Naturally, my heart goes out to the people of the Ukraine. I pray that they are able to resist and withstand invading Russian forces and this doesn’t escalate further. Call me a dreamer if you like. However, the alternatives are too awful to contemplate.
Meanwhile, the East Coast of Australia has been inundated with ridiculously heavy rain, which in parts of Queensland has been described as a “rain bomb”. I saw a video today of someone doing laps up and down their backyard on a standard suburban block. That was freaky.
How has your week been?
So, I am feeling grateful. I have a roof over my head, food, water, my family with me and our three dogs.
Actually, speaking of dogs we’re p0articularly grateful to have Lady back with us after she squeezed out the back gate yesterday when we were out and strangers brought her home and secured the gate. So kind of them!!
Despite the rain, I’ve managed to get out for a few short walks this week.
There was the Mt Penang Parklands at Kariong. Our daughter gets eyelash extensions up there every fortnight and I walk in the park while I’m waiting. However, the park itself closes at 4.30pm so I walk down to the pond and through the slushy grass (yes, it is a wetland area) and photographed the reflection of the muted sun through the reeds. It was quite stunning.
Saturday, we had our power switched off for the day for repairs, and so we went out for lunch, and then drove over to Patonga on the Hawkesbury River as it enters Broken Bay. We couldn’t walk far with our shoes on and the sodden beach wasn’t very inviting either. Thought you might appreciate the photo.
Yesterday, we drove over to Terrigal for doughnuts and a walk, which we just managed to squeeze in between heavy downpours and the naughty Lady dog getting out and necessitating a speedy trip home.
Meanwhile, my Google Earth travels through Ireland continue as I continue to research how the Irish Famine impact various branches of our family. Two of the books I’ve ordered arrived: Ciaran O Murchadha: The Great Famine: Ireland’s Agony 1845-1852 and John Quealy’s book of short stories set around Loop Head in County Clare. I don’t know whether he is related to my Quealys from the region, but he provides an insight into being a local and I’m turning to Google Earth while I’m reading along to see the places he’s talking about, which really helps bring these places to life. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get over there.
Now, I need to get moving because our daughter is sitting for her Learner’s Permit and I need to find the paperwork.
How are you? I hope you have had a great week and that all your stars are aligning. I thought that sounded better than having all your ducks lined up, which really makes them an easy target. There are no worries about me on that front. My ducks were rogue years ago, and there’s not a chance of ever getting them all lined up lose to the same location.
know I keep updating you every week about how long we’ve been in lockdown. We’re now just a week shy of three months and no end in sight. Our state premier is raving on about vaccination rates and getting jabs in arms, and yet the infection rates are still over 1000 per day. She’s also talking about opening up, especially for people who are double-vaccinated. This has resulted in talk of a vaccine passport. This hasn’t gone down well in some quarters, especially in religious organizations. They don’t want to refuse entry to anybody who has not been vaccinated. Yet, at the same time, they seem quite happy to exclude people with disability and chronic health conditions who can’t risk catching covid. After all, the vaccine itself isn’t 100% effective and we still need to wear masks and social distance especially in an indoor community setting.
While we’re on the subject, I also want to point out that while our government prioritised vaccination for adults with disability and chronic health conditions, it hasn’t done the same for teenagers when they became eligible recently. It just goes to show me how little people consider our needs. We’re invisible. Anyway, I rattled a few cages and our kids were vaccinated with Pfizer on Friday and it all went well. However, after having to agitate to get our kids vaccinated, I wasn’t in the mood to deal with anti-vaxers.
All of this covid stuff can really do your head in, and I realized I wasn’t doing so well. So, today Geoff and I drove to the Warrah Trig trail and walked to the lookout. The sign said that it was only 500 metres away. However, what it didn’t mention was all the steep stairs and vertical climbing coming back up, which should come into the equation somewhere. Geoff wasn’t too sure I was going to make it back up, but I figured I’d be okay if I took it slowly and kept stopping. So, we certainly didn’t lock the fastest track time but I did clock up 2,237 steps. You can read more about it here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2021/09/20/wildflower-walk-to-warrah-lookout-greater-sydney/
On Thursday, I submitted my entry for the SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition. That was a massive effort. I obviously can’t say too much about it. However, your contribution needed to be less than 2000 words on the theme of living between two worlds. SBS is our multi-cultural TV station. So, the theme naturally leans towards living in between two racial cultures. It’s very tempting to go into it further but you’ll have to wait. Suffice to say I’ve been working on my entry on and off for the last month and with a day to go was advised to cut back on detail. So, I cut that out but in the process, the whole story seemed to fall apart and I wondered whether I would have it all stitched back up together again in time. There were no guarantees. however, gradually I felt it coming together and before I knew it I was on the homeward strait adrenalin pumping and feeling pretty chuffed by my efforts. I read it and read it and re-read and it felt like the words were swimming around inside my eyeballs. I also felt tired and was concerned I no longer had the focus to pick up mistakes. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a huge believer in editing your own work. You see things that aren’t there and gloss over things that are. Have you found that? Well, anyway, time was running out and so I had to press send and be done with it. No more fiddling or bristling around. It was now a done deal. Now, I’m onto the prayer part of that journey.
Lastly, I’ve been getting right into Australian author, Ethel Turner who wrote Seven Little Australians lately. At the moment, I’m reading through her diary and found a list of poems she had memorised. Among them, was Matthew Arnold’s Self-Dependence which I’ve posted here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2021/09/18/poetry-memorised-by-ethel-turner-self-dependence-mathew-arnold/ In this post, I also touched on how I’ve turned to Ethel Turner as a mentor. There will be a lot more where that came from, and I’m actually considering setting up another blog.
Well, that brings me to the end of another week. A friend very kindly popped over on a rescue mission. I was feeling like blowing things up yesterday. So, she brought us some muffins, biscuits and a lot of love. It was wonderful and much appreciated. I hope you are doing okay and I’m thinking of you.
It’s Spring over here, and it’s amazing how our ongoing lockdown has done wonders to cause of wildflowers to go ballistic. There’s such a diversity and abundance of wildflowers this year, although it certainly helps to go bushwalking. We usually have so much on, and this almost forgotten phenomenon known as a “social gathering” that we don’t get out there as much. So, lockdown isn’t all bad, and it’s certainly led many to discover a new-found love of nature and the outdoors.
Today, Geoff and I drove past the Waratahs you’ve seen in previous posts, to find the turn off to Warrah Trigg which has a breathtaking lookout over the Hawkesbury River and across to Patonga on your right and Palm Beach on the left.
There were a few walkers out today, and a few boats out on the water, but not many. We largely has this magnificent place to ourselves.
The walk to the Warrah Lookout is about 500metres one way, and trust me one way was very tempting. While it’s not a long walk, it carves down through the side of a very steep hill. That’s all very well when you’re heading down, but blue murder heading back up, especially considering I only have 50% lung capacity. As we’re heading down, Geoff did ask me a few times whether I wanted to call it quits and head back. “Remember, you’ll need to climb back up!” I did make a joke about being air-lifted out. I wasn’t entirely sure it was a joke.
However, years ago, I had very good advice about breaking tasks down and taking lots of breaks to overcome a challenge. So, I had this real confidence that if I kept stopping and pacing myself that I could make it back up. It was just a bit unfortunate that on this walk the toughest uphill sections and some stairs, would be right at the end. What a relief it was to see our little red car down in the carpark below.
Meanwhile, as I said there was such an abundance of stunning wildflowers, a magnificent floral scent and the sound of buzzing bees. There were absolutely masses of golden flowers Eutaxia obovata but known as “egg and bacon”
There was also this stunning red grevillea, Grevillea speciosa, where its red tendrils dangle like spider’s by what appeared to be a solitary stem. They’re quite captivating.
This character, the Banksia, is not as glamorous as the more colourful flowers, but has plenty of personality.
Well, I hope you enjoyed our walk to Warrah Lookout as much as we did. It certainly helped me detox from lockdown, and also beavering away on my entry for a short story competition.
What with living only 10 minutes walk from the beach, you’d think we’d be down there everyday trying to carpe diem seize the day – especially at the moment during the peak Summer holiday period, where even our dog is sunning herself for hours out in the midday sun. Indeed, this is when all the ring-ins descend on the beach like “plagues of locusts”, as though they own the place. Clearly, if the crowds are any indication, the beach is where we’re supposed to be (although social distancing, of course, this year!)
However, just because we live near the beach, doesn’t mean we don’t have to get on with the realities of life just like everyone else. There’s going to work, school, and our endless battle with trying to sort out, maintain and renovate our house and garden. On top of that, there are the personal crises which affect most families from time to time and despite all the advise to take time out for self-care, it’s very hard (at least for me) to fight my fixation on the problem and a need to get it sorted, which isn’t going to happen if I’m swanning down the beach.
Moreover, this Summer has been uncharacteristically cool, and we’ve also experienced frequent heavy rain. While there are some who still feel the need to get outside even in the rain (and they often have a dog or two in tow), I don’t like get wet at the best of times and being rained on is just plain yuck.
Yet, at the same time, there’s still been enough sunny days to at least encourage me to go for a swim, for Geoff and I to go for a walk, and maybe even the four of us to venture along the beach as a family. That is, if we could actually hit our teenagers over the head with a baseball bat so they don’t mind being seen down at the beach with mum and dad…HOW EMBARRASSING!!
Yet, sometimes, you just need to be forceful. Make it happen.
Finally, Geoff and I actually made if over to Patonga Beach, a 15 minute drive away, and walked along the beach and rocks together where we could soak up each other’s company, and also immerse ourselves in such natural beauty. I really love walking along the rocks, and even though I’m now 51 and have well and truly outgrown my spade and bucket, I still remember going exploring through the rockpools with my dad as a kid, and my incredible delight at finding little crabs and shells. Indeded, even now, exploring the rocks reminds me Keats’ immortal poem: On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies When a new planet swims into his ken; Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men Look’d at each other with a wild surmise— Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
What really struck me about visiting the rock platform at Patonga, was the swirling pattern in the rocks. As Geoff pointed out, the swirls were created as the sandstone was being deposited, seemingly by the ocean currents. We don’t know. We’re not geologists, but we do have inquiring minds. So, if any of you are any wiser and know how these swirls got into the rock, we would love to know.
I have spent years climbing over rocks at the beach. Back when my parents used to have a place at Whale Beach, I used to spend hours down there by the myself, and I’d go down on to the rocks and watch the furious encounters between land and sea. I’d sit on this massive rock, which jutted out into the waves like a mini headland and the waves crashed out the front and swooshed up the side. It was very spectacular, and I almost felt consumed by the ocean, I was that close.
I almost always walk over the rocks in bare feet. Of course, it feels very footloose and fancy-free. Indeed, feeling the sensation of the rough sandstone underfoot, the discomfort of stepping onto those pokey blue periwinkle shells which jab into your feet, is such a sensory experience. It’s just not the same in shoes where your feet can’t see, feel or even breathe it all in. it is as real as real can be especially with the sea breeze slapping your hair into your face. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind at all. I’m fully and completely alive.
It’s interesting too, because each beach is unique. They might look similar, but each and every beach has its own fingerprint embedded in the sand and surf, and it’s own soul bellowing out through the waves and making its presence felt. You can even drive from one beach to the next around here, and the motion of the waves, the action and intensity of the surf, and the nature of the rocks all vary. You could never get bored. Or, at least you shouldn’t. There’s always so much to explore and absorb and it’s all different.
It’s not often Geoff and I go to the beach together. I’ll blame him for that. He goes sailing most Saturdays, and is more of a flat water soul. I enjoy going to the beach, but not when it’s really sunny and I’m likely to fry like an egg and just get burned. I also enjoy sailing, but more on my Dad’s bigger yacht or going out on the kayak. I don’t know how to sail the laser myself.
The other trouble Geoff and I have is trying to find some spare time. Time is constantly going up in smoke, and although our kids are teenagers, they still take up a fair bit of time and emotional energy, and are more likely to need us spontaneously. Indeed, that’s why they have the mobile phones. It’s not so we can keep track of them. It’s so they can keep us on a constant leash…”Taxi!”
“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
However, it’s also important for Mum and Dad to have time together and not just so-called “quality time”, which to me is the biggest cop out ever. From where I sit, it’s very hard to have true quality time if you don’t spend enough quantity time together. Indeed, there’s a lot to be said for just sitting a long side someone for awhile, and simply going fishing or going for a drive. By spending time together, you gain a sense of the whole person, and not just a series of disjointed snapshots. You can tell a few stories, and create a few as well. Indeed, being close to someone is being able to read them like a book. I don’t know about you, but when I read a book, I don’t just speed read from cover to cover. I usually read with a pen in hand and underline my favourite bits. Indeed, I also read in between the lines. After all, good writers don’t spell everything out for us in the text, especially when it comes to poetry. (Humph! No wonder I haven’t read many books lately!) WE have to go looking.
“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.” ― Anais Nin
Meanwhile, Geoff and I were looking at going out for dinner tonight. However, most of the local venues are closed tonight and the weather’s a bit blah. So, we’ve ordered takeaway instead. Now that the house is looking better, it’s much more relaxing to eat at home and we’ll head out for lunch when we’re in Newcastle tomorrow.
How to you juggle relaxation, relationships and the never-ending to-do list? Have you been for any great beach walks or activities lately? I’d love to hear from you!
My apologies. There are slim pickings on the baking front this week after a massive bake-a-thon on Tuesday. Since then, I’ve been trying to minimise the cooking with its inherent mess-making so I can make progress on the house and do some writing. I made a commitment to write in an extended journal this year, and my efforts have been intermittent, and we’re not even out of January yet. Then, when I do write, it takes hours and it looks like I’ll be through what is quite a thick A5 volume by the end of the month. I’ve been holding onto a lot of stuff, and I’m not sure whether it’s good to bring it all back up like this, or not. However, I should put a disclaimer in the front and clarify that this is where I deal with the dark stuff, and I’m actually reasonably okay. Or, at least I was before the teenager got stressed out, and took us on a panic with him. Of course, he rose back up to the surface straight away, but it’s taken us a bit longer.
The highlight of last week was my Great Aunt’s funeral. Not that we actually attended her funeral in person. Rather, because she lived in Brisbane over the Queensland border which is closed to people from Sydney due to covid, we had to watch it via livestream video link.
Now, I understand that this is now pretty much de rigeur with funerals nowadays, and perhaps you’ve already been there, done that. However, this was our first time, and there was a lot to consider. We’ve been to what we call “watch parties” on Zoom before where we’ve gone round to a friend’s place to watch a broadcast together in a small group. So, this gave me the idea of driving down to my parents’ place and watching it with them and my uncle to recreate some sense of the family coming together to celebrate my aunt’s life. It took a bit of talking round to get my Dad onboard and we soon delegated all technical matters to my husband who works in IT and I promised to bake, and Dad said he’d pick up dinner. Mum bought some exquisite white roses and equally beautiful dahlias from her exclusive florist. It was all supposed to go so smoothly, but of course, it didn’t. The derailment began when I couldn’t find my oufit in my cupboard and I ended up pulling everything out because I had to wear these new Italian linen culottes I’d bought recently, even though I wasn’t sure which top to wear and the top I’d had in mind was also missing somewhere at large in my wardrobe. From there it only went down hill where I couldn’t find the link to the funeral in my email via my phone and Geoff couldn’t connect his laptop to my parents’ wifi. So, even though the video cable was connecting to the TV, we ended up with all five of us hovering around Dad’s laptop. Each of us could barely see the screen and while there were buttons to operate different cameras, we weren’t game enough to touch anything and so the slide show of photos from my aunty’s life, appeared like a series of small postage stamps on the screen. At this point, Mum wanted to go and watch it on her own laptop where she could actually see something, but we couldn’t get it up and running in time. So, it was just as well I’d done all that baking and Dad had bought some great food, because we felt better after that. Food had brought us together is a way that technology had failed.
All of this would’ve been rather funny had it appeared in a comedy sketch. However, it was deeply disappointing when we were trying to grieve the loss of our much loved aunt, and that’s why I’ve shared our experiences with you and plan to write a more detailed post about watching a funeral online. If you want to do it in a group, you need to treat it like an event. You just can’t rock up and assume everything will go smoothly, especially when your emotions are already churned up.
After the funeral and my massive baking efforts on Tuesday, the rest of the week was fairly quiet. It’s been pretty hot, and too hot for me to go out at the peak of the day. My daughter, however, was more adventurous and warned me over the phone that she’d turned into a lobster at the beach.
Then, today I really felt the need to get out and my husband and I drove over to Patonga to go for a walk along the beach and rocks. Being a keen sailor, Geoff was keeping a keen eye out on passing yachts. They always epitomise freedom and escape to me, but I don’t understand the technical nitty gritties. It flies straight over my head as sure as any seagull. For me, it was great just to be outside again and to have that vast sense of almost endless space you have at the beach when you look out to see and there’s nothing but blue for a seeming eternity. I also needed some exercise…a walk…and when I was last in Patonga, I’d walked around the rocks and found some intriguing swirl patterns on the sandstone, which I wanted to check out and photograph again. It turned out that the rock platform also had these swirl patterns and I’ll have to look into them further. Intriguing…
By the way, I should’ve mentioned that Geoff was on holidays this week and still has another week of leave to go. It hasn’t really been very relaxing so far, as he’s been working on repairs at home. We had planning to go away to stay with family inland from Byron Bay, but we didn’t want to risk picking covid up on route and any of us getting sick. We tend to go up once a year, and we thought the timing could be better later in the year. –
This coming week, our kids (teens) are off to youth camp for a few days with Church and then our daughter is going off to a Young Carer’s camp at Camp Breakaway about an hour away from here. The break will do us all good. Our son is also helping out with sound at camp and also has two DJ slots and he’s really looking forward to that and takes it all very seriously. It’s very important to him, and he seems to be quite good and developing well. That’s a relief in itself because it’s not always easy for young people to find their thing. Now, we just have to hope covid gets lost and the entertainment industry can get back on its feet.
Well, it’s time for me to get 40 winks now, and head off to bed. How has your week been? I hope you and yours are being spared the worst of these dreadful Covid pandemic. Have you been vaccinated yet? How was it? The vaccine, is, of course, our big hope.
The magnificent Waratah, floral emblem of NSW and Australian cultural icon, is rather elusive in the wild and difficult to grow at home, even if it does claim to “thrive on neglect”. Indeed, up until this week, neither Geoff nor myself had seen a Waratah growing in the wild, and we’ve covered quite a lot of territory in our time. Moreover, although we tried to grow a couple of Waratahs when we first moved in, they didn’t last long. Instead of thriving on neglect, ours must’ve been of a more pampered variety demanding something better than our crappy sandy soil and drought conditions.
TO THE EDTTOR OF THE HERALD.
Sir,-“Ranger” (“Herald,” 3rd instant), referring to a proposed road from Ocean Beach to Patonga Beach, Broken Bay, ventilates a matter of the greatest import to nature lovers. The original plan contemplated a road via the cliff edge between Pearl Beach and Patonga Beach, affording views of surpassing beauty over a couple of miles and already partly constructed. The shire engineer now proposes to substitute a road from Ocean Beach a route scenically much inferior to that first proposed because, forsooth, a gravel pit will be passed en route. On this ridge is an area of, perhaps 15 acres, the flora of which is predominantly waratahs, native pears and native roses. This area was fairly secluded till about two years ago when the shire authorities cleared through it a line a chain wide to run electric light poles to Patonga, arid now vandals in motor vehicles and afoot invade the patch with impunity, till hardly a waratah is left by Eight Hour Day each year. The irony of the matter lies in the fact that branching off the road, as originally planned, is a by-road already used for the haulage of electric light poles, by which the gravel could be carted to the original road. The N.R.M.A. is, I believe, interested in the proposed scenic road, and I would suggest that they, and the naturalists societies, should view the two routes, after which they would, I feel sure, exert their influence in favour of the original plan.
I am etc.,
ANOTHER’ RANGER. . Patonga Beach, July 7. 1936. Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Thursday 9 July 1936, page 4
So, on Wednesday, the intrepid explorer headed out driving through the Brisbane Waters National Park from Umina Beach through to Patonga. I had no real idea of where to find them, only that they were just off the road and I headed for Warrah Trig, which looks out over the magnificent Hawkesbury River, North of Sydney. However, before I reached the turn off, I spotted a bunch of Waratahs growing right beside the road. Indeed, you couldn’t miss them. They were truly spectacular and miraculously, most had managed to survive the secateurs of the thoughtlessly selfish and greedy.
As it turns out, while 2020 has wrought devastating bush fires across the Australian landscape and Covid has forced us into lock down, isolation and cancelled travel plans beyond state borders, especially overseas, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom. Our local wildflowers are actually experiencing a very good year and the Waratahs are the best they’ve been, at least since we moved up here almost 20 years ago. Indeed, you could even say that 2020 is the Year of the Waratah.
Reaching For the Sky
Meanwhile, as a good Australian, I thought I knew all about the Waratah,. Indeed, as I and later we, walked along the bush track to get a closer look, I admired it’s solitary brilliance. That while there were brillant splashes of golden yellow and pink throughout the bush, the brilliant crimson Waratah with it’s stately solitary presence was majestic. Royal. Grand. Roll out the red carpet and take a bow.
However, even the Waratah is much more complex than I’d imagined. What appears as a solitary flower, is actually an inflorescence composed of many small flowers densely packed into a compact head or spike. Moreover, what appeared to be elongated crimson petals at the base of the flower, are actually “bracts”.
Now that I know more about the actual structure of the plant, part of me, would like to dissect a flower to inspect all its elements from more of a botanical perspective, even if it means destroying the beauty of the whole in my quest for understanding (of course, I’d have to buy my specimen and would never ever consider picking one from the bush). Moreover, while we’re being scientific, Waratah (Telopea) is an Australian-endemic genus of five species of large shrubs or small trees, native to the southeastern parts of Australia (New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania). The most well-known species in this genus is Telopea speciosissima, which has bright red flowers and is the NSW state emblem. The Waratah is a member of the plant family Proteaceae, a family of flowering plants distributed in the Southern Hemisphere. The name waratah comes from the Eora Aboriginal people, the original inhabitants of the Sydney area, and means beautiful. Meanwhile, its botanical name, Telopea, is derived from the Greek ‘telopos’ meaning ‘seen from a distance,’ a reference to the fact that the flowers stand out like a beacon in the bush.
Naturally, such a beautiful and outstanding flower has attracted artists and creatives alike. It’s long been incorporated as a decorative feature in Australian architecture and throughout art, literature and even on clothing. While its inherent beauty speaks for itself, the Waratah also shouts “Australia”. Distinguishes us as a nation, a landscape and a people. Moreover, going back in time, the Waratah naturally appeared in the Dreamtime Stories of the indigenous Aboriginal people. This one talks about how the Waratah, which was originally white, turned red: https://dreamtime.net.au/waratah/
Margaret Preston: “Wildflowers etc” Woodcut.
Lastly, we come to actually trying to grow the Waratah yourself. As I said, we actually tried this back when we were idealistic newly weds and were actually connected to our garden and had hopes for its future along with our own. Although the conventional wisdom is that Waratahs thrive on neglect, our usual modus operandi didn’t work in this instance and they didn’t survive long. So, when it comes to advising you on growing Waratahs yourself, I had to turn to the experts from Gardening Australia. Indeed, they’ve very kindly put a video together and the sheer number of flowers on these cultivated plants is very impressive and such a sight to behold. Indeed, I didn’t think it was possible to have so many blooms on one tree. They’re stunning and this brief clip is well worth checking out: https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/waratahs/9429106
Meanwhile, no foray out into the bush is complete without some form of incident. After going for an exhilarating fossick on Wednesday, I managed to lure Geoff out there yesterday during his lunch break. “Oh! You don’t even have to go off the road to see them,” I say. Well, this was very true. However, of course, we wanted to check out the surrounding wildflowers, which are also particularly good this year. The brightly coloured wildflowers were backdropped by blackened, charcoaled tree trunks survivors of a bush fire or back burning. It was hard to believe how many of these seemingly dead gum trees were actually still alive and had a healthy crown of gum leaves crowning out the top. many of which has somehow survived against the odds and are sporting an abundant crown of hardy leaves at the top.
Anyway, we kept walking along photographing the flowers and admiring glimpses of the ocean and distant Palm Beach through the trees. I spotted a large bulbous rock up ahead and suggested we scale it and check out the view. That was nothing special, but I thought the rock would make for a good photo and in my usual photographic zeal where I swing from the chandeliers before checking the prevailing conditions, instead of sitting down on what I thought looked like a set of rock stairs, it turned out to be a slope and as Geoff put it, I went “rock surfing”. I’m quite accustomed to falls. Indeed, I’d tripped earlier in the week and have a nasty bruise on my left arm. However, as my leg seems to twist in different directions, I sensed a whole different kind of horror and was half waiting for the snap…a broken leg. OMG! Such a simple manoeuvre as walking down a bit of rock in the bush, and there I am yet again calling out to Geoff. Once again, he’s watching his crazy wife fall, break and snap right in front of him and he’s powerless to intervene until its over.
Fortunately, I didn’t break my leg (or my neck for that matter). I managed to hobble back to the car after a brief wait and it is weight bearing. However, it does hurt and its not happy. It’s had some ice, voltaren and neurofen and is bandaged up. Hopefully a bit of rest will do the trick and it will be right as rain again. I especially don’t want to have a significant injury over something so simple when I could’ve been skiing, mountain climbing…being an adventurer.
After focusing on the Waratahs in this post, I’ll be back to share the myriad of other wildflowers from our walks and hopefully I’ll be back out there soon!
I don’t always ask that first up. However, given everything that’s going on at the moment, I wanted to see how you are and hope you’re going okay. It’s fine if you’re not. Well, it’s not fine, is it?!! However, with so much going on in some parts of the world, it can be very overwhelming. I wanted to acknowledge that and simply say: “we’re thinking of you”.
All of this seems so far away from our backyard, which has been receiving considerable attention during “iso” and is actually improving. On the other hand, so much else has gone down the toilet along with all that precious loo paper. Yet, in this modern world, nothing is faraway. Much of the time, we end up absorbing foreign news as though it were our own. Besides, many of these issues such as the coronavirus and inequality, are global concerns. Our daughter’s been following the George Floyd protests very closely via Tik Tok and wanting to join a local protest march here in Australia supporting Black Lives Matter. I said no due to concerns about the coronavirus. However, I’m also concerned about her safety if things get out of hand. Although protesting and having having a heart for social justice are in her genes and I’m proud of her, I’m still her mother and it’s my job to keep her safe.
Our Daily Timetable Provided A Phantom Framework to School At Home.
Meanwhile, last week was fairly stressful. The kids returned to school after being in lock down for a month, and that was stressful, chaotic and strangely felt just as weird as doing school from home. Students across the board aren’t themselves. My SIL also started treatment for breast cancer and I feel like hitting someone, something over the head with a baseball bat over that. How dare they! I’m sure many of you would also like to join a protest march against cancer. The chances of survival have improved a lot, but that still doesn’t mean you want your loved ones going through all of this. My other concern is trying to be an adequate support person. I know all of us have done it. We’ve meant to write the card. We might even have bought the gift. However, nothing makes it into the mail. You don’t ring. Time drifts by and added to procrastination, there’s the guilt, embarrassment, even shame. After all, don’t we all want to be the one who drops off a meal just when it’s needed? Buys that much needed soft blanket to keep them warm during treatment? Anyway, I finally managed to post a card yesterday about 4 days after I wrote it, and I stuck in a shell I found on my walk around Patonga. At least, now I’ve done something.
Like many others, I’ve also been struggling to sleep and have found myself in a dreadful cycle of going to bed around 3.00 am and waking up at Midday or even later. Indeed, I’ve ended up on “Rowie Time” and it isn’t working for me, or anyone else. While I’ve heard about how to break challenging sleep patterns, I haven’t really wanted to until now that I’m ending up with a few scant hours of disappearing sunlight every day, and I also need to help get the kids off to school. Anyway, you’ll be proud of me today. I actually got up at the official wake-up time of around 7.00 am. It’s the first time I’ve seen the morning for quite awhile and I’ve been quite energetic and productive, which has surprised me.
A Molten Sunset Through the Norfolk Pines, Patonga.
Although it’s the first day of Winter, I also managed to lie on a blanket outside on the grass in the sun and read a few chapters of my book. I was pretty stoked, as I can’t remember ever doing this. Two of our three dogs, Rosie & Zac, were just as happy. A human lying the grass on a rug, made for an easy target, and Rosie repeatedly dropped the rope toy on my back and waited beside me with baited breath. Clearly, she had no respect for my serenity, and Geoff wasn’t any better. He said I’d invaded the dogs’ territory. What did I expect? As usual, I was out numbered.
Meanwhile, last night was a dramatic night on Masterchef. As I might have mentioned before, Masterchef started filming before Australians went into lock down, and this very weird, unnatural state of “social distancing” became our way of life. While it might be a relief for those who don’t like to be touched, not being able to hug our non-residential family members and friends has been difficult and quite frankly weird for most of us. Moreover, for some people living alone, the complete lack of physical contact from anyone, has been exceptionally hard. One of my close friends is a swinging from the rafters character who lives alone, and all the venues from Churches, gyms, cafes to pubs and clubs are all closed. It’s the sort of thing you’d do to torture someone, not to be kind.
Anyway, while we’ve been doing social isolation with the family and dogs at home, I’ve loved watching pre-iso Masterchef with everyone hugging, talking, laughing being friendly. It was so good to be surrounded by normal and leave this fruitcake world behind for a few hours. However, now the madness has caught up. Last week, the contestants were spread-out through the kitchen “social distancing”. However, nothing prepared me for young Jess’s heartbreaking elimination where the tears started to flow, she crumpled, imploded and no one could reach out to physically touch her. It was hard to watch on TV, and I had a pretty good idea that she was going from the ads. Moreover, I know, we all know, NO HUGS. However, how unnatural and unhuman is this? There wasn’t one person on that show who wasn’t shattered and feeling the need to come together. However, instead of their usual huddle, everyone went through this standing alone. It must’ve been so very hard for everyone there, her very close friends and Masterchef Family not to be able to comfort her in a physical way as was their norm only a week or so before. It is madness. If I didn’t already know this strange world we’re living in is utterly mad, I knew it then as Jess exited the Masterchef kitchen distraught and alone (no doubt some assistance must’ve been given off camera). It was heartbreaking.
Gee, I wish this virus would go away! Pack its bags and never come back!!
Talk about understatement!!
Meanwhile, I made it out for a walk and a paddle this week. For the walk, I drove about 15 minutes away to Patonga and walked along the beach and onto the rocks and photographed the sunset. Then, yesterday, Geoff and I drove round to Tascott on Brisbane Waters (a 15 minutes drive the opposite direction) for him to get out for a sail on the laser while I paddled around on the kayak. The Sailing Club is starting to open up again, and Geoff wanted to get the Laser out for a test sail as the winter series starts up next weekend. It was good that he did, as there were a few problems to iron out. Although there was no wind, and so he didn’t manage to get the boat set-up and ended up Sailing In The Park. However, we did make it out on the kayak. I went out by myself while he was working on the boat and then we went out together. This was in our big yellow two-seater plastic kayak we affectionately call “The Bathtub”. For awhile there, I was Paddling Through the Clouds. I could’ve been a thousand miles away from civilization, except main road traffic was rumbling past beside us.
Tascott Looking Towards Woy Woy
Aside from waking up early this morning and lying out in the backyard soaking up some rays reading my book, I also managed to fit in some gardening. We visited our elderly neighbours on Saturday and we’ve been very close to them the whole time we’ve been living here. They’re about 90 and they’re English. As children, they were living in London during the blitz and were sent away to the country for awhile, but ended up going back and Mr attended Sandhurst Road School which was bombed on Wednesday, 20 January 1943 when a German fighter-bomber dropped a single 500-kilogram (1,100 lb) bomb on the school at 12:30pm, killing 38 children (32 killed at the school and 6 more died in hospital) and 6 staff and injuring another 60 people. He and his mate were walking back to the school after lunch and the plane actually shot at them as they walked down the street. It was terrifying, but makes for a great story now. Anyway, they have quite a lovely garden, and I took some cuttings from the geraniums and planted them in compost from the worm farm. They should take off like Jack’s bean stalk with all those nutrients.
A Much More Muted Sunset At Tascott than Patonga.
Lastly, I managed to get a contribution off to Friday Fictioneers again last week. I was quite thrilled with last week’s contribution which drew from such a plethora of sources to build a story all of its own. This piece was called Salvaging The Masterpiece.
As I head off, I wanted you all to know that I’m thinking of you. Some of you I know quite well and have a reasonable idea of your whereabouts on this big small world of ours. Others, I don’t. However I am conscious that we live in troubled times and I am thinking of you wherever you are.
This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Ali
Lately, I’ve been getting itchy feet. Real itchy feet. Not surprising after being in lock down for at least 2 months, and not being allowed to leave the house except for grocery shopping and my eternal arch-nemisis….exercise. I wasn’t too sure whether meandering along with my camera, especially pausing to take in the view or stick my camera up a tree, counted as “exercise”. Or, whether this seemingly innocent escape for a woman with mobility issues, might be considered “illegal”. After all, a girl simply going out on a driving lesson with her mum in Victoria, was pulled over and initially fined $1652 until sense and intense media pressure prevailed. I didn’t want to land myself in that kind of trouble.
The Jetty at Patonga looking towards Broken Bay and Palm Beach.
Restrictions are really starting to lift here in Australia now, especially considering the exceptionally low transmission rates we have here. However, although our kids went back to school this week, I’m still practicing social distancing and largely staying home. Besides, it’s almost Winter here. I’m as snug as a bug in a rug getting on with my WWI research and writing projects, which I view as my job. At least, that’s the direction I’m working towards. I also have a fairly extensive, global network of blogging friends and we get on really well.
Here I am going for my walk. No selfie capabilities on my SLR. Besides, I quite fancy being a lurking shadow in all sorts of distorted dimensions.
“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk
and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
I don’t really NEED to go out, but that can also become a problem. Unfortunately, my arch-nemesis exercise, along with sunlight and the great outdoors where I can stretch my wings and almost inhale the ocean, are almost critical for my mental health and happiness.
So, feeling rather virtuous, I headed over to Patonga Beach on Thursday afternoon. It’s about a 15 minute drive away, taking us past last week’s Water Tower Walk Water Tower Walk, Pearl Beach, and we keep driving through Brisbane Waters National Park with nothing but bush on either side and the road stretching through seeming nothingness ahead. This area is so untouched and seemingly remote, that it’s hard to believe we’re only a stone throw from Sydney.
Here’s one of our stunning Rainbow Lorikeets feasting in an Illawarra Flame Tree at Patonga. The tree was full of them chatting away.
The last stretch of the drive passes through some sharp twisting bends as you descend the hill into Patonga. After driving through the bush, the tranquil sea-side village of Petonga, which means “oyster” in Aboriginal, feels like something out of the set of an old movie. Patonga is nestled on Brisk Bay, which is on your left where there’s a rustic jetty heading out towards the Hawkesbury River on the extreme right and Palm Beach, across the other side of Pittwater on your left. There’s also a children’s playground here on the waterfront, which no longer captures my attention now that our kids are in high school. However, before our local park was given a massive upgrade, I used to take the kids to a park located next to the camp grounds at Patonga, which was almost on the beach.
However, today I was fairly rather reflective because my sister-in-law is starting treatment for breast cancer, and my thoughts are very much with her. Not only because she’s family and because what she’s going through is rotten, but I went through chemo a few years back for my auto-immune disease and it’s a frigging rollercoaster, even just from a logistical point of view. This time, it’s my turn on the sidelines, and I want to do a good job of that. Indeed, I want to do a better job of what I’m doing so far, because the card I wrote and it was an extensive message straight from the heart) is still sitting in the loungeroom and I’ve been thinking of a gift but haven’t got there yet. You know, there’s that going round in circles and wanting to get that gift that’s going to hit exactly the right spot, and heaven forbid in your desire for perfection that you actually end up doing NOTHING!! My goodness. Haven’t we all been guilty of that.
Frolicking in the wonders of nature, able to walk through the clouds.
Anyway, I picked up a few shells along the beach to include in my letter to my sister-in-law. I hope she appreciates them for what they represent, and that she doesn’t take me for a cheapskate.
Sea gulls might be common but I still love them. They’re such characters and theis flock was just standing in the shallows on the beach looking like they were really enjoying themselves and I had to join in their festivities. Besides, they made me feel like less of a lone ranger and part of a wider belonging.
So, going on this walk was really good for dealing with all of that, as well as all the fall out from the coronavirus and the kids suddenly being forced back to school full time this week by the NSW Education Minister. As my walk continued and the sun started to set behind a row of incredibly majestic Norfolk Pines, my footsteps seemed to lighten as all these stresses wafted out to sea and far away.
“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher
Of course, by this stage, I’m castigating myself for staying indoors and not getting outside amongst all this more often. What I appreciated, perhaps, beyond all else,was soaking in that vast expanse of space, and being able to stretch out as far as the eye can see. Even the most minimalist of homes, still has four walls, and I can assure you that our place has a hell of a lot more. You could say that the interior is made of books and tea cups with a pile of musical instruments thrown in.
Meanwhile, the sun has set on another day, but we did make it next door for a chat with our elderly neighbours who are family to us. They live behind us across a back lane way and one thing I’ve loved about lock down, is that is been perfectly acceptable to get around in your pyjamas. I bought a fancy pair of Peter Alexander PJ pants with are hot pink with white circles and are pretty shmick. I had no qualms about wandering out the back gate over to their place in my PJs with my ugg boots on. It was so incredibly relaxing. You could even say liberating. It’s been the same on zoom. At first, I used to get dressed, but now we’re all in PJs, dressing gowns and the other night I even watched an interview with Cate Blanchet and Stephen Colbert via zoom and both of them were in their PJs. It made for such a relaxed and intimate interview.
What a magnificent sunset and I just love the feathery white clouds floating over the lingering blue sky.
“Ô, Sunlight! The most precious gold to be found on Earth.”
― Roman Payne
As tempting as it is to immerse myself in nature and escape the heaviness and responsibilities of life, there’s always that rubber band drawing me back home in both good and bad ways. At times, I really resent having to rush home from my sunset photography jaunts to get dinner cooked for the family. However, I really cherish our family and all that being part of a family entails. Sure, there are responsibilities. However, there’s love, connection, intimacy, belonging along with frustration, irritation, expense, and that sense all round that someone’s clipping your wings. As much as we need togetherness, we also need time apart, space to do our own thing and the capacity to create and be a part of stories which we might choose to share with the family and have something to talk about. Moreover, this sense of family is also what you make it. You can build your own family. You do not need to be alone and these families are just as legitimate as your more conventional families. Blood is thicker than water, but the bonds of experience and caring for each other and especially being in the same boat are also strong.
I’m not quite sure how I reached that point after setting out on a walk around Patonga. However, with everything going on in the world at the moment, for many of us, it’s a time of deep questioning and thinking about just about every aspect of life and it will be interesting to see what life will be like on the other side. I for one am not planning on going back to how it was before and am working towards creating my own new world. How about you?
You know you’re sadly door-obsessed when you go to a place of stunning natural beauty, and your heart skips a beat when you come across a red door. I’m sure many of you relate to my experience and perhaps Thursday Doors has become the equivalent of AA for the door-obsessed. A safe place for us to share our passion for doors and all the stories they tell. Moreover, doors also have a metaphorical appeal…an open door, closed door and what these mean to the journey.
“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
Alexander Graham Bell
This week our love of doors takes us to Patonga, on the NSW Central Coast 91 kilometres North of Sydney and a short drive from our port of call last week, Pearl Beach. By the way, Patonga is Aboriginal for “oyster”.
Patonga has a delightful sleepy feel to it. As you drive down the hill into the village, the beach is on your left and a jetty heads out into the bay. You’ll spot a few fishing boats and there was a father and son fishing from the end of the wharf without catching anything. You see scenes like this around the world, and only the backdrop changes.
This red flower, which I took to be an Australian native, turned out to be a weed hailing from Madagascar…Mother of Millions. I wonder if it’s seen the movie.
“Red is uplifting.”- Jerry Lewis
After going for a bit of a walk along the waterfront, we drove around town and that’s how I came across this red door in a side street just back from the Hawkesbury River. I have to admit that there was an instant tick inside my head…”That’s Thursday Doors done and dusted.”
Before I head off, I’ll leave you with this quote from Oscar Wilde. Although it pertains to red roses,I’m sure the sentiments could be extended to red doors.
“A red rose is not selfish because it wants to be a red rose. It would be horribly selfish if it wanted all the other flowers in the garden to be both red and roses.”
This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0 Please pop over and join us.
Much coffee has flowed under the bridge over the last couple of weeks celebrating my 50th Birthday. So far, I’ve just been catching up with small groups of family and friends but I’m planning a larger party when the weather warms up a bit. Daylight is extending. Wattle is flowering. There isn’t long to wait.
I’m not sure how long it’s been since I touched base last. I wrote a post which didn’t make it up last week. So, if I’m repeating myself, I apologize.
Embracing My 50th Birthday at Pearl Beach, NSW.
My 50th Birthday was a big deal for me. I would’ve like to do something more spectacular to mark the occasion. However, it’s Winter and the kids have school. So, it wasn’t a good time to get away. Then, inspiration hit. I decided to watch the sun rise on my special day. In the days leading up to the Big 50, the sunsets and the weather had been quite good. However, as luck would have it, rain threatened. The clouds rolled in and there wasn’t even an orange blush where the sunrise should have been. We were philosophical about it. We still enjoyed the serenity of the waves rolling into the shore accompanied by magpies, kookaburras and rainbow lorrikeets in the surrounding bush. Before we left, I strutted my stuff for the camera, which was just as well because that could well have saved us from changing places with a Mercedes which was side-swiped by a ute and forced off the road. The drivers door was badly damaged and shards of glass carpeted the front seats. I’m not superstitious but an accident like that which would have written of our beloved red Alfa, would have felt like a terrible harbinger of doom on my 50th birthday.
I don’t know about you, but birthday celebrations for us are also about food. We went out for dinner at a local French restraurant, Sous le Soleil, with my parents for my main birthday celebrations. It was such a special treat. Felt like we were in this little oasis of France in Sydney. All the staff seemed to be French and the food was exquisite. I was particularly touched when my dessert arrived with Happy Birthday inscribed in chhocolate around the plate. It was beautiful…as were the pears soaked in red wine and floating in a chocolate soup. That’s my type of food.
There have also been a couple of fabulous lunches, cafe morning teas and dinners with friends. I’ve taken a few of my photo albums along to a few of these. It was so much fun pouring over the pages with my Mum and Dad and photos taken during my 20s with a bunch of old friends. We had a lot of laughs and a few red faces.
Geoff and I overlooking Pearl Beach.
A friend also took us out for lunch at Pearl Beach and afterwards we went for a drive to nearby Patonga and along the headland overlooking Pearl Beach, which is known locally as the water tower walk. There are breathtaking views. Indeed, they’re monumental, reminding me of the closing lines of John Keats poem: On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer:
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
-However, the flip side of all this catching up, eating and splendor, was quite few weeks of deep and not always satisfied reflection. I’m not sure these would amount to regrets. However, there is certainly disappointment. There is also a sense of renewed determination to get a book finished and published. Not just any book but a book worth writing and reading. However, this ongoing mission is offset somewhat by an increased need to catch up with friends and socialize more, which is somewhat incompatible with withdrawing to my cave writing my life away. Decisions and choices need to be made. Or, I can simply go with the flow and wherever that takes me, which isn’t what the manuals of success advocate. So, the last couple of weeks have been rather intense in both directions.
Meanwhile, I’ve been doing a bit of reading. I’ve almost finished reading Kristina Olsson’s Shell.
Shell tells the gripping story of Pearl Keogh, a journalist who is protesting against Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam war. Then there’s Axel Lindquist, a glass artist from Sweden, who is working on the site of the emerging Sydney Opera House creating a glass sculpture inspired by Utzon’s design. Of course, there’s romance. However, that’s almost secondary to this world of living, breathing history. Olsson’s prose is incredibly poetic and philosophical, which I absolutely love. Indeed, it feels like Shellwas written just for me. Indeed, it’s opened a door into another world just as surely as that very famous wardrobe door, which took Lucy into Narnia.
It usually takes me a few weeks to get through a book. So, the fact I’ve almost finished Shell in a couple of days speaks volumes. Indeed, I’ve have been enjoying snuggling up in bed with my book and my electric blanket on. While the Winter sun filters through the curtains behind me, I could almost feel like I’m sunbaking down at the beach, except a cold snap surrounds me. Most homes around here don’t have central heating. We brave the Winter months and invest in air-con for the Summer.
I’ve also been trying to get back into regular blogging. That dropped off a bit while I was working on my book project. This seemed the right thing to do. Be focused. However, the book project turned into a marathon instead of a sprint and it turned out this blog writing and interaction were weaving all sorts of magic which couldn’t be immediately classified but it’s absence was felt. After taking part in my regular blog shares this week, I’m feeling my better. My voice is back.
Well, that seems to cover the last couple of weeks. I hope you’ve enjoyed joining us for my birthday celebrations. This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.