Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Violet Room - short fiction

from w
When I read about the TV series 'The Abbey' I was reminded of a short story I wrote a few years ago called 'The Violet Room'. It's a bit long - nearly 3000 words but read on, if you are interested. I wrote it after researching the lives of Julian of Norwich and Hildergarde of Bingen.

The Violet Room

The door is locked and I am enclosed. It’s Boxing Day: Jenna in a box.

A female resident must have painted the plaster walls violet, a feminist colour. It isn’t the choice of clerics in this college, a former monastory. This is a pristine space for forty days - the word ‘pristine’ not meaning ‘clean’ but ‘as it originally was intended’, a monk’s cell, a place of celibacy… poverty… obedience. I’m not a religious person, not focussed like they were. We’ll see.

The flat is on the second floor, above the student’s rooms. The inside window, which I could squeeze through at a pinch because I am small in build, opens to an echoing corridor, and the west window overlooks a thorny garden but I could jump onto a slate rooftop to a V shaped space between gables. But that’s not what it’s all about is it? I am a Performance Artist, thirty-three years old, and as an Artist in Residence my project is to experience seclusion.

Jules, the Gallery Special Events Co-ordinator, weaving about me with his bad breath, had said, ‘It will be a breeze for you Jenna. Easier than your Body Installation at the Sydney Bienelle.’

Well, I have the Internet and e-mail, my CD player, radio, a few books. Isolation won’t matter even with a locked door – from inside. I’m on my honour – there’s this obedience thing already. Radical solitude will be… difficult… or a delight.

The bathroom is so clean it’s luminous. I have my microwave, electric kettle and small fridge stocked with avocados, salsa, goat cheese, and spring water. Meals from the dining room will be brought three times a day and my washing done for me.
December 27th, Day Two, is spent at the Pentium. It’s about 30 degrees so I wear silk shorts and a loose top, bra-less. I access the Internet and print out eight pages about the recluses of the 12th century. An anchorite was shut off from the world inside a small room attached to a church. Food was passed through this window and refuse taken out by a servant. The time was spent in prayer, contemplation or embroidery. She was given the last rites, laid out on a bier, and then the door was blocked up. That bier of wood would become a table and bed inside the cell. I have a narrow bed, my doonah, and clean sheets and this is not for forty years.

Then I link to “Hildegarde of Bingen” a German woman a century earlier. Her music is popular today with Sequentia’s version of her Canticles of Ecstasy - disembodied music. She was in the monastery of Disibodenbeg. This interesting woman, the tenth child of a wealthy family, was tithed to the church, became enclosed at fourteen. Thank God she later got out into the countryside. She loved beautiful clothes, exquisite sounds, fragrant scents, brightly coloured gems and used them metaphorically in her songs. I print out ninety pages and am amused to find she wrote a treatise on female sexuality.

I receive an e-mail from C. who relishes in rubbing it in about enclosure. She informs me about a bottle shaped cave a hermit lived in. A bucket was used to drop meals down to him and to haul up refuse. When it rained the water dripped down the hole. The sound replicated the hermit’s heartbeat, which reverberated around the cave walls, and drove the hermit insane. Thanks C. for the reminder! Then she tells me her bi-polar illness is not getting any better. She also sends me a pic of the Hermit, from the Tarot.
December 29th, Day Four. Jules comes and takes away my Pentium and I am astonished because he didn’t tell me this would happen. My radio and CD are precious now with Ali Khan, the qawali singer turned up loud; perhaps the cause of a thick headache later that two panadols cannot dispel. Feverishly I paint a mandala on a wall and scribble with a white felt-pen: anachoreo – I withdraw, eremitai – desert dwellers, noche oscura – dark night of the soul, and viriditas a word made up by Hildegarde meaning greening power. Showered with greening refreshment, the vitality to bear fruit. The warmth of the sun keeps you moist like the scent of balsam. She instructed artists to paint a beautiful mandala with faces and wings in circles enclosed within circles.
Day Six is New Year’s Eve and I am alone. Then I hear a deep voice calling from the corridor, ‘Chenna?’ Of course I’m here! The Security Officer has brought me a bottle of champagne. Tupou is a Tongan, but from New Zealand. He says, ‘I ton’t know what you’re up to Chenna. It seems an itiotic thing to to. Ton’t you miss the sunshine? And, it’s so unsafe to hafe a locked toor. You’re preaking rules here, eh. See that window ofer there. Now, see if you can get out onto the roof. To that in an emerchency eh.’ He softens half of his consonants. I pat his hand, somehow moved that someone considers my well-being.

On January 2nd, Day Eight, my radio and CD player are tugged off me. However my cassette player, microphone and camera must stay to record my daily experiences because the Gallery will expect a Sound and Light show for the ‘baby-boomer’ voyeurs. . Ten photos per day will suffice as a record. I can pass the rolls through the window to be processed and kept elsewhere.

If I become an acrobat at my corridor window, I can watch the shifting light transforming bubbles to luminous threads in a fish-tank. A large black and silver-scaled fish ogles me. A circle of smaller fish in a never-resting pirouette scares me and reminds me of enclosure.

I daydream of a skipping woman, yet there is no rope, just a contour of sunshine touching her hands. The landscape beyond is made up of curved fields, floating houses and violet trees. A bird flaps overhead then falls. The cream cheese moon has a smile. The woman is me, once upon a time, out there.
On January 8th, Day Fourteen, a migraine dominates everything. When the tablets prove to be inadequate, all I can do is curl up and will the day away. Hildergarde was dedicated at birth to the church. The girl started to have visions of luminous objects at the age of three, but soon realized she was unique in this ability and hid this gift for many years…. She suffered from appalling migraines. Hildergarde’s visions were a result of her mental condition, with hallucinations but mainly the scotomata which follows perception of phosphenes in the visual field. There are also areas of total blindness, points of intense light. After the attack she would rebound and feel a euphoria. I don’t see any stars or visions or feel bliss.

On January 11th, the Seventeenth Night, I hear coarse laughter and I remember lovers. I realize that the absence of humour, of real uncontrollable laughter, of the gloss of wit is a concern with my isolation. You don’t laugh at your own jokes. Really! You need eye contact usually or at least a connection.

I can hear the lovers still at it. Let down your hair Rapunzel, the young man calls up to the longhaired princess in the tower. Why can’t he climb the stairs like an ordinary bloke? Why must he grab her by the hair? Is she a virgin locked in her room by a jealous father who molested her once? The girl can only peer through her window, longing for rescue and sexual experience with the right partner. I write a coarse limerick onto my wall about Bobby and his Blanche, then smoke two cigarettes.

Clothes become a bore without social contact; I leave off underwear and earrings, and even wonder about bathing so often. No, I love the feel of warm water running over my skin, and to touch the softness of cloth, and especially the skin of another person, any person. It is Day Twenty-two. I stencil hands today by blowing paint over my left hand using a straw. I cut out cardboard hands and spray around them. But then I have to clean up and the paint does not come away from my knuckles and nails. My ‘sinister’ hand is a mess indeed. My mural is overpainted twice now, my spray cans empty, my felt pens dry. I am tired of the texture and smell of paint. I have been in a rush to do things; those hermits stayed still. I must slow down.
A mandala shaped patchwork quilt using motifs and shapes from my prison will be more appropriate. Carmel, the kitchen helper can contact Jules to bring me scissors, cottons, ribbons, braiding, beads, broken jewelry, and bags of cloth from costume left-overs at the repertoiry theatre; velvets, satins, broderie anglais, damascs, Indian mirror work.

Black plastic bags arrive full of treasures and I am mesmerized by the possibilities.

Then Carmel does not come with my evening meal, so I am hungry by breakfast and again, I am forgotten. By lunchtime I frantically yell for attention, like a panicking mother in a famine. Carmel brings me the customary bland food but also a small dish of lasagna she has made herself. A small miracle.

It is January 20th, Day Twenty-seven, and a hot day. The quilt, commencing in the centre like a mandala is taking shape and I am content. Someone down the passage is playing Bolero. I want to spin like a Sufi Dervish, ecstatically reaching for mystical love. I whirl and whirl, holding my quilt, my flared skirt flying, then feel foolish and crawl back to my stitching and knotting.
I have a young visitor to my corridor window, a hairless child, a girl with bright blue eyes and a steady direct gaze. She brings me a gift, a small snail curling asleep on the white veined leaf, antenna a V for victory and shell perfectly made. I am overjoyed by the perfection of the network of veins like a river delta. Size is all relative isn’t it? Julian of Norwich wrote, All will be well, all will be very very well. You hold us in your hand as a tiny hazelnut. I place the the vine leaf on the west window-sill where it will brown as the chlorofil breaks down. It will wither like all of us, but I will use these motifs on my quilt.

The helper guides the child back to the hospice in a wheel chair. I will give my quilt to someone like her.
I wake up breathless after dreaming of miniature children with doll-like features. Anti-panic tips become my mantra. Breathe in deeply through the mouth and out through the nose. Close your eyes and transport your mind to a time and situation where you felt calm and relaxed. Play through the memory of the Spartacus Adagio or the Gayaneh Waltz.

The ease is not lasting though. I feel so hot and cannot stand this room any more so I climb through the west window, step down to the V shaped rooftop. A hot cat on a cool roof this night. Is this breaking the rule? I rationalise the aberration.

Below me the Security Officer is checking the grounds. He notices me, awkwardly climbs the ghost gum, takes a long leap, then sits down beside me on the slate roof. ‘I knew it woult ket you Chenna. It was 38 tegrees totay and still must be apout 25.’ His re-sorting of consonants makes me want to laugh. He offers me his bottle of chilled mango juice. He talks to me of his imagined Islands, his longing to return, a myth of course because he’s never been there and his relatives are in Auckland. I like him. He a person without judgement, does not patronise others and he has a steady gaze.
It is Day Thirty-one, I think. Perhaps January 24th. I have made a mistake in not counting lately. I see a black cat stretched out asleep in the dappled grass under the ghost gum, unfraid of intruders.

The phone rings; this is an unexpected gift because I though it was disconnected. A single inward call. It is my mother. She’s only 72 but frail. I had forgotten what my silence would do to her. She asks why I haven’t rung up for weeks. She is excited because she has moved to another room, closer to the dining room. Twenty-two paces less than before is so important to her.

An elderly lady sits in her expensive armchair watching television, engrossed despite her myopia, guessing the meanings because she is also very deaf. She still keeps photos of us as babies and her favourite program is cricket. Her walking frame leans against a plaster wall, within reach. Soon the bell will ring to allow fifteen minutes for her to walk with a hobbled gait to the diningroom. This happens three times a day, every day. Does she ever daydream of distant lands? No, I don’t think so. She hums an old tune, then forgets it. She tunes in and out to cricket, the news, until she slips away in painful dozes, after taking tablets every four hours.

There is a Bistro called the Cave and I remember seeing the two TAFE students, hands touching across the little table. I can’t get that melody out of my mind, who is it – Nat King Cole, is it Somewhere along the Way? They lean towards each other from wheelchairs, their eyes shining. They are free because they can communicate. They know they can’t change things but they can control their responses. Perhaps an extreme situation makes you confront your fears, examine who you are, where syou are going – as in that brilliant painting by Gauguin.
Day 34, I think, perhaps January 27th. I have missed Australia Day it seems. The creeper has moved several centimetres and the belling flowers are the colour of my prison walls. I want to steam them into tea but they are beyond my grasp. I imagine their taste and after-effects. An insect trapped inside one of the cups would add flavour. A wisteria curtain almost hides the window of the room opposite where I often see a doll-face looking out.
The next day I am stricken now because my spectacles, my lifeline to the visual world, are taken away. This is the last straw. I have to peer closely at everything if I want clarity. Really close up. I cannot read the words I have written on the wall. I will never finish the quilt either.
The electricity is turned off and I am left with sixteen candles. It is Day 37 and I am in a mess. I have become dirty, untidy, careless, and feel sick most of the time.

I want to cut holes in the wall. Perhaps a candle-burn here and there would be impressive. Hildergard wrote, And it came to pass. When I was 42 years and 7 months old, that the heavens were opened and a blinding light of exceptional brilliance flowed through my entire brain. And so it kindled my whole heart and breast like a flame not burning but warming… and suddenly I understood of the meaning of expositions of the books…I hear laughter outside the room but cannot discern what is happening. I want to burn, pick up a candle, holds it up high, see the walls glowing, an aura around my own body, instead of this fog of myopia and shadows.

When I hear women’s voices, I know I am becoming Hildegarde. Many times a day we fall out of sorts, lose our way or find ourselves off centre. Art can best tune humanity, redirect our hearts towards heaven, bliss: of writing, seeing, hearing, and knowing, all in one manner.

Then a child’s voice sings in my ears, tells me to go to my sky space, heads me to my mossy tiles. I scrabble for a cigarette and lighter – my private sin that no-one could take away from me in thirty-eight days. A black animal is moving towards me, looming large. I huddle into the V shaped hollow, but somehow it sees me.

‘What are you toin’ up there this time?’ A man’s voice, Tupou of course, always keeping an eye on me, as he said. I drop the butt. ‘You’t better get town,’ he instructs quietly.

‘I’m okay here.’ I feel elated, electric and glowing, even see an aura and colours like Hildegarde's visions. The ghost gum in the garden glows orange though it is night. Sounds fill me with a sense of power, highpitched shouts, a crackling noise, even a siren. My skin is shining gold. Suddenly I understood of the meaning, she had said. The hairless child, the two in their wheelchairs, my mother awaiting death. A feather on the breath of God.

Then I feel the strength of a human hand. ‘Hang on Chenna.’

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While Geelong goes crazy the poets sit quietly

from w
Everyone was so cheerful at church this morning and the other musician played the Cats music (Toreador song) after the prayers of thanksgiving! Lots of us wore blue and white - even if those of us who are not 'footie tragics'. The last time Geelong won,(in 1963) the average wage was about $50 someone said, but I think they meant pounds.

Despite thousands of people celebrating throughout the day after the footie win, ordinary events such as a Geelong Writers gig went on with poets discussing metaphors and symbols and villanelles and pantoons. I wasn't listening too carefully to a speaker when I quickly drew the table in front of me and two of the writers. When the Storm rugby match started on TV, I just added a bit of pen and red pencil to my sketch.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Geelong thrashes Port in Grand Final

from w
Geelong thrashing Port Adelaide in AFL Grand Final - half-time
September 29, 2007 02:30pm
GEELONG'S 44-year premiership drought looks set to come to an end after the Cats ruthlessly overpowered a below-par Port Adelaide in the AFL Grand Final first half.

Geelong was 52 points up at half time, after scoring six goals to Port's two in the second quarter. At half time, the scores were Geelong 11.13 (79) to Port Adelaide 4.3 (27).
(later I'ts now 112 to 34 and after the third quarter. This is amazing. We were so anxious about Geelong choking! And later again - the game's over, the celebration begins. Geelong won by a massive 119 points.)

Strange how we human animals take pride in belonging as a football team unites a city of 180,000 people. Ironic too that Ford has been a sponsor - a company that took away 600 jobs from our men and women!


Five Women explore the Sound of Silence

from w
I look forward to watching a new TV program - three in a series - of The Abbey which is a new kind of 'Survivor' where five women live for 33 days in a Benedictine monastory. I am inrigued about how they will survive because no doubt they are not the kind of women who read Thomas Merton, or practice silence, or spend time in Iona type of meditations.
The handout says:
The AbbeyABC TV has announced it’s highly anticipated three-part observational documentary.

THE ABBEY, is to screen from late October this year. THE ABBEY, a special Compass presentation and a first for Australian television, will follow five ordinary Australian women as they spend 33 days and nights living the life of an enclosed nun.

Following a challenge put forth by ABC TV in June last year, over 1000 women applied to enter THE ABBEY, willing to swap their car keys and wallets for prayer books and meditation. As they leave behind the hectic pace of modern day living, the women have the chance to embark upon a search for meaning, God, and the self.

THE ABBEY, based in a beautiful bush land setting two hours from Sydney, is home to Australia’s first enclosed monastic community, where 32 nuns have all vowed to live the Benedictine way of life. Never before has the outside world entered the cloisters of THE ABBEY, until they allowed ABC TV unprecedented access to film the experiment.

How will the women cope with the 4am wake-up call and the seven daily visits to The Abbey Church? Will they be able to live by the nun’s 1500 year-old Rule of Silence, Obedience, and Renunciation for over a month?

The Age ran an article introducing some of the five women who participated and this photo is from that newspaper.
I don't think I could survive one day because I WILL NOT be told what to do by anyone. However I think silence is really golden, and quietening down instead of incessant chatter is really worthwhile. I attended a service at a monastory about 2 k from our home one evening and was most uncomfortable in the 20 minute periods of silence until I eventually got into the groove and realized its value.

Some time ago, I wrote a short story which was published called 'The Purple Room' which was about a performance artist who was enclosed in a monastory for many days. It's a bit long to publish here.

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Will the Cats choke or be a winner tomorrow?

from w
After choking at numerous big matches in recent years, perhaps this year it will be different. After a great season of football, maybe the Geelong Cats will beat Port tomorrow and bring the cup back to Victoria. Originally this game of Aussie Rules belonged to Victoria, then it became national and winners have been from other staes for several years. Now it's time! Football mania has taken over our town this week - blue and white everywhere.

Not everyone is interested in football of course. Here are some happy chappies who don't bother. The twins and mum are from Ballarat - twins are unusual - probably one set in 10,000. Looks like the Mum doesn't care too much - ho hum, or she's been eating too many eucalyptus leaves. (I found the photo in a freebie magazine that came with today's Geelong Advertiser.)


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The drought and compassion and opportunism

from w
I am disturbed about the farming community along the Murray River, not angry at the farmers but at the government policies of taking away their water rights and planning to put in a pipeline to keep Melbourne city's gardens green! It's outrageous. Melbourne people can actually use their garden hoses still.

Okay, Australia is a dry, dry country, and droughts occur periodically but this time the Murray River is really in crisis and there just isn't water for irrigation to produce grapes and soft fruits, let alone pastures for sheep and cattle. It has been a mistake to assume that it will always rain. In my hometown in the Mallee area the annual rainfall used to be 11 inches a year, and now it's even less.

Then there's the quick fix of the government offering cash to farmers who walk off the land - which makes city people angry that they can get money so easily. Of course when the wheat crops fail, prices go up for bread, etc. When farmers chop their vines to the ground or let them die, there will be no wine. Anyway here are three cartoons from today's Age newspaper.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Congratulations James Bartel - Brownlow winner

A great effort from a local kid to win the Brownlow Medal for Best and Fairest Football player this season in the AFL. Geelong is going great at present - they won the VFL (Victoria league) and will be in the AFL grand final next weekend. And now James (or Jimmy as some call him) has won the Brownlow. He's 23, his girlfriend is Danish and doesn't know much about Ozzie rules footie. A nice kid who started off his footie with one of the local community clubs which he acknowledged in his speech - Bell Park.

Rather than spend millions on gigantic stands for spectator sport, I think councils/governments need to pay more attention to community sporting associatons and sports grounds to encourage more youngsters and young adults to have a go at football and other sports. Our boys were mad keen on football and played at various junior levels and made many friendships through team sports.

from w

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Monday, September 24, 2007

New migrants in Geelong - the Karen people

from w
A group of migrants under the Humanitarian and Refugee Scheme have arrived in Geelong. They are from the Karen tribes of Burma and tell awful stories of their life journey so far, escape and time in a refugee camp in Thailand. Our community warmly welcome this new group to Geelong - as we are a city of many waves of migration. They posed in traditional costume for a photo taken by Phillip Stubbs for the Geelong Advertiser. Geelong Adult Training and Education's settlement program are assisting the families with language classes and donations and the children are already enrolled into primary and secondary schools


Sunday, September 23, 2007

The ginkgo tree and Japanese birds

from w
Here's another sketch plus coloured pencils and water so the paper wrinkled a bit. The sculptures were brought to Geelong many years ago and moved several times because of vandalism. Some are down at Eastern Beach. The ginkgo tree comes from an ancient species and is associated with the peace vigils in Geelong. There are no leaves at present for me to gather.

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sketching in Geelong Botanical Gardens

from w
Yesterday I walked around the Gardens and sketched the ginkgo tree, a leafy plant and three wooden sculptures set in the fern garden. They used to be in little Malop Street and were removed as part of the city council upgrading (?) of the city centre. I always thought they resembled the wooden slit drums and sculptures of Vanuatu. However a GBC info site suggested they are acually four fern inspired sculptures and were made by local wood sculptor Viktor Ceberg. Their notes suggest they are of no heritage value, and are not in excellent condition as the wood is deteriorating with the effects of water and exposure to the elements. They may be retained or removed as required. Hmmm. The timber will require maintenance to prolong life of the sculpture. Really? Isn't that part of the attraction? think they look great in this garden location. I used A4 paper, pencils and pen in the drawings. If you click on a picture it will be enlarged, then you see that it's just a whole lot of scribbly lines and marks.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

International Peace Day - and who cares?

from w
It goes to show how little interest there is in the subject - I had not seen any stories/posters/info about today as International Peace Day until Promoting Suva writer wrote about what they are doing in Suva about it.

The Peace Day website gives a lot of information including heroes, a children's story, suggested music, events.

A couple of days ago I noticed that an American writer gave a link to her blog about the cost to USA of sending troops to Iraq - the numbers click over about $3000 every second! Go to this site and see the figures!

Okay, now I remember. I've been invited to a peace vigil at the Geelong Botanical Gardens for later this afternoon - by a local activist connected with an international peace group based in Japan. I'd forgotten. Maybe I'll go along and sit under my favourite (and only) gingko tree in the nearby gardens!


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

more preliminary drawings for turtle story

from w
Not well thought out but I'm just testing ideas at present for illustrating the story. I need to check on the 'real' shapes of banana trees, pawpaw leaves etc. Anyway I discovered through googling that turtles love to eat mangrove leaves so I can add a few more lines to the story. These pics are of the village fruit trees and of the men chasing the turtle out to sea after discovering she had stolen their fruit. Of course where do you draw the line between fantasy and factual information?

(added later - the turtle eating a banana - okay - it's a fable, not real!)

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

drawings for turtle story

from w
I made two sketches that might suit the children's story I posted a few days ago - about the butterfly and the turtle. I'll make a few more sketches then decide how I want to proceed with them - ink, watercolour or pencil as these were made. I might edit the story a bit by adding an owl or other animals.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

drawing of Inoke

from w
While a few men drank kava I decided to draw Inoke from Suvavou with his dreadlocks. It was a little welcome back occasion for Peceli at a house in the Werribee area.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Turtle story for our grandchildren

from w
Here is a story for my grandchildren in Fiji. It is adapted from a story collected by Donald Stokes in Papua New Guinea. I was surprised to see that they call a butterfly Bebe just like in Fiji.

How the turtle got her shell

Once upon a time Tameala the turtle and Bebe the butterfly were the best of friends. Tameala looked very different in that long ago time because she did not have a shell. She was pink and skinny and quite naked.

Bebe was a pretty butterfly with bright orange, black and yellow patterned wings. They did look a funny pair together but they used to joke with one another as they sat under the banyan tree telling stories. Bebe ate ripe mangoes and ripe bananas and the nectar from flowers.

One day Tameala was trying to push a large rock over and she accidentally passed wind. Bebe screwed up her nose at the smell. Then Tameala noticed that when Bebe passed wind, the smell was quite sweet.

"How do you do that?' Tameala asked.

Bebe said, 'It must be the sweet bananas and mangoes that I eat.'

'Show me the bananas that I can eat them,' said the turtle.

Bebe flew about and laughed. 'Okay. We can sample each others' foods.'

So they collected seaweed and bananas and mangoes and put them in two piles then started to taste the food of each other. They ate until their bellies were huge and they couldn't eat any more. And they both said, 'Excuse me,' when they passed wind.
'Bananas are so delicious,' said Tameala laughing.

'But, there is a problem,' said Bebe, flying about patting her fat tummy. 'The bananas belong to people in the village and they'll kill you if they catch you stealing from their plantation.'

The next night Tameala crept up near the village and pulled down a bunch of ripe bananas. When she was stuffing the fifth banana into her mouth, someone came out and caught her and tied her to a stake.

Next morning Tameala was still tied up. She felt very said when she heard that they were collecting firewood to build a big fire to cook her.

An old blind woman was given the task of watching that Tameala did not escape, so Tameala had a plan. 'Please cut the rope loose. It is marking my skin and your people don't want it damaged for a fine feast. I won't run away.'

The foolish old blind woman cut the rope. Tameala held out a stick and said, 'Old woman, take my arm. I won't go anywhere.' And then Tameala escaped and started plodding towards the sea for a cool swim. It was a slow journey and hot in the sun. She found a wooden bowl and put it on her back to stop her getting sunburnt.

Meanwhile in the village the men saw the tracks in the sand and found out that the turtle had escaped so ran down to the beach to catch her. They threw their spears at her but the wooden bowl protected Tameala and at last she was swimming in the sea.
She called out to the men, 'Now go back and cook the piece of wood the old woman has in her hand! Ha ha!' Bebe flew overhead, very worried about Tameala, and as the turtle swam, Bebe kept on flying above.

They reached an island and lived happily there for many years.

Bebe met other turtles on the island and one day she laid eggs in the sand. Some time later she was delighted to see little turtles breaking out from the shells. Then there was another surprise. Tameala's eyes grew wide with happiness when she saw that the baby turtles all had little shells on their backs just like Tameala's wooden bowl.

Tameala never again tried to eat bananas and mangoes and taught her little baby turtles how to eat seaweed and drink salty water. And Bebe's baby butterflies continued to fly about and complain about the smell when the little turtles passed wind.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

two bus stops in Geelong

from w
While waiting for the Herne Hill bus to leave the city area, I drew the Mexican Graffiti cafe next to a balloon shop in Yarra Street, then the bus driver took off before I'd finished. After visiting my friend in Herne Hill, I sketched near another bus stop where someone had knocked down a traffic sign then had to move quickly when the bus came careering down the road. So these are quick pencil and pen sketches.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Geelong, the Cats

from w
Everyone here is talking about the amazing good kicking/team play of the Geelong Football Club. They've had about 18 wins out of 19 and certainly ready for the Grand Final. They won yesterday by about 100 points. They haven't won a premiership for over forty years it seems though they've been in the final a few times. Maybe this time the Cats will really do it.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

Why not budgie smugglers?

from w
How unimaginative to line up the APEC visitors in brown coloured raincoats? It was a great photographic possibility to show up Australia's costumes such as budgie smugglers or board shorts.

Raincoats wash out APEC fashion parade By Madeleine Coorey
Agence France-Presse Last updated 11:51am (Mla time) 09/09/2007

SYDNEY--The oilskin coats worn by world leaders at a summit photo here may have been practical, but they failed to impress fashion critics, one saying it left them "looking like something washed up from an estuary." The bulky, all-weather Drizabone coats -- so-called because they keep you dry as a bone -- provided protection from the unusually inclement weather as 21 Asia Pacific leaders posed in Sydney for a group photoshoot.
Etc etc
Georgina Safe, fashion writer for The Australian, said the coats made the group standing on the forecourt of Sydney's Opera House look like "they blew into town for the Royal Easter Agricultural Show. They were probably appropriate for the weather but they were probably not a strong statement about Australian fashion," she told AFP. "All I saw was brown, which left them looking like something washed up from some kind of estuary."

The question of the APEC group photo costume had posed a particular problem for Australia which does not have a national dress.

Not for Australia the medieval silk tunics seen last year in Vietnam, the leather bomber jackets donned in Canada or the colorful assortment of shirts, blouses and ponchos worn over the years in Latin American countries.

Local media had been alive with suggestions the leaders could be dressed in khaki like the late crocodile hunter Steve Irwin or the red and yellow of surf lifesavers.
The most touted, but least likely option for the grouping which includes three women, were the scant swimwear for men known as "budgie smugglers" which are an all-too familiar sight on Australian beaches.

Howard had only said the outfit would be "distinctly Australian" while his Treasurer Peter Costello predicted that it would be worn more than once and "compares well with batik shirts."

"We can expect to see them wearing them down the streets of Beijing, Washington and Jakarta in the years ahead."

Howard, a 68-year-old conservative who looks immaculate in a suit but tends to wear Australian rugby team jerseys or tracksuits on his daily morning walks, could have chosen something more personal, Melocco said.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Did the Chasers go too far - literally?

from W
I was astonished to read the news on TV that the Chasers had a mock car event in the restricted zone flying a Canadian flag and they got through two checkpoints and were nearly to the hotel in which George W Bush was staying. Well, as anyone ought to know Canada is not in the zone!

APEC has 21 members. The word 'economies' is used to describe APEC members because the APEC cooperative process is predominantly concerned with trade and economic issues, with members engaging with one another as economic entities.

Australia Brunei Darussalam Canada Chile People's Republic of China Hong Kong, China Indonesia Japan Republic of Korea
Malaysia Mexico New Zealand Papua New Guinea Peru
Philippines Russia Singapore Chinese Taipei Thailand
United States Viet Nam

I don't know why USA are in and I don't know why India is not. Anyway, it's about power and money really, but many people want climate change and pollution on the agenda also. Budding Mr Rudd outclassed the others with his speech in Chinese and Mr Hu must have been happy. I'm not one of the protesters but I see responsible comment on the APEC as important. The urgency of selling uranium is appalling. It should stay in the ground anyway. I'm with Helen Caldicott on that one.

However, did the Chasers (ABC satirists) go too far? Larrikinism is part of the Australian way of life. The Chasers target men and women perceived to be in high places, taking the mickey out.... But this was really dangerous - someone could have been shot at. I don't think such a prank would have survived intact if it was staged in some other countries.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

House after the gale

from w
A few days ago we had a huge gale that took down a few trees, brick walls, rooftops in Geelong. It's sunny today and my flu is better so I went out to go shopping and noticed my neighbour's house - four doors down - had a problem with the corrugated iron roof, all coming apart. So later on, I did a pencil sketch, added biro and here it is. This is a modest cottage, boom style, maybe over hundred years old, where a Hungarian elderly couple used to live with their three Vizla dogs. Now young guys live there and I guess storm damage insurance will give them a new verandah roof shortly.

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Don't fence me in

"Do not forsake me o my darlin'"

from w
I am glad I do not live in Sydney. When a cowboy comes into town, there's such a massive security that tall fences are put in place, high walls, and it takes forty cars to meet a plane. What a society we live in! And barely a horse in sight. I laughed about one story though - heard on the radio this morning. Two guys were sitting at the bar in the hotel where the esteemed visitor is about to arrive, and they were asked for their IDs. Don't have any, the guys say. They are hussled out quick smart and excorted over the road and into the sunset. I pinched the two pics, not my drawing or photo. I don't go near huge fences or huge protests.

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above,
Don't fence me in.
Let me ride thru the wide open country that I love,
Don't fence me in.
Let me be by myself in the evening breeze,
Listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees,
Send me off forever, but I ask you please,
Don't fence me in.

Just turn me loose,let me straddle my old saddle
Underneath the western skies, on my cay-use
Let me wander over yonder till I see the mountains rise.
I want to ride to the ridge where the West commences,
Gaze at the moon till I lose my senses;
Can't look at hobbles and I can't stand fences,
Don't fence me in.

And a cartoon from today's Age by Michael Leunig:

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Masi and Fijian crafts in colour

from w
I added coloured pencils to the sketch of barkcloth, whale's tooth, garland, etc. to show the real colours. The decorations in Fijian homes are typically in earth colours if there are items such as barkcloth. Here the stencilled barkcloth is not symmetrical in design as shown by the brown painted on the right-hand side. The pignments may be made from mangrove roots or soot mixed with oil. You don't see much masi making in Fiji these days but I was happy to see recently that Lorini Tevi has an on-going project in Suva with a Lauan woman teaching women and girls this craft at Lorini's Ecumenical Centre.

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Barkcloth and whale's tooth

from w
Still grounded with a bad cough so I ain't going anywhere. So I just drew one view inside the lounge room which includes barkcloth, a garland made of hibiscus fibre rosettes, a whale's tooth, a vase and a book.

(added later)

In the Fiji Times I saw a photo of Tui Macuata and a pile of tabua whales teeth, a huge pile, and this photo shows the context in which whales teeth are given and received - usually as just one, but in some ceremonies a huge number which is a very costly and extravagant exercise to someone outside the Fijian culture. After the final ceremony at Naduri, the tabua would be re-districtuted amongst the people of Macuata as a thank you for the week of hospitality.

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Our life has its seasons

from w
My favourite hymn book comes from New Zealand. It's called Alleluia Aotearoa and includes many hymns written by Colin Gibson and Shirley Murray with good melodies and contemporary words, without old-fashioned religious jargon. In the notes on 'Word Editing' is written - 'One of our stated guidelines was 'to recognise the need for inclusive language and imagery'... we have looked for images and metaphors new-minted for our own day and our own land - not borrowed from a dated theology, inappropriate geography or a past world view...'

One I particularly like is 'Our life has its seasons' which is a good one for today, the first day of spring. It's based on a well-known section from Ecclesiastes that was used in the old song 'Turn, turn, turn'. I think it is relevant also to the current discussion in Fiji on Sunday - Siga Tabu and whether there should be a reconsideration of the use of the Sunday as a special day without the excesses of shopping and special sales.

Part of the Gibson/Murray song goes like this:
There's a time to be hurting,
a time to be healing,
a time to be saving,
a time to spend,
a time to be grieving,
a time to be dancing,
a time for beginning,
a time to end,
but there's never a time to stop believing,
there's never a time for hope to die,
there's never a time to stop loving,
these three things go on.

The snow pea seeds have now started shooting so we should have a hundred plants to take from the greenhouse into the 'real' garden. We have five potplants and this little tub showing signs of life. We still have Stage Four water restrictions in Geelong which means we cannot turn on any garden hoses at all so it's still a matter of using cans and buckets of recycled water.

Oops! I said to my son you'll need a lot of trellis for those snow pea seedlings. He said, "They're not snow-peas. I only used that tray. They are lettuce!' Peceli's snow peas are thriving in the 'real' garden anyway.

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