Tag Archives: storm

Waiting Out The Storm…

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Nelson Mandela

Yesterday, my daughter and I were caught in a horrific, violent hail storm down the street at the local shops and we were absolutely terrified.  With six sleeps til Christmas and desperately trying to find something, anything for our 14 year old son, we’d trawled through almost every local shop, and were heading back for the car when the storm hit with unanticipated fury. By the time we realized how dangerous it was, it was too late. My daughter was telling me to walk faster, the same way I must’ve done when she was smaller. However, due to muscle weakness in my legs, I couldn’t. I could only go at my own pace. She might’ve only been a step or two ahead, but then she decided to cross the road at the pedestrian crossing, and that was when the hail started to fall. I have an performance enhancement device in my skull (otherwise known as a shunt) and I couldn’t chance it been hit by a hailstone, quite aside from the fact that hail can even kill your average Joe. Well, it’s probably more likely to kill your average Joe teenager, because I saw a few of them running across the road during the storm. Anyway, this all meant that my daughter was across the road by herself, while the sky was throwing a massive tantrum and pelting hail like an angry toddler. Although she’s now 12 and in high school, I knew she was terrified and wanted me with her but it was too dangerous. Fortunately the owner of the $2.00 shop took her under her wing and brought her inside.

As a writer, I know how to dramatize a story, inflating and colouring in the facts in lurid technicolour to ramp things up. However, this storm didn’t need embellishment. It’s terrifying violence and the deafening din of thousands of hailstones beating against the tin roofs of the local shops, spoke for themselves. Indeed, it reverberated through you like the sound of a thousand timpanis all beating at once.  The hail was really pelting down too, seemingly angry and lashing out at the earth. These hail stones ranged in size from about 3cms to tennis balls size around 8cm and some were even shaped like a cauliflower. At 5cm diameter, hail travels at 115kph and at 8cm it’s travelling at 175kph. So when you think about what all of that was doing to my heart rate along with being concerned about my daughter, our son at home and how the car was faring out in the open, a few Italian musical terms come to mind…accelerando, affrettando, prestissimo and forte! Forte! Forte!

Yet, right along the street, there were people photographing the storm with their phones, the same way we also photograph bush fires dazzled by the exquisite beauty of the flames, experiencing the intensity of nature’s fury and also that sense of hovering right on the very brink of destruction. That as much as we might want to turn our back and run, it lures us in…especially anyone passionate about photography or film. We’re in without even considering the cost.

“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”

– Vincent Van Gogh

dog in the storm

Taken just before the 2015 hail storm hit. Not a good time to walk the dog! It wasn’t one of ours.

This little black duck might’ve got caught out photographing a hail storm at our local beach a few years ago, and a massive rain storm in between. I don’t do this anymore. Well, not on purpose. This time I was simply caught out.

Anyway, naturally the hail stopped and it was safe for me to cross the road, collect my daughter and drive home. This is in the middle of a hot Australian Summer and yet here we were in a magical Winter wonderland. It was an early white Christmas.

However, this has turned into more of a Christmas subtraction for a lot of people, than a Christmas gift. We arrived home to find the roof of the office had been peppered with holes and the rain was getting in. It was nowhere near as bad as the last destructive hail storm three years ago where a tree also fell down. However, the rain was getting in and computers and paperwork were at risk. The car didn’t fare too well either. While we have friends with broken windows or a windscreen, our car is covered in pock marks, especially the bonnet. We’ve only had this car for a few weeks after I drove into a concrete divider in the hospital car park and that car was written off. It seems like I’m not having a good run with cars, although I wasn’t driving this one and the important thing is, that we’re all safe.

Hail2

I must admit that I’ve felt very shaken up by this storm. When you think about the effects of a relaxing massage, this was more like a jack hammer and quite the reverse. I also felt very unsafe walking through the heavy rain and my legs felt quite inadequate and like they couldn’t grip and I was wearing ice skates. I slept through much of today and really didn’t feel like getting out of bed. It felt safe. Fortunately, I didn’t need to go out and I just stayed home to chill out and clean up. It was my daughter’s first day of school holidays and our son’s had a few extra days. Not a great start, and we’ve been trying to see The Grinch. Maybe, tomorrow.

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“Remember, the storm is a good opportunity for the pine and the cypress to show their strength and their stability.”

Ho Chi Minh

“It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.”

Frederick Douglass

After every storm the sun will smile; for every problem there is a solution, and the soul’s indefeasible duty is to be of good cheer.

William R. Alger

Yet, reading through motivational quotes about storms, I realize that they’re a necessary part of life. That they don’t last forever, and it wasn’t long before the sun came out. However, there’s no denying the damage. You can point to the sun, the rainbow, but you can also point out the smashed windows, terrified people and animals and you can’t just wave a magic wand and it all disappears without a trace. Yet, every time you survive either a physical or psychological storm, you’re better equipped to deal with and overcome the next one. You have experience and you also have this much valued thing called resilience. You don’t get that by sitting in your armchair and watching the storms pass by on TV or your phone.

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“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”

Rabindranath Tagore

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Sunset after the storm viewed through our Norfolk Pine tree.

How do you feel about storms, both of the weather and psychological variety?

Well, it’s well past my bedtime so it’s time to stop philosophizing and start snoozing.

Best wishes,

Rowena

After the Storm…A Fire in the Sky.

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”

– Rabindranath Tagore

There’s an element of luck, but also a trained and experienced eye which not only seizes the moment but captures it from a particular perspective which brings out the drama, that sense of theatre and draws the viewer into a compelling story.

Sky on Fire

“Poetry surrounds us everywhere, but putting it on paper is, alas, not so easy as looking at it.”

– Vincent Van Gogh

Of course, I’m really chuffed about these sunset photos I took last night while we were at the Christmas party at the sailing club. As much as I’ll push the envelope to get the shot, I’ve developed a healthy respect for storms and my days of pursuing menacing, deep purple storm clouds with trailing tentacles are done, after getting caught in a ferocious hail storm down at the beach where my car felt like a flimsy tin can and wondering whether the windscreen was going to hold out while the hail had smashed through the laser light roof over our office at home and the kids were terrified. Thankfully the State Emergency Service (SES) came to the rescue and put up a tarp.

Jonathon & Amelia

Our kids.

This was our second storm in two days and while we were relieved not to have any hail, we arrived home to a blackout and Ausgrid was giving no time estimation on when the power was coming back on. That clearly didn’t look good and with my parents and aunt coming up to visit today and needing to get the house in order, my stress levels soared. Not quite through the roof, but I was definitely considering going down to Sydney instead to let ourselves off the hook. While you should be able to invite family into your mess and chaos, the reverse is usually true for most of us and anyone would think we were prepared our homes for a royal visit. Well, I wasn’t going to be the one to break with tradition and started cleaning up what I could by torch and candlelight. As time stretched on, the kids and I even ended up in the car charging my phone and reading a book. My husband was more sensible and had an early night.

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The power came back on at 11.00pm and of course, I was still awake and literally burning the candle but relieved to put it out. While candlelight might be romantic, it doesn’t take the place of electricity and can’t bake a cake. That had to wait til this morning.

Best wishes,

Rowena

The Reflective Sailor

Not sure what the reflective sailor’s thinking. If it were me, I’d be thinking about where my next coffee is coming from. Even a 9.00 am start on a Saturday morning seems a bit cruel, especially when we had to leave “the Peninsula” to get there. You just ask anybody who lives on a peninsula what it’s like travelling abroad? We’re all inclined to be rather insular…at least, geographically speaking.

Anyway, on Saturday morning Mum’s Taxi found itself feeling rather confused driving the sailor to his lesson, rather than ducking around the corner to drop our daughter at dancing. I quite enjoyed the change and having time driving along with my son and hanging out at the waterfront. Would’ve loved to go for a sail myself, although can’t sail and would need to hitch a ride. (Sounds like I need to do something about that!!)

Of course, I couldn’t go anywhere near the waterfront without packing my camera and I wasn’t disappointed.

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Moody Skies.

Not only was the sailor a little reflective, dark brooding storm clouds also obliged. Indeed, looking at the photos, you can’t help wondering how I let our son sail out in that weather.

Anyway, of course, he survived.

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Looking after the boat. The kids are taught that the boat looks after you, you look after it. I love the sound of that!

I’m so pleased our son loves sailing. Seems like a great stress release for the “reflective” teenage years. After all, I haven’t forgotten what sailing through the swirling vortex of pubescence was like. I’m sure most of us had moments where we’re surprised we made it through.

Do you sail? Feel free to share links to sailing posts in the comments.

xx Rowena

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.

magic sunset

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.

Rowena Storm

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

Walking Along Bleak Beach.

Yet another storm…

Once again, Mother Nature has ravaged our precious beach, savagely ripping our embattled Banksia trees out by the roots. I could feel their pain but as a mere mortal up against the sea, there was nothing I could do. No kiss of life was ever going to save them. It was all too late. As their bedraggled corpses lay discarded on the sand, I could only express my heartfelt sympathies after the fact.

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High Tide…the rough surf has turned the foam into whipped cream.

Perhaps, I should write a eulogy or an ode? Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do when you lose someone you love to such heartless destruction?

I don’t know. What else is there?

Build Hadrian’s Walls to keep the Barbarians out? Construct an eyesore to preserve its skeletal remains?

Send the storms somewhere else?

Yet, we all know this isn’t just about the storm, don’t we?!!

That someone’s turned the oven up way too high and someone needs to turn it back down again before Mother Nature blows her stack completely.

When there’s so much more than my precious beachfront at stake, isn’t it about time we revisit how we cook?

I have no doubt and I can only hope that we’re not too late.

Otherwise, what are we going to say?

Am I willing to take the blame?

What about you?

What’s been going on in your neck of the woods? Do you hear climate change knocking on your door?

xx Rowena

surfer

Despite dangerous surf conditions and warnings, there’s always a surfer willing to risk it all for the thrill of the wave.

 

 

A Rainbow In the Sky…Flash Fiction.

“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”

Vincent Van Gogh

 

A Rainbow In The Sky

Cast into a stormy sea, raging waves tower imperiously overhead. I’m nothing but a speck in the vast, unending ocean. Lightening shoots through the darkness like laser beams. I’m absolutely petrified.

The storm has brutally ripped me away from my very being…my kids, my very flesh and blood…my husband. It shows no mercy. Will gobble me up like a shark, without spitting out the pips.

I do not understand. Please explain!

Yet, the storm rages on without end. This is it.

Suddenly, a rainbow appears…an upside down smile spreading right across the sky, strangely making some kind of sense.

Rowena

…..

May 24, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that changes with a smile. It can be a character, tone, setting or any creative use of smile. You can go deep and consider motive and influence, or you can light up the world with a brilliant flash (of teeth as well as fiction). And smile, because your writing matters and is not hostage to your level, experience or circumstances.

Respond by May 31, 2016 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

Weekend Coffee Share: Paris and the week that was.

Although the world is in mourning after the Paris atrocities, I still feel the need to get together for coffee this weekend.  Not out of defiance or as a show of resilience but because I need to be with friends. I want to talk about all of this and what it means. How I was walking the streets on Google Earth last week researching my book and how I can’t understand how this has happened…even though it’s no surprise. Our world is at war but it’s a war with new rules we’re all struggling to understand and work out, collectively and as individuals, how to respond.

Just reminder too, that we live in Greater Sydney, Australia so our time zones here could well be quite different to your own.

However, the week didn’t start or end with Paris so I’m going to rewind a little.  Although what happened here probably hasn’t made the news, we’ve had a few storms in our own tea cup and my nerves were well and truly fried before Paris.

Up until Thursday, I’d been making good progress on the Book Project and after 9 years of procrastination, self-doubt and false starts, I’ve finally made progress and it’s been wonderful. I’m almost delirious with joy. Thrilled.

Poetry Reading Shakespeare & Company Bookshop, Paris.

Poetry Reading Shakespeare & Company Bookshop, Paris.

As I mentioned when we had coffee last week, the book starts in Paris in July 1992 when I did a poetry reading at the Shakespeare & Company Bookshop. I was only 21 and didn’t realise at the time how exceptional it was for a young 21 year old writer to get their own gig. After all, I was hardly Hemingway and had self-published my anthology on the photocopier.

At the Eiffel Tower in 1992

At the Eiffel Tower in 1992

For the last two weeks, I’ve moved heaven and earth trying to squeeze back into my 21 year old self and walk those streets again via Google maps.

It’s been an absolutely incredible journey where I’ve been living, breathing and all but eating Paris.

The mood started to change on Thursday when four Black Hawk helicopters flew overhead, just above our roof. This was the beginning of a terrifying ordeal where they were doing low-flying loops over our quiet, regional beach side town. The noise was unbelievable and that alone inspired terror. But what was the army doing here? I’ve never even seen one army helicopter here before. This was very unusual.

Living in a post 9/11 world, we’ve been told to watch out for unattended packages and to report suspicious activity. So, when we saw these four army helicopters doing loop after loop after loop of town, we were naturally concerned…i.e we panicked! The kids were really getting worried and upset and my heart was racing as well.

Black Hawk Helicopter.

Black Hawk Helicopter.

I rang my husband at work. Of course, my husband is fully capable to handling a national emergency. Daddy can do anything.

When Geoff suggested that there wouldn’t be four army helicopters out there for no reason, that just confirmed my worst fears. I locked the front door and grabbed the laptop. Surely, Google would know.

Well, it turned out to be a false alarm. It was an Army training exercise.

However, those helicopters did seem to herald in the forces of doom.

The Lifeguard's board wasn't much chop for taking on this almighty storm.

The Lifeguard’s board wasn’t much chop for taking on this almighty storm.

Friday afternoon, we were hit by an incredible hail storm. Stupid me who thinks “photography” when she sees huge, towering black clouds dripping incredibly menacing tentacles across the sky, headed down to the beach to get some shots. I ended up feeling like I was trapped inside my tin can with huge golf ball-sized lumps of hail pelting against the car just waiting for the windscreen to smash into a million pieces. Meanwhile at home, the hail had smashed through the office roof and rain was pouring in. Indeed, my keyboard was doing laps of my sodden desk.

Hail Stone.

Hail Stone.

Despite my medical condition, I was moving out piles of books and computer equipment while our daughter was chasing buckets and strategically placed them round the room. Mister wanted to get up on the roof and then went charging down the street to check on the neighbours as I pointed out that we were in crisis. I called the State Emergency Service and their volunteers saved the day, patching the roof with some corrugated iron sheets from the shed. Order was restored…aside from the mess!

The backyard after the storm.

The backyard after the storm.

This storm certainly concerned me because its intensity was uncharacteristically strong for around here, a reminder of another global crisis…global warming.

Our Border Collie doing his agility training...chasing his ball through the debris. He';s an addict!

Our Border Collie doing his agility training…chasing his ball through the debris. He’;s an addict!

I woke up on Saturday morning, feeling absolutely frazzled. My nerves were literally fried. What with the deafening din of military helicopters, I was wrecked.

Saturday, we somehow managed to get ourselves together and out to the opening of the Scout Hall. It was a fabulous day of celebrating with community and it was fabulous to see such inspirational young people and their leaders learning skills that can help them be trail blazers for their peers.

Then, we arrived home to hear news of Paris.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

I am in mourning. The world is in mourning. Can’t imagine what it would be like in Paris , although we experienced terrorism on a small scale in Sydney just over a year ago. Yes, we know that horror and I knew one of the people taken hostage and people who work around Martin Place and had to go back to work and face that horror day after day without knowing if that was the beginning or the end. The courage of the ordinary becomes extraordinary at such times.

Here’s a previous post I wrote in response to Paris: Solidarite: Je Suis Paris https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/solidarite-je-suis-paris/

So, while coffee today might not be very upbeat but coming together at such times, is what coffee and especially that proverbially cup of tea is all about…a welcome cup of healing.

So, this week, I am offering a cup of love, understanding, hugs and even a box of tissues.

I hope and pray that you and yours are okay!

Love and heartfelt blessings,

xx Rowena

This blog is part of the Weekend Coffee Share. Here’s the linky: http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=582184  I recommend reading Solveig Werner’s post. She lives in Paris: http://solveigwerner.com/2015/11/14/my-heart-is-aching/

We send you our love!

We send you our love!