Tag Archives: grandma

Dancing With Apollo…Friday Fictioneers.

The full moon was a magnet, drawing the tide of madness over her conscious mind, drowning all inhibition. Nancy slipped out of bed, unlatched the window and shimmied down the drainpipe to freedom. With her long, white hair and translucent nightdress blowing in the wind, she cast a haunting figure as she floated through the empty streets towards the pier. Word had got out about “a ghost”, and all but a stray cat was safely indoors. Silhouetted by the moonlight, Apollo took her by the hand. Yet, her teeth were still in the glass beside her bed, and Grandma slept.

….

100 words.

This is another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields.  Every week, we write 100 words to a photo prompt, which is a lot of fun and I also these prompts stretch my content beyond the four walls of my own outlook. This week’s PHOTO PROMPT © Gah Learner.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Digging Up More Family Bones.

The Case of Maria Bridget “Whosywhatsitmecallher”

If I could jump in a time machine right this minute and go back to any moment in history, I’d set the dial for the 19th November, 1915. Or, to be on the safe side, even a day earlier. The place would be 42 Colin Street, North Sydney (Now in modern Cammeray. By the way, the house is still standing).

Obviously, this seems like a totally random time and place to go back to. Indeed, I’m sure many of you would choose to back to a much more significant point in history, and rewrite events for the greater good. Perhaps, you might go back to the 4th April, 1968, fighting to prevent the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Or, perhaps you’d go back to the 28th June, 1914 in Sarajevo and deal with Gavrilo Princip, the man who assassinated  Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife. As you may recall from your high school history lessons, their assassination was the final spark which triggered World War I.

Above: Perhaps you’d like to go back in time and prevent these events.

These are noble gestures, and I commend you. Normally, I would be more concerned about making a valuable contribution to the greater good. However, right now, my needs are simple.

I’d just like to ask my 3rd Great Grandmother to fill out her own death certificate, instead of leaving such an important family document in the hands of her daughter. Unfortunately, she not only left out some significant details, but also included misinformation. Not that I’d go so far as saying she lied. However, the people filling out these forms need to consider the people following in their footsteps, who not only need answers, but also the truth. After all, filling out a death certificate is NOT a creative writing exercise!

wind-from-the-sea

Andrew Wyeth, The Wind From The Sea, which conjures up images of ghosts, absent friends etc.

This brings me back to Maria Bridget Flanagan, who went on to marry John Alexander Johnston and gain another surname. Recently, I posted a story about how a vagrant set fire to her house , after being inspired by the actions of the Mosman Bomber. However, while I was thrilled to bits to stumble across this story, in so many very basic areas of family history research, Maria or Bridget (this seems to vary with the wind) is a very slippery fish and she’s determined not to get caught. The questions remain.

Getting back to her death certificate, it states that she was 79 years old, making her year of birth around 1836. Her father is given as Martin Flanagan. She was born in County Clare, Ireland. She spent 6 years in Victoria before leaving for New Zealand. After returning to Australia, she spent 32 years in NSW, putting their arrival in NSW around 1879. Age at first marriage is unknown and his name is given as __Flanagan. Age at second marriage was 26. Spouse: John Johnston.  These details conflict a little with her marriage certificate, which said she as 23, making her date of birth closer to 1841.

map New Zealand

Maria Bridget Flanagan immigrated from Victoria to New Zeland and Married John Alexander Johnston at Invercargill in 1864.

Recently, I came across this message online:

“Any lister with knowledge of Bridget Maria Flanaghan nee Docherty, aged 23 years, possibly employed in or around Invercargill c.1864. She was the widow of one Quintin Flanaghan and was Ireland-born (County unknown). Not known if he came to NZ or she arrived as a widow. She married from the home of Richard Pilkington, Dee Street, and witnesses were Louis and Alice Cramer, hotelkeeper of Tay Street. Any advice appreciated. https://lists.rootsweb.ancestry.com/hyperkitty/list/new-zealand@rootsweb.com/thread/USLOAJOWTWJWECJU2ABMXTX3FCIKGWQE/

Well, you would think this message provided great hope, insight, a Eureka moment worthy of jumping out of the bathtub and running naked down the street. Well, I would’ve run naked down the street, if only I’d been able to confirm the details of the message. I haven’t been able to find a Quintin Flanagan, but I have managed to find a Bridget Doherty with a father Martin, but they were living in Kerry. That said, this Bridget’s brother was later living in Ennis, County Clare. It might not be all wrong, but surely Mary Ann Wilson, her own daughter, would’ve known which county her mother came from. Then again, so many things fly under the radar in a busy household, but I would’ve thought it’s an odd thing to get wrong.

Map of ireland_1808

Map of Ireland 1808

In the meantime, I started looking for a Bridget Doherty with a father called Martin who fitted into the right time framework and I did find somebody. There as a Bridget Doherty christened 15th February, 1841 in Currow, Kerry, Ireland and her parents were Martin Doherty and Ellenora O’Brien who were married at the Roman Catholic Church, Castle Island, Kerry. Following on from this, I found an arrival of a Bridget Doherty as an Unassisted Immigrant  onboard The Sultana arriving in Melbourne 1st April, 1858. She was 18 years old, which places her date of birth as around 1840 and in the picture.

However, if you’ve ever tried your hand at this family detective business, you should know that 1 +1 doesn’t necessarily = 2. Indeed, a myriad of random details all need to align. Even then, you might have doubts, and end up with a “cold case”. Of course, you don’t throw your hands in the air and chuck all your research out. However, you also need to switch off, or at least shift, that stubbornly obsessive detective focus. Or else, you’ll go mad. After all, we’ve all heard about those cops who turn to drink after being unable to solve that elusive case of the crim who got away.We don’t want to be next.

When I get stuck like this on one of my people, I usually start sniffing around their known haunts for clues, looking for even the scantest hint of a scent. Sometimes, I’ve been lucky and I’ve found the missing piece. However, there have been a few particularly slippery fish determined to slip out of my grasp. There’s also a point where the records run out. Then, you simply have to accept, that you’ve reached the end of the road.

So, still intent on finding out what I could about this Bridget Doherty, I set the ship into reverse and sailed back across the seas to Curnow, a very pretty town on the Ring of Kerry. I must admit that I felt a bit lost arriving in Curnow, and wasn’t entirely comfortable in my new-found shoes as a “Doherty”. Did they really fit? To be honest, it felt like plucking names out of a hat, and goodness knows which name I’ll be looking for down the track if I’ve got my Bridget wrong. It’s moments like this, that I ask why women change their names just to get married? It makes them very hard to track down, and more often than not, it deletes their personal history altogether. After all, Bridget was a someone long before she became a Mrs!

Anyway, thanks to Google, I found myself in this gorgeous Irish town of Curnow, where she was Christened, and then onto Kenmare where some of her siblings got married. It was in Kenmare that I was in for quite a surprise, although it had nothing to do with finding Bridget’s origins. Rather, it was a case of seeing an almost identical twin.

Above- The Cammeray Suspension Bridge, Sydney, completed in 1892. Below:Kenmare Suspension Bridge Completed in 1841. Perhaps, not identical twins on closer inspection but pretty close.

Kenmare Suspension Bridge

You see, the Kenmare Suspension Bridge, which was completed in 1841, was almost identical to the Cammeray Suspension Bridge built by Maria Bridget Johnston’s brother-in-law, Alexander Johnston, and her husband. Indeed, while Maria as living at The Boulevard, she was only a stone throw away. If this is indeed the right Bridget, isn’t that incredible that she travelled all the way from Ireland to Sydney and then gets to see a piece of home appear stone by stone before her very eyes. Of course, I love the pure poetry of that. The sense of that beautiful bridge, which has provided a link between numerous descendants here in Australia, now connecting Bridget and her descendants in Australia back to her home in Ireland.

If only I could be sure that it’s true!

Just to add insult to injury, I’ve also been able to find out so much about this Doherty family. Details which have eluded me with other branches of the family, where I know who’s who, and equally who is not. This just added salt to the wound, and I can’t tell you how much I was wanting this Bridget Doherty to me mine. Indeed, I was even thinking of bending the facts ever so slightly to make them fit, which is an unforgivable sin for even a novice researcher.

Dromore Castle

Dromore Castle, Templenoe, Kerry.

In the Griffiths Valuation, I actually found Martin Doherty living at Templenoe and his landlord was a Reverend Denis Mahony, who was a rector of the Church of Ireland. He also owned and built Dromore Castle in Templenoe, looking out over the Kenmare River. A keen proselytiser, he set up a soup kitchen at Dromore during the Irish Potato Famine, and preached to the hungry, who came for food at the chapel at Dromore. His proselytizing activities made him rather unpopular. In 1850, he was attacked in his church at Templenoe. On returning to Dromore, he found another angry mob had uprooted flower beds, felled trees and were about to set fire to the castle. It is claimed, that they were only stopped by the intervention of the local priest[1].

As you can see, without any confirmation that she was my Bridget, the story was running away all by itself, and I was like that poor dog owner being pulled along by their dog at an alarming rate, and almost becoming airborne. The story had me by  the short and curlies.

Of course, I had to put on the brakes. Take stock. Find the line between fact and fiction, and not let myself be lured over into dark side. Reject this evil temptation to fabricate the evidence, and do that boring, methodical Police work… going over and over the data again.

“Yes, it is very true, that. And it is just what some people will not do. They conceive a certain theory, and everything has to fit into that theory. If one little fact will not fit it, they throw it aside. But it is always the facts that will not fit in that are significant.”
Agatha Christie, Death on the Nile

What was it going to take to find those missing pieces, which would complete Maria Bridget’s story and discern our Flanagans, from our Docherty/Doherties?

Moreover, why does it matter? Is it only the thrill of the chase that leads me on, and nothing to do with who I am, my DNA and genetic heritage? Am I something of a sham?

I don’t know. Hoever, I’ve come so far in such a short time, surely this mystery will be kind to me and let go of her secrets.

Maria Bridget Flanagan, Doherty, Docherty…Come out! Come out! Wherever you are!

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS Writing all these details up has indeed been rather helpful. I’m now thinking that more information may have been captured when she married John Johnston. Although I ordered the marriage certificate, it contains very little information. Indeed, it doesn’t contain enough information for a legal marriage. I think that information is out there somewhere. That’s my next port of call. Wish me luck!

 

[1] http://lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.com/2014/06/dromore-castle.html

Madame Cuisinier – Friday Fictioneers.

It wasn’t a case of who done it. Rather, it was just a question of whether Madame Cuisinier knew that migratory quail were toxic, and would kill her husband.

Of course, nobody wanted to believe, that a Great Grandmother could kill her husband.  Married for over 60 years, they’d been born in Paris during the Occupation. Why not get a divorce? Why go to all the trouble of catching and preparing the quail and concocting that wonderfully fragrant yellow sauce, m’qalli, just to poison him? Why not feed him cake?

Madame Cuisinier wondered why she couldn’t follow through with their plan. Why she couldn’t eat the dish. It would’ve been the perfect end.

…..

My apologies for going a bit over this week, but I couldn’t work out how to shortened this complex tale. I’ve been watching Masterchef lately and couldn’t by-pass a food reference.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields  PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Dying Diva…Friday Fictioneers: 2nd Feb, 2018.

“They’re not getting these!” Grandma  snapped, clinging to her diamond earrings. “Chopping away at me like I’m some sort of bonsai… Enough is enough!”

Catherine was determined to keep her ear lobes, and she sometimes wondered if that’s all she’d have left after the docs had finished chopping away. The virulent melanoma had spread its poisonous ugliness through almost every vein, artery and cell. There wasn’t much left of her anymore.

Yet, she hadn’t forgotten who she was… Madame Butterfly. She might not be able to walk anymore, but she still had her wings and she knew how to fly.

This has been a contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted b y Rochelle Wishoff Fields. We are required to write a 100 words in response to a photo prompt. This week’s photo is © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

Have you ever been in a difficult spot where you felt everything was being taken away, but you took a stand. Drew a line in the sand, which you wouldn’t cross? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Back in my 20s, I refused additional brain surgery, largely out of concerns about losing my hair. They’d already hacked hair off the back of my head and this time, they wanted to put a probe in the front and shave more off. I’d had enough. Lucilly, I recovered without the additional surgery and ended up with a full head of hair.

xx Rowena

After the Flames…Friday Fictioneers

Her studio guttered, Pixie peeled the charcoaled canvas off the concrete.

She’d been burned to death.

That painting was the culmination of every single heartbeat, every flicker of shadow and light. Her soul pulled inside out, spurted in thick acrylic, bleeding and raw.

Art was her voice. Her only exit from the labyrinth.

Pixie covered her ears and started to scream…a scream without end.

Axel wrapped a blanket around the shattered nymph. He’d seen her waft in and out of the warehouse before, lost like a leaf in the wind.

That,” he beamed, “Is how I met your Grandmother.”

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

 

 

The Audrey Roster…Friday Fictioneers.

Playing the organ on a frosty Sunday morning, Audrey sat the bulky hymnal on the front seat of her battered Toyota Corolla, and struggled to get the key in the ignition. Her eyesight wasn’t what it used to be. Although her vision was patchy, the Church was only two blocks away. She could get there blindfolded.

“Mrs Ledger, can I give you a lift?”

“No, thank you love,” she smiled. She’d heard about the Audrey roster. Next they’d be calling her son. She’d burned her bra in the 70s. No one was confiscating her car keys.

Not even the Police.

……….

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

Worse Than Funnel Webs – Friday Fictioneers.

The cousins were done swinging from Grandma’s clothes line, and were heading under the house.

Of course, they weren’t allowed. “Funnel Web spiders”

“As if!” Jack mocked, picking the lock.

They put on their head torches and Tilly pulled out her iPad. Live streaming, Jack launched into his spiel: “Today, the Four Musketeers are at the haunted house.”

Will made ghost noises. Tilly screamed, before bursting into hysterics.

Fumbling in the dark, Indy flicked on a light.

Their screams launched an immediate Police response.

Grandma wasn’t joking. She really did grind up naughty children and sprinkle them on her Weetbix.

Rowena Curtin

This is another contribution to Friday Fictioneers where we write a 100 word or less response to a photo prompt. This week’s PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

This photo was taken inside the watermill at Sacrewell Farm near Peterborough.  Built in 1755, it remained a working mill until 1965

The inspiration behind my story comes from a family gathering held at my grandparents’ house after my cousin’s christening. The usual thing was for us kids was to be “not seen and not heard” and it was pretty easy for us put our hands out to chatting adults and raise enough money to hit the local milk bar at the top of the hill. They loved us but they also liked to get rid of us in the kindest possible way, of course!

However, at my cousin’s christening myself and about ten other cousins and second cousins all piled onto my grandmother’s clothes line (what we in Australia call a “Hill’s Hoist”.) Needless to say, with that many kids hanging off it, the trunk snapped and it became the “Leaning Clothesline of Lindfield” after that. I think it might have been held back together with rope.

My cousins and I frequently snuck under the house where there was a passageway through the sandstone foundations. My grandparents had lived there for over 35 years at this point and it seemed that anything old, broken, not in current use, ended up under the house. It was like Aladdin’s Cave. Of course, we weren’t allowed down there but now that I’m a parent myself, I can appreciate those golden moments of uninterrupted conversation, even if I do have to deal with the carnage later.

Traveling Tea Cups

If anything was ever too delicate and precious to travel, it’s porcelain tea cups. More fragile than egg shells and potentially quite valuable, they spend an entire lifetime locked away behind the glass, only brought out for very special occasions. That is, if anyone even dares to use them at all.  It’s a case of  “Hands of! Don’t touch AND no ball throwing or even running  near the precious china cabinet!! These antique old ladies are incredibly precious. Just  look at them and they might break.

Tea cup up in the clouds, Byron Bay Lighthouse, 2012.

Tea cup up in the clouds, Byron Bay Lighthouse, 2012.

Being so fragile, I was actually quite surprised to find out that china tea cups could travel. Indeed, that they’re available on eBay. This opened up quite a smorgasbord of choice and opportunity and I was soon buying tea cups from as far away as Canada and the United Kingdom. They arrived on my doorstep wrapped up in layers of bubble wrap, nesting inside cute cardboard boxes plastered with postage stamps.

Teacup at the Paragon Cafe in Katoomba. which makes it's own chocolates and has incredible art deco decor.

Teacup at the Paragon Cafe in Katoomba. which makes it’s own chocolates and has incredible art deco decor.

My journey with collecting tea cups began many, many years ago when my grandmothers were given tea cups, which they kept in precious china cabinets.

My maternal grandmother had worked in Aunty Rose”s exclusive Brisbane hair and beauty salon prior to marriage. Their clients included the wife of Sir Douglas MacArthur Supreme Commander, Southwest Pacific Area who was based in Brisbane in 1942, the year she married my grandfather. My grandmother had a series of very precious tea cups, which had been gifts from clients for her “glory box” which, by the way, was wrapped securely in hessian and dispatched by train across the Darling Downs to Dalby, where my grandfather worked as a Lutheran Pastor. I never recall seeing my grandmother use any of these precious cups but Mum and her sister always used to have a cup of tea out of a particular Shelley tea cup whenever they went North for a visit. My grandmother had all sorts of gifted  treasures which were carefully put away and never used.

Royal Albert. photographed at The Carrington Hotel, Katoomba.

Royal Albert. photographed at The Carrington Hotel, Katoomba.

Teacup Paragon

My Dad’s mother also had a cupboard full of china tea cups, although hers were nowhere near as precious and visitors helped themselves to their choice of cup or indeed, their cup for the mandatory cup of tea on arrival. I don’t know if she had any matching pairs because at least by the time I came around, they all seemed quite different.. an eclectic, kaleidoscope of floral patterns, gold rims and delicate handles.

I was in love!!

So in love, indeed, and wanting to hold onto my precious memories of my grandparents and a distant past, I needed a collection of my own. My own china cupboard filled with my own precious china girls. Now, the tea cups have busted out of the cabinet and have formed a row overhead and have also wandered out into the dining room onto the sideboard. I’m starting to down size my tea cups a little to get things into perspective. We only have so much space and as you would have gathered by now, it’s squashed. A thing of beauty can not be a joy forever in a cluttered jungle. It needs a bit of space.

However, for some of my tea cups their travels didn’t stop at the gate. In the same way that people take garden gnomes away on their travels, I started photographing my tea cups and while this started at home, we ventured further afield to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains and up North to Byron Bay. Indeed, my tea cups were launched on a life of adventure.

Not my best tea cups, mind you. While I might be willing to give my tea cups a little bit of freedom, I certainly wasn’t about to risk my good Shelley tea cups…my “old ladies”. Like their human contemporaries plagued by osteoporosis, arthritis and the like, they really are fragile and certainly not easily replaced. I’ve had a few casualties some out on the road and others at home and while I do put them in perspective, I’d rather they didn’t happen.

My favourite tea cup: Shelley's sunset in the Tall Trees, designed by Charmian Clift.

My favourite tea cup: Shelley’s sunset in the Tall Trees, designed by Charmian Clift.

Although my favourite tea cups are Shelley’s more art deco designs, I also have quite a few from Royal Albert. Although the design also informs my choice. My Dad’s father once gave me a daffodil for my birthday so I have a few daffodil designs. Even though my Mum’s mum introduced me to Shelley china, I also found a cup “May”, my grandmother’s middle name and also  decorated with Lilly of the Valley, which she had in her wedding bouquet. I must admit I was stoked when I found that set in a local Salvation Army Opportunity Shop. My son’s cup is has scene’s from the Blue Mountains. My favourite tea cup is Shelley’s Sunset in the Tall Trees, an art deco style designed by Clarice Clift.

Katoomba Views

Katoomba Views

“Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.”
― T.S. Eliot

Unlike the rest of the household clutter which is forced to justify its existence, china tea cups have never had to be useful and somehow get away with being exquisitely beautiful and purely decorative. That is, at least in our family. Given that I’ve been able to buy these tea cups, someone else had different ideas. Personally, I can’t understand that…particularly my Shelley ones. They’re exquisite.

The tea cup visits Byron Bay Lighthouse 2012.

The tea cup visits Byron Bay Lighthouse 2012.

Any way, hope you enjoy our tea cup tour. Do you have a tea cup collection at all? Memories? Do share.

This have been T for Traveling Tea Cups for the Blogging from A-Z April Challenge.

 

xx Rowena

Dogs of the World Unite!

Back by popular demand, it’s Bilbo and Lady, AKA “The Dogs”.

Every dog has its day and letter “D” on the Blogging A-Z Challenge is ours. Welcome to our universe. Of course, once we heard about the A-Z Blogging Challenge, we weren’t about to be overlooked, neglected or omitted…especially when we’ve been banished outside at the grandparents’ place at Palm Beach over the Easter break.

Hardly a postcard perspective: a wet Easter in Sydney as Autumn sets in.

Hardly a postcard perspective: a wet Easter in Sydney as Autumn sets in.

Just to fill you in, it’s raining. Indeed, it’s been bucketing down and there are also fierce winds which would make the French Mistral look restrained. Although we’re out of the rain on our bed with a blanket, this is no compensation for being inside with the family, even though we’ve been told to make the most of the view. It might be worth millions but so is being with the ones you love instead of being shut out.

You might recall that Bilbo wrote extensively about the Golden Rule and how important it is to treat others as you would like to be treated. So I ask you, how would you like to left outside in the rain instead of being snuggled up with your family by the heater? It’s not much fun, is it?

Moreover, we’re sure you can appreciate that for inside dogs like us, there’s no greater insult  than being shut outside. Far from just being locked out of the house, we’re shut away from our family, love, warmth, pats and above all else, a sense of belonging and being an integral part of the pack. This all means death to a dog.

Lady being quite the "dog hog" taking up both the huge woolen blanket and dog bed, leaving Bilbo shivering on the door mat before I intervened. I'm sure many blokes who've lost the doona mid-winter would say: "typical woman". I do think Lady also tries to live up to her name and sometimes even Bilbo is treated like the "Tramp".

Lady being quite the “dog hog” taking up both the huge woolen blanket and dog bed, leaving Bilbo shivering on the door mat before Mum intervened. I’m sure many blokes who’ve lost the doona mid-winter would say: “typical woman”. I do think Lady also tries to live up to her name and sometimes even Bilbo is treated like the “Tramp”.

What have we done wrong? What is our crime? Being a dog? Just because we were born dogs instead of human, does that mean that we are somehow inferior? Or, were all living things created equal?

Grandparents certainly don’t seem to think so! Not only to they put the kids on some kind of ridiculous pedestal which bears no reflection on their actual behaviour but they also elevate other despicable creatures to lofty, undeserved heights.

I don’t know whether you’ve had much to do with grandparents but they’re funny creatures. They talk about healthy eating but then fill the kids full of lollies and sent them home twitching full of sugar and all sorts of toxic chemicals. They cry poor and then spend buckets on the kids. Grandma has been bringing Bilbo ham scraps all his life and might tolerate a bit of interaction but there’s a real “us and them” approach and why they dote so much on those naughty grandchildren when we’re so well behaved, I’ll never know. In a way, it’s easy just to write them off and say they’re just not dog people. However, once we found out that they batted for the other side, we decided to fight back and stand up for Liberté, égalité, fraternité.

Text displayed on a placard announcing the sale of biens nationaux (1793).

Text displayed on a placard announcing the sale of biens nationaux (1793).

You see, it’s not just that they’re not dog people. They’re actually cat people. We are part of the family yet we’re banished outside peering longingly through the glass, while they all sit around the table and chat. Moreover, as soon as that wretched cat from the across the road even alights on the driveway,they bend over backwards contorting themselves to lure in that wretched fleabag.

That freeloading cat on its way to Grandma's house. Where's the big bad wolf when you need him?!!

That freeloading cat on its way to Grandma’s house. Where’s the big bad wolf when you need him?!!

Cat being cat, it’s so aloof and standoffish and completely lacking in canine warmth and affection. “Puss! Puss! Puss!” They all coax and then there’s  inevitably the ultimate of betrayals when the kids even join in: “Mama! Mama! The cat’s here!! I need some food for the cat” There’s absolutely no support for us. No calls of: “Mama! Papa! Please let the dogs stay inside!!” Grandparents always cave in to the grandchildren. Everyone knows that the little people cast some kind of spell over their grandparents and they can do not wrong. In the process., they somehow wrap their grandparents around their little fingers and manipulate them like puppets and they can’t say no. We know that if those kids pestered long and hard enough, we’d not only be allowed inside but we’d even be sleeping on the lounge!

However, we’ve had no such luck. The kids just keep playing with the cat.

Should read: "No Humans" and definitely "No Cats"!!

Should read: “No Humans” and definitely “No Cats”!!

Sadly, this kind of inequality isn’t just confined to the grandparents. We live in an unjust world. We might not be able to read but we’re not stupid. Dogs aren’t allowed on most beaches. We’re not allowed to catch the bus or the train either. As much as the humans might say it’s a dog’s life, we’re the ones stuck on the leash.

What makes humans think they’re so good? Haven’t they been hell bent on destroying our beautiful planet? They’re certainly NOT the custodians they were always intended to be. We dogs might leave a few smelly piles around for silly humans who can’t even breathe without texting to step in. Otherwise, we walk very lightly on the planet. Unless the humans dress us up like Christmas trees, we’re content to wear the coat God gave and we don’t need superfluous clothes, shoes or all sorts of bling. We’re quite happy with a simple abode although I must admit we’re rather partial to a drive in the car. I guess our carbon footprint isn’t quite so neutral after all.

Yet, we still come out way ahead of the humans!!

All these observations suggest to us that is instead of neutering dogs and keeping us on the leash, that perhaps the rest of the animal kingdom should unite and reverse the order of things. Put the humans on a leash before they blow up the planet and leave the rest of us homeless or even obliterated.

Lady chatting with Max online.

Lady conferring with Max online.

Of course, we can be benevolent to some humans just like they’re partial to some dogs but the hour has come. We have decided to harness the power of the world wide web and we’ve been conferring with comrades all around the world. So much for romance, Lady and Max the Dog were plotting revolution and nothing less. Yes, those gorgeous puppy dog eyes can be very deceiving!!

We get by with a bit of help from our friends and here are some of our canine comrades:

Max the Dog: https://withinthekstreets.wordpress.com/

Monika and Sam the therapy dog: Tails Around the Ranch: https://tailsaroundtheranch.wordpress.com/

Rachel Mankowitz: https://rachelmankowitz.wordpress.com/

Geoff Lepard touring Dulwich Street Art with his dog: http://geofflepard.com/2014/09/15/dulwich-street-art-part-one/

Clowie’s Corner: http://clowiescorner.en.1.3142.xyz/category/clowies-tales/

Doc at Mother’s Little Steps: http://motherslittlesteps.com/

Diplomatic Dog: https://diplomaticdog.wordpress.com/

Liberté, égalité, fraternité.

Dogs of the world Unite!

xx Bilbo and Lady

Sydney Town Hall…Family Concerts to Remember

Sunday night before last, our 8 year old daughter “Miss” sang in a multi-school choir at the Sydney Town Hall. Celebration Sing Out was a concert supporting the Music Therapy Unit at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney.

Celebration Sing Out, Sydney Town Hall.

Celebration Sing Out, Sydney Town Hall.

As much as we might have believed in the cause, let’s be honest. All the parents, grandparents and the rest of the royal entourage were there with only one thing in mind…to see their little darling up on stage at the Sydney Town Hall. Our brilliant, shining little stars had us all transfixed in their orbit. It might not have been the Opera House but singing at the Sydney Town Hall is still a big deal and a very imposing, impressive venue with the huge pipe organ towering overhead. When the organ was completed in 1890, it was the biggest pipe organ in the world. That’s not bad for a former convict town.

How have to admit this gig was pretty impressive and the children sang like angels as well!

How have to admit this gig was pretty impressive and the children sang like angels as well!

While our little darlings might have been just one of hundreds all not-quite perfectly cloned in plain white shirts and black pants, we didn’t care. We zoomed in and picked out little star out of the multitude and stared at them transfixed with love and pride.

Christmas came early...the kids checking out the Christmas lights in Sydney's Queen Victoria Building on the way to dinner.

Christmas came early…the kids checking out the Christmas lights in Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building on the way to dinner.

A key component of this parental pride was getting a good seat so we could not only spot our darling among the multitude but also to get a good vantage point to take photos. Unlike many public events where you are not allowed to use cameras let alone photograph or film children, this event was a paparazzi free-for-all.

While the kids and I went to check out the David Jones Christmas Windows and have dinner in Hyde Park, Geoff sat in the queue to get our seats. He had left for work at 4.30am and was happy to mind the seats. You get my drift.

Before the concert began, I was down the front and after scanning the crowd several times, eventually I spotted Miss in the jungle. Many of the kids were waving out to the crowd and getting rather excited. However, Miss didn’t respond to me at all. I was pretty hard to miss. What started out as something like a dignified, royal wave became more frenetic as she absolutely failed to respond. She didn’t smile or even blink in my direction. Not one to be ignored, I’m waving both arms by now and doing everything but screaming “cooee” above the hubbub. I decided I wasn’t going anywhere until she responded. She might have been up towards the back but I was standing right in front of her waving my arms, taking photos with the standout Nikon SLR camera (something with a real lens not one of these Mickey Mouse phone cameras). I mean… I really stood out. It was almost like I was standing there with two heads and still she refused to acknowledge my existence. Eventually, finally, at a point no doubt verging on terminal embarrassment, she waved back. Relief! She later told me that she’s not supposed to wave. You see, at 8 years of age, she’s already the consummate stage professional!

Naturally, I wasn’t the only paparazzi in sight. As I scanned around the audience, there was an array of camera phones sticking up above the audience like the sort of TV antennas you see in regional towns desperately trying to pick up the city stations.

The singing was absolutely beautiful and a real tribute to everyone involved. The children sang beautifully in unison and sat still for considerable periods on stage during other performances. The concert began at 7.00PM concluding at 9.30 which is well past many of their bedtimes and yet they were the consummate performers…real little professionals.

While this performance was mostly about our daughter, there was also a ghost in the room…my grandmother.

Hard to believe my grandmother was ever a 15 year old schoolgirl. She, on the other hand, didn't recognise the old lady staring back at her in the mirror. I now understand what she meant!

Hard to believe my grandmother was ever a 15 year old schoolgirl. She, on the other hand, didn’t recognise the old lady staring back at her in the mirror. I now understand what she meant!

A review of my grandmother's Concert at the Sydney Town Hall SMH April 10 1935

My grandmother’s Performance at the Sydney Town Hall 6th April, 1935 SMH April 10 1935

My grandmother, Eunice Gardiner, was an internationally successful concert pianist, music critic and piano teacher at the Sydney Conservatorium. Eunice was taking up a 2 year scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music in London. A fundraising committee had been formed to raise funds towards her living expenses in London. As part of these fundraising efforts, Eunice gave a concert at the Sydney Town Hall on the 6th June, 1935.

This is a story I grew up with and I remember my grandmother showing me her precious newspaper clippings in her seemingly ancient scrapbook. This wasn’t something we looked at often…only once or twice in my life time and indeed while working on her memoirs, she even let me take it home for awhile to scan. Talk about precious cargo. This was back in the days before the old newspapers had been uploaded onto the Internet and you couldn’t just summon up someone’s entire life history with an instant and exceptionally gratifying Google search. Of course, you could look at the old newspapers on reels at the State Library but you needed to do your research first. It was a tedious, laborious process. So these press clippings and particularly her scrap book, were incredibly precious!!

Anyway, as we arrived at Town Hall, I was no longer viewing my grandmother’s concert as an ancient black & white newspaper clipping but as a living, breathing experience. I was walking up Town Hall Steps with her parents and brother, Les. I could feel their pride bursting through my heart and saw it reflected back to me as our daughter sang up on stage, enjoying the whole experience. This was not necessarily going to be a given. Singing in front of 1000 can be daunting if not terrifying but it seems that being part of a crowd can be a good thing.

Once upon a time, when I was a little girl, I’d had my own piano performance. However, it was hardly at the Sydney Town Hall but in a hall hired by my piano teacher in Wahroonga, a Sydney suburb quite a long way from the Sydney Town Hall both in terms of kilometres and kudos. While it was a big thing for me to be performing at the concert and I had practiced pretty hard and knew my piece from memory, the fact that my grandmother was attending the concert was a big deal. I distinctly remember getting in the car and Mum asking me if I had my music. I told her that I didn’t need it…that I knew my piece from memory. I was a confident little kid and not easily intimidated. I didn’t need my music and I was going to do it my way despite my mother’s concerns.

Well, of course, I got up on stage my legs dangling from the piano seat and of course I lost my place. I remember this terrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Mum had seen it coming and I’d botched it. Plus, my grandmother was watching. I’d been to see her perform at the Sydney Opera House wearing my very best dress which she’d brought back from me from Norfolk Island and where I couldn’t cough, sneeze, go to the toilet and if you sat very, very still, you were actually permitted to breathe. My grandmother wasn’t one of those grannies who give you Freddo Frogs (https://www.cadbury.com.au/Products/Pre-teens-Confectionery/Freddo.aspx) either . She was in some sort of inter-stellar zone us mortals could only watch from the outside. I can almost feel myself stop breathing yet I persevere and tinkered with the keys until I found my place and kept going…my pride wounded but undefeated. I am so proud of that little girl who didn’t just burst into tears and exit stage left..It might not have been a perfect performance but I persevered and I conquered.

You can read my grandmother’s obituary here: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/obituaries/a-musical-career-honed-in-the-laundry-20090823-ev2w.html

Actually, perhaps the last word on that concert should go to my grandmother. When she reflected on this concert in later life, she mentioned nothing about the epic stumble during my performance. Rather, she tell me that she’d got in trouble with my Dad for disciplining my brother during the concert. That’s right. She’d got in trouble. You know I’m smiling!

Meanwhile, as the end of the year approaches, our daughter’s ballet and jazz concerts lie ahead and I’m practicing for my violin concert. Well, like our daughter I’m part of a group and there will be no solo performance. This is certainly one time I don’t want to stand out and for once in my life, just be one of the crowd.

And I’ll be taking my music!

xx Rowena

PS This is a Freddo Frog:

Introducing Australia's very own Freddo Frog.

Introducing Australia’s very own Freddo Frog.