Tag Archives: USA

Pianist in New York 1948…Friday Fictioneers.

The photo could’ve been taken yesterday. It hadn’t faded at all. Standing at the very top of the Empire State Building on the eve of her New York debut, she was a wife, mother of three little boys liberated from her domestic chains through her prodigious talent. Perched all 102 floors above the ground, what was she thinking? Was she feeling alone and thinking of home? Or, had New York waved its magic wand, cast her under its spell? I don’t know.  I came along much too late in the conversation, and have only been left with the photograph.

……..

Eunice Empire State Building 1948

Eunice Gardiner at the Empire State Building 1948.

In 1948, my grandmother Sydney pianist, Eunice Gardiner made her debut at New York’s Carnegie Hall. She spent something like a year touring USA and Canada leaving her husband, mother  and three young boys back in Australia. The two older boys went to boarding school and my Dad, aged 3, stayed at home with Gran, my grandfather and a housekeeper. Before I had my own kids, I didn’t understand how she could go to New York by herself like that and leave them behind. I have had a few moments in my parenting journey where a solo trip to New York would’ve been blessed relief, but I couldn’t have gone for a year…even to pursue a writing career.

While I don’t know a lot about my grandmother’s time in New York, there are a few newspaper articles and I thought I’d include this funny story:


‘Burglar’ Was A Pianist

NEW YORK, Mon. (O.S.R.). — While Sydney pianist, Eunice Gardiner, was practising in a friend’s home, a snow-covered policeman rushed in with re revolver drawn. The policeman, who was even more surprised than the pianist explained that neighbors had put an emergency call into the’ police station that a burglar was in the house. “They said that the window was open and the radio playing,’ he added apologetically. Eunice Gardiner said that blizzard or no blizzard, she had to have fresh air occasionally.

Newcastle Sun (NSW : 1918 – 1954), Tuesday 20 January 1948, page 2

Eunice 1948 USA

My Grandmother at the Australian Embassy in Washington, 1948. I’ll have to go looking for the photo on the Empire State Building.

This is another contribution for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields This week’s photo prompt PHOTO PROMPT ©Jill Wisoff

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I thought you might also be interested in seeing  Georgia O’Keeffe’s New York Series, which I touched on recently during the A-Z Challenge.

The Cinderella Project – Friday Fictioneers.

“Meet me at noon outside Bloomingdales,” he said.

Perhaps, I’m the only person on Earth, who’s never heard of Bloomingdales. Being an outback Australian research scientist, I thought it was a park…not a shopping Mecca dedicated to greed and excess. Why would he want to meet ME there? Me… “Professor Cow Dung”? I was in New York to present a research paper, NOT to go shopping. We might’ve had a spark, but there’s no way I’m swapping my gorgeously shitty gumboots for a pair of sexy glass slippers for any Prince Charming. I’m no one’s Cinderella.

“Taxi!”


This has been a contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by  Rochelle Wishoff-Fields

When I first saw this week’s prompt, my immediate response was to think about the glitz and glamour, and then did a U-turn. Have any of you seen the Australian movie: Crocodile Dundee, starring Paul Hogan? That came to mind as well and I liked that resolute Australian character who knows who they are and refuses to conform or sell out. Even knee-deep in cow dung, they’re content.

Hope you’re having a great week. We’ve welcomed two Border Collie x Kelpie pups into our family and we’re currently fostering two kelpie pups…Dobbie and Yoda. They’re all asleep at the moment, but our lounge room and backyard are scenes of carnage. They’re chewing everything in sight, including each other but are so cute and so fun. We love them to bits.

xx Rowena

American Diner Down Under.

The Ipswich fish & chips shop was being bulldozed, making way for an American diner. As the bulldozers fired up, Pauline raged: “I’ll show Ronald Glump!”

“You won’t get away with this. Queensland’s not the 51st state of America. Ipswich says No. Not over my dead body.”

“Mr Glump, sir we’re under attack from a red-headed missile,” Robert Campbell IV, Vice-President Asia-Pacific shrieked down the phone. Australians wrestled crocodiles, wielded knives like swords and he’d failed boy scouts.

“Where’s the riot squad? Call my mate, Mr Turnbull. He’ll build a wall. That’ll keep ‘em out.”

“But what about the customers?”

_________________________________________________________________

This is a contribution for Friday Fictioneers. This week’s PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot.

The Pauline alluded to in this story is highly controversial Australian Senator, Pauline Hanson founder and I think leader of the One Nation Party. Before going into politics, she owned a fish & chips shop in Ipswich, Queensland. She’s famous for a lot of things including her flaming red hair, her infamous saying: “Please explain!” which has become part of the Australian lexicon. You can read her bio here. And here’s a link to her alter-ego Pauline Pantsdown. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions about this colourful character and what would ever happen if she and President Elect Trump came to blows. WWIII? Nup! That would be child’s play!

xx Rowena

All for Love…Friday Fictioneers.

Watching the horses outside in the snow, Joan tried to be thankful. “Every day write down three things you’re thankful for.”

It wasn’t working.

All she could think about was shifting gears and driving her life in reverse.

What was she thinking marrying a Yankee sailor she hardly knew?

It was Sydney, 1942 and he’d swept her right off her feet.

They were still in love but Silverton, Colorado could never be home. There wasn’t a beach in sight and she hated the snow.

Now, mother had passed and she couldn’t get back.

Why did love always demand it all?

Rowena Curtin

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers. This week’s photo prompt was taken by  Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. You can click through to the linky here.

Weekend Coffee Share November 12, 2016.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

If we were having coffee today, there are no guesses about what we’d be talking about. Although I live on the other side of the planet, I’ve been following the US election. I was following along because I’m interested in current affairs but I’m also intrigued by people and what makes them tick. We really can be quite unpredictable. While I wasn’t entirely sold on Hillary Clinton, I’m no fan of Donald Trump. I am old enough to remember the horror of the Berlin Wall and what that meant and it makes me sick to think of a wall dividing the US and Mexico. Haven’t we moved beyond all of that? I hope so.

Anyway, I was doing some research today and I stumbled across a quote from Rumi, which I immediately related to the election. If you’d like to find out how Rumi ties in with the election, read on.

Moving on, I’d be telling you that my husband celebrates his 50th Birthday next weekend. We’re keeping things fairly low key as it’s a really busy time of year and we’ll do something later. However, we’ll be going out for dinner with my parents, his sister and niece and having a beach picnic as well. I’ve wrapped most of his presents and am now putting together a slide show of photos.

Putting together the slide show has put me through a whole gamut of emotions. Of course, it’s been wonderful to go through our wedding photos, photos of the kids as babies and rapidly growing up on my computer screen. Yet, at the same time, there’s this melancholy sense of loss. Wondering where all the time’s gone and there was an underlying anger about the severe auto-immune disease which was brought by my second pregnancy. The knowing of what those people were going through and how all that impacted on the smiling little man in the photographs before his world was turned upside down and all but blown up. It’s hard to re-live that, even though I love the photos.

I guess many of us have that mixture of happiness and sadness reflecting in the mirrors of the past.

While going through the photos, I found photos from our “before the second baby” trip to Tasmania in November 2005 and I decided to start sharing these on the blog. So far, I have posted about our trip to Coles Bay, which includes breathtaking Wine Glass Bay. It was a stunning spot but for me, the highlight of the photos was seeing our then 18 months old son without having to chase after him. He always has been Mr Personality. Here’s Coles Bay, Tasmania with our Little Man. He finally fell asleep at Sleepy Bay of all places.

Thursday night, I had my lyrical dance class. This is my second last lesson for the year and I’m going to miss it so much! Each week, we’ve been looking at various styles and influences on modern dance. We’ve looked at Martha Graham, Isadore Duncan and last week we looked at Doris Humphrey and her fall and recovery technique. I have to admit this felt pretty weird to me. I’ve had some nasty falls in my time and so it really went against the grain to push my body towards a fall if if I was going to save myself. I might not have pulled off these moves with a dancer’s finesse but I didn’t end up on the floor either.

I’ve been wondering where these dance lessons are taking me. What am I doing there?

When I first signed up, I just wanted to get out of my seat and have a go. After having a few dreams where I was dancing, I didn’t want to be a spectator anymore. I knew dance had somehow entered my psyche even if it didn’t make any sense.

Of course, so many things don’t make sense, especially at the beginning. You’re standing there clutching one piece of a 1000 piece puzzle and wondering why you can’t make out the picture but you just need to hang in there. Have faith. Trust that you’re heading where you’re meant to be. That’s a huge leap of faith for those of us without a crystal ball.

On the other hand, what have I got to lose?

I could be watching TV.

Wherever dancing is taking me, it’s definitely brought my daughter and I closer. I tried to show her the steps I’d learned on Thursday night and she said it wasn’t like anything she’d done before. That rang a few alarm bells. She seems to think I should be lifting my leg forward and up where I’m thinking it went behind and it really did look more like I was trying to climb over a barbed wire fence, which wasn’t very encouraging. By the way, while we were working out these moves we had had leg lift over the violin case and leg lift over the dog. Our kitchen was a veritable obstacle course.

Perhaps, I’m learning dance to go into stand-up comedy!

Meanwhile, I did manage to infuse a bit of dance imagery into a poem about trying to photograph some jacaranda flowers,  which were dancing in the wind: Jacaranda Dreaming

“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”

Leonard Cohen

Lastly, I would just like to make a tribute to legendary poet and song writer Leonard Cohen who passed away last week. I have barely touched the surface of his work but I love Alleluia. Had to share this quote:

“I think the term poet is a very exalted term and should be applied to a man at the end of his work. When he looks back over the body of his work and he’s written poetry then let the verdict be that he’s a poet.”

Leonard Cohen

How was your week? I hope it’s been a good and wish you a fabulous week ahead.

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana over at  Part Time Monster

Best wishes,

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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A Different Type of Rescue Dog.

Welcome to Rumford, Maine where we’re chatting with ferry master Jerry Putnam and his dog, Major beside the Androscoggin River. Major is a New Foundland or “Newfie” and while I’m used to big dogs, Major is more like a bear crossed with a tank and yet he’s very friendly.

androscoggin_river-nh

Androscoggin River, New Hampshire, sadly renowned for its poor water quality.

Please be advised that you’ll be needing to set you watch back more than just a couple of hours to join me on this trip. You see, we’re traveling back to 1885 or thereabouts to hear this tale.  By the way, I apologise if the details get a little sketchy on this trip. You see, I’ve never been to America and I’ve never seen a Newfoundland dog beyond Googles images. However, I’ve never let that stop me from spinning a yarn before and it won’t stop me now. I stumbled across this story online in a small Australian country newspaper from 1885. I have no idea how it found its way there but it seems that after all these years, I’ll be sending the story all the way back to Rumford, Maine where I hope it finds a new home.

As you might be aware Newfoundlands are excellent and enthusiastic swimmers and are famed as the lifesavers of the sea. Indeed, there have even been some famous and very impressed rescues carried out by Newfoundlands:

  • In 1881 in Melbourne, Australia, a Newfoundland named Nelson helped rescue Thomas Brown, a cab driver who was swept away by flood waters in Swanston Street on the night of 15 November. While little is known about what became of Nelson, a copper dog collar engraved with his name has survived and 130 years after the rescue it was acquired by the National Museum of Australia and is now part of the National Historical Collection.[17]
  • In the early 20th century, a dog that is thought to have been a Newfoundland saved 92 people who were on the SS Ethie which was wrecked off of the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland during a blizzard. The dog retrieved a rope thrown out into the turbulent waters by those on deck, and brought the rope to shore to people waiting on the beach. A breeches buoy was attached to the rope, and all those aboard the ship were able to get across to the shore including an infant in a mailbag. Wreckage of the ship can still be seen in Gros Morne National Park. E. J. Pratt‘s poem, “Carlo”, in the November 1920 issue of The Canadian Forum commemorates this dog.
  • In 1995, a 10-month-old Newfoundland named Boo saved a hearing-impaired man from drowning in the Yuba River in Northern California. The man fell into the river while dredging for gold. Boo noticed the struggling man as he and his owner were walking along the river. The Newfoundland instinctively dove into the river, took the drowning man by the arm, and brought him to safety. According to Janice Anderson, the Newfoundland’s breeder, Boo had received no formal training in water rescue.[18

You can watch some Newfoundlanders going through their rescue paces here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oQzXJ5ldRM

By now,  I’m sure I’ve whetted your appetites sufficiently and you’re all just longing to find out what Major did. What act of great heroism plucked this ordinary dog out of obscurity and onto the pages of a distant Australian newspaper?

newfoundland

However, there’s an exception to every rule. Just because some dog’s profiles read like a brochure from the Kennel Club, there’s always an exception. Just as people don’t like being categorized, stereotyped or told how they should conform to type, dogs can be much the same.Not that Major almost drowned but he did have a different interpretation of what constitutes a “rescue”.

Or, did he?

After all, what constitutes a rescue? Is it just about saving that drowning person from the surging waters? Or, is it also about encouraging someone to overcome their fear of drowning,  let go of the edge and finally learn to swim? What if that person doesn’t respond to “encouragement”? Is it okay to add a bit of persuasion? A nudge? A tug or even the proverbial cattle prod?

Well, you don’t need to ask Major. When it came to helping his canine counterpart overcome his fear, he was a Dog of Action with no time for philosophising, desensitization or phoning a friend. When a brindle hound was too scared to swim out to its owner on the ferry and was howling on the shore, Major grabbed it by the scruff and threw it in the water so it either had to sink or swim.

You’ve got to laugh and who hasn’t been tempted to do that to someone we know, but a bit of compassion doesn’t go astray either.

So, even if another dog is having a full blown panic attack about getting their precious paws wet, you don’t grab him by the scruff and throw him in the drink. After all, most breeds of dog don’t have a Newfoundland’s webbed paws, innate love of swimming and other special design features. They chase sheep.

Bilbo sand cliffs Ettalong 2

I’m not putting my paws in there!

Of course, this includes the Border Collie. While our last Border Collie loves chasing sticks through the surf, Bilbo rarely gets his paws wet and it’s taken a lot of angst for him to get to the point where he sometimes now retrieves his ball out of the wash on the beach.

Indeed, Bilbo has had a few newsworthy water avoidances and he could well have been cast as that miserable mutt Major threw into the river.

Fetching Bilbos Ball

Finally some assistance. Miss puts Bilbo out of his misery!

A few years ago, when Bilbo saw us all kayaking from the backyard at Palm Beach, he also started howling and fretting just like that other poor hound. Bilbo chewed through the back gate, jumped the back fence and we were about a kilometre from home when we looked out and kids said: “Someone else has a Border Collie”. As we paddled closer, our fears we confirmed. It was our freaked out mutt, giving us the paw: “What do you think you’re doing going out there on that crazy contraption? OMG!!!! You could fall in. Drown!!!! Then, who’s going to feed me?” His heart was racing. He was puffing. The dog was a wreck…so was the gate!

I would never have thrown Bilbo into the water to get him used to it. Yet, over time, he accidentally fell in the pool chasing his ball. He also fell out of the kayak and took our son into the water with him. That could’ve been nasty because he tried grabbing on to Mister which could’ve pulled him under. However, through all of this knockabout exposure and by being part of our family, Bilbo isn’t quite so anxious anymore. He’s stepped out and started filling out those paws, becoming a brave dog.

Meanwhile, here’ the original newspaper story about Major:

A Dog Story.

 When Jerry Putnam had charge of the ferry At Rumford, Me., over the Androscoggin River, he owned one of the handsomest Newfoundland dogs I ever saw, and the dog was as intelligent as he was handsome. Like all of his kind, he was fond of the water, and further than that,  he manifested an absolute contempt for those of his species who shrank from the aqueous element, and it is of one of those contemptuous manifestations that I wish to tell, for I was there and saw.

The ferryboots, of various sizes, to, accommodate different burdens, were impelled by means of a stout cable stretched from shore to shore, as that was the only device by which the heavy boats could be kept to their course in times of strong currents, and during seasons of freshet I have seen a current there that was wonderful.

 One warm summer day, while a few of us were sitting in the shade of an old apple tree, between Jerry’s house and the river, two gentlemen, with implements for hunting and fishing, came down to be set across, and straightway one of the boys went to answer the call. He selected a light gondola, the two gentlemen stepped onboard, and very soon they were off ; but before they had got far away from the shore a common brindle house dog came rushing down upon the landing, where he stood and barked and howled furiously— furiously at first, and then piteously.

 The boat was stopped, and from the signs made we judged that the strange dog belonged to one of the passengers. Yes, the owner was calling to him to come.

‘Come Ponto! Come !Come! ‘

But Ponto didn’t seem incline to obey. Instead of taking to the water, he stood there, on the edge of the landing, and howled and yelped louder than before.

 Presently old Major — our Newfoundland; who had been lying at our feet, got up and took a survey of the scene. Jerry said only this—’What is it, Major! What dy’e think of it?”

The dog looked around at his master, and seemed to answer that he was thoroughly disgusted. And then he started for the boat-landing — started just as the boy in the boat, at the earnest solicitation of his passenger, had begun to pull back. With  dignified step, Major made his way down upon the landing, proceeded directly to the yelping cur, took him by the nape of the neck; and threw him — he did not drop him — but gave him a vigorous, hearty throw, far out into the water ; and when he had done that he stood his ground as though to prevent the noisy, cowardly animal from landing. He stood there until he had seen the cur turn and swim towards the boat — until he had been taken on board by his master— after which he faced about, with military dignity and precision, and came back to his place beneath the apple tree.

 — N. Y. Ledger.

The Burrowa News (NSW : 1874 – 1951) Friday 13 March 1885 p 3 Article

Have you ever been to Rumford, Maine or had any experiences with Newfoundlander Dogs? We’d love to hear your tales!

xx Rowena