was unfortunately was pre-meditated so it’s not looking good for the guilty party. Two lives ruined in an instant, and families shattered. It also reminds me how vulnerable teens are to making truly life-changing mistakes. I bought a book on leadership for teens by a friend of mine Dr Tim Hawkes who is a retired headmaster. I’m hoping it can knock some sense into my kids, although I doubt they’re read it. I’ll try and glean the wisdom from it and slowly but steadily drip feed it through.

I also just remembered that I’d written last week’s coffee share post before we had our drama, and something did actually happen here. Last Monday afternoon, Geoff was out the back working on the trailer, when he cut his leg open and rudely disturbed by cup of tea. Indeed, I was told to call 000, and fetch the medical kit. At least, we had one this time. A few weeks ago we couldn’t even find a Band-Aid when our son burned his foot on his campfire. Geoff went into shock and didn’t quite pass out, but he wasn’t able to speak and sweat was pouring off him. Good thing I was under the misguided belief a ambulance would pull up any tick of the clock, because although I was stressed, I wasn’t in total panic. As it turned out, that Monday was not a good day for the ambulance service and they advised me to take him myself in the end. That day, a woman gave birth to a premmie baby at home and there was no ambulance for them either and they drove themselves to hospital and she was giving the baby heart massage in the back seat. After hearing that, our drama was nothing.

Our son leaving or Summer Camp. I told Geoff that he at least could’ve photographed his face, but at least he got no protest. The poo brown esky belonged to Geoff’s mum and is probably now a collectable despite being baby poo brown.

Meanwhile our son has gone off to youth camp. He’s gone for three days and we fully expect him to have covid when he gets back. However, he has such a good time there and I couldn’t bare for him to miss out.

Shopping with her friend. Masks are our second-skin around here.

Our daughter is currently on school holidays putting in a lot of shifts at McDonald’s and the holiday dance classes have started up again. We are also starting to thinking about buying her a special tutu and we were just browsing through a few to get some ideas. It’s like shopping for a wedding dress without having to worry about what happens afterwards.

Well, how was your week? I probably should’ve asked you that at the outset and not the end. However, I have pictured up having coffee together. Indeed, it’s been a rather long coffee because once again deadline is looming and I’m about to miss out.

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

Best wishes,

Rowena