Eyes like stars …

This has been one of the happiest decades of my life so why write about the year, when there is more to celebrate!

My work is a labour of love.  No ifs and buts about it.  It feels I have emerged from automatic mode.  A huge gamble to give up tenured government work for the unknown of working for self has paid off dividends in the most unexpected ways.

I travel extensively, never tiring, always anticipating, never knowing what the day will bring me professionally.  I love the excitement of this.  I do know what it brings me spiritually consistently and that’s what I’d like to share with you.DSC_0502
Cable Beach, Broome, Western Australia
I discovered, depending where you stand, sand can glitter like gold.thumb_IMG_0515_1024
And gold can be beige like sand.
Cable Beach, Broome, Western Australia
I accepted sometimes in the most beautiful place, people can walk into the picture for a moment and when they leave, it is still the most beautiful place.
Featherflower (verticordia grandis), Lesueur National Park, Jurien Bay, Western Australia
I found Nature is filled with fountains of vivid colour.
No more in muted clothing, I wear colours to remind me what keeps me alive inside.DSC_0597
Cable Beach, Broome, Western Australia
A sunset is not the end of the day, it is a sunrise elsewhere.DSC_0221.jpg
Benedictine Monastery, New Norcia, Western Australia
No longer captive, I look through windows because I am captivated.DSC_0846.jpg
Oyster Harbour, King George Sound, Albany, Western Australia
I discovered sometimes the light shines brightest on what is not there, to illuminate this truth.DSC_0987.jpg
HMAS Sydney II Memorial, Geraldton, Western Australia
That when we pause to remember, family, friend or stranger, we may be left behind but we are never alone.  There is companionship in memories.
Wedge-tailed eagle, Midwest outback, Western Australia
Although mesmerised, to be wary of the magnificence of a predator.
Splendid Fairywren, Bunbury, Western Australia
Blue is the colour of sheer joy, not a state of being.DSCN8430.jpg
Boab Tree family, Eastern Kimberley region, Western Australia
I found my ‘voice’ this decade, at the foot of the Mother Boab tree where the ancient wisdom of trees healed my grief.DSCN8789.jpg
Karijini National Park, Pilbara, Western Australia
In the harshest country, I accepted the gift of peace.DSCN8531.jpg
On the way to Diggers’ Rest, East Kimberley region, Western Australia
In the company of strangers, I found family.thumb_IMG_0698_1024.jpg
Twilight Beach, Esperance, Western Australia
In a moment of silence I found clouds are there to balance a perfect picture.DSCN8328.jpg
Frangipani, Karratha, Western Australia
Once an impossible dream, I now awaken to the scent of frangipani, symbol of love and devotion, and also the symbol of new life and renewal.  Oh! the irony to find this in mining country!

Thank you for your presence in my life.  May the next year and next decade fill you with hope for a better world.  Look closer, not in the distance or in someone else, and you’ll find it, like I did.

Happy New Year!

As always

a dawn bird

In response to Word of the Day Challenge – Labor

In response to RDP – Tuesday – Stellar

The stars in my galaxy …

thumb_IMG_0808_1024Although we did not eat our Christmas meal at my home this year, I still enjoyed trimming the tree.  Some traditions are worth maintaining I felt because this Christmas was one of surprises.

About a month before Christmas, Daughter introduced me to veganism, not for political reasons, but as a lifestyle choice.  We went to a few vegan restaurants and I found the food really tasty.  I thought I could never give up cheese but surprisingly I’m not missing it that much especially over the holiday period which should have been a challenge.  I’ve adapted to almond milk and don’t drink as much coffee as I usually do.  I’ve had negligible amounts of meat, seafood and cheese without the discomfort of wanting more but I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to sustain it when travelling, as closely as I am, when at home.thumb_IMG_0817_1024
Our Christmas celebrations at Son and DIL’s (daughter in law) home was amazing.  She has been a vegetarian since she was in her early teens.  That truffle mac cheese with herb topping was delicious!  Everything else was plant based.  She was a star this year.
Daughter (aka my wild child) is going through an eco and vegan phase.  (She has also discovered KonMari!  Wonders never cease!).  She wrapped all our presents in remnant cloth pieces.  Another star is born!  DIL will use the material in costumes that she sews during the year.  Daughter also delighted in giving us a ghastly salt and pepper set that she picked up in Mexico, the same for each household, because she said between peals of laughter, “everyone should get at least one crap present at Christmas!”.  thumb_IMG_0826_1024.jpg
Daughter also tells me a Bloody Mary is one of those drinks that one can start the day with, and not be judged!  So I made a jug of this with fresh produce and started my day.

So this Christmas there were no food comas.  Just a feeling of satiation.  Of giving and receiving love and … a jug of Bloody Mary!

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird


In response to Word of the Day Challenge – Star

This evanescent life …

“Yesterday is gone.  Tomorrow has not yet come.  We have only today.  Let us begin.”  Mother Theresa

I love this quote.  Time is never fleeting, never wasted if we have the courage to begin, to explore, to re-calibrate from where we are.

This year I spent more time in the Midwest outback than I have in any other year and hopefully this will continue.  DSCN9291.jpg
I’ve worked along the coast from north to the south and enjoyed the intense company of seagulls.DSCN9480.jpg
In the Wheatbelt town of Merredin I found a silent space within me while listening to the raucous squawking of red tail black cockatoos, high in the gum trees.thumb_IMG_0178_1024.jpg
In the Midwest outback town of Mt Magnet I found these beautiful succulent flowers.  The ant and granite sand gives some perspective how tiny these flowers are.thumb_IMG_0217_1024.jpg
I loved this deserted Masonic Lodge (circa 1899) in the outback town of Cue.thumb_IMG_0224_1024.jpg
The pink flower carpet that surrounded the ghost town of Big Bell, just outside Cue, was stunning.thumb_IMG_0238_1024.jpg
We enjoyed dinner here in an outback pub where dusty cowboys propped up the bar.thumb_IMG_0241_1024.jpg
And even in the outback one could not get away from American politics!  This was Herbert Hoover’s bedroom when he worked as a mining engineer in Western Australia in the late 1800s.  This is now a lounge room at the motel where we stayed.thumb_IMG_0253_1024.jpg
There were long drives on lonely highways in the company of road trains.thumb_IMG_0256_1024.jpg
And waking to outback sunrises.thumb_IMG_0607_1024.jpg
This was a big wall of tattoo photographs at the Billabong Roadhouse, in the Midwest outback.  I thought it was pretty cool!thumb_IMG_5303_1024.jpg
I spent a lot of time at airports with miners and where I met Muse.thumb_IMG_4702_1024.jpg
I found I’m patient when faced with barriers.  This forced me to drive between 5-10 kms an hour (speed limit was 110km/hour) for over 40 kms in the eastern Wheatbelt.thumb_IMG_5817_1024.jpg
I visited The Leaning Tree, Greenough, outside Geraldton.  Just because I love it so.

“I am Wirnda Ngadara
The leaning tree
I have grown this way
from too much breeze
My twisted trunk
bowed down to search
and pay respect
to Mother Earth
Stand here awhile
and look at me
I am Wirnda Ngadara
The leaning tree.
Nola Gregory, 2014

I have been brave and adventurous this year.  The next year brings with it promise of new experiences with old loves.thumb_IMG_0696_1024
To embrace the new year I found my mantra on the Iron Balls gin bottle.

“You always have options, if you have balls”.

And, that my friends, I do!

May time stand still for you, for just a moment, so you can re-calibrate your compass for the new year and find the direction you seek.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

In response to RDP – Sunday – Fugacious

Moora, Western Australia

My contracts have been renewed for another year.  End of year is always a time of tension and then relief.  Work does not buy me material things.  It buys me professional freedom to do the kind of work I feel committed to doing, so the relief is always palpable.

One of my last country trips was to Moora, a small town in the North Eastern Wheatbelt, some 160 km (100 miles) from my home.  It has a population of just under 2000 people.  I am yet to see more than twenty people in town in peak hour mid day.  Being farming country, most of the population live away from town.  It is not uncommon for folks to come into town for their appointment having travelled nearly 200 kms.  Children can do a round trip of 100 kms twice a day when travelling in a school bus.  These are hardy, community minded folks.

Check in for my accommodation at the local caravan park is done at the local petrol station!  In such an unassuming town the surprise for me is one of the local cafes and the pub, The Drovers’ Inn.

DSCN9800-2.jpgAt the end of the main street that has no more than ten shops I think, is the pub (on the right).


DSCN9799The Drovers’ Inn, circa 1909, is something out of a movie set.  I learnt the hard way.  To buy a drink, avoid the bar when it is shearing season!  The Bottle Shop entrance on the right with the discreet blue sign is a better bet!  The meals here are amazing.

Around the corner from the Bottle Shop is the entrance to the dining room.  It is opulent indoors and the first time I entered this place I was taken aback.  Now that I am a regular visitor here for meals I aim to get more photographs of the building next year.

The counter is made from wood and curved and belted with this brass decoration that goes all around it.

I just love it!

Across the railway track is the local cafe with a French name and serves French food with Edith Piaf’s wonderful voice infusing the atmosphere.

The cafe has been doing well.  It’s so good to see this in a small town.  It has moved to bigger premises.  This is only part of the extended shop.  There were too many people around and I didn’t want to invade their privacy but I’ll get more pictures next time.  I just love the chandeliers!

The drive to Moora is something I enjoy.  Being in the heart of the Wheatbelt and big road train country, there are huge chicanes that brings out my inner rally driver when I’m not stuck behind slow moving farming equipment.   With my playlist on loud, this is a trip I’ve come to love.  I’m so thrilled it will continue for another year.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

In response to Word of the Day Challenge – Freedom

On an otherwise beige day …


Like many people Christmas time can also be a time of sadness and I try hard not to dwell on what brings pain.  But it is days like today that I have to actively try not to feel overwhelmed because there are decisions I have to make on my own.

Being mostly home for the next few weeks I am working through a schedule of house maintenance that needs my urgent attention.  Today was the day I phoned around for quotes to fix the reticulation system as my gardener does not know how to navigate the technical side of it.  I was already up by 4:30 am and working through reports.  The morning was beautiful and cool, the waterbirds were loud as they headed to the lake.  The first man came over at 6 am.  He would have experienced my pocket of the world at its best.  He fussed around and gave me a quote to fix two solenoid valves ($3.5K).  Yes, three and a half thousand dollars!  (It is possible he charged for the view).  He then tells me if I paid cash, he would charge me a grand less.  I’m someone who is fastidious about my taxes.  To be complicit in someone else’s scam to dodge tax was a red flag.  I thanked him and found someone who just happens to live around the corner from me.  He dropped by on the way home.  He spent around three hours in the garden.  He could not access one of the valves that is buried under the hedge.  I suggested I would get the gardener to remove part of the hedge (after all it will grow back once it gets water) and he could come back next week.  We came to an agreement with that plan.  As he was leaving I came out with my credit card.  He flatly refused to charge me for his time ($70 call out fee plus hourly rate) because he could not access the valve.  I nearly cried!  I insisted he give me a bill after all he worked for hours in heat and digging is strenuous work.  He then agreed to include the hours in his invoice once he returned to finish the job on condition I accept he would not charge me an additional call out fee.  Such kindness!

It is my firm belief we get to experience the good and the bad in people.  We don’t need to search for these experiences, they present themselves.  We just have to be open to them.  I could be upset with the man who gave me an inflated quote.  But why bother?  It is his loss he missed out on a job.  Being upset would be my loss of peace of mind.

It has taken me years to process a simple fact.  It is not the event but how we live through the aftermath that determines how it impacts us.  That’s the space, the toehold, where life is either lived as intended, or not.  I’m not quite there yet, but I intend to live mine, with intent.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

In response to RDP – Friday – Aftermath

The tradition of Christmas …


Christmas will be different in my home this year.  My son and his wife, the newlyweds from earlier this year, are hosting the family Christmas meal.  It is strangely quiet in my home.  Usually I’m in the throes of a three day cooking fest but not this year.  We will have a family meal at my place in the first week of 2020 when my daughter’s partner is home from his FIFO (fly in fly out) offshore work.

Christmas in my home is all about family, about laughter, food and being together.  I usually give one of the young adults a joke or riddle book or a board game and against the background of loud laughter, I put the finishing touches to the meal.  This year I’m relaxing and will be relaxing at the couple’s home tomorrow.  I’m slowly giving up the reins for the young adults to carry on tradition.  There is a special joy in this transition as they emerge and become who they are meant to be.

After all the decades of living in a country where Christmas is celebrated in summer, I still yearn for a cold Christmas.  It is a fond memory from childhood in India.  We would each hold a candle skirted in cardboard paper, while attending Midnight Mass outdoors under freezing clear night skies.  The emphasis on gifts was minimal.  But, there was a huge focus on visiting family and friends between Christmas Eve and the Feast of Epiphany in January and that tradition continues to date in my life here in Australia.

This year the gift giving in my home is remarkable for reasons I’ll share with you.  I  hate shopping centres.  The crowds, the parking woes, the queues.  The trolleys filled with useless gifts generates a sense of despair in me.  I hate it all.  So from a very young age I would encourage my children to give me a list of what they wanted and I would choose something from it.  I would avoid browsing and I liked that.  As they grew older, their taste in gifts changed as one would expect and I had to accommodate their preferences.

My beautiful daughter, who embraces life with unfettered enthusiasm, has always asked for two tickets to the music festival which takes place in January.  This has been the only gift she has requested for about ten years now.  As much as I disliked her attending the festival where recreational drugs are rife, she would assure me she would be there for the music alone.  (Yes, I know!) I would give in, stay awake until she would text me she was home again.  Sigh!  This year she requested pots and pans.  Pots and pans! She and her partner moved into their own home earlier this year and nesting, it would seem.  He would love a voucher for the local hardware shop so he can get on to landscaping the backyard, she tells me.  I’m still reeling from the shock!

My son on the other hand loves video games and I dislike buying those too.  There’s so much more to do in life than a controller in hand, I say to him.  But it is part of their social life where a game night means visiting each other, ordering food in and playing games.  This year he and his wife wanted a dinner set.  He told me they have an assortment of plates and cups. “We would love a dinner set where everything matches, mum!”  This heartfelt request from a gamer!

So I’ve returned from a day’s shopping with pots and pans and a dinner set and a voucher for Bunnings.  It would seem that the young adults have become adults while I was sleeping.

This year has been different on many levels.  I can feel my world changing.  At times listing, at times balanced, at times blurry, but there’s an air of celebration in my world.  An undeniable feeling of anticipation and hope that the birth of the Christ Child symbolizes.

Whatever your belief or faith, may you experience celebration in your world, too.  May your heart and home be filled with the love and laughter of family and friends.  This is my wish for you.

Merry Christmas and peace!

As always

a dawn bird

In response to RDP – Tuesday – Candle





“We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy” – Joseph Campbell


I returned home today from the last trip of the year.  Flying over Perth I felt an affection for the city I call home.  I was home.  The thought resonated deeply.


Like the humble dragonfly I have flown many miles this year.  Alighting gently, hovering and taking off again dozens of times.  I should be tired.  Oddly enough, I’m not.  There’s still light in my eyes and within as I look forward to the new year.

As darkness falls, my neighbourhood is alive with lights, music, and laughter of children water bombing into swimming pools.  I can feel Christmas in the air.  It’s time to stop and take a deep breath and relax with a glass of chilled liquid sparkle.


Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

In response to RDP – Friday – Sparkle

In Wheatbelt country …

Courtesy ABC News (Australia)

On my way to Moora I drove through this region a day before the fire.  The landscape was beige and beautiful.  I turned the music off and smiled to myself for most of the trip.  I felt like I was driving through live art, the softest water colours of Hans Heysen, one of my favourite Australian artists, depicted in land and trees.  When there is a breeze among gum trees, if you close your eyes and listen, you hear the ocean.  But during this trip, the gum trees were still.  I knew they were silent, too.  It was the calm before the storm.  I didn’t know this at the time.

This fire is further away from home.  There is a bigger one closer north to my place that has been raging for days which seems to flare up intermittently and causing concern.


The city skies were sepia on Sunday as I drove out to Narrogin, south east of home.  Once out of the city, it is a heavily wooded drive for most of the journey.  In the distance I could see a blanket of smoke from yet another big fire from the tall timber country of Collie in the south west.  I stopped roadside briefly to take a picture.  It was silent and eerie in this vast landscape.  During the night I woke several times to sirens and speeding vehicles, no doubt headed towards Collie.  I decided to come home a day earlier as I didn’t risk getting caught in a long detour and miss the flight I’m taking today.

The lack of rain and extreme heat, a deadly mix, generates a tinderbox for sure.  I cling to hope when the areas that are burnt to cinders will regenerate in spring as many Australian flora need extreme heat.  It is harder for people to pick up the pieces though, when they lose livestock and homes.  And, I cannot bear to think of all those animals caught up in this!

I drove through Foxes Lair soon after I arrived in Narrogin.  It was dusk and not a creature stirred.  It was the same in the morning when I usually hear the kookaburras and galahs creating a ruckus in the treetops.  Coffee in hand, I looked outside my hotel door and saw just a slight quiver among flowers.  It was all I needed to make me smile again,

New Holland Honeyeater among grevillea flowers, Narrogin, Western Australia

The other day I flew home from yet another trip.  It was 40 degrees celsius on the day.  The announcement of clear skies with strong winds and extreme heat made my heart sink.  From experience, in that particular region, it can mean a rough flight.  I fly dozens of times a year, but it was one of the worst flights I have ever experienced.  The poor cabin crew got caught half way in the aisle when we hit turbulence.  She crawled on hands and knees back to her seat.  Each time I reached to steady myself by holding the seat in front of me, my hand flew so high off course, it touched the ceiling.  For a nervous flyer, I’m learning, I am made of steel.

I’m off today for my last trip of the year.  And, what a year it has been!  A mix of joy and sadness.  There will be time to write about this in the coming days when I’m home again for several days.

Until then

As always

a dawn bird

In response to RDP – Monday – Mix


When love came knocking …


I found lost treasure
this feather, perfect and free
left by an angel, for me
A message in sand
live life light
what falls away makes us free
you don’t need feathers in a hat
just wings,
that no one can see
an epiphany, from an angel
when he left a feather for me.

a dawn bird

In response to Word of the Day Challenge – Knock

Today I cried …

West Beach, Esperance, Western Australia

I’m preparing for my penultimate trip before Christmas but felt the need to take a few minutes from work to write.

The last few months have been a constant source of concern as I read about the political events around the world.  A mere mortal, caught up in a world that seems increasingly resistant to change for the better, leaves me with a feeling of hopelessness.  Winning at any cost, seems the goal.  How did prominent world leaders get here?  They did not ‘ascend’ to the throne as do royalty.  They were ‘elected’ by the people.   That’s an unnerving scenario.

This morning I cried when I read the news headlines.  Not because I read about those who have the honour and privilege to lead countries, fail at the first block of integrity, but because I believe and I know, there are good people in this world too.

The tragic disaster in New Zealand is case in point.  The loss of life and injuries under awful circumstances made me subdued.  To read of the specialist police recovery team that went out on a still active volcano, despite the inherent danger to them on that site, so they could return the bodies to waiting loved ones, made me cry.  These are ordinary people, who do extraordinary things.

Anyone is capable of extraordinary things and as equally as anyone is capable of heinous acts.  If we are not guided by that internal compass of integrated heart and mind, a compass that requires constant fine tuning by what think, see and do then, the day of reckoning, good or bad, may take time but is inevitable.

May you find time to ‘fine tune’ today.  Your thoughts, words and acts matter.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

In response to RDP – Friday – Reckoning

FPQ #52: It’s all about choice

Sunrise, Dempster Head, West Beach, Esperance, Western Australia

I’ve always enjoyed reflecting on Fandango’s Provocative Questions in the past but I don’t believe I’ve participated before, for a variety of reasons, mostly to do with lack of time.  But as we head towards the end of the year, Fandango’s prompt made me stop and reflect on the question.

What does living “the good life” mean to you? Do you think that you’re living “the good life”?

For me, ‘a good life’ is one of choice.  The ability and means to choose how one wants to live.  Having lived on a tight budget as a single parent with young children for many, many years, I am in a better place now.  Years of hard work and study have paid off dividends.  I can choose to work … or not.  The fact that I choose to work is a good life for me, because it is filled with the unknown and adventure.

From the age of eleven I wanted to do outreach work.  My mother’s mantra of giving back to the community still resonates strongly.  I’m now in a position to do just that.  And, yes, frequent travel is gruelling and believe it or not, I don’t like flying.

The State of Western Australia is the combined size of Texas and Alaska.  Although most of the two million plus folks live along the coast, there are areas where people live in the inland towns, and even desert.  I can work in uncomfortable conditions of extreme heat and less than interesting facilities.  My choice of food is limited in some towns to greasy foods only.   Salad and fruit belong to the exotic category.  Sometimes there is no time to eat all day, and a crumbled muesli bar in one’s pocket, is the meal of the day.  The beds are always clean, but ordinary.  The air con does not always work in hotels where the only stars that are associated with the hotel, are the ones in the night sky.

But …

The days of power dressing is a distance past.  I now dress for comfort and there is freedom in this.  I enjoy working with teams dedicated to providing an outreach service to families.  Our collective commitment and sense of humour in difficult conditions, is always a bonus.  Bumping into another team in the most unexpected place like an outback pub, has the warmth of family at Christmas.  I visit well known tourists spots like beautiful Esperance every month.  Or, the most amazing off the tourist track places. The folks we visit are always so grateful for the service provided.  It is rare for my colleague and I not to smile and say, “that was a good trip!” as we leave town.

Like most, yes there are burdens and sadness, for me too.  The city is where I feel ‘an absence’ the most.  I never thought I would be in a position one day where I would chose to be single.  But, I made the choice and I embrace it as all roads have led to here.  I love the wide open spaces best, be it coast or outback.  The feeling of being small in a big world is oddly comforting and lessens any burden I may have.  It is moments like this, when I know I live the good life.  And, it has come about because of the choices I have made.

Thanks Fandango … I needed to reflect on this.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird


You don’t need arms to hug

thumb_IMG_1256_1024You don’t need arms to hug
sometimes, words will do
a look, too, can be sufficient
or a touch, or text that says,
I’m here for you
A thoughtful gesture
is much like a hug
ordering my second coffee, for instance
without me asking you to
switching sides without complaining, when we sleep
you know I like facing the door
It’s just one of my quirks, we laugh
I’m always thankful, you’ve never asked me to explain more
How about the ordinary?
like a walk along the shore,
or explaining to me patiently, yet again,
the intricacies of that damned alternator, that cost a fortune to fix
Yes, I tell him
we don’t need arms to hug
sometimes words and gestures will do
because together or apart
We means, a me and a you.

a dawn bird

In response to RDP – Saturday – Hugs