Achievements

seat at beach

 

                            SOCIETY OF WOMEN WRITERS NSW INC

                                  2020 MEMBERS BOOK AWARDS

                                           NON-FICTION & POETRY

WINNERS

FIRST PRIZE

HILDEGARD OF BINGEN

A Poetic Journey by Colleen Keating

In this exquisite book, Colleen raises the curtain on the monastic medieval world of the 12th century with all its harshness, solitude and sacrifice by young women. Hildegard of Bingen, born over 900 years ago in 1098, was a German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic and visionary. From the age of three years, it is said, she experienced ‘visions’ which she went on to describe in her many illuminated manuscripts. From the first page of Colleen’s book, I was in Hildegard’s world. I had to pinch myself to remember this was not fiction but a real person’s life.

How wonderful and fitting that Colleen has chosen the poetic form. Her narrative and style never miss a beat – almost racy at times, bounding along with passion and action against a backdrop of the beauty of nature as seen through Hildegard’s eyes. Her body knows what she wants…as honey birds know the most succulent flower, and geese instinctively migrate (p. 51). The book speaks with the voice of a writer truly inspired, immersed, seeped in the knowledge and spiritual understanding of this far-away woman who lived to a remarkable 82 years of age. Colleen takes us on the outer, physical journey of Hildegard’s life but also the rich and spiritual inner journey. Harsh at times but always compelling. 

Colleen spent 20 years researching and writing this book including ‘living in the Benedictine way – prayer, work, study – immersing…in Hildegard’s world…singing the Divine Office, celebrating her feast day with the Benedictine sisters who model Hildegard’s joy, laughter and hospitality.’ 

Thank you, Colleen, for bringing this remarkable woman – who described herself as ‘a feather in the breath of God’ – to life for us.

And, congratulations on winning FIRST PRIZE. 

Judith O’Connor

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SWW Poetry Judge – Margaret Bradstock’s Comments

Both Hildegard of Bingen and Margaret Caro are sustained narrative collections of poems celebrating the lives of strong, single-minded and deeply religious heroines, one an anchorite, visionary and ultimately abbess during the Middle Ages, the other a New Zealand dentist at the turn of the nineteenth century. Through judicious poetic description the writers, Colleen Keating and Pip Griffin respectively, are able to enliven their stories and engage the interest of the reader. Over several hundred pages of verse, this is no mean feat. Griffin records her protagonist’s account in first-person stanzas, as a kind of poetic ventriloquy, allowing us entry to her thoughts and feelings, italicised conversations and quotations counterpointing this perspective.  By contrast, Keating as poet tells Hildegard’s story, but interpolates the anchorite’s spoken words and unspoken musings in italics. 

Of the two collections, Keating’s is the more lyrical. She plays with language, uses nouns as verbs, creates imagistic parallels to enhance emotional states. Poetic descriptions such as “The Rhineland moon/ edges the icy road” or “dawn-crackle of ice…erratic shivers of the horses/ with huff of dragon smoke”, to quote just a couple, vividly evoke the scenarios the poet wishes us to experience. The choice was a difficult one. Griffin’s poetry is not without lyrical moments, but it was Keating’s employment of figurative language, of subtle metaphor, that determined Hildegard of Bingen to be the winning title. An admirable achievement in its own right, Margaret Caro is first of the Highly Commended collections.

Keating’s Desert Patterns might also have been a contender for first place. With the same skills already demonstrated in Hildegard of Bingen, with striking imagery, the writer builds her poetic landscape and imbues it with significance and spirituality. The voice, however, is always that of the outsider on tour, the traveller. Keating acknowledges this, makes reference to “we tourists  wannabe pilgrims” but, as such, avoids coming to grips with many contentious issues. The wonderful poem “daybreak over Mt Sondar”, for example, hints at interracial conflicts and problems but quickly moves on to the next pit-stop. Likewise, the more deeply moving “Myall Creek   A Suite” was marred for me by the conclusion: “Myall Creek Reserve/ a picnic area to enjoy lunch/ and cuppa from our new thermos”. The irony, the dislocation, were taken on board, but the tourist framework prohibited further dialogue.

The strength of Tricia Dearborn’s Autobiochemistry lies in the eponymous opening sequence. Each of the 22 poems both encapsulates the properties of a vital chemical element and reveals an aspect of the poetic persona. Metaphor is extended to the status of literary conceit. The same technique is seen in some of the finer “Elephant” poems of childhood and trauma: “The invisible elephant”, and especially “Your life as a jigsaw”. Such poems have greater resonance than the more conventionally confessional ones. The concluding poem in “Virginia Woolf’s memoirs” has many reverberations. 

The opening sequence of P.S. Cottier’s  Monstrous, “Reflections of the creature…”  is also commended, although the rest of her collection didn’t quite live up to the same standard throughout.  Each of the books submitted had something to offer – beautiful photographs, quirky humour, empathy, worthy sentiments and insights. Congratulations to all, and especially Colleen Keating.                                                 

                                                                                                                  Margaret Bradstock (Dr).

 

                                       

 

 

 

 

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So proud to be included in the Windfall 10  which is the final edition of this wonderful Australian  Haiku Journal.

Windfall: Australian Haiku, Issue 10, 2022 – Review

The 10th and final issue of the much-loved journal, Windfall: Australian Haiku, was released in January 2022.

Windfall is an annual journal edited by Beverley George and published by Peter Macrow at Blue Giraffe Press. The cover artwork is by Ron C. Moss, with design and layout by Matthew C. George.

Originating in Japan, the popularity of this short poetic genre has spread widely around the globe. Australian interest in haiku dates as far back as 1899 when an Australian haiku competition was conducted(1). Subsequently, in the 1970s, Janice Bostok produced Australia’s first haiku magazine, Tweed(2).

More recently, the Australian journal, paper wasp, ran for 20 years until ceasing publication in 2016 and, with the internet leading to growing interest in the genre, other print and online journals have encouraged and supported the writing of haiku.

For the past ten years, Windfall has focused solely on haiku about Australian urban and rural life, written by Australian residents. These poems have incorporated many elements of our landscapes, seasons, flora and fauna into the haiku form.

spring equinox
over the moonlit creek
a pobblebonk chorus

Mark Miller

leading
into sundown
dingo tracks

Tom Staudt

virgin rainforest
ninety-four rings
on a fresh cut stump

Andrew Hede

Nature haiku such as these enable Australians and others to appreciate images and sounds associated with the birds, animals and plants of this country.

waning moon
in the mangroves
fireflies stir

Maureen Sexton

rising heat
a jabiru crosses
the sun

Cynthia Rowe

winter afternoon —
golden wattle glows
on black sky canvas

Sheryl Hemphill

Windfall has chronicled some of the best Australian haiku for a decade. Issue 10 presents haiku by 63 poets. By my count, 20 of these poets also appeared in Issue 1, which suggests around 40 of the current Windfall poets have emerged in the intervening period. The growing Australian haiku community certainly includes a healthy influx of fresh voices and fresh ideas.

Some poems in Windfall relate to the interaction between nature and the human environment.

opera house steps
a long-nosed fur seal
soaks up the sunshine

Vanessa Proctor

rainforest glade
an empty packet of Smith’s
catches the sun

Nathan Sidney

While others use local flora and fauna to portray aspects of Australian behaviour and culture.

black cockatoos
in tree shadows
he stops treatment

Earl Livings

beachside walk
the roughness of
banksia pods

Nathalie Buckland

dunny
without a door . . .
the Milky Way

Leanne Mumford


Credit for Windfall’s success must go to editor, Beverley George, and to publisher, Peter Macrow. Beverley’s deep knowledge of the haiku form has enabled her to assemble a marvellous selection of Australian haiku for each edition of Windfall, while Peter has supported the journal throughout its life.

Beverley George selected the following haiku to conclude the 10th issue of Windfall. It was a wonderful choice, with the poem capturing a quintessentially Australian scene. But, more than that, the poem does not despair about ending. Rather, the poem celebrates the vitality of birth and renewal.

sheltered paddock
the udder punch
of a newborn

Glenys Ferguson

For ten years, Windfall has made an important contribution in recording the work of Australian haiku poets. Now, we all look to the future.

Review by Gregory Piko

A limited number of back issues of Windfall (No. 4 to No. 9) and of the final issue (No. 10) are available for $10 per copy, postage included. Cash or stamps are welcome, as are cheques payable to Peter Macrow. Please address to:

Peter Macrow
6/16 Osborne Street
Sandy Bay TAS 7005

1) Scott, Rob, “The History of Australian Haiku and the Emergence of a Local Accent,” The Haiku Foundation Digital Library, accessed January 22, 2022

2) Dean, Sharon Elyse , “White Heron: The Authorised Biography of Australia’s Pioneering Haiku Writer Janice M Bostok,” The Haiku Foundation Digital Library, accessed January 22, 2022

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DECEMBER

Some more poetry published this year.
MOZZIE

Issue 6

Geikie Gorge
Mozzie Collaborative Poem 25,26,27

VALLEY MICROPRESS

August 2016

Funeral

MOZZIE. September issue 7

A tanka for the moon
A poem. Down on the river flats

music

My Christmas poem, Gardeners of Hope has been published in
the beautiful Benedictine e -magazine of the Good Samaritan Sisters,
The Good Oil . Thank you to the editor Stephanie Thomas.

gardener

To read the poem for Christmas click on the link

Source: http://www.goodsams.org.au/good-oil/gardeners-of-hope

NOVEMBER

INK 3 ANTHOLOGY
INK 3 ANTHOLOGY

INK 3, 90TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION
( edited and introduced by Susan Steggall)
was launched
at the luncheon for the Society of Women Writers
on November 9th 2016
by the writer Di Morrissey. It was a full house in the Dixon Room in the NSW Mitchell Library.

My poem, In Search of Hildegard of Bingen, short listed in the Dame Mary Gilmore Poetry Competition is included in the Anthology

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EXCITING MONTH OF ACHIEVEMENT.

SEPTEMBER

STOP PRESS

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MY COLLECTION OF POETRY       A CALL TO LISTEN

has been short-listed in the Society of Women Writers Book Awards for 2016 .

The winners will be announced at the  Society of Women Writers NSW Inc luncheon on the 11th October . I am very proud to have my poetry affirmed and  short listed. Here was the exciting letter I received. Thank you Susan for all your hard work on our behalf.

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2016 SWW BOOK AWARDS

NON-FICTION:
* First Prize: Rosalind Meyer (Rosie’s War)
* Second Prize: Susan P Ramage
(Kokoda Secret: Ian Hutchison ,Australian Hero)
* Third Prize: Sue Castrique (Under the Colony’s Eye)
* Highly Commended: Ann Howard (You’ll be sorry. How World War II changed women’s lives)

FICTION
* First Prize: Libby Sommer (My Year With Sammy)
* Second Prize: Johanna Nicholls (Golden Hope)
* Third Prize: Isolde Martyn (The Golden Widows)
* Highly Commended. Johanna Nicholls (The Lace Balcony)

POETRY
* First Prize Cynthia Rowe (Floating Nest)
* Second Prize:  Karen Throssell (Motherhood Statement)
* Equal Third Prize:
Colleen Keating (A Call to Listen)
Marilyn Peck (A Girl in the River)

Subject: SWW 2016 Book Award (Poetry)

Date: 6 September 2016 9:28:06 am AEST

Dear Colleen,

I am very pleased to announce that your book, ‘A Call to Listen’, has been shortlisted for the SWW Book Award 2016. The actual awards will be announced at the SWW meeting on 12 October 2016. We very much hope you will be able to attend the meeting, so I am providing the booking details here.
I congratulate you on making the short list and look forward to the presentation of the Awards in October. It promises to be and exciting and important event in the annals of women’s writing.

SWW’s nominated book seller, Janet Grundy of Representation Services Pty Ltd will be available at the meeting to sell books by the award winning authors. Please let me know if you would like Janet to sell your books and I will pass your contact details to her.

Kind regards,
Dr Susan Steggall, President, Society of Women Writers NSW Inc

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AUGUST

Positive Word August Issue 2016 two of my poems are published

Larapinta Trail

in the garden

THE MOZZIE Volume 24 Issue 5 July 2016

Taking Wings

Mulga Dreaming

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JULY

Women’s Ink July 2016 Magazine of the Society of Women Writers, includes a very positive review of our new Anthology Bare:Poetry and Prose Thanks to Judy O’Connor for the review.

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Poetry matters Issue 27, July 2016 published

Marilyn

one of my ekphrastic poems.

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JUNE

The Mozzie Vol 24 Issue 4 June 2016 has published two of my newer poems funeral and refuge both inspired in reflective moments.

Positive Words Journal June Issue 2016 published a poem called
how to love a rock
from my Anthology and the Editor acknowledged my Anthology very positively.  See below

for web

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MAY

The Mozzie  Vol 24, Issue 3 May 2016 has published three of my newer poems. The poems claustrophobic  and belongings  and a new Haiku inspired by  my recent travels in the Top End.

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The poem flashback  and a Haiku on a moment during the evening my grand daughter was born are published in The Mozzie March April 2016.   As always thanks to Bill Henderson for his dedication to poetry.
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The poem anzac  is published in Positive Word  April 2016.  Thanks to Sandra  James  whose dedication to presenting a great magazine for writers is always affirming .
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The poem, lake poem  is published in Poetry Matters   Issue 26,  March 2016, as well as a Haiku of mine based on my visits to Japan. Thanks to Cheryl Howard for her great poetry journal and for affirming poets with her publication. It must be hard work with the dead line.

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The poem awakening is published in Poetry Matters, Issue 25 February 2016.
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REVIEW OF MY POETRY BOOK

taken from Society of Women Writers NSW Inc Journal

Women’s Ink

Call to Listen

by Colleen Keating

Published by Ginninderra Press
Reviewed by Judith O’Connor.

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This stylishly produced collection of some eighty poems,with a particularly tasteful and pleasing cover, is just what it says – a plea to stop   our activities and busyness and start looking, listening and observing the world around us. The poet supplies us with any number of simple examples:

it’s a hard thing to love a rock
you need to receive it as a gift
spend time
commune
gaze . . . (‘How to Love a Rock’)

and:

. . . a fallen water tank; rusted blood red . . .

(‘Abandoned’)

But we quickly see that the range of topics and inspiration,
is far wider and deeper than what at first may appear incidental.
The collection is cleverly arranged into eight separate categories,
taking in a wide sweep of the poet’s life and experiences.
I particularly enjoyed the verses inspired by outback Australia
for which the poet has borrowed (and referenced) the words of Mary McKillop
‘We are but Travellers Here’. Having trekked to the summit of Mt. Sondar and hiked in many of the poet’s footsteps (‘Ormiston Pound’), I was surprised and delighted to read her award winning ‘Daybreak over Mt. Sondar’ and its moving description of the dawn:

…in the beginning
air static as a nylon petticoat pulled over my hair
fingerprints of red ruby . . . (‘Daybreak over MT. Sondar’)

Every page brings fresh and, at times, challenging verses on a range of human emotions from ‘Almost Dawn’ with its sensuality:

… he turns
arms cocoon me
in an aura of warmth
his breath tingles
in the dip of my neck . . . (‘Almost Dawn’)

to ‘At the Nursing Home’:

… I fill the foot bath
my elbow checks the tepid water … (‘At the Nursing Home’)

Another of my favourites, ‘Sisters’:

… we lunch together
we celebrate
the milestone of another decade
and that word ‘remission’ a green shoot springing
from the scarred black earth…

But from being a poem full of depression and sorrow, it ends magnificently:

….we splurge
with our lust for life
toast with a glass of bubbly
Joie de vivre (‘Sisters’)

The poets voice changes to anger and outrage in other poems such as ‘Guantanamo Bay’ ( . . . this is a poem not to be read aloud; for it speaks of solitaire confinement …) and ‘War on Terror’ ( … it’s coming; through a hole in the air) along with poems reflecting visits to Japan and Fromelles.

Whatever the reader’s mood, quest or interest, these poems are sure to satisfy, surprise and inspire.

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2015

This has been a productive year with the new Anthology BARE    being completed and launched by the Women Writers network.

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Two poems were chosen for the anthology  Innerchild,
published by Poetica Christi Press.  

The first poem  on becoming a grandparent  was chosen by the judges,  and the second poem  distant grandparenting was chosen by the Book Committee.
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In a recent poetry competition at FreeXpresSion  two poems were successful.    Second place went to my poem    the hydra.

(It draws upon the ancient story of the hydra to parallel today’s problem of multiplyingevils and the effect on civilization)

Commended award went to my poem  siev x in memory.

( A memorial to the lives  and deaths of those on a sunken refugee boat , as it says  with harrowing detail

you must listen and know what one man can do to another”  The review commends vivid imagery used in both poems.     Thanks to Peter Pike’s dedication to poetry.

children in nauru

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2014

November 2014  Publication of  A CALL TO LISTEN

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The poem   maybe salacia  has been chosen for the latest Central Coast Poets Inc. Anthology 2014

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The poem    a poem about silence   is  published and spoken on podcast in the May journal of Eureka Street    May 2014

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April 2014  Publication of Our Women’s Work  ANTHOLOGY  of Women Writer’s Network

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Being Short listed for the Dame Mary Gilmore Poetry Award 2015 has been affirming.

The poem in search of Hildegard of Bingen has been commended in the Society of Women Writers of NSW, Dame Mary Gilmore Poetry Awards. Congratulations to Cynthia for first place. I will try for that next year.

My poem was inspired by my trip to Germany to walk in Hildegard’s footsteps, finding the ruins of her abbey and I wont tell you the end of the poem. You will have to wait for my new book of poetry which will include the winning poem to be published later this year.

Also next month it will be published in Women’s INK 3 publication of NSW Women Writers NSW.

feather

“A feather on the breath of God” Hildegard of Bingen  Environmental mystic of the 12th century

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Our Wonderful  Month

with

Elizabeth, Thomas and Eleanor 

by Grandma and Pa

5th April 2022

Planes come and go but one plane finally arrives bringing special cargo .

One could say it is finally angel wings that bring Elizabeth, Thomas and Eleanor all the way via the world from UK to Sydney,  Australia   

“Welcome” the colourful balloons and signs say as Aunties Bern and Sarah packed them in their van and bring them safely out of town to Grandma and Pa.  

Tears of joy flowed to have Elizabeth in our arms, and of elation as we hugged two darling grandchildren from UK:

Thomas a strong and tall young boy, long golden hair, a Hans Christian Andersen smile and wonderful open expression with a deep eyes full of imagination and now tall enough for his eyes  to level with mine 

and his sister Eleanor, a thoughtful little six year old with soft creamy skin, long golden Anne of Green Gable plaits and a gorgeous smile. Her star-sparking eyes, and her look of awe as she connected for the first time  as a little grown up girl with each of us, recognising us from FaceTime captured our Aussie heart instantly.  

  

 

After a cuppa, to stay awake and get fresh air we decided to walk the simple Rabbit Warren walk towards the Golf Centre. We laughed a lot  as we walked along . The UK family were still in their travelling attire.  We had all chosen a hat .Elizabeth had my new hat looking like an anthropologist on trek, Thomas in Pa’s Akubra, Eleanor in my rainbow hat.  There was a rubbish pick up due and many houses had put out their trash and the saying one person’s trash is another’s treasure quickly became true. Hence there was more fun as we looked for treasure. Aunty Bern found an umbrella.  Eleanor found a set of shelves to store her  barbies and toys. and she found a little bag to keep her things in.  Bern with the umbrella her shield from the sun, Pa and Grandma with our walking sticks  we looked a funny group. The photo has us looking like a Lord of the Rings gang setting out against the odds on a journey to the centre of the unknown. 

Eleanor, our little tinker  had a busy afternoon spent decorating her shelves and setting them up. We  all sat and chatted and Pa read to Eleanor.  Pa is always  excited to introduce the  Little Golden Book “Magic Friend-Maker” to a new audience and he dressed up as Gandolf and everybody listened.

  

 

An early night and it was a lovely relaxing evening as we were all safely together and anticipated a fun time .

The birds that is my Yellow crested White cockatoos, Rainbow Lorikeets,  Magpies, Native Miners and Kookaburras put on a wonderful enchanting welcome on the terrace. 

 

6th April

We went up the street  to Life Line to pick up the books we had ordered. A beautiful book of ‘The Hitchhikers  Guide to the Galaxy’ and three books  the Northern Star series by Peter Pullman. The library had also given us these books and Thomas got into reading them. Eleanor chose three or four fairy books in a series she likes.   

Cousins, Cousins, Cousins

Aunty Jess arrived with Edison and Darcy. Great hugs and laughter and tears, elation and excitement. 

They were just in time for the dry ice performance  We had a great performance with the dried ice. In tubs we stirred and sung: 

 

Round about the cauldron go;

In the poison’d entrails throw.

Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and cauldron bubble. 

 

and then we enjoyed the afternoon. Jess, Edison and Darcy went  back over to sleep at Sarah’s.

Our meal times shared with joining hands in thanks   that we are together.

7th  April

Jessica and the cousins came over and we all gathered our towels and went up to the heated pool at Hornsby for a swim. We were hoping it would relieve the jet lag. Yet we were worried about the pain in Elizabeth’s legs and I feel before they come next time they must try to see if they can get medical cover in some way but hopefully the warm pool was therapeutic.   

In the afternoon we went over to Sarah’s place  A great fun afternoon.  The cousins were all meeting each other. Eleanor and Thomas got to hug cousins.  . . . Gemma was so excited to see Eleanor  and she gave her a gift of Chewy the little dog.  Eleanor came out to show us the gift  and her little face was warm with love. Being with her cousins was very special. Thomas met Tyler  again after so many years  . . .they had both grown so much and they went off into Tylers room to catch up.  And little Ethan had a drawing to show us all. 

Then the Van Eyks arrived.  Jacinta and Dominic bounded in and it was all exciting again as everyone hugged and caught up again with each other.  And we all enjoyed a sausage sizzle .

 

 

 

And the four sisters were together for the first time in years. some beautiful photos and it was a joy for dad and I to watch and join them.

Back at Normanhurst we all got into the routine of doing  the New York  Wordle.  It became the Wordle Challenge . Pa verses Grandma  verses Elizabeth.  Pa and Eleanor became a bit of a team and were doing well when Thomas joined Pa’s team and we came up with the winner in two  . . .   with the words GREAT and Thomas came up with  TRAIN  a Wordle win in two goes Hurrah !! 

8th  April     Our beautiful Aunty Tess

The most important part of the journey . . .  to visit Aunty Tess. We set off early and traveled to East Maitland.  I was so pleased we got there at a good time. We took soft chocolate as that is what she had asked for. Aunty Tess was in bed and in some pain yet she was so happy to see Elizabeth and Elizabeth was excited to let her see the gorgeous Thomas and Eleanor  and how they had grown so beautifully. Aunty Tess loved Eleanor’s golden curls as she wound them through her fingers. When moments of grief broke through Aunty Tess said clearly “no tears, no tears “  Aunty Tess was very clear. There were moments for all of us to say our love forever and to say thank you . There was an awful sadness in saying goodbye but Elizabeth and I were able to walk away with a lot of gratitude and out into the world where the children had discovered some very interesting fungi growing  in the grass outside the hospital and we felt the sky in its delicate blue wrap us in like a soft shawl of reassurance and we could hold onto Aunty Tess’s words  “It is a beautiful world”   

And this beautiful world unfolded as we arrived at the Dolphin House . Thomas was into his new ‘loud and proud’ new board shorts  and over onto the beach. It was cold but they had fun.

.9th April        Discovering Dolphin House and the beach 

We drove over to the Sensory Garden where  we walked enjoying the lake vista and the Australian plantings of Australian trees . Elizabeth collected eucalypt gum nuts.We enjoyed  flowering gums, grevillea, butterflies  and the kids climbed every tree that it was possible to climb and sun was setting so we were back to our Dolphin House and into bed early . 

  

Our little gum-nut baby

  

Little UK koalas in the Sensory Garden, at The Entrance.

Back to Normanhurst with Granma and Pa

10th April

Suddenly de covid arrived . The Littles were in isolation. 

Jessica had to return to Coffs.   De covid closed down the Littles and Hays. Plans were turned upside down but life went on, everybody got over the shock, accepted it,  and fortunately plans were readjusted. 

Bobbin Head Adventure

A drive to Bobbin Head  and a picnic and then a walk along the broad walk spotting hundreds of crabs scuttling about. When we walked up the sandstone cliffs and saw the Indigenous middens site and carving on rocks it reminded us we are walking on ancient land  the most ancient land of all.  Elizabeth, Thomas and  Eleanor continued to walk into the bush and we missed them for awhile because they found a waterfall and Thomas dreamed of coming back to swim another time.  We had a picnic and walked to the Mariner saw some First Nations rock carving and had an ice cream.     

  

Cousins and Featherdale  Farm and Patting a Koala      11th April. 

A well planned day up early and away to meet Bern and Jacinta and Dominic for a day at the Featherdale Animal Farm . It was the main wish of Eleanor    to pat a koala. Our first encounters were the Kangaroos. A small wallaby and its mother captured Eleanor’s attention.  They all got to feed and pat kangaroos and  they loved the baby Joeys.  The moment of the wombat encounter was priceless as the big, slow brown wombat waddled out  of the log into the pen, Elizabeth just started to cry as she saw it. 

The children were so good and excited by each new spot we came to.  Echidnas, emus, dingos, snakes, goanna, many colourful birds and much more. They raced around collecting stamps to cover everything. Eleanor was delightful as she made friends with the koala and Thomas the curious one was excited about everything. It was lovely to see Eleanor and Dominic pairing up to get the stamps and the more grown up Thomas and Jacinta working things out  together.  

    

 

 

  

  

Solitaire and Aces High 

 Pa rediscovered Solitaire and Thomas picked up the idea very quickly. 

They were very careful to respect the cards and accept when ‘they’ won.  

Thomas and Pa  wrote out a few rules. The most important rules were no loopholes  or excuses.

to be alert to every option and resect the cards when ‘they win (and start a new game)

Then Thomas made up a card game called Aces High. It could be played by two or more people. Thomas wrote down a few of the rules and they were very clear.

   

Cousins together

 

    

  

   

Back at Normanhurst Pa read his favourite book Scuffy the Tugboat

One of Pa’s favourite  Golden Books is Scuffy who Tug who demands he is  “ meant for bigger things”  A  bubbling spring creek races Scuffy all the way to the ocean. where where Scuffy is rescued at the very last moment  – and now is today today is “happy floating in Thomas and Eleanor’s hot tub.” 

If you want music to go with Scuffy, Pa says Smetana’s Moldau is the piece of music that goes all  the way from a high little brook to the river about to enter the ocean.

Photos sent of the Littles in  de covid-lock-down were of making a rainbow as a family project after Grug and the Rainbow. So far the UK family were ok. 

We went to Spotlight to get Jacinta  a few presents  we had decided on decorations for her newly painted bedroom,  preparing for her birthday. 

Then a shock. Eleanor  wakes up after nightmare  and tested . . . . she has got de covid  and Elizabeth quickly evacuated Normanhurst and drives back up to the Dolphin House. 

It was quiet as we rearranged our minds to deal with de covid. When Elizabeth got de covid we were a bit lost about what we could do.

13th

Jacinta’s birthday. A happy day. . . even if it was another covid birthday in that all the families were in isolation. We had to take the presents over and we felt sorry Elizabeth, Thomas and Eleanor were missing out We had a cake and singing and a little party and they went to a festival in the afternoon.  

14th April 

The message came through from Ying Aunty Tess was failing. I did not know what to do. It was all so overwhelming.  Before I had made up my mind it was too late , Aunty Tess took her last breath with her sister there and Ying singing to her.  It was part of our world came gentlly to an end. 

Happy days with Aunty Tess with Elizabeth and William  and family 

15th  Good Friday     Bush walking

This day we drove up to The Entrance and we went for a walk  with the UK family, staying socially distanced and outside .

We went in our individual cars to Crackneck Lookout . After the view we walked a very muddy track to a generous climbing  red river gum. We had enjoyed  a great climb . Both of the children loving climbing the wonderful branches.

Then on the bush walk down through the Wyrrabablong National Park. The ocean beating against the cliff on one side and the Australian bush, the Eucalypt trees, Banksias, Grevilleas, Grass trees along the track down to a picnic spot just before Shelley Beach.

We all felt a stressed with the positive test still present so our picnic was brief. We left for  home.   

17th Easter Sunday 

The Easter bunny came to everybody even though de covid was in Coffs and Toongabbie and the Dolphin House. So that was exciting even as it was disappointing the cousins were not together for a big bunny hunt. Everyone seemed to accept the ways things were.  

Eleanor and Thomas had extra effort  to get a Bilby to stop with some eggs . They decorated the  big picture window 

Easter Bilby

 Please stop here 

and were surprised at sunrise to see their signs and decoration had worked. 

There were lots of Easter eggs. And then their Mum made a great fun Easter egg hunt over on Keating  beach so at dawn on Easter Sunday they had a good  reminder of  the miracle of new life of the Resurrection. 

18th  Easter Monday

Littles were  better . . all negative  and so the aunties and cousins drove up to the Entrance  and took Thomas and Eleanor on an adventure. The cousins set out on an adventure around the lake checking our all the parks,  the ice cream parlour and it was a lovely bonding time for the cousins giving  Elizabeth a few hours to sleep

  Sun setting over lake                       Jetty

  

  

 

Wednesday 20th    Collecting shells with Granma and Pa

To-day was a beach day with grandma and Pa. 

We  were missing Thomas and Eleanor and so drove up again to the Dolphin House. . It was easier as everybody was testing negative and so we were all more relaxed. We had a great beach walk  and swim in the beach and the chilly pool and around to Blue Bay just past the pool. The ebbing tide was just perfect for collecting shells so we spent some time there  wrote Daddy in shells on big flat  grey rock and then went back to the Dolphin House.  

   

A chilly pool

 

                                                        Daddy we miss you.

                                 from a sun-kissed Eleanor and Thomas the surfer

 

SWAP and a Long weekend. Thursday 21st – 25th Anzac  

Elizabeth and Thomas and Eleanor have a swap on . The Littles will go to the Dolphin House and they will come down and have the house with the pool , the island bench in the kitchen , two more  cousins Jacinta and Dominic a walk away. Jessica and Nathan and two more cousins Edison and Darcy and a dog came down for a last time added to the bedlam of fun with cousins.   

There was time for  the cousins to get  spoilt by the aunts – getting ears pierced, getting a new hat for Eleanor, eating Krispy Kreams and drives in Aunty Bern’s car.

Elizabeth still positive  after the long weekend,  drives back to The Dolphin House. 

Happy to be together Sisters, cousins, family.  

  

 

 

 Bravery and ear piercing 

 

          Happy days

‘Living the dream’ says Thomas.   An island bench in the kitchen Eleanor loved it.

  A spacious lounge with huge couches, a pool a friendly dog and cousins near by what else can one     ask for.   

  

            

Tuesday 26th 11.30

 Grandma and Pa,  Bernadine and Sarah drove to East Maitland for the last time,  a sad drive to farewell Aunty Tess.  Josh arrived and we went in to give our honour to this special person in our life.  Sadly, still being positive, Elizabeth chose that morally she couldn’t join us and Jessica could not get off work . It was a very good example of what Nannie Nora always said ‘It is best to bring your flowers and your love while someone is alive, rather then later when they have gone and Elizabeth and Jessica and the children had done exactly that given their time, spent the day to be present and say the words of love, say the words of gratitude. Aunty Tess was joyful with the last visits.  The funeral over we left very sad. However it was right . . .  Aunty Tess was now at peace and as she reminded us ‘No tears’

28th 

Tests all negative So we went to have a few days with the family up at the Dolphin House. We took the dried ice from a Lite & Easy food and Eleanor dug a hole in the sand  decorated it with sea grass and then with the dried ice it became a boiling cauldron.  

Round about the cauldron go;   

In the poison’d entrails throw.  

 

     Double, double toil and trouble; 

     Fire burn and cauldron bubble.  

 

        Thomas braving the waves

Then we focused on our tie-dyeing t-shirts and socks with all the blues of sea and sky. 

Thomas and Eleanor played on the beach and went surfing.

We got back to the house put on dry clothes and went for a drive to walk on the jetty and watch the sun setting over the lake sinking down behind the Wattigan Hills. 

 Dinner was special and we caught up with Easter Sunday by sharing Pa’s  Easter  platypus after dinner.

Belated Easter with a chocolate Platypus

29th  April

We walked down to the park to meet Caitlin and Ella and Kay and Warren. A lovely morning as the three children played so well together. Eleanor was so caring and motherly with three year old Ella and Thomas  protected her as she played with them. Eleanor gave her some pastel coloured finger knitting she had made and a heart bracelet so they could both have one each the same like bosom buddies.

In the afternoon we went along the beach and the kids went surfing. 

And then back to the beach  

Saturday 30th April 

Our last day with the family at the Dolphin House. Elizabeth wanted to stay another day as it was so relaxing.  The rising sun was spectacular .  We then had brekky, packed up and drove to Toongabbie to catch up with the cousins once again. We had a sausage sizzle, a swim, played some games and did some drawings for uncle Mal to choose the most creative.. 

Sunday 1st May   Normanhurst bush walk

A bush walk along  Grandma and Pa’s Bush track  . . .  It is called Coops Creek 

and we all decided it was fun enjoying the swing on the creek,  the meditation rock for Thomas, playing along the creek, the waterfall and getting to know some  Grandmas special trees River Red Gum, Coachwood trees and Turpentine.   

  

Forest Breathing, being in nature  swinging, meditating in Grandma and Pa’s Normanhurst bush and feeling awe with the sounds, colours  and beauty of the bush with its tall timbers reaching high into the sky.

Thomas meditating by the sound of the little waterfall.  

Moss, algae, lichen, ferns and palms and all the bracken specimens 

took us into another world, 

an environment and eco system that shows Darwins theory of evolution . 

We were walking through the beauty of nature and chatting away happily. 

One of the spectacular things were the interesting toad stools and fungi we observed. 

And coming back out 

we were reminded this little pocket of natural beauty

is surrounded by a busy noisy world.

The only sounds besides our chatting the bubbling brook and bird song.

We could call this bush our still point in a turning world. 

Thomas having breakfast with the cockatoos

Monday 2nd May 

We had to go at 9.am to catch the train to see the doctor re Michael.  Aunties Bern and Sarah came over with Ethan to have a chat.  We arrived back later on the day. 

But there was more catch ups with the cousins to make memories for Thomas and Eleanor to carry home with them.

  

Cousins – happy days  

Same – same                 Brave

   

Three beautiful Grand-daughters

  

       

 

  Tuesday  3rd May

8.30 we set off on the train to the city. 

Some land marks we saw: –

The Town Hall. Queen Victoria Building, Dr. Seuss shop, Sydney Harbour Bridge,

Sydney Opera House,  the Harbour, the ferries dancing on the harbour, stone sculpture of Earth Mother in the Botanical Gardens where the Ibis wanted to have a feed from us.

We had a picnic  in the garden and then lunch at the City Extra cafe. Eleanor was so excited to get a sweet little pink umbrella on her sausage.  MCA  and back on tram and train to home.  

    

  Sydney Harbour Bridge                 Customs House

 

Earth Mother and Eleanor

An Ibis, Thomas, Eleanor, Pa , 

  

Climbing a huge fig in Sydney Botanical Gardens

                            

Custom  House  

 

Delicious lunch  and then the Art gallery The MCA  

  

 

The Art Gallery was fun. We watched a few minutes of a video as part of the exhibition and Thomas loved it. He felt hypnotised and could’ve sat there but we needed to get back on the tram and train to get home as we were getting tired.

4th May 

Packing day, The appointment to get a PCR , a phone call with Margie and  an exciting and fun visit from Uncle Andy who adores Elizabeth  and now William and her Thomas and Eleanor. He tells me he has a soft spot for them often.

  

      

 Birds on the terrace  at Normanhurst and one stealing our toast  !!!! Well two his mate also.  

Stealing our toast out of the toaster

Breakfast with the cockatoos Rainbow Lorikeets 

Magpies  

k 

Kookaburras

Archery

Thomas spoke about his Sunday Archery with his Dad on a number of occasions. On the day before they  returned to UK . Pa remembered the New Guinean archery bow that Grandma had been given when she worked in Papua New Guinea 50 years ago. 

We were very impressed with the respect that Thomas showed to such an artefact. Elizabeth took some photos of him with the bow. 

One of our final meals together at Normanhurst was the BBQ that Pa and Thomas cooked while Eleanor and I prepared warmly cooked scones. Eleanor was very confident in kneading and rolling out and pressing the dough into scones and cooked to perfection we surprised the family with scones, strawberry jam and cream knowing Thomas would love it. Eleanor added an extra addition by adding lots of nutella to the scones . Pa said next time he is going to have nutella on his scones too.  

And a highlight was our toast with my very special Hildegard of Bingen beer. We had saved the beer because Elizabeth had been a strong, affirming and  supportive friend in my writing .  

  

Note; Eleanor checking out or helping Pa with his words

On the back of the can of beer it says 

Hildegard of Bingen was the first person to describes hops in a scientific manner.

During her life, she was a brewer, mystic, prophet, composer and a prolific writer 

on religion and the natural world.   

                   From Here to There & Back Again

 

      Busy clever fingers   . . .Both Thomas and Eleanor created       lots of fun with their finger knitting 

A welcome always comes to a farewell.

And as I said to Thomas one must say goodbye and leave so that they can have the joy of coming back . That is how life is. 

   

So with all the waxing and waning , all the ebbs and flows our time together 

a milestone for making memories was a happy, engaged and imaginative time.

     

Grandma on the bucket floating out to sea by a rogue wave while supervising the tie-dyeing

Questions: Are some cheering?

 Is someone sitting back with their feet up ?

 Is someone trying to rescue Grandma?