Wednesday, May 25, 2011


from w
'Grandma, is that a tomato?'
'No, it's a persimmon.'
'Can I eat it?'
'No, not yet. I want to take photos first.'
The boy frowned and wondered about his eccentric grandmother who buys fruit for making pictures.
'Tomorrow you can eat it, but you mightn't like it. It's a bit like a peach.'
'What's a peach?' asks my Fiji grandson. 'Is it like a mango?'

Well, I wonder if the Adam/Eve story involved a persimmon, a mango, an avocado pear, a pomegranite, as I don't think an apple can cause much chaos. I'd never seen persimmons in my childhood, only in recent years and rarely in our city shops, but there were dozens at the Footscray market yesterday and they weren't expensive.

We went to Melbourne yesterday to visit a young Fijian man in the Spinal Unit of the Austin hospital. Words fail me about this tragedy, that a few moments can change the life of a healthy man and family.

We had left the car at Footscray market - which to me is more interesting than any mall or supermarket - and had used trains. There was one surprise in a street in Footscray when I heard a voice, 'Hello Wendy!' yelled from a distance. It came from a young street poet from Geelong who I hadn't spoken with for years. He called out 'I've handed in my MA thesis at last.' What a pleasure to see Scotty with his new teeth at last. He'd been a troubled young man in earlier times. Also, a few months ago I had read a death notice of a guy with the same name and had wondered why there were no comments about strong poetry! A different Scotty!

And now the taste test.
The family had never eaten this fruit before so there was trepidation.
'It might be poisonous,' said one.
'I might be allergic to it,' said another.
Anyway my grandson Jordan had a go and then said that it tasted a lot like coconut flesh. I tasted it then and agreed with him - just like coconut!

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Monday, May 23, 2011

fragments on a file

from w
Cleaning up the desktop and 'My Documents' I've been deleting old files and found fragments of small poems I'd forgotten I had ever written. Just small observations of life or incidents. Here are a few:


Fishing in the shallows is easy,
fossicking in a rock pool,
scooping creatures in warm shallows,
placing them into my hands.
Fishing in the deep is different,
nets need to be tight and strong,
you need to know the winds,
the currents, the tides.
Dangers lurk there.
Life as lived in shallows has a certain ease,
there may be little pain
but moving in to the deep
is a better challenge
with a possibility of pain
or even death.

Lost in the City

Waiting under the clock,
waiting for birds to twitter,
mandolins to play
‘We’ll come a’waltzing Matilda ‘
the brown skin girl baulked by escalators
is lost so we watch for her scarlet dress
moving along a gallery
and a shout of recognition.


We are tired of television repetition,
the rat-tat-tat of journalist’s rapid fire,
voyeurs of agendas and evasions,
smirks, scowls and masks.
We name people by race, class, colour,
classify and do not trust them,
separate ‘them’ from ‘us’.
They say, order is the best response,
a firm rule better than chaos.
Fragmentation will be curbed by decrees.
but when do controllers become brutes?

Shore Bird

One legged he stands,
peers at me with soft dark eyes
without fear or greed
unlike the urban scavengers.
He looks smart in his jacket
patterned with pockets.
prepares to fly
unhooking his second leg
to leap skyward.

Seagrasses pile up,
cigarette butts form a crisscross
amidst broken glass catching the sun.
My low green-tinged pine log seat
is tainted with arsenic they say.


I connected with colour at Victoria market,
pressed oil pastels fiercely into the cartridge,
made clusters of German sausage,
cubist cheeses, curling Matisse leaves.
I was a Fauve, a wild thing.
Framed some, others became lost,
gave many drawings away.
Relatives remarked behind manicured hands,
‘Why doesn’t she paint gum trees, pretty mountains?’
Others accepted the gifts with good manners
but one golden scene based on the Trentham tip
was hung on a toilet door.

A disconnect with Paris
as the South Pacific beckoned.
I asked questions - who am I,
where did I come from, where am I going.
At an exhibition in Canberra,
entitled the Impressionists
though it did include Gauguin, (who was post)
I was let down; his colours dull.
The art books had lied.

Christmas gifts

She knew I wanted to be a missionary overseas,
an art teacher among eager black-eyed teenagers.
I was twenty three,
had just finished my teaching bond of three years.
She went to the bookshop,
bought a beautifully crafted King James leather-bound Bible.
’Happy Christmas dear,’ she said.

I knew that the Bible had the answers
to the world’s problems
and that she barely had time to sit down and read
over those twenty-odd years of raising five children.
So I went to the bookshop,
bought a green cloth covered New English edition of the Bible.
‘Happy Christmas Mum,’ I said.

A relationship

Stop nagging, Where’s my coffee.
You’ve been on my computer again.
Haven’t you paid the bill yet.
I hate smoke in the house.
You’ve forgotten the toast again.
You’re driving too fast.
You look like death warmed up.
You used to bring me flowers.
Move over. You’re on my side of the bed.
Where’s my glasses.

Sometimes she hovers like an albatross
Spreading arms wide
Waiting for the wind
But it does not come.

God is not everywhere,
this absence is the hardest test of faith.
Morris West said something like that.


Awkwardly I waddle
But with pride and confidence
with the promise of an easy time of it.
My breathing will be controlled,
slow and rhythmic,
then the panting for ten seconds,
it will be easy.

The Bay

I love the ocean.
I would like to live by the sea forever,
feel the changing winds and weathers,
the calm, the impact of summer.
All I needs is a house on the bluff
overlooking this bay.
the rich foreigners have taken up
all the land.

Married to a composer

You cannot eat grace notes, she said.
I don’t know what you mean.
It’s not complicated she said.
Why do you play such loud music
and write such complicated songs?
As you say, you can’t eat it,
perhaps you can’t eat manuscript paper either.
It’s my bread and butter.
I’m a full time composer.
Let’s take the day off,
away from the clutter of those intensive people.
But I’m not a sociable person.
I like my own company, rather than the hustle
of other people butting in with their notions.
Now that’s egotistical,
to think your ways, mind, thoughts are so good
that they can’t be muddied by the intrusion of others.
You need, we need, a wild kind of courage at times,
a security, yes, but
we need to be prepared to take risks.

A half-life

He lived in and out of the lives of other people,
a voyeur, his energetic mind focussed
on others’ stories and frailties.
He never dared to examine his own mind.
He realized this was not the way to live,
but how can you break the pattern
of being a do-gooder,
a bleeding heart,
a pillar of the community?

Without peace

Death had broken into her life
grey weals scarred every moment.
She could not read,
could not write letters.
Her body did not want to even move
as a kind of paralysis set in.
She was barely breathing.
The sky outside a weighty grey,
blotting out the usual softness,
the pearl grey of soft rain.
When sharp noises cut into the room
as the others in the household went about tasks
ignoring her need for absolutes –
absolute silence.
The sudden scrape of a chair
or spurt of a stove were hammers.


Reading the paper with her glasses off,
the myopia gave her clarity up close.
She was astonished to see
the texture of skin on her knuckles.
It was like filo pastry
or the skin of a turtle.
Inside the skin though
she is only eighteen.

The past is still there,
the recollection of lilac,
murmur of tentative voices,
the wind in the casuarinas,
the chattering of nesting birds.
The recollection of things past
is as real as the Twinings tea-bags
discarded on the Vietnamese saucer.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Goals and points

from w
In Aussie Rules football the scoring is goals and points but points don't count much at all. There's a footie team down the coast called Apollo Bay Hawks and they haven't been having much luck lately. In seven games they have only scored one point! But at last someone has kicked a goal. Now that's really a team that never gives up.

I heard this story on the radio this morning and found the story in the Herald Sun (a rather trashy newspaper usually) when waiting at the doctor's. Now it's on the web.

THE main goal of Victoria's worst country footy team has for weeks been ... to actually kick one.

Seven rounds into the season and the Apollo Bay Hawks reserve players had notched up just one measly point.

So it's little wonder when the Sherrin was finally sent hurtling between the big sticks at the weekend, the long-suffering boys felt like they had just claimed a premiership. Sure, they still lost, but at least now the team could savour that sought-after winning feeling.

Reserves stars Colin Cooper and Al McKenzie became the day's heroes, kicking a goal apiece in the first and second quarter respectively.

Apollo Bay president Wayne "Robbo" Roberts said the crowd loved every minute of it. "We still got a bit of a flogging but when we scored the first goal the crowd erupted, and with the second, it was even better," he said.
More about football to come - as our grandsons spend a lot of their time training for both footie and rugby and at the weekend scored goals and tries. There's some kind of practice or game on nearly every day of the week.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

How the other half live

from w
Now I don't go around to auctions or look at property supplements much, but there was an article in today's Geelong Advertiser about a fabulous Tuscany-style property that was recently sold. Formal rows of fruit trees. A vineyard planted. A boulevard of imported marble virgins. Sphinxes. Illuminated arbour. Fountain. Fake lake. The dream was to build a fabulous home away from the city but the children apparently weren't so passionate about it. The house was never built! But the property was put up for sale - after $300,000 had been spent on the garden. Wow! How the other half live. The sale went for about $800,000 - and without a house!

This is how the property was advertised.

With its picturesque pathways, water features and an avenue of illuminated marble statues, this magnificent property of 9 acres (approx) presents a touch of Tuscany in the heart of the Bellarine. In a peaceful rural setting and boasting established grapevines and fruit trees, this sensational acreage is the opportunity of a lifetime.

Just moments away from Portarlington's golf course, beach and town centre, not to mention the peninsula's many wineries and other attractions, the property also contains a large studio/office with adjoining shed and workshop spaces. With fenced paddocks, a large dam, bore and desalination plant, this attractive package would suit any number of developments from agricultural application or hobby farm, to a rural residential lifestyle property of true grandeur. A planning permit has been issued to construct a 2 storey dwelling.
Arrange an inspection today, and let your dream come true!
Then a couple of days ago Peceli and I went for a drive, this time to explore one side of Lake Connewarre from the Leopold side. We drove down a road that soon lost its tarseal, then a dirt road that looked like it would reach the lake. Alas, it was private property. The owner of a very nice house there soon told us that this was not public access and all along the lake front was private! I had assumed that edges of rivers and lakes are always accessible to the public but I was wrong.

Now, my mind then turned to wonder how current-day Aboriginal people must feel about land - that their great-great grandparents once had access to lakes and rivers for fishing and mussels. Lake Connewarre was once a place for Aboriginal camps. Hmmm. From the web - Campbell Point protrudes into Lake Connewarre and contains the oldest dated Aboriginal archaeological remains on the Bellarine Peninsula. The deposits have been dated at between 3600 and 5200 years old and are considered significant for their demonstration of shellfish gathering which was uncommon on the central coast of Victoria Next week is a special week to re-think our attitudes towards the First Australians. At least at many formal functions it has been customary to acknowledge the prior occupiers of our land, though a few days ago someone in government announced that this brief ceremony is now optional. Pity. It has been a good reminder.

Here is another property on the edge of Lake Connewarre.

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Sketches of trees and a hint of autumn

from w
This week has flown and no posting - but plenty of reading on the internet about the shenangigans happening in Fiji. See babasiga blog. So I just fiddled with a few sketches.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Plastic flowers

from w
Today I'm staying home, being quiet, with a few aches and sniffles, after having an anti-flu injection yesterday. Coincidence probably, but feeling a fit off-colour today. So just reading newspapers and browsing the internet, a lazy day. These images are based on photos I took in a chemist shop in Torquay while waiting paper-work. A rather interesting chemist shop with lots of plastic flower arrangements.


Giving and Receiving

from w

They say that ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’, to 'pay it forward' as they said in a movie. But I wonder.

We assume that we are well-off and confident enough to share our time, possessions, sometimes money, our cooking, hospitality, and take it for granted that giving is the way to live. That we have to spend time as volunteers, sort out possessions to pass on to charity or give for overseas schools and hospitals, etc., take time to talk with the stranger or invite people to share a meal. (Though I don't take time to get into a conversation with those cold callers who want to sell me a mobile phone etc. as two just did in the last ten minutes!)

But recently our family members have learned something different. This is how to show grace and acceptance when people share much with us. Groceries, vegetables, bread, eggs, meat, many such items have been brought to our house in recent weeks. There are gifts to us in abundance arriving in boxes! The reason for this is after a few friends realized that we have a large household at present and we have to manage on a rather small income. We are amazed by the generosity of people, particularly from two church groups and some friends that go back a long time when we lived in a small country town, and also from part of our extended family who live in France.

There’s an element of embarrassment to receive gifts perhaps, then we have to remember that those who give, do it out of kindness and care. We have to take a deep breath and say ‘Thank you very much’. Therefore the saying that ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’ is fine, but also, ‘to receive’ is most certainly a blessing. We have recently learned this by personal experience.


Monday, May 09, 2011

New Breakwater Bridge

from w
We often drive cross the Barwon River at Breakwater, under the old railway line, and it's always busy. The new bridge is at last being built - I posted about it over a year ago and it's been a slow process in getting under way. Though it was cold yesterday - about 11 degrees Celsius, we went for a stroll along the river to see how it was going. Two large cranes were active, very noisy and sounding the like the battle of the bands. Then I took a photo from our side of the river. The plan has meant the dislocation of several families as their houses were compulsorily bought and demolished. It's a $63 million project they say, but that's sure to blow out as all government tasks seem to do.


Saturday, May 07, 2011

Have you ever wanted to run away with a circus?

from w
No, I haven't, and in the movie 'Water for Elephants' the young hero actually joins the circus accidentally. It's 1931 and the Depression and he's homeless and unemployed, though an almost graduate of Vet School. We saw the film last night and it was really enjoyable - great setting of the circus life in those years, a good plot but the acting by the leading two was not incredibly marvellous, though okay. The most interesting character, August, was the mean one indeed. And, the star of the show was of course 'Rosie' the elephant, who was the central focus of the film. The dopey kind of look by the young vet was a bit much and the connection with the female lead didn't seem convincing.

The New York Times gave a very rough review which I think was too harsh. It's not a compelling film like 'The King's Speech' which was flawless, but it was a good film to see for Mother's Day weekend.

The critic wrote as follows:
Instead of evoking a pungent vision of rough-and-tumble circus life in hard times, “Water for Elephants” concentrates on the explosive romantic triangle of the circus’s volatile owner, August (Christoph Waltz); his sultry, platinum-blond wife, Marlena (Reese Witherspoon); and Jacob. Ms. Witherspoon certainly has the wherewithal to play Marlena, a hard-boiled Jean Harlow type and product of foster homes whom August plucked out of poverty, married and turned into a circus goddess. But despite hints of a lower-class twang in her speech, Ms. Witherspoon (probably at the director’s request) resists creating an authentic period character.

The romantic chemistry between Ms. Witherspoon and Mr. Pattinson is nil. When they finally make love in a scene that is so dimly lighted you can hardly see them, it has all the heat of a kissy-poo game of spin the bottle played by 11-year-olds.

It is left for Mr. Waltz to inject “Water for Elephants” with the little sense of danger it is able to muster. As the imperious, sadistic, furiously possessive August, he brings the same intensity that infused his Oscar-winning portrayal of Col. Hans Landa in “Inglourious Basterds.” Treacherous, ruthless, greedy and cursed with an uncontrollable temper, he vents his pent-up rage by viciously beating Rosie with a bull hook. These are the only moments when the essential savagery of circus life surfaces.

Mr. Lawrence is so busy awkwardly jamming the novel’s minor events together and introducing (before dropping) colorful minor characters who have so little screen time that they barely register, that the movie fails to develop a sense of wonder. After all, what is a circus but a surreal pageant celebrating the animal side of human nature?

Brief scenes of the circus arriving in a town and pitching its tent provide momentary jolts of realism, and you almost smell the manure that Jacob has to shovel during his apprenticeship and taste the rotten, fly-covered meat he is instructed to feed “the cats.” But overwhelmingly the movie seems perversely intent on being “nice.” Its musical wallpaper accompanies panoramic cinematography that soothes rather than catches the eye.

As a piece of storytelling, the film displays its most disastrous choice when it makes the book’s climatic rampage seem perfunctory. This sloppily directed scene, which ends almost as soon as it begins, leaves you feeling cheated out of a necessary cathartic release.

Where is Cecil B. DeMille etc. etc.


From rocks to coral reefs

from w
Here are a few images I made in the last two weeks which started as photos I took down at Torquay. Seems that rocks can morph into seaweed. This evening we are going to the movies - for tomorrow's Mothers' Day - to see Water for Elephants or something like that. It's hard to get the car these days as there's a demand on transporting boys to rugby and Aussie Rules footie, youth club, and for kava drinking! It's our turn tonight!


Friday, May 06, 2011

The TV ad of the dog with teeth

from w
This week on Monday I had a major dental appointment and now feel as if I look like that advertisement on TV of the dogs with brilliant teeth. So far so good but I speak a bit shhhhloppily and live on soup! Meanwhile life goes on with a busy household of eight or more of us, lots of sports activities for some, school lessons at times, a visit from two good friends from Hopetoun, and Peceli and I take our pills and take life easy.

Easter is over, Bin Laden was finished off - relief certainly for Americans in general, celebration for some, misgivings for some as well. If we are serious about not taking revenge on enemies and following the 'pacific' way, we are in trouble perhaps? Though I wonder why people like Bin Laden hated Americans so much. Perhaps it's not much more than hatred of interference and protecting your own space in the world. Okay, okay, he was a symbol of terrible evil.