Tag Archives: phobias

Flaming Embers…Friday Fictioneers.

Boat was the only way home. A huge fire storm had engulfed Ku’ring-gai National Park, and jumped across the M1 Motorway, burning out the trains and blocking all traffic in and out of Sydney.

Dave was trapped, just like millions of  nameless commuters jammed into this hellish sardine tin of burning embers.  Yet, like a bat out of hell, he had to get home. She’d never leave the house. Would rather go up in flames, than face her fear.

Dad’s dingy would never make it across the Hawkesbury, but he had to try. Only love could find a way now.

…..

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. This week’s PHOTO PROMPT © Fatima Fakier Deria. 

Bushfires are quite a normal, anticipated events, especially during a blazing Australian Summer. It is not uncommon for the M1 Motorway, the only main road North out of Sydney, to be closed due to bushfires and on such instances, the trains are likely to be down too leaving stranded commuters to crash out wherever they can for the night. My husband has been caught up in these closures, although our house is nowhere near the bush.

If you are wanting to read a first hand account of driving through such fires, Kimberley’s Bushfire Diary is worth checking out.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Captain Clean – Friday Fictioneers.

“Mum and Dad built this place after the war,” Muriel said. “Lived in the garage, while they built the house.”

Captain Clean was very tempted to add that nothing had been thrown out since, but bit her tongue. Condescending self-righteousness never worked with hoarders. So, she stuck to the script.

“Keep or throw? Keep or throw?”                                                                                                                                                                     “There you are,” Muriel smiled.

Captain Clean screamed, bolted and drove away.

Muriel had finally found her spare set of teeth, playing hide & seek in her husband’s old shoes.

“I could’ve handled a dead body,” she told the psychologist. “But not false teeth.”

…….

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. PHOTO PROMPT © Sarah Potter

xx Rowena

 

Christmas By the Pool.

If I could write a letter from my 7 year old self to my 47 year old alter ego refusing to dip a toe in the swimming pool, it would be pretty direct:

“Dive in, you idiot!! Stop that crazed chicken dance and get wet. You’re soooo embarrassing!”

When I’ve waxed lyrically about how Australians spend Christmas in the pool, you probably haven’t noticed a certain lack of photographic proof. That you’ve never seen ME in the pool. Or, maybe you have and you’ve kept quiet.

Perhaps, you’ve assumed that as a photographer, that person eternally living life vicariously through the lens in lieu of living it, I simply haven’t been photographed.

Or, that I’m too self-conscious. That I don’t  want a photo of me in my swimming costume all over the World Wide Web.

Well, you’d be barking up the wrong tree!

You see, when it comes to the pool, I’m more of an observer. I’m not mad keen on getting wet and no matter how stinking hot it might be out of the pool, it’s always freezing in.

So, if by some miracle I do find myself getting into the pool, much to my acute embarrassment, I’m that old lady edging into the pool.  Is there anything worse?

I distinctly remember tell myself as a kid, that was never going to be me. That I was never going to become that person.

Now, I have.

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Despite buying myself a pink flamingo pool toy for Christmas, getting into the pool is still torturous…worse than going to the dentist.

So, well you might ask why I bought myself a pink flamingo pool toy for Christmas if I had intention of getting wet? That’s an excellent question.

For some reason, I was so dazzled by all that flamingo, that I didn’t notice the body was shaped into a donut with a huge hole to fall through.So, this flamingo isn’t one of those luxurious lounging around, stay-dry pool toys. You know the ones when you can just drift along in like a princess sipping on your glass of champagne. (Indeed, we have a bottle of Moet this Christmas thanks to Geoff’s work.)

So, there I was standing in the shallow end with my feet clinging to the top step. Geoff has the video camera rolling and the kids are also watching. Indeed, all eyes  were focused on me and I’d become the backyard entertainment. Hip! Hip! Hurray!

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Some people actually get left alone each Christmas with no one stretching and stretching them out of their comfort zone and filming every cruel chicken step along the way.

Yet, as much as I might hanker after peace and quiet this time of year, this is Christmas and for the first time in many years, I’ll be packing my swimmers and with a very full stomach, heading for the bottle of my aunt’s swimming pool.

How do you plan to spend Christmas Day?

xx Rowena

The Virgin Campers…Friday Fictioneers.

Blood-curdling screams echoed through the night and the dog was going psycho.

Half-awake, Jack saw that young bloke grabbing his missus by the throat.

“I’ll get the bastard. Ring 000!” Jack yelled, putting on his pants.

“Jack? Stay out of it. You’re too old to play the hero. Leave it to the cops.”

“That couple camping at the creek… He’s killed ‘er.”

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door.

Margaret was so afraid, her teeth almost leaped out of her mouth and into the bush.

“P…p..p.lease h…h..h..help. The…the…there’s a h..h…h..huge ssssspiiiider in our t..t.t.ttent.”

“Struth! Thought you’d been murdered.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

This has been a contribution to Friday Fictioneers. This week the photo prompt comes from © Jan Wayne Fields

Dropbear

Drop Bear

To give a bit of background, I’m Australian and to be perfectly honest, I’ve never seen anyone go camping with a power generator thingy here. I was rather stuck on this prompt and showed my husband. He grew up in NE Tasmania and did a lot of real camping growing up, which included hiking up Cradle Mountain. His immediate response was: “You call that camping!!” They definitely struck both of us as virgin campers and they were just begging for some Australian wildlife to enter their tent. There is so much to choose from…the dingo, possums which are known to tear open tents to steal your food, snakes, spiders…even drop bears! My husband suggested writing about all forms of wildlife converging on the tent at once.

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Huntsman Spider. Photo Jon.

However, then I remembered a hilarious situation I heard on the radio where screams were heard from a flat in Sydney. When the Police turned up convinced there’d been a murder. They found a guy standing on a chair with a spider on the wall…a huntsman. Not poisonous but it can give a nasty bite. There story makes for an excellent read! http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-27/police-respond-to-domestic-after-man-screams-over-spider/6979724

Our daughter was terrified by a huntsman only the other night so even though it’s not poisonous, it’s still up there with Nightmare on Elm Street.

xx Rowena

 

Character Undefined.

You have to watch out for characters, both real and fictitious.

Just when you think you’ve painted their portrait, they grab the brush, slap on a moustache or some other undesirable addition and ruin all your hard work. Change the picture.

No matter how careful you are, there are no guarantees. They could still develop a life of their own and escape from your clutches.

Moreover, if you’re writing about your dog, don’t be surprised if that darn dog doesn’t run off with your precious paintbrush and play fetch with it…even if they’ve never chased a stick before.

It can happen to the best of us.

Indeed, this morning it happened to me and I even have photographic proof.

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In middle ocean, doggy is swimming…

My dog Bilbo, who has found fame but not fortune on my blog, is renowned for being afraid of the water. Yet, this morning he went for a swim at the beach and totally messed up his character sketch.

I was absolutely flabbergasted!!

Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.

Abraham Lincoln

While parents might discuss their human children, dog parents hold nothing back. Indeed, they discuss the foibles of their “offspring” in embarrassingly personal detail, even comparing notes about their intimate mental health issues. Indeed, they name and shame their dogs, even posting photos of their most extreme mental health moments, without any shame at all. No sense of betrayal. That just because they’re talking about a dog, that it doesn’t mean it’s heartless gossip…even bullying!

How awful is that? Being bullied by your own Mum or Dad?!!

Well, I must confess that even I’m a bit guilty. I could have mentioned Bilbo’s water phobia. I might even have posted photographs of the same sorry mutt staring helplessly as his ball drifts out to sea because he’s too chicken to fetch it. I might have even called him a “scaredy dog” behind close doors or implied it on previous posts.

Fetching Bilbos Ball

Finally some assistance. Miss puts Bilbo out of his misery!

So, even I have probably said more than I should about my dog’s “quirks” but there’s no mistaking how much I love my dog! Besides, I should also point out that he’s also jumped on my blog a few times and spilled my beans as well!

All that aside, just because Bilbo has issues, it doesn’t mean he can’t change. That just because he’s a dog with very strong inbred character traits, that he can’t grow. Extend himself. Or, indeed, be an old dog showing off his new tricks.

He can.

Indeed, he did.

This morning, Bilbo went swimming at Dog Beach. He actually not only got his paws wet but ventured in and actually SWAM!!!

HOWZAT! (This is Australian cricket slang for “How’s that? Meaning: “It’s out!”)

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Almost Surfing.

Of course, now that the dog’s actually gone swimming, I’m not quite back to the drawing board but I’m definitely back in my philosopher’s chair and asking: “Why is it so?”

Professor Julius Sumner Miller famously coined that phrase in his children’s science show. However, I doubt he ever looked at how or why animals and people suddenly change their stripes like that. Or, at least, act out of character now and then. He was more of a physics man famous for being able to get a boiled egg inside a glass milk bottle.

Bilbo’s swim was, in effect, the reverse process… taking a dog who was set in his ways and setting him free from the confines of his self-imposed glass bottle…just like letting a genie out!

Unfortunately, I’m no expert in dog behaviour and indeed, this mutt has been testing all my philosophical and psychological powers lately what with him fretting with the kids being away. Let’s just say he’s been in a bit of trouble.

Anyhow, like any good detective, we return to the crime scene and examine the evidence. Investigate what actually happened. Move over Sherlock Holmes! Here I come.

On the morning of Friday 29th January, 2016 at approximately 9.30 AM Bilbo, a nine-year old Border Collie was running along Dog Beach with his sister, Lady, a three year old Border Collie x Cavalier and Mum, a They met up with a Rhodesian Ridgeback and a Boxer who were energetically jumping and chasing each other through the surf. Bilbo immediately started barking at the other dogs, we believe, warning them to get out of the water…the canine equivalent of “Danger Will Robinson”. Having too much fun, the other dogs didn’t respond, ignoring him completely. They kept playing.

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One exuberantly happy dog!

Meanwhile, Lady being more cavalier, joins the dogs in the surf. After all, it’s so hot, that you could fry an egg in the sand. It’s the perfect day for a swim, except you could potentially boil in the water! That is, unless you’re wearing jeans and a few too many Christmas chocolates around the middle.

The next thing I know, Bilbo’s gone from barking on the beach to wading into the water and even swimming, while still barking occasionally. Bilbo is swimming! I suspect he’s actually herding, rounding up his mates more than actually swimming but he’s still in the surf.

“My goodness!” a friend exclaims, totally stunned. “That one NEVER goes in”.

I have a group of dog walkers I usually meet up with in the mornings. I don’t know whether we’ve oversimplified their characters or whether dogs are just more straight-forward than people. However, somehow the dogs have all been categorized…ball chaser, stick chaser, swimmer, non-swimmer, introvert, extrovert, problem dog…unconsciously, of course. Then, there’s Lady who I’m now pretty sure pretends to be daft to do her own thing. She dabbles in a bit of everything but seems to love stick her head down sniffing the sand and running along. and wandering I’m pretty sure she’s hunting. She used to live on a farm but as the saying goes “we’re not in Kansas anymore”! No more rabbits.

Anyway, I doubt Bilbo’s suddenly developed a love of swimming. Rather, I suspect that he’s just trying to be the Good Samaritan, attempting to herd his crazy mates out of the water and back onto dry land. Who knows? Perhaps, while he was out there, he found out that he wasn’t going to die and that he even liked it? Was having fun? The other dogs sure were and who hasn’t experienced the thrill of the moment when someone else’s fun is so infectious that it carries you right outside yourself and all your pre-conceived ideas and sets you free? All of a sudden you realise, that you’re standing somewhere you never thought you’d be and you don’t even know how you got there!

That’s what happened to me yesterday when I was driving my daughter to school. It was a 45-60 minute drive in the rain and I wasn’t even nervous. I felt calm, capable and in control. Indeed, I was standing, or in this case, sitting where I never thought I’d be and I was fine.

My inner fortitude was further tested this afternoon when yet another nasty storm hit right before picking up our son locally. The heavens were falling down and of course, there was lightening, thunder but fortunately no hail. I looked out there, at what almost looked like the end of the world. As much as I wanted to stay at home, I braced myself and figured the sooner I left, the better the car space. I threw on my raincoat, grabbed my golf umbrella and drove off, arriving in one piece, albeit through floodwaters about 20 cm deep in parts. It’s very flat where we live.

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.

Helen Keller

Of course, driving through all of this, I’ve become Captain Courageous. Not quite Captain Invincible but I’m working on it.

So, as we write our characters, both real and fictitious, while also getting to know ourselves, we should always leave that gap. Room for doubt. Space for growth. No one is set in concrete. They can still wriggle free. Take on a life of their own.

Just ask my dog!

AND…

You can ask ME!

xx Super Ro!

PS If you are interested in character development or are a bit of a people person, you could well find the Proust Character Questionnaire useful:Proust Character Questionnaire It’s been used by writers, actors etc for character development and I’ve been going through it for the Book Project…albeit very slowly.

 

 

The Dog and the Violin

Bilbo, our much-loved and still somewhat skin-headed Border Collie (he was shorn for summer) is proof that a bit of exposure to something we don’t like produces resilience. Resilience is that almost magical quality which only comes from the school of hard knocks. The first blow might knock you down but after being hit a few times, you stand your ground. It’s that old saying: whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

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Dog breath

Getting back to the dog, he is starting to put up with the violins. He doesn’t hang around all the time but he doesn’t automatically go outside as soon as the violin cases appear these days. Naturally, I’m feeling very proud of his efforts and have given him a few stamps on his star chart.

Until very recently, the dog made it very clear that he didn’t like the violins and he ranked them very high on his list of annoyances, somewhere on par with James (our robotic vacuum cleaner) but not quite up there with the postman or the garbage truck.

No amount of exposure has helped the dog overcome his outright opposition to these long held foes! Jung would probably have something to contribute to this discussion…something about dogs and archetypes perhaps.

Anyway, while he hasn’t overcome these more entrenched phobias, he is slowly overcoming his fear of violins, becoming more resilient.

Perhaps, he’s just getting older and the arthritis is setting in. It hurts him more to move than to put up with the violin.

Another possibility is that our playing has improved and he’s now classified it as “music” and not the final death screeches of a scalded cat.

However, as much as the dog has been slowly overcoming his violin phobia, he had a big setback last weekend when there wasn’t just the usual one or two violins to contend with. There were four violins all at once. That’s a lot for any poor dog to deal with, even when they’re not confronting a serious phobia.

Bored!

Bored!

As bad as that sounds and perhaps you’re feeling sorry for the poor dog and think somebody should have taken him on an extended walk, we at least tuned the violins beforehand so it wasn’t a total  assault on his finely-tuned ear.

That said, the dog didn’t hang around. Of course, he fled the scene and was nowhere in sight.

Besides with four violinists, the lounge room was rather overcrowded what with bows going all directions and Bilbo is hardly a small dog. He is still close to the size of two border collies sandwiched together despite cutting back on his snacks, leftovers and treats.

Anyway, I thought I would attempt the impossible and see if Bilbo would pose for a photo with the violin just to get a good visual for the blog. I don’t know how you go with photographing dogs but Bilbo is particularly difficult. I get him to sit down but when I call out his name just to get him to look at the camera, he stands up and comes up for a hug.  He just won’t stay there and flash his pearly whites like he’s supposed to. I usually have to get back up for assistance.

Anyway, I’m home alone today so I’m juggling the camera with one hand and the violin in the other while getting the dog to sit, stay and look at the camera when he just wants to have a pat and a cuddle…or whack me with a huge, sloppy kiss. I might love my dog and I might be desperate to get “the shot” but I neither like nor encourage doggy kisses. Yuck! That’s what his dog friends are for!

I’m going through all of this stress just so I can get one half-decent photo for my blog. How is that for dedication?!! Keen…very keen indeed!

I know I’ve been called a dreamer before but this mission has taken dreaming to another level all together. I’m leaping out of my tree house and almost flying to the moon.

Here goes…

Never work with children or animals!

Never work with children or animals!

By the way, I’m just wondering whether to mention something about having to wash my face or do I leave that bit out? Ha! Only joking. I actually managed to duck.

As good as it gets...

As good as it gets…

xx Rowena