Tag Archives: renovation

Weekend Coffee Share – 11th May, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Yesterday, was Mother’s Day here in Australia. Geoff gave me a beautiful bunch of flowers, the kids did nothing and I ordered myself a book I’m really looking forward to receiving through the mail…Julia Baird’s: Phosphorescence. I can’t wait to read it, especially because I have a dreadful track record for buying books and not reading them, which mirrors my approach to gardening….buying plants and leaving them out the front dying of total neglect. So, wish me luck and I think you’d better hold me to an update next week. Hopefully, it should be here by then, but you never know with the post. Like everything else, it’s not running on all cylinders either.

We went down to my parents’ place in Sydney yesterday for Mother’s Day lunch. Up until a year or so ago, my mother had been coming up to our place once a week for something like 14 years, but we haven’t seen them since Christmas Day this year. It’s been so long that it even feels like a mistake. I’ve got it wrong. Geoff and I ended up with chest infections so we didn’t go down for the kids’ birthdays back in early March and then lock down slapped us in the face and cancelled Easter. And my brother’s birthday….So, our Mother’s Day Cake actually had Happy Birthday on it.

Happy Birthday Cake

An update on the coronavirus  here in Australia, We’ve currently had 95 deaths and have around 750 active cases. You could say we’ve been very lucky, and I guess in many ways we have. However, it’s more a case of wise judgement, quick action by the government, heeding the examples of Wuhan and Italy and knowing just how rampantly infectious this virus is before it got here.

I’ve also wondered whether there’s some kind of correlation between Australia’s response to the coronavirus and gun control. You might recall that Australia dramatically changed its gun laws following Tasmania’s Port Arthur massacre on the 28–29th April 1996 where 35 people were killed and 23 wounded in a mass shooting. Australia’s response is often used as a shining example of what is possible whenever America experiences another mass shooting. Once again, our infection rates are sending the rest of the world a message…Stay home and stay safe.

The big question for Australia and New Zealand is… where to now? Each state in Australia has different incidence rates and so there’s no overarching national prescription. At the moment, where we live in NSW, two adults and dependent children can visit someone at home, which allowed us to visit my parents for Mother’s Day yesterday. On Friday, restrictions will further ease  with 10 people being able to meet indoors and non-essential shops are starting to open. For many, this will be an alleluia moment. However, when you listen to our Chief and Deputy Medical Officers and our State Premier, there’s definite caution and the situation is described as “precarious”. We still need to social distance and people in high risk categories are still being told to stay home. I’m planning to lie low over the next two weeks and if the stats remain low, I’ll ease up a bit. After all, amidst all the optimism, there’s also the expectation of new cases and I need to ensure that’s not me. Indeed, we all need to think about how to keep our immediate circle and ourselves safe and work out from there and not necessarily just go by the rules. The more people we can keep out of circulation the better.  This is no time to be a lemming!

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Billy the Bantam arriving home in Sydney on board the China in 1919. 

Meanwhile, my research into WWI Australian soldiers serving in France continues. Last week, I found out my Great Great uncle’s battalion, the 13th, had a lively animal mascot, Billy the Bantam Rooster. He travelled all the way to France via Egypt and even managed to return home, unlike way too many of his human mates. On arrival at their billets in the French village of Steente-je near Bailleau, Billy immediately set about showing those French coq’s who was boss and defeated four roosters well over twice his size in a battle of David meets Goliath. Indeed, to use an old-fashioned Australian colloquialism, you could say Billy was as mad as a two bob watch (that was a cheap watch back in the days before decimal currency arrived in 1966.)

Amiel's journal

I was also chasing up on a quote which took me on a thrilling literary adventure. While reading a NSW Red Cross Journal from December 1916, I stumbled across this quote from Swiss philosopher and journal writer Henri-Frederic Amiel:

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

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

God, to love always–this is duty.”

Henri-Frederic Amiel

This has led me to his Journal Intime, which was published by friends after his death and completely eclipsed his other life’s works. I have read throiugh the introduction and a couple of entries and am intrigued and gripped by what I’ve read so far. Have you encountered his work at all? I wrote an introductory post the other night: Midnight With the Philosopher’s Journal and will be posting more and would love you to join me.

I’ve also been watching Masterchef, which I’m enjoying as much as ever and the other night I watched Graeme Murphy’s production of Romeo & Juliet featuring the Australian Ballet. It’s possibly only the second ballet I’ve ever watched from start to finish, and to be honest, I prefer more of a medley with acts of various works put together. I couldn’t see the point of the start which was the court scene, but the death scene at the end was amazing and as tragic as ever. I’ve also been listening to podcasts from the Irish Times. I haven’t listened to a podcast before so that was yet another new thing I’ve tried since lock down and I’m pretty chuffed by my capacity to branch out and explore these new things.

No one is bored here, and we will be craving boredom over the next couple of weeks. Geoff noticed a few pallets of floorboards on an auction site and won the bid at 25% of retail. They come from a movie set and have barely been used. While FINALLY replacing our very cruddy carpet in the lounge room and conquering the adjacent kitchen dining areas sounds very exciting, there’s a staggering amount of work involved moving all the stuff out and it doesn’t help that i collect very delicate and fragile antique china. Indeed, our numerous collections aren’t going to make this much fun, and in the meantime we’ll be needing to store the floorboard. I can already feel a massive headache coming on. Indeed, make that a massive, skull crushing migraine. However, it will make a world of difference to our place. Wow. I can’t wait. I can’t wait until it’s OVER!!

Before I head off, I just wanted to tell you about a heart warming touch of human kindness we received on the weekend. We’ve had friends from Church offer practical assistance and some groceries. We knocked these offers back due to social distancing concerns on the practical assistance front, and we felt there were people who had lost jobs who could use the groceries more than us, and we switched to buying our groceries online. Anyway, just because you’re being self-sufficient doesn’t mean you don’t need connection, friendship, love and encouragement particularly at the moment. The very morning after a rather melancholy and reflective night, the package arrived. We waited for all the family to arrive home before we opened it, which naturally fuelled our curiosity. Who had sent it? It had come from Melbourne, which threw us a bit. We’re from Sydney. Finally, we opened our box of tasty snacks and there was a card from our niece, who was simply thinking of us. I was so touched and it really warmed my heart. We tucked a bit more in my brother’s birthday card. I didn’t want to be tight after being so blessed.

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Pano sunset Yattalunga….Geoff and Rowena Newton 

Lastly, my local walks have continued. I managed to spot a pelican at our local beach on Wednesday afternoon on sun set, which was quite unusual. I don’t think I’ve even seen a pelican there before and we’ve been living here for 20 years. Thursday, I met up with my usual coffee friend, Roland, but we’re now walking instead and we walked along the rocks on the Southern end and sat on a rock inhaling the view across to Umina Beach (home) and the sea air. Driving home, I saw possibly the most electrically beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen. There were magically layers of glowing pink and orange cloud and I was almost delirious…and annoyed. I didn’t have my phone or my camera, but managed to catch the moment past the moment on my SLR when I got home. I had to drive a bit down the road to escape all the power poles. (Who put them there??:?)

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I didn’t quite capture the moment, but it’s still stunningly beautiful. 

On Friday night, I desperately hoped for a repeat of the previous night’s sunset and so I rallied up Geoff and a friend and headed over to her place at Yattalunga. It took a bit longer to get there than anticipated and I lost my phone (yet again) before we left, which also delayed things. So, the sun had actually set by the time we pulled up, but it was still beautiful and serenely atmospheric!!

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Yachts at Yattalunga.

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Low tide Jetty At Yattalung, NSW Central Coast.

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It’s amazing the different colours you can bring out. 

I am finding my time beside the ocean very therapeutic. I’m sure so many of us are just longing for those waters to wash over us and take everything associated with this rotten coronavirus away. Cleanse away the grief, weirdness and stress of trying to keep ourselves and loved ones safe go to work and juggle school at home for the kids. Indeed, I might head back to the water tomorrow and cleanse my soul again. This is also a spiritual thing for me, and I can feel God with me through all of this, but it always gets complicated.

Anyway, what’s been going on in your neck of the woods? I am quite interested in what it’s like for people in different countries as we make our way through the coronacrisis as well as some of the artistic and creative responses.

Anyway, this has been another Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to come along and join us each week.

Best wishes and please stay safe,

Rowena

 

A Festival of Red Doors…Thursday Doors.

Welcome to Another Thursday Doors

This week I’ve decided to keep it simple. It’s absolutely bucketing down outside, and although I took a few photos of doors while we were out shopping last night, they were a bit too ordinary. So, this week I’ve taken the easy way out. Dredging through the archives, I’ve brought you a delectable palette of red doors. Indeed, seeing all these red doors amalgamated together has seriously raised my heart rate and the excitement is almost too much.

Have you ever wondered what inspires someone to paint their front door red when all the doors around them might be painted more conservative shades of grey, heritage green or even beige? I haven’t really give it much thought before. However, seeing all these red doors bunched together made me wonder about the people living on the other side of these doors who call these places home. What makes a red door person?

“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

― Maya Angelou, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes

Red is my favourite colour. I’m an extrovert, passionate person. Moreover, I not only drive a red Alfa Romeo 159, I view this car as an outward manifestation of my self. It is me. Well, to be honest, it’s more of an idealized version of myself these days as I spend too much more time in the slow lane.

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.”

Oscar Wilde

However, despite my passion for all things red, our front door is heritage green and really much more of a conservative, blending in colour. However, you could say that’s quite in keeping with my husband’s personality. He’s quieter, more conservative and tends to blend in. However, that’s not why we have a green front door either. It’s simply what was here when we bought the house almost 20 years ago. The door also has a stained glass window which suits heritage green. We have given some thought to painting the house and we’re thinking of replacing the door and painting is something of a blue slate. We live right near the beach so I thought a more beachy look would suit.

“The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to you door…”

The Beatles – The Long & Winding Road

However, while I don’t have a red door now, I did have a red door growing up. Our house had this little outdoor structure, which was very much like a grannie flat except it is very basic and didn’t have bathroom or kitchen facilities. Indeed, it’s probably more like an artist’s studio. It was a great place growing up, and I turned it into my bedroom for a few years as a teenager. It was fantastic, and I must admit it enabled me to sneak out a bit too. Not usually to get up to too much mischief, but I had a friend who used to roam around during the night and she would tap away on my window.

Oh dear! This was supposed to be a quick post and now I’m turning it into a confessional. Just forget what you’ve read. Strike it from the record. I’ve never done anything wrong. Made stupid decisions. Taken unnecessary risks EVER!!!

Anyway, before I make any further confessions and do myself further in, I’m heading off. Indeed, you could even say I’m closing the door.

This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0 Please pop over and join us.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share…8th July, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share.

If you were coming round here for coffee tonight, I’d be recommending hot Milo instead. It’s a cold Winter’s night and I should be asleep. I just jumped on here to unwind after doing some work.

How has your week been?

I’m not sure what happened to the last week. It seemed to get eaten up by all sorts of appointments which achieved a fair bit, although it feels like I got nothing done. I’m sure you’ve also been there and know the feeling.

Amelia Grease

However, Thursday and Friday nights our daughter appeared in Grease the Musical at their school. She played a dancer and one of the cheerleaders and spent quite a bit of time on stage with a few costume changes. Of course, we were absolutely proud of our girl and she could’ve been up on Broadway as far as we were concerned. All of us went on the Thursday night and I went by myself on Friday night. It was only $10.00 a ticket and I have always loved Grease and after seeing the movie over 15 times on video when I was 13, seeing the musical only twice was nowhere near enough. By the way, quite aside from admiring our daughter’s performance, I was also very impressed with the cast as a whole. They were fabulous. I also admire them for having the courage to step into these massive roles. It’s quite intimidating when almost everyone in the audience knows all the songs word by word and even someone who is tone deaf with no rhythm can pick up any “variations”. There’s nowhere to hide in these big, very popular songs.

Today, I picked up my new glasses. You’ll probably have to wait until next week to see the big unveil as I’m needing to get my hair done first. I’m afraid I’ve turned into a rundown “fixer-upper” of late and need to get the full renovation process in order before the end of the month when I celebrate my Big 50! Wow! There’s so much I wanted to get down beforehand, but I might have to extend my wish list into my 51st year, although when you put it like that it really does seem like cheating but hey, what’s wrong with that when I’m only cheating myself?

Well, I think that about covers it.

How was your week? I hope you’ve had a great one.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Thursday Doors – Carriageworks, Sydney.

Welcome Back to Another Thursday Doors after quite a lengthy breather, while I grapple with the heavy research load which has seriously exceeded expectations on the book project.

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So, may I offer my humble apologies. Our visit to Carriageworks, Sydney is a bit overdue. I was there a few weeks ago for the Sydney Writers’ Festival and I took advantage of the trip to photograph a few doors and that’s what I was doing when a strange robotic voice started  chiming: “Evacuate” in a tone which sounded all too much like the Dalek’s “Exterminate”. That must’ve been a false alarm, but they evacuated the entire building, disrupting our sacred sessions and emptying about a thousand dazed and confused people onto the footpath. Apparently, there was one woman who refused to leave her session: “I’ve paid for this.” A lot of good that’s going to be when you’re dead…not that I’m catastrophising. When I’m told to get out, I get out. You can ask questions later.

Old Carriageworks

A Historic look at the Everleigh Carriage Workshops

Carriageworks started out as the Everleigh Carriage Workshops which were built  between 1880 and 1889. This was where train carriages for Sydney’s rail network were built and maintained, including the Royal Carriages constructed specifically for the Governor General of Australia and visiting Royalty, the first electric carriage, and the first air-conditioned train in Australia. From 1973 productivity at the site declined due to its inefficient older buildings, restrictive union practices and increased privatization of carriage construction and the site was closed in 1988.  In June 2002, the NSW Ministry for the Arts completed the purchase of the Carriage and Blacksmith Workshops at the Eveleigh Rail Yards site. Soon after, a construction project on the site commenced under the name of Carriageworks. Adaptive reuse of the workshop site began in 2003 with the housing of numerous contemporary arts practitioners, and Carriageworks was officially opened in 2007.

Everywhere you look you experience the building’s railway past. The buildings are massive and clearly big enough to park a few trains and there’s still track in situ just in case you had any doubts about the building’s past life. My husband’s a train nerd and our son was also smitten when he was young. So, we’ve been to quite a few railway sites over the years and caught a few steam trains as well. However, probably what struck me most was the sense of all those people who worked there over the years and an entire way of life which has moved on. I lived in the area in 1988 while I was at Sydney University and I do have a vague memory of hundreds, maybe a thousand workers spilling onto the streets. Or, perhaps I’m just making it up. Sometimes, when you wind back the clock, your recollections wouldn’t stand up in a court of law. That’s where you’re better off becoming a creative writer or yarn spinner than a historian or eye witness.

Door 3

This door had my immediate attention. What don’t they want us to see??

 

 

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This is what we writers aspire to…entry into the writers’ lounge. I actually made it inside once when my aunt presented a paper. 

My apologies because although the site itself was quite interesting, the doors weren’t weren’t the sort to set your heart racing and fill your head with rapturous poetry. However, the doors do form part of the overall structure which is intriguing and particularly appealing to anyone interested in industrial architecture.

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You have to be pretty short to peer through this keyhole. 

This is another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0. While you might not have thought much about doors before, you’d be amazed at how they can launch a story and I really enjoy connecting with people from around the world and sharing where we live and where we’ve been.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Thursday Doors…Building 30.

Welcome to Another Thursday Doors.

My apologies for posting on a Friday. However, I had an appointment down at Royal North Shore Hospital and planned to take the camera along and thought I’d share some fresh doors with you.

Royal North Shore Hospital is one of Sydney’s best teaching hospitals and for me it’s become a one-stop shop for all the weird and wonderful complications of my rare autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis. The hospital is located across from St Leonards Station on the North Shore and up a hill so steep that it’s likely to induce a coronary in even a fit person.

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What’s going on behind these closed windows?

Anyway, I was heading up the hill, when I spotted this weird fabric veneer over one of the hospital’s heritage buildings…Building 30. I’m not sure if you’ve seen anything like this yourself, but they’ve seemingly printing heritage architectural features onto a piece of fabric, which is camouflaging the building works going on “behind closed doors”.

Naturally, I was rather suspicious. Clearly, they’re trying to hide something and that something more than a messy building site? What is going on?

What’s more, being on the look out for interesting doors today, I was most concerned that this vogue-style veneer didn’t have any doors. There were only windows. This was a serious oversight. An act of discrimination.

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Hey, I found a door!

However, behind all those windows, I actually did manage to find a door and I’m sure you’ll agree that it was probably best left covered up. After all, it doesn’t really encourage you to trust this place with your life or your loved ones, does it?

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This door hardly instills you with confidence, does it?!!

When I arrived home tonight, I mentioned this building site veneer to my husband and he said he’s seen it on building sites around Macquarie University. Apparently, it helps reduce graffiti and bill posting, although it still seems like a massive cover-up to me. What do you think?

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Front View, Building 30.

This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0. Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors. It’s a lot of fun and helps you see parts of the world you’ll never get to visit.

Best wishes,

Rowena

A Walk in Redfern, Sydney…Thursday Doors.

Welcome to Another Thursday Doors! This week, we’re off for a walk through part of Sydney’s Redfern, which is located 3 kilometres south of the Sydney central business district. The suburb is named after surgeon William Redfern, who was granted 100 acres (0.40 km2) of land in this area in 1817 by Governor Lachlan Macquarie. You catch the train to Redfern Station to get to the University of Sydney and the footpaths are heavily populated by streams of students.

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Well you might ask why we’re going on a doorscursion around the backstreets of Redfern, when we haven’t been to the Sydney Opera House yet. Of course, if I were planning my life around notable doors, that would be a very good place to start.   However, as much as I admire doors and could even support a philosophy of “Doors for Doors Sake”, that’s a luxury I can’t afford at the moment. Rather, I’m needing to be pragmatic. It’s more of a case where the door follows me, rather than me following the door. That said, there doors are quite stationary and not moving anywhere so I still need to go to them. I just can’t go too far out of my way.

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This week, we’re jumping back in time, returning to the Carer’s Day Out, which was held at the Redfern Community Centre. As it turns out, it could’ve been named: Door Day Out. As you may recall, I’ve already written about returning to my old front door at Abercrombie Street, Chippendale and photographed swags of doors around my former stomping ground, the University of Sydney.

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Today, we’re alighting at Redfern Station and onto Lawson Street right into Abercrombie and back down into Caroline Street and into the park outside the Redfern Community Centre. This area is very much a celebration of Australia’s urban Indigenous culture, but it has also been a dangerous no go zone. I have struggled trying to juggle these two extremes as I bring you down here and actually felt quite a lot of relief to be able to walk around these backstreets safely, which wasn’t the case when I lived here in 1988. I have read various views about this area and in particular “The Block” and for me the bottom line is that for many people this area has been home. Their home might have been on struggle street but it was/is still their home and deserves respect. No one likes having high and mighty outsiders coming in and telling them that their home is crap. I know our place isn’t perfect and after years of fighting my health/disability situation, it’s not what I envisaged either. I know I wouldn’t like someone coming in here and highlighting all it’s faults with none of its strengths.

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Redfern is the birthplace of the urban Aboriginal civil rights movement in Australia. The establishment of Aboriginal-founded and controlled services in the 1970s, such as the Aboriginal Medical Service, the Aboriginal Legal Service and the Aboriginal Housing Company, provided inspiration for self-determination for many Aboriginal communities nationwide. 1972: Redfern-based Aboriginal activists establish a protest camp, for justice and land rights, on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra. This ‘Aboriginal Tent Embassy’ was a critical political action in the Aboriginal struggle. 1973: ‘The Block’ is established and attracts an international reputation as the bedrock of Aboriginal activism in Australia. 1978: Radio Redfern, housed at the Black Theatre (now Gadigal House) provides a voice for Aboriginal people in Redfern. 1992: Keating speech given at Redfern Park. ‘Before that, Australians did not know what was going on in their own country. We shaped that speech!’ —Redfern elder https://www.pmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/publications/indigenous/empowered-communities/alt/description-redfern.html

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A tribute to The Block, housing development.

The Block would have to be the best-known, most notorious and controversial landmark in Redfern. Probably the best known Redfern’s great claim to fame was: The Block. Houses on The Block were purchased over a period of 30 years by the Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC) for use as a project in Aboriginal-managed housing. The focus of life in The Block has always been Eveleigh Street, which is its eastern border, with railway lines on the other side of that street. ‘The Block’ is an area in the immediate vicinity of Redfern station bounded by Eveleigh, Caroline, Louis and Vine Streets.

So, when you look at the front doors of Redfern, you can know those doors have endured and seen quite a lot and built considerable resilience. That they’ve also part of a community. They don’t stand alone.

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Caroline Street, Redfern.

Clearly, I’m just passing through Redfern and don’t expect to revisit many of these streets until I’m back here next year for another Carer’s Day Out, which could well be the case. I had a fantastic day out.

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This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0. Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors. It’s a lot of fun and helps you see parts of the world you’ll never get to visit.

Best wishes,

Rowena

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Thought I’d let Puss have the last word, even if he/she might’ve been sitting around the corner in Abercrombie Street.

Breaking-in the Clothes Horse.

Yesterday, I had an encounter of epic proportions, when I tried setting up what should have been a simple clothes horse. One of those darned instant clothes racks you put up when it’s raining and your clothes dryer’s on the blink. Worse than any contraption I’ve ever bought from Ikea, this thing arrived without instructions..or even that pesky Allen key.

Indeed, I would’ve been most thankful if an “Alan” had been included, who could help put the thing up. Disentangle the rack, which was meant to clip in on top, from the feet. This is when the wrestling process began and I was seriously concerned that either I was going to get tangled and trapped inside. Or, it was going to become air borne. With only a little imagination, I could see this thing flapping it’s wings and flying away. (Or, is that just me? If so, I’ll blame the Weetbix. That stuff looks pretty ordinary, but the villains are always understated.)

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The annoying thing about all of this, was that I bought the clothes horse because the weather report said it was going to rain for three days. Naturally, the kids’ uniforms needed to be “processed”, especially the socks.

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An empty clothesline on a perfect washing day.

However, today I woke up to perfect blue skies, and what so many poor, deranged souls call “perfect washing weather”, when they could be down at the beach.

Have you had any challenging home maintenance experiences lately? Memories?

Despite all these DIY shows, I have noticed that the local tradie hasn’t become extinct. That there are still many people out there like me, who still need to be rescued. Fortunately, my other half compliments my capacity for disaster, and is a very enterprising Mr Fix-it.

Be careful this weekend.You might just be better off picking up your phone than a spade.

xx Rowena

Government Cottage, Port Arthur.

Usually, when you see before and after shots, there’s been some kind of miraculous make-over, renovation or transformation. WOW! You’re absolutely blown away by all the amazing improvements and you can barely recognise the clapped out wreck.

However, sometimes you can’t put all the pieces back together again, but there’s a different kind of beauty in the wreckage…a stoic timelessness, a strange kind of strength. At the very least, these crumbling wrecks can make poignant, photographic works of art.

Indeed, these crumbling brick walls were very photogenic indeed. That’s right. My eyes were out on stalks, heart palpitating. It was love at first sight!

Indeed, I even found my initials carved into the brick.

xx Rowena

Scaredy Mum! Dog tells all!

Although dibber-dobbing is well and truly against The Dog’s Code of Ethics, I have to speak out.

The life of whistle blower isn’t easy but leaving someone caught up and strangled by their own fear, is sanctioning self-destruction.Naturally, that’s something no decent dog would ever condone. So, once again, Bilbo, Mum’s loyal canine crusader is back.

Besides, when someone  has the audacity to write you a set of  New Year’s Resolutions before they’ve even considered their own, I’m sure you’ll agree they deserve “their comeuppance!”

Mum is supposed to be painting six skirting boards, which are destined for Mister’s bedroom, which is currently under re-construction. Instead, the skirting boards, work benches, paint tin and brush are all still out in the garage while Mum has been writing! She’s even been writing about the renovations. That is, instead of actually doing any renovating. I was naturally shocked because “renovating” is a doing word… not some fluffy adjective!

While at first, I thought Mum was just being her typically lazy self (remember she did nothing to try to find the missing Mister and bring him home!) or procrastinating. However, using my superior canine detective skills, I sniffed out that she was caught in the grasp of a paralyzing perfectionism. Indeed, the fear of making even the smallest mistake, had left her stonkered. She’d retreated deep inside her shell and wouldn’t come out.

Indeed, Mum has not only opened the door to fear but has also offered it a seat, a cup of tea and even a piece of Vegemite toast. Now, they’re parked in front of the TV set together, the best of mates when she should be out there painting instead. Moreover, what with fear whispering her sweet nothings, she’s become dangerously intoxicated. Paralyzed. Dad just mentioned the word “paint” and I heard her mutter something about Pandora’s Box and how even opening the tin was going to unleash something deadly. A poison? An explosion? I couldn’t be sure but either way, Mum was convinced she was going to die! It would mean the end of the world.

That’s some tin of paint!

Now, I’m sure you can appreciate how Mum’s been sorely trying my patience. I mean, these crazy humans think they know how to run the world better than dogs simply because they walk on two legs. They’ve stuck themselves up on some kind of dais way above God, I mean dog (Sorry about that. I sometimes get my letters mixed up) when indeed, they spend most of their lives chasing their own tails, instead of putting them to good use.

Of course, I’ve tried to be compassionate and understanding, especially during meals when she’ll usually slip me some Vegemite toast! However, now I need your help. Sometimes trying to work out humans is even beyond me.

Why can’t Mum just get on with the job?

Hasn’t she heard that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”?

After all, that’s human, not dog, philosophy. Why can’t she understand that once she starts painting, that it will become so much easier to keep going and get the job done? That getting started is the hard part and once you’ve jumped that hurdle, you’re almost home…especially with something so simple?

Yet, she’s still there entertaining fear like it’s her best friend! It’s been more than a few days and now that the rain’s cleared up, there can be no more excuses. Time is running out. Soon, Mister will be back from Scout camp and expecting his bed in his room. Not parked on it’s side in the lounge room like it’s had CPR.

If only she’d asked me for assistance, I’d have had those planks painted with my eyes closed. They might not have appreciated the black fur in the paint but I’d sacrifice my tail to make Mum happy.

Then again, doing it for her isn’t really helping, is it? Only making things worse. I might as well ask fear to stay on for dinner and even dessert. No! Mum has to get out of that chair and start painting.

Well, if you think fear can be darn persistent and annoying, you’ve never met a Border Collie. I have a PhD in persistence. You just ask Dad about my ball. Actually, perhaps you’d better not!

Bilbo with ball

Bilbo appropriating another dog’s ball.

What you humans have only half worked out about us dogs, is that we can not only read your minds, we plant messages in there as well. Indeed, we’re so good at it that you mistake it for your own idea.

So, I began planting subliminal messages in Mum’s head. Memories of successfully skiing down the mountain at Perisher when she was even struggling to walk. Playing her violin. Driving the car. All these things are so much harder than painting a couple of planks, surely she’ll get my drift! That she can do it and besides, isn’t not trying the only real form of failure?!!

However, even after all of those hard efforts, she’s still unsure.

So, I’m going for the big guns aiming straight for the heart strings. Being so risky, this is a last resort. I’ve heard terrible stories of accidentally snapping their heartstrings and after that, the humans don’t seem to function very well.

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Hesitantly, I start thinking of Mister and how he’ll feel when he arrives home and sees his new room. How he’ll see this as so much more than just a coat of paint. That by doing up his room, Mum and Dad have turned their hearts inside out and painted their love onto those walls. It will be just like when they welcomed him home to his new room as a baby, only now he’s well on his way to becoming a man.

Then, just to make sure, I threw in a good dose of guilt. Mister arriving home to find a demolition sight instead and walking straight out that door and back to camp.

Yes, I know that was getting low but if you’d seen how Mum and fear were chatting, laughing, connecting at such a deep and personal level, you’d be using every trick in the book as well!

Ha! There she goes just like a puppet on a string, walking straight out to the garage.  I told her that job would be a breeze!

Now, just look at her go…over a few days shelves, a wall. Once she gets going, she could almost paint a thousand miles except she’s also human. She has her limits.

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Miss helping to paint Mister’s room.

So, with less than 24 hours now before Mister arrives home, I’m off to round her up again. While she’s made a great start, she still needs to make it to the finish.

Have the room ready and pick Mister up!

By the way, I’m not so sure that I mixed those letters up…DOG…GOD?

Does it matter?

Either way, I’m smarter than your average human!

That’s a fact!

xx Bilbo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dog and her Castle

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

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

The Castle...an iconic Australian movie.

The Castle…an iconic Australian movie.

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

The Infamous Pool Room.

The Infamous Pool Room.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

xx Rowena