Guest post by Helen Ross (A Very Close Shave)

Guest post by Helen Ross (A Very Close Shave)

The lovely Helen Ross (poet, author, blogger) has contributed a very personal tale of a close shave.


A Very Close Shave by Helen Ross

In May 2005 my husband and I embarked on a round-the-world trip with another couple. There were a few legs to the journey (Brisbane-Singapore; Singapore-Paris; Paris-England; England-Canada; Canada-Alaskan passageway cruise; return Vancouver, Canada; then home to Brisbane via LAX airport). We never made it past England but we eventually got back to Brisbane.

On the morning that we were due to leave for Canada I spent the last of my UK pennies and pounds at Heathrow airport. ‘Yay! I need room for US money.’ Michael, my husband, scoffed a bread roll for breakfast and, a little while after, complained of heart burn. His cheeks were rather ruddy. As we had arrived early, he was happy to sit for a while.

Though the food hall was a distance from our departure gate, the other couple wanted to walk there. As my husband is more of a stroller than an Olympic walker our friends went on ahead. We had seen many golf buggies buzzing around the airport so figured we could hop on one if Michael got a wee tired. He reached for his cabin baggage (which wasn’t very heavy) and struggled picking it up, complaining that it felt like a ten ton weight. Michael looked a little peaky. I endeavoured to get a wheelchair to wheel him to the departure lounge but was curtly informed that it had to be booked and none were available. Thankfully a cart was whirring by.

Settled at the departure lounge Michael looked grey and clammy. “You’re not having a heart attack?” was my reply to his ‘you look like death warmed up’ complexion.

“No. It’s just indigestion” was his feeble reply. Hmmm, I thought.

On board Air Canada, Michael strapped himself in, took a few breaths, and then suddenly declared that he had to go out for fresh air. Whilst passengers were still boarding, I informed a flight attendant that we had to go outside the cabin doors as Michael was suffering from indigestion. After feeling better, we again boarded. I even arranged for the Flight crew manager to see if we could upgrade to a business seat to improve Michael’s flight comfort.

After sitting for a few minutes, Michael again felt unwell, extremely weak and struggled breathing. Again we parked ourselves outside the cabin doors with flight crew intermittently checking on Michael’s welfare. Finally, Michael requested medical assistance. We hadn’t realised that mica ambulances (mobile intensive care) are based throughout Heathrow, so paramedics arrived within two minutes.

After a routine check-up the friendly (yet professional) paramedics thought it best to take Michael to a hospital for further tests. I went back into the aircraft to collect our cabin baggage, and informed our friends that we would catch a later flight and would meet them later in Canada. They sat, shocked. Though I had previously asked Michael if he was having a heart attack, I had resigned to thinking he was suffering from indigestion.

So off we went for an unexpected ride through the streets of London. We arrived at a nearby hospital, but after a few tests Michael was wheeled back into the ambulance bound for Royal Brompton Hospital (later we found out that Royal Brompton is the largest specialist heart and lung centre in the UK). A cardiac sister from the hospital hopped aboard. The sister didn’t divulge too much, but thought there was likely to be an artery blockage. I was still expecting to arrive in Canada that night.

Michael sucked happily on a green ‘morphine’ stick, declaring “green sticks are on me” as the streets of London flashed by. But I wasn’t in a sightseeing mood. On arrival, Michael was transported to theatre whilst a paramedic assisted me with our cabin bags. Deposited in the deserted waiting room, I sat dumb struck, tears falling down my face.

After approximately 2½ hours doctors came to tell me that Michael was okay, and that they had put in a number of stents. The head doctor informed me that if Michael had got on the flight he would have been carried out at the other end in a wooden box. The next day I found out that Michael had died twice on the surgery table, being brought back to life with the paddles (defibrillator).

Back home in Australia, one woman told me that if it was her husband complaining of heart burn, she would have told him not to be a baby and get on the plane.

Yes, a close shave indeed.


Thanks Helen 😀

I am so glad your tale has a ‘happy’ ending #phew

Note: My internet connection is shocking at the moment and won’t be back to normal until the 19th of July – so my apologies for any delays in responding to emails and blog comments.



Very proud of my cousin Anna Burke (the Federal Member for the Melbourne seat of Chisholm since 1998) who was yesterday elected to the position of Speaker to the House of Representatives.

She is only the 2nd woman in the history of the Australian parliament to be voted into this prestigious position.

I’m so excited I’m doing the happy dance 😉

Anna is my Mum’s brothers daughter. My Mum (an Irish/Australian catholic) was born in Melbourne and had 3 sisters and 6 brothers. Between the 10 siblings were born a fair few children; so I have a lot of cousins (you can imagine – haha).

Congrats Anna!


ps. If you missed Julia Gillard’s spectacular and spirited speech in Parliament yesterday pointing out Tony Abbott’s sexist comments and behaviours over the years, it’s a ripper and went viral on the internet. The Australian media was embarrassingly quiet on the subject of her speech but the media around the world quickly cottoned on to the significance. The New Yorker has a great article about it here.


Lewd Limericks from Stafford (for Fortnight of Funnies)

Lewd Limericks from Stafford (for Fortnight of Funnies)

Larss Drinks

I oft shared a bottle with Larss;
Who sipped with decorum and class.
But once in the bistro
Was totally pissed, so
He finished up flat on his arse!

Wine Lovers

Two pickers of fruit to make wine,
Their young hearts began to entwine.
Went frequently missing
For cuddling and kissing,
And more, hidden under a vine!

Truth Hurts

‘In vino veritas’ states
You drink and confess your lewd traits.
But heed this dire warning,
That maybe next morning
You’ll find you have lost all your mates!


There once was a fellow named Fred
Who took half a dozen to bed.
His wife’s main objection
Was lack of erection
So now poor Fred sleeps in the shed!


Stafford Ray has kindly sent some of his famous limericks for my Fortnight of Funnies. If you follow his blog, you will know that Stafford has an outrageous sense of humour and a penchant for the limerick 😉

Thanks Staffo 🙂


Don’t forget you can join in the fortnight of funnies by emailing me a funny (poems, art, photos, stories etc.,) this week or next if you are a regular follower and commenter on this blog.

Just for Fun (Nigel’s Baby)

Just for Fun (Nigel’s Baby)

Nigel’s Baby

Baby novel on the way
Nigel’s novella:
I’m Ready Now
the name,
he’s as ready as can be
for the delivery,
from delicate cocoon
to reader’s sphere,
from launch
to baby steps,
to up and running,
running solo –
Dad waving from the margins,
letting go
I’m Ready Now
Let’s Go!


Note: The wonderful author, columnist, blogger, editor, lane lover and chook owner Nigel Featherstone has completed his draft novella ‘I’m Ready Now‘ for publication by Blemish Books.  This is his second novella to be published (the first being ‘Fall on Me‘).

He recently blogged about the process of letting go when an author has finished writing a book. I loved his first born novella ‘Fall on Me‘ and am sure that ‘I’m Ready Now‘ will be a splendiferous sibling. He also has a novel who left home some years back (and we won’t even talk about the assortment of short stories who flew the coop).

Enjoy the process Nigel – they grow up so quickly (but it’s fun to make another one 😉 ).


Time is of the Essence

Time is of the Essence

Gouldian Finch

Time is of the Essence

What do the following animals have in common:

Estuarine Crocodile
Loggerhead Turtle
Gulbaru Gecko
Retro Slider
Southern Cassowary
Northern Giant Petrel
Glossy Black-Cockatoo
Eclectus Parrot
Powerful Owl
Gouldian Finch
Greater Bilby
Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat
Mahogany Glider
Grey-headed Flying Fox
Humpback Whale

They are included in the 226 species, sub-species or populations of animals in Queensland that are considered threatened in the newly released book ‘Queensland’s Threatened Animals’ (CSIRO Publishing, 2012).

The definition of ‘a species listed as threatened is one that is at risk of becoming extinct in a short time frame.’

Gily Llewellyn from the WWF states in the foreword that ‘this book is a sobering reflection of the state of our natural environment.

More than 1300 native Queensland plant and animal species face extinction, with at least 30 already gone forever. We have modified almost the entire landscape, clearing forests and starving entire natural food chains. Not even our reefs or marine life have escaped unscathed from the activities of land-based development, agriculture and over-fishing.

Yet this book is also a symbol of hope.

Queenslanders have shown overwhelmingly that they want more action to save their native wildlife, with a vast majority in favour of the state government buying up new national partks and identifying and protecting threatened and native species.’

My friend Lee K. Curtis is the main editor of the book, along with Andrew Dennis, Keith McDonald, Peter Kyne and Stephen Debus. She is a freelance journalist, author and copywriter who is an active member of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland. Her enthusiasm for conservation and positive outlook are infectious.

Her goal for the book was to provide a comprehensive resource guide to ‘who was doing what, when, where, how and why with threatened animals in Queensland’. The resultant thick door stopper reference book certainly goes a long way to achieving that goal and is a significant contribution to the field. Congratulations Lee et al’, I am beyond impressed with the effort that must have gone into the creation of the book and the value of the book. I now understand why you were getting a little stressed 😉 with the project.

Recently there has been a lot of hissy fit ranting from a certain side of politics about the horrors of so-called green tape. Well, without green tape we will soon be sitting not so pretty on a barren wasteland with only Cane Toads for company.

Anyone who makes blanket negative assessments of green tape would benefit from a read of this book.

And if they don’t want to educate themselves on the pros and cons of green tape, I can think of another use for such a thick book 😉


Rainbow Lorikeet by Benedicte Delachanal

Rainbow Lorikeet by Benedicte Delachanal

The wonderful French speaking artist Benedicte Delachanal from Montreal in Canada has painted a copy of my photo of the Rainbow Lorikeet!

Just one of the reasons I love the blogosphere 🙂

Rainbow Lorikeet by Benedicte Delachanal

Here is the original photo.

Rainbow Lorikeet by Gabrielle Bryden

Thank you very much Benedicte and gros bisous – it is splendiferous 🙂

Citrus Fiesta (Gabrielle Bryden and Selma in the City)

Citrus Fiesta (Gabrielle Bryden and Selma in the City)

Photo by Michael Bryden 'great gardener'

Twisted Lemon

Please release me
from my glazed

I’ve done my time
in this teacup excuse
for a residence.

There’s no room to move
my roots are convoluting
and indecently squeezing.

I’m over capacity
losing ferocity
my potential is capped.

Lacking in water supplies
gravely under fertilized
cracking up to boot.

I’m looking worn and weedy
the bugs are taking advantage.
I’m a twisted lemon with
the pot bound blues.

Set me free.

I’ll repay you generously
with flower, fruit and scent
and a thorny embrace.


Here is a poem I wrote a while back which some of you may remember – I was inspired by my very potbound lemon tree which I ‘released’ into the citrus garden.

Michael took the photo of me and added the caption ‘great gardener’ – hahaha – he loves his Mum 🙂

Now if you want to read one of the funniest short stories about the dangers of too many things lemon, pop over to the wonderfully talented Selma in the City (Selma Sargent). She wrote the story especially for the Citrus Fiesta.

Thanks Selma 🙂

Citrus Fiesta (artist Rick Daddario)

Citrus Fiesta (artist Rick Daddario)


Rick Daddario is a photographer, artist and poet from Hawaii who blogs at A 19 Planets Art Blog.

He is one of my favourite bloggers and the most wonderful creater of haiku, haiga and postcard art.

He will be guest blogging sometime soon (after he comes out of hibernation) so I won’t give too much away.

Thanks Rick

Aloha 🙂

Citrus Fiesta (artist Aletha Kuschan)

Citrus Fiesta (artist Aletha Kuschan)

photo by Aletha Kuschan

Artist Aletha Kuschan from a place near Washington DC (location top secret 😉 ) has begun work on some citrus paintings over at her art and writing blog for the citrus fiesta.

Here is a photo she has been working from and one of her paintings. You can find more citrus pictures at her blog.

She has this to say about the above drawing:

‘this drawing made using watercolor pencils.  I am searching for the edges of things.  Trying to find the character of these patient fruit that sit here “looking” at me.  They’re all so dignified.  Wish I could get to the essence of their gravitas.  The shadows are deepening.  Not a quality to be well captured by watercolor pencils.’

Aletha’s blog is full of her own art plus wonderful writing on the artistic process, liberally sprinkled with philosophical musings on life.

Thanks Aletha for jumping into the citrus fiesta (I know how busy you are at the moment).

Big hugs from Australia 🙂