Tag Archives: wisdom

V: Virginia Woolf Replies: A Letter To A Young Poet

 

for my part I do not believe in poets dying; Keats, Shelley, Byron are alive here in this room in you and you and you — I can take comfort from the thought that my hoping will not disturb their snoring.

Virginia Woolf, Letter to A Young Poet.

This letter arrived for me this morning written in Virginia Woolf’s characteristic purple ink.

Dear Rowena,

Thank you so much for your letter and see the fine art of letter writing isn’t dead. Back in my day, I observed:

“The penny post, the old gentleman used to say, has killed the art of letter-writing. Nobody, he continued, examining an envelope through his eye-glasses, has the time even to cross their t’s. We rush, he went on, spreading his toast with marmalade, to the telephone. We commit our half-formed thoughts in ungrammatical phrases to the post card… But when the post came in this morning and I opened your letter stuffed with little blue sheets written all over in a cramped but not illegible hand — I regret to say, however, that several t’s were uncrossed and the grammar of one sentence seems to me dubious — I replied after all these years to that elderly necrophilist — Nonsense. The art of letter-writing has only just come into existence. It is the child of the penny post. And there is some truth in that remark, I think. Naturally when a letter cost half a crown to send, it had to prove itself a document of some importance; it was read aloud; it was tied up with green silk; after a certain number of years it was published for the infinite delectation of posterity. But your letter, on the contrary, will have to be burnt. It only cost three-halfpence to send. Therefore you could afford to be intimate, irreticent, indiscreet in the extreme[1].”

Your human words were much appreciated. These days, I write my words on Autumn leaves, which are promptly read and eaten by the worms. While it might be a much humbler existence, I have finally found peace and stillness in my once turbulent mind. What a relief!

Your series of Letters to Dead Poets accumulating our collective wisdom, enthralls me. What a flood of words, thoughts, feelings are flowing through your pen and this laptop machine you keep tapping away on.

Indeed, you are “ a poet in whom live all the poets of the past, from whom all poets in time to come will spring. You have a touch of Chaucer in you, and something of Shakespeare; Dryden, Pope, Tennyson — to mention only the respectable among your ancestors — stir in your blood and sometimes move your pen a little to the right or to the left. In short you are an immensely ancient, complex, and continuous character, for which reason please treat yourself with respect.[2]

Naturally, I was quite wary about sticking my head above ground again. Even my beloved Leonard, couldn’t save me from this wretched disease and I have found such peace. I couldn’t go back. You’d have to say that filling my pockets with stones and drowning, despite my great love for Leonard and my sister, reflects great determination.

Yet, I’m such a curious soul. When offered the chance to travel into the future, I grabbed it with both hands. I was so relieved to wake up to peace, instead of a living in a battlefield with planes fighting overhead and bombs blowing up homes with their precious families still inside. I still remember seeing the shell of an exploded house. All were dead inside yet a bottle of milk survived unscathed out the front. There was no meaning in any of it. No sense at all.

No doubt, the news that World War II is finally over, will be tempered as further news comes to hand..

However, my first order of business is the theatre. I wanted to catch up with Judith Shakespeare (see A Room With A View) and see whether she finally calls the world  her stage. Indeed, I was most delighted to have tea with Angelina Jolie this morning. Indeed, Miss Jolie embodies all the dreams and hopes Judith Shakespeare ever had. That said, she has also made tough decisions and remained that lighthouse standing tall. I wouldn’t want to follow in all of her footsteps but she has my utmost respect.

Letters to Young Poets

Now that I’ve settled that matter, I wanted to get back to my Letter to Young Poets, which you mentioned. What might have been a little obscured, was that these young poets were not only learning the craft of poetry, but were also from a younger generation who experienced the world through quite a different lens.

Indeed, this letter was ostensibly written to John Lehmann, who was the manager of our Hogarth Press. We had published his first collection of poetry: A Guarde Revisited in September 1931.  However, the letter was also addressed to three other young poets WH Auden, Cecil Day-Lewis and Stephen Spender.

You might not be aware that I received quite a hostile response from Peter Quennell, representing the younger generation. He urged me to empathise with the discontented outlook of the younger generation who “can recall barely five or six summers before “the end of the Ware to end all Wars” He added that the modern poet is “the creature of his social and political setting.[3]

Yet, I was still concerned that collective experience should be the main subject of modern verse.

Prose Writers’ View of the Poet

Although you’re quite the social butterfly and mix with writers from all genres, I thought you’d appreciate  some insights into the novelist’s perspective of the poet. It’s always good to see yourself from an alternative perspective:

“For how, we despised prose writers ask when we get together, could one say what one meant and observe the rules of poetry? Conceive dragging in “blade” because one had mentioned “maid”; and pairing “sorrow” with “borrow”? Rhyme is not only childish, but dishonest, we prose writers say. Then we go on to say, And look at their rules! How easy to be a poet! How strait the path is for them, and how strict! This you must do; this you must not. I would rather be a child and walk in a crocodile down a suburban path than write poetry, I have heard prose writers say. It must be like taking the veil and entering a religious order — observing the rites and rigours of metre. That explains why they repeat the same thing over and over again. Whereas we prose writers (I am only telling you the sort of nonsense prose writers talk when they are alone) are masters of language, not its slaves; nobody can teach us; nobody can coerce us; we say what we mean; we have the whole of life for our province. We are the creators, we are the explorers. . . . So we run on — nonsensically enough, I must admit.

What is a poet?

“On the floor of your mind, then — is it not this that makes you a poet? — rhythm keeps up its perpetual beat. Sometimes it seems to die down to nothing; it lets you eat, sleep, talk like other people. Then again it swells and rises and attempts to sweep all the contents of your mind into one dominant dance. To-night is such an occasion. Although you are alone, and have taken one boot off and are about to undo the other, you cannot go on with the process of undressing, but must instantly write at the bidding of the dance. You snatch pen and paper; you hardly trouble to hold the one or to straighten the other. And while you write, while the first stanzas of the dance are being fastened down, I will withdraw a little and look out of the window. A woman passes, then a man; a car glides to a stop and then — but there is no need to say what I see out of the window, nor indeed is there time, for I am suddenly recalled from my observations by a cry of rage or despair. Your page is crumpled in a ball; your pen sticks upright by the nib in the carpet. If there were a cat to swing or a wife to murder now would be the time. So at least I infer from the ferocity of your expression. You are rasped, jarred, thoroughly out of temper. And if I am to guess the reason, it is, I should say, that the rhythm which was opening and shutting with a force that sent shocks of excitement from your head to your heels has encountered some hard and hostile object upon which it has smashed itself to pieces. Something has worked in which cannot be made into poetry; some foreign body, angular, sharp-edged, gritty, has refused to join in the dance[4]. “

So, I would say that if your children love to dance, that they could well indeed have a poet’s heart.

Advice to Young Poet’s

“And for heaven’s sake, publish nothing before you are thirty.

That, I am sure, is of very great importance. Most of the faults in the poems I have been reading can be explained, I think, by the fact that they have been exposed to the fierce light of publicity while they were still too young to stand the strain. It has shrivelled them into a skeleton austerity, both emotional and verbal, which should not be characteristic of youth. The poet writes very well; he writes for the eye of a severe and intelligent public; but how much better he would have written if for ten years he had written for no eye but his own! After all, the years from twenty to thirty are years (let me refer to your letter again) of emotional excitement. The rain dripping, a wing flashing, someone passing — the commonest sounds and sights have power to fling one, as I seem to remember, from the heights of rapture to the depths of despair. And if the actual life is thus extreme, the visionary life should be free to follow. Write then, now that you are young, nonsense by the ream. Be silly, be sentimental, imitate Shelley, imitate Samuel Smiles; give the rein to every impulse; commit every fault of style, grammar, taste, and syntax; pour out; tumble over; loose anger, love, satire, in whatever words you can catch, coerce or create, in whatever metre, prose, poetry, or gibberish that comes to hand. Thus you will learn to write. But if you publish, your freedom will be checked; you will be thinking what people will say; you will write for others when you ought only to be writing for yourself. And what point can there be in curbing the wild torrent of spontaneous nonsense which is now, for a few years only, your divine gift in order to publish prim little books of experimental verses? To make money? That, we both know, is out of the question. To get criticism? But you friends will pepper your manuscripts with far more serious and searching criticism than any you will get from the reviewers. As for fame, look I implore you at famous people; see how the waters of dullness spread around them as they enter; observe their pomposity, their prophetic airs; reflect that the greatest poets were anonymous; think how Shakespeare cared nothing for fame; how Donne tossed his poems into the waste-paper basket; write an essay giving a single instance of any modern English writer who has survived the disciples and the admirers, the autograph hunters and the interviewers, the dinners and the luncheons, the celebrations and the commemorations with which English society so effectively stops the mouths of its singers and silences their songs.”

Well, you Rowena don’t need to consider all of that. Not that I’d consider you an “old” poet but let’s just say you’re free to publish!

By the way, before I head off, I’ve already seized upon a new subject for one of my legendary essays…the mobile phone. While I’ve heard that texting is “speaking with your fingers” and doesn’t represent the final destruction of the English language, I am not convinced.

Virginia Woolf Grave

Adding fuel to the fire, is the selfie. You wouldn’t believe the thousands who visit my grave leaped in front of my visage with their mobiles mounted on some metal contraption photographing themselves. They no longer come here to see me but to see themselves, their own reflections…a touch of narcissus I suspect.

Anyway, I understand your train is due to depart. Quite a marvel of modern engineering and no smoke and coal dust billowing over the platform.

Keep dancing my friend!

Warm regards,

Virginia Woolf.

Tagore-Dancing Woman

Dancing Woman – Rabindranath Tagore

 References

[1][1] Virginia Woolf “A Letter To A Young Poet” in The Death of the Moth, and other essays.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Alice Wood: Virginia Woolf’s Late Cultural Criticism: The Genesis Years.

[4] Ibid.

S- Shakespeare Time Travels Four Hundred Years 1616-2016 #atozchallenge

Good Friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear
To dig the dust enclosed here:
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones.

Saturday 23rd April, 2016…NOT…1616!

Shakespeare! Shakespeare! Where for art thou, Shakespeare?

What a coincidence that I am writing to you on the 400th Anniversary of your death. Should I be wishing you a Happy Death Day? My apologies if that offends. Prior to writing this series: Letters to Dead Poets, I never had to think about such things. Indeed, it’s been quite awhile since I’ve written much of a letter at all, since we now have much faster forms of communication, which I don’t have time to explain.

Anyway, I’ve brought you a cup of tea and a piece of cake so you don’t miss out on your celebrations entirely while we chat. You can even blow out the candle.

Click here to view London in 1616 at the time of Shakespeare’s Death.

While others are coming here thinking about 400 hundred years ago, I’m here to ask you about love. I don’t know whether you are the ultimate authority on love but you’ve certainly been much quoted on the subject. Indeed, 400 years later after you died, you’re still famed for your sonnets on love, which have definitely stood the test of time.

SONNET 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

William Shakespeare

Many would say this opportunity has been wasted on me. That there’s a plethora of Shakespearean scholars and experts who would “die” to have just five minutes with you and are far more deserving. They could finally quiz you about the “Forgotten Years” and have all their conspiracy theories answered. I also wouldn’t mind having a bit of a look at now and then, exploring London 1616 and now. However, unfortunately this tour is well beyond my capabilities as I live on the other side of the globe. By that, I don’t mean the Globe Theatre, Rather, I live in Australia on the other side of the Earth. Rewinding the clock 400 years, this won’t mean a thing to you. However, you might have heard of The Great South Land or Terra Australis. Indeed, for all I know, you might believe the Earth is flat.

By the way, you’d be incredible surprised to know people have actually landed on the moon and there’s currently a telescope zooming beyond the outer reaches of our solar system.  Of course, it will never reach a star but we’ve been getting some magnificent photos.

Anyway, I digress.

Returning to your views on love, my husband and I had Sonnet 116: recited at our wedding:

Us-crop2

Our Wedding Day….The Happiest Day of My Life. I smiled so much, my face hurt!

Let Me Not To The Marriage of True Minds.

 Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove.

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wand’ring bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me prov’d,

I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.

 William Shakespeare

As time’s gone by, these words have gained a deeper resonance and meaning. After all, it’s all very well to fall madly and deeply in love with a mirage. However, what is the secret to staying in love as the image fades and reality sets in? Nobody is perfect and so often opposites attract, just as surely as opposites repel. Why engaged couples might feel overwhelmed planning a wedding and financially crippled by the expense, that’s nothing compared to what lies ahead when those two separate lanes merge. Oh boy! That’s one very bumpy road through unchartered terrain. So, perhaps, we should stop asking why marriage fails and start asking how it’s survived?

Naturally, I started to wonder about your love sonnets. So full of love, surely there had been some incredible romance worthy to also inspire what must be the greatest love story of all time: Romeo & Juliet.

Shakespeare's_family_circle

Shakespeare with his family circle.

Unfortunately, my search came up rather short. Although you married Anne Hathaway and had a family, that marriage seemingly lacks the spark to light the fire. After all, when it came to your Last Will and Testament all you left her was your “second best bed”

So, were these sonnets simply made up and make believe? Something you conspired to put bread on the table and pay a few bills? Or, like so many of your plays, did they take their lead from someone else and the flame burned in another writer’s heart?  No matter which way I look, you remain a mystery.

That said, apparently you did write this for Anne:

Sonnet 145 Those lips that Love’s own hand did make

Breathed forth the sound that said ‘I hate’
To me that languish’d for her sake;
But when she saw my woeful state
Straight in her heart did mercy come,
Chiding that tongue that ever sweet
Was used in giving gentle doom,
And taught it thus anew to greet:
‘I hate’ she alter’d with an end,
That follow’d it as gentle day
Doth follow night, who like a fiend
From heaven to hell is flown away;
‘I hate’ from hate away she threw,
And saved my life, saying ‘not you.’

William Shakespeare.

So, once again writing these letters to dead poets has become complicated, confusing and yet again, I am finding that the  more I discover, the less I know. As Shelley wrote:

“The more we study, the more we discover our ignorance”
― Percy Bysshe Shelley

However, Shakespeare, when you leave people in the dark and play so hard to get, when you emerge you might find, that there’s no one left.

Mind you, your mystique has hardly impinged on your fame. Indeed, all these conspiracy theories have kept you alive.

Anyway, on that note, I must bid you adieu. Unfortunately, question time is over and my train’s about to leave.

Yours sincerely,

Rowena

PS: Do you know what happened to your head? Apparently, recent scans have shown that it’s no longer in your grave. Do you have any idea where it went? No doubt, you’re even haunting the thief in death!

Further Reading:

To find out about Shakepeare’s:  400 Year Celebrations

Shakespeare’s Missing Head: http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2016/mar/23/shakespeare-stolen-skull-grave-robbing-tale-true

 

 

 

Q- Wisdom: Chinese Poet Qu Yuan #atozchallenge.

After  writing a letter to Qu Yuan, an ancient Chinese Poet, I received this reply. Too big to fit inside a fortune cookie, I found it rolled up inside a piece of bamboo in my garden.

By the way the Annual Dragon Boat Races are held in his honour and there’s further information at the end.

Dear Rowena,

Wisdom is timeless.

You have been travelling down the river for so long navigating your path by the sun, the moon, the stars and the butterflies.

Question follows question and wisdom follows.

Know that you don’t need to become someone else to walk in their shoes. You can only be yourself.

You are a seed. For your seed to grow and feed the nation, you need nutrients and to feel the sun and rain. Not only for you to grow but also to nourish your soul.

I thought you would appreciate the Wisdom of Confucius, which has guided my footsteps and my heart.

Yours,

Qu Yuan

confucius

The Wisdom of Confucius

  • By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.

  • Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

  • Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.

  • Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

  • Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.

  •  If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself.

  •  I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

  •  Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.

  •  Instead of being concerned that you have no office, be concerned to think how you may fit yourself for office. Instead of being concerned that you are not known, seek to be worthy of being known.

  • To know what you know and what you do not know, that is true knowledge.

  • Study the past, if you would divine the future.

  • It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.

  • When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.

  • Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.

  • You cannot open a book without learning something.

  • The superior man is distressed by the limitations of his ability; he is not distressed by the fact that men do not recognize the ability that he has.

  • The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large.

  • Faced with what is right, to leave it undone shows a lack of courage.

  • He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.

  • Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men.

  • A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.

  • If we don’t know life, how can we know death?

  • How to play music may be known. At the commencement of the piece, all the parts should sound together. As it proceeds, they should be in harmony while severally distinct and flowing without break, and thus on to the conclusion.

  • The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.

  • I want you to be everything that’s you, deep at the centre of your being.

  • A youth, when at home, should be filial and, abroad, respectful to his elders. He should be earnest and truthful. He should overflow in love to all and cultivate the friendship of the good. When he has time and opportunity, after the performance of these things, he should employ them in polite studies.

  • To practice five things under all circumstances constitutes perfect virtue; these five are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness.

  • Speak the truth, do not yield to anger; give, if thou art asked for little; by these three steps thou wilt go near the gods.

  • When you are laboring for others let it be with the same zeal as if it were for yourself.

  •  If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.

  • The superior man thinks always of virtue; the common man thinks of comfort.

  • The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.

  • A gentleman would be ashamed should his deeds not match his words.

  • We should feel sorrow, but not sink under its oppression.

    Qu Yuan & The Dragon Boat Race

Through researching Qu Yuan’s “reply” to my letter, I have learned so much more about his revered position in Chinese history and culture. Indeed, he is honoured through  Duanwu Jie, the Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar.

“Usually Chinese festivals are explained by the traumatic death of some great paragon of virtue,” says Andrew Chittick, a professor of East Asian Humanities at Eckerd College in Florida.

And so the story goes with Qu Yuan, an advisor in the court of Chu during the Warring States period of ancient China who was exiled by the emperor for perceived disloyalty. Qu Yuan had proposed a strategic alliance with the state of Qi in order to fend off the threatening state of Qin, but the emperor didn’t buy it and sent Qu Yuan off to the wilderness. Unfortunately, Qu Yuan was right about the threat presented by the Qin, which soon captured and imprisoned the Chu emperor. The next Chu king surrendered the state to their rivals. Upon hearing the tragic news, Qu Yuan in 278 B.C. drowned himself in the Miluo River in Hunan Province.

In the first origin story of zongzi, told during the early Han dynasty, Qu Yuan became a water spirit after his death. “You can think of it as a ghost, a spirit energy that has to be appeased. There are a variety of ways one might appease a ghost but the best and most enduring is to give it food,” explains Chittick.

For years after Qu Yuan’s death, his supporters threw rice in the water to feed his spirit, but the food, it was said, was always intercepted by a water dragon. After a couple of centuries of this frustration, Qu Yuan came back to tell the people to wrap the rice in leaves, or stuff it into a bamboo stalk, so the dragon couldn’t eat it. It was only generations later that people began to retroactively credit Qu Yuan’s erstwhile lifesavers with starting the rice-ball-tossing tradition.

To make sense of how the water dragon gets into the story, or indeed of the boats carved with dragons on them, we need to go back further in time—more than 6,000 years ago, the earliest dated figure of a dragon found within the boundaries of modern China. “One of the most important mythical creatures in Chinese mythology, the dragon is the controller of the rain, the river, the sea, and all other kinds of water; symbol of divine power and energy…. In the imperial era it was identified as the symbol of imperial power,” writes Deming An, Ph.D., a professor of folklore at the Institute of Literature, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, in Beijing, and co-author of Handbook of Chinese Mythology. “In people’s imaginations, dragons usually live in water and are the controllers of rain.”

Dragon boat racing is ascribed to organized celebrations of Qu Yuan beginning in the 5th or 6th century A.D. But scholars say the boats were first used hundreds of years earlier, perhaps for varied reasons. On the lunar calendar, May is the summer solstice period, the crucial time when rice seedlings were transplanted. At the same time, says An, “according to Chinese traditional belief, the date figured with double ‘5’ is extremely unlucky.” To ensure a good harvest, southern Chinese would have asked the dragons to watch over their crops, says Jessica Anderson Turner, a Handbook of Chinese Mythology contributor who holds a Ph.D. in folklore from the Indiana University. They would have decorated their boats with ornate dragon carvings, “and the rowing was symbolic of the planting of the rice back in the water,” Anderson Turner explains. This jibes with Yan’s explanation of the symbolism behind the shape of zongzi: tetrahedral. “The points are intended to resemble the horn of a cow,” Yan says, “which was a sacred symbol in the ancient agrarian culture for blessings and abundant crops.”

Source: Legends Behind the Dragon Boat Race.

Further Reading:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life Lessons from A Young Scout.

Having our son back safe and sound from Australian Scouting Jamboree was only half of the equation. Finding out what happened at camp was undoubtedly more challenging, requiring great journalistic and detective stealth and all sorts of secret, underhand tactics. Bribery and corruption are just what I can mention in public. It gets a hell of a lot worse.After all, you have to be very sneaky to navigate your way around the hard and fast rule: “what happens at camp, stays at camp”. Not even the leaders dob.

While I’m a strong believer in giving my kids room to grow, you can’t blame me for being interested in my child, can you?

I’ve been secretly wishing I could somehow be that pesky fly following him around everywhere, driving him nuts all day without him actually twigging that it’s Mum still following him around with her camera.

For better and for worse, I couldn’t be that fly. Instead, I had to let both of us go so we could each grow and stretch our wings. That said, somehow I managed to fly into a paint tin and spent ten days renovating his room along with his Dad. But that’s true love, isn’t it?!!

This, of course, leaves me with a very fragmented, patchy and distant view of what he’s been up to. It’s going to take time for all the stories to percolate into conversation but I’m doing my best to help him capture these memories to last a life time.

That said, thank goodness, there’s been a Facebook page where leaders posted photos for the families. However, Mister’s been conspicuously absent. Well, not entirely but if you’ve seen me in action, it’s nothing for me to take 300 photos in a day, so there was always going to be “a gap”.

A gap I’m sure all parents know too well. It’s that automatic gap which follows a parent’s enthusiastic: “How was it?” There’s that silence which might, if you’re very lucky, be followed by a grunt or a “nothing much” as they find the real meaning of life in Minecraft.

Anyway, as other parents would appreciate, taking a direct approach, usually yields poor returns. Instead, you have to be devious. Eavesdrop. Ask their friends. I have found that even though “leaky lips sink ships”, someone is usually only too willing to share but it usually takes a bit of time.

I should add that the scouts weren’t able to take phones away to camp. Our son is yet to acquire a mobile so we weren’t used to being able to contact him any time any where but he did call me twice but these were brief 2 minutes snatches before the money ran out.We weren’t a local call.

So, you can just imagine my excitement when I overhear Mister talking to his sister on the phone  and I hear the words  “my tips for Jamboree are…”!!

Miss is currently staying with my parents to help Mister adapt to re-entry. We expected him to be pretty tired and that he might need some peace and quiet. Miss is a Cub Scout and was too young to attend this Jamboree but she has every intention of attending in 3 years’ time. Geoff and Miss went down to Jamboree for their open day called “Super Saturday”. She loved it!

DSC_9240

So when I heard Mister authoritatively sharing his”Jamboree Tips” with his little sister,  I was all ears. Better still, being the unashamed eavesdropper and reporter that I’ve always been, I instantly grabbed an old envelope and a pen and was clearly taking notes. How priceless was this? Big Brother giving his little sister advice. It really touched me somewhere deep inside my heart. It was one of those real gooey “ooh” moments where as a parent, you just glow all over with pride!

There were only two tips and I must admit I was hoping there would have been more. However, two life lessons was certainly way more than the grunt I’d anticipated from a very sleepy Scout on his return.

Mister’s Jamboree Life Lessons

Tip 1: Don’t leave wet clothes lying on the ground. They attract funnel web spiders. Put your clothes on something where they’ll get dry. (They did actually find funnel webs near their tent and I was told “someone was bitten” but very much doubt it.

I’ve since had word from the Scout leader on the subject of Funnel Webs:”Fortunately the funnelwebs only made their presence felt on the last day. Regards tip one with not leaving clothes on the ground wet or otherwise, it wasn’t so much the spiders, but more that the clothes will be, well, wet and you’ll have nothing to dry to wear, seemingly a worse fate!”

440px-Atrax_Robustus.jpg

Tip 2: Challenge your limits. I jumped off a board that was 20 metres high and you land on your back or it really hurts. (This was the Stunt Jump and apparently there is some debate about how high it actually was. Geoff thinks it was more like 10 metres)

However, while I thought he was giving these tips to his sister, he was actually talking to my Mum…his grandmother! My mother has certainly tried a range of new things since becoming a grandparent but I doubt camping is going to be one of them…especially co-habitating with deadly Funnel Web! Spiders!

That said, I shouldn’t  sell her short. Why shouldn’t she extend her limits as well? I’m not going to stop her. Yet, at the same time, I can’t imagine her trying out the stunt jump either. Go Granny! Who am I to decide how someone else constructs and re-constructs themselves? A few years ago, I went away on an adventure camp myself and went quad bike riding. Who would have thought? I’m sure the kids thought I was close to being a Granny myself.

No one is set in stone! Human beings are always full of surprises!

Later on, I also received tip number three:

Tip 3: Mummy, having a watermelon to yourself isn’t a good thing. I felt sick in my stomach after 12 bites but I kept going. Mummy , they had five crates filled to the top with watermelon. We took 1 1/2 crates and ate them ourselves.

Jonathon alone watermelon

I think all that watermelon went straight to his face!

I’m interested to hear what other life lessons Mister has picked up while he’s been away. Stay tuned!

While I’ve been thrilled that he’s been able to have this experience and  wasn’t worried about him at a conscious level, I was missing him. I’ve been a bit like the dog knowing he should be here and feeling a bit lost or out of kilter without him. That’s not a bad thing either because a bit of absence makes you appreciate each other more and helps to reinforce what’s important.

There are so many things money can’t buy and yet money also funds huge extravaganzas like Jamboree and helps the wheels turn round…a Catch 22.

DSC_9232

See! Drop Bears! I’m not imagining anything!

I also believe children need community beyond their own family. That they need to experience how different people live and that there’s more than one way to do things. That diversity is what gives our world it’s colour, vibrancy and texture. We do not want the world to be full of clones of ourselves. How boring is that? Yet, isn’t that what so many strive so hard to achieve? If birds of a feather only flew together, where would humanity be?

I don’t know AND I don’t want to find out either!

Yet, I still feel pressured to conform, even though I’m beyond the flow and there’s always some part of me sticking out of the box. Even I, with all my rhetoric about accepting and loving ourselves as we are, still instinctively reaches for the scissors to snip all those extra bits off. Don’t you? Even though, we know we shouldn’t because these beautiful “extras” are what makes us who we truly are…our identity. These are far too precious to simply snip off, throw out and yet that quest for “acceptance” can override all sense of accepting and being ourselves.

My son hasn’t mentioned that he felt accepted at Jamboree. That he made friends and belonged but he did. I don’t know how that environment differed to the playground but somehow it did. I don’t know if everyone got on as well as it seemed but at least in the photos, they were one big, extremely happy jungle of kids making the most of the sun, rain and glorious mud…

At least, that’s what I’ve eavesdropped from Jamboree.

Have you ever been involved with Scouts or Guides? Please share some of your experiences!

xx Rowena

The Wisdom of Gratitude? #1000speak

Don’t talk to me about gratitude and being thankful for adversity. That worn out line about “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” has worn painfully thin with me.

Not that I’m one to complain. Of course not, I’m thankful. Always sunny side-up no matter what!

 

the kids & I

The kids and I taken during my 7 week stint in hospital 2007. Mister was 3.5 and Miss was 18 months old.

I personally don’t see any reason to be grateful that my life has been hanging in the balance for the last 9 years and that my daughter has spent every single day of her life with a mother living on the brink of death…sometimes more imminently than others. My son was 2, so things for him weren’t much better. When I was hospitalised for 7 weeks when they were small, my son stopped cutting, writing and developed acute anxiety…just even driving on a bumpy road: “slow down, Mummy”.  When I was in hospital and he looked at me through his huge brown eyes and blond curls and asked “Mummy better?” a knife plunged straight through my heart. We didn’t know if, when or how I was going to get better. So, I said nothing.

I didn’t feel any gratitude at all. I was angry. Actually, angry doesn’t cut it. Enraged. So incredibly sad I could have drowned in my own tears and yet as I fought so hard to save my life, the pain was so intense and I just wanted to die. I know that mightn’t make a lot of sense but who does in a crisis?

chair Umina Beach

So often, I’ve felt like I’m being swept away by the tide and yet I’m still standing.

You hear parents talk about the loss of a child and the unfathomable grief. How a parent is meant to die before their child. However, that doesn’t include the parent dying, at least in my book, when your precious children are still babies and Mummy isn’t even perceived as a separate being but part of themselves. It doesn’t mean children growing up without any memories of Mummy at all and just a bunch of photographs and other people’s words.

That is absolute, pure anguish.

It goes way beyond the disappointment I felt not being able to kick the football to my then 2 year old son or my heartbreak when I was too weak to get out of my chair after breastfeeding our daughter to sleep and my husband would carry her into her cot. Or, when we all had our day time naps and I couldn’t immediately jump out of bed to comfort my crying child because my muscles were literally being eaten away. I couldn’t move.

This all culminated in a horrendous fall at home when I was lying face down on the concrete unable to get up at all and my daughter was screaming, my son was somewhere and my husband was working in the Sydney CBD two hours away. The muscles I needed to get up off the floor had atrophied or wasted away. I can’t describe what it feels like when your very own home becomes a life-threatening battlefield.

However, while I wasn’t grateful at the time, I’m grateful now.

I am very grateful that after months of medical tests and misdiagnosis that my uncle, a dermatologist, finally worked out what was wrong when he saw me at my cousin’s wedding and rang me afterwards and booked the necessary tests. I was hospitalised for 7 weeks 2 days later. I was so sick that he told me to have complete rest. My muscles were breaking down and I can’t quite remember whether all this placed me at risk of a heart attack or what but I was very, very ill…diagnosed with a very rare neuro-muscular auto-immune disease called dermatomyositis.

My uncle literally saved my life.

Secondly, while my diagnosis was nasty and I was told there was a risk I had cancer and I’d be on prednisone for a very long time, I had treatment. This wasn’t a death sentence, although my case was severe and also quite resistant to treatment.

However, as much as the dermatomyositis was resistant to treatment, my medical team has been eternally persistent. I have a rheumatologist. lung specialist and a gastroenterologist who work together to fight this disease. I’ve had transfusions of Immunoglobulin or IVIG for 5 years every 3 weeks. As the disease started to cause inflammation and fibrosis in my lungs, they blasted it with chemo. They have metaphorically held my hand when the disease has flared and things have looked exceptionally grim and they re-jigged my treatment, asked our questions and simply been there for us and done their best. Right through, they’ve known I had young kids and what it would mean to lose their mum and they’ve given our fight their all.

Another reason I was particularly angry when I was diagnosed with dermatomyositis was that this was my second, exceptionally rare life-threatening disease and I wasn’t even 40. I’d been diagnosed with hydrocephalus when I was 25, which may have been caused by a very difficult birth and I’d had brain surgery to insert a VP shunt. I’d lost a couple of years recovering from that at a point in my life when i was supposed to be fun…not thinking about dying.

However, my neurologist has always been equally supportive. I wasn’t alone.

Newton Family & bilbo

A family photo with Bilbo as a pup Mother’s Day, 2007.

Speaking about not being alone, my family has been incredible. Not always perfect or handled things the way I would or would have liked but they’ve stood by me. My mother has put in an incredible effort with helping with our kids, supported by my Dad and brother as has Geoff’s sister and her husband. Friends have helped with minding the kids, lifts, talking them through some difficult moods and providing meals and encouragement. Churches have prayed for us and simply cared. We had support of Muscular Dystrophy NSW and the Myositis Association as well as local support agencies. Scouts has provided the kids with a space that’s fun and physically challenging away from the stress at home and this extra layer of community support and love is helping them to overcome adversity and feel strong in themselves. That they can stand on their own two feet. That they’ll be okay.

I consciously give thanks for each and every extra year I have because I already feel like I’ve exceeded my quota and that I’m well into extra time. Moreover, I’m doing pretty well at the moment.

Family shadow Byron Lighthouse Easter 2014

Our Family 2014- Byron Bay Lighthouse, Australia. The shadow is omnipresent but the darker the shadow, the brighter the light.

Just the fact that I’m still breathing is such a reason to give thanks but I’m not just breathing. I’m able to bring up my children. Be a wife to my husband, even if I am a liability. I can be a daughter to my parents and a somewhat active member of our local community…especially through photographing events. I also have what has become a very rare gift…time. I have always been very career focused and I haven’t been able to work since I had chemo 2 years ago. That would have destroyed the old me but now, in addition to my family, I have my blog, my writing, photography and so much more. All of this being very much proof that even when your world totally blows up and you feel totally decimated, you can salvage good things from the ashes and have so much to give thanks for.

So, even though I still live with dermatomyositis and am down to 59% lung capacity and live with incredibly uncertainty, I am still here.

The reason I am still here is due to medical research, science and my doctors. That even though there isn’t a cure for dermatomyositis, there is TREATMENT. Not just something that will give me an extra few months, and really little more than a delaying tactic…a matter of buying a little more, very precious time. I’ve been living with this for 9 years.

So while I am being thankful for the medical research which has kept me alive, I’d also ask you to think about those who currently don’t have effective treatment options and where funding for medical research is so desperately needed.

A friend of mine was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease a few years ago and was given 2-3 years to live and thank goodness is still with us. How I long to give her that magic pill which would instantly make for better, or at least, stop that disease in its tracks. The same with Muscular Dystrophy. These disease are both savage and while there have been improvements, so much more needs to be done and these diseases are so debilitating. Muscular Dystrophy also affects young people. They are the most courageous, inspirational young people I know but they are still young and treatment would make such a difference both for them and their families.

Heart Hands red heart

My son blew me away when he made a heart with his hands. His hands and arms were caked in green paint and I doctored the photo to produce this.

Another point of gratitude, last but not least, I am grateful for God’s guiding hand through all of this. My relationship with God hasn’t been easy through all of this. I have all the questions so many people also going through adversity have asked: “Why me?”, “Why does a loving God allow or perhaps even caused such suffering?”, “Why doesn’t he just pick us up and out of the road of disaster?” These questions are not easy to answer and I don’t believe there is one size fits all solution either. That God speaks to each of us differently, personally in a voice and message we can understand. I remember waking up one morning in hospital feeling so betrayed by God…absolutely rejected. It was like God focused all his wrath on little old me and pointed the almighty finger and ZAP…I was fried. However, it was a bit freaky for in the midst of my tirade with God, I heard this voice: “If it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for you!”.

At least, I wasn’t being crucified. Things were looking up!

I’ve heard people with disabilties of chronic health issues say that they wouldn’t change their situation. That it’s part of who they are. However, I would do anything to get rid of the dermatomyositis and live without it’s omnipresent shadow.

In the meantime, I am grateful for all the love, encouragement and support I’ve had along the road. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Love & best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

 

The Wisdom of Christopher Robin: Quotes Day 3

“Promise me you’ll always remember: you’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem and smarter than you think”.

A.A. Milne- Christopher Robin.

The real Christopher Robin and Poo9h Bear.

The real Christopher Robin and Poo9h Bear.

I really had to put a bit of thought into choosing my last quote for this challenge. Being a lover of motivational quotes, I naturally have quite a swag to choose from.

Lately, I’ve really become conscious of just how much most of us under-estimate our abilities, sell ourselves short and ultimately kill off all sorts of opportunities far better than any bully ever could.

Knowing we have this responsibility is liberating in a sense but also a heavy load. Despite the twists and turns of fate, the many ups and downs, setbacks and disappointments, we are often much more capable than we realise.

This is why I also love the song: “Try”: While this song might havfe been about love, it’s subsequently been used to represent just about any challenge.

But just because it burns
Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die
You’ve gotta get up and try, and try, and try
Gotta get up and try, and try, and try
You gotta get up and try, and try, and try

-“Try” by Pink. www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTCDVfMz15M

Many thanks to our friend Melinda from purpleslobinrecovery, who has nominated us for this Challenge. Melinda blogs about her journey from slob to clean queen, and her ongoing battle with the Clutter Fairies, who we think must be related to the Slapstyx Goblins!

Thank you to Annabelle Franklin from https://annabellefranklinauthor.wordpress.com/ who nominated me for the challenge.

Rules of the Challenge

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you
  • Publish 3 quotes on 3 consecutive days on your blog. It can be your own, or from a book, movie or from anyone who inspires you.
  • Nominate 3 more bloggers to carry on this endeavour

I would like to nominate:

  1. A Momma’s View: https://amommasview.wordpress.com/
  2. Alex Hurst: http://alex-hurst.com/
  3. Diana at Part-Time Monster http://parttimemonster.com/

I hope you’ve all enjoyed these quotes and felt uplifted by them. Now, it’s time to actually pump them through the heart and convert them into some form of action…even change.

Good luck!

xx Rowena

How to Find A Lost dog: Homer Simpson

When you’re seeking wisdom or sound advice, Homer Simpson would be one Howevr, when it comes to finding a lost dog, excuse the pun, but he pretty much has it down pat. After all, we know how much dogs love their tucker.

When their dog Santa’s Little Helper went missing, this was his advice to find him:

“Well, crying isn’t gonna bring him back, unless your tears smell like dog food. So you can either sit there crying and eating can after can of dog food until your tears smell enough like dog food to make your dog come back, or you can go out there and find your dog”

-Homer Simpson

Looks like Bart found Santa's Little Helper. I wonder if he followed Homer's advice?

Looks like Bart found Santa’s Little Helper. I wonder if he followed Homer’s advice?

I found these quote while researching drama monologues for my son’s high school audition but that a whole different story entirely!

xx Rowena

The Ultimate Ball Fetching Champion of the Universe.

Welcome back to Bilbo’s Dog Blog.

Since I last blogged, I’ve finally been crowned: The Ultimate Ball Chasing Champion of the Universe!

Quite an apt title really, even if I did kind of award it to myself. That said, I did get quite a bit of assistance from Lady. She’s great with publicity, being  one of those extroverted types always trying to jump inside someone else’s skin. Frankly, I’m more than content inside my own. It usually even takes me awhile for me to warm up to a pat from visiting friends…even when they’re coming to feed me.

Yes, I know you probably wrote me off as yet another one-post wonder… like so many other dogs. However, being an entrepreneurial dog in my own understated, Border Collie way, I decided to give this blogging thing a bit of a whirl. Unlike others of my species, I can see the benefits of extending my sphere of influence far beyond the local telegraph pole and onto the world wide web and beyond. After all, dogs have been in space before so I’m not going to let some small world, backyard outlook stop me from spreading my paws and paw prints.

Indeed, I can just imagine looking up at the moon from my kennel on a dark cloudless night and seeing my paw print up there… How amazing! What’s more, it won’t get washed away like down at the beach. My paw print will be there for eternity. That’s forever and ever and ever!!

Laika the first dog in space. While in some ways a hero, she was killed in the name of science, which we obviously don't condone.

Laika the first dog in space. While in many ways my hero, she was killed in the name of science. As I’ve said before, humans need to pay more attention to the Golden Rule.

Hmm…The moon is an intriguing kind of place. Perhaps, one day dogs will even live up there but we’ll certainly look funny wearing one of those space suits with a goldfish bowl over our heads but I don’t know how we’ll ever manage to eat let alone chase a ball.

Anyway, I know you probably thought I was showing off  in my last post. Even though I am a good dog, this bravado was definitely out of character. Being a typically mild-mannered and understated character who doesn’t go jumping all over complete strangers or whacking other dogs in the face with their over-exuberant joy, I usually don’t advertise.

I also have to be a bit careful about what I share online. Sadly, way too many dogs and humans lump “good” in the same category as “nice”. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that. However, as strange as it might seem, being “nice” is somehow a bad thing attracting many  haters. Unfortunately, this can become quite a problem and even a threat to your life.

Even though I’m a highly intelligent dog whose abilities have been honed through countless generations of highly selective breeding, this aversion to niceness remains another one of life’s unsolvable mysteries. So, if you can work that one out, I’d really appreciate an explanation!! After all, aren’t being “good” or even”nice”  meant to be virtues? Wise and noble character traits that should be at the top of everybody’s shopping list along with the dog food? (Mind you, even dog food seems to slip off their shopping list at times!!)

Apparently not!

Anyway, I’ve already told you that I’m good at being good but that’s not my only strength.

I’m also particularly good at being persistent. Mum doesn’t know that I can read but when I was just a wee little pup, I read this on her fridge:

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

Calvin Coolidge
30th president of US (1872 – 1933)  

Being a Border Collie, persistence is in my blood. After all, how do you think generations of my kind have been rounding up all those silly sheep?

Since I don’t exactly have access to any sheep in the city and rounding up the kids is even beyond my genius and skill, I’ve applied all that generational expertise and breeding to the fine art of rounding up my tennis ball. Indeed, I’ve become something of a ball herding champion. Indeed, Lady suggested I should call myself: Bilbo the Ultimate Ball Fetching Champion of the Universe. As much as I am adverse to too much publicity and like to keep a low profile, I reluctantly agreed.

My dedication and persistence is so intense that the humans always wear out long before me. They have no stamina whatsoever. Indeed, I usually have to wait for some unsuspecting visitor who doesn’t have their own dog to turn up. They’re usually most obliging. At least, for awhile!

I might not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound to catch my ball but I do have some very impressive manoevres. That is, despite getting on in years and acquiring these rather generous love-handles. My increasing girth has complicated things a little.

While my career prospects were certainly looking very good for awhile there, even The Ultimate Ball Chasing Champion of the Universe has some limitations. While I can leap in the air with great agility all things considered, I hate getting my paws wet. Indeed, for a long while, I simply refused. No negotiations or even  a “go see my agent”!!

Quite a few times now while I’ve been training over at Palm Beach, my beloved tennis ball has fallen in the water.

Bilbo watching his ball drift out to sea.

Bilbo watching his ball drift out to sea.

The first time it happened, my entire body went into shock and all four paws were frozen to the spot. Only my eyes were moving, doggedly fixated on my ball as it rapidly went South with the rising tide. If you have ever witnessed a true ball chasing champion, you will appreciate my distress…such angst! Oh my goodness! It was almost like watching my dinner drift out to sea.

Almost mocking my terror, the family calls out: “Where’s your ball, Bilbo? Go and get your ball!”

While I’m combusting with horror, Mum has no sympathy at all. Instead, she’s doing her usual paparazzi thing and  glaring at my distress through the camera lens.

“This will make Funniest Home Videos for sure!” She calls out.

Nobody, not one member of the family, was trying to help me. They were just making fun of me as my heart was tearing in two. Did I actually love my beloved tennis ball enough to wet my paws and swim out to save it? Did it mean that much to me? Sure, they  knew my commitment and perseverance bordered on obsession but would it be enough to push me over the edge of my fear?

The agony crescendos.

The agony crescendos.

The kids just laughed and my heart sank. They could have easily jumped into the water and come to my rescue or even pulled it out with their precious fishing net. At least then, they would have caught something more than stupid seaweed. Something precious and as much as they keep saying they love me, this would have been the proof. A dog needs more than a pat, you know.

It was at this point, I decided the family needed to learn a thing or two about that Golden Rule they keep talking about. They needed to learn how to turn those precious words into action.

Treating  others as you would like to be treated, definitely meant getting my ball. No doubt about it.

I was an emotional wreck. My precious tennis ball heading out to sea and my family…my precious, beloved family, laughing in the face of my misfortune…and even taking photos, film and selling it off to a TV show and all. I was disgusted.

Like so many other rules, it seemed that The Golden Rule only applied to others and not to themselves!!

Anyway, they finally got with the program and fished my ball out with the broom.

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

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

At least, they rescued it that time.

However, they now know my Achilles heel and they seem to take great delight in throwing my ball in the water…especially when my persistence is right at it’s peak and they know me well enough by now and that I’m not going to jump in after it. I don’t need to. Eventually, once all that water goes away, my ball is usually waiting for me on the sand. At least, my beloved ball has some concept of loyalty!!

As I’m sure you can appreciate, it’s not easy being The Ultimate Ball Fetching Champion of the Universe but it could always be worse.

I could have been a cat.

xx Bilbo

PS All this ball chasing can make a dog rather hungry. So, anybody wanting to support a future champion, can please send bones through to this blog. I’m not too sure how you convert them from images into something I can eat yet but as I mentioned before, I can be extremely persistent. You just ask my Mum!!

Note from Mum: Today, Bilbo’s powers of persistence even proved too much for his ever-faithful tennis ball. Unfortunately after yet another misguided throw, it ended up in the water and actually sank. Turns out excessive love and persistence had eternally punctured it’s soul.

 

 

 

 

Greetings from Good Dog.

This is Bilbo.

Recently, you heard from my offsider, Lady, when she snuck onto Mum’s blog. Now, it’s my turn.

Well, I’m the other dog around here…the good dog.

Indeed, I used to be the only dog until my solitude was rudely interrupted by the arrival of that young scallywag, Lady. She certainly knows how to turn an old dog’s world upside down and inside out but I’ve finally come out on top and put that little royal whippersnapper in her place… right at the very bottom of the pecking order!

I know you think the dog protests too much. Somehow, friendship seems to grow on you when you've been thrown in the same backyard. You can somehow get used to having another dog around. Indeed, after all this time, I might even like the Lady.

I know you think the dog protests too much. Somehow, friendship seems to grow on you when you’ve been thrown in the same backyard. You can somehow get used to having another dog around. Indeed, after all this time, I might even like the Lady.

Sure, I’ve made a few mistakes in my time but I’ve never had the audacity to actually jump on top of the family’s dinner table and eat their dinner. As we all know, it doesn’t pay to bite the hand that feeds you and eating their dinner is a one way trip “outside!!!”

Or, when you’re the new dog on the block and they’re still getting to know you, it can be a way one trip to that place of no return at the top of the hill. I’ve heard rumours about that place, although I’ve never been there myself. Of course, I haven’t been there. I’m a good dog.

I used to be an even better dog. However, what with the kids and the new dog leading me into all sorts of temptation, I’m not quite as good as I used to be.

Indeed, last week the kids let me out just as the postman was going past on that evil two-wheeled contraption of his. Normally, being the good dog that I am, I would have just laid perfectly still at the open front door with my front paws curling ever so slightly over the front step. I don’t move an inch and make no effort whatsoever to join in with the kids’.

Oh no! I’m renowned for my impeccable obedience. Mum and Dad are so proud of me! They even tell the kids they should be better behaved… just like the dog!

That makes me ever so happy! I’m the happiest dog around.

Oh what a good boy!

Oh what a good boy!

That said, my reputation isn’t without its stains. After all, nobody’s perfect.

You see, I can get a bit grumpy with visitors. However, I prefer to see it as being “protective”. After all, who is that person who keeps picking the kids up in the morning? Can she really be trusted? I know they reappear in the afternoon but really?!!

I’ve already warned you about the postman. They might think he’s bringing them all those precious eBay purchases but you can’t be too sure. This is my family we’re talking about and I’ll defend them to the death. I just need to be a bit more careful. Although I’m the first one to recommend barking ferociously at the postman, I’ve heard biting the posty is a capital offense. That it will be: “all over Red Rover.”

When you’ve been a good dog all your life, you really don’t want to your end to come on death row. So as much as I might want to keep that posty away, I’m not about to thrown my life away through some impetuous response. Next time, I’ll start my deep breathing exercises and slowly count to ten before I lunge off my front step.

If you don't want your sun to set before your time, you need to watch out for foolish behaviour.

If you don’t want your sun to set before your time, you need to watch out for foolish behaviour.

Anyway, although I have another story up my sleeve, it’s time for me to go. Lady told me to keep it short. Anyway, now that I’ve finally worked out how to use this weird computer thingy which always sits on Mum’s lap instead of me these days, I’ll be churning out the stories.

In other words, I’ll be back!

So it’s love and paw prints to you all until next time (That is, unless you’re the Posty, someone who rides bicycles or drives our kids to school),

Bilbo xxoo