Tag Archives: music

Driving The Tutu Taxi.

Frankly, parenting can take you down some wild and random roads, and I never quite know where I’m going to end up. Or, what death-defying challenge I’m going to be facing next. How I’m going to be stretched right out of my comfort zone. Stretched, and stretched and stretched until breaking point feels like blessed relief.

Geoff and I waiting for the concert to start.

Just as a bit of background, I’ll share that when our son was in kindergarten aged five, a friend and I cottoned on that what you really want as a parent, is an average kid. After all, academically the school system caters best for a child of average intelligence, and you don’t need to be Einstein to realize that if your progeny has any kind of talent, you’ll not only be driving from here to Timbuctoo, you’ll also need a second or third job to pay for it.

However, at the same time both my friend and I couldn’t resist booking our kids into enriching after-school activities, and we paid the price. Her son went on to excel in soccer, and she ended up driving out to the farthest reaches of the state, and almost into the outback. Meanwhile, we’ve driven to the ends of the earth for dance, sailing, and scouts. I have to be honest and say that in some ways being locked down for a few years gave us blessed relief. We could actually stay home. Yet, at the same time, we missed watching them, being part of these communities ourselves, and seeing our friends there as well. It hasn’t all been a one way street.

Anyway, this brings me to the actual good news, and that was that our daughter was accepted into the Youth in the Performing Arts Concerts (YIPA) held locally. It’s held annually for young people aged 13 to 21 years. Being selected was a significant achievement, and an indication that she’s climbed a few extra rungs up the ladder. Wow! Where the ladder is heading at this stage, we don’t know. However, progress is progress.

Photograph: Emily Stoddart.

However, the downside of these performances is all the work which goes on behind the scenes. Today, I spent the afternoon dashing around like a maniac chasing last minute paraphernalia she required, but we actually got her there, on time, in one piece, and she performed to perfection. We were so proud of her, but I’ve got to be honest and say I was just relieved it went without a hitch, especially given how she incorporates the rose into her incredible tricks. It always goes without a hitch. However, since I can barely walk with a mug of tea without spilling it, my own anxiety an run wild. Indeed, I spent most of this performance fixated on that rose and praying nothing would go wrong. Dance, is after all, a nerve-wracking business.

Yes! It all went brilliantly!

Notice the rose in her feet – photo Emily Stoddart.

Anyway, last night’s performance was breath-taking. We very proud of her…and relieved. I am now looking forward to watching her performance again on the video in the comfort of our lounge. Phew! Pure joy!

Does this trigger any memories for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS Here’s a flash back to her first YIPA audition 2019. Aged 13.

Musings Of A Rose…Friday Fictioneers -12th May, 2022.

Tragically, the red rose couldn’t speak for herself, and suffered in silence. How she loathed how humans used roses to cover up their despicable, cheating deceit, when all they knew was pure, unadulterated love.

Love wasn’t meant to hurt.

Yet, the rose was also quick to concede her own flaws. Even she’d accidentally stabbed a finger or two, and drawn precious blood with her thorns. Indeed, this was a serious design flaw she intended to raise with her maker.

Then, suddenly, the rose was brutally cut away from the bush, denied the opportunity for further reflection.

It was February 14th.

…..

100 words

As soon as I saw the photo prompt, I was immediately reminded of Dorothy Parker’s epic poem: One Perfect Rose. You can hear her read it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMnv1XNpuwM

One Perfect Rose

A single flow’r he sent me, since we met.
     All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet—
     One perfect rose.

I knew the language of the floweret;
     “My fragile leaves,” it said, “his heart enclose.”
Love long has taken for his amulet
     One perfect rose.

Why is it no one ever sent me yet
     One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it’s always just my luck to get
     One perfect rose.

Then, of course there’s Bette Midler singing: The Rose:

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers kindly hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields at https://rochellewisoff.com/ 

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share: 21st March, 2022.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you? I hope you are well, and doing okay.

We are going really well here, although our men folk have escaped down South crossing the border of Victoria and are in Geelong. This afternoon at 3.00pm our son will be boarding a tall ship, the Young Endeavour, and at 4.00pm they set sail for Sydney arriving on the 30th March nine days later. It is a trip of a lifetime. Captain James Cook was sailing The Endeavour when he “discovered” Australia’s East Coast back in 1770, and for better or worse depending on your perspective, he claimed Australia’s East Coast for the British Empire. Anyway, in recognition of the Bicentenary of English settlement at Botany Bay on the 26th January, 1788, the British Government gifted Australia with the Young Endeavour to Australia as a youth training vessel and crews, like the one our son is about to be part of, have been sailing it ever since.

The last crew of the Young Endeavour where they’re sitting like large birds out on the masts.

Rather than giving you a second-hand and poorly informed account of what it’s all about, I thought I’d share this breathtaking video from their Facebook page. It makes me wish I was 18 again and on the trip of a lifetime. On the other hand, I was 18 back in 1988, and watching the Tall Ships sail into Sydney Harbour on Australia Day 1988 when it seemed all of Australia was congregated under the Sydney Harbour Bridge at Kirribilli and around around the harbour just to get a glimpse: Here’s the video link: https://www.facebook.com/YoungEndeavour/videos/389567701984131 If you’re interested in following their journey, here’s a link to the Captain’s log: https://youngendeavour.gov.au/the-voyage/captains-log

Meanwhile, I am reluctantly at home. Our daughter had a dance audition yesterday, and I needed to be here. She’s also in her second final year at school and it seems to be assessment season. She also had a nasty virus last week. She had five RAT tests, which all came back negative but that kept her away from school for awhile too.

However, I really enjoyed watching her and the other students from their studio dance yesterday and her long awaited tutu finally arrived yesterday so it was special to see her put that on, although nothing like seeing her p on stage and under lights. I can’t wait. She will be exquisite.

Last week, we went out for a family meal to celebrate both “the kids'” birthdays. As you may recall, Mister turned 18 and Miss was Sweet 16, which are both special birthdays. We went to a so-called “hamburger restaurant” in Terrigal called Milky Lane. OMG! I struggle to find the words to describe the food, the out-of-this-world which transformed the place into an almost out of mind experience. It was so not McDonalds (which is where Miss works btw). I felt old, but it was wonderful and I’d love to go back.

I am actually getting out and about a bit more, but still wearing my mask and social distancing. On Saturday, my friend and I met for coffee at Link and Pin in Woy Woy, and we returned yesterday afternoon to listen to live music. We had no idea who was playing, but caught two acts. The second was called the Howlin’ Rats. The singer, who calls himself Harry Hobbit as is a computer programmer, during the week, had some very interesting effects with his voice which I didn’t really understand so I’ve bought their `CD and I’ve got his number. He asked me to write a bio for the band. I thought it would be interesting, and I’m rather curious. I like stepping into other people’s shoes and it’s just good to have a convo with a stranger in person for a change. Covid has ruined my social life.

Anyway, I need to dash but will be back later to polish this off.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share 10th January, 2022.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Well, I am going to launch off the New Year with a huge philosophical question: why do I always leave writing my coffee share posts down to the last second where I’m racing the clock and nearly missing out by a hair’s breadth?

This sums up 2022 so far and may look familiar to friends of Max the Dog.

I don’t know. Indeed, now more than ever, I have no excuse. The air is covid soup out there, and so I’m either at home or walking around in nature, although I must confess I went to the opportunity shop last week albeit wearing a mask and avoiding all human contact because right now we know EVERYONE has the plague, even if they haven’t fully appreciated it themselves. I guess that also includes me, and my cough, but I always have that so it would be hard to know. Although I’m triple vaccinated and take my daily dose of 1000mg vitamin C, I fully expect to KNOW if and when I get covid on account of my crappy lungs.

Anyway, I’ve become so distracted that I’m distracted from my distractions, and even spent two days entering my family history stuff into Wikitree like a woman possessed. To be honest, I can’t really explain it, but there I was populating cyberspace with all these people who were strangely represented by little Lego people in my head and their little Lego city started out as Surry Hills and Paddington in urban Sydney, and spread out over the Blue Mountains to a place called Rylstone near Orange. It’s a place I’ve never heard of before but it was interesting reading the little newspaper clippings I came across about their life out on the farm there, especially after they’d come out from Ireland.

In a sense it’s not surprising that my need for people interaction, family and friends has become rather warped when I’m an extrovert living underground. We just had Christmas at home with the four of us and were even counting the three dogs this year. Yes, that means there were actually seven of us for lunch and almost enough to constitute a “party”. My parents decided not to attend the big family Christmas to be on the safe side, and by the end of me trying to convinced them to go, Dad won out and we stayed away too. I couldn’t be sure our kids didn’t have it, and I didn’t want Dad’s siblings who are mostly over 70 catching it and going down badly.

However, we made our own day, and we razzled things up a bit with a genuine German Gingerbread House from our local German bakery, and we went driving around looking at the Christmas lights. These were people’s houses so mostly they weren’t as spectacular as what Natalie had to share from Toronto, but there were a few houses that really made a valiant effort. Indeed, they were completely over the top in a way that had to be be seen close up to be fully appreciated.

Not only did we cancel attending the big family Christmas, we also cancelled our annual family holiday to Byron Bay to see Geoff’s sister at Nureybar two doors down from Liam Hemsworth btw. We couldn’t be sure that we wouldn’t be taking covid with us and that area is heavily anti-vax and into natural therapies and it really didn’t feel like it was going to be a true holiday. That we’d be having to be so vigilant, we were better off at home. However, we will take a rain check.

So what with going without the big family Christmas and the holiday to Byron Bay, it sounds like we’ll soon be wearing hessian sackcloth and truly going without. Some would say there’s growth and something strangely cleansing about all of this. You know, leading the simple life and all that. I’m not so sure. I get onto that devil of envy Facebook and see friends smiling away and having real holidays. Am I smiling back at them? What you you reckon? I haven’t stayed away from Facebook completely but it’s definitely not my friend right now.

Meanwhile, outside beckons. Not in a pleasant way though. It’s telling me to go for a walk. Exercise. That’s wonderful when I get there. However, it’s rather cosy at home in the air-conditioning and it’s muggy out. You can almost see the steam rising off the lawn. There’s good reason to go into a sort of comatosed limbo right now and wake up in March when it’s not so hot, muggy, and this covid peak they’re promising is gone. I can go into a crowded room of friends again with a mask and smile, hug and drink champagne without keeling over dead.

So, I’m probably not the best entertainment right now. However, I can recommend a good book. I loved reading Amanda Lohrey’s: The Labyrinth, and I’ve started reading Kay Warren’s: Choose Joy. I really should’ve been delving into that, because I’m been choosing to grumble instead. Well, grumble might be understating things a little but you get my drift.

Anyway, Geoff and I have been going on quite a few walks and even a trip to the Mt Penang Parklands, although the photos are still on my phone and in the pipeline, as the saying goes.

Well, I have to admit I’m proud of myself. I’ve been typing like crazy against the clock and thought that my hour was up but I still have 45 minutes to go. Well, of course, I still need to add a few photos and pretty it up a bit. I’ll even add a few links. Gee, you’re going to get all the bells and whistles now when I thought I might need to cut it short and come back later to finish it up.

This means I can now share my top ten songs for transitioning from 2021 to 2022:

I also shared a few insights into what Christmas 1921 was like after such a strange and challenging couple of years. Of course, we think we’re badly off and the world’s never known anything like this before, even though we’ve all heard of the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1919 and there was something about two world wars as well. However, why let truth get in the way of a good story? Anyway, I shared a letter English-Australian author Ethel Turner, wrote to Australian children in 1921 and a fundraising drive she organised, while also writing a post setting the political and cultural context. Our 2021 wasn’t so bad after all.

Anyway, I have vowed to be more organised next week. Actually do my Weekend Coffee Share on the weekend instead of Monday afternoon Sydney time.

Meanwhile, you might like to join us over at the Weekend Coffee Share, which is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 24th October, 2021.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Tonight I’m celebrating a journey of epic proportions. For the first time in four months, we actually drove over the Hawkesbury River Bridge and into Sydney to visit my parents and brother. The last time we came out of lockdown and we saw them again, I was so excited and I was soaring. It reminded me of going up to see my grandparents in Queensland and I’d almost be leaping out of my skin waiting to see them. I was much calmer this time. I hadn’t made a cake or anything (which is rather exceptional), and I’ve been trying to pace myself a bit. All these rushes of excitement can be quite exhausting and I’m just trying to remain on more of an even keel.

I couldn’t resist photographing this portrait of my Great Great Aunty Rose on the piano keys. I was about ten when she passed away.

Usually, I’d take my violin down with me and mum would accompany me on the piano. However, I haven’t practiced much in the last six to 12 months so there wasn’t even a quandary about taking that. Instead, I sang long to a couple of Beatles songs…Michelle, Hey Jude, Yellow Submarine as well as Are You Lonesome Tonight? My voice was very rusty, and I’ve been thinking my lung situation had destroyed it. However, it might just be that my register has changed with age. So, I might be doing a bit more singing in the shower. I’ve also made a note to self to get back into practicing my violin and piano. I’m better focusing on one thing but that’s not a balanced life, and now that we’re out of lockdown to some extent, the juggling act has returned.

Tomorrow, our daughter goes back to school. It’s going to be a rude shock, as she was ill and missed a lot of school before lockdown and she’s been doing some schoolwork online from home for the last four months which has included going to the beach. A number of bikinis have arrived in the mail along with sunglasses, and I guess the teachers know what they’re up against and hopefully she can catch up.

As yet, I still haven’t made it to the hairdressers yet. That’s coming up for my daughter and I on Thursday. I’m looking forward to it. meanwhile, she had eyelash extensions fitted during the week. This was something totally out of the realms of my experience as I barely even wear lipstick these days (especially being at home in my PJs during lockdown) . However, now she’s working at McDonalds, she can afford such essential services, and I was merely roped in for taxi duties. Of course, she didn’t tell me it was going to take two hours until were about to leave and she suggested I might need a book!

So, while she was there, I hid out round the corner at the Mt Penang Parklands finishing off my book (Julia Baird’s Phosphorescence: On awe, wonder and things that sustain you when the world goes dark.) I also walked around photographing the wildflowers. In typical Rowie fashion, I managed to get lost and struggled to find my way back to the entrance. However, I was somewhat relieved to read that the architect of these 56 hectare gardens liked to think of it having a hide and seek element to it. However, I don’t think seeking my self was quite what he had in mind!

BTW here’s a link to the post I wrote abt visiting the gardens: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2021/10/23/mums-taxi-revisits-mt-penang-gardens-north-of-sydney/?wref=tp

Meanwhile, my research projects are progressing. As you may recall, I’ve been helping my friend research his father’s experiences as a Polish bomber pilot in WWII. It’s a slow process exacerbated by the language difficulties, but we’re making headway. It’s also turned out that others have been posting about his dad and a few of his close mates and that’s really added so much to his story. There are two Christmas greetings his follow pilot Alojzy Dreja sent to English families they’d met in December 1940 and both of these speak about the suffering of fellow Poles imprisoned by the Germans and the Russians. They give a good feeling of what it was to be in exile, but grateful in a sense to at least be free. meanwhile, on the Ethel Turner front, I am currently reading Little Mother Meg, which is the third book of the Woolcot series which includes her most famous work: Seven Little Australians. I haven’t written a post over at Tea With Ethel Turner for a week now. So, that’s a priority. It’s hard to be in so many places at once, especially now that lockdown in easing and we’re getting busier.

BTW I thought you might enjoy this little quote from: Little Mother Meg. The Woolcot’s are holding a dance at their home, which is known colloquially as “Misrule” and Meg’s teenaged brother Bunty who is a bit awkward is a bit unsure about interacting with the girls:

“but what in the world can I talk about to a girl I’ve only just met? You just say,`May I have this dance?’ and she says, `Yes’- if she doesn’t say no, thinking I look the right cut to crush her feet to jellies – and then what on earth is there left to say?”

Meg walks Bunty through the sorts of small talk he can undertake with the girl and then she offers him some very sage advice:

“But do your best to forget all about yourself, and try to give the girl as nice a time as you can.”

I really appreciated that, because when you’re nervous and so self-conscious, you’re not thinking so much about the other person. Indeed, being more thoughtful about them, would definitely give you an advantage.

By the way, I also remember being incredibly nervous and self-conscious about dating when I was at school. Ouch! It could be painful, awkward and so embarrassing.

I was quite captivated by this striking wiggly line along the centre of the jetty.

Lastly, Geoff and I went on an unexpectedly short visit to near by Hardy’s Bay to watch the sunset after Mr 17 burnt his foot on hot coals from his fire pit. There was a quick trip to hospital just to be sure, but he was given the okay and I’m sure that must’ve been the fatest turnaround time on record there. He was in and out in about 30 minutes.

Anyway, that’s about it for the last week.

I hope you’re all keeping well, and had a good week.

Meanwhile, you might like to join us over at the Weekend Coffee Share, which is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

A Twist of Fate -Friday Fictioneers 13th January, 2021.

The curtain raised. We all stood to attention and managed a macabre applause. The band had been blown up in the NYE Paris terrorist attack. In a freaky twist of fate, they’d just ducked outside to have a cigarette, and were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Meanwhile, their instruments which remained exactly where they were, had survived unscathed. I’ve heard that bass player, Sebastian Gordon, intended to quit that night, and that was going to be his last cigarette. Tragically, it was, although it wasn’t how he’d planned to quit for good. It wasn’t how they’d planned to stick together either. Either they’d been born under an unlucky star, or It was a twist of fate.

….

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields at https://rochellewisoff.com/. This week’s photo prompt was kindly contributed by Dale Richardson.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 22nd December, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Well, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve popped by for coffee. Of course, I’m full of excuses and, of course, they’re all very compelling. Top of the list, is the house situation. We’re having my parents over for Christmas lunch, which has somehow necessitated a major renovation of our house in just a few weeks. Fortunately, my husband Geoff has been working from home much of this year, or it wouldn’t have been possible. Not that he’s been renovating on the job. It’s just that he hasn’t been commuting around 2 hours each way to work, and is actually alive at the end of the day.

Geoff cutting up the old carpet. Good riddens, at last!

We’ve actually been trying to launch this reno project for the last six months. The floor boards have been waiting in the garage for us to find someway of magically caterpulting the old piano out the front door. In the end, it turned out to be a classic case of “divide and conquer”. We couldn’t give the piano away as a whole, but it ended up leaving the house in pieces. We’ve kept the keys and pedals, and our friend loaded up the rest on his trailer and disappeared into the sunset. Well, it hasn’t entirely disappeared and a friend did mention something about seeing piano parts outside his place. It does sound a bit suss.

Deconstruction in progress….

As any of you who have renovated will agree, one thing leads to another. Once we moved out the furniture and got the new floor down, it became pretty clear a wall needed painting and then the room. I wasn’t much chop on the painting front, and so I drifted out into what really should be known as the “dump room”, and steadily started making progress and soon I found myself swept up in a whirlwind. Or, more to the point, hundreds of books found themselves caught up in the whirlwind and swept out the door to the charity shop. I decided I’d disposed of enough books to send an entire bookshelf packing, enabling us to turn the dump room into a retreat and we’ll be moving a couch out there tomorrow.

While it’s very satisfying to be on such a roll, with three days to Christmas, it’s hard to know quite when to call it a day and start shoving everything back in, not pulling more of it out. Yet, I’m planning to drop another load off to the charity shop tomorrow and the car’s not full yet. What else can go? What else can I turf and release that bit more space? It’s a sort of mania once it gets hold of you, but while we need to get the house as clean and spacious as possible, we also need to cook and cooking requires ingredients. Yikes, how does a simple lunch become so complicated? I’m sure if Jesus was in charge, he’d just tell me to make them all Vegemite sandwiches and be done with it. Keep it simple, Stupid.

Anyway, what else has been going on?

Well, we were relaxed. Being part of Great Sydney, we watched Melbourne go into lock down and we were just a little superior about it. After all, we always knew Sydney was better than Melbourne. However, Melbourne’s got it’s revenge. Covid’s back with a vengeance with a cluster generated out of Avalon just down from Palm Beach. This general area known as “the Northern Beaches” is now in lock down and people will be doing Christmas at home, potentially alone. It’s pretty tough, especially when people do so much to prepare for the big day, and I know I’ll really be spewing if my parents can’t come up. Christmas is Christmas. It is more than sacred.

How is Christmas looking in your neck of the woods? Are you catching up with family or friends? Or, are you playing it safe, or possibly in lock down. It’s rough when Christmas gets cancelled. I think even the great Scrooge would complain about that.

Anyway, I’d like to wish you are yours a Merry and blessed Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Best wishes,

Rowena

The Piano Deconstructed.

As the saying goes “you can’t even give a piano away anymore”, especially when it’s over a hundred years old, out of tune, verging on decrepit, but with just enough life left to hope someone else might take it on. For the last five to ten years, we’ve been trying to give our piano away. Although we’ve had a few nibbles over the years, there have been no takers, and it just kept sitting here covered in picture frames, and an accumulation of household detritus and dust.

“Some people are aware of another sort of thinking which… leads to those simple ideas that are obvious only after they have been thought of… the term ‘lateral thinking’ has been coined to describe this other sort of thinking; ‘vertical thinking’ is used to denote the conventional logical process.”

Edward de Bono

However, as we found out, it’s all about the packaging. Or, perhaps I should say, how you package it. While no one wanted the entire piano, we finally managed to get our friend Neil interested in the parts. Indeed, he ended up towing most of the piano away in pieces over a few trips, and we were particularly excited to be able to keep the strings in tact, even if Geoff did have to saw through more than 10 centimetres of solid wood to pull it off. Neil’s already mounted the felts in his loungeroom where they’ve become an curious discussion point, and there are plans for a seat out of the wood. Meanwhile, I’m wondering how the birds and possums are going to respond to the ghostly sounds the keyless strings will be playing out in the bush until he works out what to do with it.

Yours truly photographed with the hammers extracted out of our piano. Neil’s cleverly mounted this on a wall. It’s intriguing.

Meanwhile, I have to tell you how much we enjoyed deconstructing this humble 100 year old piano. I know that sounds absolutely terrible, especially when I’m from a family of accomplished pianists. Indeed, it felt very much like a chainsaw massacre, especially after we found out much of it had been glued together, and the only way to get it apart, was to saw it to pieces.

However, ironically pulling it apart emphasized the beauty of its parts, which had become lost in the whole, especially once some of the keys weren’t working, and the cost of restoration was never going to pay off.

Indeed, it was quite incredible to appreciate just how much work, skill and attention to detail had gone into constructing the piano, and I guess we felt a bit sad that it had ended up being a useless lump of furniture and a burden. Indeed, it went further than that. The piano had actually become a significant roadblock, stopping us from renovating our loungeroom and getting it to a state where we’d be comfortable inviting friends over and dare I say it (drum roll) ENTERTAINING!!

So, I guess you won’t be surprised when I tell you that this situation with the piano has become a great analogy for explaining how to deal with a large persistent problem. Somehow, we need to find a way of carving it up into smaller components which will be much easier to deal with so we can clear the decks.

I also think our handling of the piano problem also shows how persistence can backfire. Sometimes, we need to stop persisting and give up. Stop putting up with a burden, problem, difficult person or situation and decide that “enough is enough”. It is going, going, gone!

Do you have any special memories of the piano? Or, perhaps you have a few horror stories instead. It’s a shame that the piano no longer holds it’s place at the heart of the family home with people gathered round to sing and play together; and also how it’s demise can also be attributed to the clutter Nazi’s who on’t let another gather dust. It is OUT!

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 21st September, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

I don’t know whether most of you are aware, that I usually post my coffee share late on Monday night Sydney time, and I view sharing what happened on my weekend as a feature of my posts, as much as what happened during the previous week. This is one of the benefits of being ahead on the International time zone front. However, on nights like tonight, I’ve moved well onto the next week and almost forget to post. Indeed, I’ve almost forgotten what happened last week.

Yet, I haven’t forgotten my quest to find the elusive Waratahs in our local National Park…or my success (which you can read about in my previous post). I haven’t forgotten that walk either because I slipped and did a bit of what my husband refers to as “rock surfing”. It wasn’t a major fall. However, as I was sliding down, I realized my leg was in an awkward position and was being twisted in opposite directions. Clearly, that wasn’t good and in a moment of terror, I thought I was about to break my leg. I managed to jiggle my leg a little which might’ve saved the day. However, although I was able to hobble back to the car, it didn’t stop Geoff from having to step in once again as my knight in shining armour… and it still hurts.

I was quite enchanted by the shadows the gum trees cast across the bush track. Could be rather haunting as well.

Last Tuesday, I set off driving towards nearby Patonga through the Brisbane Waters’ National Park in search of the elusive Waratah, which is not only our state’s floral emblem, it’s also the ruby in her crown. I was fortunate to spot a cluster of Waratahs just beside the road and was absolutely smitten. They’re just beautiful.

I also went for a brief bushwalk across the road a long a fire trail which leads onto the Great North Walk. I wasn’t so interested in that at this point. Rather, I was pursuing the Spring wildflowers. Although 2020 has been a bad year in so many ways, it’s actually been a great year for the wildflowers here. That’s probably because we had somegood solid rains over the last couple of months. However, I’m also tempted to question whether the very adversity which has given us humans such challenging circumstances has actually caused these masters of adversity to thrive? Our fauna is rough and rugged and you just need to check out the sharp, leathery leaves of many of our plants, to realize they’ve got it tough. Moreover, quite a number of the gum trees I saw had been burned most likely during burn offs, but we’ve also had a few fire bugs lighting fires over there. So, who knows? Well, it wouldn’t take much for me to find out, as there are very few secrets around here, but I’ve been quite busy so the mystery will have to remain for awhile yet.

This plant’s known colloquially as “Egg & Bacon”.

In addition to getting out for my walks and doing some photography, I’ve also been doing a fair bit of baking. Actually, I’ve been doing a lot of baking last week as I had a few things on. There was a batch of chocolate chip and hazelnut cookies. Then, I made a pavlova to take to a friend’s birthday. Saturday turned into a big bake. I made a Bran Cake with dates and apricots for my Dad as a belated Father’s Day gift. I’d also been asked to make a birthday cake for our Pastor’s birthday for Sunday. She likes lemon and so I made a lemon sour cream cake and baked it in a rose-shaped bundt tin my mother gave me awhile back. I drizzled it with lemon icing and sprinkled it with finely chopped strawberries. There wasn’t much of that cake to go round. So, I also made a chocolate cake in a silicone mould shaped like a castle. Unfortunately, I had trouble getting it out and it started to crumble. In fact, it resembled more of a jumping castle. However, those of you who have made a few cakes in your time, will know the power of a bit of strategically placed icing and decoration. I’d always planned to cover it with chopped up Violet Crumble, but it turned out better than I thought and the honeycomb turned into bricks. I thought it needed some kind of character in the cake and I found a dude in a bag of stuff heading to the charity shop. You beauty! The cakes had balloons added and they were walked down the aisle for Happy Birthday. I thought it was quite funny seeing them there getting the royal treatment, especially after my troubles with the castle cake. However, they were very popular, and they had a good laugh. Thought all my mishaps were intentional. Should’ve kept my mouth shut. However, baking is something that usually keeps me humble. It doesn’t take much for a triumph to become a tragedy. I also bake not only because I enjoy it and eating the goods, but also to cheer people up and make them happy. Indeed, I’m becoming more and more convinced of the power of food to help you feel better, which doesn’t bode well for those trying to diet and wanting to break those bonds. I can be quite a bad influence.

Meanwhile, our son has had an important series of exams at school. He will start Year 12 in a few weeks’ time, which is our final year of school. Geoff and I were clearly more stressed about it than he was and I don’t know whether I want him to do poorly to learn the value of hard work. Or, have naturally ability and come through. It’s a bit hard to pull that off at this stage of the game, but he could be lucky.

Lastly, our efforts to clear out some of the stuff from our house and yard are ongoing. My old electric recliner went and we put a very old airconditioning unit out the front which was so heavy it took two people to lift it, and it was gone in 15 minutes. We suspect someone’s carted it off to the metal recyclers. We’re also in the process of dismantling an old piano. A friend didn’t want the piano as a whole but is interested in the bits and pieces. I’m keeping the keys and the pedals to mount on the wall and he’s taking much of the rest. However, it needs to be destringed before it goes, which is going to be a beast of a job and also potentially dangerous.

Lastly, I’m not sure whether I’ve mentioned much about buying a Yamaha MX88 keyboard synthesizer in lieu of the piano. Or, whether you’re aware that I play the violin. Well, I thought that if I’m going to play the piano that I should learn to play “Piano Man”. However, my husband made me feel like my rendition was in a coma. It was too slow. However, it sounded much better when I played it on my violin. Does that make it “The Violin Woman”? I’m not sure, but I’m persevering and enjoying myself and I am improving. I’ll just repeat that. I am improving.

Anyway, how have you been? I should’ve offered you a tea or coffee at the outset and a slice of something. However, I glossed over all the formalities this week and didn’t make a big song and dance over it all.

Anyway, I hope you’ve had a great week.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Alli here: https://eclecticali.wordpress.com/2020/09/18/weekendcoffeeshare-oh-right-i-also-did-things-last-weekend/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Midnight With the Philosopher’s Journal.

Well after midnight the night before last, a melancholy spirit crept into the house via the backdoor, and  joined me, my cup of decaf tea and row of Cadbury Hazelnut chocolate.  Zac, our gorgeous Border Collie x was sleeping across my lap nursing my keyboard,  while the rest of the house slept (or at least pretended to be asleep). In hindsight, I half wonder whether Zac was there to protect me from such spirits late at night, in the same way he guards the house from more physical threats. After all, when you put things in perspective, we often need more protection from ourselves than an intruder.

Anyway, as some of you would be aware, I’ve been researching and writing a collection of short  bios of Australians serving in France during WWI. I won’t just say soldiers, because my latest addition is Bill the Bantam Bugler, a bantam rooster who joined the 13th Battalion 12th reinforcements in camp at Liverpool in Sydney. Not one to be left behind,  he boarded the Suevic on the 22nd December along with the intrepid  Maud Butler and travelled to Egypt, before arriving in France.As it turned out, Billy the Bantam found his own battlefields in farmyards across France where he became the all-conquering Australian Napoleon of the chicken run. No rooster was too big for this little guy bursting with fight.

It was while I was researching Billy, that I came across a series of journals put out by the NSW Red Cross during the war. These journals have been a treasure trove of snippets, taking me off in all sorts of directions.

As you might’ve gathered by now, my research proceeds in anything but a straight, linear path and darts off on multitudinous detours. These are okay. Indeed, you could well consider them “the scenic route”. However, being in unchartered territory, I also need to develop strategies for finding my way back to the main road, or I’ll never get this finished.

Anyway, in the August 1916 edition, I found a quote which has taken me off on a completely different journey, forging a new main road straight through the bush. It reads:

“Never to tire, never to grow cold; to be patient, sympathetic, tender; to

look for the budding flower and the opening heart; to hope always; like

God, to love always–this is duty.”

Henri-Frederic Amiel

Amiel's journal

I’d never heard of this Swiss philosopher before, or  his famous journal: The Journal Intime. That’s now changed, and I spent the rest of the night reading through the most profound, gripping quotes, which I thought you might also appreciate. These all come from his journal:

“I am a spectator, so to speak, of the molecular whirlwind which men call individual life; I am conscious of an incessant metamorphosis, an irresistible movement of existence, which is going on within me — and this phenomenology of myself serves as a window opened upon the mystery of the world.”

“He who floats with the current, who does not guide himself according to higher principles, who has no ideal, no convictions–such a man is a mere article of the world’s furniture–a thing moved, instead of a living and moving being–an echo, not a voice. The man who has no inner life is the slave of his surroundings, as the barometer is the obedient servant of the air at rest, and the weathercock the humble servant of the air in motion.”

“A bubble of air in the blood, a drop of water in the brain, and a man is out of gear, his machine falls to pieces, his thought vanishes, the world disappears from him like a dream at morning. On what a spider thread is hung our individual existence!”

“Our true history is scarcely ever deciphered by others. The chief part of the drama is a monologue, or rather an intimate debate between God, our conscience, and ourselves. Tears, grieves, depressions, disappointments, irritations, good and evil thoughts, decisions, uncertainties, deliberations –all these belong to our secret, and are almost all incommunicable and intransmissible, even when we try to speak of them, and even when we write them down.”

“Composition is a process of combination, in which thought puts together complementary truths, and talent fuses into harmony the most contrary qualities of style. So that there is no composition without effort, without pain even, as in all bringing forth. The reward is the giving birth to something living–something, that is to say, which, by a kind of magic, makes a living unity out of such opposed attributes as orderliness and spontaneity, thought and imagination, solidity and charm.”

“He who is silent is forgotten; he who does not advance falls back; he who stops is overwhelmed; out distanced, crushed; he who ceases to grow becomes smaller; he who leaves off, gives up; the condition of standing still is the beginning of the end.”

I particularly loved this quote with it’s note of pure melancholy, and social isolation:

“I can find no words for what I feel. My consciousness is withdrawn into itself; I hear my heart beating, and my life passing. It seems to me that I have become a statue on the banks of the river of time, that I am the spectator of some mystery, and shall issue from it old, or no longer capable of age.”

As I read this,  I pictured myself as Michelangelo’s Statue of David standing beside the River Neckar in Heidelberg where I lived many years ago. Or, perhaps, I was seeing Amiel, and I’ll recast myself as the Venus de Milo, which I saw in the Louvre on the same trip.

Perhaps, many of us are also feeling like that powerless, detached, isolated statue on the river bank. We’re simply watching as our loved ones, income, jobs, businesses, savings are all being swept away by the river’s flow, and there’s nothing we can do to hold them back. In so many ways, we are powerless. Or, our capacity to respond and “fix” the impact has been greatly reduced, and this doesn’t sit well in our mindset of “Just do it”, “Make it happen”, or “you can be anything you want”.

Where are we to turn?

My Dad used to say that doing something tough “put hairs on your chest”, which I wasn’t keen on as a girl, but I now understand that he was talking about building grit and resilience. Whatever doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger. He also said: “life wasn’t meant to be easy.” However, he didn’t use the full quote:

“Life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take courage: it can be delightful.”

― George Bernard Shaw

Anyway, getting back to what brought me into my melancholy zone of reflection the other night. Australia is now at the point of legitimately easing social distancing restrictions. While this is seemingly great news, for me personally its implications are mixed. Being at high risk myself, I need to work out what all of this means for me. Being in more of a melancholy mood at the time, I could see myself being left behind at home, while the rest of the country was out partying. Indeed, I even saw myself as that child stuck inside peering out while all the other children are playing. My hands and face are pressed hard up against the window watching all the others play and there’s such a deep, unfathomable heartache. A never-ending but very private cry.  In hindsight, it’s pretty clear that my thoughts galloped ahead of themselves.  We’re not at the point of coming out yet here in NSW, and I might not be left behind. The spread is being very well contained and might be all but wiped out.

With my chronic health and lung issues, these universal restrictions have not only been a lifesaver, for once we’re all in the same boat. Before they came about, with my husband working in a known hot spot and the kids being at school, we were expecting that I’d need to evacuate both from the community and from our family as well. Australia’s initial infection rates were heading along a similar trajectory to Italy and we had no reason back then to believe Australia would largely dodge the bullet. Consequently, we bought a camper to house me away from the family in our backyard. That’s how serious it was. Now, Australia’s in an entirely different position where we’ve almost eradicated the virus, but we’re not there yet.  New cases are still appearing, including a new cluster in Victoria. Restrictions haven’t eased much as yet. However, we will now be able to visit my parents for Mother’s Day tomorrow with the kids. That’s two and adults and dependent kids. That’s all that’s allowed, although school is going back one day a week, but we’re holding back at the moment. I don’t know how it’s going to look in a few weeks. So, I could well have freaked myself out without reason. Our State Premier is taking a very cautious approach. I might not get left behind.

Anyway, in the meantime, I was pleased to hang out with Amiel for a few hours, which has now extended into reading his journal, which is accessible online here and I strongly recommend reading the introduction as well:  Journal Intime

I am trying not to get too caught up what many of us know as “the dark side of the moon”. However, I also feel it’s important to acknowledge that it’s there. That it’s okay to indulge in it for a time, but like my many research detours, we shouldn’t linger too long and always endeavour to get back to the main road. Or, even return via the scenic and take a more uplifting route if we can.

I would love to encourage you to read Amiel’s journal with me and stay tuned for further posts. I already have a few up my sleeve.

How are you getting through the coronacrisis? Are you okay? Or, have you also had times of feeling melancholy, afraid or just confused? Even just having shops, Church, dance studio, schools, parks, museums and art galleries closed is throwing us out of kilter, and we’re not dealing with the worst of it.

It’s important to let these feelings out and share where we’re at. We don’t need to hide our grief away. Those of us well away from the epicentres, have big shoulders and are able to help carry the weight of your grief. It belongs to us all. You don’t need to bear it alone. Thankfully, the Internet is enabling us all to connect despite layer up on layer of border closures, shut downs and precautions and we can spread the love around like lashings of butter on hot toast.

From my place to your place, hang in there and we hope you’re doing okay.

Love,

Rowena

PS A big thank you to all my blogging buddies who’ve been through lock down with me! I truly appreciate our friendship!!!