The streets of St Germain were almost deserted – except Alice returning home in her diaphanous red gown, carrying her stilettos. She wasn’t drunk or under the influence of drugs. Rather, her overactive imagination was suddenly swept away by the alluring, white tulips in the Jardin du Luxembourg. Their luscious, white faces were all smiles, drawing her in like a drunken bee intoxicated by pollen dreams. Usually reserved, she finally unleashed her soul: “Why tiptoe through the tulips, when you can leap? Geronimo!”
That’s where Alice was found – sound asleep by a young man wishing he’d drunk his morning coffee.
Tulips aren’t a flower you see a lot of in Australia. Indeed, they were very rare when I went to Europe back in 1992 and really had the chance to appreciate them more fully – especially as I flew with KLM and landed in Amsterdam. So, my story had to have a European setting, even though we do have a tulip festival in Canberra. Indeed, that reminds me I ought to go to our version of Floriade sometime.
This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields, and I encourage you to join us.
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…
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.“
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We all know we live in a crazy world right now. However, when your teenage daughter goes shopping and is chuffed to procure a lifetime’s supply of toilet paper, you know the world’s gone stark raving mad.
Well just to reassure you that all isn’t lost, she also bought clothes.
The day she goes out and just buys toilet paper, is when we all need to start figuring out how to colonise the moon.
What’s going on in your neck of the woods? I don’t think anyone knows which way’s up or down here. Supplies are short in the shops, and shelves are bare across all categories. I’ve barely been near the shops. So, this is second-hand intelligence from Geoff who was doing our shopping before he bunged his leg up. Meanwhile, as many around us are falling like flies to omicron, we’re still okay. Our son heads off to youth camp on Saturday and we’re expecting trouble when he gets home and are trying to procure RATs before he gets back.
Hope you’re all keeping well.
PS Jokes aside, I am grateful she thought of us when she spotted the toilet paper. Supplies were getting low at home, and she was being so considerate and helpful. Its traits like this I value most as a parent.
“All is as if the world did cease to exist. The city’s monuments go
unseen, its past unheard, and its culture slowly fading in the dismal
― Nathan Reese Maher
Today, while I was out on my walk, there was something strangely eerie, even haunting, about seeing all these mannequins lined up in the front window of a local opportunity shop. From a distance, they even appeared strangely human, and like the rest of us, frozen in suspended animation under some kind of a spell. Indeed, they’re even social distancing behind the glass. At the moment, they also have nowhere to go. The shop is shut due to Covid 19 until further notice.
When you take a closer look at each mannequin, you immediately sense the enormous care, attention to detail, and dare I say love; which have gone into dressing each one, especially when we’re talking about throwing together a pile of second-hand clothes. Every mannequin has also been given a pair of matching shoes, as if even they couldn’t possibly be seen barefoot, which is quite something for a beach community. Indeed, they could each be Cinderella dressed up to go to the ball. However, they each have their own personalities and different places to go. Some of the mannequins have even been positioned together…a couple, mother and daughter and a Central Coast Mariners’ supporter. All these stories just waiting to to be lived out, once the door finally re-opens and each of these outfits finally walks out.
Of course, not everyone is living in suspended animation at the moment. Far too many are caught in the gruelling grip of the Coronavirus, have lost loved ones or are working on the front line saving lives. For those who have lost jobs and are desperately wondering how to make ends meet, they’re also feeling way too stressed to zone out as well.
These are traumatic, strange and eerie times. However, there are also moments like seeing this window filled with quirky mannequins, where you can crack a smile and take the edge off it all. This is what people in a host of very intense situations have always done to cope and it helps.
We’re thinking of you all in whatever situation you’re in.
Last night, my daughter and I went on a beauty shop crawl snaffling up supplies for her sleepover and pamper party and by some miracle of miracles I managed to check out our favourite PJ shop, Peter Alexander’s without buying anything. I can’t say the same for my daughter. I think she bought some bed socks.
Pyjamas are such a personal thing. Some people wear them, others present their birthday suit or just the basics. While the track suit has its place in terms of keeping warm, I do have a bit of a thing for a fancy pair of PJs and have PJ days where I wonder round the house in my PJs with no apologies. There’s something so relaxing, indulgent and revitalizing for me spending a day in a beautiful pair of PJs.
I’m not going to post any photos of me in my PJs simply, because I don’t know where they are. However, my favourites have included a silky pair with zebra stripes and I’ve had several pairs of cloudy PJs with white clouds on a sky blue background. Perfect fpr a creative and writer who lives in the clouds.
However, we’re not visiting Peter Alexander for their PJs, but rather to check out their front door. I don’t recall seeing too many pink doors on Thursday Doors, but this one is absolutely luscious. If you take a closer look, you’ll notice that the door handle is a dachshund, which is their corporate mascot. This is Peter Alexander’s own dog, Penny. She’s gorgeous!!
There are also other architectural touches throughout their stores, which are a beautiful fantasyland with candelabras, plush chairs and everything to make you feel like an absolute pampered princess. Indeed, I wanted to move in!! Not that I’m the princess type and I’m certainly not pretentious. However, I love the rich designs of his PJs and there’s a lot of humour as well. I bought my son a pair of Monopoly PJ shorts. They were so much fun but are probably too small for him now.
The other aspect to my love of pyjamas, is that I do have chronic health and disability issues and so I do spend more time at home than I would and I do have a bit of a siesta to get me through the day. I haven’t been to hospital in a long time. However, I think a stint in hospital almost demands new PJs to lift your mood and help you feel a million dollars instead of sick, sorry for yourself. Sure, they can’t take away the pain, but they can go a long way towards lifting a horrible black rain cloud.
So, I hope you’ve enjoyed our visit to Peter Alexanders. I think I might dig out my PJs now and have a nap. Have some beautiful dreams.
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit to our place. 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.
Charlotte was mortified. After spending months painstakingly working her way into the cool group, she spotted her mother halfway down the street. As if that wasn’t already bad enough, she was wearing her exceptionally eccentric: “Ceremonial hat for eating Bouillabaisse“, based on its namesake by English artist, Eileen Agar. A cork bowl decorated with beach ephemera, it was hardly suitable for the Melbourne Cup. With her two worlds on an imminent collision course, Charlotte wanted to die. Why couldn’t her mum just blend in and wear a black fascinator like everyone else’s mum? Why did she have to be “creative”?
As a mother of two teenagers, I’m psyching myself up for the big rejection when they deny my existence in front of their friends one day. I can be quite loud, friendly and overly extroverted.However, so far so good.
By the way, I came across Eileen Agar while I was putting together Letters to Dead Artists for the 2018 Blogging A-Z April challenge and thought that hat would embarrass even the most resilient teen. You can read more about her Here./
Eileen Agar wearing her: Ceremonial hat for eating Bouillabaisse
“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.”
So what if it’s my daughter’s birthday? That’s hardly newsworthy. After all, she’s not Princess Charlotte, and the only paparazzi hanging around when she blew out her candles, was her Mum.
Yet, that doesn’t mean that her birthday didn’t mean anything beyond our four walls and her beaming grandparents.
Our daughter turned 12 yesterday. While she’s still not officially a teenager, she’s in her first year of high school. So, this birthday marked a definite transition from childhood into something else. Entré into a zone where it can be difficult for parents to find their way. Are we wanted, or unwanted? In the way, or ignoring them and giving them too much space? Are we expecting them to be kids and adults all in the same breath and setting all sorts of unrealistic expectations? Or, are we feeling like little more than a taxi driver? An ATM only good for more money? I’ve heard a lot of parents lament that their teens only grunt, and shut them out. Lock themselves away in their rooms. There’s also the great electronics challenge. How do we tear our kids and teens away from Minecraft long enough to even look us in the eye and say “hello”?
These are challenging times. After all, the teenage years come with the same kind of flashing neon signs as the terrible twos. Having been through that, I’m no idiot. I know it’s virtually impossible to come out unscathed, but I also feel empowered. I make things better or worse.
However, none of that was at the forefront of my mind yesterday. That all came afterwards, as I reflected on how well everything went and how I’ve built connections with my daughter, her friends and their parents. Also, I’m pleased to say we passed muster. So, I’m feeling really stoked…content.
Miss in Saphora Sporting Blue Lipstick.
The big birthday, began with a morning of dance rehearsals and classes for Miss, and I set about trying to find the carpet in her bedroom. Even though the girls would be sleeping in the tent in our backyard under the watchful eye of the dogs, kids always end up in the bedroom and hers needed major reconstruction. I’m still fighting off the sinus infection too so wasn’t 100%. Meanwhile, Geoff was salvaging the backyard from the pups. There isn’t a blade of grass out there, and there was all sorts of chewed up detritus. With only hours to go, we had a lot of work ahead. Fortunately, I did my baking on Friday, making Mars Bar Slice, Pavlova, cup cakes. Dinner would be pizzas.
However, before the party began, Miss wanted to go to makeup Mecca, Saphora, with her friend, so she could go crazy with her birthday money from her Godmother and earn double points and a birthday gift. We also spent awhile in Lush.
An extraordinary moment.
Cartwheels in the sand.
Amelia with Nikon camera aged 2.5
Saphora really is a kind of fantasyland and they let you play around with a kaleidoscope of eye shadows, lipsticks and highlighers so you can even glitter and sparkle in the dark. It was so much fun. After all, how often do we have the opportunity to colour ourselves in using the brightest of brights without any limitations and get away with it? At Saphora, our face is a blank canvas only limited by our imaginations and our arms are our palettes. Indeed, there’s even a word to describe trying out this multitude of product…”swatching”.“
Not unsurprisingly, I don’t keep up with make up or fashion trends. I was chaperone. My daughter’s friend’s Mum likes the girls to be accompanied, and that makes the decision easy for me. I’m a slow walker. So, they’re always a metre or two in front and I probably look more like a stalker. However, this means they have their own space, can do their own thing and have an old head with them if required. You just don’t know what those unpredictables can be, and they’re not quite at the stage where they have the life experience to deal with all of that on their own. Also, my daughter is tiny and younger than many of her friends and I’m quite conscious that a stranger could pick her up and cart her off without any effort at all, aside from her resistance. In Australia, we had a young man called Daniel Morcombe who was abducted from a bus stop, violated and murdered. He was 12 years old. That puts things into perspective for me. While a 12 year old might be sensible, trustworthy and intelligent, they are still a child and need a backstop.
I don’t know how parenting a teen will look down the track. Her big brother turns 14 in a few weeks and hasn’t brought us the usual problems of teenagers yet. We tend to be late bloomers in the puberty stakes, so perhaps all of that is just around the corner. You sort of hope it is as a parent, as much as you want to keep pushing it off into the future. After all, they really can’t have a relationship with their electronics. Or, at least not one that’s going to produce any grandchildren (not that I’m wanting them any time soon).
Anyway, my modus operandi for parenting teens at the moment, is to get to know my kids’ friends and their parents. Keep those lines of communication going. After all, what I’m finding so far, is that they’re all quite chatty and we’re all getting on really well and they trust me. This might not matter much at the moment, but it might down the track.
So, I’m now positioning myself as my kids’ parent and their friend. Trying to make the hard decisions and enforce boundaries and deadlines, while also being involved enough that they feel I know them,that they know I have their back and can see their point of view, even if I don’t agree with it. It can be very tempting to think that now our kids are growing older, that we can get more “me time”. Work more. Pull back. I’m not too sure.When they were younger, they could go to daycare or before & after school care but once at high school, they’re home alone…or not. Unfortunately, that doesn’t address the family finances or the need for both parents to work, sole parent families and the complexities of life. My complication is my disability and chronic health, which has ruled out paid work for the last 5 years, although I am now starting to set the wheels in motion. I’m currently looking into freelance writing opportunities.
I’ll write more about how the birthday went in my next post. In the meantime, I was wondering what your view are about parenting teens. What are your hot tips for parenting teens? What helped you? I have definitely found that we often have our best chats in the car or around the family dinner table. I’ve also been playing quite a lot of board and card games with our son lately at his request. That’s usually when the wifi gets turned off, but it’s him seeking me out, not vice versa. These games might be old-fashioned, but we’ve had a lot of laughs, the competition is fairly intense, and I can feel the bonds knitting together on the spot.
On that note, I’m off for slice of pavlova. Birthday party leftovers are the best.
You’d better hold your horses and psych yourself up. We’re not having coffee this week. Rather, we’re piling into the dog mobile and heading off to Dog Beach. I hope you’re feeling brave, because you’re taking our 6 month old Border Collie x kelpie pups, Zac and Rosie. They have such raw energy, that you could end up flying along behind them like a kite. On the upside, just think of all the energy you’ll burn off! Meanwhile, I’ll take Lady, but I will give you a hand.
Dog Beach: my daughter inscribed this with a stick in the sand.
How has your week been? I hope you’ve had a great one.
This week’s been a bit of a struggle for me in some ways. I’ve still been battling The Cough, which I’ve now christened “Fergus”. No offence to anyone named Fergus, but it sort of sounds like wheezy creepings within my lungs. I went back to the doctor again and am on another round or two of antibiotics, but am finally on the mend. Enough to shout a yahoo, but not quite enough to leap in the air yet.
As you could well understand yourselves, something like a cough or cold which is chronically annoying but not necessarily serious, can still be a pain in the neck. Moreover, you still feel you have to keep doing life and stuff, while feeling entitled to your own private nurse and a good strong dose of TLC. I also want to be a part of life and do things with my husband kids, family and friends and not be shut away in the house all the time. So, I feel like I’ve swallowed Dr Dolittle’s classic Push-Me-Pull-You and it’s been hard to juggle it all.
Both of the kids have been away at different camps this week. Our daughter was on a Young Carers Camp at Camp Breakaway and our son has been away with scouts. While you’d think this would’ve given me a breather, I still had to provide some transport and our daughter had to pop back for a dance workshop. So, there was more driving. Packing for Scouts, was also an ordeal. They provide such easy to follow check lists, and yet the kids inevitably leave something behind at both ends. Trying to get His Lordship’s bag packed was also like pulling teeth. Indeed, I’ve seen him more compliant going to the dentist.
As they say, never work with children or animals.
Indeed, it was quite a deal piling all three dogs in the dog mobile with three humans tonight. The pups were so exuberant. Zac even ran over the rocks at a sprint, and I could see how these dogs could walk over the backs of sheep. They’re unstoppable. Meanwhile, Lady has this way of surruptitiously wandering off, and at one point was heading for the sand dunes, which are known to house rabbits and other critters. This area runs up to the road and as Lady has zero traffic sense, Geoff had to bolt after her. Meanwhile, Rosie started to follow Lady. Humph! Out came the leads!
By the way, I almost forgot to mention that after dropping my daughter back at camp, I went on a bit of a detour. Indeed, I am the Detour Queen. The camp was on the coast about two hours North of Sydney and there are some wonderful beaches up there. So, I puttered down to Budgewoi where I had half a dozen battered prawns for lunch and then spotted a sign for Norah Head. My friend’s family had a holiday house there when I was at school, and I still remember a few very special birthdays in the sand dunes. Those sand dunes were revegetated years ago and have in effect disappeared. However, the lighthouse is still standing. No one’s buried that along with my youth.
Norah Head Lighthouse, NSW Central Coast, Australia.
With school going back in a week, I’ve been working desperately hard to get the house sorted out. However, progress took a huge step back in a sense today when we finally got the Summer clothes down from the roof. I have been known to frequent the local opportunity (or thrift) shops on a rather regular basis and have spotted more than the odd bargain, especially when it comes to my daughter. She could become a jetsetter and have what looks like a year’s worth of outfits without spending a cent. However, her wardrobe couldn’t possibly house all of this, so we’re having to do a cull and I’m thinking garage sale. Meanwhile a Mt Everest or two of clothes is choking up the loungeroom and my husband’s peering through fabric and crates to watch the cricket.
It’s become very clear that never of us need to go clothes shopping for a very, very long time. On the other hand, there’s some scope for me in the shoe department, especially after Rosie ate my favourite shoe for lunch. They’re nothing glam. Rather, they’re shoes for people who work on their feet or need added support. Or what my daughter condescending refers to as “granny shoes”. But they worked for me and sensible shoes is where I’m at these days.
Speaking about fashion, it’s an exceptionally rare moment that I even think of fashion. However, I was getting to the point of shooting The Cough, and spotted a very glamorous Vogue magazine and decided buy it and stick my face over the top. I haven’t gotten around to that yet but here’s the photo and perhaps it can ignite a few dreams of your own. I’m getting more and more interested in fantasy these days. Reality is over-rated.
Reality is only limited by your imagination!
As I’ve been reading back over this coffee share, I’ve detected a note of melancholy and wondered whether I should zoop it a bit bit. Add a bit of razzle dazzle and make it more positive. But, we don’t have to be all happy happy joy joy all the time and sometimes we do just need to move into what I’ll call a minor key, before we can reach the high note.
So, how was your week? I hope you’ve had a good one. Please let me know what you’ve been up to in the comments.
Today, I’m inviting you to join Lady and I for a walk. We’ll be retracing yesterday’s footsteps, when I moved down the main street like the Very Hungry Caterpillar. After dropping my daughter off at dancing, my next stop was the Bremen Patisserie where I bought a few slices German Beesting Cake and this mega rich chocolate “thing” to take home. My next stop, was the bookshop cafe, where I had a hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows. Fortunately, that’s where my conspicuous consumption ended.
Well, I tell a lie.
Before I knew it, I’d ducked into a boutique. This has become a frequent haunt lately. I blame this on filling in time each week during Madam’s dance class. Mostly, I’m just looking. However, the new Spring stock has just arrived and after being rugged up all Winter, it was like walking into Floriade, not that everything was floral. It was fresh, bright, vibrant and being a little kid at heart, I could’ve hidden behind the racks of lush fabric, and wrapped myself up in a cocoon. It wasn’t long before I spotted the dreamy blue, silk top with a blue rose on the front. Being some kind of fusion of sky and the sea, it truly captured my imagination. Moreover, the wafty, moody, blue silk top felt so light against my skin…and it was aerodynamic and cast a fantastic shadow in the wind. How could I resist? I also bought myself some large dangly, silver earings. I rarely bother with earings, but while I was in the shop, some long-silenced being within shouted: “Look at me. I’m still here. I’m so small and almost completely lost and obscured in the overall scheme of things, but I still have a voice. I still need to be fed, watered, attended to. Please don’t leave me alone.”
I’m pleased she called out, because I needed some TLC. It’s been a rough couple of weeks and even my shadow needed a lift.
While you can’t buy self-esteem, sometimes you do need to care for that small voice inside, which you too often ignore, put at the bottom of the priority list or kill off completely. Feel that it’s okay to buy yourself flowers sometimes. Buy a fancy top at the end of a hard week..and even buy the earings at the same time. I haven’t done this for some time. It was my birthday money. I might be on bread and water for awhile, but I’ll feel like a sea goddess in that top. Well, I’d better.
A family photo with Bilbo as a pup Mother’s Day, 2007.
Walking with Bilbo
Bilbo and Mister racing the billycart. I just noticed my son is running along with roasted marshmallows on a stick despite being told not to run with sticks. I also caught him running with a live stick ie still alight. Proof dogs are easier to train than kids!
Bilbo & Lady
The last week has been quite difficult. Indeed, the last couple of months have been challenging for our family. We are still grieving over the loss our beloved dog, Bilbo who was a regular here on my blog. It’s been about six weeks, and that intense grief is easing, but the kids still have their moments. They also have questions about life and death. My daughter’s frequently asked me why Adam and Eve had to eat the apple.
Since then, I’ve also been having my annual battle with chest infection and flu. I’ve had my vaccinations and am eating plenty of fresh fruit and veg. Yet, I still succumbed to some extent and after two rounds of antibiotics, am now at that annoying dry cough stage and asthma diffculties. I’ve had some severe coughing attacks, some in front of the kids, where I’ve been gasping for breath. Even though we’ve been through these attacks before, they’re still terrifying. You’re not quite sure how it’s going to pan out. However, I’ve been really bad a few years ago, and this isn’t even close. It’s just annoying and I know many other people are in the same boat. Flu season’s been bad here this year.
Not surprisingly, all of this has knocked the kids about. I’ve been fielding the hard questions from my daughter, but my son imploded. I should’ve headed it off at the pass. However, you can only do so much, when you can’t do much. I have long been preparing my kids for the worst, and I’m still here but that doesn’t mean they don’t get affected by what can be some pretty stressful hurdles along the way. Yet, we make the most of life.
Our son at the V8 Supercars at Eastern Creek, Sydney.
Indeed, today my husband took my son our to see the V8 Supercars racing at Sydney’s Eastern Creek. I’m so pleased they went. They had a fantastic time and burst through the door talking about fast cars, flying rubber and how close they were to the finish. I downloaded the photos and my son played me a series of videos they’d taken. I must admit that I struggled to share his enthusiasm for loud engines, which he played for me the same way he’s shared an Ed Sheerin song. He had enough enthusiasm and excitement for the pair of us and my husband also chimed in.
The irony was that my daughter and I had each done a Kelee meditation session at our dance studio. I’d never heard of Kelee before, and am keen to find out more about it. I felt quite energized afterwards, and just had this sense of needing to speak out. To share how I’ve been grappling with growing up with undiagnosed hydrocephalus and how that affected my personality, identity and things like my basic coordination. Even though I’ve had a shunt inserted 20 years ago, I still grapple with its impact and how to interpret myself. It makes for a good story, but I still have to live with it. Grapple with bits and bobs. All the conversations with my son this week, have brought some of that back and I guess it’s ust a matter of revisiting it, but rather than putting it back in the closet, to write about it. Finally, get it down.
I hope you don’t mind me getting rather deep this week. That’s who I am anyway and while I don’t like to dwell on the negatives, I also don’t like this whole culture of needing to be happy all the time. We all have ups and downs. That’s life.
If you’re looking for a bit of a laugh this week, you could read my contribution for Friday Fictioneers this week: Minding the Dog
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Before I head off, I’ll just mention that I’ve been beavering away on my Irish Family history research. This is something I pick up and put down. However, it tends to work best when I can set aside a slab of time and just beaver away at those loose and dead ends. Five years ago, I set up a blog about my 3rd Great Grandmother, Bridget Donovan who was an Irish Famine Orphan brought out to Sydney, Australia under the Earl Grey Scheme. A monument has been set up at Sydney’s Hyde Park Barracks, where the women first stayed on arrival and next Sunday is the annual celebration. Anyway, Bridget married an Englishman ten years her senior, George Merritt and aside from giving birth to six children, was largely invisible. Despite my most dogged efforts, I haven’t been able to find out where and when Bridget or George died and that’s saying something. I’m VERY persistent! Anyway, last week, I received a message in relation to this blog site from someone researching on behalf of some distant cousins. Cousins who turn out to be Aboriginal Australians. It turns out 2 or 3 of Bridget’s sons married Aboriginal women. One of them at least, moved into what was known as the Yass Black Camp. That intrigues me. That contact also led me back to my research, which wasn’t as organized as I’d hoped and so I’ve been beavering away. This led to another discovery, that at least four branches of my family came from County Cork. This seems to suggest that they stayed within their county group after arriving in Sydney. Not surprising when you think about how immigrants tend to stick together now, but of course, I was researching events in reverse order, instead of living them forward.
Do you do family history at all?
Anyway, it’s time for me to put down my coffee cup and keep moving. Our son leaves for the snow tomorrow for a few days and there’s still a lot of last minute bits and bobs which need to be done.
Lady reading Geoff Le Pard’s: “My Father & Other Liars.”
I hope you’ve enjoyed our walk and all the people we’ve met while walking with Lady. We always meet so many chirpy, happy people on our walks and she opens so many doors… and not just the bathroom door (see the Flash fiction!)
This has been another Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster. You can check out the other posts Here.
In response to your recent letter, might I ask how you dogs learned how to read? Those thoughts were intended for human eyes only. Furthermore, might I suggest you get a sense of humour and appreciate a little irony. While you can read, you haven’t acquired a good understanding of the subtleties of human speak as yet.
Had you read deeper in between the lines, you would have understood, that I was actually taking a stand against dog owners using their beloved canines as fashion accessories. You have no idea how many dogs end up being destroyed each year, simply because they no longer match the lounge or the latest New York and Paris trends.
Most of these accessory dogs are also birthed in dreadful puppy farms where the poor Mummy dogs do nothing but keep birthing pups.
Dogs aren’t money-making machines.
Indeed, my accountant has actually declared my beloved pooch, Misty “a loss”. Although, naturally to me, she is naturally a “gain”.
I hope we’re friends again.
PS I just had Le Salon on the phone complaining that you’re being difficult AGAIN!! Remember, Bilbo, you’re not a star…yet! You know what that means!