“Mummy, why do Charlie and I look the same on the outside, but are so different on the inside? You said we’re identical twins?!”
The twins were chalk and cheese. Charlotte was always staring out the window at goodness knows what…birds, the clouds, maybe she could even see something in the seemingly invisible air. Captivated by the old oil lamps, she found meaning in their flickering flames. Bridget loved to run. Charlotte’s side of the bedroom was pink with her books neatly filed in rainbow order. Bridget’s was a cyclone.
Sophie couldn’t offer any explanation and simply said: “Ask God.”
Coincidence is a strange and mysterious thing. Understandable, when destiny, fate or God brings people together, seemingly via a mysterious, invisible thread. However, less understood, was how randomly placed objects on a shelf could interact… a bottle of Vodka, a statue of Tinkerbell the Fairy, a chunk of amethyst crystal, along with Rochelle’s favourite Rumi quote: “You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?”
Seemingly just all flotsam and jetsam, who would’ve thought?
Suddenly, Rochelle sprouted purple wings. Carpe diem, she didn’t pause to question how or why. She was off flying to the moon and back.
Today, Miss was being plagued by a grouchy stomach, and left school early and we tried everything to try to get her through her afternoon nursing TAFE course and off to ballet tonight. It didn’t work, but here are some photos taken from our short walk along the beach. I’d hoped a bit of sunshine, vitamin D stretching her legs and the sea air might make a difference. An eternal optimist, I will keep trying.
However, before we head off to the rocks, I wanted to set the scene and share a few views of the bigger picture.
Anyway, we came across a few uplifting words on rocks, and thought I’d pass them on. I hope they give you a bit of a smile.
Once again, we’re down in Geelong, Victoria and this is just a very fleeting flyby glimpse of a shipping container I spotted on Google Earth while trying to retrace Geoff’s and our son’s steps down there before our son boarded the Young Endeavour for Sydney.
I’m not quite sure about the significance of the shipping container and whether it was making a broader message about human trafficking or whether it was just a convenience canvas. I also don’t know whether this installation is still in situ or whether it was a more temporary piece. I might have to set my spies to work.
Anyway, from what I gather it was located in Fenwick Street, Geelong.
Anyway, it’s really late so I’m going to keep moving.
Well, as you may recall, Miss is learning to drive, and has had her learner’s permit for about ten days now. In that brief amount of time, I’ve been to more of the local beaches than I have in the last ten years, especially in a short space of time. Although I had ideas about starting at one end of the Central Coast and working my way up North, that plan never got off the ground. I’m not sure why, but blaming covid is a pretty safe bet. It’s killed off so many good ideas, and not just ideas either!
Anyway, this new lease of life I’m having driving all over the place with Miss, has brought me to the confronting realization that instead of being the “carpe diem seize the day person” I believed myself to be, I’ve become more of a “tomorrow” type. Tomorrow, I’ll go for a walk. Tomorrow, I’ll get to the shops. Tomorrow, I’ll get to those emails, bills, cleaning, washing. It can all wait, and it’s a pretty reasonable philosophy when you’re drifting through lockdown, and your pyjamas have become your second skin. However, we’re no longer in lockdown and although we’re still being very cautious, there’s nothing wrong with outdoors.
I guess being Sunday, it was only appropriate that Miss and I headed out for another drive. This time, we headed over to Avoca Beach. It’s quite a popular beach, but has more of a village feel than Terrigal. There’s an ocean pool, as well as some great surfing spots.
However, to be perfectly honest, we weren’t heading to the beach today. Unfortunately, It had been raining AGAIN, and Miss was also hungry. So, we headed into the fish & chips shop which is particularly good, and ordered a fisherman’s basket. Given the weather, we sat inside and enjoyed listening to live music, and feeling like we were in Byron Bay.
It’s a shame the weather has been so wet and overcast as we’ve been checking out our local beaches. Naturally, I’d much prefer blue skies dotted with a bit of white cloud and radiant, golden sunshine especially for photography. However, in the overall scheme of things right now we weren’t that concerned. As I said to a friend last week, we’re not living in a war zone, and the house hasn’t been flooded. We are good. Indeed, we are beyond good. Events of late have indeed been sobering, and I wish there was more I could do, especially as a solitary individual of limited means.
By the way, as we drove to Avoca, Miss asked me if she’d been to Avoca before. I remembered a trip with my parents once. However, I’d forgotten catching up with my school friend Emma there, and I had to share this beautiful series of photos. Miss was only six years old then, and clearly I was a tad younger back then as well.
It’s interesting seeing that photo above of myself. I look at her, and would really like to have whatever it was she was having. There’s such joie de vivre in that face. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone exuding so much joy, and yet life wasn’t easy then, and I was really quite unwell. However, as much as I can perform for the camera, you couldn’t bung that on. I was really happy to see Emma again, and we both enjoyed watching Miss cartwheel across the sand, although it was also bittersweet (but that’s another story.) Sometimes, when life is really hard and you’re just hanging on by a thread, you really do have that love of life where you’re simply grateful to be alive.
Anyway, I might put some thought into regenerating that joy, and reconnecting with my inner sparkle.
What have you been up to lately? I’d love to hear from you.
Never thought I’d be posting a photo of the front door of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. However, last night I jumped on Google Earth, and to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t a case of: “Hey presto, watch me pull the Leaning Tower of Pisa out of a hat”. However, I did get there eventually and as John Lennon famously said: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” I must remind Geoff to get that inscribed on my grave. That is my life.
Anyway, if you have ever travelled anywhere via Google Earth, you might’ve had this experience. You type in where you want to go, and instead of landing straight there, you wake up in some random back street, and unless you cheat and re-do your search like I did after wandering around Pisa for an hour, you need to somehow get your bearings and head off. My usual modus operandi is to look up, which you’d think would work when you’re looking for a tower, and when you see the LTOP , there isn’t anything in the background ie it’s not crammed into a suburban block dwarfed by office blocks like special landmarks in Sydney. No, it has it’s own space. It’s own expansive patch of green under the sun, which it doesn’t seem to share with anyone.
Well, that is until you get there, and find the most exquisite church next door, and ponder how it is that this one patch of ground under this sun has been blessed with such exceptionally amazing architecture, especially when your own little patch is let’s just say: “left wanting”. Of course, it helps to be in Italy. However, as Trent so kindly told me, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is actually the bell tower for the Cattedralle di Pisa. By the way, it, too, is on a slight angle.
I’m not going to repeat what can be so easily sourced on the web about the history of these buildings. However, I thought I’d let you know how I randomly came to be wandering around Pisa. After all, when you last heard from me on my Google Earth travels, I was travelling from Cloyne to Middleton, County Cork, Ireland. Since then, I’ve been hanging around the very picturesque village of Overton in Hampshire where my 4 x Great Grandfather, Geoff Merritt was born. He married Bridget Donovan the Irish Famine Orphan from Midleton in Sydney in 1853 so there is some logic to these seemingly random travel destinations of mine. However, it wasn’t family history research that took me to Pisa. Rather, the photograph posted for Friday Fictioneers yesterday was of the LTOP and I thought I might as well head over and have a look because no inspiration was coming at me straight away.
So, there I was roaming through the streets of Pisa and the markets with no tower in sight. I returned to sender, and this time, I was right at the base of the tower and almost had my nose up against the wall. Wow! It was sensational. Who would have thought you could have such a sense of really being there simply by using Google Earth while you’re still sitting in your chair here in Australia. It’s incredible. It’s really opening my eyes.
Anyway, the highlight of the trip was actually switching over to Youtube and climbing up the tower. I was researching the Statue of Liberty about a year ago and had no idea that you could actually climb up inside her (which I must say felt rather weird and creepy to be honest, and then exciting). This was much the same experience. Didn’t know you could climb up the LTOP either and as I climbed the stairs, I thought of my seriously reduced lung capacity, claustrophobia but on the other hand my sheer determination and iron will. Yes, I could see myself getting halfway up and major trouble setting in on so many different levels. It was just was just as well I was safely back home sitting in my lounge chair back home with Zac the dog on my lap. (If you’d like to climb the tower, here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNbpbn9E2dc
By the way, I don’t want to leave you with the false impression that there’s no ordinary among the extraordinary in Pisa. So, I thought I’d share the Via Delle Sette Volte with you, which reminds me of a tunnel we had back at Sydney University. While it’s not as exquisite as the better known Pisa landmarks, I’m sure it’s walls have told many stories throughout the centuries. Pisa is that sort of place. Only it’s history isn’t all confined to the past. It’s ongoing, and still being made today. After all, does history ever truly die?
Have you been to Pisa and climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Or, perhaps you’ve visited the Cattedralle of Pisa. I love to hear from you. BTW this is also a contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Dan Antion at No facilities https://nofacilities.com/category/thursday-doors/
Best wishes and thank you for reading!
PS I was intrigued by the inconsistent quality of the photos on this trip. Some of them were really good, and others barely passed muster and certainly would’ve been deleted if I’d taken them in person on my Nikon SLR. However, when you consider they were taken on my phone from my computer screen and I’m all the way over in Australia, they’re all pretty exceptional.
How are you and how was the week that’s been? I hope all has gone well for you and yours, but who are we kidding? We all know life is about ups and downs, and sometimes these intensify into mountains and valleys and the going is a veritable rollercoaster ride of extreme highs and lows. However, a cup of tea works magic and a coffee can give you that slap=in-the-face caffeine hit when you don’t feel like getting up in the morning. You can also pop over to the Weekend Coffee Share for a chat and join our motley crew.
As some of you well know, I do battle every week to get my coffee share post in before deadline. I am particularly remiss because deadline is around three o’clock Monday afternoon here in Sydney, and so it’s well and truly after the weekend here. Indeed, for me it is a Monday afternoon coffee share, and I’ve always shared about the weekend that was, rather than what was yet to come. That, of course, assumes that something happened on the weekend, which isn’t a given these days. We’re still staying very close to home.
Our daughter has been back at school for a few weeks now, and theoretically speaking, we should be back in the groove by now, despite being derailed over the last two years due to the usual culprit- covid. However, I’d forgotten that the start of terms only really took care of the beginning, and then there’s that huge avalanche which follows what with assessments rolling out and activities intensifying. In a way, all of this has nothing to do with me. It’s my daughter’s life, but I generally keep track so I know when the proverbial is going to hit the fan and I either need to pitch in or go for a very long drive.
By the way, speaking of the Miss, who some of you have known since she was about five or six years old, she turns Sweet 16 this week. She’s very excited, particularly because he can get her L plates. In case you’re not psychic and don’t understand the Aussie lingo. She’s going for her Learner’s driving permit. However, first she has to pass the written test and that can be rather unforgiving. You get one question wrong in some sections and it’s an instant fail. Personally, I find that a bit mean, especially when it’s about $50.00 just to sit the test. However, it is all about being given permission to drive a killing machine so being nice probably doesn’t cut it.
Meanwhile, trying to work out what we’re doing for her birthday is hanging in the balance. While the politicians and TV media seem to think Covid is over, my parents won’t be coming up to celebrate because they’re in a self-imposed covid lockdown like Geoff and myself, and our kids are out and about potentially bringing it home. One of her best friends has been in hospital, but is home now so she might be able to go out for the big dinner out my daughter is planning, but there are a few others who either have covid or are in quarantine. There’s also the possibility that she will develop covid before the big day on Thursday, or someone else in the house. Golly, it doesn’t take much to ruin your plans these days.
Having your Sweet 16 skittled would be very disappointing for her, but our son has his 18th Birthday 10 days later. You only get one chance at that, although putting celebrations off is often the way it is atm. Let’s hope we come out of all this soon, and we can all go back to 2019 again!
Meanwhile, although I’ve been quite flat out trying to sort things out at home, I’m still trying to advance my research and writing and get the ball rolling. So, I ended up taking a trip to Ireland this week to check out the distance between Cloyne and MIdleton in County Cork, and having a good look around. Well, as good a look around as you can have via Google Earth. You can follow in those footsteps here: https://wordpress.com/post/beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/66278
Then, while I was in Midleton, I came across Midleton Bookshop. Being an incurable book-buying addict, I just had to check out their website and see what was potentially in the shop window. Wow! It was intriguing. I don’t know what I expected to find, but surprise ! Surprise! They were mostly Irish titles, and almost immediately I found myself magnetically drawn towards a book by Michael Harding: A Cloud Where the Birds Rise; A Book About Love and Belonging, which was illustrated by Jacob Stack. I’m a bit of a sucker for clouds and birds, not to mention books. However, I did try to resist and thought I’d better have a look inside before I bought “yet another book”. That didn’t work out, but I did find an interview by Alan Keane on The Artists’ Well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrRYg1hvCh0 Now, I was really hooked, and after enjoying this interview so much, I headed off to absorb Michael Harding’s podcasts (@hardingmichael) and I’ll be lucky to find my way out the front door for the next six months. I’m riveted.
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!
James was in trouble. The deafening noises outside were ricocheting inside his head like exploding bullets, driving him mad like an insatiable itch he couldn’t scratch. He knew the volcano was set to explode. Closed the curtains. Clamped his hands over his ears, and locked himself away in his cupboard. Still, he couldn’t block all the noises out. A rock smashed through his window, and the sound of exploding glass destroyed what was left of his fragile senses. Sounds, incomprehensible sounds, were all that came out, but there was nothing James could formulate into any kind of message for help.
In my take on this week’s prompt, I decided to reframe the #blacklives matter protests alongside an incredible rescue mission we had here in Australia to find a non-verbal Autistic youth who had been missing in dense bushland in Victoria for two nights. On one hand, you have a loud, demonstrative protest over a despicable act, but on the other, you have someone who is acutely sensitive to noise and is overwrought. As you may be aware, many people on the Autism Spectrum are exceptionally sensitive to loud noises and bright lights and can shut themselves away. However, the rescue team responded with incredible empathy and sensitivity. You can read more about it here: Finding Hope on Mt Disppointment.
Meanwhile, I hope you are all keeping safe and well. We’re coming out of lock down safely here in Australia with only very minimal transmission here. It’s a huge relief.
“Idiot! You absolute idiot! How could you let him talk you into singing THAT song? Raw, red-raw, it was only meant for the shower.”
Delving into the agonizing depths of self-loathing, she’d turned herself so completely inside out, her heart was beating outside her body, and the neurones were spewing out of her head like the guts of a computer.
“It’ll help someone. Save a life,” he said.
Now, she was wondering why she had to sell her soul to save the world? Why couldn’t she just plant a tree?
As a closet musician, I related to this photo prompt of the stage. While naturally rather extroverted, I usually have no qualms about getting up on stage and doing that most dreaded of tasks….public speaking.
However, playing my violin has been a mixed bag and early on, I put myself through the intense stress and madness of doing my Preliminary exam. This is the most basic exam you can undertake, and yet it was much harder than I expected, although I was determined to get an A, not a C-. I remember stressing out so badly on the train on the way to the exam, and being rather hard on myself. Then, I realized I was doing this to myself. No one else had made me do. It’s not like I was a kid and I could blame my mother. Moreover, just to give you a bit of a laugh, you can picture me practicing in the bus shelter out in front of the exam venue trying to warm up my ricketty fingers. The stress was through the roof, but I’ll have you know, I did it. I got my A, and I haven’t done an exam since.