Tag Archives: garden

The Odd Couple: Friday Fictioneers – 4th September, 2019.

They called themselves the odd couple. Yet, ignoring all the warning signs, Katherine fell madly in love with Pete, a self-confessed slob, while she was Queensland’s Lacquer Queen not a hair out of place.

It wasn’t just that his tie was crooked. None of his books were straight either. Some were tipsy and leaning over ever so slightly, while others were drop dead drunk.

In a jiffy, she’d automatically straightened the books while he was cooking dinner, but didn’t know what to do with his feral pot plant. So, she threw it out. Unbothered, Pete just thought he’d got lucky.

……

100 words

PHOTO PROMPT © Penny Gadd This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. Every week we write 100 words to a photo prompt.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share 18th March, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share! Please make yourself at home. What would you like to drink? I’ve become quite a tea drinker lately as coffee doesn’t agree with me. That said, I do risk it occasionally at a cafe. I still love a good coffee!

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My apologies once again for going off the grid. However, last Sunday was Mothers’ Day here in Australia and after the kids made me pancakes with Nutella and raspberries for breakfast here, we drove down to Sydney to see my Mum, Dad and brother for lunch and a rambling afternoon. Understandably, the weekend was swallowed up and I can’t remember what else happened. I’ve been a bit under the weather with a cold so I could well have been asleep.

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It’s not quite Winter here in Sydney but we’re getting a few cold mornings and a few chilly nights just to remind us that Winter isn’t far away. Yet, it’s a beautiful sunny day outside, which certainly begs the question what am I doing locked away inside? Why aren’t I out there soaking up all those precious rays before they disappear?

Well, I have the best of both worlds sitting here as the sun is streaming through the window and it’s really very pleasant. I’m still in my PJs at almost 3.00 pm and had a big sleep in after dropping my daughter at the dance studio at the crack of dawn (any time before 9.00 am on a Saturday morning but 7.30 was particularly cruel!!) Fortunately, we live just around the corner and if she didn’t have such a big day ahead, I’d be telling her to walk. However, please excuse the pun, but that could be just around the corner.

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My book project is coming along very well. It’s now shifted from biographical short fiction into short non-fiction with a series of biographical sketches of our ancestors and relatives put within their historical context and shaken up a bit. Both my husband and I come from huge families who arrived early on in terms of Australia’s European history and we’re just lucky that many of them were in the right or (actually from their perspective the wrong place) at the right time. Although most of the characters I’ve researched most are more recent, I’ve decided to start off with our first arrivals who I knew relatively little about. Moreover, they’ve taken me on a course I hadn’t researched much before as well. This means that while I set off on this book project thinking I was already well underway and it would take a lot to get a book out, the reality is very different. I guess it always is. The job takes longer and costs blow out. Just ask a builder.

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Yet, I’m exciting and researching and working on these stories is quite exhilarating. I’ve also had to think about why I’m doing this, other than needing to write and finish a book for my own sense of being able to see it through to the end and published. What attracted me to these characters? Why invest so much of my time, energy and my very self in telling their stories?

The answer is that these people are all great battlers. Many endured incredible hardships yet persevered and soldiered on. They didn’t give up. I find them so encouraging and they lift me up. A bad day doesn’t have to be the end of the world.

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These people are also incredibly human and I think it makes a huge difference that they’re real and that I haven’t transposed their stories into quasi-fictional stories. The reader knows this is true and has something real to hold onto. That said, truth always is a matter of perspective and how you source their particulars.

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I am having a pretty quiet day today. I’m about to head off to vote in the Australian Federal Election. I almost forgot to mention this and I’ve been doing my best to avoid just about anything to do with it. I am completely disenchanted with both major parties and don’t trust either of the main contenders for Prime Minister. However, our local member has done a great job and I question whether she should lose her seat based on her boss. We live in a marginal seat where our votes count and so I actually do need to take my vote seriously. I think I’ve fallen into the camp of voters going independent to send the major parties “a message”. Voting independent is a more civilized way of cracking an egg on the leaders’ heads, which has been quite a feature during this election campaign. You might’ve heard about Egg Boy who cracked an egg on a senator’s head after his dreadful remarks re the Christchurch Massacre. A woman also egged the Prime Minister.  The egg didn’t crack which also aroused some interest. Just to keep the campaign interesting, we’ve also had the appearance of chickenman, although he obviously isn’t responsible for laying any eggs. He’s apparently a young Liberal supporting former PM Tony Abbott. I’m not even going to touch on the intense fighting for the seat of Warringah held by Tony Abbott, except to say that I wish I could vote for his rival former Olympic skier, Zali Steggal. Tony Abbott is long past his expiry date.

Tomorrow, on the other hand, is going to be huge. Our daughter received a call back for an audition for a local ballet company which is putting on Swan Lake. This is such a huge opportunity, but I also need to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. While I’m not auditioning on stage, I too will be under the microscope and most of my day will be going up in smoke waiting. I know I’m written about the benefits of waiting before but… I know. I know. I can get through another one of the unfinished books teetering on my bedside table. It would be incredible if she got in.

Before I head off, I just wanted to share with you that I went to the Sydney Writers’ Festival two weeks ago. If you’d like to dip your toe into what was a fabulous day, please click Here.

Thank you for joining me and I look forward to hearing what you’ve been up to. By the way, the photos throughout this week’s post were taken at the local wetlands this afternoon during our daughter’s audition.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS Our daughter was successful in her audition and will be appearing in Swan Lake locally later in the year.

PPS Australian Federal Election done and dusted. Biggest surprise of all. We still have the same Prime Minister.

 

 

Exhausting A Working Dog.

A working dog needs a job, a challenge and when none is provided, it will soon create a job of its own. Although Rosie and Zac, our year old Border Collie x Kelpie pups, love chasing balls and sticks right down to retrieving minute splinters and fragments, fetch becomes difficult when there’s no one home to throw. With no one to throw, somehow  being home alone translates into: “Let’s dig a hole.” Or even: “Let’s play wombats and dig a network of underground tunnels”. For all I know, they could even be digging an underground spy network, or even working on the great escape. No. They wouldn’t do that. They love us much too much. On the other hand, Lady, our Border Collie x Cavalier would be off in a flash. We’ve even had to install chicken wire along the fence line. Yes. She could well be called: “The Wanderer” :

“They call me the wanderer
Yeah, the wanderer
I roam around, around, around”

– Dion.

Humph…when you consider escape artists and the diggingest dogs, even I’m wondering why we’ve further complicated our already complex lives with three “unnecessary” dogs. However, love knows no bounds, no logic, no sense. We have four humans and only three dogs, not that we have room for anymore except on a temporary basis. After all, we’re not on a farm. Of course, this also means that when the dogs decide to dig large, wombat like burrows, our backyard becomes a safety hazard and it wouldn’t take much to break an ankle, let alone your neck.

This is when their excavating activities met their match. Deciding to distract them, Geoff built them the stick toy to end all stick toys…the Giant Stick Swing. He screwed a chain into a very big stick, which he suspended like a swing so the dogs could grip hold of the stick and wrestle with it for hours and hours while they keep trying to work out how to extricate the stick from its cage. Our daughter was given the task of getting them interested and then their new job began. Both of them were working flat out pulling at the stick trying to get it out, running round and round and back and forth. It was the perfect device for exhausting two very energetic working dogs. Happy Days.

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The Dog Proof Lawn Protector in situ.

By the way, the Giant Stick Swing is only Geoff’s latest invention. You might recall that I recently introduced you to the  Dog Proof Lawn Protector where Geoff attached a layer of protective chicken wire to a large wooden frame which he is moving around the backyard on the equivalent of a crop rotation system, where he’s sowing grass seed and installing new sprinkler heads as he goes. It’s a lot of hard work just to have a patch of green, especially when there are no guarantees. Growing grass seems to be as precarious as farming crops. There are no guarantees.

Yet, there are those green thumbed-freaks of humanity out there who somehow have a perfect lawn. Indeed, they have a manicured lawn, which looks like it’s been trimmed with a pair of nail scissors and is meticulously maintained. Lawn which is a show piece, a status symbol. However, the perfect green lawn is quite an indulgence when we’re in the midst of a severe drought. Yet, at the same time, we’re doing what we can to salvage our patch of green from three working dogs, the drought and sandy beach soil and we’re succeeding without too great a cost.

Do you have any dog posts to share? Or, perhaps you’re also struggling to nurture your own patch of green? I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Making the Grass Greener.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

A few short weeks ago, we looked out over our backyard the same way Moses saw the Promised Land. However, all we saw was a dust bowl with three dogs standing somewhere in it and a few holes dug in for good measure. Indeed, if I hadn’t seen the three dogs, I might’ve wondered whether a wombat had taken up residence in our backyard. Some of these holes were huge.

Needless to say, the grass wasn’t happy.

“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.”

Walt Whitman

Moreover, just to add to it’s struggles, we’re in the throws of a serious drought and just because we’re not farming out on the land, doesn’t mean we haven’t been affected by the lack of rain. It might not be affecting our livelihood but our backyard was a dust bowl.

“The moment one gives close attention to anything,
even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome,
indescribably magnificent world in itself.”

–   Henry Miller

So we have digging dogs, dry drought and then there’s the sandy soil. We live metres away from the beach and while this very same sandy beach might be a thing of beauty, our sandy soil is largely infertile could go a few rounds of IVF. Indeed, even the weeds had given up trying to grow in our backyard. There was just bare sand.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t hold out much hope of ever seeing green grass out the back, let alone anything approaching a lawn. I’d more or less assumed that my husband had also given up. After all, it had been awhile and there wasn’t exactly a lot of activity out there.

However, I don’t know what happened, but my husband sent up the backyard sprinkler system again. That was step one. Then, he built a very clever lawn growing contraption of the likes I’ve never seen before. Just like Australia has the rabbit proof fence, my husband built the dog proof lawn protector by simply nailing four planks of wood together and covering it with chicken wire. Just like the Parable of the Sower, my husband sowed out the lawn seed, covered it with the protector and then it was on with the sprinklers every night.

Then, miracle of miracles, we now have lawn. Indeed, the dog proof lawn protector has been moved onto its second location and much of the grass in the first plot is still alive.

Sometimes, I think we can settle where we are believing that things can’t get any better. That this is as good as it gets and we can forget to prepare the soil, sow the seed and water our dreams or just even our basic needs. It’s too easy then to fall into an engulfing sense of despair where there is not point lifting a finger or even trying to get up off the ground and pick up our mats.

I also want to say that I’m proud of my husband for coming up with our dog proof lawn protector. He commutes to Sydney puts in a long day’s work and is my carer 24/7 as well as being a father to our kids and the three crazy mutts. In so many ways, that’s life. We’re all busy. We each have our lot. Our hardships and our blessings. Last weekend, he started a sailing course. So, now he’s not only enjoying some green grass, he’s also experiencing some smooth sailing. Well, perhaps in time.

Is there something that’s changed recently in your life that’s made a difference? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

The Pondering Photographer & Monet’s Garden.

For the last three weeks, I’ve been traveling along a virtual railroad track, as I’ve steadily written letters to dead artists in alphabetical order, and have been really proud of myself for sticking to the timetable. Being focused. Yet, at the same time, getting into the heads of so many traumatised and suffering people, was clearly getting to me. Yet, I couldn’t get out either. I was enthralled.

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Some time through the last week, I found myself thinking about Monet’s Garden, and how there could well be a place for Monet’s lilies, after all.

As if to prove a point, on Thursday I stumbled across a glossy coffee table book about Monet and His Garden in the book bin at the hospital. Clearly, it was meant to be. I needed to take some time out, fixate on the ripples in the pond, and unwind the spring a little.

As you may already know, I decided to pay Monet a visit and learned more about Monet, than I could ever hope to jam into a sentence. Besides, I’m focusing on Monet’s Pond today, and not the artist himself.

Anyway, as if the book wasn’t prompting enough, today while I was waiting for my daughter to get through a two hour dance audition, I stumbled across a real, live pond with actual lily pads.  Wow! I couldn’t believe it, especially as I wouldn’t have known where to find one if I’d tried. Clearly, it was meant to be, and I was meant to slow my mind down and stop for a bit. Not think about today’s artist, Albert Tucker and his expressionistic depictions of demonised trams. Rather, I was meant to lose my intensity in the mesmerising reflections of gum trees, red bottle brushes, and clouds while watching a water bird elegantly carve a path through the lot.

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I wonder if you could cal this bridge: “The Blue Plank”?

I walked back to my car to retrieve my camera. This isn’t just any ordinary camera, and it certainly wasn’t my phone. Don’t be blasphemous! Convenience is no substitute for quality.

For me, there is nothing like seeing the world through my camera lens. It’s a different way of seeing, and my vision is so much clearer. As much as I wear glasses to correct my short-sightedness, my camera allows me to truly see, especially during the magic hour right before sunset, when some kind of switch suddenly releases the most beautiful, inspirational light.

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So, I wanted to share some of these photos with you, so you too could enjoy my pond. It’s no better or worse than Monet’s pond, but it is quite different. It’s more of a rustic Australian pond with its own colour scheme, and it certainly doesn’t have Monet’s bright cacophony of flowers through the surrounding garden. However, it’s shimmering reflections of Australian gum trees were masterpieces in their own right, and to my not so critical eye, appeared quite “Impressionistic”. Well, at least, they were blurry. That is, good blurry. Still, I would’ve loved to see one of those gorgeous Japanese bridges like Monet’s over our pond, and I wasn’t mad keen on the geometical, concrete bridge we had over ours, but its a different garden with its own personality, not a copy.

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You see, two days ago, I had no intention of being anywhere near this pond. Indeed, my husband had taken the day off work and we were going sailing/kayaking. It’s been three years at least, since I last went out in the kayak and I’ve missed it so much. I can’t lift the kayak and we needed a boat trailer to get it in the water, and you’d be amazed at just how difficult things can be. (Or, maybe not!!)

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I spotted these mower tracks from the cafe and they really appealed. Green grass is also such a novelty, but for Geoff it reminded me of the green paddocks on the farm back in Tasmania.

Anyway, you know how this parenting caper goes. The best laid plans of Mum and Dad are blown out of the water by the kids. My daughter had a two hour audition to attend. While I did manage to fit in a 15 minute paddle. and it wasn’t worth me driving back and forth so I promised myself coffee and cake at a nearby cafe as compensation.

Anyway, you can sit in your corner and complain. Or, you can order yourself a slice of Passionfruit Cheesecake, a cappuccino and find yourself a pond. A pond I didn’t even know existed. It wasn’t what I’d intended to do today, but it was where I was meant to be.

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Monet’s Tree

How do you unwind when you’re under a lot of stress or pressure? What lifts the load of Atlas off your back, and helps you to return to some form of calm equilibrium? Or, perhaps, you’re caught up in a storm so intense and ongoing, that you have no idea how or if you’ll ever get out.

Well, I’m holding your hand and walking right alongside you, even if we have never met. This why I am sharing my personal journey with what has turned out to be a very intense group of artists who reflected back the storm inside me, just as surely as the surface of a pond. Please hang in there and try to find the silver lining, even if you’re convinced someone’s thrown it away. I hope you can find even the smallest thing that will touch your heart, and light your path in some way. Keep searching. Keep walking. Never give up.

Best wishes,

Rowena

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The Australian Magpie.

I photographed this magpie or “Maggie” at my friend’s place today. While they can become territorial and aggressive during Spring, they’re found  throughout most backyards, at least around here, and are mostly very tame. It’s quite clear that they’re worked out humans are a great source of food and they make themselves part of the family. Our elderly neighbours were being eaten out of house and home by their baby magpie who’d also make quite a lot of noise demanding to be fed. My friend volunteers for an animal rescue service and the magpie has discovered the puppies food bowl and helped itself. I guess you could call it “fast food”. Apparently, we have a family of maggies living in our jacaranda tree out the back. Geoff tells me that they’re “resprayed” our Morris Minor.

What types of birds do you have in your backyard? Please share in the comments below.

xx Rowena

 

The Path…A Magnetic Poem.

Today, I was struck on the head by the magnetic muse in what could only be described as a “coup de foudre”.

In case you “ne comprendez pas”, that means falling in love at first sight. I thought falling in love, or becoming addicted, sounded much more dramatic in French.

Like a proverbial matchmaker,  Merril D Smith  introduced me writing magnetic poetry online at http://play.magneticpoetry.com/ It’s so much fun. I chose the nature theme and I was thrilled with the results. I felt my poetry gained very rich symbolism and I put images together which I never would’ve thought of combining before, yet made such sense and expanded my vision exponentially.

Dare I ask you what you think?

Well, here goes:

The Path

Shine moon spirit.

Listen.

Breathe.

My soul is withered.

I wander down a lonely path.

Every daffodil Spring,

the bright, blue bird walks

through the fresh earth.

Garden tendrils rustled.

Then some seed said:

“Use intuition.

There’s a sanctuary.”

Secret winds murmur:

“Climb the ancient mountain.

Know her peace.

Rest.

Leave moss be.

Make song.”

Behold,

I thrive.

Rowena Newton

Magnetic Poetry 23rd November, 2016.

Have you been struck by the magnetic muse? I’d love to hear how you went.

xx Rowena