Tag Archives: terrorism

The Perfect Crime…Friday Fictioneers.

As the plane touched down at Sydney Airport, Jamilah knew she was safe and they’d never find her working at Macca’s Woy Woy, wishing the world a “nice day”.

Quiet and unassuming, Jamilah passed right under the radar, barely the shadow of a shadow.

Then, she met Jerome.

Of course, she’d never planned to fall so deeply in love, fusing into one exulted flesh. Giving herself to someone so entirely, that she disappeared, engulfed by the flames.

It wasn’t her fault, or was it? That he got caught in the flames and burned. Yet, now she was a wanted woman.

…..

100 Words.

Sometimes, I like to provide a little background into my flash fiction efforts. However, this week I wanted to leave it open to interpretation and see what comes back. Initially, I was tempted to write about when I was in Europe as 21 year old back in 1992. However,  this story took on a life of its own.

I set this piece in nearby Woy Woy, which is a bit of a backwater with a funny sounding name, as a tribute to Spike Milligan and the Goon Show. Spike Milligan’s parents and younger brother moved to Woy Woy and Spike was occasionally jocularly referred to as “the boy from Woy Woy“.

“Woy Woy”is a corruption of the indigenous term apparently taken from the local Darkinjung Aboriginal people, and reputedly means ‘big lagoon’ or ‘much water’, referring to the deep tidal channel adjacent to the town centre.

“Macca’s” is Australian for McDonald’s and is where many of our local teens find their first job and is a popular after school hangout. I also found myself hanging out at McCafe when our kids were young and the play area with it’s locked high gate was heaven-sent.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields, where we write up to 100 words to a provided photo prompt. PHOTO PROMPT © CEAyr

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

An Explosion at Harper’s Crossing…Friday Fictioneers.

Jack Cameron was standing on the bridge sweating blood, trying to decide whether to blow himself up, or the train. Alternatively, he could just head home for breakfast and go to work as usual.

This was his third attempt to get the job done, and he couldn’t be a terrorist without any terror. He had to take a stand. Make America great again. Get rid of Donald Trump. Harper’s Crossing was good enough for John Brown’s raid. He didn’t need to go to New York.

Yet, as he lit the fuse, he started to wonder whether anyone would join the dots…

…..

100 words exactly.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields, where we write up to 100 words to a provided photo prompt. PHOTO PROMPT © Dawn M. Miller.

The features image this week was taken at Harper’s Crossing in Virginia where John Brown to initiated an armed slave revolt in 1859 by taking over a United States arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Brown’s party of 22[1] was defeated by a company of U.S. Marines, led by First Lieutenant Israel Greene.[3] Colonel Robert E. Lee was in overall command of the operation to retake the arsenal. Wikipaedia.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Sunflower…A Christmas Miracle.

This sunflower growing in my garden finally unfurled the last of its petals today. By the afternoon, it had turned its golden, yellow face towards the warm Australian sun, oblivious to the long and winding road which brought it here.

What it doesn’t know, is that it’s “grandparent” witnessed the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 in the Ukraine, killing all 298 people onboard.

Moreover, this sunflower doesn’t know that an Australian journalist and photographer salvaged seeds from the crash site and brought them back to Australia. These seeds were cultivated in quarantine and their seeds were posted out to family and friends of the victims.

may your sunflowers bloom

A personal message from journalist Paul McGeogh & Kate Geraghty who sent me the sunflowers.

That’s why it’s extra special that the sunflowers are flowering for Christmas. It means so much!

How these seeds ended up in my garden is a long story, but I have been sharing their story on my blog. I have also taken the seedlings to local schools with a view of teaching the kids about compassion, kindness and how even the smallest acts of kindness can make a difference. I am a real believer in the strange, inexplicable love of a stranger. That as much as we expect our loved ones to be there in our hour of need, frequently we are touched by the love of a stranger who steps out of their comfort zone and is there for us. This is not so much heroism, and yet it is. We can all make a difference, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant we might feel. Every single one of us are movers and shakers, especially when we get together and the one becomes many.

sunflower-and-hand

What I particularly like about the sunflower story is that it perfectly illustrates that even in the depths of darkness and despair, even when the world seems swamped by violence, anger and hate there is still human kindness, love and compassion. There are still individuals who will stand up and be counted, even at the point of putting their own lives on the line.

That’s huge.

A few months ago, I received a request for sunflower seeds from a relative of the Malaysian pilot who was him in the attack. They’d lost their seeds when they moved and she was devastated and started search the web until she found me and the blog. That meant so much to me. I sent her 5 seeds and I hope they flourish. We’re keeping in touch.

I still have around 2o seeds which I’ll be planting shortly and I am doing my very best to produce plenty of seeds to take their message forward.

Although I didn’t know any of the people on board personally, I never want to forget them or what happened. Yet, I also remember how the love of two strangers reached out through the darkest of hours and gave love.

So, I will do what I can this Christmas to pass the message on.

xx Rowena

 

 

Rumi & Me…the US Election.

Like millions around the world, I was shocked to hear that Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States.
By now, there’s not much left to say, which hasn’t already been said. That is, other than to share my son’s insight on the fiasco: “Mum, did you realise that Donald Trump was elected President on 9/11?!!” Not a good omen, but we already knew that.
While doing some research today, I came across this quote from Rumi:

“If in the darkness of ignorance, you don’t recognize a person’s true nature, look to see whom he has chosen for his leader.”

-Rumi.

That Donald Trump wasn’t a lone voice calling out in the American wilderness, is only one of the scarier aspects of Trump’s victory. That he has millions of followers and like-minded people who may not agree with all of his policies, but agreed enough to get out there and vote. Vote in a country where the hard won right to vote, is optional and millions bail out. Where voting requires a lot more political and philosophical motivation than it does here in Australia (we get fined if we don’t vote.)

So, these people really chose to vote for Donald Trump. Or, they chose not to vote for Hillary Clinton.
2016-election
In addition to those who voted for Donald trump, there were those who didn’t vote in this critical election, even though the future of the so-called “free world” may depend on it. These people potentially trouble me more than those for voting for Trump.
Moreover, while I’m being critical of the US elections, let’s address the question of whether America is truly democratic. After all, is it democratic when you have to be a zillionaire to have any chance of being elected President? If the system is rotten to the core, how can you expect to elect good fruit?
This rot isn’t confined to America, of course.
Britain has its Brexit.
Australians have elected controversial Pauline Hanson to the Senate.
If our elected leaders, as Rumi suggests, do reflect who we are as a people, what do these choices say about us?About them?
It is a concern.
Yet, of course, it doesn’t say an awful lot about those who didn’t vote for him.
Indeed, many of these folk fought long and hard to block Trump’s quest for the White House.
So, what can they do now when they’re forced to live under his Presidency? How do they and those of us around the world,  stand up and fight for social justice when our faith seemingly flies against the wind?
Unfortunately, I am a woman of words, not of action. However, I know that I am not alone and neither are you. A  few grains of sand can gain momentum, building up into a mighty storm. However, we have to find the courage and strength to act.We need to get up out of the couch and plant ourselves somewhere we can make a difference. I don’t know where that is for me. As a writer, I hope that these words become seeds and get people thinking about what they are planting…seeds of love or seeds of hate. After all, those seeds will grow tall and strong fueled by sun, rain and soil and then they will bear fruit. We need to be very careful about the kind of fruit we’re mass producing as this is definitely not a game.
seed
If we plant two seeds of love, for every seed of hate, anger and fear… then collectively we can overcome these negative vibes which are spreading throughout democratic nations which value freedom, truth and justice. We can defend the values our countries have always held dear, even under the terrorist threat.
After all, we don’t want to change our stripes and become what we hate…especially when we as nations have fought long and hard to defend democracy, freedom of speech, equality. Values which could see someone as small as an insignificant mustard seed rise up and become the President of the United States, the Prime Minister of Britain or Australia based on merit instead of money.
Evidently, the US election, as well as elections in Britain and Australia, have given me much to think about in terms of our political systems. Obviously, I’m idealistic but I’m not about to throw out my rosy-coloured glasses yet. How about you? What are your thoughts? Let’s keep this constructive. I’m wanting to encourage the good stuff at a time when it’s seemingly under threat.
xx Rowena
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Sunflower Seedlings…Lessons in Kindness.

This morning, I carefully packaged the sunflower seedlings up into a protective box. It wasn’t Fort Knox but they looked safe, especially once I’d strapped them into the back seat with a seat belt. I know this might sound over the top and I don’t know if you can be a helicopter parent to plants. However, if you’ve been following the progress of the sunflower seeds, you’ll know these aren’t any ordinary sunflowers. These sunflowers seeds came from the site of the MH17 crash in the Ukraine in 2014. They’re incredibly precious!

 

That’s also why they were in my car.I wanted to share their story with my daughter’s class. Miss goes to school 45 minutes drive away from home and with my “creative” approach to driving, that was a very long journey up along the free and through bumper-to-bumper peak hour  traffic. Slam on the brakes…ouch.

Hence the seat belt!! Moreover, you could say the cardboard box was somewhat like one of those protective car seats you sit your toddler in. I wanted them to be so safe, that I could’ve bought a Volvo.

DSC_4485.JPG

The Sunflower Seedlings.

Of course, I could’ve left the sunflower seedlings safely at home but I felt there was something bigger at stake. That I didn’t need to wait until the flowers actually bloomed to share their message of kindness, love and reaching out even to complete strangers when tragedy strikes. That we all start out as seeds and with love, care and nutrients and we can grow up into someone gorgeous and productive, giving our seeds back to the earth, feeding the animals and helping to wipe away the dark clouds by simply being ourselves…nothing flash. I also thought of the teachers who were onboard and how they sowed those metaphorical seeds into so many students, who went on to carry their message forward. BUT…then I also think of all those beautiful passengers whose lives were tragically cut short…every day people who were just coming home from holidays. Of course, I think of the Maslin family who lost their three beautiful children and have created a foundation to raise money for children with dyslexia. I want to help sow those seeds too. After all, words are seeds and being able to read is something most of us take for granted.

So, as I watched the sunflowers poke their heads through the soil, I came to realise that  just the fact that the seeds had sprouted, was enough for them to speak. Tell their story.

The sunflower is extraordinary and I’ve always had a connection with them but not in the same way I have now.

In August 2014, commercial flight MH17 was shot down by terrorists in the Ukraine killing everyone on board. That plane which bore the brunt of so much anger and hate, crashed into a stunning field of sunflowers, a coincidence not lost on the media. Photos and footage appeared of the ugly scar carved into the sunflowers’ heart and photographer said that the sunflowers even turned their faces away from the wreckage.

Paul McGeough is the Sydney Morning Herald’s Senior Foreign Correspondent specialising in the Middle East. He’s accustomed to reporting on horrific events around the world, the same way the rest of us eat toast for breakfast. “When most people are running away from a place, photographer Kate Geraghty can usually be found running towards it.” Yet, they were guttered by what they saw and felt drawn to bring sunflower seeds back to Australia from the crash site to give to the families and friends of the victims.  They wanted to give them something to remember and honour their loved ones who weren’t soldiers fighting in a war. There weren’t going to be any medals. They were just everyday people going on a holiday.

Nothing more, nothing less.

The children making the love hearts.

Our children making the hearts cards we sent out. They look quite young now.

I received about 40 seeds and decided to share them with our local schools to create some kind of ongoing tribute of legacy for those who died.  However, I was too anxious to plant the seeds last year but I planted the first lot of seeds ten days ago and six have sprouted.

Of course, the seedlings arrived safely at school and I ended up sharing them with my daughter’s class and a year 6 class.  I also shared the letter I’d received with them wishing”May your sunflowers bloom” and the photo of the original plant in the Ukraine. I also had one of our red hearts stuck in there.

It was a simple story with a few precious props but the kids were riveted, sitting still and absorbing it all and asking questions at the end. I spoke to them about the kindness of the journalist and photographer salvaging the seeds and bringing them back to Australia via quarantine. I spoke about how we can feel powerless when someone is going through hardship and that though we can’t change anything, we can show we care through little things like a card. I also spoke about the importance of learning and literacy. Many of the Australians killed had been teachers and a little boy from Perth, Otis, had dyslexia and his family has set up a fund to raise money for dyslexia. I wanted them to appreciate that you can plant a plain, ordinary seed and when you nurture that seed, it can grow into something big, bold and colourful.

You can tell kids to be kind, keep their hands and feet to themselves, watch their language, and you might be lucky to see some change.However, I know these kids were changed by this story…a very simple story of plucking, sowing and nurturing the seeds  and I can’t wait to witness the harvest.

It is my hope that these sunflowers and their story will truly honour all those whose lives were tragically cut short through anger and hate and somehow carry their legacy forward.

While sowing a few seeds might not seem monumental and the sort of thing you’d ever expect to change the world, but I strongly believe they can!

Hearts Ettalong

They’re sowing the seeds in our hearts!

xx Rowena

 

 

Poet for Peace.

A small voice called out

in the wilderness:

“Why must you throw

your sticks and stones?

Why grow anger,

instead of love?

Or, do you even know?

 

But then,

the great wind came,

blowing the small voice

from pole to pole.

Yet, its whisperings spread.

Amelia footprints in sand

Footprints in the sand.

 

“Why must you throw

your sticks and stones?

Why grow anger,

instead of love?
Or, do you even know?

 

Brother asked sister.

Sister asked brother.

Husbands and wives,

partners…

questioned why.

The neighbours wondered

whether a cup of sugar

would be better instead.

 

Slowly but surely,

the people started looking in,

instead of blaming out.

After all, peace in our world

begins in our hearts.

amelia heart painting

My daughter’s painting

 

And so,

after  scattering the seed,

the small voice called on

the sun, rain and soil,

waiting for love to grow.

 

Rowena Curtin

26th August, 2016

This is my contribution for Poets for Peace, a collaboration of poets right around the world urging for peace. It is being hosted by Forgotten Meadows Deadline for Contributions is 31st August, 2016.

“In response to the recent unceasing, and, in fact escalating global violence, we have seen and felt a corresponding surge in poetry about it.

We would like to take this opportunity to invite you to share your thoughts and feelings, a piece of yourself, to add to other Poets from around the world. We are hopeful that the combined weight of our collective spirit and wisdom will be felt worldwide as well.

The only restriction is that absolutely no hate is expressed other than the hate of violence. Any and all words will be appended to the running poem. This is not about ego, so you retain the rights to your creation, we are only interested in doing what we can to stop the violence.

Please share your poetry and your platform to spread the word for Poets everywhere to unite in this effort we are calling, “Poets for Peace.”

Google +1 it, Tweet & share it on Facebook, wherever you are able. Hashtag #PoetsForPeace

 

Weekend Coffee Share 16th July, 2016.

Welcome To Another Weekend Coffee Share!

If we were having coffee today, we’d be having to resort to pens or typewriters to jot down any writing ideas because we could well be too busy using our phones and other devices capturing Pokemon. Not that I’ve been hugely into Pokemon Go myself but I had a couple of creatures invade our lounge room, evading me, the dogs but not my son’s eagle eye armed with his ipad. One of these things even had the audacity to sit on the couch. No doubt, it was responsible for the latest packet of Tim Tams which went missing, instead of the usual suspects.

DSC_1898

The Kids Arriving At The Theatre.

Pokemon Go was launched in Australia just over a week ago and it’s gone manic. My kids woke up all ready to go  hunting, only to find out the site had crashed and once it came up, that they couldn’t play with their phones. They don’t have WiFi. My phone’s from the ark and we couldn’t get it connected. So, the kids just had to satisfy themselves with the few Pokemon who ventured into the house. Meanwhile, however, a friend who took her toddlers to the park, said they were the only little kids there and the park was packed with teens chasing Pokemon. Well, at least they got out of hte house and found out those feet were made for walking!

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Today, we finally saw our kids perform in their Scout/Guide Gang Show. Have you ever been to a Gang Show? This was my first. So, throughout all these months of rehearsals and the last couple of weeks getting costume details finalised, I really felt I was flying blind. Although I’m quite used to being in the dark, that doesn’t mean I like it. I ended up delegating the “navy dress pants” to my Mum who ended up running round and round  Sydney’s Macquarie Centre with the kids like rats stuck in a maddening maze. They were having terrible trouble trying to explain what dress pants were and kept getting shown formal pants and you wouldn’t think that buying a pair of pants in a big city could be become so difficult…or so complicated! In the end, they were using my Mum’s navy pants as an example and in the end , Mum remembered she had a smaller pair or navy pants which might do the job. So, our son headed off to Gang Show in Grandma’s dress pants with a belt. Our other drama was our daughter’s hair, which had gone very dry over Winter and is getting very knotty. I swear I used half a jumbo bottle of Pantene conditioner to  get that hair plaitable!

Take it from me, there’s absolutely no glamour involved in being a stage parent. The kids might be shining, but our lights have gone out.

Yet, if you knew me, you’d be saying: “Come on, Ro. We know how much you love it. You just can’t get enough!”

Too true!

We attended the Matinee Show today and absolutely loved it. I can’t show you any photos from inside but suffice to say that I walked about feeling a hell of a lot better than when I went in and had so many belly laughs. The show was called : Once Upon A Time and had had a series of fractured fairytales including Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel with so many hilarious twists and turns. They sang and danced to Waltz Disney classics like “When You Wish Upon A Star” (while flashing their torches. Scouts and Guides love torches!!) Bad To The Bone and an a more extended version of this poem from Dr Suess’s The Places You’ll Go:

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

O course, there’s that surge of pride of seeing your kids on any kind of stage and they don’t have to be the star to to feel absolutely and totally blown away by their performances. The whole concept of Gang Show is that it’s about the gang and while some of the older kids and leaders had some more extended solo parts, most of it was done as a group. My kids each had about 5-7 costume changes in the show and multiple stage entries, so it was a fabulous introduction to what it’s like to be in a theatre production.

However, as much as they were performers performing on a stage, they were also Scouts and Guides and the show finished off with everyone in their uniforms, marching and proud of who and what they represent.

While a group of Guides and Scouts performing on a stage might seem of little consequence given what’s going on around the world at the moment, I disagree. Although the current state of the world feels overwhelming and somewhat scary, we still need to believe in the future and our kids, our teenagers and young adults are our immediate future and we need to keep building them up. Teaching them the importance of good values and character and standing up for what is good and just in this world and how that doesn’t begin somewhere out there in the adult world but starts with them where ever they go. This is where the rubber hits the road for all of us. Being nice to your brother or sister and not erupting, even when they deliberately press all your buttons all at once just wanting for them to go troppo and get in trouble with Mum and Dad. It means being patient in traffic and not even muttering words under our breath, thinking they can not be heard.

We might not be able to change the big staff, but at least, we can work on our own stuff, the seemingly small, insignificant stuff which doesn’t seem to matter until it does.

Before I head off and unfortunately we’ll really be heading off soon because we have to pick the kids up tonight from their finale performance tonight at 11.30PM. I think Dad’s Taxi’s going to need a double expresso before we leave. It no doubt think it’s gone to bed for the night and won’t be happy heading out there again…especially in the cold.

Yellow taxi

It’s not quite this wet as we head out tonight. However, why let truth get in the way of a good story?!!

By the way, what do you think of my new writing mug? I bought it tonight when Geoff and I went out for Churros after the performance. It all but says “writer” on it and I stuck my black Artline pen in there because that’s what I use to do much of my writing. It has a really smooth action, almost enabling my fingers to keep up with my surging train of thoughts. By the way, I have been known to chew my pens and turn the clock back 20 years and I chewed my pens until they cracked, splintered and and no doubt damaged my teeth. Thank goodness, I have chilled out since then.

So, how has your week been? What have you been up to?

I hope you and yours have all been safe during the terrible events of recent times. As much as I’d love to travel, at the moment I’m just wanting to keep everyone close and stay put.

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster. You can click the  linky to read the other posts.