Tag Archives: movies

Kitten Sitting.

If you know anything about our place what with three sheep dogs under one roof, you’ll know we weren’t the ones doing the kitten sitting. Rather, a friend of mine has been minding this adventurous and very hungry kitten. Indeed, it seems this kitten’s been competing with the very hungry caterpillar to see who can scoff the most food in a week. So, let’s hope that when its owner returns from her holiday, that he hasn’t disappeared inside a cocoon. I wonder how the metamorphosis of a kitten would work out? What would it become? That’s the sort of idea which might’ve inspired the likes of Roald Dahl to write another book. However, I’m going to leave that thought well and truly alone.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share 14th January, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

If you were to come over to my place for coffee this weekend, I’d be apologizing for the preponderance of crates, and random flotsam and jetsom all over the loungeroom , and recommend we head out for coffee today. I’m sure you know how it is. Once you let all that compressed clutter loose, you have a monster on your hands and it’s a massive effort to divide and conquer and finally get rid of the piles. It feels like this is all I’ve been doing in January, but that isn’t quite the truth. At least, I hope it’s not. What a way to spend the Summer holidays!

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Dog Beach: my daughter inscribed this with a stick in the sand.

Just in case you’re living in the land of snow and ice, you might want to get changed into something a little more comfortable, and we could well head for the beach. If you’re feeling energetic, we coud also take the dogs…Lady, Zac and Rosie. Zac and Rosie are 6 month old border collie x kelpie pups and they’ll definitely raise your heart rate. They love running and are so sleek, graceful and beautiful to watch speeding through the sand. From this, you’ll understand that they’re off the leash and truly able to let themselves go. Fortunately, they are well attached to us and haven’t disappeared chasing a seagull down the far end of the beach. It happens often enough down there and it is quite a challenge to retrieve your charge. .

We’re not planning to foster any new pups at the moment. The new school year starts in a fortnight and I’m working flat out to get the kids and the house ready for the new school year. Can we get it sorted this year? We’re in much better shape than previous years, when we’ve arrived back from holidays the night before and winged it.  That was much easier back in primary school, when the kids were younger. Our daughter starts high school this year and that’s all new uniforms and we’ve had to wait for the skirt to come in. Yes, I have made myself a note. With so much going on, I’m sure my brain’s run out of RAM.

I don’t know if you’re into research at all. However, as much as people talk about being focused to succeed, research is more like following a random goat trail through the wilderness. That said, you need to leave some flags, markers or pebbles along the track, so you can find your way back to the fork in the road where you darted off.

This week, I’ve dug out my research on the Johnston’s of Islay, which I haven’t touched much for the last 15 years. This is an exploding file and I’ve achieved quite a lot on this line. Yet, there were still quite a few deadends all those years ago, which were worth revisitnig now that so much material is available online.

Of most general interest, the Johnstons of Islay were whisky distillers, and dare I suggest, heading back into the not so dark ages, that they were whisky smugglers as well. Now the story is really starting to get interesting, especially when you start hearing about distilling operations concealed in deep limestone caves. No pirates required. These were my ancestors. By the way, the Johnstons founded Laphroaig and Tallant Distilleries.

I’ve never been to Islay and a trip isn’t on the cards any time soon. So, I’m doing my best to try and get a feel for the place. Part of that, as an Australian, is getting my head around what it’s like to live in a small island community, when we live on an island CONTINENT…a land of sweeping plains.

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Above: Map of Islay, Scotland. Ireland is to the South.

Trying to get some appreciation of Islay’s size, I did a bit of a comparison. Islay has an area of 619.6 km² Now, here in Australia, we think Tasmania is small. It’s also an island and Geoff’s grown up there and so we have a reasonable understanding of what it’s like to live there, adjcent to the Australian Mainland, and infamously being left off the map. Moreover, when we were taught to draw the map of Australia, I’m pretty sure that Tassie went into a one cm gap. That’s small. It’s much larger when you get there and realize there’s a hell of a lot squeezed into that deceptively small space. However, compared to Islay, Tassie’s a giant…a whopping  68,401 km². Not a useful comparison after all. Even Bali’s  more than double it’s size at 5,780 km². This leaves Singapore being the closest size comparison, measuring in at 719.1 km².

Aside from chasing whiskey smuggling ghosts and trying to get ready for the new school year, I did watch a great movie…It’s A Wonderful Life. I hadn’t heard of it before but it was on display in the supermarket and I’ve been enjoying re-watching my stash of DVDs, some of which, have never made it out of the plastic.

Have you ever seen the movie? Despite my ignorance, it’s considered a classic Christmas movie and one of the most watched American films. Well, I’m Australian so maybe that’s why I haven’t seen it. Or, perhaps I’ve just been living under a rock. ore likely, I was out celebrating Christmas, and not stuck at home watching the box. After all, Christmas is in Summer here.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t focus on the Christmas aspects of the film. I was more interested in the plight of George Bailey who is among the town’s brightest and can’t wait to leave this one horse town and explore the world. He has big dreams of world travel, going to college and he worked dime by dime to put the money away, but there was the competing pull of the family business and helping people out. This is a pull I relate to myself. The need to be here and look after the family versus writing, travel and becoming all that I could be in myself, which could very well come at a high price. Relationships versus achievement? Do we have to make a choice? Or, can we have it all? That, I believe, is one of the great questions of our generation.

Here are afew great quotes from the movie:

Pop: I know it’s soon to talk about it.
George: Oh, now Pop, I couldn’t. I couldn’t face being cooped up for the rest of my life in a shabby little office…Oh, I’m sorry Pop, I didn’t mean that, but this business of nickels and dimes and spending all your life trying to figure out how to save three cents on a length of pipe…I’d go crazy. I want to do something big and something important.
Pop: You know, George, I feel that in a small way we are doing something important. Satisfying a fundamental urge. It’s deep in the race for a man to want his own roof and walls and fireplace, and we’re helping him get those things in our shabby little office.
George: I know, Dad. I wish I felt…But I’ve been hoarding pennies like a miser in order to…Most of my friends have already finished college. I just feel like if I don’t get away, I’d bust.
Pop: Yes…yes…You’re right son.
George: You see what I mean, don’t you, Pop?
Pop: This town is no place for any man unless he’s willing to crawl to Potter. You’ve got talent, son. I’ve seen it. You get yourself an education. Then get out of here.
George: Pop, you want a shock? I think you’re a great guy. [to Annie, listening through the door] Oh, did you hear that, Annie?
Annie: I heard it. About time one of you lunkheads said it.
Clarence Oddbody
  • Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?
  • [Inscribed in a copy of Tom Sawyer] “Dear George, remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings, Love Clarence.”

Mr. Henry F. Potter

  • [to George] Look at you. You used to be so cocky. You were going to go out and conquer the world! You once called me a warped, frustrated, old man. What are you but a warped, frustrated young man? A miserable little clerk, crawling in here on your hands and knees and begging for help.
-+-

Anyway, I clearly enjoyed the movie and got a lot out of it.
Any thoughts?
Well, it’s Sunday night here and I have one pup chewing a pencil to bits and the other up on my lap. He’s managed to cohabitate with the lap top and is draped over the right arm of the chair while the laptop is perched on the left with a good gap from my cup of tea.
This has been another Weekend Coffee Share. Eclectic Alli is hosting a coffee share and Here’s the link up. Come on and join in!  We’d love to have you along!
How  has your week been? I hope you’ve had a great week and I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to in the comments.
Best wishes,
Rowena.

BB8… Welcome To Our World!

This week, we celebrated our daughter’s 10th Birthday.

Happy Birthday Miss!

So far the celebrations have been fairly low key as she’s just started at a new school and we’re still getting organised.

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However, we did manage to get her BB8, the cute little droid from Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens. He’s a fantastic toy, which you control via the touch screen on your iPad. As he glides along the floor, he babbles away in electronic gibberish, similar to R2D2. Not only that. He even writes you text messages:

“Aggressive life forms detected”…This was the dogs.

“Debris detected”. This was the waste paper bin.

“Unidentified humanoid life forms detected”…us.

“Distress signal detected”…BB8’s head had fallen off.

So, just like we welcomed Miss into the world ten years ago, this week she welcomed BB8 into her world.

I don’t know what it is about him but he’s absolutely irresistible…even to a serious technophobe like me, who still goes into daily battle with the TV remote!

Perhaps, it’s because he’s fun…loads of fun. Fun is good.

But is being “fun” enough? Don’t you need to have some sort of purpose, goals, function, destination and ideally all of the above?

I would like to think so but maybe I’ve over-rated their importance. Perhaps, I should thrown away my Clark Kent glasses, roll aimlessly across the floor while chirping incomprehensible nothings and when my sweet little head falls off, just wait for someone else to put me back together again?

Be fun-tabulous!

I don’t know.

After all, is that really how to win friends and influence people?

I didn’t think so.

However, when you compare my popularity with that of BB8, you know who’s winning and it certainly isn’t Madame Smartypants! Oh no! Not at all!

So what makes BB8 so irresistible and please don’t just tell me it’s all just marketing hype. I haven’t been anywhere near any of that !@#$ and I’ve fallen head over heels in love with the little guy.

There has to be more to it. Something deep and subliminal and also a bit sneaky so you can’t quite work it out. It’s definitely not a conscious thing. At least, not for me.

Of course, I could go and research how his carefully chosen features somehow trigger some sort of psychological response. He is small, vulnerable and his electronic mutterings do sound quite a lot like a chirping baby bird. All of this might trigger some innate urge to protect him…especially if you, like us,  have pets in the house who could well decide that he’s their kind of toy. After all, if you were a Border Collie obsessed with chasing tennis balls, wouldn’t a robotic ball just be your idea of heaven?

Exactly!

So, BB8 was very astute to flag the dogs as: “Aggressive life forms detected”.

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Bilbo & BB8: “This is NOT a tennis ball!”

Meanwhile, my parents rang up to wish Miss a Happy Birthday. While I chatted with Dad afterwards, he mentioned how amazing it was that a kid could get a robot for their birthday. Then he added, almost apologetically, that when he was ten, we didn’t even have TV in Australia. With that comment, Dad suddenly aged and then I also remembered how the ice man used to get round in a horse and cart when he was a boy. That’s right. There weren’t electric refrigerators in Australia then either. As for computers, the closest thing could well have been the slide rule.

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Miss on the phone to my parents.

I don’t remember a lot about what I received for my 10th birthday but my grandfather gave me an electric blanket for my 9th birthday. These were pretty new back in the 70s. Papa arrived at my party looking so chuffed with this huge box tucked under his arm looking like Santa (he wasn’t exactly slim!) I still remember my incredible excitement! My other grandparents used to send me $5.00 notes through the mail. $5.00 actually bought you something then!

All this reflecting wasn’t doing us any good. Although Miss was the one who’d turned a year older, it was actually my father and I who had suddenly aged, as we were brutally reminded that we’re not children anymore!

Indeed, it was far worse than that!

Somehow, we’d both become living dinosaurs…wonders to modern science.

I have no idea how this came about but it was definitely a good time for my head to fall off so I could bury it in the sand.

Another birthday? I really just don’t want to know!

How about you? Do you have any special birthday stories? Funny presents? Then and now stories? I’d love to hear them!

xx Rowena

Flash Fiction: Beyond Fame…the Wilderness.

“Oh how the mighty have fallen!” Maggie swooned in an Oscar-winning performance.

At least, it would’ve been if that horrid flock of dolly birds hadn’t knocked her off her perch. Stolen her limelight.

Marriage and kids would have been an honorable exit.

Not this!

More than once she’d thought about mixing those blessed headache powders with a sherry. Yet, as much as she longed to feel absolutely numb, she didn’t want to die. She just wanted to hear their applause one more time!

Yet, the sands had almost slipped through the hour glass and she couldn’t put them back.

………………………

Today, I’m responding to a fiction prompt from Charli over at Carrot Ranch Carrot Ranch: “In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about wild spaces. Is it a wilderness or a patch of weeds in a vacant lot that attract songbirds. What is vital to the human psyche about wild spaces? Bonus points for inducing something cute and furry.”

While my initial thoughts headed towards driving across Australia’s Nullarbor Desert where my “something cute and furry” involved road kill with an eagle stubbornly perched on top, I strayed towards the suburban wilderness…a forest of red roofs. This was how Maggie was born…the elderly movie star. We have a dreadful anti-smoking ad here where this woman who has had  head and neck cancer puts her blond wig on, teeth in, device in her neck and is now ready for the day here . This was the image that came to mind for Maggie. Imagine if you were an aged movie star and that was the only work you could get?  Definitely an encouragement to quit while you’re ahead…both in terms of a sagging career and the smoking.

Something tells me that Charli was looking for something else in  the wilderness but so often the story tells itself. We are just the hapless scribes.

xx  Rowena

 

The Dog and her Castle

Apparently, humans are not alone in needing their castle. It appears that a certain dog also needs her own castle. Once again, Lady has usurped her position in the hierarchy and has taken over our home and made it HER castle!!  After all, why stop at a kennel when you can take over the entire house…especially when you’re a “Lady”!By the way, she’s also set her sights on our car and world domination is only a few paw prints away.

Not that our place is a castle. It’s actually more of a “renovator’s dream”, which as is often the case, has become more of a “renovator’s nightmare”. It’s now 14 years since we bought the house and although we’ve made some progress, we’ve been stuck in some kind of perpetual holding pattern for a considerable slab of time. Actually, we’ve steadily been going backwards.

The Castle...an iconic Australian movie.

The Castle…an iconic Australian movie.

Now, if you’re not from Australia or New Zealand, you might not pick up that there are castles and then there’s: THE CASTLE!! A movie which turned a humble weatherboard home located right on the edge of Sydney Airport into the Taj Mahal.After receiving a resumption notice to extend the airport, blue collar worker Darryl Kerrigan,went all the way to the Australian High Court to save their home, saying:”I don’t want to be compensated. You can’t buy what I’ve got!” This is, therefore, your classic tale of David versus Goliath and even though it parodies the working class Aussie battler., it does so with a sense of admiration and near reverance, not ridicule.

The Infamous Pool Room.

The Infamous Pool Room.

The Castle’s inner sanctum was the “Pool Room” where anything special was proudly put on display:Now, when someone receives a present they really love, you’ll often hear: This is going straight to the pool room.” www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBXHTvgN5ko

Son Dale and father Darryl comb through the pages of an Australian classified adveretisments newspaper called the Trading Post. Dale would find the most extraneous items such as jousting sticks and Dad would ask how much they want for them. and in a phrase that has now been incorporated into the Australian vernacular, Dad would reply: “Tell him he’s dreaming!!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jL2DH-nKBeA

Another interesting scene in the movie is a trip to the family’s holiday house at Bonnie Doon. which is surrounded by a veritable jungle of towering powerlines. I’ve actually driven past where that scene was filmed and those powerlines truly dominate the landscape! You’ve got to say that it was definitely a case of  “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.  or that “life is what you make it”.

As far as our place is concerned, I certainly don’t consider it my castle but perhaps once the renovations are “done”, I might be able to view it as more than some kind of sandcastle. To be honest, it would be great to denote the place and rebuild rather than renovate but small steps…

Meanwhile, Lady is back out to her kennel. Actually, it’s Bilbo’s kennel and we’re not exactly sure who’s sleeping where but they have been spotted sharing Bilbo’s kennel. However, as they’ve both had the snip, this isn’t quite as “romantic” as it sounds. They’re probably just cold…lonely…

Meanwhile, I’m dreaming of a different sort of castle. Indeed, I wouldn’t mind a chateau but right now I’d be ecstatic just to have a house that didn’t need any work and was “done”.

I’m sure Geoff would more than second that motion!

xx Rowena

 

Paper Planes: Having A Happy Birthday Party at the Movies.

On Sunday, we had a truly fabulous day celebrating our son’s 11th birthday and we even managed to pull off a party!! Given the amount of effort that went into making the cake and the thought that went into the presents, it’s a miracle that I had any energy left for the party.I must have had a second wind because on reflection, I should have needed CPR.

However, that’s where having a party at the movies was fabulous. We just had to turn up and indeed, they would have done the cake too if I hadn’t  been so set in my ways.

With his birthday being on Sunday, I thought we should have his party on the actual day but time was rapidly running away from me and I’d planned nothing. Nothing at all. I usually like to give about a month’s notice for a party but with less than a week to go I found out the Australian Movie, Paper Planes, was showing and then I was madly emailing the cinema and we had a party, guest. and then it was all lights, camera, action!

Phew!

Paper Planes

Paper Planes  was a great movie and the kids loved it. The plot was very loosely based on a 2009 episode of Australian Story called “Fly With Me” which tells the story of paper plane enthusiasts, Dylan Parker and James Norton. Here’s a link through to “Fly With Me”: http://www.abccommercial.com/librarysales/program/australian-story-fly-me-dylan-parker

In the movie, Dylan, a  young boy living in a small, West Australian country town, dreams of attending the Australian Paper Plane Throwing Championships in Sydney. In the process, his interest becomes an all-consuming, passionate obsession as he methodically reworks his designs to make them fly further and further…especially as he goes on to attend the world championships in Japan.

“This is a film that celebrates the idea that one sheet of A4 paper, and your imagination, can be a great source of entertainment.”

Robert Connolly, Director

This quest forms the backbone of the movie but the tragic death of Dylan’s mother in a car accident five months beforehand and his father’s inability to come to terms with it and function at even a very basic level, weaves its way throughout the movie.

Paper Planes not only looks at the hurdles you need to overcome to reach success on the world stage, it also looks at relationships under strain and in particular the relationship between father and son. On one hand, there’s Dylan’s relationship with his dad, which is awkward and strained as his father succumbs to grief and depression and is unable to father his son. On the other hand, there’s the strained relationship between his competitor, Jason,  and his pro-golfer Dad, Patrick.  In this instance, the father is incredibly supportive but the son, Jason, distances himself from his father and persistently calls him by his first name, despite his father’s repeated requests to call him “Dad”.

If you have been following my blog, you will know that I live with an ongoing life-threatening auto-immune disease and we have had numerous very close calls and it has been a very real possibility that our kids would lose their Mum and this would be an issue with the movie.

Therefore, it was quite a shock to realise that we’d taken our 11 year old son to see a movie where the main character was a boy about his age who has lost his mum…especially for his birthday party. Not only that but the Dad was understandably not coping and they were surviving on tinned spaghetti. As if that wasn’t hard enough, there was even a heartbreaking song. I was naturally quite upset by all of this although Mister said he loved the movie and this darker sub-plot seemed to pass him by. Thank goodness!

Of course, I didn’t miss it.

Nothing about the death of the mother was mentioned in the movie trailers or the press and I do think that’s a bit remiss. For me, there were some pretty heart-wrenching moments which I could have done without, especially at our son’s birthday party which was supposed to be all about fun and happiness, not revisiting shadows I’ve been trying to put behind me.

But as I said, those darker aspects of the movie didn’t seem to impact Jonathon. He was as proud as punch sitting in the cinema eating popcorn with his family and friends.

Happy Birthday Mister!

Happy Birthday Mister!

Then, it was off to the courtyard outside to have everyone sing him “Happy Birthday” and two of his friends even gave a speech. Then the kids were bowing bubbles, running around and just having fun.

He said it was the best birthday he had ever had and all the trials and tribulations making and patching up sloshy birthday cakes, stressing out over presents and organising a birthday party at the last minute were well and truly worth it.

However, the birthday wasn’t over yet.

There’s now cupcakes for school tomorrow but this time from the shop!

xx Rowena

Sources

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-01-15/paper-plane-makers-unexpected-foray-into-film/6017176