Wednesday, December 26, 2012

In The Midst Of A Silly Season

I planned today as an Unplanned Day; in other words, I am doing what I feel like, when I feel like it. For someone as action-oriented as me, this takes some discipline! Can I really do Nothing? And what does Doing Nothing look like? Even staring at the sun-filled back yard I notice my mind is chattering away about what to do and when. 

Anyway ...
I gave 86 pages of ms and 5 other short-but-related pieces to my Probable Almost Certain Coach, left it in an envelope on the back porch on Saturday 22 December as she was way over east - Scoresby? - that day. Having printed it and re-read it beforehand, I saw that now there is the "Scholastica story" to write. That is, the story of the development of my relationships with Africa and Africans, particularly my students.

And that's still first draft stuff. This memoir is going to take years, as I'm clear the pages I gave my coach are not all that well-written. Drama missing, narrative trajectory ... all that and more!

I helped dig up and move rocks on her property one Saturday,  to prepare the ground for new planting. The choir has sung its offerings at Aged Care hostels, an Indoor Carols By Candlelight, and the local host church. My brother has cleared my garden and paved areas and taken a huge stack of junk to the Tip (oh, I mean the Transfer Station: such an interesting euphemism for rubbish dump, reminiscent of the increasingly common term for dying - "passing" or "passing over").

We have eaten and drunk our fill, the whole family, and today I do whatever takes my fancy. I am aiming to print all my 2012 photos (which I've just filed under "For Printing") and complete the "Diary" Album for this year by 1st January.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Moments of Truth As An Artist

1956: I was about six years old. The Euchre Party was noisy. I sat at a desk in the other room and drew black cats. Round black cats with curly tails and two whiskers each side. I loved these black cats as I drew each one perfectly. Two circles filled in pure black and two ears, a tail. Perfection in black.

I loved drawing. I loved drawing to illustrate farming activities, nature study, poetry, the bible stories. I drew magical motels, and princesses on the back blank pages of text books. But in High School, the art assignments were less interesting than French and Geography. I forgot that I loved drawing.

January 1975: I am sitting in the sun on a balcony in Kathmandu. Mary says, "Try this. Colour in these Nepali designs. You can draw." I remember that I love drawing.

1976-78: In Zambia, my hands go crazy with the amount of leisure time and the emotional turmoil. I draw and colour in, draw and colour in. My Derwent pencils are my friend. I love Midnight Green.

(Note camera cord getting in the picture!)

I have exhibited, with other women, and sold ten drawings (all coloured). Wow! I have made money from my Art!!! 

 1979-80: I attend Life Drawing Classes in 1979. I draw the man I'm in love with,. I draw his pregnant cousin, my ex-house mate. I draw my brother's best friend. Later, Deborah Halpern looks over my work. I don't like what she says, but I remember it. "Your black and whites are better than your coloureds."

I write what is now known as Ekphrastic Poetry. My poem about Klytie Pate's banksia vase is chosen for one of six cards sold as a set in 1994. I cannot afford to go for the launching dinner at $50 per head.

I draw people and trees. That's what I love.

Like many people, I get grumpy about change. Today as I walked through an unfamiliar part of my town, I noticed this grumpiness rise, recede, rise, recede ... Eventually I took hold of it and put it to one side, and was then able to appreciate the story of our town as told by the variety of vintage of the housing through which I was walking. Houses with chimneys fascinate me. How old do you have to be (as a house) to have a chimney? Built before the 1970's at least, when gas and electric heating made chimneys redundant; making it a common sight to walk into a house with a covered-up fireplace, and a hearth as floor feature (modern art?)

I would love to get an aerial photo/map of even just that small part of town, down there on the flats, and see the pattern of 19th Century homes, and their lands transformed into 20th Century development. Even the Community Adult Learning Centre and a Dentist's premises in Main Street are chimneyed buildings. The extensions to the Learning Centre, however, sport air conditioning units, the new roof accessory of the late 20th and early 21st Century structures.

What struck me, too, was that no matter how old a house, it occurs either as a Home or as a Shelter. I felt attracted to some, and repelled by others. I also noticed my judgemental self: "They obviously don't care; probably renters; irresponsible etc"  all over the state of a garden that had wild grass rather than mown neatness. And yet, here I sit, experiencing the pleasure of being able to gaze upon a back yard completely given over to wild and random growth, of trees, grasses, succulents and creepers!! What a hypocrite.

I walked wearing a drizabone and carrying my 101 Dalmatians umbrella, and just had to stop in at the St Vincents' Op Shop. It is an Aladdin's Cave, that place. So many treasures! I came home with a hat, a watch, a newer Macquarie Dictionary than we already have here, a beautiful edition of Banjo Paterson's poetry, two lengths of purple lace ... My daughter quite properly asked what the lace was for. I had to admit, sheepishly, that I might put it up on the day I celebrate my 63rd birthday in the back yard.

With my daughter, too, I really got straight about the incident of the letter and choir. Here's what it is: I pretend I'm a champion of all people having a voice and a say. What really goes on is that I won't say something if I think it will rock the boat or I won't be liked. The impact of that is that I lose my connectedness with who and what I love. So from nothing right now I'm inventing the possibility of being an immovable unmessable-with stand for all people's self-expression. My love returns! My heart sings! My voice carries!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

One more thing - My friend who travelled to the Poetry Slam with me accepted my request to be a coach for me in writing my memoir. Last weekend I began readying the manuscript for her to read. I sat in her chair and eliminated stuff I could then see was only back-story, or my prelude notes, and began to see the real story emerging, carved out from the stone of a writing storm! (Such a mixed metaphor!!!) Anyway, from the middle of the coming week I should be able to give her at least 50 pages.
The Poem-A-Day prompts from Poetic Asides having failed to satisfy, I began my own prompts and did not complete the month of writing daily. I found myself more often out in the garden taking photographs of Spring's changes, or picking fruit and herbs for food-swapping day, 2nd December. Sitting at my writer's desk, I would look up to delight in the play of wind or sunlight on the greenery, and feel my heart quicken at the sight of honeyeaters dashing from flowerets to seedheads.

I await my brother's arrival for the opportunity to make some minor repairs to structures and adjustments to, for example, the way the grapevine is NOT climbing where it's meant to.

Today is somewhat chilly with an erratic wind. The counterpoint calls of pigeons carry across from another roof top and seem to be a series of communications on what can be seen from that higher vantage point.

I was galled by my own lack of courage at our last choir practice on Wednesday. Our leader read the letter from the Hamer Hall "Raising the Roof" organiser and hammed it up because he used so many superlatives, creating agreement for what an idiot the guy was, instead of letting us "get" his appreciation and allow ourselves to be acknowledged. At the time I was outraged but afraid of my speaking being righteous, rather than feeling able to enrol everyone in another point of view. When they'd finished jeering and sneering, I quietly asked if I could have the letter, "for my scrapbook". I have not yet spoken to the choir leader or anyone else except my mother about it, and see how this impacts my relationship now to the choir. Bored with it, wanting to have singing equate to quality time, possibly applying for a grant to set up a different kind of choir. What's been missing this entire time is a stand and creativity. I'm inventing the possibility of moving on, and this is a victory over the past because I have been so attached to not rocking the boat, and to being liked.

Many things to share, not much time to write.

On the 1st December, I woke up with butterflies in the stomach. Not common for me, but when I arrived at Lerderderg library I confided in the librarian and creator of Bacch Chat that I was uncommonly nervous. By the time we'd set up my power point and displays and the ten participants had seated themselves, I was over the heeby jeebies, and launched into my sharing with verve. I very quickly realised my story was very inspiring for my audience and confidently encouraged them to try out writing on the spot for another. 

I had them work in groups to support each other. Two very dear arty friends were in tears, moved by each other's self-expression, and another woman who refused to read her first piece had a breakthrough and read her second poem to the small group, and left declaring this was the best Bacch Chat she had attended. Like many people with my training I was able to create experience that altered a point of view. She had said, when invited to read her first piece, that "it was a miracle she'd passed English at school at all, she NEVER read out loud, and couldn't write". What she meant was "write fluently", for she definitely penned 4 lines about something she loved.

What was enlivening for me was what opportunities opened up out of the presentation. I was asked how much I'd charge to perform at the Ballan Harvest Festival, would I also launch the arts group's forthcoming exhibition, could I possibly work with school children throughout the Shire, and what about putting up the Murray Map somewhere in the library? This latter idea has turned into my next project; at first I anticipated being funded by the Shire, but then realised that I might not need much money. My first step is to make a budget and then find other sources of funding or patronage.

In the meantime, I've received funding guidelines from the Council, and may submit an application anyway for a winter project (next application round closes Feb 28, 2013, and money available in May).

Another opening for action that came out of that event is that I've been invited to participate in a training night for creating an Artists' Atlas in the Shire this coming Friday. The person leading the session is someone we want to come to Bacch Chat in March to speak about the connections between art practice and health/wellbeing, so this will also be a good opportunity to create that event with her.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

And then on Sunday, oh joy, oh most divine gift ... I went with another friend to a recital by Anna Goldsworthy ("Piano Lessons") and three of the Conservatorium students she mentors.

This was at Janet Clarke Hall, Melbourne University. I never lived in "hall" at Monash University, but visited my boyfriend and his friends at Mannix College; I shared houses and flats with other students. Janet Clarke Hall was another experience altogether - so proudly intellectual, with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in every room, full of ancient editions and tomes. So spaciously accommodating of opinion and thought, so traditional. 

My friend had lived there as a music student in the late '60's. She gets regular missives from the alumni committee, inviting her to attend tasteful events and to donate. I was aware of Not Belonging as I sat among the very middle class, even bourgeois, alumni and their friends. 

However, the music was something else. (And as we drank tea and coffee and indulged in fancy sweetmeats afterwards, I found myself "belonging" after all to this intelligent and cultured group of women and that was "something else".)

I witnessed a pianist who disappeared into the music she played. When I shut my eyes, she wasn't there, but the Appassionata was. Whereas the other two performers were definitely "there", performing. I got a whole new access to what it looks like to Perform.

I could not thank my friend enough for the privilege and enjoyment she afforded me, for FREE, last Sunday afternoon. Even now, I feast on the memory.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Our friend Heather won the local heat of the 2012 Poetry Slam, so was competing in the State Finals at the State Library. I had avoided these high-energy events, although I did attend a local heat some years ago and enjoyed myself. That is, enjoyed myself over the top of my brain's infighting: Do it! No! Go on! No! I knew the State Finals would produce no such stress, and wanted to spend time with my dear friend whose baby had recently passed away. This seemed like a good opportunity to catch up, be with whatever there was to be with. Oddly, as I talked on the tram about my most recent visit to the oncologist, my friend commented that she had never heard someone talk about cancer with so little charge, or meaning added. It is true I am not afraid of my body's expressions of health, which I think of as systemic integrity and therefore workability. Without workability you can't perform. As I write this, I get what she was talking about!

We spent the entire train ride into Melbourne sharing back and forth. My friend kept asking, "What else has happened in the town? In the choir? Catch me up!" At the State Library, we texted our friend The Finalist but got no response. The next day I was with my sister, Heather, and it seems we picked the wrong Heather to announce, "We are here! Where are you?"!

I have to admit I loved the high energy, the humour, the youthfulness of the Poetry Slam. We agreed Heather's poem was the best, but two other people took first and second place, well-deserved too. The winners performed another poem. As we left, Heather declaimed for us, her three-member fan club, her rehearsed second poem, on the steps leading down to Little Lonsdale Street. Both her poems were seriously funny.  She said her husband would be happy she wasn't one of the winners as the topic of her second poem was marriage. And it was funny. Seriously.

Yesterday, after a day at my sister's house creating album pages for my most recent project - raising funds to contribute to the eradication of measles worldwide - I came home to cook chicken and apricot sausages. Hmm. Hot day. Potato salad. It was a most creative potato salad. Here's the recipe:
Boil two potatoes, peeled and diced, and a large carrot, ditto, for about 20 minutes. Drain off the water, replace lid, let them steam for a further ten minutes (but not over heat). Chop up cucumber, spring onions, fresh coriander, a coloured capsicum, and celery. Throw potato and carrot in a bowl and while still warm add a tablespoon of hommus (I used one with garlic in it) and stir. You can add olive oil to make the consistency easier to mix. When cool, add all the chopped ingredients and mix thoroughly. My mother loved the "crispy" potato salad, which made up for the difficulty she had finding the apricot in the chicken sausages (minimal input, it seemed).

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Two Landmark funerals within four weeks! The first for a new life cut short, the second for someone who didn't quite reach 91.

Today's service involved no body in a coffin, no representative of god, no celebrant. And yet there was the presence of this beloved woman in all the testimonials by family and friends. There was the presence of a great spirit. There was celebration. She was a woman adventurous in both body and mind, a matriarch in the grandest and most generous tradition. Her offspring, grandchildren and great grandchildren knew her as one who breathed aliveness, self-expression and the freedom to create life into every one of them. Some anecdotes made us dab our eyes; some made us laugh in recognition, not only of her unique personality but of our own foibles and humanity.

We gathered in a coastal community centre; she had died at home with windows wide open for the sound of the sea and the birds she loved. Before she lost consciousness, she gazed to infinity across a mauve and azure ocean. She told people: "I'm dying now. It's perfect. This is exactly the way it should be. It's my time." She inspired us all as the manner of her dying was recounted, as she had in her life.

I loved her because she made me feel special, she made everyone she met feel special. She was interested, attentive when you were with her. She included you, fed you power and grace in her conversations with you. She loved classical music. We spent a few minutes with Beethoven's Concerto # 3. It rang like bells, pulled and pushed like waves, it rolled through the fibres of my being like surf, and I was moved like a grain of sand with the beauty and the emotion in the slow notes. A photo of her with playing cards laid out on a table in front of her presided. We spoke to her, and thanked her for the extraordinary life she had completed, the gift she was, and the difference she had made to every single one of us.

Vale Edith Barton.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

When you are living life, what is the point of talking about it?

I completed the Advanced Course with a new realm of possibility called being the stand I am, matching Landmark Forum Leader. I can't wait to lead my next Self-Expression and Leadership Programme, starting December 8. I drove to Ballarat today to see a specialist about my hearing. All the way there I was in my head, talking to the participants I haven't yet met. It's like they say: when you have an injury and you practise moving the damaged arm or leg, this gives your brain the access to helping rehabilitated movement. I am practising energising my brain to say what will make a difference.

Over the weekend, I got that I can make stuff happen, including Edith becoming the President of Zambia, if that's what she wants. Tonight, I surfed "women presidents in the world and in Africa" and "Edith Nawakwi". She faces some vitriolic opposition. Still, she keeps herself in the public eye. I must call her, offer coaching perhaps??

After Day 6 of the Poem-A-Day Challenge, I was totally uninspired by the prompts. I have been unwilling to continue. I am going to do my "random word in dictionary" thing until I experience being free and in the zone again.

I have been preparing for my appearance as "Jennie Fraine, innovative poet" at Lerderderg Library's Bacch Chat event on Sat 1 Dec 12. I will earn money! I can claim expenses on tax! I must find a tax consultant who really knows how writers/artists can manage random income, constant investment.

Meanwhile, here's a photo for restfulness.

Rising to the sun,
to light and heat,
callistemon asks for
Honeyeaters and bees
willingly oblige.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

There is something restful about choosing plants for a garden. It's the effect of all that vegetation, to start with, and in Spring it has a lot to do with the perfumes that draw you around the offerings. My daughter-in-law said that people actually go to this place for recreation at weekends, spend whole days here. There is, of course, a cafe, but that's not what the crowds come for. Last Sunday morning at 11 o'clock, the car park was full, and it's a huge car park. Luckily, some people were not staying all day!

My son is changing employers, so has a week off in between; he's been inveigled to use the week to set up the garden that has existed so far only in his mind's eye. Confident in all other respects, he has been urging me to "help" him organise his garden. I arrived with changes of clothes, new gloves, toiletries in case I needed a shower, only to discover he didn't have the plants yet. It was a valuable planning session we had, and such a joy to wander the paths of Gardenworld in Springvale Road.

The Wood Cutter came today. This Silver Princess, riddled by borer, had lost one long arm, and the second arm (pictured) would have followed soon. Too tall, they fail to withstand sudden gusts or persistent strong wind. The Wood Cutter took this down, finished off the fallen part, trimmed the lower boughs of a Peppercorn tree and removed most of the two warped and twisted trees out the front. The beauty of their lovely purple blooms was negated by the stickiness of their leaves and the toughness of branches I couldn't cut with a handsaw.

What's left of my garden (which is plenty) now has spaces to fill. The Wood Cutter is a practical man who favours the kind of wildness I've cultivated (that's a bit of a contradiction!). Peppercorns attract white ants? Nah, no more than other trees, and sometimes less as they are so sappy and wet compared to other Australian trees. Curly leaf on the fruit tree? That won't kill your tree, you just won't have fruit this year. Next year, chuck dish water on the newly emerging leaves, that'll fix it. The Wood Cutter's son is his assistant. I brought him a glass of water. He drank it down in one giant gulp, sighed, and said, "This's the kind of garden I want at my place." My thirst for approval was slaked.

The bird life continues creating lines of discovery out there as if nothing has changed.I am giving my last three Silver Princesses names: Gloria, Ursula and Marilyn.

On internet sites, people complain about birds and possums ravaging their loquat crops. I've seen birds in my tree, but most of the fruit is untouched. Today I got out there with secateurs and nifty fingers and brought in a basketful. "Jam or chutney?" I asked Mum. "Chutney!" she voted, eyes alight. Now to find a recipe for chutney. Luckily I haven't taken our empty jam jars to the Op Shop yet.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

To contribute to the campaign to Stamp Out Measles in Africa, I organised a community concert, drumming workshop, and had local artists engaged in making cards with lino printing or teabag folding or just plain cutting and pasting. That plus individual donors raised $2,882, which will be matched dollar for dollar by the Gates Foundation once I get the funds to them. The Gates Foundation empowers communities to establish the practice of vaccination, and it costs a mere $1 to vaccinate a child.

I joined this mission because I had personal experience of death-by-measles, or its complications, of infants when living in Zambia 1976 to 1978. At the concert, we had too many donated items to auction, so today I set up a stall at the local fortnightly market. Jenny, a musical friend, partnered me in clearing the goods and letting people know what we were up to. 

Behind us, young cricketers warmed up and played a rowdy match, visible in the background (right) in this photo. We had three books  about Cricket, which were snapped up with four miscellaneous other books, for a mere $7. The buyer was so thrilled at such an economical solution to Christmas presents for the men in her family, she donated another $3. Yes, we made it easy for people to be generous!

 At the beginning, we agreed we would at least get the funds to $3,000, which meant a target of $118. As we were selling secondhand books, African jewellery, scrapbooking oddments, and cards, we were not asking for much from each item. Predictably, sales were slow for the first 3 hours. Then, at midday, we achieved our target, and subsequently added to the takings sufficiently to bring the total now to $3,027.96. All I can see is 6,056 children vaccinated, and another nail in the coffin not of a child but of the virus itself. I see a day when measles follows polio and smallpox to extinction. Sometimes, extinction is a Really Welcome Occasion!

I packed up quickly and earlier than other stallholders as we had our second BaccChat event at the local library. Today, Tor Roxburgh read from her wonderful novel, The Light Heart of Stone, Uncle Brian, elder of Wathaurang people spoke about the culture then and now, and Dr. Christina Eira, from Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages spoke about the reclamation of language. The fundamental plot of Tor's novel involves Indigenes and the colonists, Companiaris, so the conversation was an exploration of what it means to a country to be post-colonist. We ended the session with the realisation that our country has 60,000 years of human history and we are all part of that history, together.

When I arrived home, I found the last rose bush had suddenly burst forth with blooms. It has looked so lonely, irritable, despondent for so long, I thought it was going to stay infertile this Spring. The way it has bloomed almost seems defiant. But there I am talking about a rose bush as if it's human, when in fact it has just done what a rose bush does.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What am I doing awake at about 4 a.m., throwing the doona off, so hot? Now it's 5:20 a.m., where did the time go? Have I been awake or asleep, dreaming of tossing and turning, or really doing it? Ah! 5:50 am. That peep peep peep like baby birds in a nest ... I grab the travel clock before it starts demanding attention with BEEP BEEP BEEP. It's still dark. Well, of course, it's really 5:15 a.m. that you're sitting here eating breakfast, pretending it's 6:15 a.m. Is it pretence or just a temporary agreement I honour? 

All this because I met with C. this morning at Maccas and she shared her musical vision with me. I will try to create a word-play to match her concepts. I've never before felt so intimately included in the creation of a modern soundscape. Wonderful.

On the downside, opened the curtains when light arrived only to see one of my lovely silver princesses fallen. There must have been a wild wind last night. Although, inspecting the break, saw ants and fear termites. I need a Man with a Chain Saw, something I've hated the sound of since being a child growing up on the edge of the fabulous Barmah State Forest. There's a peppercorn tree I want removed and those two native whatevers with purple flowers and sticky leaves that have fallen across the path out the front. Everything must go!!! A bargain for someone who wants firewood or mulch. Come to think of it, I wouldn't mind recycling all those woody cast-offs.

Still, the honeyeaters feast on all sorts of mysterious insect life in the fernery outside my home office. So jaunty, so effortlessly acrobatic!

It's the left-hand trunk of the tree leaning to the right that has crashed. It's probably about 8 metres tall.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Straight out my window, the moon stares through the thin twiggy branches of my Silver Princess (Eucalyptus Caesia) trees. Like a piece of the sun, it is bright yellow. The sun is resting, having poured energy upon us all day. There are sightings of snakes in Melbourne's suburbs and in our town, supposedly "away from it all". This day in 1920 the communist party was formed in Sydney and this day in 2001 my father died. It was one of those deaths one is thankful for, the pain and inner damage being unsustainable. Recently I sorted (again) through my father's papers. I found a letter from Allan Marshall among the heaps of school exercise books Dad kept. I sorted out my sister's stuff, the exercise books from primary school and the genealogical research, and gave it to her. I kept his expense receipts and records of his teaching salary and what he managed to do with it, for the sheer amazement at the small-scale world they represent.  It was like looking through a microscope. My father's teaching study notes, his lesson plans and sketches, were works of impeccable art. Those were the days of coloured pencil patterns, foolscap paper and folders, exercise books with times tables and universal weights on the back covers. My father was incredibly generous, in letting us cut up magazines, including China Reconstructs and a magazine I've forgotten the name of which featured Australian History. Dad taught me singing and dancing are good, making up poems and stories is good, and the way kookaburras bang snakes on branches until they are dead and edible is really good. So I think of him on this day of heat, the emergence of snakes, and a bright yellow moon which ascends like the bright face of eternity straight ahead.

Monday, October 29, 2012

I am irritated by the dates being a day behind. My American colleagues joke about it being "tomorrow" where I am, but I would like to know if anyone in Australia knows how to make the dates accurate. That funeral service was on Saturday 27 October, and I am writing this blog at 10pm on Monday 29 October.

OK, that's the end of my grump.

About Two Drums
 At midday, my daughter, The Boyfriend and I drove to one of those shopping centres you can get lost in, all to recover the sim card which was stuck in the back of my new Samsung. I am still without mobile phone as I need a new sim card from my internet provider. My daughter paid for the repair work as it was she who separated the micro sim card from its frame in the first place and didn't say so. Me, next day, clueless, pushing it into the pocket and unable to retrieve it, thinking I'm the fruit cake!

While waiting for repairs to be completed, we lunched, having checked three Directory screens for "Food Court". If only we'd known it has a name: The Drum. Who'd think of that? I needn't have worried about sleeping in this morning and missing my daily walk; I'm sure we made up for it just looking for the food court. We also had enough time for me to buy hands-free equipment for when my phone really is operational. I am being dragged into the world of scrolling and zig-zag text and  "attractive plans" ie fixed and low monthly payments for large amounts of phone calls. 

This makes me sound very savvy. However, I didn't feel it 5 seconds after sailing through boom gates at the entrance to the car park without collecting a ticket. In other words, distracted - by what? a thought? a comment from the back seat? - I tailgated the car in front of me! When Daughter and The Bf pointed this out I freaked: how would I get OUT of the place without a ticket? (Never mind, as they succinctly pointed out, that I could have had two brain-dead passengers if the boom gate had fallen faster.) We found a Concierge on Level 1 who calmly directed me to the Auto Pay station, advising me to press the Help button. This apparently placed a call to a young woman (we think) whose mouth was full of socks or chocolates (we guessed). We could not understand a single word but judged by the tone of voice that we were to press the green button and a replacement ticket would emerge. We did and it did. It felt a little strange thanking an alien for the assistance. However, we also realised that even at my age I am in the normal range for human stupidity.

Apart from visiting a fellow-chorister in hospital, we also dropped into Harvey Norman in Sunshine.  My home office printer/fax is informing me "Drum End Soon". I needed some illuminating conversation about the meaning of this cryptic message. All was revealed, including a few facts about the effect of printing 12,000 sheets (black and white) without realising the drum would suffer. A new one will arrive this week. "Is it easy to instal?" I asked in my best Little Old Lady style. "Oh yes," says the nice young man. "Don't worry!" (a pity he couldn't add "your pretty little head about it" so I could smirk at my daughter). But then, he's moving back to Sydney in two days and others will have to deal with my ineptitude, if it shows up.

In four days I'll be able to write poems to prompts. I feel a foreboding that out will come limericks and ridiculous sestinas about electronics, machines, head sets and printers that go silent into that good night. I wish myself luck!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

This was a very special day. As a community we celebrated the life and early death of a child. I wrote a poem for the parents to read privately later (see below) and the service, conducted by a celebrant and the parents with a huge number of family, friends and young children, was held on their property, which overlooks a serene and precious pocket of rare eucalypt forest. We were asked to bring plants to help create a special garden. There were enough plants to cover the whole enormous property! 

We cried, we laughed, we ate and drank, and caught up with people. Our choir created the completion of the beautiful ceremony (poems, testimonials, quotes ...) by singing Steal Away. Later the child's mother - who is a choir member but had just spent seven months caring for her severely brain-damaged child - said, "It was beautiful the way you just nailed it." In the car on the way home my adult daughter said, "Did anyone else have to resist the temptation to clap after every speech?" Well, I did, and so did our driver. Why is it that funeral services must leave out the applause meant as acknowledgement, acclamation, being with what's said and who's saying it? After all, the ceremony is for the bereaved, and our presence is intended to bear witness with them.

For me, the pleasant and uplifting surprise was the number of people there I've worked with over the years. The kind of work we've shared has created bonds stronger than just liking, agreeing, or having common interests with someone. The love I refer to in my poem was powerfully present at this, the most inspiring completion conversation I've ever had the privilege to participate in.

The Poem:
To three extraordinary

Human Beings:
Natasha, Peter and Dylan

I enter your world, your home.
Love greets me, moves me
through the light.

I see, hear, smell, taste, touch
but Love wraps and lifts me
lets me Be.

I am in Heaven
even before Love opens the door.
I leave your world, your home
knowing Love
will always keep you safe
and let me Be.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Later the same day ... As I am presenting a talk and workshop on writing poetry on 1st December, I've decided to create a Power Point presentation as well as a display of my publications, products and artefacts. I've just been through my 3 volumes of journalistic photo albums of the years I was "Poetic Licence" and created an A-Z plan. It is as random as my life as a poet, as quicksilver as my off-the-cuff poems.

I am surprised when I look through photos and copies of event writings at how much I've continued the madcap life through 18 years of working full time.

I have been a featured guest at a Living Library, created and performed at my own series of poetry readings here in my town, won a local poetry competition with two Zambia-based poems, done guest appearances at children's writing festivals, and written commissioned celebratory poems via email.

In our town, the Blacksmiths Cottage is the nearest thing we have to a museum. In 2008, the committee organised a display of wedding outfits from past epochs. I wrote poems for the visitors. Not quite as flamboyant as I used to be, but still quick with the pen on clipboard and carbon paper!

Why the heck am I starting another blog? I ask myself. Surely one is enough. Well, I got bored with it. All those poems sitting there in splendid isolation. As another Poem A Day challenge looms, I felt like starting afresh.

Besides, my self expression has burst forth in other areas. This blog will be eclectic, not just poetry.

Well, here we go, my first technical failure. The picture was meant to follow the last sentence. Maybe, however, there is some poetic justice in it. The Silver Princess blossoms do burst forth.

When they do, the birds come for nectar snacks: golden honeyeaters, eastern rosellas, crimson rosellas, wattle birds. The immigrants - blackbirds, pigeons and sparrows - don't stick their beaks into the sweet blossoms, but use the tall spindly sparsely-leafed trees as lookout posts. 

At this time in October, the young are being taught how to live. Adult honeyeaters bring their kids into the fernery outside my office and teach them how to dash, balance and snap up flies and other insects. Even more amusing are the sparrows, which pounce upon the tall seed grasses and swing down, snatching at seed as they descend.

All birds are welcome in my specially-wild garden. I watch them as I write. We are all exploring, swooping from one attractive viewpoint to another.