Tag Archives: garden

Floating With the Flannel Flowers.

Recently, photographs of the native flannel flower started appearing on friends’ Facebook feeds and as much as I’ve been a reclusive bear during Winter and enforced lockdown, the prospect of photographing flannel flowers lured me out of my cave. By the way, my trusty companion was also lured out. While fully vaccinated people in Greater Sydney have now gained considerable freedom, Geoff and I are still playing it safe due to my health and his work. However, you can’t catch covid from the trees…or these understated beauties, Flannel Flowers or Actinotus helianthi.

Closeup of the Flannel Flower

I don’t know why I find Flannel Flowers so captivating. They really do look rather ordinary, and to the best of my limited knowledge don’t seem to have any redeeming medicinal properties. While they’re more closely related to carrots, Flannel Flowers bear a striking resemblance to the garden variety daisy, and could easily pass under your radar. After all, when you compare them to the imposing Waratah with it’s grandiose red magnificence, or the masses of golden yellow flowers I’ve photographed recently illuminated by the glowing sun, they’re nothing much. Indeed, perhaps that’s why they’ve waited until all these beauties have done their thing before they make an appearance. At least, that’s how the timing has worked out here.

Yet, they’re still beautiful. Don’t ask me why. They just are.

Margaret Preston

Moreover, it’s not just me who fancies them, and finds them a source of inspiration. Artists, gardeners, photographers are somehow brought under its spell. Mesmerised. That includes artist Margaret Preston and much loved author/illustrator May Gibbs who created Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and the Flannel Flower Babies.

May Gibbs’ Flannel Flower Babies.

Anyway, I’m supposed to be sharing MY walk with the flannel flowers, and what I viewed through the lens, NOT what appeared on someone else’s canvas or imagination.

We spotted this promising patch of would-be flannel flowers on our favourite water tower walk a few months ago. I intentionally don’t go there too often, because I don’t want it to lose it’s awe and wonder. So, I was trying to guesstimate when they’d be in flower, and thought it would be months rather than weeks. I haven’t seen any flannel flowers out on our other recent walks, but friends started posting photos, and then I noticed some driving home through the week. It was time to see if they were out yet. It was almost like going celebrity spotting. Were they going to be there? I was rather excited. This could just be me, but I blame lockdown. We haven’t had much to look forward to for some time, and I was hoping our little white wonders had hit the stage.

We were not disappointed. While they weren’t quite waving to us, they were definitely there. However, it was late afternoon, and what I didn’t know before, is they close their little faces at night.

That was yesterday, and Geoff and I returned today.

It was good, because it meant I’d been out for two walks in two days. While they weren’t overly long walks, it was exercise and I have to admit that’s dropped off during lockdown, even although exercise was well and truly allowed. I just seemed to take the advice to “stay home” too seriously along with my determination to get my lockdown research project up and running. Now, that the weather’s improving and we’re mostly enjoying balmy Spring weather along with the end of lockdown, I am starting to crawl out again.

I ended up photographing the flannel flowers from a variety of angles and even sat down on the ground, which isn’t such a comfortable position these days. However, fortunately, I had my trusty Geoff to help me get back up again. Although they’re generally portrayed from a face-on perspective, flannel flowers also look quite intriguing and even a bit wild viewed from behind.

Don’t they look magnificent reaching for the sky?!!

It is also interesting to see a broader overall perspective, even if it’s not the most spectacular photo I’ve ever taken. They grow amongst the scraggly bush and you’d probably describe the effect as “subtle”.

Flannel Flowers in the Scrub

However, every now and then, the flannel flowers have a bumper season. That’s what’s happened in the National Park at Port Macquarie this year, which had been ravaged by our devastating bushfires two years ago (It’s also where the koalas live). Anyway, you might enjoy checking these flannel flowers out. They’re almost growing like triffids there:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-17/flannel-flowers-burst-into-bloom-after-bushfires/100458610

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed floating among the flannel flowers. I’m now thinking of finding some more.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Table Talk…Table Done!

“There are times when wisdom cannot be found in the chambers of parliament or the halls of academia but at the unpretentious setting of the kitchen table.”
― E.A. Bucchianeri

Don’t know how it is round at your place, but getting anything done around here is a very long and winding road that makes mission impossible look quick and easy. So, any successes need to be celebrated with the full brass band out in force and waving the flags. We did it! Yesterday, we finished restoring our new to us but anything but new outdoor table.

“If the home is a body, the table is the heart, the beating center, the sustainer of life and health.”
― Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes

While restoring the table has been a journey, just getting it here has been a story in itself. My friend Roland found the table “beside the road*”. When I saw it in his lounge room, I was filled with envy. Damn! Why didn’t I find it? Well, to be honest, even if I’d found it, I wouldn’t have been able to shift it unless it was just down the road and the kids actually lifted a finger to help. Geoff, I’m afraid wouldn’t not have aided and abetted bringing any more tables home. We already have enough tables!! However, as it turned out, Roland had second thoughts, and decided it was too big. Before he could offload it to the opportunity shop, I stuck my hand up, and it was all mine. He even stuck a post-it note on it with my name on it. So there could be no challenges to my precious piece of real estate.

There was just one problem.

Well, there was more than one problem.

There usually is around here, which is why getting anything done is such an arduous, circular process.

The Table Arrives in the Dark of Night.

Firstly, the table needed transport, and unfortunately not being related to Enid Blyton’s Magic Wishing Chair, it wasn’t going to sprout wings and magically fly down the mountain to our place. It needed Geoff, and that required more than a confession. Serious negotiation was required. You see, there was already a table and a fish tank out where the intended table was meant to be going. The fish tank has been sitting here waiting to make to next step of it’s future life after it started leaking something like five years ago, and the existing table was falling apart and we’d bought the wood to replace the top. However, nothing had happened and Geoff has been painting the house, replacing the guttering, and anything but idle. I decided that table could go out the back. I didn’t care where the blessed fish tank went as long as it was gone. I didn’t care where the lot went. I wanted my new table out the front so I could have friends over outside once this wretched lockdown eased, and actually start getting social again within the safety of home. After all, we’ve not been in lockdown for 106 days and Monday is Freedom Day. I want to be a part of it.

Sometimes, hints are broad suggestions aren’t enough. Roland was wanting to clear his garage and I desperately wanted to table here, and measuring tape or no measuring tape, Geoff found himself making room for the table, and driving up the hill to pick it up. I don’t play the “Happy Wife, Happy Life” card often, but by now I was in make it happen mode. He had no choice but to capitulate and assist.

“To share a table with someone is to share everything.”
― Paul Krueger, Steel Crow Saga

However, there was just one small complication with the table. It was more of an indoor table than an outdoor table, and aside from needing protection, he top needed sanding. In other words, the table was “a project”. What’s more, the rest of the family was quick to extricate themselves and call it “YOUR project”. Geoff fetched the orbital sander from the garage and with my arms vibrating and my head buzzing, I started rowing backwards and forwards giving my arms quite a workout, which proved quite a shock to the system in itself. Seeing me with a power tool in hand must’ve been like an apparition too. Rowena the Writer is a far cry from Bob the Builder and his mates.

This could be the raised hand of a drowning woman as the sanding continues…

“To gather together around a table – the ultimate symbol of communion – is the only truly authentic way to properly prioritise the ritual of eating.”
― Michelle Ogundehin, Happy Inside: How to harness the power of home for health and happiness

After beavering away for a veritable eternity with the orbital sander, the scratches were definitely winning. Moreover, these scratches giving have that worn-in distressed look that people go out of their way to age their furniture. The table looked like the scene of a cat fight with random scratches all over the place, and the annoying perfectionist in me was starting to picture our guests sitting at the table and counting all the scratches and thinking about how awful we were. I did try saying they’d be much more interested in the dessert and conversation, and wouldn’t care but I knew better. I asked Geoff for stronger sandpaper, and at this point he finally realized I wasn’t wanting to do a superficial sand, but more of a reconstructive face lift. I wanted to strip this baby right back to bare wood, even if it meant losing loads of personality. It could regain character in time.

the lingering mystery square, which looks like a UFO flying across one end of the table.

Now, the belt sander came out, and it was incredibly satisfying to see all those scratches evaporate in clouds of dust.

“The oldest form of theater is the dinner table. It’s got five or six people, new show every night, same players. Good ensemble; the people have worked together a lot.”

Michael J. Fox]

“Here’s yet a spot,” she cries, desperately rubbing. “Here’s the small of blood still.”  This spot isn’t going anywhere either.

I don’t think I’ve actually mentioned that the table top is oak. It has a beautiful grain, and when I finally came to apply the decking oil, the wood just shone. It looked amazing. Although it was “your project”, Geoff ended up sanding and painting the legs. By then, my arms had had it. I’m much more in favour of teamwork than being a lone ranger – especially when I’m the one needing assistance.

I know you can’t be too demanding about a free table that was left out beside the road, but what possessed someone to sandpaper so ferociously against the grain? Thanks to the belt sander and yours truly, all gone!

The table was finally finished yesterday and moved into position. It looks amazing. I cooked up a big lamb roast with all the trimmings to celebrate last night, but it was cold and dark by the time it was really so we still haven’t christened the table yet. Moreover, I’ve been tapping away in here in my pyjamas with the dog on my lap ignoring the outside world, which is so bright and sunny. Geoff has gone sailing.Our daughter is doing her final dance class in the kitchen and for dinner or worse our world here in Greater Sydney is about to open up.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share -19th September, 2021.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you? I hope you have had a great week and that all your stars are aligning. I thought that sounded better than having all your ducks lined up, which really makes them an easy target. There are no worries about me on that front. My ducks were rogue years ago, and there’s not a chance of ever getting them all lined up lose to the same location.

Path through the wildflowers

know I keep updating you every week about how long we’ve been in lockdown. We’re now just a week shy of three months and no end in sight. Our state premier is raving on about vaccination rates and getting jabs in arms, and yet the infection rates are still over 1000 per day. She’s also talking about opening up, especially for people who are double-vaccinated. This has resulted in talk of a vaccine passport. This hasn’t gone down well in some quarters, especially in religious organizations. They don’t want to refuse entry to anybody who has not been vaccinated. Yet, at the same time, they seem quite happy to exclude people with disability and chronic health conditions who can’t risk catching covid. After all, the vaccine itself isn’t 100% effective and we still need to wear masks and social distance especially in an indoor community setting.

Patonga from the Warrah Lookout

While we’re on the subject, I also want to point out that while our government prioritised vaccination for adults with disability and chronic health conditions, it hasn’t done the same for teenagers when they became eligible recently. It just goes to show me how little people consider our needs. We’re invisible. Anyway, I rattled a few cages and our kids were vaccinated with Pfizer on Friday and it all went well. However, after having to agitate to get our kids vaccinated, I wasn’t in the mood to deal with anti-vaxers.

Egg and Bacon

All of this covid stuff can really do your head in, and I realized I wasn’t doing so well. So, today Geoff and I drove to the Warrah Trig trail and walked to the lookout. The sign said that it was only 500 metres away. However, what it didn’t mention was all the steep stairs and vertical climbing coming back up, which should come into the equation somewhere. Geoff wasn’t too sure I was going to make it back up, but I figured I’d be okay if I took it slowly and kept stopping. So, we certainly didn’t lock the fastest track time but I did clock up 2,237 steps. You can read more about it here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2021/09/20/wildflower-walk-to-warrah-lookout-greater-sydney/

Grevillea

On Thursday, I submitted my entry for the SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition. That was a massive effort. I obviously can’t say too much about it. However, your contribution needed to be less than 2000 words on the theme of living between two worlds. SBS is our multi-cultural TV station. So, the theme naturally leans towards living in between two racial cultures. It’s very tempting to go into it further but you’ll have to wait. Suffice to say I’ve been working on my entry on and off for the last month and with a day to go was advised to cut back on detail. So, I cut that out but in the process, the whole story seemed to fall apart and I wondered whether I would have it all stitched back up together again in time. There were no guarantees. however, gradually I felt it coming together and before I knew it I was on the homeward strait adrenalin pumping and feeling pretty chuffed by my efforts. I read it and read it and re-read and it felt like the words were swimming around inside my eyeballs. I also felt tired and was concerned I no longer had the focus to pick up mistakes. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a huge believer in editing your own work. You see things that aren’t there and gloss over things that are. Have you found that? Well, anyway, time was running out and so I had to press send and be done with it. No more fiddling or bristling around. It was now a done deal. Now, I’m onto the prayer part of that journey.

Lastly, I’ve been getting right into Australian author, Ethel Turner who wrote Seven Little Australians lately. At the moment, I’m reading through her diary and found a list of poems she had memorised. Among them, was Matthew Arnold’s Self-Dependence which I’ve posted here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2021/09/18/poetry-memorised-by-ethel-turner-self-dependence-mathew-arnold/ In this post, I also touched on how I’ve turned to Ethel Turner as a mentor. There will be a lot more where that came from, and I’m actually considering setting up another blog.

Well, that brings me to the end of another week. A friend very kindly popped over on a rescue mission. I was feeling like blowing things up yesterday. So, she brought us some muffins, biscuits and a lot of love. It was wonderful and much appreciated. I hope you are doing okay and I’m thinking of you.

Anyway, this has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Love and best wishes,

Rowena

Majesty in Yellow – An Australian Wildflower.

Yesterday, I drove a friend out to see the magnificent Waratahs currently flowering right beside the road on the way to nearby Patonga. We were just about to leave, when I spotted this striking yellow flower. I almost didn’t see it. I’m so glad I did! It was such a magnificent find. Wow! I love how nature is like that…an absolute treasure trove.

Waratahs in the wild.

However, what really surprised me was that I haven’t seen this flower before. At least, not at a conscious level. It’s apparently an Isopogon anemonifolius, which gets its name from Isopogon – two Greek words meaning ‘equal’ and ‘beard’ (alluding to the hairy fruits of some species); and anemonifolius – with leaves like those of some Anemones. Meanwhile, it’s common name is “drumsticks”, which refers to the rounded fruits which can be found on the bushes throughout the year. It’s a small to medium shrub from about 0.5 to 2 metres in height by a similar width, and it flowers in late Spring and early Summer. By the way, it’s other claim to fame is that it was apparently one of the first Australian plants to be cultivated in Europe in the late 1700s.

Anyway, now the big question is whether to try growing Isopogon anemonifolius at home. This is a big question, because I seem to have great waves of enthusiasm for buying plants, which almost burns out as soon as I get the plant home. Too often, they die of neglect before they even make it into the ground. However, I used to love gardening and the garden used to look quite pretty. It’s this former glory, which keeps renewing my hopes. Takes me back to the nursery , and send more unfortunate victims to early graves.

Oh no! This reminds me that I haven’t planted the two gardenia’s we bought a few weeks ago on our wedding anniversary. So, I’d better give them a good water before I go to sleep tonight.

Meanwhile, I’ve spotted a magnificent yellow flowering native around the corner, and I’m wondering whether it’s one of these. From a distance, it looked a bit like a yellow waratah. So, I’ll have to get a photo and check it out. I’ll keep you posted.

Have you photographed any wildflowers lately? I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Reference

https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/gnp1/isopogon-anemonifolius.html

Salvaging the Masterpiece – Friday Fictioners.

Nancy was an artist and a dreamer. After visiting Monet’s garden, she was determined to transform her slimy, mosquito-infested pond into a masterpiece. Harry Hemsworth, reputedly a cousin of the legendary Thor, was doing the work, and naturally Nancy had to supervise.

Finally, the first lily had opened, and her art class was coming in the morning. The cake was just out of the oven, when her grandson burst through the backdoor clutching her precious lily: “Nanna, I brought you a flower.”

Nancy was dying inside, but tried to smile. Hopefully, Harry could sticky tape it back on.

98 words.

….

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share… 20th April, 2020

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Since we’re meeting up in a virtual sense, let’s throw social distancing out the window and we can all shake hands, hug and even throw a party together. Don’t you just miss all of that close social contact and being with family and friends beyond your front door?!! It’s particularly hard on people people who are living alone. After all, it’s not a lifestyle choice which everyone chooses, and it’s times like this that those twists and turns of fate can be particularly hard to get through.

By the way, since we’ve been doing a bit of baking here, you can have your pick of chocolate Caramel Slice, or  chop chip cookies and there might’ve been a pavlova in there somewhere or perhaps that was a few weeks ago. Of course, you’re always welcome to Vegemite toast where you pop round here. It’s an Australian staple, especially for me.

How is the coronavirus impacting your part of the world? It’s sure inflicting a lot of grief  in a lot of places, but fortunately Australia and New Zealand are doing okay atm. However, it’s hard to know just how it’s all going to pan out and nobody has a crystal ball.

Still, lock down isn’t bliss and so many people have lost their jobs and are doing it tough. I’m gaoled inside, except for going out for exercise, and then I have to breathe in every time I approach another human being, I almost flinch. Our local footpaths weren’t made for social distancing. They weren’t made for two dogs on leads to pass each other either. None of our three dogs tolerate other dogs either, and even bark and lunge from across the road at times. It’s so embarrassing. I’m clearly not a good dog mum and it’s back to school for me.

However, clearly other parts of the world are doing things much tougher and so many loved ones are losing their lives. I also want to give a big shout out to all those working in our hospitals and essential services. Many, many thanks and I hope you’re getting along okay. You’re all working under very extreme war zone type conditions and we as a global community are thinking of you and sending our love.

Well, how is lock down looking for us?

Well, I’m in lock down with my husband Geoff and our two teenaged kids aged 16 and 14 along with our three dogs. Geoff’s working from home and has also completely dug up our backyard and buried a layer of subterranean “pavers” which are designed to stop dogs from digging holes. Yes, we needed to reclaim our backyard, especially because we’re wanting to put our new isolation camper in the backyard without it falling down a hole. My research on WWI is continuing and I’ve also been beavering through the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge, where I’m writing about places I’ve been. I’m currently a day behind because I’m trying to get Paris write. What I want to say is fairly complex, because as the saying goes “not all that glitters is gold”.

ballet shoes

Meanwhile, the kids are on school holidays. Our daughter has three days of dance rehearsals this week which will be running via zoom in our kitchen. I’ve had to put a schedule on the white board out there so the rest of us can schedule in our cups of tea and there’s also a matter of cooking dinner, which seems to clash with the schedule and the rest of us are left huddled together with empty tummies out in the loungeroom. That goes double for Lady, one of our dogs. She’s thinking about dinner as soon as she’s finished breakfast.

Bruce

Bruce the Shark Grass

Our son has been doing Scouts for years and is now a Venturer. They’re also conducting their meetings via zoom and their leader also set them a lock down challenge. They’re growing grass animals and there’s naturally a competition to see whose animal has the longest hair at the end of the holidays.

Zac at the beach

Meanwhile, the dogs have been the overall winners during this lock down scenario. Since we’re only allowed out for exercise, they’ve been going for a lot more walks and they’ve also had all of us home. That means four ball and stick throwers and they’re thrilled to bits. I’ve been enjoying our walks along the beach, although Zac wasn’t allowed off the lead until all the other dogs had gone home. We have some work ahead.

Meanwhile, I’m binge watching Masterchef tonight. Somehow, I missed the start of the series and I had a week to catch up on. I wasn’t sure how it would go with the three new judges. However, they brought back contestants from past seasons and that’s provided the familiarity and I quite like the new judges. This week was Gordon Ramsay Week, and I must say I feel sorry for the contestants launching off a new season with him. Talk about being thrown in the deep end.

Well, I’d better finish this off and get to bed. It is very, very late, but I just ran out of hours today. I run out of hours every day. I wonder where they go…

Take care and stay safe.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Dealing With The Diggingest Dogs.

When I was quite young one of my favourite books was The Digging-est Dog and how he dug through absolutely everywhere, had me in stitches of laughter.

 

However, it’s quite another story when its YOUR backyard, which is being dug up with such fervor and I’m the one likely to break a leg when I fall down a hole trying to hang out the washing.

DSC_9171

Geoff has tried re-filling the aforementioned holes. However, it’s seems that almost as soon as he’s filled the holes, the mutts have committed further offences and we’re back to square one where the backyard looks like a gang of wombats have torn the place apart. He tied, burying a plastic mesh across the yard. However, with us being so close to the beach and on sandy soil, it wouldn’t stay down and actually ended up becoming a potentially dangerous trip-hazard in itself.

Clearly, stronger measures were required, especially because we’re wanted to set the camper-caravan up in the backyard, without it toppling under.

So, in between working from home and being my carer, Geoff also turned into a mini excavator and dug up the backyard and buried a subterranean layer of Tonka tough, dog-proof paver thingys to save the day. It seemed like her was going to be working for eternity. However, he finally got it finished today ready to plant grass seed before tomorrow’s rain.

Zac

Zac – Our beautiful boy! 

I still don’t know if there’s much hope for our backyard. However, the dogs are currently enjoying running round their patch of dirt, and I probably should’ve mentioned that they’ve been taking a great interest in Geoff’s activities out there. I’m sure they’ve already started plotting and scheming their revenge. However, in the meantime, since we’ve all been staying home (dare I say stuck at home? Imprisoned?), the dogs have been getting a lot more exercise. Indeed, they’re loving it. Everyone’s home. There are more ball and stick throwers to pester and there’s more food and loads of walks. What more could they want? After all, they don’t use toilet paper!

Zac at the beach

Zac at our local beach during the week. He was only allowed off the lead AFTER all the other dogs had gone home. He was taking social distancing way too seriously and clearly though other dogs posed a life-threatening hazard.  

What have you been doing while in social isolation? How are you going? I hope you and yours and keeping and safe and well.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 17th February, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you after another week? I things are going well and you’re ready to face another week with a smile, and not a sense of impending doom. I’m not a morning person and Monday mornings usually hit me like a concrete slab crashing down to earth and of all the places it had to land, it was on on poor little ol’ me.

Anyway, I don’t want any of you to think of me as a “snowflake” or even from the “snowflake generation”. While I had heard of this term before, a conversation with our 13 year old daughter brought it back to mind. She told me that my generation were the snowflakes, not hers. Well, in case you’re not familiar with the term, the term “snowflake generation” was one of Collins English Dictionary‘s 2016 words of the year. Collins defines the term as “the young adults of the 2010s, viewed as being less resilient and more prone to taking offence than previous generations“.

The reference originally hails back to Fight Club’s Tyler Durden who blurts out:“You are not special. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same organic and decaying matter as everyone else”

While I’m here, there are two other bits of teenage slang you might appreciate. Firstly, there’s “boomer”. According to my kids, this has now extended beyond the original baby boomer generation to include anyone who is clueless, especially when it comes to global warming.

As far as being a “Karen” is concerned, the urban dictionary writes:

“A Karen is a kind of person who is unhappy when little things don’t go their way. They are a, “Can I speak to your manager?” kind of gal. The bitchy soccer mom of her friend group that nobody likes.
“Do you see her over there? She’s such a Karen.”
The Sydney Morning Herald’s, Julia Baird, tackled the Karen issue in the Saturday paper and raised some interesting points. For starters, there’s no male counterpart to Karen giving the term a sexist stance. My question is that if girls and young women are using this term (and just let me add that I’ve never heard a male use the term), what does that say? I’m planning to have a chat about this with my daughter and perhaps also her bestie. After all, her mum’s name is Karen.
If you’d like to check out Julia’s article, you can click HERE. By the way, I’d also like to point out that Julia was in my Australia Women’s History tutorial at uni and shes a really top-notch journo and well worth reading.
Anyway, I can’t believe that I actually posted this without mentioning Valentine’s Day! What is wrong with me? Have I developed total amnesia? Well, I think it’s probably been more of a case on being so focused on my research that I forget what else is happening. Moreover, I’ve shared the Valentine’s Day stories a few times in the real world and have moved on a bit since Friday. However, I did want to share with you how Valentine’s Day for me has changed throughout the years. Here in Australia, it’s not as big as in America and it’s more something for singles. When I was younger, I’d go to great lengths to send someone I like an anonymous card, which reached its zenith when I had a backpacker write two in German and another backpacker posted them for me from Berkeley, California. I didn’t think things through very well because I invited both of these prospectives to a dinner party at my place. They’d never met before and surprise! surprise! They’d both received Valentine’s in German from Berkeley, California. Well, I just hope they saw it as a joke.
Those days are gone now that my husband and I have almost been married for 20 years. That said we went out for dinner at a scrumptious local Italian restaurant, but that was also after driving the kids around and doing an emergency dash to buy my son a belt to hold his formal pants up. They both went to a formal Valentine’s day dinner with their youth group. BTW before I get off the subject of Valentine’s Day, each of them received something like 5th hand plastic roses which had done the rounds at school. It looks like Cupid wasn’t having much success.
Meanwhile, my research into the stories of WWI stories continues. I’m still not sure whether it is taking shape or just growing into something like a massive mushroom cloud about to envelope the earth. Yet, at the same time, there are such gaps in the historic record or difficulties trying to find out where someone was wounded or died and to me with my very strong sense of place, these details matter. Moreover, since I’m writing non-fiction, I can’t just make it up either. However, that works both ways and most of the time the real stories and the raw emotions which go along with them, are so much better than anything I could manufacture.
One of the challenges I’m facing is my lousy sense of direction and spatial relations. There are people like my Dad who only need to go somewhere once, and they’ll always find their way back. Of course, it makes perfect sense that there’d be outliers at the other end of the  spectrum who can’t even find their way out of their own driveway. That’s me. So, compounded by the fact that I live way over here in Australia and can”t just jump on a plane and walk around the battlefields of France, I’m having a lot of trouble tracking down where everyone was. Moreover, since I’m focusing on individual stories, I don’t have that big picture stuff and that understanding that these were big groups of people moving around under the direction of Captains, Generals etc. They weren’t wandering round the French countryside like lost sheep. That said, prior to the Battle of Amiens 8th August, 1918, all the Australian divisions on the Western Front hadn’t fought together before so you had to check what they were up to and even then you have to ensure they were still there, weren’t in hospital, or on furlough. You can’t assume anything. So, you can see how writing these seemingly simply stories can get rather challenging.
Tonight, I posted a few photos of the magnolia flower out the front. This magnolia is known as a “Little Gem”. However, it’s flowers are massive and would easily fill both hands. They’re the size of a saucer. Anyway, after researching these incredibly intense WWI stories and accounts of the battlefield, the magnolia flowers almost assumed an ethereal glow.
Anyway, unfortunately, time is running away. Or, to be honest, it ran away a few hours ago and I’ve made no effort whatsoever to catch up and am about to start paying for it.
So, I hope you have a wonderful week ahead.
This has been another contribution for the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.
Best wishes,
Rowena

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!

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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.

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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,

Rowena

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.

Who Was the Diggingest Dog?

This is what we woke up to this morning… a monumental crater in our backyard. A crater so big, you could almost park a Mini inside it, and we weren’t happy!

Well, you might think we’d been struck by a meteorite. Indeed, given the smattering of holes around the backyard, a meteorite shower.  However, this particular hole is much larger and deeper than the rest and might even be considered impressive. Meanwhile, thanks to all these holes and the grey, sandy soil, our backyard resembles a moonscape and there’s barely a blade of grass in sight.  It looks pretty desolate to be honest and I don’t really go out there unless I have to.

As soon as you step foot in our backyard, the cause of these holes is obvious. It’s our three dogs… Lady and the “pups” Rosie and Zac. However, this hole was most likely the work of one dog, and the other two are innocent. However, how do we find out who done it when we don’t have the forensic resources of the FBI, Scotland Yard or NSW Police at our disposal? We obviously won’t get far by interrogating the dogs. Moreover, each dog is very good at feigning innocence. So, I guess this all means the guilty dog has got away with it. Committed the perfect crime.

Above: Lady is adamant it wasn’t her…”I’m an absolute angel.”

Pity that, because I really would like to have a backyard, which hasn’t literally gone to the dogs. Last night, this question raised it’s ugly head again when I had the chance to nip over to London via the blog and was able to check out  Geoff Le Pard’s backyard. His garden not only has flowers. It also has that lush green expanse otherwise known as “a lawn”. A lawn is a luxury. Yet, Geoff also has has a dog.

“Get close to grass and you’ll see a star.”

― Dejan Stojanovic, The Sun Watches the Sun

How does this man manage to have a perfect backyard and an incredible almost glowing green lawn when he also has a dog? How is it so? Does Geoff have direct access to Flora, the Roman goddess associated with flowers and Spring? Or, is it just a case that God has blessed the gardens of England and cursed the gardens of Australia, or even the backyard of this Australian in particular? It’s not that I feel like I have a target painted on my back. However, sometimes I do feel the man upstairs has made my journey that bit more difficult than most, and I could well throw “gratitude” to the wind. Indeed,  I could walk straight up to God and ask him straight out: “Please explain”.

Many of you won’t understand what I mean by “please explain”. It’s a phrase made famous here in Australia by our controversial Federal politician Pauline Hanson. While I might not like Pauline Hanson or her politics, the phrase has stuck moving into common usage, often with comic effect.

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Our Family

Mind you, I can’t really blame God for the state of our backyard and in many ways, the dogs aren’t to blame either. Having the perfect backyard, the perfect house aren’t achievable at the moment with two kids, three dogs, sailing and dance activities, work and chronic health. It’s relationships which matter, although I will confess that’s not as easy as it sounds and fueling relationships over the longer term isn’t easy. There’s a big difference I guess between where we aspire to be and where we’re at. That’s what it means to be human.

How is your garden going? Do you manage to have dogs and a decent garden? What’s your magic secret?

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I found this beautiful quotes which related so well to our battles to grow grass in our backyard of beach sand:

“The children had had an argument once about whether there was more grass in the world or more sand, and Roger said that of course there must be more sand because of under the sea; in every ocean all over the world there would be sand, if you looked deep down. But there could be grass too, argued Deborah, a waving grass, a grass that nobody had ever seen, and the colour of that ocean grass would be darker than any grass on the surface of the world, in fields or prairies or people’s gardens in America. It would be taller than tress and it would move like corn in the wind. (“The Pool”
― Daphne du Maurier, Echoes from the Macabre: Selected Stories