Saturday 24th June 2017

Sydney Harbour Bridge. 2017.78.

Sydney Harbour Bridge. 2017.78.

Ever since the first time I crossed the Sydney Harbour Bridge as a ten year old in my parents’ Holden I have been in love with it!

Living in Sydney Northern Beaches  from 1959-69 I often went across the Sydney Harbour Bridge on my way to Teachers’ College at Balmain sitting in the front seat of Dad’s car (he worked at Circular Quay). I sometimes caught the double decker bus into the city too. Many at time, I caught the Manly Ferry to Circular Quay and that view from the Harbour of the Bridge was amazing!

As a learner driver I drove across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and over the years it has never phased me at all to drive across the Bridge. Mind you, there have been several changes to the traffic patterns over the years. I still recall handing the coins into the man’s hand at the toll booths and then later, we got to chuck them into the receptacle and wait for the ‘bing’ to proceed.

Now, there are no toll booths but somehow our car’s toll thingy gets read (and debited from our account) and we keep on moving.

Recently we went across the Sydney Harbour Bridge on our way to The Lifehouse for my first but not last appointment to treat my cancer.

Even though I was incredibly worried about the consultation ahead, as my husband was driving, I whipped out the iPhone and captured my Sydney Harbour Bridge.

In the very early part of this century I was fortunate to be invited to do Bridge Climb with my brother, niece, nephew and my dad. It was a very special time and I did not have to pay for the privilege. It is costly that is for sure but well-worth it. I believe there are Bridge Climbs at night especially for the Vivid Festival which is a premier Sydney Winter event. Bridge climb info is here 

Do you like the Sydney Harbour Bridge?

Have you walked/run across the Bridge? I confess I have not!

Have you climbed the Harbour Bridge via Bridge Climb?

Denyse.

Joining Kylie Purtell and Blogging Friends here for I Blog On Tuesdays. There are some new #teamIBOT members on board today, welcome!

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My Cancer Journey Begins. 2017.75.

My Cancer Journey Begins. 2017.75.

A while back I decided that to best describe the life stage we were at was to use the word ‘journey.’ For some people and their reasons, journey is not liked. I happen to like it and will be using it for what is now being added to this life stage!

Thank you to the many people who commented here last week and on Facebook when I made my news public. Sharing has helped me!

Whilst I do not intend to blog every week about the cancer that is here within…I will for now as it helps me!

The cancer journey continued with a trip to Westmead Oral Health on Wednesday 24 May for a consultation, examination and measurement session with the Dental specialist who will be part of the surgical team when I get my cancer cut out. I admit I was stressed. I still am. It is such an unknown and my mind needs to be more calmed. However, as my GP said when I saw him after this big session on the Friday “Denyse, you are doing very well indeed!”. Today we are back to Westmead for a follow-up with the Dental Specialist and scans on my neck and head to ascertain all is well for the major surgery and on my leg where the bone and skin will be taken for the reconstruction and skin graft.

Sigh.

Still mentally criticising myself for the meltdowns, the tears in front of the professionals and more….yet it is a situation of such immense emotions and I was already struggling somewhat. I am still going about my days at home with as much normality as possible.

In the meantime, I am making art, taking photos, blogging, chatting on-line, reading, walking, tending the garden and talking to my lovely husband and being mindful to eat as well as I can even with my sensitive gut.

On Thursday I made a trip to Budgewoi to take some photos and these help remind me of the journey and that it is, like everything in life, one step at a time.

I am not sure as I am writing this when  I will be making the journey across this bridge again on the way to Chris O’Brien’s Lifehouse. I shall update.

Thank you for reading thus far! I am encouraged along the way via the comments and support.

Denyse.

Joining Kylie Purtell, celebrating her blog’s 8th Birthday, here and with my friends who also Blog on Tuesdays.

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Telling My Story.The Beginning. 2017.69.

Telling My Story.The Beginning. 2017.69.

Recently I decided to begin Telling My Story.

Initially it was school-career based in a memoir genre. Then I wanted to tell what had happened in my life once I’d reached 60 and what I had learned. Where I am at now it a mix of all of this! I am going to start here: the beginning of my life, and interspersed with my career will be aspects of my life and how I have grown and changed…over and over!

I hope you will find something of interest. I know essentially I am doing this for me as it helps. However, as a blogger, I would like to think it has enough appeal for you to enjoy too.

Denyse.

Telling My Story.

I was born in the last year of the 1940s.

Photo taken for my Dad in Melbourne.

But before this all happened….

Obviously most memories of early childhood are gleaned from photos and other people’s stories when they tell us too. My life began in a most conventional way, first born to parents who loved each other and already had secured a house. Mum had worked in retail until I was coming along. Dad was an accountant continuing his career started at 15 with Australian Iron and Steel Port Kembla (later BHP) and joining a new company when the old one wanted him to move permanently (with me and Mum) to Melbourne for work. He did not want to leave the familiar and family which was based in Wollongong and surrounds.

Here’s a bit more to that story….

Dad tells me that in my first year of life when he HAD to go and work in the Melbourne office was one of the worst times he could recall being separated from his loving wife and baby girl. He even had us fly to Melbourne for a stay. What a time that must have been for my mum. In Wollongong we had loving and caring neighbours who helped Mum find her feet as a new parent. This family was amazing and I loved that we had a gate between our two places and I always felt welcomed there! Dad found another job, which was in the same company he retired from some 30 years later, and the family was complete when my brother was born AND we got our first car. A Holden FJ of course!

More on my parents before they met…

They were born in 1924 and raised in working class families on NSW South Coast, living through the Great Depression and World War 2 before meeting in the 1940s. My Dad is from Wollongong and my Mum was from Dapto.

Dad’s father died after a workplace accident at The Steelworks in 1935 and his mother was left to raise 4 children. Dad was the second child aged 11 at the time. He did without but his good marks at school and his willingness to become involved in the community which was predominantly the scouting movement meant he developed resilience and knew the power of having some money to survive. Even though he could have done the Leaving Certificate it was his duty to help support his family so at 15 he went to the Steelworks (AI&S as above) to begin in the role of Office Clerk.  Later this would lead to his training as an accountant as he had the mathematics for it! He tells me though, he never ‘got’ algebra.

Mum’s parents worked hard, one in the home, and one outside the home at the coal mine at Wongawilli near Dapto. My grandfather had lost an eye in a mining accident in 1924 so they gave him work ‘above the surface’ looking after the workers’ change areas. They helped raise two families. One, their own, of three children (Mum was the youngest, and 2nd daughter) and the family of two boys where the widower was my grandmother’s brother. It was not uncommon in the 1920s and 30s for this to be the case. Nevertheless my mum remembered it as the ‘boys’ got spoiled and did nothing and we girls did all the work around the house. Mum left school at 15 and went into retail where she thrived.

So how did a young man from Wollongong meet a young lady from Dapto in the early 1940s when there was a war happening? Dad was exempted from war service (age first, then industry reasons) and Mum had only just left school and was working in retail. However, they were both in the Scouting organisation as leaders in their respective home towns and met at Mt Keira Scout Camp Wollongong. After a courtship of some two years, they married on 2 November 1946 at Dapto. Mum’s cub group put on a guard of honour outside the church.

Wedding Day. 1946.

 

Dad and Mum late 1950s. Still in Wollongong.

In 1959 Dad got a job offer within the company he moved to in 1951 and that was of promotion to Chief Accountant at the Sydney office. It was one that could not be refused and this time with 2 children, I was 10 by now and my brother aged 7, we moved to what was to be Mum and Dad’s forever house at Balgowlah Heights.

Snapshots of Mum and Dad over the years…

They had active social and sporting lives, which continued in Sydney. Mum who had been a district rep in Hockey in her youth, went into tennis and played socially and competitively into her 70s. Dad found golf as a sport and business connection and played each Saturday and then once he retired on a Wednesday. Whenever they went away, their golf clubs and tennis racquets went with them as did groups of friends or they would meet up with friends. Mum loved her cards and working for charities such as the View Club. Both supported me and my brother in scouts and guides and in our sporting and school arenas.

Dad retired in 1983 and they spent 6 weeks annually on the Gold Coast, chasing the sun and meeting up with the many friends who had retired that way as well. Mum becoming unwell in the mid 2000s saw the end of that tradition. Sadly too, by the mid 1980s Mum had lost both her older siblings in their 60s. Dad, now 93, is the longest living member of his immediate family of 4.

1980s & 1990s on Holidays on the Gold Coast

 

Mother’s Day 2006. Mum and Dad with me.

Up until Mum’s 80th Birthday in December 2004 she had been quite well. A few so-called minor things were wrong and I know where my worry/anxiety gene comes from. But my mum, just as I do, could put on a smile no matter what.

Mum and Dad celebrate 60 years of marriage. 2006.

We knew Mum was not well but Dad, as her primary carer, liked to see she did as much as she could that she enjoyed in what ended up being her last 2 years. on 2nd November 2006, after the messages from the Queen and many more, for their Diamond Wedding Anniversary, there was  a very special family-only get together, where this photo was taken. After that, Mum’s health sadly declined.

Mum was diagnosed with secondary brain tumours in early 2007  We will never know how much Mum knew about her declining condition but she was the one, back in late January 2007 who said ‘no operation’ when it was offered. The specialist and her doctors  agreed, along with us,  that we would not want Mum to go through that. She spent the next 2 weeks at home and sadly despite Dad’s best efforts to care for her there, she was admitted to palliative care where she died some weeks later. Dad visited every single day.

Moving along….

Mum and Dad have always supported our families over the years and of course, we have been there to support Dad in his new status as widower. He stayed in the family home for the next 4 years. He is still fiercely independent and wanted to be there. He did all the jobs as he was raised to do, and learned via scouting. By the end of 2010 loneliness was prevalent and he announced it was time to sell and move on. Along with family help of my brother, sister in law and me he was delighted to find the best place I could have found. In June 2011, after selling at the downturn in Sydney markets (!!) he moved into an airy and spacious independent retirement unit at Dee Why and has more interactions with people every day than ever. He has only given up driving, and the car, in the past month.

3 years ago at Dad’s 90th Birthday. 3 years ago!

Reflections now…about my parents.

I love my parents and I was always well-cared for and encouraged to follow whatever path I chose. Dad was keen on continuing education and I when I wanted  to become a teacher and remain in the workplace, there was no feeling that I should be at home with the kids. However, my mother, who had always been at home, used to say “Denyse you rush those kids too much”…and sadly I may have but my work at school, along with childcare drop off, was where I was headed. I am more like Dad in personality and less like Mum. Yet I do have some of mum’s anxious disposition and I do enjoy what she did which was to cook and care for her family. She taught me a lot about cooking and I have her recipe books too. She did not encourage me to read, but I did. I was not interested in helping around the house because I preferred to read! I did not inherit Mum’s sporting prowess but I did her smile and the ability to chat with people. I can do that without my mum’s deafness for which I am grateful. More to come in the weeks ahead!

Please tell me if this has been of interest…and if it was too long.

I do know I can ramble on so I may need help!

I welcome your comments and thank you in advance!

Denyse.

Joining Kylie Purtell here for I Blog on Tuesdays and then on Thursdays, here with Leanne for Lovin’ Life linky.

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Autumn At Last! 2017.67.

Autumn At Last! 2017.67.

This autumn came late it seems, totally befuddled by very hot days in February and then awful rain in later months…so the trees were very confused. Nevertheless, they are finally doing what they are supposed to do….and my mission on the coast was to find them. Off on a drive to places I’d not seen before and they yielded GOLDREDYELLOW and some PURPLE from the almost-finished flowering Tibouchinas.

Here they are! The last one, however, was one on my drive home. It is a tree I regretted not stopping to photograph in 2016 so this year I did!

Enjoy!

What season is it where you are?

Are the seasons doing what they should?

Denyse.

P.S. Happy Mother’s Day for this Sunday to those who celebrate!

Here’s an oldie from my photo collection: My (late) Mum, Me, My Daughter, My Eldest Granddaughter. 2006.

Joining with Sammie and friends here for the Ultimate Rabbit Hole this weekend. Joining Sue here for her photo link up.

 

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Thanks Mr Duffy. 2017.66.

Thanks Mr Duffy. 2017.66.

A long time ago, blogger, now writer Catherine Rodie, asked for people to respond to this for a series of blog posts when Catherine had her blog:

“if you could, who would you like to have a cup of tea with?” The original post was “A Cup of Tea With Mr Duffy”.

Today I have refreshed the post, to add it here, for the first time on my blog.

Enjoy!

The classroom on the left was my Year 5 room and also where I did my first teaching prac. The coloured building in the background was the library. Taken on a trip back to the school in 2013.

I gave some thought to who I’d like to have a cup of tea with, it was an obvious choice.

Mr Duffy.

It would need to be at 11.00 a.m. on a school day in the Balgowlah Heights Primary School staffroom. That is a room at the end of the wooden building closest to the headmaster’s office where Mr Piper rules via a loud voice and a stern manner.

Walking up the wooden steps and holding onto the rail, I can feel the timber underneath the flaking paint. I notice that the school hasn’t had the public works painters in for a while. As I reach the verandah, a smell emanates from the left, as does the plume of grey. Of course, teachers can smoke in the staffroom! And in the playground. But not in the classroom. It IS 1960!

Slowly moving towards the screen door, I hear the words “oh Ian, you were great last week with the cricket team those boys really go well against Manly West.” Then as I raise my hand to knock and ask if Mr Duffy is there, Mrs Ridley rushes up and wants to know “what do you want Denyse Simpson, we are having our cups of tea?” I reply, “I am here to see Mr Duffy if he’s here.”

“Greg, that girl from your class who likes helping in the library is here, Denyse Simpson, can you see her?” I stepped back and waited near the verandah’s rail and the door swung open. It was Mr Duffy. “Who are you?” he said looking puzzled, “I was told Denyse Simpson here, and I can see she is not.”

“Mr Duffy” I say quietly, and watch as he lifts his cup of tea from the saucer as I can tell he’s thinking how much time till the bell rings and recess is over. “I was Denyse Simpson, and you were my teacher..but now I’m Denyse Whelan and I’m a teacher too.”

And that’s  when I to reassure him right away of my reason for visiting at the time of his “cup of tea” at Recess. I pull out my photo of me in Grade 6 and point out that he, Mr Duffy, had been the one teacher in my primary school years who had seen the qualities of a teacher in me. The way he encouraged that was to appoint me as the chief library prefect in Grade 6 where I continued to learn about how it is to teach and learn.

The bell rings. Cup of tea drained. Mr Duffy shakes my hand and says “well, that’s been nice to know” and leaves. I look at this man, within this school setting and remember with great affection why I became a teacher. I know too, that he is a modest self-effacing man & he’s a bit embarrassed by my words.

I returned to my old school and classroom in 1968 to do my first teaching practice and loved it! Mr Duffy had retired by then I think. I was made to be a teacher and Mr Duffy helped me realise that!

The list of schools in N.S.W. where I was a teacher, school executive and principal.

Update: I am now retired from all work in teaching but will always be interested in why people choose teaching as a career. This post reminds me of what I did! 

My husband, also now a retired teacher, and I met in the country teaching days and last week he went back to one of his schools, where I also taught after him. Here’s a photo of Fairfax Public School….and the classroom where I taught kids from K-2 in one room in 1971-72.

Do you have fond memories of a teacher from your school days?

Have you ever said thanks to someone who may have inspired you to choose a career?

Adding a P.S. I’ve just read over at Sammie’s blog this: about marrying a teacher! We are married teachers, me and hub, so that makes us..happy!!

Young Married Teachers and their first born!

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie Purtell and friends here for I Blog On Tuesdays.

On Thursdays I link with Leanne and friends here for Loving’ Life.

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My Favourite Colour. #LifeThisWeek 11/52. 2017.41.

My Favourite Colour. #LifeThisWeek 11/52. 2017.41.

It’s not a secret that I love colour. I tend to dress colourfully so browns and beiges and greys do not get much of  a look-in although black and navy were my ‘base’ colours when I was working.

I like colours that are bright in most cases and I also like colours that bring out the best in other colours.

Since getting into art a few years back I discovered yellow is a great friend for many colours.

Before I get to my favourite colour disclosure I admit I really have tried hard to embrace and love many colours and these include red, magenta, purple, green and at times, orange and yellow…but the final reveal is this:

BLUE is my HUE.

Here’s why. It is cooling. It is refreshing. It is relaxing. It is the colour of my favourite water course – the sea. It is the colour of the sky. It calms me. It has many shades. The favourites for me tend to be the greeny/blues. I love turquoise and aqua. I looked for examples around me and I did not have to look far! Here they are:

The Ocean.

Part of my mandala bed topper.

Just love this vase.

When you realise how much you love ONE colour.

Mandala – ode to BLUE

My birthday – from Colorstrology Book.

The Book itself. It’s fun & accurate for many I have found.

I guess now that I own up to BLUE being my favourite colour it probably always has been. I remember loving the colour turquoise when I saw it in a paint tin when I was a kid at school. I have worn blue for preference more than I realise. I was wearing a blue and white dress the night I met my now husband.

Whilst blue is my standout, I do wear others and enjoy having many colours around me! Here is a favourite mandala I made recently.

 

So, what is your favourite colour?

Is there more than one for you?

Denyse.

Joining with Alicia for Open Slather here and Kell for Mummy Mondays here.

Thanks for linking up this week.

Here are the rules for the link-up “Life This Week” is a link up that runs every Monday and remains live for until Thursday at 5 p.m.during that week.

* You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week!

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine!

* THANK you for linking up today! Do come back next week. Next week’s prompt is “Autumn”.


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A Pet Story. #LifeThisWeek 8/52. 2017.29.

A Pet Story. #LifeThisWeek 8/52. 2017.29.

I wasn’t (and probably still am not) a ‘pet’ person. I was brought up without pets. Oh. Wait. Mum had a pet bird, a budgerigar for a while. I didn’t like it when it was out of the cage.

Then as a married couple “we” ventured into pet ownership by accident and by choice. The accident was the cat who turned up one day on our isolated property house where we rented and stayed. We named her Cookie. From Sesame Street which we loved and was about 4 years old back then. She turned feral when we brought home our baby daughter and we “asked” her to leave. She did. No, she really did.

The one by choice was a dog, a  golden labrador. We named him Diggity (you know, from the song?) and he was a delight but oh so naughty. Who knew he would dig up the buried garbage, pull washing off the line AND bite into the new baby’s stroller…baby was thankfully inside the house…and ruin the lining. My mum who’d gifted us that was not a happy lady! He was far too unhappy when I was back at school and there was no-one to play with…so he’d follow us all the way via dirt roads and risk his life. We needed to be kind(er) to him. Off to a boisterous family of kids he went.

45 years ago!

We also had a cat for a while when our daughter was a pre-schooler. No photos but it was a cute black and white cat. It was a cat which found us..again…in a small rural place.

In the mid 1980s a cat turned up at the door of our Sydney house. With 2 kids keen to have a ‘pet’ and no idea of her origin, her first feed meant she became named and loved. In fact, Sandy was much loved. Still an outside pet and no trouble with all that either back in those days. Sadly, despite the most loving care, she was found dead under the house thanks to what might have been a slowly developing kidney condition due to food intake.

Favourite spot near the back door.

Do fish count? We had fish from time to time. Again, not good at keeping them alive for the long term because it was always up to me..and I got quite annoyed at how often that fish tank needed cleaning.

So, no more pets, right? Wrong. Moving to a newly built house that was very special for us, we succumbed to the “oh can we have a dog NOW, please?” from older and younger teen. We did have a fenced back yard of reasonable size and we did end up buying a dog no-one seemed to want. Her make was part kelpie and part lab. She had a heart, no idea of being disciplined and a great LOVE for our son. We named her Loopy. I am not sure why, but the name may have influenced aspects of her behaviour.

Favourite vantage spot. “looking and listening” for people/dogs in park nearby.

Eating, drinking, sleeping, waiting for our son to come home.

We spent money on getting her ‘trained’ via Bark Busters so she knew we were the pack leaders. It worked. Mostly. She loved escaping from our yard IF we accidentally left the gate open and then would be very deaf when called. But we did enjoy her and she moved on with us to our last house in Glenwood. That was until 2004. The yard was smaller at Glenwood and we did need her to occupy a smaller area as grandkids came into our lives. She could overwhelm little kids due to her boisterous nature. When our son moved out, she stayed. It was the fairest thing to do for her as she aged and he visited often. But, sadly, she became very unwell mid 2004 and despite the best treatment from a local vet, she did not survive. Loopy was buried by her loving family in the backyard…and there her remains stay.

It was more of a shock to my system when she died than I realised it would be and I wanted to honour her memory as she had been part of our family for over 10 years. I had some photos enlarged and framed and did a painting. I am still touched by how much I was able to create her look and I believe she was helping me do that!

Love you Loopy.

And whilst I say ‘never say never’ we are not intending to be pet-owners again.

So, that’s more than ONE pet story! I hadn’t quite realised how much pets had been part of my life.

What’s your pet story?

Denyse.

NEWS from #LifeThisWeek.

Can you believe next week is Week 9/52? I am using each Week 9 in 2017 for a Taking Stock post. Pip has a template over here for anyone wanting to use this popular post material. This means…that after next week there is a NEW set of prompts. They are already done and on the HOME page for your perusal..and use I hope! 

Here are the rules for the link-up “Life This Week” is a link up that runs every Monday and remains live for until Thursday at 5 p.m.during that week.
* You can link up something old or new, just come on in.
* Please add just ONE post each week!
* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.
* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!
* Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right!
* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine!
* THANK you for linking up today! Do come back next week. Next week’s prompt is “Taking Stock”.



Joining with Alicia for Open Slather here and with Kell for Mummy Mondays here too.

 

 

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Fabulous Frangipanis. 2017.19.

Fabulous Frangipanis. 2017.19.

I declare that I love frangipanis ….on the tree.

They are delightful, smell sweetly and look a treat.

Then they fall…their fabulousness decays…and they become rubbish and need to be swept away before someone slips and falls. Life with frangipanis!

We used to live in a hotter area of Sydney around 45 minutes drive from the coast. We did end up buying and nurturing a frangipani back in 2011 when I renewed my love for them. It remained small but it did produce the lovely flowers. Not many but enough.

In my family’s house on the coast, Dad ended up with several frangipanis which ‘took off’ and were from cuttings from an old friend’s tree in Wollongong. So, it appears, in the right setting and climate they thrive!

We moved to this house on the NSW Central Coast late 2015. It has a HUGE old frangipani tree in the back garden. I am not sure, but it could be two trees in one. What I do know is that we had to cut in back a bit to enjoy what plants were hidden underneath! We took some of those cuttings and they’re in pots and in other garden spots now.

This summer I have notice more frangipanis that are different to ours around this local area.

I went for a walk for the purposes of this post to photograph them. The colour and size differences were interesting.

What was the same, however, was the mess they leave when they fall.

Frangipanis! Beauties which give and give while they’re on the trees.

They give me the reason to exercise when it’s time to sweep them up after they’ve fallen.

What’s your view about frangipanis?

Do you have them where you live?

Have you ever grown one?

Denyse.

 

I hope my photography friends enjoy these: Link ups are here:

Trish, Sue, Steph and Jen.

On the weekend I link up with Sammie and friends for the Ultimate Rabbit Hole here.

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