Tag Archives: focus

Magnolia Daze…Something’s Alive in the Garden.

I’m stone cold sober.Yet, I’m visually intoxicated by this massive, white magnolia flower, with its graceful petals imitating a dancer’s silhouette. Isn’t it absolutely beautiful?!! For me, it’s particularly appealing because our garden has been little more than scorched earth during the last few years of Australian drought. So, just seeing a blade of green grass is enough to send me troppo!


Thankfully, however, the garden is feeling relatively happy at the moment. We’ve been having very heavy downpours, localized flooding and if we had frogs, they’d also be doing the happy dance.

However, unfortunately, you can have too much of a good thing. Last weekend, the rain and wind was so heavy that our back roof was leaking like a sieve and we had to clear out more stuff than the average sod keeps in an entire house. Numerous local trees were blown over and even our fledgling lemon tree (which is protected on three sides) was left bending right over looking and feeling like a weeping willow.


All of this rain, also renewed my hopes for a spot of colour in the garden and being able to cook with herbs freshly picked from the garden like one of those swanky TV chefs.  Yes, the pots are still sitting out the front unplanted a few weeks later, but at least they’re out of reach of the doggies. So, there’s a chance they’ll survive.

However, after seeing interviews tonight with bush fire survivors who’ve lost everything, a beautiful garden or even a pot plant, feels like a luxury indulgence. Yet, at the same time, even when the battle is at its worst, we still need to pluck out anything which lifts our spirits. Raises hope. There is never just all doom and despair, there is a ray of light somewhere. Moreover, as a photographer myself, I can appreciate that the darker the shadow, the brighter the light.

So, how is your garden going? I think it’s still officially Summer here, although the actually weather is very unpredictable. What are the seasons doing in your neck of the woods?

Anyway, I’d love to hear from you, even if my response may be a little slow due to my current research load.

Best wishes,


PS I love how you can zoom into your subject with the camera and blot out all the messy, ugly or simply distracting background junk. Your perspective, indeed your world, is only as wide as your zoom, which might be a be dangerous in other contexts but is great for a crisp photo.

Happy New Year!

Wishing you a Happy New Year for 2020 from Sydney Australia. I’m still no closer to working out my resolutions for 2020 and my word for the last three or more years has been ACTION, which as usual often turned into PROCRASTINATION or its near relative DISTRACTION. However, to be fair to myself, I did manage to write 97,835 words here at Beyond the Flow so unless my main goal was becoming Susie Homemaker, I did alright. Now, I just need to glue those words together into something called a book. That’s my main goal for 2020 and having acquired perfect vision on the count of midnight, this has to be my year. Bring it on!

Meanwhile, I leave you with a link to the iconic Sydney fireworks, which we only watched today as we were at a party last night. Yippee! It’s the first time we’ve been out on NYE for years what with having young kids, being sick and having anxious dogs who fret and potentially escape due to the fireworks. We left them inside hoping that the younger pups might bolster lady who ends up a hyperventilating, dribbling mess on Geoff’s lap on previous years.

Before I heard off, there is one New Year’s wish, indeed a prayer, we’d appreciate over here in Australia. We’d really like a strong soaking rain to put out the bush fires and help the farmers out of the drought. The ongoing 2019–20 Australian bushfire season is already the most destructive bushfire season since the 2008–09 Australian bushfires[2] and the most widespread in history, having already burned over 5,900,000 hectares of land, destroyed over 2,500 buildings (including over 1300 homes) and killed at least 18 people. That’s a lot of heartbreak. 

Yet, at the same time, there is still joy or perhaps only a glimmer of sunlight even at the heart of tragedy. The are stories of the incredible fire fighters many who are volunteers and too many who have given their lives. Their are stories of loss, but also stories of being spared and despite the destruction and the choking smoke, fire has its beauty.

I’ve leave you with a few favourite photos from 2019…the year that was.

Love and best wishes,


When A Walk Becomes a Journey…

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao Tzu.

When, for whatever reason, you have been unable to leave the house and do a simple thing like walk your kids to school or take the dog for a walk even around the block, these much, much quoted words truly resonate…echo.

I don’t take that first step, or those first few stumbling steps which follow, for granted. I treasure and appreciate each and every step because even though I am out and about these days, I know they are precious… a veritable miracle.

When it comes to measuring our self-esteem, it is very easy to get caught up in so many complicated and convoluted traps and so many of us measure our self-worth by what we earn and not what we give back. Spending time with people is so commonly devalued, especially when those people happen to be our children…our very own flesh and blood who arrived in this world to such fanfare and yet…

I am as guilty of this as the next person and due to my chronic health issues, operate on a pretty short piece of string these days. One busy day, is usually followed by at least a day in bed. That means that managing my energy levels is quite a balancing act. I can actually be quite well but the chemo treatment around Christmas time, has sabotaged my efforts, leaving my memory shot and my time management abilities non-existent. It’s been quite difficult even getting the kids out the door to school. Strangely, while I’ve been struggling with so many things, I’ve ironically been doing my best writing ever, so things don’t always make sense.

Pumpkin Soup with sour cream and chives.

Pumpkin Soup with sour cream and chives.

After sleeping away most of yesterday after a big day Thursday, I woke up full of beans this morning and made us all traditional porridge and decided to walk to the shops to buy the ingredients for the pumpkin soup I planned to make for lunch. Pumpkin Soup is Mister’s absolutely favorite and yet, no doubt due to my difficulties cutting up pumpkin due to my muscle disease, I have never made it for him and he is now ten years old. We have been doing our home cooking project for 6 months now and while I’ve been intending to make it all along, it’s taken a long six months and many detours to get there. Winter has also set in and so it really is soup weather. Hot soup doesn’t quite seem right in a hot Australian summer!

This walk wasn’t quite as straight-forward as it seems. There was myself, two kids and the dog along with my walking stick and the shopping cart. I used to walk down to the shops with dog, pram and toddler detouring via the beach before the auto-immune disease was diagnosed. I was actually doing these walks right up until I was hospitalised because I was thinking that if I didn’t use it, I’d lose it so the worse I became, the more I walked and the worse I became. Not good!

I can’t remember the last time that I walked to the shops with the kids and the dog and we also took a trendified version of one of a granny shopping cart with us so we could get all our groceries home. My husband usually does the shopping at night on his way home from work without the kids. This has been a very conscious and deliberate strategy for us as the kids have been difficult enough without the added pressure of taking them to the supermarket.

But they are growing up. They’re no longer in the terrible twos and you would hope that by ages 10 and 8, that they could possibly be useful in the supermarket instead…and they were. Walking along, Mister took the dog. Miss took the shopping cart and I had my walking stick…just to be careful. I still haven’t recovered from my last fall and finished the antibiotics this morning. Yes, my grazed knee became infected thanks to my immune-reducing drugs. I don’t need another fall!

I also wanted the kids to have the educational experience of going to the supermarket and looking at the fruit and veg in particular and being part of the selection process. This was quite helpful as I have a lot of trouble finding foods which our kids actually eat and they both added healthy choice to the cart such a mandarins which are also in season.

Another reason for walking to the shops, is that I am starting to talk to the kids about reducing our food miles. Buying Australian fruit and veg is good but I am becoming more conscious of what we are eating to the point of trying to buy food which is grown in our local area. However, the easiest way to start reducing our food miles is to walk to the shops instead of driving the car. Depending on my energy levels, this is something we can change relatively easily and the dog will also thank us. He has been going for “walks” in the car unless we are on holidays where he can run freely at the beach. He is a big, burly border collie and historically he’s been very difficult to manage on walks.

I couldn’t help feeling like some amazing explorer as we set off. The shops are only about 400 metres away, including Woolworths and Aldi. It was hardly a remarkable adventure but for our family it meant erasing a very definite line in the sand and being free to go.

Of course, our walk wasn’t incident free but instead of Mummy falling over being the challenge, it was the dog. The dog often ignores us completely at home, earning him the title of “snob dog” but take him to the shops and tie him up and he turns into absolute jelly and he’s crying, howling, barking. You could say “Not Happy Jan!” He attracted quite a lot of concerned looks and pats as well as a few raised eyebrows and the kids took turns comforting him. He seemed to be alright when he could see me but was otherwise a blubbering mess…dreadful separation anxiety.

We also had a few extra purchases on route. My daughter has a thing for presents and after good school reports for both kids, I indulged a little.

These are all lovely reasons for going for a family walk but our walk also had a much more serious undertone. While everybody needs to exercise for about 30 minutes per day, for me this exercise is potentially a life-saver. Exercise prevents chest infections, which could very easily lead to pneumonia or worse. Exercise, along with getting a bit of sun (I am not allowed to get a lot of sun) is also very good for my mental health and fighting off the infernal black dog which has been creeping up on me lately. My recovery is taking longer than expected and I keep battling with all the chaos of chemo brain, infected knees and…life. By going walking with the kids, I am spending time with them while getting my exercise and they are also with me if there’s a problem. We also had my phone and my husband, who was at home working on the car, was prepped to come to our individual or collective rescue but only needed to help us get our rather overloaded shopping cart back inside the house. We managed to fit about a boot load of shopping into the cart, including quite a lot of fairly heavy items and I had no trouble managing it, although the kids could only manage short bursts.

Our rather pregnant shopping cart is about to give birth!

Our rather pregnant shopping cart is about to give birth!

We had a fabulous time.

Now, stay tuned for Pumpkin Soup.

xx Rowena