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I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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Thank you to Marsha who interviewed me for her series. Looking forward to working with her some more when the Carrot Ranch Rodeo begins Oct 5.
Welcome to Always Write, Irene Waters. I met Irene in June reading one of her marvelous book reviews. We chatted a bit and I found out that she was interested in photo and writing challenges. She agreed to tell you about her favorite challenges and also what it was like for her to host a challenge.
Thank you for for being here.
Irene Waters Interview
by Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist
What prompted you to begin to host a writing/photo challenge?
When the memoir challenge ended it left a hole which I decided to fill by running my own challenge with a twist. @Irene Waters
I enjoy participating in both photo and writing challenges. For photos I loveCee’s challengesas well asLens-ArtistsandPaula’s Five word challenges. Although these are predominantly photo challenges I can’t help but weave story, often memoir around the photos I post. I came…
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For the first time in my life I relate to the Edvard Munch painting ” The Scream.” I wonder what was happening in his life at the time. Did he want to scream or did he just have enough empathy to capture in his painting how one who wants to scream feels.
Luckily Munch kept a diary and in it on the 22nd January 1892 he wrote his inspiration for the scream. “I was walking along the road with two friends – the sun went down – I felt a gust of melancholy – suddenly the sky turned a bloody red. I know those red skies.
These skies never make me feel melancholy. I feel blessed to have had the priviledge to see them. What makes me want to scream is when I cannot solve problems. I have yet to come to the realisation that there are some problems I can’t solve and I have to learn to live with that fact.
My 92 year old Mum is constantly asking for help to die or if not die for me to come and live with her permanently so she is never alone. My husband has a terminal illness and wants to live, doing activities that don’t take my mother into account. The two different life perspectives work on me, making me feel that I can’t make either have their wishes come true despite doing my best to satisfy both. It leaves me wanting to scream. Scream. SCREAM.
Sadly my mum has limited cognitive powers. She doesn’t understand what she asks. I doubt she remembers that Roger is sick and dying. She is struggling to remember who people are, what the date and time is let alone how other people are feeling. She is the centre of her universe and her universe has tilted to a point where she knows she is about to fall off. For someone who has always been in control this is terrifying. How do you expect her to believe you when you have always been a person that has never quite made it in her eyes. She has always been right. I have always been wrong. She was wrong then as my life direction was mine not hers, but, I can understand why she doesn’t believe me now and just how terrifying that must be to now be entrusting her entire life to me.
Sadly I love my Mum more now that she is vulnerable than I ever did before. Now she has let her guard down and she is being her true self. I have always been my true self which wasn’t held in much regard but now it is being valued by my mother. But I love my husband just as much as I did when we married. He is resentful. He feels he has put his life on hold for my mother. Not true I think as I think we put our life on hold because we didn’t have people to mind the dogs but when it comes down to it, what you believe, is, what you believe. I want to give my husband the best final years we can have (despite Mother and despite COVID) but today I feel like I want to scream.
If my mother was capable of understanding I would read her this poem by John O’Donohue for “one who is Exhausted, A blessing:
You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken for the race of days.
At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.
You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.
Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.
Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.
Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.
Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.
Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.
Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.
For my husband: I can only say I love you. I don’t want to lose you and I hope our time left is longer than you are expecting and that you try and understand my mum is my mum and I want you both to be happy.
A deep breath. I am back in control. Thank you for letting me scream. Sometimes that is all that is needed. Thank you for accepting that I am at the moment intermittent and sometime slow to respond. Sometimes I need that acceptance and for that I thank you.
One of my favourite monthly challenges is back. Paula has returned from a long absence ( it seems that 2019 – 20 was a year for long absences) and with her has returned 5 words. This month the words are:
ESTIVAL (belonging to or appearing in summer)
CUISINE (cause we all have to eat)
RIFT (cause it lends itself to a number of possible interpretations)
INSTRUCTIVE (cause we are being given tons of instructions lately)
SPAN (cause I am reaching out to you again, trying to bridge time and obstacles)
You can use one photo or five, one word or five. Today I am opting for one photo although you may have to stretch the imagine just a litte. We have just spent some time in the far north of our state at Cairns and Port Douglas. The photo was taken from a boat trip we did off Green Island. I was photographing the birds. You can imagine my delight when I saw what else I captured.
In our far north it is always estival-like. Summer activities are always available and many of them are partaken out on the Great Barrier Reef. Fish food was thrown into the water from the boat in which we were travelling to attract the myriads of fish that inhabit the reef encouraging them to congregate so we could have a good look at them. This cuisine attracted the sea gulls but even better a fish itself caused a rift in the sea surface as it jumped up either trying to catch the food or trying to escape an even bigger fish who may have wanted to eat him. It was a most instructive day as we were taken through emergency procedures (should our boat sink and like the boat visible we had life jackets and rings on board – just in case. For me though the best instruction came from the guide who pointed out what was what on our ocean floor. The wing span of the sea gulls at close range was larger than I had expected and to capture them in various flight styles filled me with delight but not as much as I experienced later when I saw that fish.
Glad you are back Paula. If you want to join in Paula can be found here.
Giant Pandas are no longer classified as an endangered species according to the WWF however there are only 1,864 left in the wild and 400 in captivity. That would make it seem to me that they are incredibly vulnerable. The only place they live in the wild is in remote mountainous regions of central China. Beijing zoo first exhibited Pandas at the zoo in 1955 and commenced a breeding program in 1975. There are only two Pandas in captivity that are not owned by China and they are found at a zoo in Mexico. Zoos will pay a fortune (around a million dollars) to rent one per year. If the Panda breeds whilst rented a huge tax is charged. There are no Pandas in Australia so I was keen to see the Pandas in Beijing Zoo.
Along with thousands of other people. We had left our accomodation early and stopped on the way to the zoo to see a pearl factory. I can tell you no-one on our bus was happy with this arrangement. It was not a stop on the itinerary and as far as we were concerned this ate into our zoo time. Being a Saturday there were no restrictions on cars travelling to the city and the roads were jammed. By the time we arrived we had approximately one hour for our zoo visit.
Initially, following the throng we came to the Panda exhibitions. It was depressing. It was like Taronga Park Zoo had been in the sixties and seventies.Cement floors, pretend bamboo – a totally unnatural environment. The Panda lay asleep in the back corner. Luckily an experience in Hong Kog trying to queue for a toilet had taught me how to push and shove with the rest of them and I managed to get next to the glass to get a photograph. This is all that most of our group saw. Roger and I luckily decided to escape the crowds and we came upon a brand new purpose built Panda house.
Here they had made a big effort to get it right for the Pandas. No doubt their breeding program worked better with happy Pandas. The viewers had various platforms from which they could see and the Pandas had toys, places to hide and real vegetation.
Giant Pandas are neither nocturnal or diurnal falling into a third category of animals that are crepuscular – only active twice a day – at dawn and dusk. You can see that our visit didn’t occur at either of these times and all the pandas we saw were out for the count.
Above is another view of the new Panda house with yet another sleeping Panda. Pandas are classified as a poorly evolved creature as it was meant to be carnivorous but instead relies soley on bamboo for its poor source of nutrition and has to eat an awful lot of it in order to get the nutrients required.
We left the Panda house and had a quick (and I mean quick) look around. What we saw was again housing that left us depressed for the animals and the birds.
I’ve always loved baboons although this poor one looks like he has a pressure sore.
Some kind of bird of prey.
This Royal Pheasant had the run of the grounds, obviously not a flight risk.
Spring can be seen in the blossoms. The crowds were nowhere near as thick outside the Panda house. Time to go
Outside as we left the zoo we saw the one and only shanty town slum that we were to see in China. There was no doubt with the trucks and eathworking equipment in the vicinity that these too would soon not be seen. We were off to the airport – to visit the Venice of China Suzhou.
Two buildings in the Sunshine Coast hinterland – the top one lived in and the barn below unused. Neither would date back very far. Probably in the 1800s sometime or perhaps as late as 1930s. Our climate is harsh drying timbers, rusting roof metals and ageing even new timber to silver within a year or two.
These two buildings in Sweden are very much older. They are located in Skansen – a museum of how people lived a long time ago. I was fascinated by both the grass roofs giving needed protection from the cold and the size of the beds. Swedes (and probably all peoples of that time) were short back in the 15th century. The animals also lived in the house adding to the warmth that would have been needed.
This house in Akaroa fascinated me. The staircase looked decrepit and the whole building ramshackle. The views from the house would have been fantastic as it looked over the harbour. The chairs everywhere indicated that the occupiers who couldn’t manage to buy curtains were rich as they certainly made use of the view.
Caught as we whizzed by in the car in the middle of a field of sugar cane this structure stood. I have no idea what it was for or perhaps it is still in use as the two sheds below obviously are.
Wooden structures decaying have a beauty about them and Cee has captured those in America beautifully. She has invited us to join in her Fun Foto Challenge which this week is Old buildings, barns and houses.