Tag Archives: scout

Dancing in the Moonlight…Friday Fictioneers.

David was joking when he’d asked ballerina, Vanessa Rossi, away camping for the weekend. Never thought she’d agree. Moreover, when she arrived flagrantly overdressed, he was relieved he’d also booked into a hotel.

“You can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the girl,” he laughed.

Vanessa smiled, sipping champagne while David wrestled unsuccessfully with the tent. Once a Scout, always a Scout, Vanessa could pitch a tent blindfolded. However, she said nothing. He was her Prince, and she was his swan. Enthralled, they danced around the crumpled tent in the moonlight.

….

100 words

I was fiddling around with this one for quite awhile tonight and feel it has good potential as a short story. It was actually inspired by a story my husband tells of a school camp trip when this group of trendy girls had an expensive, upmarket tent but didn’t set it up properly and it fell over during the night and the boys had to come to the rescue. I haven’t had much camping experience myself. However, I was driving across the Nullarbor Plain on the way from Sydney to Perth and we camped by the road for the night. I always thought it was hot in the desert and was almost paralyzed by the cold. To compound my discomfort, I’d worn this fancy jumper with decorative holes and the wind howled through them. I was told “You can take the girl out of the North Shore but you can’t take the North Shore out of the girl.” That’s the part of Sydney I grew up and let’s just say it wasn’t rough and tumble. Meanwhile, the girl in this story is loosely inspired by our daughter who at 13 is still yet to step out in the world but is currently rehearsing to appear in Swan Lake in a local youth production and has been a scout until the start of this year. She got into scouts through her brother, and while she enjoyed it, I was also keen for her to do it as a counter-point to her dancing. Felt it was good for her to get out into the bush hiking and camping and stepping beyond the studio.

I hope you enjoy it and that it hasn’t suffered too much trying to cut it back to 100 words. It’s been heavily edited.

This is another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields where we write 100 words to a photo prompt. PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Wayne Fields

Best wishes,

Rowena

Returned Scout: The Weekly Smile

When you’re smilin’ keep on smilin’
The whole world smiles with you
And when you’re laughin’ oh when youre laughin’
The sun comes shinin? through

 Louis Armstrong

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOH_mioL3TU

Welcome to the Weekly Smile. This is a new blog share run by Trent over at Trent’s World

This week’s smile is brought to you by our son. The photo was taken just after he’d jumped off the bus returning from the Australian Scouting Jamboree. He’d been away for 12 days and was clearly pleased to see Mum and Dad and be back, even though he’d had the time of his life.

“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

Thomas Paine

We were full of smiles too and such anticipation!! Couldn’t wait to see him! Not only because we’d missed him but also because I was curious to see how he’d changed. After all, there was no way he could possibly go through all those adventures and not grow and extend himself.

I’m also really proud of that smile because things haven’t been easy for our son and yet he finds the strength and courage to rise above it all and get out there again. Sometimes, that’s as his parents, teacher or Scout leaders are giving him the proverbial boot. However, whatever happens, he eventually returns with that trademark smile and a personal warmth which is like basking in the sun.

Of course, that’s not to say there aren’t thunder storms, bolts of lightening and torrential rain!

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

Walt Disney

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Mickey Mouse…all smiles!

By the way, that Walt Disney Quote really struck me because you usually associate Disney with huge smiles and cartoons characters like Mickey Mouse who epitomises fun and happiness. Coming from him, therefore, made the quote all the more powerful!
What’s made you smile this week? I encourage you to share your smiles over at the link and to give yourself a boost by reading the other posts.
xx Rowena

Scout Backpack Warning! Funnel Web Spider Inside?

Putrid stench and enough dirt to start a veggie patch…that’s what you expect in your scout’s pack when they return from camp. Of course, you hope ALL their gear’s returned but are philosophical. It usually only takes a trip to the Scout Hall to find the rest.

However, I am fast becoming prepared for the unexpected.

That is, if you can ever be prepared for a deadly Funnel Web Spider catapulting out of a backpack and into your path.

Well, that’s only a possibility. However, after getting Mister home safe and sound, we received an official Funnel Web Spider warning from Assistant District Commissioner. It seems that the deadly venomous spider has been making its own exodus out of the camp grounds in search of electricity and a comfy bed. Uninvited guests, they’ve been found by two hapless local families while unpacking their scout’s bags.

Yikes!

440px-Atrax_Robustus

This is FACT and not the usual Australian hyperbole about our dangerous and deadly wildlife. Well, we’re not exactly exaggerating ALL of their deadly powers but you could say that myth and fact can become a little blurred.

While it seems most other families had well and truly unpacked by the time the warning was issued, of course, we were trailing far behind. After 12 days away, Mister had a lot of catching up to do… with us, the dogs, checking out his new room and making that all important phone call to his little sister and grandparents. So, somehow, the bag was still lying on the floor like a corpse this afternoon.

After I mentioned the Funnel Web warning, the bag was promptly moved out of the Scout’s bedroom and dumped beside my feet in the lounge room. Goodness knows why! I hardly look like “Spider Mum”, do I?!!

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Moreover, when I last checked my list of responsibilities as  “Scout Mum” there was absolutely NO MENTION of removing venomous Funnel Web spiders from backpacks or even checking the aforementioned backpack for them either.

That’s what Scouts are for. The only trouble is that a bite to a child is much more dangerous than an  adult and you could say that I might have a bit more “added protection” as well.

I’m not scared of spiders but the Sydney Funnel Web isn’t any ordinary spider either. Even the Encyclopaedia Britannica rates the Funnel Web as the deadliest spider in the world. I’ve never seen one outside a sealed specimen jar and I can’t say I’m disappointed either.

So, while the scout is supposed to pack and unpack their bag, I did offer assistance.Not that I expected us to find a Funnel Web. However, a Funnel Web warning is not something to ignore either, especially when No. 1 son has already told me that it’s currently mating season and the males are out searching for true love. Indeed, one of his leaders found two funnel webs before they left. Mister also told me that a scout had been bitten at camp (unconfirmed) and they even had anti-venom on site. So, that along with the two spiders found in packs, advises caution.

All this aside, I don’t know how I became the spider expert.

You probably haven’t heard about the nervous breakdown I had when a bird flew inside the house and became wedged between the window and a shelf. It’s constant flapping totally freaked me out!!! I had to get the neighbour to help. I was an absolute mess!! Mummy and the Bird

Spiders don’t have wings but they do scuttle and those Funnel Webs Spiders are so big and ugly, they look scary. After all, it’s not like they camouflage themselves as fairies to deceive you!

Yet, after our snake encounter at Byron Bay, I’m now an old hand dealing with deadly wildlife:  Snake Bait

My modus operandi is to tip everything out of the bag onto the back deck and make enough noise to scare it off. I don’t know whether spiders have ears or can even hear at all. But, if I was a funnel web, I’d runaway. However, I’m not sure what I’m going to do if I do end up with a Funnel Web at large in the backyard, especially with the kids and two dogs to consider. I really should have a glass ready so I can do a textbook capture if required. However, the concept of getting that close to a Funnel Web is more than I can come to grips with, even though the folk at  The Australian Reptile Park would ultimately take it off my hands. They milk spiders to produce anti-venom. So, you could say that catching this spider would be a good thing, although couldn’t someone else be the hero?

Mister empties out his pack.

I hold my breath. Seriously hold my breath. I have absolutely no idea how the contents of this pack are going to fall.

To be or not be?

Will a funnel web spider

be staring up at me?

Apparently not. Seems they weren’t too keen on his stinky socks either!

Phew!

We just threw the lot in the washing machine and pressed the magic button. Pretty soon all that stench will emerge as celestial threads!

Meanwhile, our son is adjusting to being home. No longer having to dodge Funnel Webs, he’s found it “weird” having electricity again and somewhere comfortable to sleep. Of course, that hasn’t stopped him from lying in bed playing on his iPad.

Happy at camp, happy at home.

So much to be thankful for!

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

xx Rowena

 

A Conversation No Parent Should Have.

Last night, I had a conversation with my nine year old daughter which no parent should ever need to have. We talked about what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

I didn’t instigate this conversation but I didn’t shut it down either.

amelia-ballerina.jpg

My daughter is performing at a large event in a capital city and Australia is on a high terrorist alert. While a terrorist attack at her performance is unlikely, it’s not impossible. In the past, our geographical isolation  has protected us from global conflicts. However, isolation can so longer save our precious country from what happens “over there”. It has already happened here more than once and a former work colleague of mine was among the hostages in the Sydney Siege this time last year. So, I know first hand that these things can happen to you or someone you love.

While this awareness could turn you into a victim, being a Scouting family,  my thoughts were for her to “Be Prepared”. That this isn’t a time to stick our heads in the sand…especially when she has concerns.

Our daughter simply asked Daddy where she could buy a suit of armor. He told her that you couldn’t buy them and that he thought they were illegal. I’m not sure if he said any more but I decided to follow up her question. Given events in Paris and, as much as I have minimized exposure to the news, I knew what she was really saying. She is afraid of a terrorist attack.

When I was her age, a notorious murderer broke out of jail and I was terrified. In my mind, he was heading straight to our place and I was locking the windows and barring the doors. My Dad reassured me, talking about the likelihood of him turning up at our place, a tactic he has often used since and is a classic approach to reducing anxiety. He also told me that he would protect me and knowing that my Dad was some kind of super hero, I believed him. Of course, he didn’t turn up and Dad retained his incredible super powers.

If we were dealing with the same kind of threat, I would give my kids much the same kind of advice. I’d also tell them that our dog, Bilbo, would fight to the death to save us. We all know that while he looks cute and fluffy, he knows how to be ferocious and would die for us.  No questions asked. He’s a dog!

Bilbo shadow Palm Beach

Our Philosophical Dog walking along beside the tide. He doesn’t like getting wet paws.

However, these terrorists aren’t operating by the old, conventional rules. These days, having a simple cup of coffee or going to a football match or a concert, can be life threatening. These terrorists are striking at the ordinary, which means that your average Jo(e) needs to be prepared.

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Obviously, a writer-poet without any military training, is definitely no expert on surviving a terrorist attack. However, I read how people survived inside the Bataclan Theatre and have also had my dose of TV to add to the mix.

This was my advice:

  1. Try to stay calm and think. Keep breathing.
  2. Find the exits. If you are close to an exit, try to get out. Getting out safely is your best option.
  3. Hide. Try hiding under your seat.
  4. Pretend your dead.
  5. When you’re outside, find the Police.

I forgot to mention about listening to her teacher. We know her really well. Of course, she would look after our children like her own but under exceptional circumstances, Miss might just have to do the bolt.

Amelia's dancing shadow

My daughter exudes such joie de vivre dancing at the beach. She shouldn’t have to think about shadows!

While the chances of her being caught up in  a terrorist attack are slim, talking about what to do in an emergency is a good idea. That’s why we have things like fire drills and we just can’t assume that we will be with our child in an emergency. Or, that we won’t get separated in the chaos, like an Australian father and his 12 year old son in the Bataclan Theatre.

Indeed, the day of the Paris Attacks, we had a severe hailstorm here. I had just ducked out for a few minutes and while I was gone, the hail smashed through a section of roof. Rain was pouring in and we had to get the State Emergency Service out to put up a tarpaulin. We’ve been living in this house for 14 years and I’m pretty sure it’s the first hailstorm we’ve ever had. So, the unexpected can happen in all different shapes and sizes and a few survival skills go along way. That, in addition to book knowledge, we all need life skills. We need to know how to get through a crisis. How to save ourselves.

For my daughter, too, knowledge also means being empowered. She has some skills. She has some ideas about what to do and how to respond. So, instead of going into a panic, she can be level-headed and perhaps even help others in all sorts of emergencies.

So, I’ve now come round to thinking that this is the sort of conversation all parents need to have with their kids. Not just about terrorism but about how to respond in an emergency. Children might be young but they’re incredibly resourceful and being small can be quite an advantage. Being good at hide & seek could even save their life.

Being prepared isn’t giving in to worry. Instead of weakness, you’re actually coming from a position of strength.

If you have ever read the words of La Marseillaise, fighting the good fight is what it’s all about. We don’t lie back and let the bastards win.

 

Take care and and I feel we are all particularly conscious of just how precious our loved ones and our communities are and I continue to pray for some kind of resolution and a new beginning.

Family shadow Byron Lighthouse Easter 2014

Our Family 2014- Byron Bay Lighthouse, Australia.

I would be interested to know your thoughts. We really do live in a new world where the old rules no longer apply. Now, the anticipated target could indeed be the exception. While this doesn’t make sense, this is our new reality.

xx Rowena