Tag Archives: serendipity

Walking Through Christina’s World…A-Z Challenge.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

As you might be aware, I’m currently taking part in the Blogging A-Z April Challenge, and my theme is Writing Letters to Dead Artists. Yesterday, I wrote to American artist, Andrew Newell Wyeth regarding his iconic masterpiece, Christina’s World.

What I discovered, has been a Eureka Moment. Indeed, I’ve not only jumped out of the bathtub, but also leaped out of my skin. You see, I live with a muscle wasting disease called dermatomyositis, and a complication which causes fibrosis in my lungs, leaving me short of breath and prone to infection. My situation is extremely rare and even world-wide, there are only a handful of people who walk in my shoes. So, it’s also equally difficult to meet anyone who gets my situation from the inside out, without having some kind of medical training. Clearly, this isn’t something you can bond over with a stranger at the bus stop.

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Andrew Wyeth, Christina’s World

However, then I stumbled across Christina’s World. Not only is there the connection with Christina and her muscle weakness, but very late last night, I found out Andrew Wyeth experienced a chronic lung condition. What the??? I was absolutely gobsmacked!  Somehow this painting had brought about this very intense cosmic fusion between artist, subject and observer. I’m not even going to estimate the chances of this happening. They’re so infinitesimal, that you’d need a microscope to find them.

So, clearly you could understand why I was so excited about finding this work of art. It was like I’ve been travelling along the road less travelled forever, and suddenly meeting  two fellow travellers, and having someone to walk with. Not that I’ve been alone, but you get my drift.

That’s why I’ve come back to Andrew Wyeth today. While the whole point of this challenge is to visit a new artist every day, I felt this connection deserved so much more than a fleeting, one-off letter exchange. That the three of us needed to sit out on Christina Olsen’s front step, or which ever step it was, and chat. Or, simply inhale and exhale the same air, and not even say a word.  Me being me, I’d have to add a sunset. I’m not sure whether we’d be facing the sunset in real life, but sharing a Ginger Beer with two dead people is hardly what I’d call “living in the real world”. So, I can paint the sky any way I please, even neon if I get the urge. Well, that is, unless some of these Wyeths feel like giving me some painting lessons, or doing the job for me.

However, while we shared these struggles, we also shared our strengths. None of us were victims, who let circumstances chew us up and spit us out. Rather, we are survivors, battlers to the very end.

Despite her great mobility difficulties, Christina was out in the field picking blueberries and getting herself around without a wheelchair. She wasn’t sitting on the porch waiting to die.

As a young boy, Andrew Wyeth was frail and too unwell to go to school. However, encouraged and taught by his illustrator father and brought into his wider circle, he painted and mastered his craft trying various techniques until he found his own voice in egg tempera. Yet, his lung deteriorated further.  In 1951, he had major surgery to remove a portion of his lung. He survived two near death experiences, and they even had to cut through muscles in his painting arm. This would’ve devastated many. Wiped them out. Yet, within a matter of weeks, Wyeth was back at work again. Indeed,  Trodden Weed (featured image) was completed in March and if you’re familiar with Wyeth’s paintings, there’s all his usual attention to detail in blade after blade of grass. He didn’t slack off.

Of course, I don’t know for sure what Wyeth was really trying to say in Trodden Weed, which has been described as an “unconventional self-portrait”. However, based on my own experiences of medical setbacks, it could well signify that he’s back on his feet, even if he is wearing Howard Pyle’s boots. That he’s going places, and that his heath problems aren’t going to hold him back. Indeed, he certainly didn’t paint himself sitting in a chair out on the porch. No! Here is an artist, yet a man of action, much like Rodin’s The Thinker, if not so muscular.

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This sense of perseverance is something I’ve experienced myself, and I’ve pushed myself in ways that defy logic. I’ve always been a writer and photography has also been an omnipresent part of me. Yet, since my diagnosis I’ve also taken up the violin, done some adult dance classes, and even gone skiing. Each of these activities defies logic. While I’m certainly better than I was, I still have days when I even struggle to walk around my house, and my lung problems aren’t trifle either. So, I’m not superhuman, but it does show that there are forces at work which we don’t understand, and it’s worth getting out of our comfort zones to stretch what is possible as far as we can. I’m just mighty grateful that Australia’s largely flat, and I’m not living in Switzerland!

So, it is little wonder that alongside Christina’s World, I also relate to Brendan Graham’s modern hymn: You Raise Me Up, in such a personal way. For, along with Andrew Wyeth and Christina Olsen, I have also conquered mountains. Mountains beyond the physical and into the spiritual realm and I know I haven’t merely done this on my own strength. (By the way, I actually had the privilege of meeting Brendan Graham when he came to Sydney.)

Anyway, the day is done and I still have to move onto today’s artist…Guo Xi, which is starting to look like a very brief encounter indeed.

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Andrew Wyeth, Master Bedroom.

So, I thought I’d let Andrew Wyeth have the last word. You see, it’s a great irony that after spending most of his life in the shadow of death, that he somehow managed to live a very long, full life and passed away at the grand old age of ninety-one. How did he do it? That’s a side to Andrew Wyeth’s genius, that I’m truly wanting to pursue further. Was it something he did? Luck? The will of God? When I get to heaven, I’ll be lining up Andrew Wyeth and Stephen Hawking side-by-side and asking questions… “Please explain!”

Have you ever had an experience like this with a work of art, or a book perhaps where the artist, writer, whoever knows your innermost struggle in such a personal way? Please share it in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I just wanted to mention someone who walked with Andrew Wyeth in a very personal and unique way. That is Joyce H Stoner, a Conservator who worked with him on his paintings for the last 12 years of his life. Here’s a link to her reflections http://samblog.seattleartmuseum.org/tag/joyce-hill-stoner/. She talks about him in such an illustrating, personal way that even if you’d never seen his paintings, you’ll enjoy it.

She also appeared in this this detailed interview of his works.

 

G-Gordon River Cruise, Tasmania.

Welcome to Day Seven of the A-Z April Challenge.

Today, we we’re leaving Ferndene in Penguin on Tasmania’s North Coast, and heading South-West to go on a scenic Gordon River Cruise, which will be departing from Strahan on the West Coast.  Strahan is 197.5 KM from Penguin and a 2.3 hour drive.

Map Penguin to Gordon River

“THE mighty Gordon River flows pure and clear from its source in Lake Richmond, a deep glacial basin way up on the precipitous eastern slopes of the brooding Mt King William.

It plunges down from the high country in a brawling, tumbling torrent, scouring dark tannins from the boggy buttongrass plains to emerge as black as billy tea.

It plummets in foaming cataracts through limestone gorges so impenetrably deep and dark that the river was once thought to vanish into an abyss of underground tunnels and ferocious chasms no man had ever seen.

In its 172km length, the Gordon is swollen by 25 tributary creeks and rivers as it descends almost 600m through a magnificent uninhabited wilderness of towering forests, ferns and emerald mosses.

On the gently sloping lower ground it becomes a sinuous serpent of a river, broad and ponderous yet powerful enough to carry enormous loads of honey-blonde shingle downstream to form the shallow beds of roaring rapids.

The Gordon has a higher catchment yield than any other Tasmanian river and by the time it reaches the sea at Macquarie Harbour it has drained an area of about 5000 sq km.

Unlike lesser rivers that take the course of least resistance and flow around the massive mountain ranges that block their path, the Gordon rips its way through the Permian rocks of the King William Range, literally splitting them apart.

After torrential rain, its awesome power develops a daunting deepthroated roar that reverberates like the thunder of great guns booming through the mist-muffled silence of the wilderness.

The World Heritage-listed South West Wilderness National Park is one of the wettest regions on earth, with an average annual rainfall in excess of 250cm.

On our journey upstream, though, during a dry spell, the river was as placid as a millpond.

Moving as if asleep, the cold, dark water slid past in majestic silence, its mirror surface broken only by the occasional splash of a startled platypus or the rippled rise of a rainbow trout.

From the moment we entered the river’s broad brown mouth, I confess I was in a state of transcendental bliss…”

http://www.themercury.com.au/lifestyle/tasweekend-ride-of-a-lifetime-on-the-magnificent-gordon-river/news-story/52011232f20952f6733bbaab0c5bcb56

My apologies.

Before you start getting too comfortable, I have a small confession to make.

We didn’t actually make it to the Gordon River Cruise, even though it was at the top of our Must See List.

Now that we’re back home, that seems like such a travesty. What went wrong? How could we possible miss it? After all, Tasmania isn’t such a big place and even if we didn’t have an itinerary as such, surely we’d at least make sure we crossed off all of the “must-sees”…prioritized.

Apparently not.

Moreover, while I’m on the subject of travel planning, I should mention that my father who is a seasoned, independent global traveller, draws his itinerary up on an excel spreadsheet and almost has the trip planned out down to the second. He has all his accommodation booked ahead…the works. He’s got it all sorted.

On the other hand, we fly by the seat of our pants.

Yet, you could also say that we “travel by feel”. That we sensed where we wanted to go, and if we wanted to linger longer, we could without being held hostage by the plan. Since we were in Tasmania for three weeks, it seemed like we had plenty of time to linger without having to rush and cram everything in. As it turned out, I don’t think you could ever spend enough time in Tassie. It might seem small but its layers run deep.

Above: Some of the places we DID experience in Tasmania.

Our plans were also governed by our budget and the fact that we could base ourselves with friends in  Devonport for the entire three weeks without paying for accommodation.  We  had packed our tents and fully intended to go camping, which also didn’t happen. With Geoff coming from Scottsdale in the North-East, we were always going to be focused on the North and East coasts and by the time we’d caught up with multiple lots of family and eaten our way as we went, we didn’t get anywhere near the West Coast.

So, I guess we’ll be spending a chunk of time exploring the West Coast the next time we go to Tassie.

Take it from us, Tasmania is never “done”.

What type of traveller are you? A planner or a pantser?

I’d love to find out more about your philosophies on how to travel.

xx Rowena

The featured image was sourced Gordon River Cruises and you can check out their website for further information: http://www.gordonrivercruises.com.au/

 

 

 

Accidents, Blessings &Tibetan Monks at our Australian Beach.

It’s no wonder I “over-think” things. Strange things keep happening and I’m trying to work out whether it’s chance, coincidence or destiny. That’s why I like the word serendipity because it seems to covers that ambiguity. It was “meant to be”, and yet it was also brought about by chance.

Moreover, I should also add that it’s up to you whether you grasp that serendipitous moment (that is, if there is such a word) and run with it or let it slip through your hands into the wind where it could well be grasped by someone more daring.

Before I get to the audaciousness of the woman with the long camera lens (I tell you I’ve lost count of how many doors a long lens has opened for me over the years but it’s certainly been more influential than the sword!!)

As I said, before I get to the audaciousness of the woman with the long lens, let me just tell you that before I was strutting my stuff down at the beach and flashing my lens around, yours truly had a nasty fall. Not of the figurative kind but of the real, painful and ouchy kind. I’d ducked down to get my daughter a loaf of bread and for no reason whatsoever, my ankle flipped over, gave way and I landed smack onto the concrete.

As I’m lying there, pain receptors all over my body are flashing red and my  brain is doing this desperate mantra: “Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!” Meanwhile, inside I feel this desperate, crushing sadness. It’s almost been 2 years since my last fall where I broke my foot in equally pathetic circumstances and yes, I was feeling sorry for myself. I was wanting someone to rescue me and give me a hand up. I might have been at our local shops and I know a lot of people around here, but there was no one in sight. As much as it’s embarrassing to have a fall, it’s also a relief to have help getting up and some loving, caring stranger ask if you’re okay and bless you with the touch of human kindness.

However, as I said, there was no one in sight.

So, I picked myself off the ground and hobbled with my sprained ankle on one leg and my grazed knee on the other, looking like a mutant John Wayne. Bought my bread. Said hello to a friend (without mentioning my accident) and drove home.

Life as a parent…there is no off switch.

The kids were going to their first surf lesson this morning. I’d been really been looking forward to watching them, but now I was wondering how I was going to walk along the beach. I was angry with my foot. Angry with life.

By the way, as far as I’m concerned, it’s alright to ask: “Why me?” at these times.  It’s just not good to dwell on it.

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The kids learning to surf.

Anyway, I made it onto the sand and was taking a few photos of the kids and listening to their surf instructor, when I noticed a group of Tibetan monks wearing flowing robes on the beach. Immediately, instinctively even, my photographic eyes were starting to switch.

Obviously, a group of Tibetan monks in robes stood out on an Australian beach. We’re about 90 minutes  North of Sydney and not what you’d call a multi-cultural area. It’s bikinis, board shorts and surf board territory around here.

Now, I have seen some interesting sights on the beach, and more often, I’ve been an “interesting” sight myself (what with taking photos of things at the beach…tea cups, Eeyore, kids etc ). However, Tibetan monks on an Australian beach is a first.

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Our son taking to the waves.

So being the helicopter parent that I am, I totally switched off from my kids’ surf lesson and started chasing these poor monks up and down the beach with my camera instead. Actually, unlike my kids they were there to be photographed, were only too happy to meet and greet and they also did a meditation to bless our beach.

However, these monks weren’t just there to look at the waves. Apparently, they’re going surfing. They’ll be having a surf lesson and I later saw them wearing wet suits and life jackets, although we left before they had a go. The TV station was there and an official photographer with a much bigger lens than mine. They were conducting interviews, filming and taking photos. However, I was able to mention  1000 Voices for Compassion  and my blog. I also found out that they’re coming back in November for a series of talks in Gosford. I’ll be there!

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The Monks have changed into beach gear and life vests ready for a surf.

It was remarkable timing running into these Gyutan monks from Tibet after my disheartening fall this morning. It gave me such a such a sense of yin and yang. There was the physical pain, shock and disappointment of the fall followed by the excitement of seeing the monks but also feeling touched by meeting them and being reminded about peace and the goodness of God and the need to look up instead of down.

Perhaps, I was meant to learn to trust God. That even when I fall and feel incredibly alone, that God is still there with me and carrying me forward to something better. And I know that if we didn’t have the rain, we’d never appreciate the sun and the plants would never grow.

That said, getting hurt still hurts.

“Happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

— Nathaniel Hawthorne

As you may recall, I’ve mentioned  in various posts before, about how I see better when I’m looking through my camera lens. That I see things I miss with my own eyes.  Well, photographing and meeting these monks was confirmation and I really appreciated these added insights.

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The Monks blessing the Beach as their feet get wet.

It turns out the monks haven’t had much, if any, exposure to the beach and, for example, didn’t know that the water would be salty. I noticed that they flinched as the waves rolled over these feet. Perhaps, the water was cold but I saw this as an unfamiliarity with the waves.

However, while they were meditating and the very same water whooshed over their feet, they stood completely still. They didn’t flinch.

That touched me. That gave me an insight into the depths of their meditation and its power. That it’s something deep and very real. Not only that, I would love to reach that level of peace in myself…especially in stressful situation. It was such a powerful testimony.

“We must begin our search for meaning when things are going well. A tree with strong roots can withstand the most violent storm, but the tree can’t grow roots just as the storm appears on the horizon.”

Dr Howard Cutler: “The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living” (which was co-written by the Dalai Lama.) […]

So, after photographing and meeting these inspirational monks, I was back to Parenthood 2.0. Watching the end of their surf lesson and taking them to Maccas for lunch on the way home…a special holiday treat.

Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, we have a way to go too!

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By the way, you may be interested in a previous post I wrote where I reviewed The Pursuit of Happiness by the Dalai Lama and Howard Carter. You can check it out here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/the-dalai-lama-and-the-psychiatrist-converse/

xx Rowena

PS Tonight my husband was catching the train home from work when he spotted our dear neighbours returning prematurely from the trip. They’re in their mid-80s and the wife had had a nasty fall and had spent the night in hospital. I received a phone call on my “death bed” and the next thing I was driving to the station picking them up and helping her back into the house… past their tribe of about 8 duckling and a single parent who were missing them terribly along with their “pet” magpie. It felt nice to be useful and to be able to help them and be part of community instead of sitting on the edge! This couple have been a bit like grandparents to our family and today it was our turn to look out for them instead.

Lost & Found in Newcastle.

On Monday, I had the joy of being lost and found in Newcastle, finding out what it’s like to go off the grid and follow my senses. See where they’d take me.

Have you tried this yourself lately?

Letting yourself go, casting your goals, focus, and planning all to the wind and seeing what happens? Rather than planning your life down to the millisecond, shifting gears and exploring the spaces in between the lines and finding out where you end up?

As much as we might ignore the space in between the lines, the gaps between numbers and words, they’re there for a reason. After all, without these spaces, nothing makes sense. So, you could say that space is just as important as the words and all the stuff we cram into each day.

While you probably feel “too busy” to go off the grid, maybe you’re too busy not to. Perhaps, it’s long past time to stop the clock! Not unsurprisingly, if you’re living for work, you can end up struggling to live.Yet, what does it take for us to change?

Personally, driving Mum’s Taxi often takes me off the grid, launching me into all sorts of adventures. Adventures more along the lines of catastrophe, drama, and nail-biting stress as I get lost, run late and also have to round up recalcitrant kids. I’ve definitely had easier jobs…including brain surgery but I was the patient, not the surgeon.

However, taxi driving has its rewards.

On Monday, taxi duties took me up Newcastle. My daughter had a 3 hour rehearsal at The Junction Public School, which left me free to explore. Although I have friends and family in Newcastle, I didn’t get my act together and decided to wing it. Let adventure find me.

Well, after loads of “adventure” trying to find the school, I parked the car and set out on foot. I had directions on how to walk to the beach but spotted a cafe across the road. It was love at first sight. The way you feel when you spot your one true love across a crowded room and know they’re the one, as you share that stolen glance. Yet, at this stage, I didn’t know why. That connection is beyond explanation…almost spiritual. Meant to be.

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Just like those crowded room experiences, my cafe radar has let me down before and I hate paying for food I could’ve cooked better myself at home. I’m particularly fussy about my pet fave, chocolate cake, conducting full length interviews trying to find “the one”. Quite often, I bow out and order something else. I know what I like. There is no compromise! I’m a chocolate cake connoisseur!

So while I was checking out the shops, I decided to ask a local where to go. They confirmed my suspicions and recommended I go to  Talulah, which it turns out, is Mum’s cousin’s restaurant. What a coincidence! I’ve heard about Talulah at family weddings right from conception to birth and now, we were about to meet for the very first time. How exciting!

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The view from my table.

 

Is that what guided my footsteps there? Some sense of family? I don’t know. It’s on a corner block and there’s a soldier standing right out the front, which certainly commands wistful attention. Yet, how did I know from across the road, without even seeing inside, that this place would be so very me? Me… in such a personal way, before I even stepped in?

This happens to me a lot. That sixth sense, and a feeling of being led somewhere by forces unknown. Be that a guardian angel, God, subliminal messaging or plain good business. After all, if you want a restaurant to succeed, you’ve got to get them through the door. Food is secondary.

I walk through a series of cosy outdoor lounges heading out to the bathroom before I find a seat. This is when my camera finger first starts to switch as I spot two vintage ballet pictures on the wall. After my first adult ballet class last week, these stand out like neon signs. As crazy as it sounds, I have to take a photo. It’s like I’ve just walked in and found my own personal secret hanging on the wall and it feels so uncanny. How did they know?

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Dancing in My Dreams.

By the way, if word gets out that I’m taking photos in toilets, I’ll soon be heading off on an entirely different journey off to the psychiatrist! This will make particular sense if you’ve read The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion!  That said, being creative I’d soon slip through that legal loophole and be back out on the streets. Not guilty!

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Anyway, I set up camp with a short story magazine, my notebook and a cappuccino. It’s a gloriously sunny, Winter’s day and I’m captivated by the autumn leaves still falling from the skeletal tree out the front. Deciduous trees can have it rough in parts of Australia better suited to native evergreens. The poor tree’s brain tells it to lose its leaves, yet their thermostat fights back. So instead of naked tree skeletons during Winter, these poor confused trees are still losing leaves in Spring.

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The Piano

That’s when I noticed the old piano sitting in the corner. We have an old piano at home, which I’m finding out is something of a museum piece. These days, you can’t even give an old piano away. This piano is even older than ours with brass candle sticks on the front and ornate detailing in the wood. While it feels like murder and an act of cruel betrayal, I’m getting to the point where we’ll be sending our piano to the tip. Throwing out even a mediocre piano, feels like murder. I come from a family of pianists where pianos were precious. Yet, I’m almost as fussy about pianos as I am about chocolate cake. It needs to make way for the new.

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Anyway, this piano starts speaking to me and I’m writing a macabre short story about a piano left outside beside the road. The candles are flickering on and off in the morning mists. A crow lands on the candle stick, turning it into a perch and it goes on from there.

I don’t usually write fiction so I was pretty stoked and thought this cafe made the perfect writer’s den…very inspiring!

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Being so engrossed in the piano, falling leaves and the soldier, time was slipping away. I was waiting for the lunch menu to start but before I knew it, I was needing to rush and only had time for a main, missing out on my much wanted dessert. I ordered sweet potato falafel with salad. I love falafel and sweet potato and was interested to try this twist on a familiar dish. It was great and also came with a salad I really liked.

By the way, I apologise if you were wanting a more detailed interpretation of the meal. I always struggle with that. Writing about food is incredibly difficult without sounding like a wanker (excuse the French) and I’m better at describing how it made me feel, than the taste. All I’ll say is that this complex mix of beautiful flavours more than exceeded my expectations and I’d love to take the chef/cook home. I’d graciously resign.

By the way, I’d even let them drive Mum’s Taxi. Aren’t I nice?!!

Meanwhile, I’d exit stage left and put my feet up. Putting your feet up can be incredibly difficult but someone’s got to do it.

It might as well be me!

Have you been to Newcastle and have any favourite spots? Or, have you discovered any fascinating nooks and crannies lately? I’d love to hear your tales!

Meanwhile, it’s time for me to pick up my daughter and head home. You can read about my efforts navigating through Newcastle here: Driving To Newcastle: Mum’s Taxi Seeks Gold.

xx Rowena

Telulah is located at 52 Glebe Road,The Junction, Newcastle (corner of Kenrick Street and Glebe Road).

Sunset Down the Street!

So often, you feel you have to travel and have buckets of money to experience the Earth’s beauty.

Yet, there can be so much to soak up right under your own nose when you bother to look. Jump out of your couch. Switch of the TV. Detach yourself from your phone, electronic devices and other leashes and open your eyes to what’s right there. Indeed, all too often we can be standing right in the midst of exquisite beauty and yet absolutely oblivious to it, and miss it all.

As a photographer, I have some kind of unconscious, automatic inner switch or alarm which goes off when conditions are “photogenic” and before I know it, the camera and I are out the door and chasing clouds, sunsets….pure magic!

Although we live near the beach (which was by design and not luck, by the way), these photos were literally taken in my street when the entire sky lit up turning an electric orange.

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Absolutely mesmerizing! The entire sky was a brilliant sunburnt orange…even including the air!

Personally, I feel you need clouds for a truly magnificent sunset and once you’ve photographed numerous sunsets, they have to be good to catapult you out o the chair and in the zone.

This sunset didn’t disappoint. Indeed, it was good. Really good!

So, I hope you can appreciate our sunset vicariously and feel a bit more motivated to do a bit of cloud chasing yourself!

It’s great fun but watch out for those snarling, deep purple beasts with dripping tentacles. Take it from me! They’re something to photograph from a sheltered distance with a good zoom.

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I’d do anything for a photo- including venturing out into the rain.

Have you seen something close to home that’s blown you away recnetly? Please share in the comments!

Wishing you a fabulous weekend!

xx Rowena

Watch Your Step: Coffee in Sydney’s Surry Hills.

If ever there was a sign written for me, this was it!

Somehow, as I was walking along Devonshire Street in Sydney’s Surry Hills, these words leaped out at me. Hit me straight between the eyes.

Bang! Rowena, this message is for you!

Watch your step! Tread carefully. Don’t rush and definitely don’t trip…an excellent life lesson really.

I don’t know if you believe in serendipity, signs, fortune tellers and all of that but if you’d met me in the flesh, you’d know this sign was put there for me. Me of “broke my foot walking on grass” fame: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/oh-christmas-boot/

I also had a spectacular stack in Surry Hills last year where I thoroughly grated my knee, despite using my walking stick at the time. Not to be deterred, I didn’t jump straight back on the train but marched up a rather steep Albion Street up to Crown Street and enjoyed a wonderful lunch after buying an industrial strength stick-on dressing. That scrape was so bad, I needed antibiotics.

Nasty! Nasty! Nasty!

Devonshire Street, Surry Hills outside the Sly Cafe.

Devonshire Street, Surry Hills outside the Sly Cafe.

Moreover, I have to admit that when I stumbled across the sign, I was actually rather lost and completely off-course. Yet again, I couldn’t quite work out how this jumble of streets somehow interconnected. I had actually been heading for Albion Street and although Devonshire Street is still in Surry Hills, it’s almost in a separate universe.

So you can understand why this sign spoke to me in such a personal way…especially as I wasn’t meant to be there.

But who am I to argue with destiny and what was “meant to be”?

Or, in the words of John Lennon:

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

I know I really should be writing about the cappuccino and toastie I had there. They were great and very well priced.

However, I wasn’t in Surry Hills as a food critic…more of an explorer.

I had a medical appointment at 2.30 PM at Royal North Shore Hospital (which I must confess is nowhere near Surry Hills but at least, it is in Sydney) Applying my carpe diem seize the day approach, I like to drop the kids off at school and go off on a few detours before these appointments. Take what you could describe as “sanity breaks”. These days, that means sneaking off to Surry Hills, where my ancestors lived after arriving from Ireland back in the 1850s. I started out exploring their old nooks and crannies and now just find myself wondering around discovering quirky odds and sods and almost feeling at home.

This brings me to another discovery at the Sly Cafe, they had the most amazing light fittings cut out of old crystal glassware. This has given me a few ideas for our place. We’ve had to ditch our light covers after installing the you-beaut electricity-saving light bulbs Geoff bought. With all my vintage tea cups and “stuff”, I thought something like this would fit in extremely well at home.

Light Fittings, Sly Cafe.

Light Fittings, Sly Cafe.

What I like about Surry Hills, and this certainly applies to the Sly Cafe, is that you have an experience. While my food and drink were great, what I really loved was the ambiance. That there were so many little things to check out from the light fittings through to the recycled timber etc. It wasn’t some pre-fabricated, mass-produced excuse for somewhere to go.

There’s still more to uncover there because I understand that a sly grog shop used to operate on the premises (hence the name) and that sounds like quite a story. I love intrigue.

Anyway, here’s a link through to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SLYSurryHills

Plus, I’m very pleased to report that the sign must’ve brought me good luck. While all my diversions made me run a little late for my medical appointment, there were no accidents. I remained upright.

This would suggest that it wasn’t just me watching my steps. It was a case of divine intervention!

xx Rowena

My First Haiku

Being a rather verbose writer who prefers rambling along in free verse and isn’t even good at counting when it comes to playing my violin, let alone at counting syllables, I’d never even considered writing Haiku.

That’s the trouble with bthinking “never” because God, serendipity, fate or whatever you call the convergence of forces which plucks you out of your current journey and plants you somewhere else, seems to be conspiring against you.

Last week, I attended an Author/Illustrator event at our local library and I was astounded to find out that we had a Haiku writing guru just around the bend at Pearl Beach…Beverley George. Hearing her talk about Haiku and other Japanese forms of verse, aroused my interest and I started thinking about how many of my photos would suit Haiku… particularly the one of the seagull taking flight in front of the rainbow, which I’ve titled “Seagull Ascending” (a play on words with a violin piece called “Lark Ascending”.)

Anyway, tonight we were attending open night at the high school where our son will be attending next year. These open nights are a very impressive, inter-active affair with all sorts of activities for upcoming students and parents. I guess it’s all aimed at bridging that terrifying gap between the relative safety and security of Primary School and the shark-infested waters of high school.

Now, even I’m almost convinced everything is going to be okay. That’s a real achievement!

Anyway, while Mister was off in the science labs undertaking all sorts of investigates, which I hear included dreaded dissections, I hooked up with the writing teacher who was running a challenge to write Haiku. What a surprise!

Although Haiku might be the flavour of the month, I must say that I felt a “call to action”. That this was more than coincidence and it was time for me to cross the bridge and dip my wee little toe into the deep and scary waters of Haiku.

So, in case you can’t read the text clearly in the photo, my Haiku read:

Rainbow skies dance
above the noble bird
Thunder rumbles.

I was pleased. Stoked actually because, as I said, counting isn’t my thing and neither is working in syllables or a few words.

So, I guess as I face my 46th birthday tomorrow and begin another year, perhaps this is a sign of things to come and I hope that I like that seagull, can keep finding the courage to take flight mid-storm and never give up.

xx Rowena