Week 25 ‘Quiet’ 
The house is quiet. The dishes are done. The laundry has stopped piling up. All of a sudden the nest will be empty. The birds are flying from the tree. What used to be a house full of noise is now a echoey space. That’s how Mother Nature works. We were never meant to keep our children as they grow up. It’s our job to teach them how to be independent and be on their own once the time is right. This will always be their home and as that quote states – ‘one day, when my children are grown, I hope they still come through that front door without knocking. I hope they head to the kitchen for a snack, and rifle through the junk mail. I hope they come in and feel the weight of adulthood escape them, for they are home. For my children, my door will forever be open.’ 
Our house was always noisy. 6 humans living in one space, all trying to get their point across day to day. We only have 3 bedrooms in the house so the girls shared a room, the boys shared a room and as the mum & dad of the family unit shared the master bedroom. We always had extra children over the weekends and school holidays and nobody ever really wanted to leave. It was a safe, fun and busy place to play in. The park, bike track and jetty on the lake was across the road and a pool and games room decked with pool table, lounges, fridge, tv, games consoles in the back yard. We had rules they had to abide by – keep the volume down past midnight so we didn’t get any complaints from neighbours as they all slept in the games room and no swimming in the pool past a certain time, to keep the bathroom light on to help guide the path in the middle of the night and shut the pool gate and back door otherwise the cats will get out and the dogs will come in. We had a beautiful old maple tree to climb on and carve you initials in the bark. 
Jacob’s ps4 console has been very quiet. He bought it with some of the money he got back from a benefit night held for him during his treatment. We were big on playing games even when he was younger. We were a competitive family playing Mario party together as we chased stars across the game board on the old Nintendo console. Dust has gathered on these unused items in our quieter house. But over the last few days a bit of noise is stirring up the flow of the house. My eldest daughter Amy 28 bought the remake of an old family favourite game we used to play – ‘Crash Bandicoot.’ Playing the original game again after all these years brings back all the wonderful memories of our house when in was in it’s prime. I hope as our family extends with engagements, weddings and births of new generations the noise and chaos will return and this period of quiet only be a transitional phase. I seem to function better with a constant hum around me. It takes sadness to know what happiness is, noise to understand and feel the quiet and absence to value presence.

‘This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…’

Week 24: Light – When I first saw the word of this weeks photo prompt ‘light’ I automatically thought of the brightness of a sparkler against the dark backdrop of a nights sky taking me back over many memories of simple fun with the hand-held firework. The simple pleasure they give off as they leave trails of light as you wave them in various patterns that the eyes keep for longer than the sparkler burns. I came up with an idea as I experimented with night time photography. I asked my daughter Amy if she could write a word with a sparkler so that it could be read and understood in a photograph. After several funny attempts she did it. I hope you can read the word in the photo. As the camera took its time in taking the photo after Amy had written the word, she had to turn her back to the camera and wait till the sparkler had finished burning. As she looked into the sparkling embers of the hand held firework she was mesmerised by the light just like when we look deep into the flames of a fire. It was peaceful and calming. I remember playing with sparklers when I was a child with my siblings and after all these years the smell of lighting one never changes. I’m sure you could close your eyes and cover your ears as one is being lit and you’d know exactly what it was just by using your sense of smell. Our own children have memories of playing with them with their cousins at family get-togethers. At the end of the night we’d get out the sparklers and watch them write their names in the sky. Playing with them with young hands sometimes meant learning the hard way – to hold onto them the correct way and not to pick them up again after the sparkles have just gone out or you might get burnt. I’ve kissed many sore fingers and hands from touching hot sparklers. A mother’s magic ‘make it better’ kiss goes a long way as the memories of getting burnt from one as a child gets forgotten as you look into its hypnotising twinkles of light. Oh how I wish I could go back in time to when I could fix things with just a kiss, one last kiss on Jacob’s hand. When was the last time you spread a little sparkle in the world – we did it the other night and felt the inner child within.


Week 23: Afternoon
‘Time has fallen asleep in the afternoon sunshine.’ Well this was the case during our yesterday afternoon play date with my nieces and my friends young children. The wind chill factor gave us a need for winter woollies but the sun thawed us out as we played a game of tip, duck, duck goose and  what’s the time Mr Wolf . The children found shelter in the giant trees nurturing branches as they swung upside down like monkeys. It was nice to see the young ones outside running in the fresh air just like I did as a child. I can remember playing games of red rover, elastics and hand ball. I’d build cubby houses in the thick bushes using big sheets of cardboard as the floor. We’d slide down the paspalum grass slopes on pieces of tin house for sale signs or cardboard. In our neighbour fish pond we’d float our plastic boats using the Lego people as our fleet of trustworthy sailors. I was glad to have grown up in the 70’s. I think I passed on my love of the great outdoors, being creative and using my imagination to my own children as they loved it too. My girls would bring home jars of perfume they’d made from picking all the various flowers in the neighbourhood and mixing them with a few drops of water – magic. My boys and their cousins loved to burn various materials using the sun rays with a magnifying glass and examine insects through the microscope. We’d search for the craters on the moon with a telescope trying to find evidence of life on another planet. My dad taught me how to fish, how to bait up, how to cast and fix the tangles that came with rods and how to gut them and cut them up into fillets to eat. I passed this knowledge onto my children too and I can remember being so excited over the best Mother’s Day present ever – a fully stocked brand new bait and tackle box and a fishing rod. My dad would bring a piece of rope with him in our car as we stopped for a bbq on our travels to make a swing for us or help us make a kite using twigs, newspaper and string. There was no wifi being outdoors during the afternoon, but we will promise you will find a better connection.


Week 22: ‘celebrate’ 

‘Your birthday is a special time to celebrate the gift of ‘you’ to the world.’ It certainly was a weekend that revolved around ‘me.’ I did celebrate myself in the fact that it was my 53rd birthday on Saturday. The celebrations started early with a family dinner on Friday night as I used a $100 voucher I’d won at a breast cancer fundraiser. This was just the beginning. When we got home my husband Pete gave me his present early as he knew I was going to be busy the next day. He had bought tickets for us both to see Cat Stevens at a winery in the Hunter Valley with accommodation to stay overnight. I also celebrated by buying myself a special gift from some of the sales of my book so therefor Jacob did his part in helping me give myself a gift in his absence. This gift I bought myself was a kayake. I christened it on Sunday on the lake in front of our house. It was a peaceful way to relax and recharge the batteries from the previous day that I spent on a winter wine tasting bus tour with my eldest daughter Amy. A friend had spoken to me on Friday and offered her tickets to the tour as her daughter had just had a baby. We toured 4 local wineries and sampled lots of fragrant and pleasing samples of the season. Just as my daughter and I were about to leave home for this event my son Ben gave me his present. It was a beautiful bracelet with 3 pieces of engraved panels on a delicate chain. I read the inscription and cried as the words held so much meaning. The power of words in a song can get us through so many turbulent and traumatic times in our lives. Lines from the song ‘to build a home’ helped ease and soothe a small part my son’s grief of losing his brother Jacob ~ ‘I held on as tightly as you held onto me.’ If you get a chance to listen to the song by The Cinematic Orchestra you would be doing yourself a favour. I was still crying as I put the bracelet on my wrist. As I enjoyed the day I smiled as I glanced at the 3 toned silver, gold and rose gold gift. It was at our 3rd winery we’d visited that I noticed that I’d lost the bracelet. How had I not noticed that it fell off? It wasn’t loose. I retraced my steps with no luck. I stopped a man who worked at the venue and left my details in the off chance that it may get handed in. I was so upset. Sometimes we aren’t meant to have beautiful things in our life for very long. I had it for a short while, it was mine and it was beautiful. The memory of it will last a lifetime. Just like Jacob. 

After kayaking on the lake I travelled to Sydney on the train with Amy to capture the lights of Vivid. It was on this train trip that I got a phone call. A kind person had found my bracelet in the mud and handed it in to the same person who had taken my details the previous day. It instilled in me that there is still honesty and beauty in people in the world when there is so much heartache and anger in the world. The bracelet was meant to find its way back to me. I will get it repaired and wear it proudly as the words signifies the strength and love our family has shown for one another during the most difficult time of our lives and it will guide us throughout the rest of our lives as we learn to live without our beautiful brown eyed boy and celebrate each day we’ve been blessed with as this was his motto in the last month of his life. The joined circle and links of the bracelet will be stronger for being broken and repaired and it will hold us together forever. 

‘Around the corner’ 

Week 21: ‘around the corner.’ This is the view we get when we peek around the corner of our brick lower level story house. These two dogs are our protection for our assets, to keep us safe in our surroundings, to bark ferociously and warn off unlikely strangers and intruders. I may be fabricating the truth just a little bit. The truth I am telling is that this is the brick wall of our house, and the part that makes my nose grow like Pinocchio’s does when he tells a lie is when I described the dogs as ferocious. This photo tells the truth of who’s around this corner. I captured them sniffing noses and checking each other out as best mates – brothers from another mother as I crept around the corner. They would lick you to death and rub their heads on you leaving you looking like you’ve been through a snow storm with white fur stuck to your dark clothes. When my children have come home from late nights without a key and break into the back yard to sneak in the back way they actually have frightened the dogs and made them retreat to their trampoline beds in fright. They are loyal companions, offering unconditional love without ever wanting anything in return other than a friendly hand reaching down for a pat and ruffling the thickness behind the ears and under the chin. They are a constant companion in times of tears, sadness, anger and frustration and lift your mood accordingly. They make us laugh when we play our musical instruments like the harmonica and saxophone, they’d howl in protest – without knowing whether they like it or not. They’d howl as we sang songs at the table out the back at Christmas time. If you happen to open that gate they will think they’ve been let out to go on a walk down the lake, if not they just jump up on you in sheer delight for human company. We can trust our dogs to guard our house even though they are the most chilled hounds in the neighbourhood but we can’t trust them to guard our food. Good things are around our corner. 

‘In the kitchen’ 

Week 20: ‘in the kitchen’ Looking at this big bowl of colourful and vegetable dense mixture to make spaghetti Bolognese makes me reflect on people’s comments and articles I’d been given to me saying that we could have cured Jacob’s cancer if he ate a diet rich in ‘this and that.’ If only we could have saved him by food alone. Jacob’s cancer wasn’t cause by his diet or poor lifestyle choices. Ewing’s Sarcoma is caused by a gene mutation between cells when they are changing with growth that is inevitable with youth and young adults. I must have fed Jacob well as he grew into his 6foot 2inch frame at 95kgs prediagnosis, and I continued to nurture him with nutritious food disguised in his milkshakes as his disease depleted his appetite towards the end of his life. If love and food could have saved him he wouldn’t have got sick in the first place. The secret ingredients to a mother’s recipe is always ‘love.’ We ate this yummy meal amongst our family and chatted together sharing stories from our day and we were thankful. Thankful for the food before us, the family beside us and the love between us.

‘A collection…’ 

Running a little late with last weeks photographic moment – ‘a collection.’ Looking back at the photograph I should have dusted 🙂 as I can see it amongst my husbands collection of DVD box sets and all the memorabilia that go along with those movies. The treasure chest is a special container holding maps, clues and special features, bonus’s and extra DVDs all related to the making of the movie ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ with the newest adventure opening in Australia next week. My husband is I’m sure a borderline hoarder, not in the sense that he can’t throw things out he just keeps adding to his collection. Our family does have a love of movies with ‘horror’ being our favourite genre. So many memories of us all together watching the latest scary movie together with fingers and hands covering our faces as we anticipate a fright going to happen in the scene and we’d end up all asleep with the movie replaying the menu screen. Jacob had inherited his dad’s love of movies which inspired his career choice of becoming an upcoming cinematographer. They would both be terrific to have on hand at a trivia night to answer questions about ‘what was the name of that film’ or ‘who was the star in that film’….You never know what you feel like watching when you get a chance to stop and relax in this busy world of ours. But as I do chose one to watch I can’t help but to think ‘what would Jacob like about this movie.’ Life is a collection of those such moments ❤️