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Push Back

It is beyond vile, what just happened.  In an empty site, ugly ground, foulest words.  It’s pushing at my back and I am trying not to vomit.  Bile burns my throat and disgustingly I swallow.  Somehow the dog holds me up.  I must not let go of the little dog or it will run off and get lost.  A car will hit it.  Walk and hold.  I don’t know the way.  Nothing looks familiar.  There is no familiar here.  The little dog – does it know the way?  How can there be this much pain in my chest without a heart attack?  If I fall, the dog won’t stay. It will run.  I know it.  It’s hard to breathe. Step, one step, one more – stay up, keep moving and clench on to the leash, hold on to the little dog. It’s behind me.  It did not happen.  I did not hear it.  I did not see it.  Push it back.  Keep going, it doesn’t matter where.

I’m on the last flight.  I’ve closed my eyes because I have not slept much in the last day or night, or whatever time has passed.  The noise of the cabin crew as their feet clomp on the isle is reassuring.  It keeps me present.  Mum and Dad, I can’t talk to you now.  I have to hold it together.  I’m on a plane.  The noises remind me.  Don’t think about them now.  Later when I finally get home, I can think about you.  I can be under the quilt and in the dark, I can think about you then.  I am shamed.  I think you saw and you know and I am shamed.  I have to listen to the crew sounds. I must keep it together.  Do push back, you know how to do push back.

It’s deep night.  I’m startled but there is no noise.  The panic in my chest makes it hard to suck in air.  I have to make a big noise to get it out which helps get some back in.  It’s sore but it’s the type I’m used to.  That means it will pass.  The empty lot comes back in my mind. I see the tuft of grass somehow sprouting from dry, cracked clay.  Ugly comes back. Push back, don’t think.  I can see white daisies in a glass jar.  Sprigs of rosemary in white china cups – all the way down a long table.  What next? I can talk to Mum now – it’s dark and no-one can see.

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On Saying No

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Why is my heart still pounding,

Because I said no.

Your tears, they leave my throat aching,

Because I said no.

My eyes feel hard and heavy,

Because I said no.

The anxiety in my belly won’t leave,

Because I said no.

Why am I so scared,

Because I said no.

When will I know if I am right,

Because I said no?


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Life Line

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I waited for you to show up,

You waited for me to arrive then you just took my hand.

I waited for you at Frankston station on a Friday night,

You waited for me in empty classrooms in deserted schools.

I waited for you in delivery.

You waited for me in arrivals.

I waited for you to come home over and over again,

You waited for me to lay down my wounds.

I waited for you to open your eyes,

You waited for me to recover.

I’m waiting for you.

You’re waiting for me.

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Adios 2019

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Legacy – the purpose of these writings so a quiet farewell to the year after a wonderful family Christmas, beautifully and generously hosted by Alexandria and Greg. We were missing some family members but those gathered around their elegant and welcoming table were treated to a magnificent home cooked feast and were most importantly made to feel – at home.

We all sat together and although we missed Annie with her partner Jake, and Harry’s fiancé Heidi (home to the USA) and Paul and Sarah (from the Hutt family and also in the USA) and always dear Julie, Greg’s loving Mum – gone from us physically but always in the hearts of her boys – indeed all of us.

We had a wonderful day starting with an early mass and an outrageously funny and larger than life priest who could not have been taller than 5 feet (imperial measure).  He was relevant, compassionate and personified Christmas.  An airport pick up could not have been smoother – a feat for a Christmas day arrival – Harry, from Melbourne.

There are only a few photographs as the day was being lived as it should – in the real.

alex and greg xmas table

Having moved into their beautiful new home just in time for Christmas, of course there were many jobs to be completed before the day of gathering.  That is when Dad comes in handy.

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He cleaned the site, groomed the soil, top dressed then laid the turf.  Tool mishap meant that Shane and Greg cut most pieces by hand with clippers intended for anything but hardy turf but the finished courtyard is stunning.  Alex and Greg have the challenging job of keeping it saturated in Australia’s devastating 2019 fire and heatwave events happening in multiple parts of most states.  We pray and hope dearly for those who have lost loved ones and for those missing.  Australians will not forget the summer and Christmas of 2019.

The ham has its own little story.  Sourced as an end of year staff gift to Sarah from her exclusive Sydney private school – it made its way to Dave in Bomaderry to arrive in Googong for Alexandria’s spectacular glazing and baking.  Finally, a Dad to slice it as Dave was already busy shelling and sorting the prawns with help from lovely Vicki.

shane the ham

Everyone pitched in – that’s the best part of family gatherings!  Beautiful Vicki and Alexandria even found a quiet few moments when all the Caughey and Hutt boys were busy with tasks!

vicki al xmas 2019

No doubt the same family banter happens globally – give the boys a little something to do and they will claim ownership of the ensuing banquet.

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It was a delightful family Christmas held in Greg and Alexandria’s promising new home. Dreams and plans for the year to come are alive and hopeful in this spanking gorgeous house with a striking new lawn!

Hutts 2019

Dave was relaxed and enjoying time with his boys and kindly putting up with my humor.  They are an impressive unit, the Hutt men.  When they can be together – boxing day is KFC and the cricket.  Aussie boys, all of them.

Speaking of cricket – Alex and Greg gave Harry and Shane tickets to the test in Melbourne.  It was a great chance for all of us to catch up with our ‘adopted’ Wainer family.

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In Australia – the Boxing Day test is another great aspect of Christmas and the summer holidays.

This year is closing. This evening we spent time at the beach for the live music and the festive atmosphere of New Year’s eve.  The first round of fire-works from the local tavern have started and there will be more on the beach at 9.30pm for families and midnight for the young of body and those young at heart.  Many regional areas in proximity to fires have cancelled fire-works for safety and in a show of respect for those impacted by our bushfires.

Soon, we shall join our neighbors to ‘ring’ in the New Year.  It is a balmy night here on the Sunshine Coast.  The cricket (Big Bash) is being broadcast live. We hope for good health and well being for all those whom we cherish.  We are thankful for another year to share with family and friends.

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Sweet Peas In A Pod?

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These are gentle women.  Mother and daughter, Sue and Kirsty.  My only niece although one of three girls in our family line, the other two being my girls, Alexandria and Annie.

Sue and Kirsty are besties and could not be more alike or different!  Both soft spoken, creative and with calm traits.  They sew beautifully, make their surroundings lovely and personify dignity and grace.  My sister Susan was always painfully tidy, immaculate actually and remains so.  Kirsty was naturally untidy as a teenager (more like her aunt) but has her Mama’s traits now.

Animal lovers – particularly dogs, a few rescued girl pups have joined the family and have been well loved and cared for throughout their dog lives.  Gardens have been created and nurtured with hardworking hands.  Kirsten grew up a dancer and teaches yoga with elegance and deep knowledge.

Professional women with varied and interesting careers – Sue leaving law behind for the final few years of working life in the busy but walk in/walk out routine of Australia Post whilst Kirsten, a qualified cardiac scientist has traded her regional hospital for opportunities here on the coast.  I do have a sweet niece and sister.

They also ride motorbikes and have done so since either was age ready for the license! Kirsty hauled her dirt bike around in the back of her ute and could out ride the boys. Susan was one of the fastest skaters on four wheels and had no fear when it came to speed.  They are capable and free spirited women who can pitch a tent, set up a campsite, dig a drain, and fix just about anything that busts around a house.  Sue might knit soft bears but she also mows, paints, strips walls and floors, nails and drills and has a zest for challenge.  Independent and principled, the ladies are as comfortable on the power tools at the community shed as enjoying a glass of wine at a charity event to supply women and girls with dignity bags.

They can be ying and yang!  Kirsty enjoys cooking and creates wonders in my kitchen. Sue happily opens the canned salmon…lunch done!  My sister is a dreamer. Her head is renovating and changing whilst Kirsten is practical and focussed.  Sue calls her daughter, “The voice of reason!”  They balance beautifully and wonderfully enjoy each other’s company.  It’s fun and delightful to share time with them.  I am blessed.

They live near me now, after so many years of military “wife” life during which I’d be calling another state, another country or one of nineteen houses, home – my sister and her gorgeous daughter literally live around the corner.  Did I say I am blessed? Oh yes.

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Fiction – 200 word Challenge

Take on the writing exercise of a fiction piece which must be 200 words or less.

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“Nah,” he said with a kiss to her head.  “It will be fine, you’ll see.  I will do it on the barbecue.”  Then he play lunged at her, scrabbling for a tickle.  “Besides I saved so much money – you’ll be able to afford your wine!”  She can’t reply, she is drowning in laughter and surging to escape the exquisite torture.

That’s how it went.

Not like this.

“Lamb is so much cheaper than beef,” he chuffed, pleased with his purchase.  “I got four big lamb steaks for less than two steaks.”  She gives him the look.

He knows the look.  “They’ll be tough, rubbery,” she says.                                              “They’ll be fine.  I’ll do them on the barbecue.”

They are both looking at their phones.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to do it in the slow cooker – a lamb curry?” she announces.                                                                                                                                      “Don’t worry about it!  I won’t do it!  DO what you want!”  His tone is harsh but he remains beside her.  She is silent.  She eventually picks up her phone and walks to the washing machine, removes the load and hangs it out.  She notices the flowers are bright but she sighs.

Fiction 200 words

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New Zealand Volcano

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Yesterday in our region, on White Island off New Zealand a terrible tragedy unfolded when tourists from around the globe left their cruise ship to experience the adventure of visiting a volcanic island.  The eruption to date, has killed several people.  Some are still missing and there are those who have dreadful burn injuries.  Painfully, we know there is more awful news to come.

It aches to even begin to comprehend the pain of victims and families.  Whilst it is with deep gratitude that we think of the dedicated and hardworking rescue and medical coordinators doing all that they can, our hearts ache for them also – for this mission that they must endure.

Life is so precious.  We know that all around the globe – right now there are dreadful and often relentless tragic events occurring which kill and injure women, men and children.  It may be naive to wish it was not so, but what else could we possibly wish?

Today in Australia, we watch with awe as emergency services in New Zealand continue to respond and do what they must.  We are reminded to be thankful and to appreciate those whom we love and hold dear.  We are grateful for, and deeply hopeful of exceptional leadership, professional media, medical miracles and one day, for the families and all those impacted, the ability to cope and somehow find a way to well-being.

Remembering the tragedy on White Island, NZ – 9th December, 2019

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Inspiration After Yoga


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“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

― Sylvia Plath

It is pretty easy to be inspired after a particularly good yoga class – for me I understood the stretches, got some of the breathing correct, in tune even and I turned up – I did it! Tick, tick and tick to quote our spectacular young trainer, Jodi.

In my early 20s as an Education student but a literature major I studied Plath’s poetry and loved the challenge.  With a fair slab of life with me now, I am certain my analysis and understanding would be more substantial.

Her words inspire me – it is just a great season to have the time and wellness for yoga and the luxury and necessity to write.  Just write!

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That Four Letter Word

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I like you.  I like you, a lot.  I only like you as a friend.  The little word that has the power to lift or douse a heart.  The word that our school teachers might have underlined in essays and suggested that we come up with something more powerful, more creative.

Social media has lifted the status of this once simple, almost plain, somewhat boring word to new heights of popularity and yes – power!  Somewhere, somehow the word was chosen as the click acknowledgement, not read, not noted, not viewed but like.  

So elevated and foolishly life defining has our little like become that global platforms have moved the numeric presence of likes to a private expression available only to the owner.

When my email announces a like, sure it is a positive lift although the real hope is for a read – that the piece drew attention, held that initial interest long enough for an actual reading and finally the courtesy of acknowledgement – depress the star, push the rectangle – all clicks lead to like.

Then there are the ‘sneakers’ – those who read but do not comment and will not click. Of course they exist – the electronic version of the eyes peeping through the blinds.  As writers we must accept that in our circles there will be people that we know and share substantial ties with who want to see what we are writing.  Great stories must have led to this sneaking!

My own like policy is simple.  If I read it – I like.  As the like function is the only method to acknowledge the author and indicate a reading, I feel it is a common courtesy.  I do aim to be authentic.  I do not skim or stroll pieces and hit up the like for numeric building.

I have noted that author’s commonly respond to a comment by thanking the writer for taking the time to comment.  It reminds me that true communication is a two way street – not a lone highway.

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Pearls of Prophecy



Muchas felicidades a mi hermano.  Su libro es publicado.  Muy bien hecho!

A great mate of mine, Kate, told me of her friend who hadbacked herself” – invested in writer’s courses and no doubt put in plenty of hard work, time and effort to achieve the completion and publication of her first novel.    I loved that phrase – back yourself!

My brother, Alexander Johnston or Al as we all call him – also backed himself and with dedication and much support created his work – Pearls of Prophecy  (2019) Clark and Mackay, Brisbane.  My memory of his journey with God’s word was not in the sporadic Christmas, Easter and must do sacraments of the Catholic church we encountered growing up – but rather the early days of the Spanish Church meetings held in a tiny wooden church in Fairfield, a southern suburb of Brisbane.

My father fractured from Catholicism according to my mother when a priest in Glasgow thundered at the congregation of poverty stricken Glasweigiens that their pennies were not enough.  As Gerry told it – my father stood up and walked out.  Al’s connection with religion and his independent selection of pathway to God was a choice made in adulthood – his own way.

Al’s dedication, rigorous study and his courage to believe in his vision for Pearls of Prophecy is now an achievement to be acknowledged and celebrated.  This book is a study of great biblical prophesies from the books of Micah, Amos, Joel and others.  His goal was to search for the deeper meanings, the hidden pearls, in God’s precious Word.  “I pray this book will bless and encourage every reader and fuel a desire to seek the deeper meanings in God’s precious Word,” Johnston (2019).

Congratulations my brother – you did it!  I applaud and admire your commitment to your goals and vision.

Que dios te acompañé bendiciones y amor – tu hermana!

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